Saturday, June 25, 2005

The World Tribunal on Iraq

C.I. did the following on a break from helping us. We offer it as a get the word out, PSA and are posting now to do our part.

The World Tribunal on Iraq

In May of 2004 I interviewed a man who had just been released from Abu Ghraib. Like so many I interviewed from various US military detention facilities who’d been tortured horrifically, he still managed to maintain his sense of humor.He began laughing when telling me how CIA agents made him beat other prisoners. He laughed, he said, because he had been beaten himself prior to this, and was so tired that all he could do to beat other detained Iraqis was lift his arm and let it drop on the other men.
Later, he laughed again as he told me what else had been done to him, when he said, “The Americans brought electricity to my ass before they brought it to my house.”
But this testimony is not about the indomitable spirit of the Iraqi people. About the dignity and strength of Iraqis, we need no testimony. This testimony is about ongoing violations of international law being committed by the occupiers of Iraq on a daily basis in regards to rampant torture, the neglect and obstruction of the health care sector and the ongoing failure to allow Iraqis to reconstruct their infrastructure.To discuss torture, there are many stories I could use here, but I’ll use two examples indicative of scores of others I documented while in Iraq.

What does it take to get a Saturday entry out of me after I've started assisting
The Third Estate Sunday Review? Something really important. Like Dahr Jamail's testimony before the World Tribunal on Iraq which we've quoted from above. It's an excerpt. Read "World Tribunal for Iraq, Culminating Session Testimony" in full.

The New York Timid's not interested (thus far). Apparently few are. That's why you should be interested. Where there is silence on a subject, it should peek your curiosity.

The World Tribunal on Iraq doesn't appear to merit much commentary in this country (US, to clarify for our foreign community members). Is it unimportant?

You tell me.

It's apparently unimportant to the mainstream. They're still refusing to tell you about the increased bombings beginning in May of 2002. (As reported by from Michael Smith's "
RAF bombing raids tried to goad Saddam into war." Also note, as Charlie pointed out, Jeremy Scahill's "The Smoking Bullet in the Smoking Gun." )

The World Tribunal on Iraq is going on right now. You can watch or listen online.

A number of e-mails came in on Baby Cries a Lot who got all teary eyed and spoke of his children as the reason why America needs to stay in Iraq. No, they aren't over there and, no, it didn't make any sense but does anyone expect sense from Baby Cries a Lot?

He whimpers, he whines, he tears up, he chokes up. Put him back on the shelf already because amidst all the drama, there's no functioning brain there.

Baby Cries a Lot resulted in over 800 e-mails on Friday so we'll note him here in terms of those who speak truth and those who gatekeep. Yes, he's so dumb that he's still claiming the Pottery Barn has a policy that it doesn't have. Yes, he's so wimpy he can't "fight" (or make a case) for anything without faking tears.

Baby Cries a Lot pimps his AEI friends. Baby Cries a Lot couldn't decide from one day to the next in January if he thought there was a problem in Ohio or not. Some days he did and spoke with (fake) passion, some days he resorted to calling those questioning the vote "tin foil hat conspiracy" types.

Here's a question. Why are some of you still listening to Baby Cries a Lot?

He angers you, I don't blame you. But you're not getting anything from him. So just walk on, Watch or listen to
Democracy Now!, go to Pacifica, go to NPR, play some music. Go to Air America Place and check out the archives for The Laura Flanders Show, The Mike Malloy Show, The Majority Report, The Randi Rhodes Show, Ecotalk, So What Else Is News?, The Rachel Maddow Show, Ring of Fire and others.

Baby Cries a Lot is a nasty person, as you've noted in countless e-mails.

Baby Cries a Lot didn't serve but now wants to act as not just the troops' supporter but as the War Cheerleader.

Baby Cries a Lot has a meltdown when, for instance, Bob Somerby begins offering criticism of a policy or a politician. (And Somerby's not invited back.) Baby Cries a Lot freaks when in the midst of "IS REAGAN STILL DEAD!" coverage, Greg Palast offers a sound critique of Reagan's Latin American policies. Baby Cries a Lot rushes to cut Jeremy Glick off (though not by saying "Shut up!") when Glick attempts to speak.

Baby Cries a Lot was perfectly happy to pimp Glick's late father and to use that to settle a score with his nemisis. He just wasn't happy to let Jeremy Glick speak beyond what happened on Fox "News."

He's a whiney ass gatekeeper who's peddled sexism to get where he is. Quit listening.

There's nothing he's ever going to say that will matter.

But here's something that does matter,
The World Tribunal on Iraq.

And you can hear it
live, right now.

"They were telling us get out, get out, and then the roof collapsed on us. . . . They went away, the house is no longer there, I do not have a car, I have nothing. I saved my children from the rubble. . . . The ceiling collapsed on us. . . . Nobody came and asked us what we were doing. . . . Nothing was told us. They say that we can bomb anything we want to, we can interrogate anyone we want to. Now they've left us houseless. What right do they have to do this?"

You won't hear about that from Baby Cries a Lot.

He's working the clampdown, in diapers, but he's working it.

He's the court jester to the Bully Boy. You mention in your e-mails that he worked up, as he worked up those phoney tears, a defense for the Bully Boy. Well that tells you everything you need to know, now doesn't it?

He wants to be a player in his new field (there's very little left to him elsewhere which is why he entertains corporations). If you've got time, and some of you appear to have that time, to write and complain about what Baby Cries a Lot did this week, then you've got time to go online and
listen or watch the testimony that's ongoing.

Mike Malloy, last night, offered that even if the Democratic Party gained a majority in the 2006 election, they wouldn't impeach the Bully Boy. He's right. That won't come from D.C. If it comes, it will have to come from outside D.C. -- pressure will have to be brought on your representatives to force the issue. And if you're willing to do that, you need to know what happened. You're not going to learn about it in the New York Timid. (Or on Baby Cries a Lot's show.) You will hear about this on
Democracy Now! (and they noted it Friday and I'm sure will address it next week). But if you're online right now for whatever reason and you're at a computer with speakers or have a pair of headphones, you probably are able to listen to the Tribunal.

You can moan next week in e-mails about what Baby Cries a Lot pushed as "liberal" or "progressive" and how he yucked it up with his centrist and right-wing "pals." You can complain about how he shoots down any idea other than "stay the course." (While the "course" is killing Iraqis and the Coalition of the Coerced whose "brave" leaders, including the Bully Boy, don't seem concerned with the body count.) But if you want to do that, I want to see something in the e-mail that suggests you took the time to inform yourself. You can do that by following the
Tribunal. Give it fifteen minutes. You gave Baby Cries a Lot three hours a day for five days this past week.

You're pinning your hopes on something that's not going to happen. There will be no awakening for Baby Cries a Lot until the troops are withdrawn. At that point, he'll sob and say he wanted it all along. You've all heard the inconsistencies in his day to day discussions. Because, despite the fact that he pushes himself as it, he's not a political person, you've failed to realize that he twists in the wind and always has.

Next week, Baby Cries a Lot will no doubt tear up again and give yet another "fathers & son" talk. And it will be as meaningless next week as it was this week as it was the week before as it was the week before that . . .

It has nothing to do with reality.

The Iraq World Tribunal has to do with reality. People are offering testimony. There's no Baby Cries a Lot there to rush in and stop them or to change the topic or say "We have to go to commercial" and nurse his wounded ego throughout the following segments.

This is reality and you can listen to (or watch it).

Democracy Now! Friday:

World Tribunal on Iraq Opens In Turkey
In Turkey, the World Tribunal on Iraq is opening its three-day session today. The gathering is modeled after the International War Crimes Tribunal that British philosopher Bertrand Russell formed in 1967 during the Vietnam War. Russell's tribunal was charged with conducting 'a solemn and historic investigation' of U.S. war crimes in Vietnam in order to 'prevent the crime of silence.' Speaking at the World Tribunal on Iraq will be Indian writer Arundhati Roy, former UN Assistant Secretary General Dennis Halliday, independent journalist Dahr Jamail and others.

Baby Cries a Lot channels Robert McNamara via the sixties. That says everything you need to know about Baby Cries a Lot. (Who will probably emerge from a Fog of War years from now to speak out against the invasion/occupation of Iraq while still justifiying some similar action that's going on then.) (Yes, there will be future similar actions. Those like Baby Cries a Lot make that possible. This war and the next brought to you by the Babies Cry a Lot.)

We can complain about someone who's useless or we can focus on what does matter. While I understand the e-mailers complaints, no, I'm not going to fact check Baby Cries a Lot. Life is too short for me to put up with his nonsense. And while it's true that others have pushed him as a brave liberal voice, we haven't done that here. We've largely avoided him. Let's continue to do that and focus on what matters.

The World Tribunal on Iraq matters. You can follow it online.

As I type, Tim Goodrich is about to continue speaking. Goodrich is a founding member of
IVAW -- an organization committed to ending the occupation. And though they don't feel the need to trumpet it in constant advertisements, "they were there."

How people are recurit into the military, who joins the military and why. . . . Military life is glorified and soldiers are seen as role models. In my case, I wanted to join the military since I was five-years-old . . .

He's speaking of the socio-economic draft right now. And you won't hear him saying that seated across from Baby Cries a Lot. You won't hear Jim Massey or Diana Morrisson or Michael Hoffman or any of the others. You will hear the clampdowners telling you that you can't speak because you weren't there or telling a Vietnam vet that they don't know what they're talking about because it's "not Nam, man." Your information flow with Baby Cries a Lot is severely restricted.

So you can wait until Monday and get upset that Baby Cries a Lot is goofing around for three hours with the occassionally teary sob, or you can make the effort to find out for yourself what's going on. Member can complain about Baby Cries a Lot but if you're going to do that, put something in the e-mail that demonstrates that not only do you realize the would-be Bob Hope has nothing to say, but also indicates you did make a point to get actual information you can use somewhere else.

Here's where I think (as always, I could be wrong) we are in the testimony to the

12:00 – 12:20 Witness -
Tim Goodrich: The Conduct of the US Army

12:20 – 12:40
Amal Sawadi: Detentions and Prison Conditions

12:40 – 13:00 Witness -
Fadhil Al Bedrani: Collective Punishment

13:00 – 13:20 Questions from the Jury

13:20 – 14:30 LunchFourth Session / Cont. ... (Moderator: Joel Kovel)

14:30 – 14:50
Joel Kovel: Effects of the War on the Infrastructure

14:50 – 15:10
Herbert Docena: Economic Colonization

15:10 – 15:30
Mohammed Al Rahoo: Iraqi Law Under Occupation

15:30 – 15:50
Abdul Ilah Al Bayaty: The Transfer of Power in Iraq

15:50 – 16:10
Niloufer Bhagwat: The Privatization of War

16:10 – 16:30 Questions from the Jury

16:30 – 16:50 Coffee Break

16:50 – 17:10
Nermin al Mufti: The Occupation as Prison

17:10 – 17:30
Barbara Olshansky: Covert Practices in the U.S. War on Terror and the Implications for International Law: The Guantanamo Example

17:30 – 17:50 Witness -
Mark Manning / Rana M. Mustafa: Testimony on Falluja

17:50 – 18:10
Abdul Wahab Al Obeidi: Human Rights Violations and the Disappeared n Iraq

18:10 – 18:30 Johan Galtung: Human Rights and the U.S./U.K. Illegal Attack on Iraq

18:30 – 18:50 Questions from the Jury


0509:00 – 09:10 Summary of the Previous DayFifith Session / Cultural Heritage, Environment and World Resources (Moderator: Hilal Elver)

09:10 – 09:20
Hilal Elver: The Framework of the Session

09:20 – 09:40
Gül Pulhan: The Destruction of Cultural Heritage: A Report from the Istanbul Initiative

09:40 – 10:00 Witness -
Amal Al Khedairy: Testimony on the Destruction of Cultural Heritage

10:00 – 10:20
Joel Kovel: The Ecological Implications of the War

10:20 – 10:40 Witness -
Souad Naji Al-Azzawi: Tes. on Radioactive Contamination in Iraq

10:40 – 11:00 Questions from the Jury

11:00 – 11:20 Coffee BreakSixth Session / Global Security Environment and Future Alternatives (Moderator: Ayşe Gül Altınay)

11:20 – 11:40
Ayşe Gül Altınay: Militarism and the Culture of Violence

11:40 – 12:00
Nadje Al-Ali: Gender and War: The Plight of Iraqi Women

12:00 – 12:20
Liz Fekete: Creating Racism and Intolerance

12:20 – 12:40
Samir Amin: The Economy of Militarization

12:40 – 13:00
Ahmad Mohamed Al-Jaradat: Relationship between Iraq, Palestine and Israel.

13:00 – 13:20 Questions from the Jury

13:20 – 14:30 LunchSixth Session / Continues

14:30 – 14:50
Wamidh Nadhmi: Polarization and the Narrowing Scope of Political Alternatives

14:50 – 15:10
John Ross: Collateral Damage: The Mexican Example

15:10 – 15:30
Christine Chinkin: Human Security in Iraq

15:30 – 15:50
Ken Coates: The Future of the Peace Movement

15:50 – 16:10
Corrine Kumar: Towards a New Political Imaginary

16:10 – 16:30
Biju Matthew: Alternatives for an Alternative Future

16:30 – 17:00
WTI İstanbul Coordination: The WTI as an Alternative: An Experimental

17:00 – 17:20 Questions from the Jury

17:20 – 17:40 Coffee Break

17:40 – 18:00
Richard Falk - Closing Speech on Behalf of the Panel of Advocates

18:00 – 18:20
Arundhati Roy - Closing Speech on Behalf of the Jury of Conscience

18:20 – 18:30 The Closing of the World Tribunal on Iraq, Istanbul.

27 JUNE 2005

11.00 Press conference announcing the decision of the Jury of Conscience at
Hotel Armada

You can complain about Baby Cries a Lot (as many of you have) but you can also make a point to inform yourself.
The World Tribunal on Iraq is being conducted right now. You can see it as a symbolic action or as a resource for information or however you want to see it. But you can also follow the proceedings online.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A note to our readers

It's another Sunday, another scramble.

We hopefully have something that will delight you or make you angry.

Once again we do our "Five Books, Five Minutes" which is becoming a popular feature. We also give ourselves a grade for our Tripping Point/Tipping Point edition two Sundays ago. (No, we didn't grade on a curve; however, like most of our posts this morning -- which is the reason for the delay -- they all seemed to come back with error messages when we tried to publish them and, worse, lose a paragraph or two.)

You'll also find another "Media Roundtable" which is a popular feature but really takes a toll to do. You're looking at an edited transcript. Comments haven't been edited but four different topic discussions were eliminated from the transcript.

To promote Democracy Now!'s Headlines being in English and Spanish (audio and transcript) we link to another entry offering you ten stories in both langauges. Get the word out on this. Thanks to Maria for her permission to repost.

We highlight C.I.'s editorial from this week on Todd S. Purdum and his smelly jock that's apparently impaired his judgement.

Which leaves us with the feature you all want to know about. Yes, it is here. Ava and C.I.'s latest TV review. They take on One Tree Hill. Before working on the editorial, we all needed some laughter and made a point to read from it aloud. We laughed and we bet you will too.

We've got two themes planned for the near future. And we reserve the right to do a "best of" edition this summer where we highlight various articles from past issues if things get out of hand (or if a number of us go on vacation).

The roundtable participants are listed. As are those participating in "Five Books, Five Minutes."
Ava and C.I. did the TV review while Rebecca, Dona, Ty, Jess, Kat and Jim worked on the critique (and response to an e-mail) article. Due to the late hour, Betty wasn't able to assist on that. The editorial is the work of Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, C.I., Rebecca and Kat.

We thank Kat, Rebecca and Betty for their help. We thank Dallas for hunting down or links.

And we thank our readers. As we've started to note each week, we thank C.I. The same way we would Ty, Jess, Dona, Ava or Jim because, like it or not, we've claimed C.I. as a Third Estate Sunday Reviewer. Have a great week and make a point to be your own media and get the word out on the Downing Street Memo.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava

Editorial: "Illegal" bombing raids? When will the domestic press note this?

A SHARP increase in British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war "to put pressure on the regime" was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice.
The advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later RAF and USAF jets began "spikes of activity" designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the allies a pretext for war.
The Foreign Office advice shows military action to pressurise the regime was "not consistent with" UN law, despite American claims that it was.
The decision to provoke the Iraqis emerged in leaked minutes of a meeting between Tony Blair and his most senior advisers -- the so-called Downing Street memo published by The Sunday Times shortly before the general election.

It's Sunday, it's the editorial, we're highlighting a report, so of course it's Michael Smith's. Of course we have to look overseas to find "British bombing raids were illegal, says Foreign Office" in The Sunday Times of London.

"Illegal under international law?" That's a chage, a strong one. We're confused as to why it's received so little attention. "Spikes of activity," as we've noted here and C.I.'s noted at The Common Ills, mean the increased bombings that took place before Congress authorized the Bully Boy to act. "Spikes of activity" also refer to the attacks on a country supposedly run by a madman possessing WMDs that he was looney enough to use. That was the public commentary from the Bully Boy and the Boy-ettes, right?

As C.I. wrote, you can't have it both ways. You can't claim "Saddam has WMDs! We're all at risk!" and increase the bombings. If you really believe the WMD lie (we all know it was a lie now, right?) you don't attempt to start a war before you're ready. You don't put your country at risk. If you really believe there's a risk, to invite an attack when you're unprepared, a WMD attack, may border on derelicition of duty for the one who wanted the whole nation (military and civilian) to call him "commander-in-chief." (Note to Diane Sawyer, unless you enlisted, he wasn't YOUR commander-in-chief, nor was he the Dixie Chicks' "commnader-in-chief.")

Now if you feel there's no risk, then that means you were lying. You were lying to the people, you were lying to Congress.

We're prepared to argue either way, just let us know which lie you intend to stick to this time.

Did you believe Saddam Hussein had WMDs and that the nation was risk? If so, you put everyone at risk by increasing the bombings to invite an attack.

Did you not believe in the WMD myth? If that's the case, you lied us into war.

We're betting it was the second one but we're aware that the only one who has more of problem than our mainstream press with applying the term "liar" to you is . . . well, you.

So do you want to stick to the "I told the truth!" defense?

We think it's a loser. (We think both are losing positions for you.)

Sticking to the "I'm another George who can never tell a lie" defense leaves you wide open for charges of recklessly endangering the citizens and the nation you swore to protect. Sometimes, it seems like the Bully Boy really forgets his job duties.

Again, tell us which story you're going to stick to so we can make our case. We'll take either option: lying us into an illegal war or risking the lives of many Americans.

As for the press, one Scott Shane article does not a paper of record make. Possibly The Timid's been limbering up for a limbo contest? If so, trust us, you'll surely come in first. Now how about getting back into the business of news?

The nation needs to know what's going on and what is at stake. Citizens have depended upon one another because the press didn't do their job. Publicity releases do not a news article make.
But we think, deep inside, there's a part of you that's itching to prove what you can do. Somewhere inside, you want to strut your stuff if only to prove to the country that the bloggers (making up Bill Keller's fantasy "circle jerk") are full of crap.

Have at it, big boys & girls. Pimp slap us around by showing just what you can do when you marshall all the reporters you have on staff and use the full weight of your paper to get behind a story.

But until that day comes, lose terms like "circler jerks," or "arm chair media critics" (another one Keller's fond of) and drop the attacks on web sites and bloggers because the reality is we've done the reporting you've refused to do.

"Reporting!" we can hear the snort coming down from Mount Keller.

Yeah, the same kind of brave reporting you run on Monday where a Timid reporter "reports" from the safety of his or her arm chair on who said what on the Sunday Chat & Chews.

The Associated Press is getting behind this story. A few regional papers have already run their opinion pieces. Rumblings all around, probably not a good time for The Timid to take a pass.

As we said in last week's editorial, "Mainstream press, do your damn job."

Hats off to C.I. who got two mentions of the latest from The Sunday Times of London up last night (while on a break from helping us). We're sure that what C.I. could do in fifteen minutes, you with your large staff can do in five. If you apply yourselves. We'll be handing out grades next week.

Media Roundtable

Ava: "If it's Sunday and you're hearing something other than conventional wisdom and Bully Boy butt smooching, you're missing Meet the Press." That statement courtesty of Jess and Ty.
Our participants for this Sunday's roundtable include Jess, Ty, Dona and Jim and myself of The Third Estate Sunday Review; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man; Kat of Kat's Korner and C.I. of The Common Ills.

Betty: Let's kick start it all with the Downing Street Memos. There's been a huge shift this week.

Jim: I'd agree with that. The week started one way and it ended another. We all saw that around us.

Rebecca: Which was the reason Common Ills community member Michael was so angry. I hope that was clear. There were two big issues C.I. dealt with and Michael wasn't thinking, "Give the community attention!" as much as he was thinking, "No one else will talk about this! Pay attention!"

Kat: Michael was 100% right in my opinion. The press was taking a pass, big surprise, huh?
And there were sites that didn't even notice Toad's sneering piece in The New York Timid. When I did see something linked, much later in the day, it was, as Maggie put it, the "most pedistrian" bullshit ever. Sumner mocked that piece as, "Times was mean. I'm mad." It was just weak ass bullshit. Meanwhile, check the time stamp on the entry, the first one out of the gate with the strongest argument was C.I. "Editorial: Still Timid, the Times takes a dive" was the only way to respond to Toad & The Timid. That's why I linked to it on my blog.

Jim: And it's our blog spotlight for the week because it was the only way to respond. Timid mocks Downing, you don't roll over or notice it the next day as some did. You get in there and start swinging. You let them have it with both barrels. You put Toad and The Timid on notice that if you want to mock news, actual news, be prepared to be the laughing stock because you won't get the last word.

C.I: We're referring to Todd S. Pudrum's ""A Peephole to the War Room: British Documents Shed Light on Bush Team's State of Mind" which ran on Tuesday in The New York Times and was supposed to be a "news analysis" -- that's how it was labeled by the paper. And, for the record, I didn't call him "Toad" in that piece, though I have before.

Jess: You reworked that before you posted it.

C.I.: I took a walk before posting and thought about what I was feeling which was this huge intense anger that was caused by Purdum and The Timid. They did a put-down and responding with anger meant they were successful. So when I came back, I quickly redid the thing, keeping some sentences but turning it into a, "Put-down us? You want to put-down us? Oh, you don't know how to mock, Todd S. Purdum, you only think you do."

Dona: It reduced me to laughter. Seriously, reading that editorial I was about to pee in my panties!

Jim: She woke me up with her laughter. I don't wake up in a good mood, ever. And I was all, "What the hell is so funny?"

Dona: Huge grouch in the morning.

Jim: She goes, "Hold on, I've got to go to the bathroom" and so I sit down at the computer and start reading.

Dona: And when I come back, he won't go back to the place I was at. He wouldn't scroll back up. I had to go into Ava's room and ask her if I could use her computer because I couldn't wait to read more about Todd and how his smelly jock had effected his judgement.

Ty: And that's how it should be. The Timid wants to try to sneer and be sarcastic, give it right back to them ten fold.

Betty: Because humor's a very powerful tool.

Jess: Especially when you're dealing with someone like The New York Times which not only can't take what they dish out but is used to setting the ground rules and having people play on their terms. Which is a point you made somewhere in the entry or in a comment later about not letting them set the terms.

C.I.: Actually that was at Rebecca's site.

Rebecca: But I was quoting C.I. I mean look at Centrist Ed. He was so offended by what I wrote about him. About him. He could care less about taking the time to defend his colleagues. But his witty bitty feelings are hurt. He wants me to discuss his looney political ideas. They're looney. Even if the proposal didn't include a "do not quote without permission" provision, why would I want to. Better to let everyone know, via humor, that we're dealing with someone who's clue phone went out of service years ago. The Times wanted to treat this ridiculous person as a rational person worth listening to, I didn't. And the point C.I. always makes, what Jess read, was fight on your terms. Centrist Ed wants to spin and wants people to respond to that nonsense. I won't join him on the battlefield of nonsense. I'll refute him from my areas of strength. It's like he wants to say "Cheesecake is the most nutrious food in the world." I know it's not. He wants me to come over to his battlefield and say, "Actually, if you look at the nutrient value for a single granny smith apple . . ." I won't do that. It's insane to argue that cheesecake provides you with nutrients. If someone else is strong on that battlefield or interested in it, take him on there. I'm not going to. He bores me. I'll just make my little jokes from my own terrain, thank you very much. And Betty does this too.

Betty: Right, I mean Thomas Friedman is an idiot. And for the last two weeks, he's done a pretty good job of insulting the entire world. I don't do my blog in a "Thomas Friedman said this but actually" kind of way. I do a send up like on The Carol Burnett Show. I make my points, which hopefully people get, with humor. How everyone he writes of meeting in his columns speaks exactly like him, regardless of what country they supposedly originally hail from, how they all praise him, you name it. And the colonial attitude he has, the imperial attitude, is at the heart of the blog. That's the larger story that we find out a bit about each week. Betinna's starting to remember some things and as she remembers more and more we'll see how the imperalistic and patronizing idea of Thomas Friedman's resulted in their being together.

Ava: I want to address something Ruth brought up in relation to the Downing Street Memo. She noted that a reporter for The Guardian went on NPR's Morning Edition and didn't even mention the memo even when discussing Tony Blair's political problems. She noted that here, in the United States, we're under the impression that the British press has been all over this. And while some have, some haven't. This resulted in e-mails to her. They couldn't find a single article that had been written about it in The Guardian. Ruth did find one. I wanted to read something because Pru and Gareth and other UK community members have backed Ruth up on this but I spoke to her Friday and there's still criticism. No one can find anything, again only Ruth and her granddaughter have been able to find one article from The Guardian written by them, so I want to note, for the record, this online chat from The Washington Post with Michael Smith who has been the one breaking the stories on this at The Sunday Times of London.

One point I would make though, everyone keeps saying it is continually making waves over here. We at the Sunday Times are not going to let it go but no-one else is interested in the U.K. press. The Washington Post came to it late but look at everything it is doing now. Ignore today's silly editorial article. The Post is now working away at this and I know they are planning to try to do more on it. Sadly there is no sign of the New York Times changing its sniffy we told you this already view!

Now there's a lot in there to chew on --

Ty: And chat on! Because this our Sunday chat & chew.

Ava: Right but C.I. and I have both spoken to Ruth and there have been some very angry e-mails to her for stating what is indeed the obvious, The Guardian hasn't led on this.

C.I.: Right and maybe the attitude comes from looking to the overseas press which is traditionally braver than our domestic media -- possibly just when it comes to covering the US which is a foreign country for them -- and apparently Ruth risked demolishing one of their treasured myths. The Guardian is a good newspaper in many ways, but it is also a partisan newspaper. It stands with Labour and that may be why they haven't pursued this story the way they should have. Obviously, Tony Blair's struggling and Jack Straw's being readied as the replacement, much to Gareth's disappointment, I might add, but the memo doesn't just implicate Tony Blair. There are ministers who are not Clare Short and did not step down. It could also be something as simple as not wanting to pursue a story that a competing paper, The Times of London, owns. But for whatever reason, The Guardian hasn't heavily pursued this story. And that reality upsets people and a number of visitors have decided that they're going to kill the messenger, in this case Ruth.

Jim: I think it comes down to a lot of people in the US not grasping that The Guardian is partisan. Historically, in this country, we had openly partisan papers. In the lead up to the invasion/occupation, Americans who knew they were the victims of Operation Happy Talk went elsewhere for their news. And they didn't realize that partisan papers exist. It's been so long since we've had them here. What we have now is a corporate media that operates to protect itself.

Ty: There's nothing wrong with being a partisan paper or an openly partisan one. But it's been so long since we've had that in this country that we go to The Guardian and read some hard truths there and think, "They cover every important story." They're a partisan paper, there's nothing wrong with being that, they're openly partisan. But I think it's a shock to a lot of the people who've been going to the site.

Dona: Because they don't the paper's history or the history of the press. Even our own history in this country, they don't know. But I mean, that's Michael Smith who's broken every story on this and I'd say his comments are informed and very damning actually.

C.I.: And let's note Smith's comment on The Timid, " Sadly there is no sign of the New York Times changing its sniffy we told you this already view!" In addition, Danny Schechter and Bob Somerby have also had strong critiques of Todd S. Purdum's "news analysis." But the "news analysis" wasn't on the front page of the paper or, I believe, a high profile link on the Timid's home page. So that may explain why the "news analysis" didn't get the strong critique initially (or in many cases since) the morning it was published.

Ty: When it was needed because The Timid needed to know that crap wasn't going to be greeted with a shrug. And I think that's why Michael was so angry. I brought something in to read as well, "for the record:"

But of all the major national newspapers, none have been so deconstructionist, cavalier, and churlish in treating the memos as The New York Times. Todd Purdum, for example, has declared that the documents are not "shocking." Official evidence of a rush to war not shocking?It is hard to escape the conclusion that, for the most part, the American print media's bringing up the rear "beetlebum" approach in covering the memos constituted a rather blatant dereliction of duty. It indicates a complicity in resisting a re-examination of the official lies on the path to war. It is almost enough to make one believe that major media outlets are afraid to take on the White House’s version of truth, either out of worry over being out of step with other "mainstream media," or because they fear losing access to high-level sources, or because top editors supported, and support, the invasion and occupation of Iraq--and in some well-known cases, their own stories "fixed" intelligence to fit the pro-war view.

That's from Editor & Publisher, "British Documents: The Pentagon Papers of Our Time?" by William E. Jackson, Jr. and I'm doing it "for the record" for a reason. Felicity Barringer was allowed to have her reply posted and Jim and I attempted to be very polite in our response to that because, as you noted, she was one reporter for The Times who wanted to do more than send those private e-mails where they bitch and moan is to be applauded. But she was selective in her response. "I did present other viewpoints." Yes, buried in the story were other viewpoints.
But the problem was presenting this "movement" in the enivornmental movement by citing three "environmentalists" and then going to think tanks, way down in the story, to offer minor disputes. The hook of the story was that there was a shift, it was a shift of three and I question two of the three being called "environmentalists." The "hook" overwhelmed the story, and was meant to, that's why it was the opening paragraphs. That's not dealt with. So if Todd Purdum ever wants his say, I will be having my say. I will be noting that an attitude of "you and you alone got that from my story" is not the case. I know this isn't a topic C.I. wants to go into.

C.I.: I appreciate that she went public with her criticism. It's an opinion, a matter of opinion. Some will agree with her and some won't.

Ty: Well I printed up that reply that was posted on the web site and I printed up her story that Shirley was kind enough to send me and took both to three of my journalism professors. They all said the story, as written, wasn't a hard news story and maybe as a feature article certain problems could be excused but as a hard news story the criticism was sound. The hook was questionable but Barringer elected to hang her story on it. She began the piece noting, in detail, the position of the three "environmentalists" and she never gave equal space for actual environmentalists to refute it. One professor said, "Advetorial is a good term, it reads like an endorsement of nuclear power plants." And before Todd Purdum decides he'll have his input three weeks from now when most people won't be able to read the original article, I'm compiling criticism of it from other sources and I will respond to it.

C.I.: I'll just say I disagree with her opinion but am glad she shared it. And add that I'm a participant in the roundtable. Translation, I'm not spell checking so if there's a typo in her name, that's not my doing. I referred to her as "FB" in the entry on the community's reaction because I didn't want to risk spelling her name wrong.

Betty: I want to talk about another issue that came up this past week at The Common Ills. We heard for weeks and weeks that riots were caused all over as the result of a Newsweek report.
In the case of Afghanistan, Newsweek doesn't seem to have had anything to do with their riots.

Ava: Betty's referring to the "Night Letter." Which was discussed in a New Yorker article by Jon Lee Anderson entitled "The Man In the Palace."

Betty: Right. The "Night Letter" led to the riots in Afghanistan and the only periodical I'm aware of reporting on it was The New Yorker. And the only talk on that article I saw occured Monday at The Common Ills.

Jim: Which is shocking because of all the jaw boning that went on in defense of Newsweek. Here's an article that's telling you "The Newsweek Koran story wasn't responsible." And no one's discussing that.

C.I.: That's the opening of the story. Anderson's writing about many other things in the article.

Jess: Which may be why the mainstream press didn't want to get behind the article. We want to kid ourselves that Afghanistan is either a miracle or, for the semi-realistic, an improvement. Anderson paints a bleak portrait that doesn't scream "Thump our chests and look what we've done!" I think that accounts for a lot of the silence in the mainstream.

Betty: But this was the other thing Michael was so angry about and how can you blame him. This is an important story and no one's talking.

Rebecca: You mean online, Betty?

Betty: Right.

Rebecca: Well when I noted C.I.'s entry, and the point is you have to be a reader. I think it's the difference between whether you actually pick up a magazine or if you just visit a site online. If you visited The New Yorker online, you didn't find the story because it wasn't made available online. And I said that early this week based on my own observations but Reuters, in a story about newspaper reading, had an article on Thursday, that backed that up. Lisa Baertlein's "One-fifth of Web users prefer online news - Nielsen:"

Nearly one-fifth of Web users who read newspapers now prefer online to offline editions, according to a new study from Internet audience measurement company Nielsen//NetRatings.
The first-time study from Nielsen//NetRatings found that 21 percent of those Web users now primarily use online versions of newspapers, while 72 percent still read print editions.
The remaining 7 percent split their time between online and offline editions. Comparable historic statistics were not available.

Kat: And that's a problem because everything's not available online. Forget that The New York Timid starts charging in September, I'm not aware of many news sources that make everything available online.

Jess: In These Times makes the majority of each issue available online to everyone, not just subscribers. It's rare for a week to go by when I don't see chatter and think, "Well yeah, In These Times noted that . . . four months ago!" A lot of people would benefit if they'd stop relying on the same "accepted" sources for information.

Ava: Excuse me, I'm interrupting here. We're working Dallas like crazy to find links and he's just got the post on the "Night Letter." I'll note that we appreciate Dallas' hard work and that left to ourselves, we'd probably provide very few links. Here's the section from Jon Lee Anderson's article that's available online, via The Common Ills:

On May 11th, riots broke out in the city of Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan. The violence followed a Newsweek story -- which has since been retracted -- on new allegations that American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran. In the next few days, the protests spread to the capital, Kabul, and throughout the country. In some provincial towns, police fired into crowds. But early on there were signs that the violence had less to do with Newsweek than with Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai.
On the first night of rioting, copies of an anonymous letter circulated in the streets of Kabul. This Night Letter, as it was called, was a vehement exhortation to Afghans to oppose Karzai, whom it accused of being un-Islamic, an ally of the Taliban, and a "U.S.A. servant." The letter said that Karzai had put the interests of his "evil master" ahead of those of Afghans, and it called for leaders who were proven patriots, mujahideen -- a synonym, in this case, for members of the Northern Alliance, many of whom are now warlords and regional strongmen -- to defy him. The timing was opportune: Karzai was on a trip to Europe, in search of financial backing. His next destination was Washington, where he planned to discuss a pact that would guarantee the United States a long-term military presence in Afghanistan.
Karzai seemed unsure of how to respond. Even as the unrest continued, he stuck to his itenerary and, from Brussels, called the riots a "manifestation of democracy." When he finally arrived home, several days later, he held a press conference, at which he blamed unspecified "enemies of peace" for the violence. He asked, "Who are they who have such enmity with Afghnistan, a nation that is begging for money to build the country and construct buildings and during the night they come and destroy it?"

Sorry to cut in like that Jess but we're talking about it and I know some readers may be wondering what Anderson wrote about the "Night Letter." That's from Jon Lee Anderson's "The Man In The Palace" in the June 6, 2005 issue of The New Yorker. Sorry, Jess.

Jess: No problem. But if we're not talking about In These Times, there's a huge problem in assuming a website visit is going to give you an understanding of what's important in an issue of a magazine. That was my point. I'll also add that my parents subscribe to The New Yorker but they didn't know about it until C.I. posted on it. They don't get their copies in the mail as late as C.I. does. In fact, Dad wanted to know if you received anything since the June 6th issue?

C.I.: No and that includes Saturday's mail.

Jess: But they get The New Yorker and there's a great deal to read each issue. They also get other magazines like In These Times, The Nation, The Progressive, Mother Jones, just go down the list of left magazines.

C.I.: And as a New Yorker subscriber, I'll weigh in, I belive your father feels the same way, that sometimes you look at the table of contents and think, "Is there anything in here to read?" Every issue isn't Seymour Hersh or Jane Mayer.

Jess: Yeah, Dad makes that point too. Sometimes it's just the cartoons and Talk of The Town for him and he's not really pleased with Hendrick [Hertzberg]'s writings of late which he says come off like he's bored with everything around him. But it's a big issue each week and there's a lot to absorb. If it's a busy week, they'll set The New Yorker aside for later. And they didn't read the article until it was quoted Monday at The Common Ills.

C.I.: I want to be clear that I'm not denying Michael's right to be angry. I just think it's counter-productive and against what The Common Ills stands for to do his initial suggestion.

Ava: Which was a boycott of places not noting the "Night Letter" or Todd Purdum's article.

C.I.: Correct. And we don't need more links. Martha's been working hard to get the "Night Letter" out. She had one person e-mail her back that it was a frightening story, I believe "fightening" was the term Martha quoted to me. And when someone says that and says they'll try to discuss it, I do understand the anger that Michael or someone else will feel when the issue's not addressed. I should note, this topic was addressed in this week's gina & krista round-robin by Michael, Martha, Eddie and Lloyd who've worked very hard to get attention to Anderson's article. But members take this very personally and they shouldn't in terms of the site. If the issue's not being discussed, be upset. But I certainly didn't go to Afghanistan and report on it. Anderson reported it. All we are, at The Common Ills, is a resource/review. Well, we're a community as well. But my point is, we're not "breaking news." I don't need credit for the "Night Letter." Jon Lee Anderson does. And the article should be noted because it's an important one. And let me clafiry something because we're talking about anger and Martha's been mentioned by name. She sees anger as counter-productive. She's just trying to get the issue out. The only thing that really bothered her this week was that on Friday, she e-mailed out on this to several organizations and then followed up when she realized that to someone unfamiliar with The Common Ills, it might come off like she was me.

Ty: Which happened! ____ credited community member Eddie as being C.I.

C.I.: Please delete the name of that site from this entry, I don't want anyone to be embarrassed. That site noted an issue that was raised at The Common Ills. I thought it was funny that since Eddie e-mailed it to them, they thought Eddie was C.I. However, Eddie was really upset and, I'm afraid, still feels bad about it. It was an honest mistake by the person who made it and it's no big deal. I was surprised when all these e-mails came in that day addressed to Eddie from visitors because I was trying to figure out what link or comment he'd provided in an entry that had touched off something in them so. I e-mail him that he's getting e-mail at the site and does he want it forwarded? He e-mails back sure. Then that night, I get an e-mail from him saying he's so sorry and he didn't tell the person he was me. That explained all the e-mails to him but I thought it was funny and I've said before that Eddie has nothing to feel bad about, nor does the writer who made the mistake, but I want to say it here because I think Eddie's still upset by it.
I never was. It's not anything that the writer needs to correct or note. It's meaningless and Eddie should stop worrying about it.

Ava: So let me go into the e-mails. Doris of Colorado wants to know how pissed you were at Rebecca for breaking the story on Michael's petition?

Rebecca: We haven't spoken since.

C.I.: People are not going to know that you are joking.

Rebecca: I'm joking.

C.I.: I wasn't angry with Michael, I wasn't angry with Rebecca. In all honesty, I did think, "Why tonight?" Because I'd thought I had one more entry to do and could actually get some sleep that night. Then I go into the e-mails and it's all anyone's talking about. So I ended up having to post on it that night. It probably needed to be addressed anyway, but if I'd had a choice, it would have been done later in the week. That night, Eli, Keesha and I were each counting the ballots to our election and I'm lousy at math so I'd counted and recounted and counted a third time to make sure I had my count correct before we all got together on the phone. I was exhausted and the plan was, after the phone call, do one entry on links that members had e-mailed about. Then I get back online, pull up Blogger, the program we all use, and hit the e-mail for what I think will be quick reads in case anyone's got additional articles they want highlighted. Instead, everyone's talking about Rebecca's post and wondering if Rebecca was correct about what my position on the boycott would be. Which she was.

Ava: Back into the mail bag, We've got Benny in Honolulu wanting to know if it's okay to ask Betty a personal question?

Betty: Sure.

Ava: Benny notes that these sessions are all night ones and wonders how you juggle children and this?

Betty: I'll take that as a compliment and not a suggestion that I'm a bad mother, so thank you, Benny. Well it's Saturday so that means they can stay up later. I read to them during the day because they usually fall out while they're playing or watching TV. Right now, they're watching Finding Nemo for the millioneth time and I'm in the same room they are so they run over from time to time. But they will fall asleep at some point and I'll excuse myself to carry them to bed. I'm a night owl and when each of them were infants, that came in handy but with work I do have to get to bed at a reasonable time during the week. On Saturdays, I'll stay up as long as I'm not yawning to help out and, for me, I learn a great deal here. I started out helping The Third Estate Sunday Review before I started doing my blog and that was to get an idea of what was involved and how to do it. I learned then, I learn every week.

Ava: Back into the mail bag. Personal question, this is from Bradford who doesn't give a location, but a number of e-mails came in on this. Did Jim and Dona have a huge fight over his mentioning her aunt's surgery in last week's "A Note to Our Readers?"

Jim: Who answers that?

Ava: You and Dona? Probably Dona should go first judging from the e-mails on this topic.

Dona: It was discussed in the "Five Minutes, Five Books" article. Before that was published, I decided to strike those comments. I didn't feel like it was something I wanted published. But we were all tired from a hellish week. When the note went up, we were all just wanting to go to bed and get some sleep. I didn't read over it. Ava noted that she didn't read over it. We were shouting out things for Jim to include but we didn't take the time to read over it so that was our mistake. Jim wasn't aware that the remarks were struck from the "Five Minutes, Five Books."
He'd gone on a food run during that. So it was my mistake for not reading over the note before it went up but we all just wanted to go to sleep. I wouldn't have chosen to post it but there was no ill will or desire for a 'scoop," Jim was discussing something that he thought was already mentioned in another article.

Ava: Jim?

Jim: I think Dona covered it.

Ava: Charles in Morrissville, mail bag again, notes that Rebecca offered her opinion on how the press would deal with the John Conyers' hearing. He agreed with it and says he saw the reaction Rebecca predicted in The Washington Post coverage. He was wondering if we could all offer our predictions on what happens now?

Jim: The AP's publishing excerpts as we're doing this roundtable, excerpts from the memos/minutes.

Ty: They are?

Jim: Yeah. I think it's got traction, I think it will continue to get traction. The story's not going away.

Betty: I agree with that. But I also think that people who are talking about it need to continue to do so. If there's any let up, the mainstream press will probably drop it like a hot potato.

Dona: Because they were shamed into covering this, let's be honest. The Timid's had one slam after another at bloggers this week. Not funny ones because they lack humor. But they were forced to cover it. And their contempt oozes out in their attacks on bloggers, Air America and others.

Kat: It's dumb ass humor on The Timid's part. Like that e-mail in last week's "Dear Third Estate Sunday Review" where that joker thought he could go head to head with Ava and C.I.

Ty: Can we get that quoted here.

Ava: Dallas was thinking the same thing, Ty. Here it is:

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.

Ty: Which is what Kat's talking about.

Kat: Right. You've got lame jokers trying to compete with devastating humor. The Timid can try all they want but they lack the inspiration and the gift to come up with, for instance, Todd Purdum's smelly jock sending fumes to his brain that's impairing his analytical abilities. And the crack about how it's apparently a requirement for everyone at The Timid to come to work wearing a jock was priceless. They make sports analogies way too often and treat serious issues as a joke. But they aren't funny. I mean "Dead Sea Scrolls?" That's the best Toad could do? It wasn't funny. And it wasn't even not funny because he overreached by going for something highly intellectual and lost the audience. "Dead Sea Scrolls?" If Ava or C.I. used that, I'd accuse them of phoning it in.

C.I.: I'll jump in here --

Rebecca: Get ready, the In Fairness Train is pulling into the station.

C.I.: You know me too well. In fairness, it should be noted that Douglas Jehl did an actual report on it in late May and that Friday Scott Shane did actual reporting as well. Both work for The Times. That doesn't excuse Todd S. Purdum's reporting and certainly there must be a better way to utilize Scott Shane than handing him the mop repeatedly to clean up after fluffers who either serve on the Elite Fluff Patrol or are attempting to. My opinion, if the pressure keeps coming from the public, the issue stays in the press. The minute it dies, they find another celebrity scandal or missing white woman, blonds are strong favorites, to breathlessly report on and call that "news."

Kat: I want to jump in and ask a question here, if I can. Scott Shane got praised Friday at The Common Ills and I agree that it was strong reporting. But I was wondering, and this is for C.I. obviously, if there was a backing off from Judith Miller because of Shane's reporting?

C.I.: I'm glad that you asked that because had there been time on Friday, I'd hope to address that. A lot of members e-mailed on that. Judith Miller had another in her series of grudge f**k the UN articles. I saw it. I didn't comment on it. If The Timid wants to get serious about the Downing Street Memo, speaking for me, the offer made here in an editorial stands and I'll gladly bite my tongue with regards to Judith Miller. However, I haven't seen that happen, the paper getting behind this story. One article by Douglas Jehl and [one by] Scott Shane doesn't cut it. But I made a decision of what to spotlight that day and members' e-mails that came in prior to the entry being composed were all noting Scott Shane as well. To me that was the most important thing in the paper and what everyone should be aware of if they didn't normally read the paper. Had I written on Miller, I would've noted that her latest attempts at a grudge f**k had apparently blown up in her face since not only did she once again have her "handler" co-writing the article (Warren Hoge), a third reporter was also brought in. Miller, for those who miseed her reporting this week, those fortunate enough to, had been pushing all week (initially without comment from Kofi Annan) that there was a discussion of a contract outside of normal channels. The person that stood accused of having the conversation with Anan has publicly denied it. By that time Miller had done, I believe, two articles on it during the week. Friday's paper found her back with her handler and with a third reporter (not credited in the byline but noted at the bottom of the article) in an attempt to get some sort of a defensive article into print. But we've covered when "Judy Goes Scoop" and we've noted Rudith Miller so there wasn't much worth saying Friday, my opinion, when there was real, actual reporting from Scott Shane. It seemed, to me, that to even note was to undercut what Shane's article accomplished.

Dona: I want to note the lyrics to "When Judy Goes Scoop:"

The sun don't beam
The moon don't shine
The tide don't ebb and flow
A clock won't strike
A match won't light
When Judy goes scoop
Nothing goes right

C.I.: Let's note that the lyrics are a parody take on Harold Adamson and Hoagy Carmichael's "When Love Goes Wrong" from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Betty: Which Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell sing in the film. I love that film. I also loved The Mamas & the Papas entry this morning.

Ava: Where two reporters from The Times have a front page article about a potential earthquake or maybe not. And C.I. compares them to Mama Cass Elliot singing "California Earthquake." And Mamas and the Papas means Jess, who we all know loves them, so, Jess, what's your opinion on where this headed, the press coverage on the Downing Street Memo?

Jess: Well, there's not much to add. I think it's been covered. I agree that the public has to push on this and the alternative media. If they let up, corporate media takes another pass. But I think we saw a huge shift in the public this week as people became aware and it reminded me of something in one of the books we read for the "Five Books, Five Minutes" feature this edition.
It's from Deepak Chopra's Peace Is The Way, page 153: "The way of peace depends on bringing the truth to life, step by step." I think we've seen that throughout the struggle to get the press to cover the Downing Street Memo.

Ava: Okay, this e-mail, Jason from Boulder, congratulates Rebecca for her marketing tips in the last edition and asks her what her take is on the move to switch terms on the Downing Street Memo because some people think the name itself is a "loser." So Rebecca, any thoughts?

Rebecca: I'm not aware of that. I don't know the arguments behind it. If they're strong or weak, I can't tell you. But I can say that you don't switch the products name in the middle of a marketing campaign. A famous example of a bad name was Chevy's Nova which they marketed outside the US as well. "Nova" means one thing, of course. But in Spanish, "no va" means doesn't go.

Ava: From the Spanish irregular verb. The conjugation goes: yo voy (I go), tu vas (you go), el or ellas va (he or she goes), nosotros vamos (we go), etc. So when you place "no" with "va," it can become, in some minds, 'no go' or 'doesn't go' which is the last thing you want someone to think of when you're trying to sell them a car.

Rebecca: Right. Thank you, I don't know Spanish, I just remember us studying this in college.
Now in that instance, Chevy should have changed the name and done so quickly. So possibly a person or people arguing that the Downing Street Memo should be changed to another term are picking up on something cultural or something that's being missed. Again, I don't know the argument, I've never heard it. But once the term got traction, with websites, forget the press, it became the brand name. Kentucky Fried Chicken had the worst time trying to switch over to KFC. There were many jokes about it, a lot of mockery. Today, it's KFC in most people's minds.
Now if someone thinks that we're able to spend that kind of time rebranding the Downing Street Memo, I'd argue, from a marketing perspective, that they are wrong. That's the term that's been popularized. Trying to alter it at this point would consume a great deal of time and result in a great deal of confusion. Again, I don't know why anyone's arguing it needs to be changed, the name, but they may have a good reason for making that argument. From a marketing perspective, the option of rebranding vanished around the middle of May if not sooner. It's a good question, Jason, and I'm sorry that I haven't heard the arguments for changing the title.

Ava: Corey in Houston wrote in to tell Jess that, having read Rebecca's article on Jess' mother, that she's envious of Jess for having such cool parents.

Jess: Thank you to Corey. I got lucky and I know it. I've got great parents. And I'll also say thank you to Rebecca because that was a really nice thing she wrote.

Rebecca: You're welcome.

Ava: We had two e-mails selected with questions for C.I. Do you want to do those?

C.I.: No, I've talked enough. I do try to condense my remarks and not keep talking but I failed yet again.

Ava: We'll note that we'd hoped to have Folding Star with us for the roundtable but a parental visit prevented that. Hopefully, next roundtable. We'll be pulling a Meet the Press nonsense fluff ending here but Ty's been rather quiet during this for a reason. He's been participating and not participating while he watched television. Ty, what were the results?

Ty: Well, Kat was watching too. The Yankees beat the Cubs and Derek Jeter hit two home runs.

TV Review: Body Washing the Stump: One Tree Hill

90210, relaunched the teen craze for most viewers today and it was followed with misses (Hyperion Bay) and hits (Dawson's Creek). The WB can't give up on the formula because they've had very little success with much else. So when fall seasons roll around, count on adults tossing a back pack over the shoulder and pretending to be high schoolers -- and count on the creative geniuses behind the camera to work in "shocking" details and shirtless scenes for the male wanna-be hunks.

One Tree Hill excells in the Body Wash Operetta genre, which isn't a compliment. We can't call it "an episodic drama" with a straight face and the "plights" don't rise to the level of "soap opera." The show wants nothing but to be trendy and display the wares of the "boy" actors so we think Body Wash Operetta is a good name for the genre.

In last week's episode, new "bad boy" Felix (Michael Copon) came up with a daring challenge. We know it was "daring" because Felix called what he left in everyone's locker "dares." Oh the shocks. Oh the drama. Brooke (Sophia Bush) has to walk out of a restaurant without paying!
Nathan (James Lafferty, 20 years old next month) and Tim (Brett Claywell) have to get a body wax! Nathan takes a pass but, by the looks of him, only because he already had a body wax the day before. For the "joke" to work, shouldn't at least one of the guys be hairy? We don't mean they needed the forest of hairs that is Pete Sampras, but isn't some growth required for it to be humorous? Lafferty left high school some time ago so possibly he and other males are already waxing to appear younger? Lucas (Chad Michael Murray, 24 years old in two months) has to wear a bra! And strip down to his boxer briefs! In a mall! Karaok is another dare! Felix and Brooke have to get their picture taken in an open grave! Peyton (Hilarie Burton) and Haley (Bethany Joy Lenz) have to go to church!!! And as if that isn't bad enough, one of them has to confess something!!!!!!!

Kids today. Wild for the salt peter apparently. Sedated. The show should come with D.A.R.E. braclets and chastity pledge cards. The dilemmas facing James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause look positively Shakesperian by comparison. You've gone a long way backwards, kiddies!

These Body Wash Operettas always need a twist. On this show, the twist is that blond wanna-be hottie Lucas (where's the rest of nose -- anybody else wondering that?) is the half-brother of brunett wanna-be hottie Nathan (whose most prominent feature may be his forehead). Lucas is just a poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks as the old song goes. But toss Lucas in a bra onscreen and suddenly it seems so fresh, or wants to.

A lot of our e-mails have praised (and praised) Chad Michael Murray's "chewy nipples." We actually found them "creamy" and not "chewy" and might make a strong case for that were it not for the fact that we're confused as to whether we call him "Murray" or "Michael Murray" -- three first names leave reviewers in doubt. With Lafferty, the phrase that came up most often was "the pits." Now we don't mean that our e-mailers can't spell and that they intended to convey he was the pitts (of acting, perhaps), we mean that some of our readers have written in to praise, repeatedly, his arm pits. We weren't sure what to expect. Cher's been praised for her armpits by some designers, so we "sniffed" around to see what all the fuss over Lafferty's pits was. And we were lucky because Lafferty and the creative team behind the cameras obviously are quite proud of his pits as well since we were given ample time to examine them during the body wax that wasn't.

Honestly, it was as though the WB were trying to promote scratch & sniff TV. No one handed us our cards, so we were left with just our eyes and, honestly, weren't all that impressed.

He does have armpits. Two of them, in fact. And they are there, on camera. They don't really do anything which convinces us that they were truly Lafferty's arm pits and not some body double's. Does Lafferty add anything to the show or is does he just fill up space?

At one point, after the body wax that wasn't, he and Claywell (who appeared to get his butt waxed -- if that was needed, all body hair growth on Claywell must go right to the ass) dressed up as Lady Lepracons (think Girl Scouts). They have to attempt to sell cookies door to door.

Lafferty actually has to say, "Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Tree Hill resident. We're selling these delicious cookies to raise money for Lady Lepracons . . . an organization that empowers us girls to be strong, beautiful, independent women."

After the sun went down. Did we mention that both men (playing high school boys) were dressed up in outfits similar to Girl Scouts? Little short skirts, sashes and blouses?

Two grown men come to your area dressed up as Girl Scouts and identifying themselves as "us girls," you think some neighbor's not going to call the cops? Doesn't happen here which was actually somewhat of a relief since Lafferty grunted and muttered with all the sparkle of Jim Belushi in a dramatic role. Honestly, if the camera hadn't kept finding him, you could have easily forgotten he was in the scene.

Murray, or Michael Murray, hell, we'll just stick with all three, Chad Michael Murray has the sparkle of a star. We'll give him that. Whether he's running through the mall in the boxer briefs with little Chad Michael Murray bouncing all over in the pouch -- but never springing free, this isn't cable television after all -- or taking off his shirt to reveal a bra, the only word to describe him is "saucy." Put him in a pair of cut-offs and high heels because he's obviously been passed the torch by Catherine Bach. Of course, she never had to show off her nipples on The Dukes of Hazzard but back in the old days, you had to work a little harder for fame. Then again, maybe she just didn't possess the "chewey nipples" that so many feel Chad Michael Murray does?

He was never more alive than when using a cell phone to take a photo of himself. We think that says a great deal. We also think "saucy" comes with an expiration date. (Chad Michael Murray might want to check with Bach on that.) Michael Copon's passed his. He's like John Leguizamo still thinking the world wants to see him shirtless even though the waist continues to thicken, to the point that it's now a tree trunk. Copon has "solo jerk-off porn" written all over him and he'd be wise to cash in on that before another year passes because at twenty-four he's exceeded his sell date.

Could anyone act on the show? The women weren't bad. In fact, we felt like we were watching Welcome Back, Kotter in reverse. The women did all the heavy lifting and the males were like "Bambi" and assorted other "babes" -- there to make the case for eye candy.

It was always going to be a weak case for the males of One Tree Hill but they were only promised their day in court, no one said they'd win. And seriously, what did happen to the rest of Chad Michael Murray's nose? The upturned button nose looked cute on Debbie Reynolds and Valerie Bertinelli but will Chad Michael Murray be able to parlay the look into a future? Didn't Nicole Kidman already film Bewitched?

Can a show suceed on the "hotness" of questionable males? Did Dawson's Creek not last five seaons? But when's the last time you heard anyone pining over James Van Der Beek or Joshua Jackson? Damned if they weren't all the talk of 1998 and 1999, for all the silence that surrounds them today. Run a camera over a face and broadcast it on screen and, sure enough, some will rush in to declare not only can he act, but he's "hot." (Point of reference, anyone who can lay claim to fame with Mighty Ducks should never have the term "hot" applied to him.) The women did all the heavily lifting in that show too (Michelle Williams more so than Katie Holmes). It's sort of a tradition for all WB Body Wash Operettas.

It's also a tradition that these "boy" stars aren't really all that good looking. They're, if they are lucky, in a cute phase. It's always a brief one. And chunky waists and male pattern baldness linger just around the corner, but for their moment in time, millions of adolescents (of both genders) think they're "hot." They get all excited over a Jack Wild (H.R. Pufnstuf) one moment and a Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains) the next. Remember, Leonardo DiCaprio was "too hot" to become a TV star. Kirk Cameron was Mr. Big Star. Then the shine faded and Cameron's "left behind" while Leo goes on to become the biggest male movie star of the 90s.

That's how it works because, on some level, even the fans don't think the "boys" are sexy. What they are is "safe." And when they're on a "safe" show like One Tree Hill that thinks the height of daring is a card saying a woman must kiss someone in the room (remember, these are high school students), they're beyond "safe" -- they're wearing gold plated chastity belts. The little doggies are down there, kiddies, but don't worry, they're kept on a short leash. Translation, like Ken dolls, they have no life below the belt.

So the kids are left to create fantasies. "Oh, I bet Lucas smells fresh and minty! Like a toothpaste! Imagine if I was walking on a beach holding hands with him!" "Oh, Nathan, is so sweet, I bet his arm pits never stink! We could be so happy together in our non-perspiring, kiss on the cheek world!" With such an active fantasy life, it's no surprise that the same viewers can convince themselves that either Lafferty or Chad Michael Murray can act.

But older (and hopefully wiser) viewers will be left scratching their heads and marveling over how tame high schoolers are today. They're so tame because they're being sold to an elementary and middle school audience. Check out One Tree Hill now (no, we don't know why there's a "One" in the title while the characters call it "Tree Hill" either) to see the flash in the pans before they burn out. Chances are you won't catch Lafferty, Chad Michael Murray or Copon in a lead role again, so get a pool going and place your bets on which one will fade first.
It'll be far more exciting than any plot One Tree Hill manages to come up with. And it'll give you a chance to see what's momentarily captivated the pre-pubescent set.

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