Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Note to Our Readers

Another Sunday. Are you bothered by the delays?

We were too. It was technical hell. But we think this edition matters so here we are, with no sleep since Saturday morning, still trying to finish this entry. Trying to reconstruct lost features.
Pushing on, pressing on. (The one person who loves to point out typos should be prepared for a blistering reply -- some of us are on the 31st hour without sleep and none of us is claiming perfect vision at this point.)

Highlights? Even there we had problems. We'd hoped to have more but when Ruth's report never hit the site, we knew we were doomed there as well.

We thank everyone who allowed us to repost the following:

Coalicion de iglesias estadounidenses acusan a Washington de "infundir terror"
Blog Spotlight: Rebecca on the real surreal life
Blog Spotlight: Elaine on truth and fiction
Blog Spotlight: Cedric on when to go
Kitchen Spotlight: Trina's got Brushetta in the Kitchen

New content?

"Editorial: Use your voice" is about the coming month, the third anniversary of the invasion, the beginning of the occupation without end. Will you speak out or will you remain silent?

"And the "tone" screamers scream on (smart people ignore them) " is about "tone." Some are fretting over "tone" again. The most useless aspect of the national debate currently. BuzzFlash was urged to watch it's tone. BuzzFlash is standing firm and so should you. Someone starts talking "tone" to you -- tune them out.

"TV Review: America's Funniest F**king Videos" is Ava and C.I.'s latest TV review. We wanted this up as soon as they finished it. They declined. They wanted to get the reaction of a friend at ABC first. The only argument we had with them over this (no, we didn't argue "Post it now!" -- we've learned that lesson at least) was asking them to go back and take out some qualifiers. This is a critique, it's opinion. They've established what they heard. (We all heard it too when they asked us one by one to listen to something and tell them what we heard.) Ironically enough, if we hadn't had so many technical problems, we wouldn't have this review. They both recorded Friday's America's Funniest Videos but they never had time to watch. When multiple techincal problems ensued, they end up going off to watch the show. C.I. was sick all week and wasn't really sure if there was a TV review inside. Ava was fine with taking a week off. (We were fine with it as well and suggested it when the technical problems first started.) The problems ended up giving them time to watch the show and once they did, they had to write about it. Again, we've heard the recording. We know what was said. We're guessing most people missed it or this would be the water cooler topic of the weekend. (They take it beyond the water cooler.)

"Nancy Chang and Danny Schechter on Media Silence (add your own voice to the mix) " this was a much longer feature that we worked several hours on Saturday night and lost it. It is what it is (to steal from Kat) and hopefully it still has something of value.

An announcement in the form of "NSA Hearings This Tuesday."

"Ten Years of Democracy Now! (May there be many, many more)" was a swipe from Ruth to note the 10th anniversary of Democracy Now! We'd hoped to be able to come up with something of our own. (And this may hit the site six or seven times if all the e-mail attempts to make this a spotlight ever show up.)

"Corporate Magaines Still Suck (your guide to Time Magazine)" was a funny parody that took three hours to write and was then lost. With no time (and too little energy) to recapture the jokes we turned it into a review/parody.

"Interview with Ruth of Ruth's Public Radio Report" is an interview with everyone's favorite (Ruth) where she explains her feelings regarding another effort to "save" PBS and NPR.

"On pop culture criticism" is another attempt to note that the fine work that Laura Flanders does. (Even when she's got a really bad guest and we think she had one yesterday.) We're not doing summaries of the show or synopsis for those who keep asking. We're running with the one thing that stands out each Saturday and exploring that.

Ava and C.I. wrote the TV review.

Some people had to bail (it's five o'clock in NY right now). (Some should have bailed like C.I. who will start work on Sunday entries at The Common Ills in about two hours.) But everyone had input on the features even if they weren't able to continue the marathon. The credit goes to:

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.

We'll see you next Sunday.

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

Editorial: Use your voice

I truly don't believe that sending coffee to our troops and putting yellow "Support our Troops" magnets on cars is supporting the troops.
Coffee is good, I love coffee myself. I just don't understand how sending our young and brave people off to die in a war that has been proven over and over again to be based on lies is supporting the troops. I don't understand how cutting the VA budget and closing VA hospitals is supporting our veterans. I don't understand how exposing our brave young people to depleted uranium, white phosphorous and enhanced napalm is supporting them. I don't understand how forcing our troops to use WMD's (and also conventional weapons) against innocent fellow members of the human race is supporting our troops.
Deborah Johns is a member of Move America Forward and as a mom who has a son in the Marines, is a vocal critic of mine and has been telling everyone that I don't speak for her for months. She in fact is planning a new "Cindy doesn't speak for me" event in San Diego where I will be speaking on February 27th at the Thomas Jefferson Law School.
I have news for Deborah and for the rest of America and the world: I never said I spoke for Deborah, or anyone else.
I speak for Cindy Sheehan. Only Cindy Sheehan.
I expect everyone else to speak for themselves. That is each and every one of our duties and responsibilities as Americans and human beings. I wish someone would show me anywhere that I said I ever spoke for anyone but myself.

The above is from Cindy Sheehan's "Speak for Yourself" and she's been the focus of editorials before. We feel it's past time she was again. The woman who jump started the peace movement is reminding us all of the power of our own voice, of the power in speaking for ourselves. It is your duty, it is your responsibility.

As the third year anniversary of the illegal invasion approaches, those are words worth heeding.
What are you going to do in the month of March?

From David Barsamian's "Cindy Sheehan Interview:"

Q: What steps can people take?
Sheehan: People need to start putting pressure on their elected officials for an investigation into the war crimes. They need to support John Conyers and his call for censure of this administration, and they need to support Gold Star Families for Peace and all our actions that we have coming up. We’re going to go back to Camp Casey during Easter week. And we're going to have an action at Barbara Bush's home in Houston called "For God's Sake, Can't You Make Him Stop?" You just need to use your voice and use your presence and go out of your comfort zone, because the longer we let this Administration continue with its war crimes and trampling on our Constitution and our civil rights, the more harm it's doing to humanity.

Can you use your voice? We know most of our readers already are. If you've been silent, can you speak out now? If you're already speaking out can you speak out even more? Can you leave tone to The New Republicans who want to insist that "how" we got over there doesn't matter?

How matters. Bully Boy's run the country off a cliff. You dust yourself off, you stand up, but you do fill out a police report. (We know Bully Boy's familiar with police reports.) Getting out matters. Knowing how we got in matters as well. Bring the troops home, head on home already. Bully Boy's resisting that and he needs to be held accountable for his actions.

How we got into an illegal war does matter. To say it doesn't is to pull a Cokie Roberts "none that mattered." Did Casey Sheehan matter? Did the 2290 American military dead matter? Did the countless Iraqis who have been killed matter? What of the 101 British troops who were killed? The 103 "coalition" troops? Is The New Republican suggesting that those people don't matter?

Or maybe they're just suggesting that the subversion of American democracy, the destruction of checks and balances doesn't matter?

What an idiotic statement to make, that it doesn't matter how we got over there. It matters. We all know it matters and we all know there needs to be accountability or it will happen again very soon.

As Amy Goodman has pointed out many times, before the war, we couldn't have the discussion, once the war started we couldn't have the discussion. So when do we have the discussion? And when that time comes, will the same gatekeepers pull the nonsense they did following the withdrawal of Vietnam? Where we aren't allowed to discuss the reality? The right-wing can spin like crazy. They can practice their revisionist history and the psuedo-left will remain silent (and join in the attacks on people who did show bravery and speak out against that war)?

Psuedo-lefties allowed the culture for another war to blossom by standing silent (or joining in) when brave voices were attacked. We've already seen that The New Republican is happy to publicly fantasize about anti-war activist Arundhati Roy. Those Liebermonkies wanted this war and sold this war. Until they own their guilt and their blame, no one here really needs to hear from them on "tone" or what we should do or what we shouldn't do.

Cindy Sheehan did speak out. She used her voice and really shook the nation. Is she fretting over "tone"? Is she telling you, "Speak just like me!" No, she's telling you to use your own voice. Sheehan was right in August of 2005, she's right now.

(The New Republican was last right when . . . Oh! When they fired Stephen Glass for his made up stories that they ran with. They were wrong to wait so long, they were wrong to ignore warnings, but, hey, they're always wrong. Finding an example of that is never hard. It's tough to find a time when they were actually right.)

Three year mark approaching. We'll be over there for many more years, stay over there for many more years, until we can learn to use our voices. A lot of the psuedo-left likes to mock the peace movement of "the sixties" (really the late sixties and early seventies). They apparently think sneering jokes about singing songs is the height of sophisticated comedy (which only indicates that none of them, as hard as they pretend, are really suited for a formal dinner). What they're sneering it is a massive movement that rocked the war hawks and ended the war a lot sooner. We can do that again. But it will require a massive mass movement.

It will require everyone of us using our own voices and using them loudly. We think we can all do that. If you doubt your own abilities, note this:

Q: What were the first couple of steps you took?
Sheehan: The first thing I did was connect with the Mitchell family, in Paso Robles, California. Bill Mitchell is the father. His son Michael was killed the same day as Casey, in the same incident. Bill had founded Military Families Speak Out, and he sent me the link. I signed up for Military Families Speak Out. I also sent them Carly's poem, which they posted on the website. They started sending me requests for speaking engagements.
I didn't feel comfortable with speaking until July 4, 2004. I was just going to support another Gold Star Mom who was speaking in Berkeley, California. But when I got there, I decided that I wanted to speak. I spoke that day, and I really haven't shut up since.

Take the first step and you'll find the ones that follow are much easier. Our military presence/actions there only inflame the tensions, there's nothing we can fix. It's time to head home. Demand it.

And the "tone" screamers scream on (smart people ignore them)

On Saturday, we wrote in our e-mail alert that we believed that liberals who smugly disdain outrage and think that if they are "polite and civil" democracy will be restored, that these people are cowards and deserters from the battle for democracy.
This was written in reaction to e-mail subscribers who have left our BuzzFlash alerts because they think that we are too "shrill" and "angry."
We are thankful for the dozens of BuzzFlash readers who urged us not to change a thing about BuzzFlash -- and we hadn't planned on it. (See:
The truth is that in life you don't always get the choices you want, particularly in politics and government. In this case, we are currently confronted with Choices "A" and "B": a dictatorship disguised as a democracy or the restoration of the democracy and Constitutional rights that were granted to this nation in 1776. There is no Choice "C."
Let's put it this way. If a thug comes toward you with a baseball bat, we don't think you are going to dissuade him by saying, "Oh, you don't want to bust my knees. Wouldn't your mother be ashamed of you?"
Try that and you'll be hobbling around on a walker for the rest of your life, if you survive.
It is incredibly self-indulgent at time when the forces of good and evil are battling for control of this great nation to think that you come somehow change society by just being nice. Anger and outrage make many a person uncomfortable, but no one said fighting for democracy and decency would be like reading the New York Times followed by a leisurely Sunday brunch.

That's from BuzzFlash's editorial entitled "There is No Choice "C" in the Battle to Restore Democracy to America." When we started this now 24 hour plus marathon session, C.I. had brought the issue up, it had been noted in an e-mail alert. We all agreed it was time to again weigh in on "tone." Fortunately, Dallas was on a break from hunting down our links and found the editorial at BuzzFlash. So we don't have to talk around the issue.

Buzz is getting slammed for "tone." Imagine that. Some little minds are offended. That's the road The New Republican (who contracts out to The New York Times when not working seven-years-plus on his dopey book that no one bought) and his talk of "tone" steers you down.
We've covered the issue here many times (and C.I. even more so at The Common Ills) so we'll assumed we can dispense with the rhetorical nonsense of "Why would a leftie suggest . . ." because we all know Soccer Pops ain't no leftie. He's a gatekeeper.

Who did his rag endorse in the 2004 primaries? Oh, yes, Joe Lieberman. King of the Weak-Asses, the Minister of Tone. So the left gets lively (Lieberman must still cry into his pillow nightly to realize how truly unwanted he is) and starts fighting back. And? Here come the Liebermonkeys to shush us. Cokie Roberts in the making (give them a few more years, they'll match her jowl for jowl), gatekeepers playing crossguards. "If you speak this way, you can cross over my bridge," say the Liebermonkeys. But you'll never speak their way (and who would want to?). No thinking person would unless they had "doormat" etched into their ass.

Remember when Lieberman handed over the recounts on Meet the Press in 2000? Did the Liebermonkeys howl? The recount was pretty much lost there and then. Lieberman insisted that all military ballots should be counted -- whether they had a postmark or not, whether they had the signatures or not, whether they'd come in via fax after the election, whether they were postmarked after the election . . . That was so 'nice' of Lieberman. Isn't he nice and useless?

A fighter would have said, "Tubby Timster, here's the deal. We count all the votes -- all the votes. Not just the military ballots, every one of them. Because in a democracy, no votes are more more important than anyone else's. Right now, we've got issues of huge disenfranchisement going on in Florida. People who voted on election day in Florida are still waiting for the first recount to take place. There's been no recount. If a military ballot follows the rules and the regulations, we're fine with counting it. But at a time when all votes that were legally cast in person in Florida haven't been counted, I'm failing to grasp why you think we should waive rules and regulations for the military. The military is all about following the rules and regulations, Timster. You insult their intelligence and calling when you suggest that those who broke the rules should get special treatment. All voters are equal. Count all legal votes."

Instead, Lieberman just rolled over and gave away the recount on live television.

Didn't fill out your ballot properly? No problem if you were in the military. Meanwhile the people of Palm Beach didn't have the same "gift" in what's supposed to be a democracy, did they?

"Tone" insisted that Jesse Jackson pack up and leave. Mustn't risk offending anyone by having Jackson say the right thing: African-American voters are being disenfranchised. Better to tell Jesse to clear on out.

"Tone" says there's only one voice and it's ours and you will speak as we do on the acceptable topics we speak on. That "tone" allowed The New Rag to avoid addressing what Bob Somerby has called the Gore-ing of Gore, now didn't it?

That "tone" decided what was acceptable and what wasn't in the so-called public debate on Iraq. (There was a public debate and massive rallies, you just never saw it on your corporate media or read it reported in non-mocking way by The New Republicans. "Tone" didn't lead them to crack down on their 'fine fellow' who publicly wished violence on Arundhati Roy, did it?)
"Tone" is Cokie Roberts clutching the pearls and cackling "None that mattered!"

"Tone" is what the gatekeepers repeatedly used in their attempts to inflame the nation into supporting the impeachment of Bill Clinton. ("As a mother" Cokie Roberts scolded -- well she couldn't do it as a journalist, now could she?)

We've always touched on tone here but we believe we first noted it at length in the editorial "War Got Your Tongue?" We loved the weak-ass replies on that from some who felt they couldn't speak. Like the excuse that "I work for a tax-exempt . . ." You did. You stopped working for them months and months before we wrote the editorial. You had long been your own "boss" by the time we wrote the editorial but you still couldn't use your own voice. What was your weak-ass excuse? Oh, yes: "I think my position is obvious, I just don't engage in the heated rhetoric that's ripping the country apart." Sorry, dear, but the war's ripping the nation apart (along with other Bully Boy policies) and staying silent may win you pats on the back from some but it doesn't cut you a pass with us.

Just last week, we returned to the topic again (we touched on it repeatedly in the weeks between the editorial and last week) in "Psst, here come the gatekeepers:"

"Tone" is not an "issue" we worry about. We worry about the war. We worry about the Patriot Act. We worry about our democracy and the state of the union. About the poor. Go down the list. "Tone" it's somewhere down below the humidity on our lists. There are too many battles to be fought for us to play Miss Manners.

We also noted this:

C.I., due to family history, knows quite well how "professionalism" was used to water down reporting. We've noted it here before but we try to be professional without being a professional (phrase stolen from Michelle Phillips). We're also bothered by the emegence of gatekeepers, the net's own Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldsons, Gwen Ifells . . . A lot of net space has been wasted with talk of "tone." People rushed to give props to a New Republican who felt the "tone" was shocking. That would be The New Republican that cheerleaded the war. (Which one? As Marty points out, every one.) It was sites like BuzzFlash and Bartcop, with their attitude (which we don't consider a bad word) that led the online challenges to this administration. They didn't do it by fretting about "tone."

Looking at it now, the only thing we'd change is "about" to "over." ("They didn't do it by fretting over 'tone.'")

Otherwise, we stand by every word. And we applaud BuzzFlash for standing by their own voice and refusing to accept rules from anyone else on how they must speak and what they must speak about. We don't have bills to pay here (for this site) but BuzzFlash does. The fact that they didn't back down proves they have more guts than Tommy Dash and (sorry to say it) Dick Durbin. They aren't going to make nice and play "Miss Diane" -- leave the white gloves and "Enough of that, let's move on" as though she were supposed to be serving tea, not grilling a would-be Supreme Court Justice.

You can be a fighter, like BuzzFlash, or Amy Goodman, or Russ Feingold, or Kim Gandy, or Arundhati Roy or John Conyers or Joan Mellen or Robert Parry or . . . (don't worry, it would have been a short list comparatively) or you can be someone who always folds, always buckles, always bites their tongues out of concern over something as meaningless as "tone." Actually, we'll add another name, Michael Ratner. Michael Ratner's not playing nice. He's outraged and he's not afraid to say so. He's not afraid to speak out for social justice. (The subject of our editorial is another person who has demonstrated bravery and spine.)

We say stick to your guns, BuzzFlash! But they really don't need that from us. They found their voice a long time ago. They (and others) helped wake up the country. They didn't do that by fretting over "tone." Nor should you. We'll close with an excerpt from Michael Ratner's inspiring, amazing and truth-telling speech "Tomorrow is Today: the Time for Resistance is Now:"

In other words, the republic and democracy is over. In Germany what did they call that? They called that the fuhrer's law. Why? Because the fuhrer was the law. That's what George Bush is saying here. George Bush is the law.This assertion of power is so blatant so open, and so notorious, that it is finally shocking some people like former Vice President Gore to speak up. I'm sure many of you are familiar with what he said in his recent speech on Martin Luther King's birthday. "The President of the United State has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently." He was referring to the NSA spying scandal. And then he went on to say, "A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government." And then he said what that means to a Republic: "An executive who acts free of the will of Congress as this president says he can, or the check of the judiciary, as this president says he can, becomes the central threat that the founders sought to nullify in the Constitution." And then Gore quotes James Madison to the effect that what President Bush has done is the very definition of "tyranny." So there you have it. It's not just us, its not just progressives, but even someone like former Vice President Gore is saying this government is the very definition of tyranny.

TV Review: America's Funniest F**king Videos

So in a week of sickness for one of us, the last thing desired was TV watching. Friday was the day we had to decide if we were going to do a review or not. Since we'd reviewed most of the programs on CBS, the (still for now) WB, and not wanting to bother with the Olympics, that didn't leave much. We hadn't reviewed America's Funniest Videos? How about that?

Confession, neither of us has ever watched America's Funniest Videos before. The show and the current host have been around forever. It started airing in 1989 and over sixteen years later, it's still on the air. Tom Bergeron, the current host, turns fifty-one in May so there are somethings older; however, it's the third longest running prime time show on ABC (behind 20/20 and the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't Prime Time Live).

If, like us, you've missed the show, you really haven't missed out on much. What passes for humor is shots of a sleepy little girl licking a lollypop while Bergeron cracks dumb with comments like, "Isn't eating sugary candy supposed to have the opposite effect?" Aren't sugary videos combined with lame "jokes" prone to induce their own kind of drowsy if not stupor?

Is it just a sign of tired, stale TV? That certainly describes America's Funniest Videos which has come under fire for accusations of staged videos. (And should come under fire for, if staged, some of the animal "funnies" they air which could border on animal cruelty.) The show gives away prizes -- trips to Walt Disney, cash. And Bergeron says at the end of the episode, "Remember, if you get it on tape, you could get it on cash" because, apparently, instant (and momentary) celebrity doesn't market as well as it once did.

How tired is the show? We kept waiting for the end card that read: "Mr. Beregon's suits provided by Botany 500." Although, possibly today it would read: "Mr. Beregon's suits provided by" Regardless, if it was there, we missed it.

But we didn't miss other things. For instance, we didn't miss the families in many of the videos. We didn't coo or say "How cute!" but we did get that the show really wanted us to do that with repeated shots of babies and toddlers.

Strangely, possibly sadly for ABC, we didn't miss one more thing. "Did you hear that?" we both exclaimed at the same moment.

It was in the midst of what the show bills as "Nincompoop Corner" which is where we'd assume everyone working on this show hails from. The bit we noticed was where a guy on a bicycle appears to be attempting to jump some trash cans but instead crashes into the first one. In that so polished, game show voice that grates on many people's nerves, Bergeron offers this teaser: "Some guys talk trash, some guys live it." If you laughed at the bit, we didn't, you may have missed something.

Charlie Rocket got fired from Saturday Night Live for it. Charlene Tilton was the host, it was the height of Dallas mania. One of the running gags of that episode was a spoof of Who Shot J.R.? (For younger readers, on Dallas, Larry Hagman's J.R. was shot in a season cliffhanger and figuring out who shot him became a craze for many in this country and England.) Charlie Rocket (later Charles Rocket) was the one shot on the live broadcast. Let's note again, this was a live broadcast with no delay except on the west coast. So as Tilton, like every host, is getting ready to shout the goodnights and thanks over the cheesy fade to black music they've used for years (that sounds like a really bad ripoff of Carole King's "Way Over Yonder"), Charlie Rocket shouts out something to the effect of, "I just want to know who the f*ck shot me?" (Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller, in Live From New York: As Told By Its Stars, Writers & Guests, present the line, page 201, as "I 'd like to know who the f*ck did it" -- which it may very well have been.)

Yes, he pulled a Cheney. And it apparently shocked the nation. And now?

We watched the bit over and over. We played it for Jim, Rebecca, Ty, Dona, Mike, Wally and Elaine asking them, "Tell us what you hear?" (to make sure it wasn't just us hearing it). The two men involved in the trash can bit are speaking. Pump up the volume and you hear:

F*ck that!
. . . bitch.
No man, totally, f*ck it.

Again, we're new to the show. We've never seen an episode other than the one broadcast Friday night. It's supposed to be a "family show." It airs in primetime. It's so insufferably on what it supposes is its own cuteness that we really can't imagine it has too large of an audience.
So does this happen often? No one's watching, so they can do whatever they want?

Or maybe the audience laughs at home everytime they pump up the laugh track? If so, they may have missed the show pulling a Cheney, dropping the f-bomb. Twice.

When we watched it the first time (early this morning) we clearly could make out the f-word. (Maybe we just have really sharp hearing?) When we pumped up the volume, we could make it out twice as well as "bitch."

We're finding it hard to believe that whomever approved that tape for inclusion on the program couldn't make it out. Did they think, "Oh no one will notice?" If so, they were wrong. Were they afraid to drop out the sound after the crash effect (into the trash cans) for some reason? We don't know. (We did reach one friend at ABC who swears that would never happen. We played the bit for him, over the phone loudly, and asked, "What did you just hear?" His reply? "It sounded like the f-word.")

We're not offended by the f-word. We use it all the time. We don't use it in our reviews without deleting at least one letter because we try to keep this as work-safe as possible (though not the degree that we would if this was something going up at The Common Ills). But we think this is an example.

Of what? Of how families are steered to "good for you" shows that have nothing to offer and are usually not, in fact, "good for you." We doubt that a Christian Coalition will make a stink about America's Funniest Videos. And we're sure that a number of people who slam the entertainment industry wish there were more "good souls" like the people churning out that sort of crap.

It coasts on its "for the whole family" appeal. That allows it to live on year after year even though it's not funny. It allows it to go "blue" with "jokes" like "he's got a trunk in his junk" when an elephant's eating out of a man's pant's pocket. Tee-hee-hee. "It's a good kind of naughty." We doubt the audience for the show spends too much time wondering why a dog couldn't rub a piece of popcorn off his nose or toss it off. (We suspect the popcorn was secured to the nose.) Or why the funny animal doing the funny things appears to have a hump in his back at all times? (We suspect the hump was where the back arched as it was being pulled from that spot for the "funny.") We doubt they wonder too much about how the animals end up in the predicaments they do. They just think, "Funny! And good for the whole family!"

Squeaky clean is usually boring which is one reason to avoid it. The main reason we avoid the genre is because the description is not usually accurate. Pat Robertson can suggest that Hugo Chavez be "taken care of" on TV and his fan base won't question the remark or how it fits in with the teachings of Jesus because Robertson's "squeaky clean." (Read Greg Palast's The Best Money Democracy Can Buy if you're suffering from that delusion.) They get away with a lot if they're "squeaky clean." A "religious" duo can lie (or maybe they are that stupid) and claim that Halloween and Easter are "Satan's holidays started by witches" in "the colonies" "in the 1800s" -- as two idiots did at Halloween. (The Easter egg hunt is "an old witch tradition of hiding the dead babies" the female host said/lied nodding in agreement with the male host. Not to go off into a lengthy sidebar but, if they actually believed the lies they were spewing, wouldn't the hunt be a good thing in their books -- or Book -- since it's doubtful that, having hidden the "dead babies," the "witches" would be the ones attempting to find them?) They're the so-called "good people" so everyone looks the other way when a "blue" moment or a lie or something objectionable occurs.

To us, that moment, that bit, pulling a Cheney on national TV summed up America's Funniest Videos. On the surface, they market "good clean fun" -- so no regular viewers spend too much time wondering how exactly the animal ended up doing the "funny." And when Bergeron goes "blue" they just cackle and thank the good Lord that no Ellen's trying to come out on this show! But the whole time they're praising the show and praising themselves for watching it, they're missing reality. Reality appears to be that the f-word got snuck in twice. Once clearly audible at a normal volume. America's Funniest F*cking Videos. F*cking fun for the whole f*cking family. Well someone told them that, told them it was good for them.

Nancy Chang and Danny Schechter on Media Silence (add your own voice to the mix)

We've got some points to make in this feature. But we're starting out with a lengthy excerpt. It's from Nancy Chang's Silencing Political Dissent (2002). Nancy Chang is a member of the Center for Constitutional Rights so hopefully that makes you look forward to an excerpt of any length. Her book includes a foreword by Howard Zinn, mabe that perks you up. Included in the excerpt is a reminder of Bully Boy's actually behavior on 9/11. Here we go, pages 129-131:

Historically, the press has played a crucial watchdog role over government operations. In 1971, the Supreme Court refused to block the New York Times and the Washington Post from publishing, over the strong objections of the Nixon administration, a classified study of the Vietnam War that exposed the government's use of secrecy and deception to gain the public's support for the war. The study, which has come to be known as the Pentagon Papers, had been commissioned by President Johnson's secretary of state, Robert McNamara, and was leaked to the press, in an act of civil disobedience, by Daniel Ellsberg. As Justices Hugo Black and William Douglas explained in their concurring opinion:

In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. . . . The press was protected [from government censorship] so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilites of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

The Bush administration's strict supervision over the release of information concerning its military campaign has prevented the press from "bar[ing] the secrets of government and inform[ing] the people." And the press, for its part, has shown itself far too willing to comply with White House requests that it limit its news coverage. On October 10, 2001, the five major television news organizations -- ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, the Cable News Network, and Fox News Channel -- announced that they had reached a joint agreement to abridge future videotaped statements from Osama bin Laden and his followers. The organizations were persuaded to enter into this unprecedented pact by National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, who had offered her unsubstantiated speculation that the videos could contain coded messages. But as pointed out by a network executive who chose to remain anonymous, "What sense would it make to keep the tapes off the air if the message could be found transcripted in newspapers or on the Web? The videos could also appear on the Internet. They'd get the messages anyway."
Emboldened by Rice's success with the television news organizations, the next day, October 11, 2001, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer announced that he would ask newspapers to enter into an agreement similar to that reached by the television news organizations. The response of Howell Raines, the editor of the New York Times, was equivocal. While Raines stated that "our practice is to keep our readers fully informed," he also added that "[w]e are always available to listen to any information about security issues."

Even more troubling than the timidity of the television news organizations are signs that the press has been censoring itself. At least two newspaper columnists were fired for criticizing President Bush's actions on September 11. Dan Guthrie, an award-winning columnist for the Grants Pass Daily Courier in Oregon, wrote a column entitled "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tender Turn Tail," in which he accused President Bush of "hiding in a Nebraska hole" on September 11, in an act of "cowardice." A week later, the paper's publisher fired Guthrie, and the editor ran a front-page apology for having printed Guthrie's column. In a similar scenario, Tom Gutting of the Texas City Sun was fired for writing a column in which he accused President Bush of "flying around the country like a scared child" on September 11, and the paper's publisher ran a front-page apology for having printed Gutting's column. These attacks on journalistic freedom send a clear message to all members of the press that they would be wise to fall in line behind White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and "watch what they say."

Great book, we recommend it and we love it anytime we can remind everyone that Bully Boy -- The Great "Protector" -- ran like a 'fraidy cat while the nation tried to sort out what happened. Maybe in the famous footage where he's seen sitting and sitting in the Florida classroom after learning of the strike, he's frozen to his chair in fear? He certainly behaved like a scaredy cat when he did get in motion.

But we chose that excerpt for a reason, to remind you how bad it was. It's slightly better now. Columnists can express criticism of the Bully Boy, in some cases, without fear of being fired.
The news remains muzzled. What you gonna' do?


Protests Planned Against Media War Coverage
Last week, new photographs of detainees abused by US soldiers in the infamous Abu Ghraib gulag in Iraq surfaced. They were discovered by the American Civil Liberties Union. The story was covered on TV in Australia!
The most elaborate statistics on the abuse scandal appeared in the press.
· 1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse
· 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse
· 660 images of adult pornography
· 546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees
· 29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts

This information made headlines in the Guardian newspaper in England!
Meanwhile, in the United States, all of the networks covered a speech by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the man who once famously said, "As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know."
Now, the Pentagon's Rumsfeld is declaring a new war - on the press. The Washington Post reports:
"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday called for the U.S. military and other government agencies to mount a far more aggressive, faster and nontraditional information campaign to counter messages of extremist and terrorist groups in the world media. Rumsfeld Š lashed out at the U.S. media, whose coverage he blamed for effectively halting recent military information initiatives, such as paying to place articles in Iraqi newspapers."
Rumsfeld's attack on the media for mildly questioning propaganda posing as news is consistent with the Administration's management of war news through a billion dollar "information warfare" program that engineered positive media coverage for the invasion.
That continuing coverage documented by critics, including in my own new book, "When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War," is on its way from being a public complaint to becoming a political issue.
America's largest anti-war coalition,
United For Peace and Justice, is broadening its anti-war protest to include targeting a US media system that has largely substituted jingoism for journalism and backed the war -- often in the name of supporting the troops.
UFPJ Coordinator Leslie Cagan announced that her organization is partnering with and other media groups to organize a Media Day of War Coverage Protest on March 21, 2006. It takes part during a week of organizing and activism marking the third anniversary of the war. Plans are also underway for forums and film screenings on March 20th.
"We are thrilled that anti-war activists will now be connecting with media reform activists to challenge mainstream media 'coverage' that has underreported civilian casualties and much of the costs of the war," says MediaChannel Director David DeGraw.
"Sadly, the media helped make the war possible, and despite mea culpas about flawed pre-war coverage, the coverage has basically not changed, an approach which treats every Administration claim seriously, while marginalizing the anti-war movement."
Even as public opinion shifted against the war -- only 37% of the American people are said to still back the war - most of the media downplay reporting on demands for troop withdrawal.
Focusing on the media role is a departure for the anti-war movement that helped organize the protests that brought 30 million people to the streets on March 15, 2003. Until now, protesters have focused almost entirely on government policies and practices.
Recognizing the media role indicts a corporate America that has, in some cases, profited from the war with rises in ratings and revenues. This includes General Electric (GE), owner of NBC-Universal, who received $600,000 in Iraq reconstruction contracts.
Before the war began broadcast networks lobbied the FCC for rule changes to allow them to buy more stations. At the time, Washington insiders spoke of a quid pro-quo with the networks asking the FCC to waive their rules while their news shows waved the flag. In that period, then FCC Commissioner Michael Powell justified a need for more media concentration with the claim that "only big companies can cover a war like the one in Iraq."
Many journalists and media organizations have since blasted one-sided coverage. Editor & Publisher, a media industry trade magazine, has consistently documented and criticized pervasive media practices that boosted the war with more "selling than telling." launched a "Tell the Truth About the War" campaign months ago, calling for better and more consistent coverage. Thousands of emails from readers have gone to media executives.
If the war is to end, the coverage has to change. We need to press the press and move the media.
Now MediaChannel plans to organize meetings between critics and media companies. Planning for protests and panels is underway -- not only in New York, but at local newspapers, radio and TV stations across the nation as part of a national effort. A national email campaign will be launched as well.
If you would like to endorse or participate in this effort, or help in your community by organizing meetings, house parties -- including screenings of WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) and other films critical of the war media coverage -- contact

"If the war is to end, the coverage has to change." You got a better idea? We'd hoped (before everything went wrong technically) to do a feature this edition for our housebound parents (of young children and, on that topic, congratulations to Rusty and Dee on their new baby girl Ana)
noting ways you could take part on the third anniversary if you were able to have people over but not able to leave. One of those ways was going to be showing films like Schechter's WMD
(we've noted the film repeatedly but at length in "Must see DVD: Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception").

We'll be participating in a number of events during the week of the anniversary and we're all for public protests. But we do our readership. Our "base," which is far from Bully Boy's, if you will.
It's a better class of people, to be sure, but economically many of you are struggling. (Which is why we've only done one film review of a movie in theaters and why we concentrate on programs that air on broadcast TV.) Some of you can't travel due to economics or young children. (Or both.) There may be events in your area. If so, maybe you can attend one of those? But if not, as we pointed out in the lead up to the September protests, you can participate. If it's only one person you invite over, you can watch a film telling the truth, or listen to music telling the truth, or read from a book telling the truth. But you can do something. And the key isn't what happens during a "presentation" but the discussion that follows. Watch Democracy Now! together or read transcripts together, do something to share what you are finding with others. Even if it's only one person. Taryn ended up inviting five friends over and watching Schechter's film and another film (Ty thinks that she wrote it was Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller's Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train). Back then, she shared in her e-mail that it was so successful she was going to try to triple the number in March. March is almost here. What are you going to do?

Wait for The New York Times to slight the protests in their coverage again? You know it's probably going to happen, we know it's probably going to happen. Can't count on the corporate media. Which is why and United for Peace and Justice are organizing protests and trying to change that. Maybe you can be a part of that? Maybe you can't but there's something else you can take part in? Figure it out and make yourself heard.

NSA Hearings This Tuesday.

NSA Hearings Tuesday! So get ready to tune into to NPR! Oh . . . wait. Nothing pulls them from their canned coverage except, possibly, the death of a pontiff. So you're up the creek without a paddle!

Unless . . .

You listen to Pacifica!

As Ruth noted:

From KPFT in Houston:
Program Preemption on Tuesday, February 28 - 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Senate hearings on the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program.
I do not doubt that other Pacifica stations may carry this but this morning only KPFT had a note up about it on their main page. Eight in the morning until five in the evening are Central Time Zone times.

Who else will carry it? The Pacifica website usually carries the live events there. The main website, not a site for one of the five stations. In addition, thanks to Kat who's taking a shower to try to wake up and put her cell phone by the radio, we can note that KPFA will carry it. We heard Larry Bensky announce that (starts at six am Pacific time) Tuesday he and Elizabeth de la Vega will be hosting it. C.I. says to point out that this may be only on KPFA and each station may provide their own anchors. (Bensky also announced that next Sunday on Sunday Salon, people from the Africa Peace Justice Tour will be among his guests.) (Kat's cell phone, by the way, comes in better than listening online. It may have something to do with her radio. Will ask her if she ever emerges from the shower and picks the phone up.)

So more NSA hearings on Tuesday. Senate hearings. Translation, you can't count on John Conyers to save the day. (Conyers serves in the House.) Will it be more of the same? Will the Democrats show some spine? (Yes, Russ, we know, you proved your bad, sexy self to be a fighter! We're proud of you. But you can't do it alone. Well, in many ways you did, but it doesn't have the same kind of impact as when you're getting support and backup from the others in your party. Don't say "party" around Feinstein -- she'll go into full "Miss Diane" mode.)

So Tuesday, get thee to Pacifica radio, either via the airwaves, online, or, hey, ask a friend to put the phone next to the radio.

Closing with wisdom, Sister Helen Prejean to Larry Bensky right now (you can hear an archived broadcast later at if you've missed it), "The universe bends towards justice."

Ten Years of Democracy Now! (May there be many, many more)

Democracy Now! is celebrating ten years and should be doing so with a head held high. How many media outlets can you say that about? Not a whole lot.

We think Ruth covered it very well in her Ruth's Public Radio Report yesterday. In fact, we've tried to repost the entire entry via e-mail repeatedly. Maybe it will show up here at some point. Maybe not. But read Ruth's highlights and see what reports stand out to you. And be aware that Democracy Now! has a special site set up to celebrate ten years. You can find highlights there chosen by the people who put together the program each day.

Here's Ruth:

"You have no idea of it's reach!" That's what Treva told me over the phone Thursday from Arizona. As most of the community knows, Treva is my best friend of many, many years, someone who is active in any and every cause and someone who criss-crosses the country while I remain sedentary in what we were told would be our "golden years." Two wars waging and a third on the horizon does not even strike me as silver years. Maybe plastic.

But what was Treva speaking of? Democracy Now! What began as a Pacifica radio program on WBAI ten years ago, to cover the 1996 elections, is now a podcast, a TV show, still a radio program and so much more. I knew from my online family (this community) and my offline family that the program was a force to be reckoned with. But when Treva called and, during the course of our conversation, asked what would be the focus of this week's report, she wanted to weigh in.

She said that regardless of what town or city she is in, there is always someone recommending the program to her. It may be a teenager just getting active, it may be someone closer to our own generation. Regardless of age, gender or race, someone is always asking her if she has heard of Democracy Now!?

We have all heard of it but for anyone passing by, Democracy Now! is an hour long program that is hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. The structure of the program is to spend roughly ten minutes items in the news, or items that should be in the corporate news, and to then explore issues in depth. That may mean interviewing a reporter from anywhere in the world or it might mean a sit down interview in the studio (whichever studio if the show is "on the road") or it could mean a debate. But it always means going in depth, beyond the headlines. It always means asking the questions that would otherwise go unasked.

C.I. and Mike have both commented on the fact that Ms. Goodman does not get lost in an interview and does not allow the audience to get lost either. When, in the midst of an answer, a guest brings up a new issue in passing, Ms. Goodman can be counted on to say, "Let's back up . . ." and not move on, as is so often in the case in interviews, to the next question. I am sure that as part of the work and she and the staff do, preparations are made ahead of time. But you hear, see or read someone who is actually listening and who is willing to explore a topic. That, in itself, is revolutionary in this day and age where the trade off on most programs seems to be, "I'll give you access to my audience and you can just tick off your talking points without worrying about me questioning them."

Hear, see or read? Democracy Now! airs on over four hundred stations. This includes Pacifica radio stations, community radio stations, college radio stations, NPR, PBS, public access TV and two satellite channels: Free Spech TV channel 9415 on Dish TV and Link TV channel 9410 on DIRECT TV. Globally, it is carried on Europe's World Radio Network and Australia's Community Broadcasting Associaton. Where there is online access, there is access to Democracy Now! Online, they stream the program both in audio format and in video format as well as allowing you to subscribe to their podcast. There is no charge for any of those services. Also online, here is where the "read" comes in, you can read transcripts of the show. The latter feature is something that members with older operating systems on their computers have noted they are grateful for in e-mails.

And let me do an announcement for members in the Dallas, Texas area. A number of them have written to complain about the fact that the local NPR (KERA) would not air Democracy Now! despite the fact that it has plenty of time to repeat some NPR programs twice daily. Democracy Now! has been added to Dallas Community Television (DCTV) and broadcasts twice daily: at seven in the morning and eleven at night. I am not sure whether members like Billie who live in the "greater DFW area" will be able to pick that up but I know that members who live in Dallas proper and have cable will be able to. And thanks to Eddie for passing that on and to Billie and Eddie for patiently explaining to me the "greater DFW area." Let me also encourage members in that area to continue to request that KERA air Democracy Now! Though I have never visited the city, I find it hard to believe that, for instance, there is a huge demand,outcry or need for two daily airings of Fresh Air.

For those attempting to locate a staion broadcasting Democracy Now! in their area, you can go online and check at the website.

So we have talked about the ways you can follow the program and we have talked about the show's format. Now we can focus on the nitty gritty. On August 19, 2005, where was Democracy Now! broadcasting from? Live from Camp Casey where they interviewed Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Collen Rowley, and Hadi Jawad of the Crawford Peace House (among others). And, as C.I. pointed out, the Democracy Now! audience was already familiar with Cindy Sheehan before she made her first trip to Crawford. That is due to the fact that the program is not interested in providing the same sources you find on Meet the Press, who usually appear on Face The Nation and This Week and sometimes do all three on the same Sunday. The program is a chronicle of our times, addressing the issues that impact our lives.

Which is why we get reports like the ones featured on the March 15, 2005 broadcast: an interview with Kathie Dobie who wrote, for Harper's Magazine, of the 5,500 plus troops who had gone AWOL, as well an interview with three who had refused to continue to fight in the illegal war (Kevin Benderman, Carl Webb and a third man who did not want to be identified, plusMark Benjamin speaking on the casualities of those returning. Is war nothing more than flashy military toys? Democracy Now! thinks so which is why they take the time to interview PabloParedes. These are the stories of our times, not what an administration spokesperson says, something that will usually be retracted in a few months, if not weeks. These are concrete stories about the world around us.

I asked Treva what stood out to her the most of all the reports she has followed on Democracy Now! Her choice, without hesitation, was the 2004 coverage of the DNC and RNC conventions.

For that coverage, the program expanded to two hours each day and went beyond the chosen few commentators of the mainstream press to give you a real sense of what was going on in Boston and New York City and how it would impact your lives.

My grandaughter Tracey didn't select two weeks of coverage, but she did select part one and part two of the interview with Hugo Chavez done by Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez and Margret Prescod of Sojourner Truth.

Betty selected the Rosa Parks coverage because "it shows the importance of the show and of independent media. Besides offering the very real perspective of what Rosa Parks stood for, something that was sorely missing in the 'she must have been tired and just wanting to sit down' mainstream coverage, they also dug into the Pacifica archives to provide her in her own words."

I asked Dona for her choice of favorite Democracy Now! report and she decided to "step away from the obvious" and note the program that airs on some holidays and explores the life of Yip Harburg, the lyricist of "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and much more.

For Elaine it would have to be the interview with Gareth Peirce, the British human rights attorney representing former prisoners of Guantanamo. Elaine told me that the interview had stayed with her and that it also includes the "key" to Democracy Now! when Amy Goodman reassures Ms. Peirce that there is time to respond because the program is not about soundbytes.

Jim selected an April 2005 interview with Naomi Klein on the topic of disaster capitalism which appears to be the only planning that the administration thought to do before invading Iraq.

Rebecca replied, "Anything with Robert Parry makes my favorite list but probably the one from last spring where he was on to address the issue of terrorist Luis Posada Carriles."

Also on terrorism, Mike noted the interview with Jennifer Harbury, in July, about torture committed by the CIA. For Jess, "no question, it's the interview with Jennifer Dohrn. Throughout the media, people who should have known better were hailing Mark Felt as a 'hero.' Democracy Now! wasn't afraid to challenge that talking point. Dohrn gave witness to reality and where else would that happen but Democracy Now!?" Trina selected the interview with Camilo Mejia upon his release from jail because "I didn't see the [Boston] Globe rushing to interview him. The story matters but you get to a certain age and you learn what matters to the people and what matters to the corporate press are frequently two different things." Trina also added that, for her husband, she'd better note the broadcast of Jessica Lange's speech at the September rally in D.C. "We saw that, remember?" Trina reminded me. "In person, and he and Jim's father were like school boys while she was speaking. You would have thought they'd have it out of their systems but when it aired the following Monday, I heard all over again how smart and how beautiful Jessica Lange was. She is. You don't need to hear that from your husband repeatedly but for those who missed the speech, it was worth airing."

For Kat, "It's the hour with Janis Karpinski. I have mixed feelings about Karpinski regarding what she could have done or couldn't have done but that was a solid, hour long interview and Goodman asked tough questions." Ty also selected an hour long interview, the one with Jane Goodall on "the environment, nature, animals and the world! It had everything."My grandson Jayson could not choose one so he selected the interview with Alice Walker this month and he wanted me to note that the archived broadcasts are avaiable free of charge. One he enjoyed recently was the conversation between Howard Zinn and Arundhati Roy. He added, "Democracy Now! never suffers from 'War Got Your Tongue?'"

Wally had a broad topic: "The coverage of Iraq. All of it. People surprised by what's going on today should have been watching Democracy Now! One of my favorite guests on the subject is Dahr Jamail. One broadcast? Where he talked about the attacks on the hospitals in Iraq. And Dave Zirin talking about sports and politics and the impact the mixture can have and does have from athletes speaking out to stadiums that soak tax payers and enrich business."

Ava was almost as hard to pin down as C.I. She finally noted that whether "it's media consolidation or Judith Miller, the show leads on the issues and doesn't wait to see what's 'breaking' on CBS, for instance. If I was to narrow it down to one report, keeping that in mind, I'd go with a report on Filiberto Ojeda Rios being murdered by FBI agents back in September." C.I.? "Ruth, you know if I pick one story, the e-mails will pour in saying, 'How could you forget ___ and ___ and ___ and . . ." After additional pestering, I was able to pin down C.I. "Okay, one story? I'll drop back to the nineties so if any member wishes I'd picked something in the last few years, I'm going historical, that's my excuse. Operation Tailwind. CNN and Time washed their hands of the story. They disowned it, even though it wasn't bad reporting. I remember friends from CNN calling and saying, 'You've got to listen to Democracy Now! right now.' They covered it when the mainstream media wanted to bury it. What happened to Mary Mapes and the others at CBS can be traced back to what was done to April Oliver and Jack Smith. A story gets too 'hot' and it stops being about journalism and the job reporters do as the corporate office panics and turns it into 'court of law' issues. Oliver and Smith's reporting stood up as reporting, Mapes reporting stood up as reporting. In both cases, external pressure caused news organizations to cave and everytime they do that and get away with it, it's all the much harder for the next reporter to break a story."

Cedric selected the interview with musician and activist Harry Belafonte that aired in January which was a powerful interview and I saved Cedric's pick for last because Mr. Belafonte is participating in an event for Democracy Now! next month:

Democracy Now! and WBAI invite you to join us for an evening of conversation with Harry Belafonte, Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez and WBAI's Bernard White as we mark the 3rd anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and the 10th anniversary of Democracy Now!
Saturday, March 18, 2006
The Great Hall at Cooper Union
East 7th Street at Third Avenue
New York City
Pre-event reception: 6-7 p.m.
A special gathering with Harry Belafonte and Amy Goodman.
Hors d'oeuvres & Refreshments served.
Ticket price (includes admission to main event): $100
Main Event: 7 p.m.
Ticket price: $25
Space is limited. Purchase your tickets today by clicking on the link directly above.
Tickets can be picked up at Cooper Union beginning at 4:30 PM on March 18th. Please print and bring the receipt generated at the end of this transaction to facilitate your ticket pick up.

On the stories selected above, did you see your favorite? As Marci would guess, I would pick a segment with Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Law and Disorder. But if, in the wide range of selections, you did not see your favorite report, consider that a testimony to the quality of Democracy Now! because there is so much to choose from. To celebrate the ten years of excellent programming, a special website has been set up that is offering highlights chosen by the people who work so hard to bring you Democracy Now! each Monday through Friday.

Want to celebrate the tenth anniversary but unable to attend the March 18th event? As Maria says, "Get the word out."

Corporate Magaines Still Suck (your guide to Time Magazine)

wasting TIME reading

and none of them really matter to him or us
This is the feature where we interview controversial tyrants and war criminals by tossing them softballs.
I'll show you some hard wood, heh-heh. They don't call me the Swingin' John Bolton for nothing.
I'm very surprised by News Yorkers who come up to me in the street and say, "Hey, Janet Reno, you looked so much nicer without that milk mustache."
Sounds right to me.

It was so sad that Cheney was tongue-tied over shooting his friend on what may have been a beer soaked hunting trip. Dick Cheney was sad. Bully Boy was sad. Bully Boy said Harry Whittington was a friend of his "too." They were both sad.
We were sad too. Clouds "between Bushland and Cheneyland" always get us down. So do rainy days and Mondays.
Bully Boy and Cheney have "evolved," we tell you. Notice how we never really talked about Harry Whittington, we just mentioned his name. Our whole story is about how Cheney was slow to talk about Whittington. We pulled a Cheney ourselves. Only without the gun. And maybe without the booze. At any rate, we left the whole part out about how Bully Boy laughed and joked. Believe it or not, that actually ran in The New York Times. But to include it wouldn't allow for the somber tone we're going for here. Kind of melancholy, kind of a text version of Karen Carpenter's voice. Think of this as "Close to Bully." ("On the day that you were born . . ."

Joe Klein
Cheney's Thousand-Yard Stare
Where I get on my high horse about "a primal need" for media "circuses." Me, the guy who wrote Primary Colors and denied it repeatedly. Are you laughing? I'm banking. Big money. Clap for me, Vanna White, clap for me!

By John Cloud
I think it's kind of cute that my three page story has a photograph labeled "THE VICTIM" even though I never attempt to offer anything on Harry Whittington (other than that he's worked on prison reform). Want to know about the victim? Read something else. Here I just write a chronology of published accounts. Mary Matalin says that she "heard different versions of what had happened in the shooting." I put that in but I don't develop it, do I? I was too bothered by the photo of Katherine Armstrong. Does anyone else think she looks like a more wrinkled Victor Garber in drag? Hey, those photos, did you notice that of the three photos on the first two pages, the smallest one is the one of "the victim"? We used practically two-thirds of a page to show off stuffed dear heads. And the photo of the hunting party's own town crier is twice the size of the Whittington photo. Listen to me piss and moan about "geeky" questions some are asking. You think, if we presented Harry Whittington as a living, breathing human, people might even be more bothered by Cheney's actions? Us too. That's why we jerk off instead. "Accidents do and will happen." Where's the juke rag?

Can a manly man like me write about what it's like for women in a combat zone? Yes, I can. Especially if I rely on official spokespeople outside of Iraq and, in Iraq, give as much play to men in combat zones as to women. See women, they are strange. If I let them talk for themselves, we'd all be lost. So I need to bring in the men who are serving so we can follow the story. Besides, you know the gals, let 'em start yapping and they never shut up. It's that sort of keen insight that makes me the perfect reporter to write about women serving in Iraq. That and the fact that I carry on the brave Luce tradition of never exploring issues of how we got to war, only doing superficial, feel good pieces that make your heart thump and your Johnson stand up! For the ladies, this article has really sensitized me, I should say: superficial, feel good pieces that make your heart thump and make you want to run the kitchen to bake an apple pie. Writing this story really opened my eyes, as you can tell.

Where two writers have six pages to explore the Oscar nominations and offer nothing more in depth than the stats you'd find on the back of a baseball card.
Dukes of Hazzard
WHY SHE GOT THIS FAR: Hard work and talent on the part of this "pert, practical Southern girl" who can sing, dance, and act. Or tries to. In her Daisy Dukes or out of them, "it's hard to think of a more winning or comfortably graceful performance this year."
WHY SHE MIGHT NOT WIN: She lives in fear of the close up. Dukes was "energized only when" Simpson "was onscreen."
WHAT THE BUZZ IS SAYING: She and Nick Lachey broke up. She's a front runner . . . for soon to be forgotten.
WHAT SIMPSON IS SAYING: I was nominated for an Oscar? Wow. Wow. Hey, Nick, I was nominated . . . Nick? Where is Nick? Hey, where's Nick?

WHY SHE GOT THIS FAR: She's one of two nomiees to play a celebrity from the 1950s (the other is Resse Witherspoon as June Carter Cash), but Bates "dominates her film with an eerie force of personality as surely as Truman Capote commandeered Kansas when he was there researching his seminal book." (Hey, anybody know the title? Oh forget it, we probably don't have room in this six page piece to note it and nobody reads anyway which is why this six page feature is only about two-and-a-half pages of text and three-and-a-half pages of photos and illustrations.) "It's about as big a reach as any" actress "attempted in 2005."
WHY SHE MIGHT NOT WIN: "It's a wee little road movie" (say two wee little writers). And "an asteroid might destroy Planet Earth."
WHAT BATES IS SAYING: I think you guys are confused or stoned. Seriously, are you stoned?

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: Jessica Simpson was not nominated for Dukes of Hazzard. We called Simpson to apologize for our error and she responded, "Is it because of my nose?" Also, Philip Seymour Hoffman, not Kathy Bates, stars in Capote. We did not call Bates to apologize due to the rude comment she made suggesting we might be confused.

Though we offer no real reason why in these snap reviews that do, however, often offer you age, origin and sometimes both!
"this emotional Stockholm band"
"This Brooklyn band . . ."
"by female MC Ninja" Ninja, where you at?
"At 15, Brown sounds" Chris, where you at?
"This tiny London 19-year-old"
-- by Josh Tyrangiel

Mitchie Cu-cu-ottle
Why I Dumped Reality
Facts often interfere with my reality. That's why I'm happy to be fact free.
pretty sure there are newer models. But there's no resisting its charms. It never tires of airing conventional wisdom and I live and breathe conventional wisodm. It knows all the tricks to couch this potato!
And gasbag after gasbag trots across the screen saying exactly what I would say if I was on TV more often.
Admittedly, I watch a lot of tapes of my own appearances. I really enjoy a 2002 appearance with Howie where I managed to slime Al Gore and act like I wasn't doing it. Remember, he was saying, before we invaded Iraq, that it would be a distraction to the hunt for Osama and the war on terror? My rag slammed him for it because we have the war lust, it gets our loins all itchy. Anyway, check me out: "I kind of disagree on the context of the editorial, but I think the vast majority of the staff believes this was the bitter rantings of a guy who is being politically motivated and disingenuous in his arguments." "The bitter rantings of guy who is being politically motivated and disingenuous in his arguments" and I say, "I kind of disagree" -- kind of! Dig me, the comedian! I crack myself up.
I think it's real cute the way my rag led the nation into war and didn't explore dissent then (suck on it, Arundhati Roy, suck on it!) and even as late as last year (in "Wrong Way") we were telling those who questioned the war to shut up. That Amy Goodman always goes on about how if we can't address the war before the war and we can't address it during the war, when can we address it? Never, Amy! Never!
She really ticks me off. Especially when I see Chris interviewing her. If there's going to be a woman interviewed by Chris Matthews, it damn well better be me. Didn't I do a great job writing about the runaway bride? Wasn't that the most pressing issue of the day? I'm a serious journalist who isn't afraid to to act like the last guest on The Mike Douglas Show as I name drop "Jeb" in a familiar way. I'm practically an honorary Gabor sister!
What was I writing about? Oh well, most people don't read me and those who do go out of their way to give me shout outs and props just for showing up! I'm a war gangsta', baby, got my war on -- or strapped on!

[John Bolton illustration by Isaiah and from his The World Today Just Nuts.]

Interview with Ruth of Ruth's Public Radio Report

Last week, during "1 Book, 10 Minutes (Danny Schechter, The Death of Media)" Ruth's report (from that weekend) was brought up. Due to the late hour, we didn't have time to get Ruth's response so we decided to interview her again this week.

We mentioned last week's Ruth's Public Radio Report in a book discussion and we wanted to touch on base on whether we acurately reflected your thoughts?

Ruth: Well, C.I. had to discuss it. (Laughing) C.I. got put on the spot which, honestly, surprised me since I had dictated it to Kat and she and I had discussed it at the time. Just to recap it, and C.I. can say stop at any point, and I'll change the subject but "The Pooper" was rubbing his hands together with glee over what he judged to be the sad state of affairs at Pacifica. The post, it was at a blog, bothered me. I was discussing it with C.I. because I was having a few problems with it, there's a whole historical background to Pacifica, and when I started quoting sections of it to C.I. the response was . . . intense.

You want to comment on that, C.I.?

C.I.: I think Ruth's capturing it very well.

Ruth: Well, I didn't know "The Pooper" or his history. I wondered why he seemed so down on Laura Flanders, for instance. So C.I. explained some of that and the more I went over this, it was obvious that I'd be working on it through the day it posted. C.I. said it first, I think, that this would probably have to be a dictated post and then suggested that I do it with Kat. I was angered by "The Pooper" but I didn't get how angry "The Pooper" made C.I. until I spoke to Kat. Kat was filling me in on background and at one point I said to her, "I would never have quoted 'The Pooper' to C.I. if I had known." And I wouldn't have. And C.I. was obviously bothered by what 'The Pooper' wrote but was still helpful and giving me feedback. There was a whole paragraph on this in the report originally but Kat and I both thought, "Oh cut it, so C.I. doesn't say it's too naval gazing or whatever." So I was surprised, when I read the book discussion, that C.I. was the one who ended up having to explain my argument. At one point, near the end of the Friday phone conversation, I had asked if this was bothering and if so should I write about something else. But C.I. said that it was important to address and that it came under my area so of course I should address it. I had wondered, especially after speaking to Kat, if C.I. would read it after it posted and obviously that did happen. C.I. summarized my position very well. And Betty did as well. If it's okay to jump to a point that Betty was making --

Go ahead.

Well, my children watched Sesame Street and back then it was breakthrough television to see children of all races. Cedric made the point as well, by the way. Today? What are they doing for children? Showing them that bunnies and bears, animated, can get along? There was the whole Buster flare up and that's where PBS should have stood up and said, "There's no sexual or suggestive content to the two women raising this child." They didn't. They buckled to right wing pressure. If they'd done that on race, where would be today?

Cedric here, that's a good point and I like the wording, "no sexual or suggestive content." All it was showing was two parents. The parents happened to be both women. I doubt most children, if they saw two parents of the same sex, children of that age, are wondering what goes on in bed. This was a children's show and it was supposed to represent the various lives of children across the country. Instead, by PBS' actions, they ended up denying a very real family.

Exactly. The whole point was to show the variety and then they ended up deciding, "Oh we won't show that variety." I think most parents should have taken offense, gay or straight, right wing or left wing, because when they deny a family, they're denying families. They're saying that what is easy to do, they'll do and nothing more. So today it was a same-sex family, tomorrow it could be an interracial family, some day it could be a straight family. This wasn't a case of "Is Will going to get a real kiss before Will & Grace goes off the air?" This wasn't exploring anything. It was noting a family and the reality of that family was two mommies. Public broadcasting is supposed to represent the public. Families like that do exist whether PBS wants to note it or not. The mandate under which they were created argues that this is exactly what they should be noting. At the time, I believe you did a feature on it?


At the time, it irritated me that PBS bowed to pressure. But, on this topic, what I find myself thinking about is how PBS always bows to pressure when it comes to gays and lesbians. You see it over and over. Turning down a sequel to a successful mini-series, you name it. Now that's cowardly and it's shameful and it's not living up to their mandate.

So your argument was quit rescuing it?

Right. Quit rescuing PBS, quit rescusing NPR. Let them go a few rounds without the left sticking up for them. We have other battles that go beyond bad television. Rebecca was of this opinion during the last battle and I wish I'd thought it through then but my reaction was more emotional. But the issue is would we fight to save People Magazine? I'd fight to save The Nation or The Progressive. Would I fight to save a corporate waste of space like People Magazine? No. So why am I wasting my time on NPR and PBS? Especially since the last fight came on the heels of NOW being cut to a half hour and Tucker Carlson and The Wall St. Journal both being given shows.

The counter-argument is that if we, the country, loses PBS or NPR think how much worse off we'd be.

Well, Dona, I know that counter-argument and I've made it myself. Maybe at some point it had merit. But I kept making it long after it stopped having merit. Do you realize how little voice has been given to anti-war voices prior to Cindy Sheehan's Camp Casey? Or to war resistors? I couldn't find one program on that and then C.I. said Tavis Smiley had done one show including the topic. And where is The Tavis Smiley Show today? Not on NPR. It is their duty to provide those voices. They were happy to do so when Clinton was ordering the military engagements. Of course then the people "speaking out" were Republicans members of Congress. But they are supposed to air various beliefs and they're not doing it. They're not doing their job and haven't been for a long time. So we lose it. What have we lost? Nothing. As Betty pointed out Digital Television will mean that many families will no longer get so-called Public Television. So I say, stop fighting now.

If that happened, what do you think would follow?

I don't think the Republicans would actually kill PBS or NPR. I could be wrong and if I am, I still don't think it's a great loss. But if the left sat out the next battle, if the left didn't scream and holler in defense of NPR and PBS, I wonder if they might have to start taking us seriously? Might have to start factoring us into their programming decisions? There are serious issues worth fighting for today. I'm not seeing Brit-coms and right-wing programming as a serious issue the left needs to defend. Nor am I seeing right-leaning NPR's canned programming as anything the left should be fighting for. And what is the deal with the money there anyway? They have PBS shops now. Where's that money going? Where did the McDonalds millions go?
To pay Cokie Roberts and Ted Koppel for the gas bag commentaries? Terry Gross interviews Paul Bremer and does the worst interview a journalist could do. It was all easy questions and she seemed unfamiliar with Bremer's record before he went to Iraq. I don't see how the public is served by that nonsense. Or by her arts chats which may make her feel like a bohemian sprite but strike this listener as useless. Whether it's TV or radio, where is the public in their broadcasts? They're the "none that mattered" apparently.

A reference to when Cokie Roberts was asked if any members of Congress were objecting to the Afghanistan war and Cokie Roberts responded "none that matter."

Thank you, C.I. That's correct. "None that matter" said to Bob Edwards on NPR's Morning Edition. On public radio. That statement could be expressed by a guest but public radio has no business employing someone who makes such statements. It is especially supposed to give voice to views that would not be heard otherwise. That was the whole argument for its existance. That corporate media, due to the nature of advertising, had to shy away from some topics. Public radio and public television would be the place where a robust converstation could take place. That's not what has happened. I see no point in fighting for it. Maybe if they had to fight the next battle on their own they'd start living up to their mandate? Or maybe they'd realize that the left requires more airtime if they're expecting the left to stand up for them. I'm a grandmother. So looking at it as though it was a child, it makes no sense. You do not reward bad behavior but we, on the left, continue to do that. And all it does is allow PBS and NPR to take us even more for granted.

You spoke about "where is the public" earlier.

Right. Well, this is a point that's been made by many people so it's not original observations on my part, they have stock market shows. Where are the labor shows? They cover "business" but they're not very concerned with "work" or "workers." We've talked about their treatment of gays and lesbians already but where are the other minorities? And why is Jim Lehren still hosting the NewsHour? Has it been thirty years yet? There only daily news program and its hosted by a White male. Statistically, even if you forget ideology, they aren't being representative. Or how about Washington Week? What does it serve? We've got journalists not summarizing the week's events but giving their opinions on it. Trying to be cute and funny. Why not invite some experts on. Not politicians, but professors? Or how about a Washington Week with Granny D, Medea Benjamin and other activists giving their take on the week's events? That would offer voices that weren't being heard in the mainstream which is supposed to be the role of public broadcasting. There is no "public" on PBS or NPR. There are a lot of insiders and they offer the same talking points you can hear on ABC or CBS or NBC, so what's the point in defending that?

So what would you see the benefit of not defending PBS and NPR in the next go round?

They'd learn that we're not fighting for something that refuses to do what it's supposed to. We could all spend our time discussing and addressing something that really has relevance in our lives. I can remember hearing on PRI's The World, during the presidential campaign of 2004 that "both served." Senator John Kerry and Bully Boy "both served." Now I'm fighting for that?

The World?

It's a program carried by NPR stations. PRI is one of the distributers to NPR. This is a supposed news program. We're talking about Vietnam. I lived through it. No one who did would say that "serving" stateside in the National Guard was "serving." You did that to avoid getting drafted. But The World wanted to tell you that both served. On a news program. Today, the realities are obviously different. The National Guard does serve. But the realities in the sixties and early seventies were quite different. A news program should grasp that. A news program on public radio shouldn't be afraid to provide the context.

What changed the way you saw it? You were fully supportive of the last battle to save NPR and PBS?

I was. And it was a mistake on my part. I think it was realizing that, and I keep saying it my reports and it's not meant as an insult to Katrina vanden Heuvel whom my granddaughter Tracey loves, the outcome of the last battle appeared to be "Thank you for all your hard work, here's Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation." She got to be a guest. She should be a guest. The magazine she edits has a higher circulation than the guests from other public journals on NPR. But that's it? That's what we get? One guest, regardless of whom? Ms. vanden Heuvel is a strong voice but I hardly think she's strong enough to go up against a hundred or more centrist and right-wing voices that NPR features each month. I'm sure she could lead in a battle but let's not feed her to the wolves. It was just realizing one week, as I listened to NPR and Pacifica, that the battle had been fought and won and now NPR was going back to business as usual. Why did I bother to fight? And there's Pacifica. Being exposed to the variety of programs it offers factored in as well. I grew old with NPR and as it grew more and more corporate and more and more conservative, with no alternatives, I just accepted it as the way it had to be. It doesn't have to be that way. NPR chooses to be that way. So let centrists and right-wingers fight for it, they get the airtime on the network. We're about to enter the third year of the Iraq war and they've yet to host a debate on it. It's more embarrassing now since the majority of the public has turned against the war. But they should have been offering that debate, by their mandate they should have been offering it, long before that happened. That's a viewpoint that wasn't being expressed in the corporate media and they are supposed to exist to express those viewpoints. I'm sure I'm stealing from Amy Goodman, and probably from her fundraising on WBAI this past week, but there's no greater issue than war and peace. NPR silenced critics of the war. They still won't devote their time to a serious discussion of the war. I'm guessing Terry Gross is all booked up with Tribecca artists. Where's the dialogue on the war on NPR? Nowhere to be found. You can get a monologue, from various voices, about the war, endorsing it or regretting it but saying we have to stay over there. You just can't hear the voice of the public, the majority, saying it's time to stop the war. So I think about that and I think, "Next time they're on their own."

Closing thoughts?

Instead of wasting our time fighting to "save" PBS and NPR, what if we used that same energy to get the word out on Pacifica? Imagine the impact that would have. "The Pooper" was trashing Pacifica and holding NPR up as a model, including as a ratings model, he seems to have forgotten that ratings aren't supposed to be to public radio the god they are to corporate radio. Well NPR is a well known brand. This weekend, I was talking about an e-mail from a member in Texas. A friend dropped by his office while he was listening to KPFA's The Morning Show. And what happened? The friend calls later that day to say he can't find the program on the NPR website. In one day, someone who'd never heard of Pacifica before found out about it, heard it and then wanted to listen to it themselves. That all happened because one person was listening and one person was willing to get the word out. Think about the difference we could all make if we focused on something like that, something that really matters, instead of on ensuring that NPR and PBS will have the monies to hire more right-wing hosts and provide more airtime to right-wingers and centrists.
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