Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Note to Our Readers

Sunday barely. We postponed the note for a number of reasons and once postponed, the only hope we had of doing it was around midnight due to the time schedules of the six of us.

So what an edition, huh? Believe it or not, it was like pulling teeth at times. Not in the writing of any article or feature, just in getting to them. Ava and C.I., though not the only ones -- but the first two to holler out just now "pin the blame on me" -- were among the most vocal about not wanting to do several of the features here. But, though each feature had a level of support, every one of them went that way. "Do we really want to do this?" was probably the most frequent asked question this weekend. (And at one point or another, all but Jim and Dona asked that question -- all includes everyone who helped on this edition and not just the six of us writing this note.)

Consider it the "F.U. Issue." Not f.u. to our readers. But f.u. to the people who want to play while the world burns. We are angry and, judging by the early e-mails on the edition, so are our readers. We've got two wars waging and Bully Boy wants to provide a third (check out C.I.'s "And the war drags on . . ." near the bottom for target Iran). But people want to talk about cartoons (some involved just groaned that I, Jim, made that statement). It's a cartoon. People's reactions of outrage are very real but between that and Oprah's book club, a lot of time is being wasted on story cycles focused on "incidents." My, Jim, opinion. (C.I. just said that, as with Terry Schiavo, The Common Ills made a point not to note the cartoon or all the stories surrounding it.) Again, people's reactions are very real. And a serious study on the issue might be worth noting. A serious study won't be written for some time. But everyone's got an opinion and weighing in, aren't they? Since no Muslim contributes to these editions, we'd be talking out our asses if we rushed to weigh in on the water cooler topic. But you'll note that knowledge hasn't been a requirement for most people rushing in to tell you "what it means!"

That's not the only story (or stories if you include Oprah's book club) that's taken up serious time. Serious news space. You've had 15 US military fatalities since last week (again, see C.I.'s "And the war drags on . . ."). But that's 'just' 15, apparently. Nothing to be concerned about or of or over. Those elections really changed everything, didn't they! Iraq's just a peaceful bedroom community now, right? And the electricity runs too, right?

We're tired of it. We're tired of bad writers like one who wrote this week about the "mood" on campus. Tom Hayden offered some reality in the otherwise non-reality based article. (Hayden's quoted.) But we saw that article and thought, "Maybe wanna be film makers should stick to attempting to become film makers?" Five of us our college students, C.I.'s been all over the country at various campuses last year, this year, 2004, 2003. Wally's a college student, Mike's one as well. We didn't see any reality in that article (until Hayden showed up for a quote at the end).

So maybe we (and our readers, judging by today's e-mails) are just in a mood this week? Or maybe there's too much nonsense these days? Hey, you can talk about Oprah's book club, but you can do it in intelligent manner. (Hint, Jon Stewart did it in intelligent manner. All those trying to expand on Stewart? Well they're copying . . . badly.)

Ava and C.I. have a TV review. They're not just blowing smoke up people's asses. They're trying to examine in a serious manner. When Ava passed on (Saturday night) that she'd seen PBS's so-called American Masters on Bob Newhart, C.I. scrambled to find someone with a tape of it so that they include that in their review. So you've got a commentary that addresses a show currently airing and notes how it's like similar shows previously (women aren't important to it) and how in all the hoopla over Bob Newhart, women and African-Americans are surprisingly stripped of their own accomplishments in what PBS bills as a documentary. Now that's some heavy lifting in "TV Review: On the lack of layers" we're sure some fans of The Office and Bob or Newhart will be bothered. But unlike your water cooler critics, Ava and C.I. regularly do heavy lifting. (One e-mail came in this week from a former self-billed "hater" who noted a recent "review" in a magazine and wrote, "At least Ava and C.I. do more than fluff." Indeed, they do.) And they do. Within the context of TV shows, they're tackling issues. They're not writing as though they possess no intellect as soon as the TV comes on.

They're groaning, but Dona and I (Jim) want this in. There's no subject that's necessarily off limits, no topic that can't be addressed, provided you have some context. Writing "Veronica Mars is so cool! And it's just like Buffy!" isn't criticism. It may be cheerleading and it's certainly embarrassing coming from over-thirty writers trapped in a perpetual adolescence, but it's not criticism. Go down in flames, but try. Try to be an adult, try to move beyond the buzz in the high school cafe. A friend of ours on campus wanted to know if he could collect some of the TV reviews for a self-published book he's doing to raise some funds (for charity). We had no problem with that but it wasn't up to us (Dona and Jim). We weren't surprised that Ava and C.I. said "Go for it." But we're also not surprised that he wanted to use their reviews. While a lot of "critics" are writing fluff that should embarrass them, Ava and C.I. are tackling some pretty big issues. Week after week, with still no promised break for them. (We swear, we're trying to schedule that.) It's been over a year now and almost exactly a year since they started soloing on those TV reviews. We appreciate their work (we is Dona, Jim, Jess and Ty) and wanted it noted here.

Let's note highlights because Jess pointed out that we talked Elaine into letting us spotlight her post but as soon as this goes up, it will no longer be visible on the main page (in the sidelinks):

Ex funcionario de CIA en Medio Oriente acusa a gobierno de Bush de seleccionar informaci�n sobre Irak en forma ventajosa
Blog spotlight: Cedric on The New York Times editorial silence regarding Coretta Scott King
History weigh in
Ruth notes FAIR's 20 years of watchdogging
Blog Spotlight: Elaine on things that don't get attention
Interview Spotlight: Mike questions Wally
Bully Boy Spotlight: Wally reporting on Bully Boy's attempts to write a new book
Dream Spotlight: Rebecca on JFK, MLK and RFK
Humor Spotlight: "Thomas Friedman plays the woman scorned" (Betty)
Recipe Spotlight: Chilled Dill Peas in Trina's Kitchen
Blog Spotlight: Wally on Bully Boy's "Knowledge"

Those were our highlights for this edition. We thank everyone for allowing us to repost them. (And we thank for Dallas for hunting down links.)

And new content? Along with the TV review, we have four new pieces.

"Editorial: What Are They Saying, What Do They Mean?" was one of the items Ava and C.I. both didn't want to do. They ended up adding a great deal. At one point, they were both making points so quickly that we had to ask them to both stop. (When they're both making points, we're left without the two best notetakers among us.) We think it says a great deal about the state of the party and we don't think it's pretty. Cedric and Betty contributed to this editorial in many ways but weren't present for the final writing due to the fact that they had church services to attend. We hope they're in agreement with the final version but we will note that they worked on the discussion of this and had impact there.

"It's all White" is our contrarian take on the way one death was greeted and another wasn't. We've been over this terrain before. When John H. Johnson couldn't get any traction but another person could. (Not surprisingly, that person was White.) C.I. kept shooting this idea down as well because "Not another word on Betty Friedan. Haven't we all heard more than enough in one week?" But the point here was to compare and contrast. And other than C.I.'s entry last Sunday, we've seen nothing but hagiography on Friedan. When the idea first came up, we began talking to people with the intent of doing a feature. We had many more quotes than what we used. (We thank Anne for saying we could use her first name. Most women said, "Don't put my name to it, I'll be ripped apart for telling the truth. It's like when Reagan died.")
Once we finally got C.I. on board, the actual writing went rather quickly. (Dona notes that C.I. didn't attempt to kill the piece, only stated, "Write it without me." We didn't see that as being possible since C.I. was the only voice, on the left, that we knew of who wasn't stuck in Saint Betty mode.) We had the worst time with titles this edition. We even posted one entry without one to get it up at the site while we attempted to figure out what to call it. We were going to do that with this one as well and were about to publish it title-less when Cedric, who'd been doing impersonations of a White Docker "dude" throughout, said, about posting it without an entry, "It's all good." Jess and C.I. both exclaimed, loudly, "Oh my God!" and the rest of us were wondering what was going on. "It's All White!" Jess and C.I. cried in unison. That's the perfect title.

"On playing the fear card" was the piece that posted without a title. Rebecca finally thought up something we could all live with and that's what we went with. We're trying to note Laura Flanders as often as we can. Why? We listen to her. We want the word to get out on her. And if the left isn't supporting and steering people to the left, what's the point of the left existing online? If it's all about "here's a story in The New York Times" and "here's a story in The Washington Post" -- what's the point? Our feeling: we need to be sure that we're building awareness of our left voices and not just noting the mainstream. This piece is about Bully Boy's love of playing the fear card and how, hopefully, that card trick's gotten old.

Finally, we have "Cowardly Journalism Review (Parody)" which is a parody (note the title). We've been wanting to do another parody for sometime but divided upon which to parody next. (There's talk of The New Republic but C.I.'s shot that down thus far arguing that some of us participating might buy the magazine or visit the site to get the feel for it.) So we take on CJR proper. Why? When Dona read an entry by C.I. where C.I. took the so-called watchdog to task last week for the attack on Eason Jordan, Dona knew C.I. would be up for it. Dallas asked to note that there's never been an easier time for him in hunting down links because C.I. would tell him exactly who the author was and when the piece ran. We think it's funny. We're sure CJR won't but hey, don't get on an editorial soapbox about the kind of coverage the nation needs on Iraq and then fail to offer it in your own edition. We're not in the mood for that nonsense. We're tired of posturing to demonstrate how "reasonable" you are. Eason Jordan, to focus on that topic, raised an issue. Instead of addresssing it, the supposed watchdog attacked. Now they've been loathe to bark at the mainstream press (currently still working there) and they've been loathe to seriously challenge the administration spin (until others have established the points), but they can kick Eason Jordan because they assume he's "down." (C.I., who knows people at CJR and Eason Jordan as well, calls the attack "cowardly and shameless.") While Editor & Publisher has wondered for years now which paper will be the first to editorialize that we should pull out of Iraq, CJR finally gets around to noting (and dismissing) that option (as an aside). Do they think that cuts it? Do they think their embarrasing pieces where reporters explain how they sat on a story are worthy of printing? They're not questioning those positions. They're noting them. "I didn't report on a kidnapping because the hostage was my friend . . ." first person accounts. With the press under prolonged attacks (from government, not bloggers), you'd think the First Amendment would mean something to the supposed watchdog.

You'd also think that since Eason Jordan gave up/lost his job at CNN for raising the issue of journalists dying in Iraq, when he had the courage to raise it again, CJR (online was where the attack ran) might use it as an opportunity to seriously explore the topic. Instead Eason Jordan was seen as "marked" and "fallen" and the watchdog rushed in to attack. That's some watchdogging . . . for the administration. We're not sure how journalism was served, but, hey, you demonstrated that you're not lazy all the time.

While FAIR (which is celebrating 20 years, congratulations and read "Ruth notes FAIR's 20 years of watchdogging" for more on that) is calling the press out for killing stories, CJR weighs in with what? Memogate? No, not on the Downing Street Memos but on the Dan Rather memos. Always peering over everyone else's shoulder to figure out, "Is it safe?" -- ladies and gentlemen, CJR. Remember their blistering coverage when it turned out Bob Woodward covered up his own involvement in the Plame outing? No? Well that's because they didn't know if it was "safe" or "prudent" to go after Woody. He's a journalistic institution. Now if his paper kicks him to the curb, look for them to give him the full Eason Jordan treatment for any statement he later makes.

They didn't lead on the Judith Miller coverage. They were silent on it. They ran a piece by Liza Featherstone on it but in their own pieces written by people at the magazine, after the invasion, they mention Judith Miller and others covering Iraq like she's just another outstanding reporter.

That's the sort of nonsense we're tired of. The timidity, the refusal to lead. We're seeing a lot of it and we're sick of it.

So consider this the F.U. edition. We'd like to tell you that, having completed the edition, we've purged ourselves of that emotion but we can't promise that. C.I. feels like since witnessing the Alito hearings in person "it's been non-stop outrage on my part." We say more power to you and second that emotion. The Common Ills has done some of its strongest work in that time period. (C.I. notes that tomorrow's entry will not be like that because it's late and C.I.'s tired.)

So we do need to wrap up.

The following helped with this edition (with writing, with debating, with suggestions and in every way possible) on all new features except for the TV review (done by Ava and C.I. only):

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot.

See you next week.

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

P.S. Dona said to note that we're setting back the clock before posting so that this will show up in the weekly archives with the other features for this edition.

Editorial: What Are They Saying, What Do They Mean?

Not to go all Joyce Carol Oates on the Democratic Party's ass, but What Are They Saying, What Do They mean?

Seriously. The NSA hearing where Alberto Gonzales got butterfly kisses and reach arounds -- what the hell was that?

Bully Boy says he authorized illegal warrantless spying for "national security" and instead of taking on the issue, every Democrat has to attest their firm support for spying when it comes to "national security." Yeah, there was a "but" there but here's a but for the Dems: nobody listens after you agree.

After you agree, the issue, whatever it is at the moment, is no longer an issue. Instead any dialogue is just about how to address the accepted issue.

So warrantless spying becomes not about that, but instead about "national security." Way to hand over your wallet, your keys, your shoes and your dignity in one day! FDR must look down and smile proudly!

Well probably not, but you probably aren't ready for some hard truths.

Let's note Alexander Cockburn's "How Not to Spot a Terrorist" on last Monday's hearings:

As they reviewed the NSA data mining, a prime concern of the Democrats was the potential liability of U.S. phone carriers (who poured money into their campaign treasuries in 1996 to purchase telecommunications "reform"). They didn't question the very premises of the data mining. Is this strange? Not in a world where the New York Times can publish an article, as it did on February 8, on the Democrats' failure to gain popular traction, in which the difficult words "war" and "Iraq" never intruded.

Yeah, along with accepting the debate on the Bully Boy's terms, it was also hard not to notice the effects of lobbying. Strange considering how Abramoff (a lobbying scandal) is being seen as the salvation of the 2006 elections for Dems.

About those upcoming elections . . .

Let's note Katha Pollitt's "Band of Brothers--Brother!" on the slate of military vet candidates:

The theory is that as former soldiers they will be immunized against Republican charges that Dems are unpatriotic girly-men who are "soft on defense." (As "Mask" points out in the comments section of Ari's post, running as a vet worked so well for Max Cleland and John Kerry!)
One thing the Band of Brothers strategy will do if it succeeds is to help keep Congress white and male. Of the 56 candidates currently marching under the brotherly battle flag, only three are women. (One of the three,
Mishonda Baldwin, is also the only African-American).
So I guess the Dems are giving up on that whole gender-gap equality thing.

[. . .]
Do we really want to promote the idea that military service is some kind of necessary item on a political resume? That personal machismo is a qualification for office? The BOB strikes me as a gimmick, if not an outright pander to militarism and sexism--time for the daddies to retake the mommy party! Chaaarge! And yet more proof, ladies, that the Dems are writing you off.

Couldn't be said more loudly and more clearly. Maybe we're all just mishearing the Party? Like we misheard Joe Lieberman in November 2000, on Meet the Press, where, despite the fact that we live in a democracy -- based on one person, one vote -- some votes count more than others? Pandering to the right-wing and not sticking up for American's rights, Lieberman was happy to sell out the recount on national TV just to look a little "moderate." (We firmly believe history will note how foolish he looked and how undemocratic his remarks were.)

Robert Parry (a journalist we all respect) has an article entitled "The Democrats Tiny Megaphone" at Consortium News. Forgetting that no one in their right mind gives a microphone to anyone suffering from stage fright (as the Dems seem to be suffering), we understand the points Parry's making. The right-wing has created a media system. They've funded it. It's part of the spin and drives each day's story. So why doesn't the left fund the institutions that have sprung up? (The wealthy ones.)

Well, and this may be a shocker for some (we don't think Parry will be shocked), left doesn't equal Democratic Party especially when we're dealing with a spineless one that's selling out the base. Parry mentions the Air America Radio network as an example of left media.

A founder (once on the odds, then brought back in) came out to the California hat in hand. He tells that story all the time and, honestly, people are starting to lose sympathy for him. He told it again in a letter to The Nation not that long ago. But there he was and he was shocked that the entertainment industry didn't want to fork over money to his unproven network.

The man's a nice man, according to one of us, and it was a nice pitch, ditto, but it didn't sell.

It didn't sell because you're dealing with an industry that was attacked by the vice-presidential nominee in 2000, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee. (Maybe he took the "vice" in the title he was seeking too seriously?) Was that payback for Warren Beatty's "right on the money" remarks? Whatever it was, it offended people. And it offended them in 2002 and 2004 and offends as we go into this year's elections that principles are tossed aside to win the approve of the right-leaning center.

Not the center. The center, the bulk of the population, favor rerpoductive rights (including abortion). It's the center-right that's being sought.

So when the man made his pitch, people were skeptical that the proposal would really be about the left. They're no longer skeptical, they're just disinterested. Air America Radio, with few exceptions, is not "liberal radio." It is a place where any centrist, soft Dem can win praise. It is the place where a lobbyist can be treated with kid gloves and not face any hard questions.

It's the home of Baby Cries of Lot. They made him the face of the network, they promoted him as such and if you think liberals or progressives enjoy hearing his whines (with and without tears) of how we have to stay in Iraq because soldiers have died there and he has children . . . (Around then, he usually chokes up so much that no one can understand what follows. However, none of his children are in the service.) Baby Cries A Lot is the "entertainment industry" in someone's eyes but not in the California based section. He hasn't been rolling in film leads ever. (The SNL film was an SNL film. Initiated and driven by Lorne Michaels and Broadway Video, via NYC.) Outside of his failed series (plural), did you see him on TV? When there was a season finale or sitcom's final episode, did you see "funny man" among the mulititude of guest stars dropping by? No?

There's a reason for that.

Laura Flanders partnered up with The Nation for her radio show much to the relief of many who were wondering if they should start betting when one of the few voices of the left would be pulled from the network? Since the purging of Lizz Winstead, it's gotten Whiter, it's gotten more male, and it's gotten more "center-right."

As it now promotes a live video feed of Michael Stipe performing live and available to all . . . for a fifty dollar contribution/membership, no one's surprised it's struggling for money. It's become the mouth piece for leadership in the Democratic Party. A Party that's made an anti-abortion member the Senate minority leader. A party that's decided the spawn of Bob Casey (a bean counter's kind of Democrat) is the way to go in 2006. The Party and their little weasels attacked activists and loyalists like Victoria Hopper. That didn't go unnoticed.

What's the big joke these days? That the next round of fundraising letters from the Party will begin, "Dear ATM, . . ."

On this and the magazine front, we all heard about this in DC when we were there for the September protests (except Wally who didn't make that trip). We heard it at parties, especially when Mike made the mistake of asking two big names which alternative media they donated to.
Outside of Pacifica Radio and The Nation, no one's too high on alternative media because it's not an alternative. It props up the squishy, no backbone leadership in the Democratic Party. Or it rushes to bring on squishy writers for Newsweek. (Or worse, The New Republic.)

The Progressive was a magazine that two people involved in the writing of this editorial were pitching to friends as worthy of donations. It was a hard sell because some people don't think that a monthly can have any influence. They think that, by the time a month rolls around, the magazine's dealing with many issues that have already been settled. But the strong opposition to the invasion/occupation was stressed and people were getting interested enough to actually look at the magazine. Then Baby Cries A Lot makes the cover. End of interest. (As he stated in that cover story, he's not that left.) (As with Robert Parry, everyone involved in the writing of this editorial has tremendous respect for The Progressive.)

Joan Didion's written of the disenchantment the entertainment industry has had with the Democratic Party. She wrote of that a few years back and it's only grown stronger as the Party has moved further (corporate) right. That may please corporate donors (who'll no doubt ask for further concessions) but it doesn't please the entertainment industry (the ones making the money, not living off stock options given to them).

In Parry's piece, he makes a point that we grasp but, remembering the tirade Mike got when he brought up so-called alternative media, we'd suggest that if he's looking for any entertainment industry money (we assume he's not), he avoid justifying "triangulation" for any reason. That nonsense sold in the first half of Clinton's first term when everyone was being told it was the way to "sell" the issues. Then you saw health care go down in flames and the ban on gays in the military remain. (Don't Ask, Don't Tell didn't lift the ban, it just allowed those who serve to be closeted.) And that was before the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which resulted in a lot of lost jobs. Want to create your own TV show? You better have a hit on right now to use for leverage -- otherwise be prepared to fork over at least partial rights to a network.

Now in another era, and this isn't forgotten, the monopoly that the studios had was broken up. They weren't permitted to continue owning the movies and the theaters they were shown in. Something had to give and it did. Following the 1996 Act, in the entertainment industry, jobs went out the window on the creative end as well as in the news industry. And anytime a new show with a moderate following gets axed by a network which keeps a lower rated show they own or co-own, it's an issue all over again.

We doubt Parry was asking was for entertainment money. But for those who are (or those who keep whining that the entertainment industry wouldn't put up for their project), here's a few tips. Your "heartland" "progressives" that are weak on core issues but you continue to prop up with soft coverage, that's not winning hearts and minds from the people whose big dollars you want. When you promote anti-choice candidates or elevate them if they're already in office, that's not going to get the entertainment monies flowing in. When you make a point to prove how "reasonable" you are by staying silent in the face of attacks on the entertainment industry or, worse, join in, probably not a good time to come begging hat in hand for a donation.

Whether you think people in the entertainment industry are overpaid or not, the fact is that the majority started out where the base is and they can relate to them a lot better than the leadership currently does.

Here's a bonus tip, legs who cover the entertainment industry are not part of that industry, they are members of the press. So when they launch broadsides at certain people, probably a good idea not to rush in and agree with them -- at the very least.

You can sneer as you toss around words like "Hollywood" (do you think the use of that word makes you a player?) but the bean counters aren't secretive. They may not note in when they're speaking to progressive or liberal media, but they've noted it publicly elsewhere. What do they note? That they're not worried about the decline in voting. That they'd rather appeal to the right-wing potential swing voters than offer any real issues that might excite those who've stopped voting and increase the overall turn out. The bean counters make those speeches all the time. If progressive media reported those speeches the way the mainstream press does, if they really highlighted those remarks, some of the "heroes" might have to bow out or join the Republican Party they're so determined to ape. Comments about watering down stances to peel off some of the Republican voters might not let you come off so "tough" as you insist that we all "fight back." In fact, it might lead to the base fighting against you.

The programs those types disown didn't start in the much maligned sixties. Most were part of FDR's New Deal. He was elected president four times. Consider that a clue that the programs couldn't have been that unpopular. The issues that have arisen since then (from civil rights to women's rights to, yes, gay rights) aren't the anchors you spin them to be. They could easily reach people and encourage them to vote, if you stood for them. But it's easier to water down the differences between the two parties for the bean counters (who've been mistaken for leaders). They can manage and massage a tiny electoral turnout. They can deal with that in their "on message" single message that says "I'm just like my opponent except for . . ."

That's what we heard in last Monday's hearings. That's what we hear in the new slate of candidates. We don't think we need hearing aids. We believe the message is coming through loud and clear.

The illustration at the top of this editorial is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts from last Sunday.

TV Review: On the lack of layers

NBC's The Office has a dedicated following. A small following, but a dedicated one. It's not ready for a larger audience (though it may find one). In discussing the show, one of us (Ava) mentioned an American Masters special PBS had aired. The hour was late, but the other did manage to locate a tape of the show.

Bob Newhart was the topic of the special and Bob Newhart's sitcoms and The Office have a lot in common. Let's start with the special because who knew PBS played as fast and loose with the facts as a VH1 Behind the Music special? Though you might get the impression that Newhart recorded the first successful comedy album, we have two words for you: Redd Foxx. How about five words? Elaine May and Mike Nichols. But somehow using "experts" (stand up comics -- all male, all White) to tell the tale, PBS stands a good chance of leaving viewers with the impression that Bob Newhart blazed the way for everyone that followed. They might also wrongly assume, because it was stated by Newhart in the special, that the Buttoned-Down Mind of Bob Newhart was the first comedy album where groups of people listened together to recreate the nightclub feel. (Try Redd Fox's Laff of the Party or any other release from the Dootone record label --predating Newhart's comedy album debut by roughly a decade.)

Slices of credit were grabbed for the television sitcom The Bob Newhart Show. Now that show is a funny show. We won't dispute that. We will note how some slices grabbed contradicted other slices. (Were they all from the same loaf?) For instance, the poor cast of TBNS didn't get the Emmy recognition they deserved and that was due to the 'fact' that they were simply telling small stories (unlike, apparently, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and All In The Family). We could go along with that, the show had a small frame to it and a small mentality. We'll also note that it would have to be pretty slim pickens at Emmy time for some of the broad portrayals to get Emmy nods in any year. (Or maybe Marcia Wallace thinks Jo Anne Worley won Emmys with work that Wallace's own most closely resembles?) But having made that claim, they then go on to get their cheap laugh (and a pat on the back) for Howard Hessman playing a gay character and how 'big' that moment was.

For the record, that 'moment' aired in 1974. For the record, in January, 1973, The Mary Tyler Moore Show had already done an episode featuring a gay character. The difference between the two is that on MTM, the character being gay wasn't the butt of the joke. (The joke, in fact, was Phyllis' relief that her brother was gay because she had been afraid he was falling for her nemesis Rhoda.) On TBNS? Bob gets nervous as the man steps behind him. (Both are fully clothed and Bob is seated.) It's 'funny' -- we're told. But, we're told, they didn't do 'issues.'

They're forgetting Emily's subplots. They're forgetting her friend, the women's rights advocate, they're forgetting a large number of topics. But in a blink of the eye, we're on to the next TV sitcom, Newhart. (The film First Family doesn't rate a mention.) Even more curious is the self-congrats from various people involved with that show. Or the notion that Mary Frann had chemistry with Newhart. What the "documentary" doesn't tell you is that Newhart was in danger at CBS throughout its first season. That's why they brought in new lighting, switched recording formats, axed a supporting character, and turned guest-star Julia Duffy into a regular character at the start of the second season. It wasn't testing well with young people or women. That might have had something to do with corn-pone plots or Mary Frann's hommage to Harriet Nelson. Whatever it was, it wasn't working with the audience. There's a reason the first person Robert Hartley mentions from his dream, at the end of the final episode of Newhart, is the heiress maid. It's the same reason Julia Duffy (playing the heiress maid Stephanie) garnered multiple Emmy nominations for the role. (*For semi-Newhart fans, at the end of the final episode of Newhart, the character becomes Robert Hartley from The Bob Newhart Show, waking up in the bed he shares with Emily Hartley played by Suzanne Pleshette.)

Duffy wasn't in the original cast. Stephanie was the cousin of a regular cast member, a woman trapped doing the "Oh, Bob" and other "straight" bits while madness was supposed to ensue all around her. (But rarely did.) The women were written bland. The show was stuck with Mary Frann, but they got rid of Jennifer Holmes to keep CBS interested in the second season. Duffy (and later Peter Scolari) woke viewers up.

We're not told any of that. We're led to believe the show was big from the start and firing on all cylinders. That's not the case. And when you're discussing Newhart's sitcoms, it's an important part of the story. Later, when he attempted Bob in 1992, women were once again sidelined as patient little things who let the fellows do all the funny work. In the main cast, the cast credited at the start of the episode, there was no females playing anything but throwbacks to another time (and that time wasn't the seventies). Halfway into the first season, they tried the band-aid of adding Betty White but CBS wasn't willing to wait this go round.

The lesson here is that the "creative geniuses" behind Bob Newhart's shows are hardly inclusive minds. The lesson here is that freaky men (who were in abundance on Newhart and more so on Bob) don't pull in the ratings. There's something sad about a comic who's praised for never forgetting the audience forgetting to tell the creators that women can provide laughs as well.

It was a nice little bit of myth making, it just wasn't reality. Fortunately while scenes revolved around Howard, Jerry, Mr. Carlin and all the other men on The Bob Newhart Show, there was the fact that even when written badly (and the role was often written badly), Suzanne Pleshette had enough substance and gravity to make Emily more than the standard issue TV wife. (Mary Frann didn't.)

The Bob Newhart Show was frequently funny. Sometimes laugh out loud funny. Sometimes, often times, the writers seemed to think they were writing a review for an all male prep school. But most of the time the show offered a little more than that.

What does any of that have to do with The Office? Well Steve Carell would like to be Bob Newhart. He does the stammer, he does the long pauses, the nervous tics. And The Office would probably love to reach the audience that The Bob Newhart Show did. Possibly they believe that in Jenna Fischer they have their Marcia Wallace?

Who knows. But right off the bat, what you will notice is that women aren't really part of the story. When they're shown they're the sort of characters that showed up as one of Emily's "emotional" friends. (Fischer's the only billed female.) They're there simply to be ridiculed. The absence of leading females (plural) goes beyond The Office to all of NBC's current Thursday laugh-line up. No one noticed that after Will & Grace's lead in you're left with three shows revolving around males (Four Kings, The Office and My Name Is Earl)? Is there no Abigail Adams at the network to remind everyone "Don't forget the ladies?"

Apparently so. Apparently they've forgotten Elaine's contributions on Seinfeld or the fact that three of the six Friends were female characters. Or maybe they've forgotten that for all their failed attempts to follow Friends with a hit, the only Thursday show airing with it and Seinfeld that came close to being a hit was Caroline in the City. Stephen Weber's show, Jonathan Silverman's show, go down the list, they tanked.* Even the rarely-amusing Suddenly Susan and Veronica's Closet did better than those variations on the same (male) theme. So it's a little strange that at this late, they can't grasp that fact. But then networks heads are never fond of female portrayals. (CBS is only the worst offender, not an exception to the rule.) Apparently Jerry Lewis isn't the only one who thinks women aren't funny. At this late date, and after Lucille Ball taught America what a sitcom was, that's rather sad.

Sad is Steve Carell. In the British version NBC's show is based upon, the boss has bite. He's downright nasty. Carell's just a sad sack. If someone thinks it's a variation of the tramp role Chaplin played, they're grossly mistaken. Where Carell should have some confidence in his schemes, he's riddled with doubt. The laugh of his falling on his face repeatedly only comes if he's expecting a different outcome. Instead, Carell's always telegraphing through speech patterns and facial expressions that he's nervous. You get nervous watching him.

Lead characters shouldn't give you the heebies-jeebies in a sitcom. You should be able to root for their success or downfall. As performed, that doesn't happen on NBC's The Office. Another problem is B.J. Novak who is just creepy. If Carell doesn't send you reaching for the remote, Novak will. Looking like a grossly deformed Tim Robbins, Novak plays the role with overbite.
There's nothing else there as he chews through every line, every bit of scenery in his creepy manner.

We've seen this show before. Multiple times. Best in Martin Scorsce's After Hours where that setting is a backdrop and launching pad for something better. But if you're going to stay in that setting, you have to offer something (as Billy Wilder did in The Apartment) that people can root for.

The only thing remotely worth rooting for is John Krasinski's Jim. He's the only character remotely human and possibly Krasinski isn't as good an actor as he seems -- he may just get points on the by-comparison scale. Any life in the show comes via Krasinski. But we're too busy following Carell to New York to focus on anything the audience might actually respond to. Carell's trip to New York is the perfect example of everything that is wrong with the show. In New York, he will make a complete ass out of himself while meeting with higher ups in the company. For the joke to be funny, Carell doesn't need to be playing the doubtful sad sack. But that's the delivery he gives to his lines. The failures isn't unexpected and there's nothing to laugh at because he's been a nervous wreck before the presentation and then after the presentation . . . he's a nervous wreck. There's a term someone on the show needs to learn "modulate" as in "modulate the performance."

Possibly Krasinski succeeds because his character's not written that deep? The furitive glances that are ingrained in his performance (watch any scene) add to the character. If there's a Bob Newhart in this cast, it's him, not Carell. For all the faults with his shows, and there are many, Bob Newhart could usually be counted on to provide the laughs. When one of his characters was nervous, you were amused. Newhart didn't bury the moment with pathos. With the exception of Krasinski, all the males on screen in The Office bathe, drink and feed on pathos. It's as though they studied bad acting with Seth Green. Where a light touch might draw you in, their heavy touch results in rejection.

This is the kind of show that, when cancelled, finds the creative geniuses claiming their product was just "too real" for Americans "to handle." But there's nothing real about Carell's cartoonish performance. He's doing the same bits he grew famous for on The Daily Show -- where Jon Stewart provided the reality.

Let's return to Krasinski because the first episode we watched of this show actually gave us some hope. It's the one where the company puts the workers on a boat for a team bonding workshop. Carell floundered there as well. (Funny would have been him thinking he was in charge -- instead Carell played it so that he was scrambling to be in charge while in full doubt mode.) In that episode Krasinski was given a great deal to do, so much in fact, that it appeared he was a co-lead. Episodes since have demonstrated that's not the case. But on that episode, the show had moments that were identifiable. Viewers could relate.

Between Carell and Novak, it's as though the writers have studied the quirky character that added flavor to a hit show and decided to do an entire show with nuts and fools. Who's supposed to laugh at this? Corporate bosses? An Urkel or a Mimi stand out because they're so different from the characters that surround them. When you start trying to populate a show with nothing but Urkels or Mimis, you end up with Taxi, which, for the record, was cancelled by not one network but two and also managed to exist in the pre-cable explosion when viewer choices were much more limited.

Trend topic. So no one accuses of us doing all the heavy lifting and failing to live up to the "standards" of so much of today's TV "criticism." Krasinski's hair. What's going on there? On Four Kings, Josh Cooke's wearing a similar style. Are the sixites back? There's a lot of combing forward as though the hair were cut around the face and layers are suddenly out?

A lack of layers? That's what Newhart lacked until a nervous CBS forced changes. That's what Bob lacked and led to its quick cancellation. That's what The Office lacks and will lead to
. . .

(*We're speaking not of chart positions. Thursday nights were a "hit" night for NBC. We're speaking of the loss figures, the drop off in audience from the lead in to Weber and Silverman's shows. Study those figures.)

It's all White

The problem without a name coined a certain writer. She passed away last week. And the reaction to that passing was par for the course -- White woman dies and attention follows. One feminist site had a post by a visiter whining that Betty Friedan didn't receive as much attention as Coretta Scott King. We're not exactly sure why she should have, but we have to wonder what world that poster is living in?

As C.I., Betty, Mike and Cedric noted repeatedly, the paper of record, The New York Times never saw fit to run an editorial or a column on Coretta Scott King. They did, however, see fit to run one on Friedan on February 8th. A Judith Warner (who has been contract labor for the paper before) weighed in on her own personal tragedy that led her, in 2001, to identify with Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique. The personal tragedy? Being able to cut back on her paid work hours to spend more time with her children. Now most working Americans (male or female) never find themselves in such a crisis these days where single-parent homes and two-income families are pretty much standard fair. But the paper of record loves their "ladies who leave the rat race" and, by hook or by crook, they always manage to find them.

[Contrary to Warner's experience, Katha Pollitt notes attempting to teach The Feminine Mystique in 2001 and shares:
You might as well be teaching Jane Austen. The way you'd have to explain about curates and Bath and entailed estates, you have to tell them how women dressed up to go to the market, how women's magazines obsessed about the fragile male ego and how dropping out of college to get married was indulgently viewed because you weren't going to use your education anyway. The vast American obliviousness that shrouds in a kind of Gothic mist everything that happened before last Tuesday has swallowed up the system of laws, social practices and cultural understandings Friedan described. My students felt a bit exasperated by Friedan's suburban wives, their low-level depression and seething dissatisfactions, their "problem that had no name." If they were so unhappy, why didn't they, you know, do something about it? None of my students planned to spend their days waxing the kitchen floor; even their mothers hadn't done that. But if they did, it would be--the magic word--their choice.]

Last Sunday, when Friedan's death hit the papers, C.I. weighed in on it. Ava and Jess who help out with the e-mail noted a small swarm of angry e-mail to the public account (where visiters e-mail) including a few that maintained no one would read The Common Ills again. (Not just the person e-mailing, "no one.") The reality was that the community didn't take offense to the post. Quite the contrary, it was loudly applauded (and all of us working on this edition applaud it). The same way that those of us who listen to Democracy Now! on WBAI weren't upset when fund raising meant we missed out on the segment on Betty Friedan. (We don't think we missed anything, no offense intended to Amy Goodman or Juan Gonzalez.)

"The mother of us all" cried some of the press. The woman who started a revolution. The woman who led a revolution. Hell, why didn't they just come right out and say she was the revolution because that's what they were implying.

So during the week, we checked with women from that time period. Whether it was professors or Ruth (who credits Pat Mainarid's "The Politics of House Work" with impacting "my married life" but not Friedan's book), relatives or friends, we found a number of women who knew of "the book" but very few who had read it and none that claimed to have been influenced by it.

The second wave of feminism doesn't arise from a book by Friedan. Not among the women we spoke to. Where did it come from? Activists. Activists working on issues. Student rights, civil rights, the anti-war movement . . . They saw themselves committed to fighting for others' freedoms but within the organizations they worked in and with, they weren't free. They were the note takers, the typists, the "get me some coffee" drones. They saw their ideas shot down -- the same ideas that if a man proposed something similar at a later time, were "wonderful" ideas. They saw the men stop them in the middle of a joke to finish it for them because women couldn't tell a joke "right." All of those double standards as well as the sexual double standard. Yep, in the midst of a sexual revolution, that double standard still existed. If you wanted to be exclusive (which 12 women felt the need to point out that in their experiences meant he could sleep around but they couldn't) you were a 'nag' or worse. And if you didn't want to 'put out,' your ass wasn't radical and you didn't know the first thing about liberation.

"Every sexual decision was imposed, not agreed upon," said one woman who graduated college in 1967, said with such raw emotion that the years must still be fresh.

"Look," offered another who said not to call her a "60s radical because I'm still radical", "that book might have helped my mother understand a little bit of what I was trying to do but it didn't have a thing to do with the battles I was fighting. I wasn't off in suburbia trying to figure out what color scheme to do my kitchen in in order to escape my boredom. I was on the front lines fighting for truth and justice."

Ah yes, suburbia. The narrative. Little Betty Friedan, the housewife, locked away in the suburbs. A watered down version of reality (like the politics in her book). But didn't the media love it and lap it up? White woman, naturally. Housewife wants more! We don't dispute that the press had a field day with their self-pleasing cautionary tale at the time. We just don't think you credit a book, by what the media portrays as an unhappy homemaker, for a movement that arose from women witnessing that even in the liberation movements, all things were far from equal.

But the press loves to single out. Loves to reduce a movement to one person. And when they can couch it on domestic terms, even better. When they can do it with a White face, all the more better.

So you didn't hear about Friedan ripping apart NOW in the eighties. You didn't hear about The Second Stage and how it was so similar to the tone Reagan set. You didn't hear about Friedan the scold who slammed feminism (and other feminist figures). Her well known homophobia was either overlooked or minimized. Some, in order to justify their praise, felt the need to point out that seventies' "surprise" where she voted to include gay rights on the platform. They didn't point out that Friedan, as was so often the case, played that for maximum publicity, from staying silent to come forward at the last minute. They didn't note the fact that she trashed feminists (in the feminist sense of the term) for "focusing" on rape. That she trashed them for 'turning against motherhood.' Wonder where that (false) talking point got traction? Look to Friedan.

But no one was too interested in doing that.

It's funny because a number of us have read a great deal of Alice Walker. (Three of us can state that they've read every book she's published.) And we're not remembering an ode to Friedan.
Could it be that we're looking at a White phenomon?

We think that's the case. Friedan was a White phenomon. She wrote from the middle class experience. While the women we spoke, women coming of age in the sixties and joining the second wave of feminism, could cite many books, The Feminine Mystique wasn't one of the ones they noted. (The most often noted was one was Sisterhood Is Powerful -- a collection edited by Robin Morgan and one of the first feminist anthologies.)

What did they think of when they thought of Friedan?

"The way she trashed domestic violence activists and said we should be working with Girl Scout groups instead of focusing on 'victim' issues," remembered one 51-year-old woman.

B-b-but she was "the mother of us all." Maybe if you were White, middle class, married and didn't have to work, came back the reply.

B-b-but she wrote the "blue print."

"Not to my life," said Anne who traces her own moments of "clicking" to the student activism of the sixties. "And the 'blue print' she ripped up with that awful book. [The Second Stage.] She was the Norma McCorvey of the feminist movement. [Norma McCovery is the real name of Jane Roe in the Roe v. Wade lawsuit.] She changed her positions to suit her fashion and did real damage to the movement."

What really happened? Could it be that Friedan's real impact was on her own generation, her own class, and her own race? The set that Mick Jagger and Ketih Richards lampooned in "Mother's Little Helper"?

We won't argue that it didn't reach beyond the set but we also won't argue that the second wave activism took root because of a book as opposed to real life experiences that weren't dealt with in said book. That view goes against the grain, goes against the norm and all the more reason to express it.

Friedan tidied up her own history in promoting the book which is another issue left unnoted in the "We remember Betty!" press coverage. There were radical roots there but that wouldn't play well in the mainstream media. So she simplified and the press aided and abetted. It's really not surprising that they'd continue to do so when noting her passing.

No more surprising than that White Gail Collins would run on op-ed about Friedan while avoiding the topic of Coretta Scott King. King didn't write a book that could be packaged and repackaged into a "Fellows, look out for what's coming!" report. She just lived her life with the activist spirit burning throughout. What were Friedan's thoughts on the current war? Or did she not bother to weigh in?

A number of right-wingers tried to say that the funeral of Coretta Scott King was hijacked by lefties to promote their causes and bash the Bully Boy. Their ignorance and lies weren't surprising. But maybe the lies worked on a few people? Maybe because the mainstream press coverage was most comfortable noting her as the wife of the man who gave the "I Have a Dream" speech -- as though that was where her life began and ended?

That's not reality. Coretta Scott King was a feminist, she was a civil rights activist, she was a fighter against poverty, she was a critic of the war. She never turned her back on a movement or ripped apart her own work.

Since Gail Collins refused to run any column or editorial on Coretta Scott King but did run one on Friedan (written by someone of her "class"), we would have had to compare the two women. But seeing a post noting the following, we knew we had to offer another point of view:

Without taking anything away from Coretta Scott King (well deserved attention), I regret Friedan does not get similar attention. She has had a much greater impact because it was for a population that is not recognized, one that is taken so much for granted: the mother/shore syndrome (thank you my fellow man).

"Without taking anything away"?

"Much greater impact" does exactly that, Frieda, exactly that. As does "for a population that is not recognized, one that is taken so much for granted." Shall we take that to mean, 'silly African-Americans engaged in their silly struggle' because it honestly strikes us that way. Black, White, Latina, it strikes us that way.

"Without taking anything away"?

We'll note this from Feminist Wire Daily:

King played a significant role in the founding years of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She hosted NOW's second convention in Atlanta, Georgia. King was appointed by President Carter to serve as a commissioner on the National Commission on the Observation of International Women's Year, which was led by Bella Abzug.
On what would have been Martin Luther King’s 50th birthday, King dedicated the public observation to the drive to make his birthday a national holiday, as well as the drive to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. King faithfully attended the annual brunch of the National Congress of Black Women, led by Dr. C. DeLores Tucker, a civil rights and women's rights champion who passed away last year.
"Over and over again, Coretta Scott King lent her words, her encouragement, her acts, and her deeds for the drive for human rights, civil rights, and women's rights worldwide," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. "She wisely used her historical position to further the rights of all people."

Frieda, it seems to us you're taking a great deal away. But that may not be your fault, you may be basing what we see as your ill informed opinions upon the "takeaway" from the mainstream media coverage. We also wonder how much you absorbed from that autographed copy of The Feminine Mystique since you're so quick to dismiss King's accomplishments which went far beyond, whether you know it or not, "the wife of." If it's any comfort, Gail Collins obviously shared your opinion that Friedan had a much greater impact" and we're sure that they'd she say her editorial choices were made "without taking anything away from Coretta Scott King" as well.

On playing the fear card

If there was a single to Saturday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders (other than "Don't leave politics to the politicans"), we think it was don't let people play the fear card. It was there in Laura Flanders opening monologue, throughout the show, and in the closing interview with country music star Rodney Crowell.

As Flanders noted early on when people were asking questions about the warrantless spying, Bully Boy tried to make it about "national security." When Michael Brown was due to testify in Congress about the incompetence and disregard of the administration when confronted with the realities on the ground in the New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina hit, Bully Boy tried to grab the spin cycle by announcing he'd foiled a plot (in 2002) to take down Los Angeles's "Liberty Tower" (which was actually the Library Tower -- but what does Bully Boy know about libraries?).

Whenever serious questions are raised about his performance or fitness for the job, he pulls out the fear card and slaps on the table. This week it was less successful. Partly due to the fact that the mayor of Los Angeles had twice attempted to contact him in the past only to be rebuffed. Partly due to the fact that the "plot" has so many twists and turns as various officials explain it (as Ron noted in "Bush Said, A.P. Said 'in October 2001'"). But hopefully due to the fact that we've all grown a bit of weary of living in fear and having our emotions manipulated.

Flanders noted Tom Ridge's comments about the terrorist alerts (after he left office) and how some of them weren't really necessary. In year five of the Bully Boy's war on America, he still thinks he can scare us all stupid. Maybe that's how he was raised?

Whatever, it's not taking this time. Not in the numbers and intensity it once did.

Should another attack come, the "Blame Bill Clinton" strategy will be a tough one to pull off again since he's had so many years and spent so much money "fixing" things.

It's interesting how much fear did accomplish. It silenced dissent (with the help of the corporate media). It allowed tax cuts to be pushed through. It allowed massive bailouts of the airline industry. It allowed questions to be dismissed. It allowed the Bully Boy to mow down the Constitution.

"Post 9/11" world Bully Boy loves to say. Would that be a 9/13 world? That was the due our own scared leader finally found time to address the people from Ground Zero. 9/11 was the day of flitting all around the country on Air Force One.

Since that embarrasing display of cowardice and non-leadership, Bully Boy's been strutting like a banty rooster and crowing about as often. The response to the hurricanes revealed how hollow his claims of "national security" were. New Orleans and surrounding areas, a much talked about unnatural disaster. "Unnatural" because of the fact that the relief efforts came late when they came at all. The less talked about Wilma demonstrated that even when the damage is far less, basics like electricity can remain off for over a month. Or maybe he thought people living without reliable electricity would help them identify with Iraqis? Was that the plan?

Always when incompetence is noted, we think back to Iraq: the hallmark of incompetence. Lies, and bad lies at that, led us into war (with the help of an unquestioning media). Lies continued as we invaded. Those roses never did get tossed in our path, did they Rummy? Lies told us that we were there to help but while we had a tag sale on Iraq assets and public services, we never did fulfill the promise on the hospitals, did we?

Incompetence got us there and incompetence keeps us there. Maybe the "higher authority" Bully Boy appeals to should be asked to grant him a new brain?

He needs something because he's got one card in the deck and he's played it so often that it's lost its shock value. In previous times, a real leader told us that we had nothing to fear but fear itself. Bully Boy seems intent on repeating that we have everything to fear including ourselves.
He tried to market himself as the "compassionate conservative" but we're pretty sure he'll go down as either the "loco leader" or the "lousy leader." Either way, America seems to be awakening from its long nightmare.

Flanders made the suggestion that you follow the mainstream media and see how many times Michael Brown or soundbytes of his testimony are mentioned? The answer to that question, we'd argue, will tell you how fear based the mainstream media is or isn't. If they, like the public, have grown weary of the scare tactics, expect it to get heavy play. If they haven't, expect them to repeat Bully Boy's "national security" mantra without questioning.

Cowardly Journalism Review (Parody)


Cowardly Comment
Here's where we act like we've been on the beat and swipe phrases like "happy talk" (and where do you suppose we got that?). Iraq, we write, is complex and the suggestions offered by others are simplistic: stay the course or get out.
Careful readers will note that we dismiss the get out option but we've been doing that since the invasion. Toad still suffers sixties flashback and anytime someone proposes America pull out, he begins slamming his head against the wall and screaming obscenities at a non-present Bernadine Dohrn. (During really bad episodes, he snarls at female staffers, "Get me some coffee! And put on a bra for God's sake!" For the record, all female staffers wear bras. As does Toad.)
So we use this editorial space to hector and complain that no one's talking seriously about the options. (Don't worry, we're just on a faux soapbox, this issue is full of the usual fluff our readers expect. Think of us as a text version of the PBS NewsHour.)
As should be obvious to anyone who's read our magazine since the occupation began, we firmly believe that not only are we the cops of the world, we are also the mommies and the daddies as well. As such, we must take a paternal approach to Iraq and treat it like a child. (And some said our so-called "historical ignorance" would never pay off!)
We can't leave. That's the subtext of our editorial.
And not just because of Toad's sixties flashbacks (we understnd he had a nasty experience when, under the heavy influence of Donovan, he attempted to smoke the peel of a grape).
We can't leave because the argument for that's being made by people and not the press. If and when 62% of the mainstream press advocate the US pulling out of Iraq, we will as well. Until then, we'll toss out John Murtha's name and then proceed to ignore that option while hectoring others for their lack of serious exploration and yet not providing any of our own.
There are trend stories to be written and, after Toad has an episode, he's always got the munchies and willing to treat us to "free refills" at Chuck E. Cheese.
Most importantly, we're the watchdog that wasted everyone's time in the lead up to the war by praising "embed" programs, listing items that journalists were packing and even noting Judith Miller's reporting in a feature on fine journalism.
We didn't sound the alarm then, why should we now?
A watchdog has to pick and choose battles.
Someday, we'll find one that we think is really important and, oh boy, will we bark then!
Remember our March/April issue is devoted to our usual theme of "Everything Is Rosy!" and will contain even more naval gazing at the industry and less analysis (yes, it is possible!).

Darts & Laurels
by Who Let the Coop Out?
DART to morons who point out that when we wrote of Jessica Lynch we mentioned "two women" and wrote "when two female America POWs drew massive, disproportionate coverage." Some morons have taken to putting us down (talking about the Gitlin generation, my generation!) for assuming that both women got "massive" coverage when only Lynch did. So what if Shoshana Johnson was a black? If we thought race was an issue, we would have mentioned it. We think she's quite lucky to have gotten the minor attention she did. If you missed it, the following year NBC cancelled Whoopi. Corporate America doesn't care about the African-Americans, so why should we? Did you see any TV movie about that Shoshana? No! Because no one cares and neither do we which is why we reduced her to one of "two women" and didn't even bother to name her. As Toad says, "Quit wasting time on identity politics!"
LAUREL to Debs at The Washington Post. She taught us all how to stand strong and ignore your critics. If they had anything worth hearing, they'd be on TV. We heart you, Debs!
DART to Eason Jordan for attempting to bring up a serious issue. The country's not ready for it, Eason! Back off! We took the time to tar and feather you as we did with Linda Foley when she tried to bring up some unpleasant truths that we weren't ready for, therefore, neither was the nation. We are the gatekeepers, Eason, watch your step.
LAUREL to us for weighing in on the Newsweek/Koran issue without ever wasting our time flipping through The New Yorker. "What Night Letter?" was our punch line at the office Christmas party. (Secret Santa got me Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat! Thank you, Santa!) Some morons have suggested that if we're going to write about the riots in Afghanistan we might need to know some basic facts. As we demonstrate repeatedly, basic facts have nothing to do with running a journalism review.

Mothers ON AIR! Trend Story! Trend Story!
by Bent and Ham Fisted
Things are wonderful for women in TV news today. They can be mothers and workers. Just ask any of the on air talent and they'll tell you how being a big name affords nannies a plenty. Glass ceiling? There is none! Glass ceiling? Try cash money, baby!
We went to Mother Superiority who combined career and personal life back when most of us were still in the womb. Barbara Walters told us that you must "prioritize." She also said that you must "be true to your sources." Some nasty wags have suggested that "truth" is what busted up her marriage in the early nineties. If true, we say Babs, you're better off without him, he didn't give you any scoops and you kept mega-source Lady in Red happy which was very important.
Gals, you can have it all. The glass ceiling is demolished. So quit obsessing over the fact that when you ask hard questions you're called a "bitch" but you're balding, male teammate never is. Quit obsessing that you have to report for makeup earlier. Or that you're required to be "pretty" and might be replaced with "younger talent" at any minute. (Andrea let it go. You know, we know, everyone knows NBC put Norah O'Donnell in D.C. for a reason. You had a nice run. Now exit gracefully.)
Decades earlier some of those pushy, feminist types agitated for better working conditions at the network. What was the point? That went nowhere and aren't we all sitting pretty now? Mothers are ON THE AIR! There's Katie Couric. There's Diane Sawyer . . . scratch that. There's Julie Chen . . . scratch that. There's Lisa Myers . . . scratch that. There's Cynthia McFadden . . . scratch that. Look trend stories aren't supposed to require research! This is confusing stuff. Well, there's Katie Couric! And Elizabeth Vargas! Two exceptions will prove the rule! You can have it all!

Brave Journalists
by Toad
John F. Burns is our ideal reporter. He has a difficult honey of an assignment from The New York Times, create stories from Iraq when he can't even leave the Green Zone. But that doesn't stop his output. Not only that, he's been able to tutor Dexter Filkins who's excelled so well that some are comparing them to Butch & Sundance, Gargery & Pip, Hannity & Colmes.
Burns proved he was a brave voice early on by reporting on the abuses of Saddam Hussein during the lead up to the war. It took a great deal of guts to call a government out and all John F. Burns had on his side was the mighty pen, The New York Times, and the Bully Boy administration. Burns we applaud your bravery. Your work was the overseas compliment to Judith . . . Oh wait, we stopped praising her when the universal consensus was she's toast.
Moving on.

Reflexive Reflections
by the editorial staff
Remember when we called the embedded program (we didn't use that word, it honestly shocked our Victorian sensibilities) an apparent "press victory"? In fact, we were so proud of that article that we posted it twice and credited it to two different authors! "Press victory" was important enough for us to post it again. And it helped us hide the article "When War Plans Go Public" which the first link is actually supposed to take readers too. LOL. We so crazy.
Now some might think we're trying to hide a report but we're really trying to hide bad writing. (Coops uses "leaks" seven times in the first four sentences. She thought she was Dr. Seus that day.) It has nothing to do with our superficial evaulation of the reporters who gladly leaked the war plans that the Pentagon wanted leaked. (We judged that to be good, "they raised the public’s understanding to a deeper level.")
We're not at all embarrassed about that judgement now or about the praise we offered for "context" from The Washington Post article that explained the plan was about Iraq, not Muslims. What some might call pushing the adminstration's talking points, we called "context." What some call carrying water for the administration, we praise. And excuse the heck out of us, but unless you're name is Jack, Jill or Heidi, we're having a hard time believing most of you morons who criticize us have any idea just how difficult it is to carry water. Which is why we noted that the task is a "a perilous exercise." But to read that, you'd have to look at an old copy of the issue because, strangest thing, you won't find it at our site. You will find an article with that title but not the article itself. But don't you accuse us of running from our reporting -- those were just "website malfunctions."
Possibly you remember when we weighed in on Al Jazeera? No, not when we got in our slams at documentary filmmaker Jehane Noujaim ("It's not surprising that Noujaim . . . has herself been accused of bias") in our July/August 2004 issue. No, we're talking about when we weighed in on it in 2003.
Remember our lack of concern about an Al Jazeera reporter being beat up in Detroit? Hey, we're Cowardly Journalism Review, leave the concerns to Reporters Without Borders. We liked how we just sort of treated that as an aside, very Cokie Roberts of us.
But what we especially enjoy about that piece is that our writer saw the toppeling of the Saddam Hussein statue and that she never managed to tell you that on Al Jazeera she saw a small group of men (brought in by the US government -- that's us, baby!) cheering and passing for Iraqis living under Saddam and she also avoided noting that the military brought the statue down.
That's the kind of press "analysis" we can get behind.
That's our position here at the magazine. We'll print the occassional cranks (John R. MacArthur, Geneva Overholser, Michael Massing, Liza Featherstone) with their contrarian views and should this whole war effort go in the toilet, we'll be able to point to those isolated articles. (It hasn't yet, has it?)
They're part of the "moasic." Like the article we printed by a reporter who told of holding off reporting on a kidnapped victim because it was a friend of her's. We asked no hard questions there. We didn't point out the obvious that if it hadn't been a friend, the reporter would have been all over that story.
That's what we do here. We just toss stuff out. Stuff that makes us feel good and look good to the ones who matter.
If you're unhappy with it, chances are that you don't matter.
We know what we're doing.
We're changing the system from within and we push for a morsel of progress one century at a time.
This century, we're thinking of devoting that public-service time by commissioning multiple pieces on the harm Tommy Lee must cause women since all his ex-wives continue to see their relationships crumble. Sure we'll get criticized for it, we'll get slammed for it, but if we can make just one former Dynasty cast member or one former Baywatch cast member's life/lives a bit better than we are taking on the system.
And think of all the potential women we're warning off from marrying Tommy Lee Jones? I mean, have you seen the video of him & Pam. That thing's like a calling card! It's like a light house, just hanging there, drawing attention. It certainly drew our attention.
The campaign of 2004 didn't. We weighed in that reporters were not showing ideological bias in the mainstream. (Sometimes we include Fox "News" in that category and sometimes we don't. It's up to the readers to figure out when we're including it and when we're not.) We blamed the "Kerry is a flip-flopper" line that popped up everywhere not on the reporters bias (because we're omniscent) but on the fact that they all used the same sources. Now going to a source is a decision a reporter makes and just because they know the source will repeat "flip-flopper" and just because they include the expected quote in their reporting we don't see how you can call that bias. So we didn't call it that.
We also didn't call the coverage of the Not So Swift Floaties "bias." We didn't even note itin our editorial. Ted Koppel is our hero. He's so manly that a number of us wonder exactly when his sex tape will leak out.
We also didn't see any bias in the way the press jumped over a (false) rumor of an affair that Kerry had. Or in the way Homeland Security used phoney terrorist alerts and the press covered them as real. Or in the silence when a Congressional website was used to attack a presidential candidate in the midst of an election. (If it had been used to attack Bully Boy, we'd have been all over it because we're "moderate" and "reasonable.") Or when "commentators" had conflicts. (When Commentators Have Conflicts? Sounds like the story of our . . . Oops, don't go there!)
Some people see bias everywhere. We don't. We "analzye." It's like someone looking at their ceiling, seeing rain dripping in and complaining that their roof is leaking. Us, we "analyze" and call it what it is: "indoor running water."
Which is why we're not interested (nor are our intended readers) in The New York Times killing the story on Bully Boy's hump in the debates. We're not interested in anything that FAIR or Salon talks about. We run with the big dogs. So we don't bark unless they do.
Still we get no credit. Jack Shafer even called us "pricks." (Toad took it as a compliment.)
Some people look at world hunger and immediately go to the "We must feed them!" knee-jerk reaction. Our approach is more along the lines of, "Hunger, huh? See if an outside writer is interested. Us, we're headed to McDonalds." We walk a delicate tightrope. It's not like Editor & Publisher has to answer to Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc.

Ex funcionario de CIA en Medio Oriente acusa a gobierno de Bush de seleccionar informaci�n sobre Irak en forma ventajosa

"Ex funcionario de CIA en Medio Oriente acusa a gobierno de Bush de seleccionar información sobre Irak en forma ventajosa"

Maria: Buenos dias. De parte de "Democracy Now!" diez cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. Paz.

Ex funcionario de CIA en Medio Oriente acusa a gobierno de Bush de seleccionar información sobre Irak en forma ventajosa
Mientras tanto, el ex funcionario nacional de inteligencia de la CIA para el Medio Oriente acusó al gobierno de Bush de seleccionar información en forma ventajosa para justificar la invasión a Irak. En un nuevo artículo de Asuntos Exteriores, Paul Pillar escribió: "Quedó claro que la información oficial no fue tenida en cuenta para tomar las decisiones más importantes en materia de seguridad nacional. La información fue mal utilizada públicamente para justificar decisiones ya tomadas y el propio trabajo de la comunidad de inteligencia estaba politizado".

Veterano herido de Guerra de Irak obligado a pagar por armadura
En materia militar, "Charlestown Gazette" informa que un soldado de Virginia Occidental herido en un ataque con bomba al costado de una carretera en Irak, fue obligado a pagar por el armadura que le quitaron mientras recibía tratamiento. La semana pasada, el Primer Teniente William "Eddie" Rebrook IV, fue obligado a pagar 700 dólares luego de que le dijeron que el ejército no tenía registro de que le hubieran retirado la armadura. Rebrook dijo: "Si las cosas de un soldado son dañadas por fuego enemigo, el soldado no debería pagarlas...Hay una total falta de empatía de los oficiales superiores que no saben lo que es ser un soldado de combate en el terreno". Su madre, Beckie Drumheler, agregó: "Es atroz, ridículo y desmedido. Quería pararme en una esquina y gritar por un altavoz lo que sucedió".

Informe: Rove amenaza a miembros republicanos del Comité Judicial del Senado por programa de espionaje
Mientras tanto, la publicación conservadora "Insight on the News" informa que el subjefe de personal de la Casa Blanca, Karl Rove, está amenazando a cualquier miembro republicano del comité judicial del Senado que se enfrente a la Casa Blanca sobre el programa de supervisión interna. Según Insight, "fuentes dicen que la lista negra implicaría que la Casa Blanca suspendería todo apoyo político o financiero a los senadores que busquen la reelección en noviembre". Un colaborador republicano veterano dijo a la publicación: "Es un juego duro hasta el final".

Jimmy Carter: Espionaje telefónico es "vergonzoso e ilegal"
Surgió un nuevo crítico al programa de espionaje interno, el ex presidente Jimmy Carter. quien describió la decisión del gobierno de Bush de realizar espionaje a través de escuchas telefónicas como "vergonzosa e ilegal". Carter dijo que "nadie sabe la privacidad de cuántos estadounidenses inocentes fue violada a causa de esta ley secreta". Carter hizo el comentario en Nevada, en una actividad en la que su hijo, Jack, anunció que se presentaría como candidato al senado de Estados Unidos.

Funcionario de la NASA designado por Bush renuncia tras revelación de que había mentido en su curriculum
En otras noticias, un funcionario designado por el presidente en el departamento de asuntos públicos de la NASA renunció tras la revelación de que había inventado parte de su curriculum. George Deutsch, quien fue designado el año pasado luego de trabajar en la campaña de reelección y en la asunción del presidente Bush, afirmó erróneamente que se había graduado como periodista en la Universidad A & M de Texas. Deutsch es uno de los funcionarios de la NASA acusado por los científicos de la agencia de intentar silenciar sus advertencias sobre las amenazas del calentamiento global.

Informe: Gobierno de Bush fue informado de rotura de dique antes de que fuera anunciada
Volvemos a Estados Unidos, el "New York Times" informa que la Casa Blanca fue informada acerca de que el huracán Katrina había derribado un dique en Nueva Orleáns casi doce horas antes de que el gobierno de Bush lo anunciara. La Casa Blanca argumentó que se le informó de las roturas del dique la mañana del martes 30 de agosto de 2005. Pero documentos demuestran que el gobierno de Bush fue informado la medianoche anterior.

Bush propone gran aumento del gasto de defensa y reducción de programas socials
El presidente Bush presenta su propuesta de presupuesto de aproximadamente unos 2,8 billones de dólares para el año próximo, lo que implica importantes aumentos en el gasto de defensa, pero profundos recortes del programa de salud Medicare y otros programas sociales a nivel nacional. Según esta propuesta de presupuesto, el gasto de defensa aumentará a 440 mil millones de dólares, casi un 7 por ciento. De ser aprobado, el presupuesto del Pentágono aumentará 45 por ciento con respecto al presupuesto asignado cuando Bush asumió por primera vez hace cinco años. El gasto militar es mucho más alto porque esta propuesta no incluye el gasto de las guerras de Irak y Afganistán. Un reciente cálculo estimó el costo de la guerra de Irak en 100 mil dólares por minuto. Al mismo tiempo, el presidente propone que las reducciones de impuestos sean permanentes. Esto costará alrededor de 1,5 billones en la próxima década. El Secretario de Defensa Donald Rumsfeld habló el lunes sobre el presupuesto: "La solicitud de presupuesto del presidente para el Departamento de Defensa representa un aumento con respecto al año anterior. Refleja lo que creemos que deberían ser las prioridades de la seguridad nacional de nuestro país. Fundamentalmente para ayudar a defender a Estados Unidos de América y al pueblo estadounidense y sus intereses, para otorgar flexibilidad a los comandantes, para prepararnos tanto para la guerra convencional como para la no convencional o irregular, y, algo que es muy importante, para trabajar junto a naciones socias para ayudarlas a desarrollar las capacidades necesarias para vencer a los terroristas dentro de sus fronteras y para que cooperen con nosotros y con otros países con respecto a esta amenaza mundial".

Muchos programas sociales sufrirán recortes en virtud del nuevo presupuesto
Mientras el presupuesto del Pentágono aumenta sensiblemente, el Centro sobre Presupuesto y Prioridades Políticas advierte que el presidente Bush propone realizar recortes a cientos de programas nacionales. Los recortes afectan a programas de educación, protección ambiental, numerosos programas de asistencia a las familias de bajos ingresos, niños, ancianos y personas discapacitadas, así como recortes a la investigación del cáncer, afecciones cardíacas y otras enfermedades. En uno de los casos, el centro estima que 420.000 adultos mayores de bajos ingresos perderán asistencia alimentaria del Programa de Alimentación Complementaria. Legisladores demócratas, e incluso algunos republicanos, criticaron a Bush por proponer recortar el gasto de los programas sociales. El senador republicano Arlen Specter calificó de "escandalosos" a los recortes en educación y la salud propuestos por Bush, mientras que la senadora republicana Olympia Snowe dijo estar "decepcionada y hasta sorprendida" por el alcance de los recortes propuestos por el gobierno a los programas Medicaid y Medicare.

Se cumplen 30 años del arresto de Leonard Peltier
Hoy se cumplen 30 años del encarcelamiento del activista estadounidense de origen indígena Leonard Peltier. Se están realizando manifestaciones en todo el país para solicitar su liberación. Fue procesado por matar a dos agentes del FBI durante un tiroteo en la Reserva India de Pine Ridge en 1975. Pero Peltier ha sostenido su inocencia desde ese momento. Escuchamos parte de una entrevista realizada por Amy Goodman a Peltier en prisión en el año 2000. Publicaremos un archivo mp3 con la entrevista completa en nuestro sitio web: En una reciente declaración a quienes lo apoyan, Peltier dijo: "Estamos preparados para presentar más apelaciones en base a nueva información que mi equipo jurídico halló mientras investigaba documentos ocultos. Quiero que sepan que seguiremos luchando por mi libertad".

Más de 10.000 personas asistieron al funeral de Coretta Scott King
En Georgia, se calcula que unas 10.000 personas acudieron a la Iglesia Bautista Misionaria del Renacimiento en Letonia, un barrio residencial de Atlanta, para el funeral de la pionera de los derechos civiles, Coretta Scott King. Los ex presidentes Jimmy Carter, George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, y el actual presidente George W. Bush asistieron al funeral junto con 14 senadores estadounidenses, y otros personajes públicos como Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey y Stevie Wonder. King falleció el 30 de enero a los 78 años, cuando se encontraba en México, donde buscaba tratamiento contra el cáncer de ovarios. Durante el funeral del martes, tanto el ex presidente Jimmy Carter, como el ex director de la Conferencia de Liderazgo Cristiano del Sur, reverendo Joseph Lowery, realizaron duras críticas al presidente Bush. Hablaron de la guerra en Irak, las violaciones de las libertades civiles y acusaron al presidente de ignorar la terrible situación de los pobres de Estados Unidos.

Maria: Now in English, here are ten headlines from Democracy Now! Peace.

Ex-CIA Mideast Officer Accuses Bush Admin. Of "Cherry-Picking" Iraq Intel
Meanwhile, the CIA's former national intelligence officer for the Middle East has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence to justify the Iraq invasion. In a new article in Foreign Affairs, Paul Pillar writes: "It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions. Intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made…and the intelligence community's own work was politicized."

Injured Iraq War Veteran Forced To Pay For Body Armor
In military news, the Charlestown Gazette is reporting a West Virginia soldier injured in a roadside bombing in Iraq has been forced to pay for the body armor that was removed from him while he was being treated. Last week, 1st Lt. William "Eddie" Rebrook IV was forced to pay $700 dollars after he was told the army had no record the armor was taken from him. Rebrook said: "If a soldier's stuff is hit by enemy fire, he shouldn't have to pay for it… There's a complete lack of empathy from senior officers who don’t know what it’s like to be a combat soldier on the ground." His mother, Beckie Drumheler, added: "It's outrageous, ridiculous and unconscionable. I wanted to stand on a street corner and yell through a megaphone about this."

Report: Rove Threatens GOP Senate Judiciary Members Over Spy Program
Meanwhile, the conservative publication Insight on the News is reporting White House deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is threatening any Republican Senate Judiciary members who challenge the White House on the domestic surveillance program. According to Insight, "Sources said the blacklist would mean a halt in any White House political or financial support of senators running for re-election in November." A senior Republican aide told the publication: "It's hardball all the way."

Jimmy Carter: Warantless Spying is "Disgraceful and Illegal"
A new critic of the domestic spying program has emerged -- former President Jimmy Carter. He described the Bush administration's decision to go ahead with the warrantless spying as "disgraceful and illegal." Carter said, "No one knows how many innocent Americans have had their privacy violated under this secret act." Carter made the statement in Nevada at an event where his son, Jack, announced he is running for U.S. Senate.

Bush NASA Appointee Resigns Over Resume Fabrication
In other news, a presidential appointee at NASA's public affairs department has resigned following the disclosure he fabricated parts of his resumé. George Deutsch, who was appointed last year after working on President Bush's re-election campaign and inauguration, wrongly claimed he had graduated with a journalism degree from Texas A & M University. Deutsh is one of several NASA officials accused by agency scientists of attempting to silence their warnings over the threats posed by global warming.

Bush Administration Told of Levee Breach Earlier Than Claimed
Back in the United States, the New York Times is reporting the White House was told Hurricane Katrina had overrun a levee in New Orleans almost twelve hours earlier than the Bush administration has claimed. The White House has maintained it was first informed of the levee breaches the morning of Tuesday, August 30th 2005. But documents show the Bush administration was first informed at midnight the night before.

Bush Proposes Big Increase in Defense Spending, Cuts in Social Programs
In his proposed nearly $2.8 trillion budget President Bush is calling for major increases in defense spending but deep cuts in Medicare and other domestic social programs. Under the proposed budget, defense spending will increase nearly 7 percent to $440 billion. If approved the Pentagon’s budget will become 45 percent larger than when Bush took office five years ago. The military spending is actually far higher because the proposed budget does not include the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One recent estimate put the cost of the Iraq war at $100,000 every minute. At the same time, the president is proposing to make his tax cuts permanent. This would cost about $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld discussed the budget on Monday: "The President's budget request for the Department of Defense represents an increase over last year. It reflects what we believe should be the country's national security priorities. Namely to help defend the United States of America and the American people and their interests, to give flexibility to commanders, to prepare for both conventional and unconventional or irregular warfare, and, importantly, to work closely with partner nations to help them develop the capabilities needed to defeat terrorists within their borders and to co-operate with us and other countries with respect to this global threat."

Wide Range of Social Programs To Face Cuts Under New Budget
While the Pentagon budget is soaring, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, warns that President Bush is proposing to make cuts in hundreds of domestic programs. This includes education programs, environmental protection programs, numerous programs to assist low-income families, children, and elderly and disabled people, and research related to cancer, heart disease, and other medical conditions. In one case, the Center estimates 420,000 low-income seniors will lose food assistance from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. Democratic and even some Republican lawmakers have criticized Bush for proposing to slash spending on social programs. Republican Sen. Arlen Specter called Bush's proposed cuts in education and health "scandalous" while Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe said she was "disappointed and even surprised" at the extent of the administration's proposed cuts in Medicaid and Medicare.

Leonard Peltier Jailed 30 Years Ago Today
And today marks the 30th anniversary of the imprisonment of Native American activist Leonard Peltier. Rallies are being held across the country to call for his release. He was convicted of killing of killing two FBI agents during a shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. But Peltier has long maintained his innocence. This is from an interview in 2000 I did with him from jail. We will post an MP3 of the full interview on our website In a recent statement to supporters, Peltier said "We are all geared up to file more appeals on new information my legal team has found while reviewing withheld documents. I want you to know that we will continue to fight for my freedom."

Over 10,000 Attend Funeral Service for Coretta Scott King
In Georgia Tuesday, an estimated 10,000 people filled the pews of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia, for the funeral of civil rights pioneer Coretta Scott King. Former presidents Jimmy Carter, George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, and President George W. Bush attended the funeral along with 14 US senators and public figures including Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder. King died January 30th at the age of 78 after seeking treatment in Mexico for ovarian cancer. She had just recently suffered a rehabilitating stroke and heart attack. At Tuesday’s service both former President Jimmy Carter and the former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Reverend Joseph Lowery, made subtle criticism of President Bush. They cited the war in Iraq, civil liberties transgressions and accused the president of ignoring the plight of the US poor.

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