Sunday, March 26, 2006

Danny Schechter speaks on Iraq and the media 7PM March 29th in NYC (open to the public, no charge for admission)

The News Dissector Danny Schechter has an upcoming book presentation. We'll note this again (and how often will depend upon how many times I'm reminded):

If you are in New York City, please come out for a talk I will be giving on my new book WHEN NEWS LIES: Media Complicity and The Iraq War at Housing Works' handsome Used Book Café on Cosby Street just below Houston, one block east of Broadway at 7 PM March 29. CSPAN will be in the house broadcasting so it is especially important to have a crowd. Please tell your friends. It is free.

C.I. noted the above Friday and we wanted to be sure to do our part to get the word out. That's March 29th (Wednesday) at Used Book Cafe in NYC. We recommend the event, we recommend the book. We've noted Schechter's The Death of the Media and we've noted his documentary WMD. You can also check for more on Schecter. But most important, at 7:00 pm on March 29th, you can hear a presentation on the media's efforts in selling Bully Boy's illegal war. And it's free. No charge. So if you're in the area, make a point to show up.

Will Interview With The Vampire become the new Catcher in the Rye?

American Arrested for Bolivian Bombing
In Bolivia, an American man has been arrested along with an Uruguayan woman for bombing two hotels in La Paz. Two people died and at least seven were injured in the blasts. The attacks were denounced by the Bolivian government. President Evo Morales said "This American was putting bombs in hotels. The U.S. government fights terrorism, and they send us terrorists." Police initially identified the American as 24-year-old Claudio Lestad of New Orleans but he reportedly used several other names. Police said the he might be mentally ill.

Here was my first thought: black ops operation. I still think that's possible. The 24 y.o. could be CIA. "Claudio Lestad"? Made up name. That's so obvious. I thought I had to be remembering wrong so I called Ty who loves horror and science fiction novels. He's read all of Ann Rice."Claudio" equals "Claudia" the young girl who's turned to a vampire by . . . Lestat. "Lestad" equals "Lestat." And where did it take place? New Orleans. It's a cover of some kind and a pretty obvious one -- unless the guy's mentally ill but being mentally ill might not be a liability in working for the CIA. But Claudio Lestad is totally made up. Will Interview With The Vampire, by Ann Rice, become the new Catcher in the Rye?
I never read Interview With The Vampire, but I did see the movie. I'm guessing that name was pretty obvious, pretty obviously a phoney, to most people.

- - - - -

The above is Cedric noting a headline from Democracy Now! and then explaining the alias.

His whole post was supposed to be a highlight but it never hit the blog. "Cluadio Lestad"?

NSA Hearings This Tuesday on PACIFICA RADIO

Programming notes for next week. First, Larry Bensky and KPFA will be covering Tuesday's **NSA Hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee** I assume that other Pacficia stations will carry this or some coverage of it as well but I have only heard it noted on KPFA. [Dallas note: Houston's KPFT will air the coverage beginning at 8:30 a.m. Central Time.]

The above is from the latest Ruth's Public Radio Report. Tuesday, NSA hearing. It's expected to last less than half a day. Pacficia will provide live coverage. NPR? Don't hold your breath. Live coverage on NPR only happens when a "head of state" has a funeral apparently.
So make sure to listen to Pacficia.

Also, our apologies to Ruth. We e-mailed her Ruth's Public Radio Report to the site repeatedly as a highlight and it's not hitting. If you haven't read it, please make a point to.

Editorial: Who's hiding in the shadows and who's waving their Feingold?

What do you say when you're too scared to say anything?

Listen to the proclaimed leadership in the Democratic Party.

You talk a lot of nonsense. You support a war the people have turned against.

You grab some Republican talking points and use them yourself with an emphasis on 'fine tuning.'

I would've fought the war differently, you say. Or I would've run that program differently.

You make the Republicans your base line. You make them your touch stone. And everyone else's because if the opposition party (so called) is going to take on the ideas of the party in the power, then they are the base line.

As the 2006 elections draw nearer, we hear more talk of "middle class families." Oh, there's a tough issue! Reality is that most people think they are "middle class" (polls have demonstrated this -- or that they at least select that to identify themselves). LBJ wanted to fight a "war" on poverty but those days are gone. "Poor people, you're on your own" is the message. (Unless you want to pin your hopes on RFK wanna be, neolib and star of Dude, Where's My Barber? John Edwards -- seriously, get a hair cut, Florence Henderson could barely pull off that long lager in the back and she was blonde.)

In the 2002 elections, the Democrats collectively avoided the issue of the war. In 2004, John Kerry alternated between "Wrong war at the wrong time" soundbytes and pledges of how he's fight it "smarter."

Anything you can do I can do . . . smarter?

That's a platform. That's a way to win voters. (Even the ones hollering out, "No, you can't!" to your "Yes, I can!") It's a one-sided game of Red Rover (Red Rover, Red Rover let Harry Reid come over!) that allows the right to always set the terms of the debate and to be portrayed as the baseline by the corporate media.

That's not a winning strategy. Standing in place and critiquing the other party's policies isn't presenting new ideas or demonstrating a vision.

Does the entire leadership have a bad case of the (Evan) Blahs?

In 2002, if they were good boys and girls and sat in their seats and didn't disrupt, they were guaranteed to win back at least one house because that always happens. Only it didn't in 2002, did it?

In 2004, the campaign message often appeared to be (for the presidential ticket), "Vote for me, I'm not Bully Boy!"

While that may indeed be enough to persuade us, other voters wanted something more.

Where's the vision. Betsy Wright could have written, "It's the vision thing" -- but she didn't have to write it, she kept the Clinton campaign focused on the big ideals. (Which, some would argue, amounted to little more than vague plans and no follow up; regardless, voters got a sense that a vote for Bill Clinton was a vote for change.)

Playing it safe didn't results in massive wins in 2002 and it didn't in 2004. But somehow, it's going to be different in 2006?

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

And nothing's changed. The Patriot Act passed. There's still not a significant number of Congress members calling for impeachment (or for it to be explored). Russ was left with his Feingold dangling in the breeze as Hillary, Harry and assorted others went running for cover. And always there is Iraq.

There's room in the "big tent" for Joe Lieberman's constant war mongering but not for an anti-war voice? Is that what it is? Is that how it will be?

The slate of "warrior" candidates, are they going to crash and burn as happened in 2004 when we were all supposed to rally around a candidate, with no experience and no platform, just because he'd served in Iraq? If so, that's their fault but it's also the party's fault. When you run novice candidates, you need to educate them. When you back them (and select them, some would argue), you need to offer something more than, "Just don't say anything that wouldn't get said on This Week or Meet the Press and you'll do fine."

Over the years, the Democratic Party has always had one card to play when everything else failed -- the choice card. Having allowed Alito and Roberts to be confirmed to the Court, that card may not play well. Not because the pro-choice position has lost traction (it hasn't, it's still popular with the public) but because the Democrats demonstrated that all the talk was just posturing.

The "vision" (such as it is), is to hope a Republican steps into a trap or fumbles badly. That's not vision. That's not even good strategy. That does, however, appear to be the plan.

There's a war waging in Iraq and people are dying. Silence on the war is not "prudent" -- it's cowardly. On every issue, there's a lot of that going around. If you're serving in Congress currently and have failed to wave your own Feingold around, you might want to kiss good-bye notions and dreams of running for president in 2008.

If you want to win elections, you have to campaign. Not stand around, stand in place, hoping for a screw up while you say, "What he said, only I'd fine tune differently." That's not vision. That's not bravery. That's not how an opposition party ever finds itself in the majority. That is how a sidelined party remains hidden in the shadows.

TV Review: Joy Ride?

Free Ride. Sundays on Fox.

Home of Arrested Development at one point. Also home of the hideously lame The War At Home.

Which is Free Ride?

Here's the premise Nate has graduated college and returns home. It's another one of those "Oh my God, the boomerang generation is so damn funny! They move back with their folks! It's funny!" Not so far. Not in past attempts to capture this trend.

It works this time. It's actually funny. Josh Dean deserves a great deal of the credit for that because he's not fallen in love with himself. (Self-love killed Scrubs.) Dean plays Nate. Nate seems to always be on the edge of exploding but never exploding -- instead talking himself down, counting backwards from ten. You get that from the way Dean carries himself and uses his body, not just from facial expressions. More importantly, not just from dialogue.

Dean's not Ed Harris, so what else is making the show work? Well, for one thing, the parents aren't the focus as they steal away to the kitchen to talk about the returning adult child. (Who really thought that would ever find an audience? Someone apparently or it wouldn't have kept getting on air.)

This isn't a family show anymore than That 70s Show is a family show. (We're using "family show" to mean about a family.) What is it? An alternative to The Graduate, if you think about it. Nate's a college graduate (like Benjamin). There's a woman he's in love with who is engaged to someone else -- Erin Cahill plays Nate's Elaine (Amber Danwood). He's not found his way in life yet. We'll assume he doesn't want to sell plastics.

But here's the alternative, unlike in the sixties, times aren't great. The Bully Boy economy is not a booming economy (unless you're in the business of figuring out how to make weapons that kill better or bilk the government via overcharging). That's something that previous attempts at this premise missed. Maybe it was intentional, they didn't care, or maybe it was because real life rarely intrudes in TV living room set.

Free Ride exists away from the world of TV sets. The surroundings are as much a part of the show as the characters. The hospital was a prominent chracter last week. Filled with people just wanting to get to the end of their shift (such as the woman who had no time for Nate or his father who waited in the hall, after his father's operation, for over an hour before finally being given a room). The hospital, like the town, was characterized by the infrequent bursts of activity (always with the promise of something greater that never emerges) that broke up the otherwise dull routine.

That's the mythical Johnson City. Where everyone is just trying to get through the day and convince themselves that things aren't that bad. (That's actually Bully Boy's America as well.)
That's why the father can suggest that just graduated college Nate get a job, first episode, at the local equivalent of Wal-Mart. Nate rejects that idea. But in a later episode he takes a job as a food server at a local Australian-themed eatery. Just get through the day.

Both Nate and the people coming to this bit of (bad) fantasy, just get through the day.

If this played out in slow-mo, if Dean was trying to ape Ray Romano by milking every line with long pauses, the show would be dead in the first few minutes. But Dean's Nate has been outside of Johnson City and hasn't yet gotten back into the nothing-ever-happens mode. That's why he's not pleased with the various excursions Dove takes him on. Dave Sheridan plays Dove, a young man who left high school physically if not mentally.

Dove's used to the town and the nature of it. For Dove, it's a good night if they go somewhere. Now maybe they end up with some other guys just sitting around playing video games late at night or maybe they end up at an underage party, but it's "motion," it's life, it's denial. And as long as Dove can deny, he's living it up.

Amber knows there's nothing going on. That's how she ends up engaged. Nothing going on and nothing's ever going to change that. Then Nate's back in town. For however long. Amber's forever on the precipice, Danwood conveys that perfectly. Will she stay with what she's settled for or chose something else? (Hopefully something else would not be limited solely to choosing Nate. If Amber could make that leap, you think she'd be able to leap a little further as well and actually have a dream.)

Nate's parents dream. And scheme of ways to enliven their sex lives. Of ways to restart their marriage. Mainly, they just fool themselves. They're stuck with each other so they fool themselves that they're other people, celebrities, when they're having sex.

Everyone in the town is fooling themselves except Nate and Dean has a wonderful of looking and moving his head away from what he's still looking at. If that's not a personal trait of the actor's, he's made a wonderful acting choice. (If that is a personal trait, he was wise to use it.) Nate's back with fresh eyes. He knows there's more but he, like his eyes, is drawn to the town in a sick love/hate kind of manner.

Nate's always on the verge of exploding captures that as well. The show is a combination of scripted sitcom and improvised sitcom. That may be why everyone, not just Dean who anchors the show, seems to be playing a person and not a stereotype. They're fleshing out the characters as they flesh out the scenes. And this improvisation works especially well for Allan Havey who plays Nate's father.

Havey's improvised lines are often the funniest dialogue in each episode. Whether due to the fact that he's coming up with them or because that's how he sees the character, Havey's captured the desperation of the deep denial Bob lives in.

Loretta Fox has been less successful as Margo early on, but Margo had a nice moment in the ktichen with Nate's aunt Lousie in one episode and last week, as Margo attempted to drug her hospitalized husband to get him to repeat the nice things he'd said when she wasn't around earlier, where she got to shine.

Early on, however, she came off like one more bland TV mother that they'd added sexual issues too. Bob and Margo are in couples' therapy to save their marriage, they're pretending that each other is someone else (and asking Nate for suggestions of who they should pretend they're with instead of each other). There's a desperation to Margo and it doesn't have to be on full display but there were times where you wondered if Fox got how desperate the character she was playing was?

It can take time to settle into a role and, hopefully, that is happening now and why Fox has had her moments in the last two shows.

So which is it? Arrested Development or The War At Home? The War At Home is every sitcom stereotype recylced and photocopied from a photocopy of a photocopy. It's Married With Children if it had drug on for ten more years. Translation, you're not seeing anything new and you're not hearing any jokes that are new.

Free Ride's not that. It's also not Arrested Development which worked much more as ensemble.
The lead characters of this show are Nate and Johnson City. Their eyes are locked on one another and neither intends to blink first. But someone will come out on top. Nate's too aware and Johnson City too dependent upon complacency.

If Fox renews the show, this will be one to watch. Fox stuck with The War At Home and cancelled Arrested Development. Free Ride may be too good of a show to last.

The Washington Post leaves us still Waiting For Lefty

Ben Domenech, who blogs at, very briefly had a career at The Washington Post. Like the week, it just ended. Domenech was hired to write for the online edition of The Washington Post, to write a column. Issues of plagiarism in his past work (including student work) were raised, Domenech denied that he had plagiarized himself (others, according to Domenech, inserted lines written by published writers into his writings before they were ran in student publications -- we're unclear on the issue of alleged plagiarism at The New York Press). As The Washington Post launched an investigation into his past writing, Doemenech resigned.

There are a number of issues raised by this. One raised by a professor is what was the aim of The Washington Post's investigation? If they were suspicious of the origins and authorship of Domenech's writing, they should have reviewed the issue of plagiarism with him and then fired him as soon as they came across something. The professor's view was that if the investigation was to determine Domenech's employment status for The Post, this "was a bit like Burger King preparing to fire a new hire because of rumors that he had spit on burgers while working at McDonalds." Jim Brady, the executive editor of the paper, has confirmed that this was indeed the purpose of the investigation. Farhad Manjoo, reporting for Salon, writes:

Brady said that Domenech had "not necessarily admitted to the fact that he did or didn't do it," and that the Post site -- which is managed separately from the print version of the Washington Post -- had not come to any conclusions on whether Domenech was guilty of plagiarism. "But certainly there was enough smoke there and not any good explanations to convince me otherwise," Brady said. He added that if Domenech had not offered to resign, the paper would have fired him. (Domenech did not respond to Salon e-mail inquiries for comment.)

The paper would have fired him? Where "there was enough smoke" there was fire? That's an interesting attitude for an executive editor to have while admitting that the paper's own investigation had yet to determine whether or not someone was guilty of plagiarism.

Our focus isn't too pile on Domenech. He was hired by The Washington Post which should have known his work before they hired him. He was hired for a reason and the fact that they now question the hiring, says more about their own lack of judgement than anything else.

Their response to Domenech resignation is disturbing. Manjoo writing for Salon:

Brady said the site picked Domenech for two reasons: He's conservative and he's provocative.
[. . .]
And the site still wants someone on the right. "A conservative columnist, a conservative blogger, whatever it ends up being. Certainly we're looking, but I don't know the time frame," Brady said.
Asked if the site is looking for a liberal, he said, "Potentially, potentially."

Potentially, potentially. We'll add "Eventually."

Was a time I remember
Hope flashed and went dim
When assassins just happened
To do the right people in
And love was the slogan
And they told us they'd work it out

-- "Eventually" words and music by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, available on Carole King's CD Writer

See the thing is, The Washington Post doesn't have a liberal. A party columnist that leans left, yes. A liberal?

They did have one. No, it's not the one who died shortly after disgracing herself by cheerleading an illegal war. They had Colman McCarthy. They dropped him. They said he wasn't syndicated enough. Other columnists haven't done any better (actually, some haven't done as well) but he got dropped. They dropped McCarthy in 1997.

He did write a column, a guest column, for them on April 19, 2003:

That the news divisions of NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox sanctioned this domination by military types was a further assault on what the public deserves: independent, balanced and impartial journalism. The tube turned into a parade ground for military men -- all well-groomed white males -- saluting the ethic that war is rational, that bombing and shooting are the way to win peace, and that their uniformed pals in Iraq were there to free people, not slaughter them. Perspective vanished, as if caught in a sandstorm of hype and war-whooping. If the U.S. military embedded journalists to report the war from Iraq, journalists back in network studios embedded militarists to explain it. Either way, it was one-version news.

That ran one month after the invasion began. You've heard that criticism a lot these days. (Not in the corporate media, but elsewhere.) So The Washington Post could actually point to one person who offered a real critique, one not part of the "we were all wrong" crowd. And yet, though they claim the next hire will have a stronger journalistic background, they're not even contemplating hiring McCarthy.

Why is that?

That's our focus of this entry. The Washington Post feels there are not enough conservative voices getting play, apparently. The paper needs a conservative, Jim Brady feels. That's the voice missing from the media landscape.

Affirmative action is attacked by the right. But they won't say a word about Brady's "preference quotas." They'll continue to benefit from the system the way they always have, the way they continue to do. Jayson Blair's plagiarism is turned into a discussion of how much race played into his hiring and whether he was given breaks because of his skin color. Did Brady give Domenech breaks for his skin color? Or just for his ideology?

If Brady's attempting to argue that conservatives are in the minority in this country, we'll quickly agree with him. We will, however, add that we think they are a highly over-represented minority (in office and in the media).

Regardless of what Domenech did or did not write in the past (at other publications), the paper's job was to know the work before offering him a job. They gave him a job because he was conservative. They are intent upon hiring another conservative. That's a quota system. And, unlike true Affirmative Action programs, it doesn't exist to even the playing field. Conservatives are over represented, centrists are represented. Where are the liberals?

They do exist. Norman Solomon, Barbara Ehrenreich, Howard Zinn, Katha Pollitt and others are prime examples. So why is it that they are not represented in the corporate media?

Brady told Salon, "We didn't have anybody on the site who is on a consistent basis discussing issues of conservatives, someone who's loyal to the cause of conservatism and not the administration." And they have no one, in print or on the site, who is on a consistent basis discussing issues of liberals, someone who's loyal to the cause of liberalism and not a political party. They have centrists, they have some left-leaning centrists, and they have a variety of right-wingers among their columnists. They just don't have an honest to God leftie.

Like Clifford Odets, we're left Waiting For Lefty. And the best Brady can do is offer that someday, "Potentially, potentially," we may get one. Brady's statements are far more disturbing than anything that Domenech is alleged to have done.

The 2008 Democratic primary is already over

The 2008 Democratic primary is already over.

What? We haven't even had the 2006 Democratic elections!

A reader sent in a laughable "The Case For Even Blah" (we call him "Blah"). The Case for Even?
"Electibility!" He's electable! Not as president. There's no proof of that. And the fact that he's so-so on choice shouldn't bother any of us because we should think "electability!"

Now he's got a "mixed record" on Civil Rights as well, "The Case" tells us, but he's "electable!"

"The Case" also includes comments making the case for Mark Warner. That would be the Democratic governor who looks too much like Richard Nixon. But hey, it's "electable," right? Nixon was "electable" twice!

Now Nixon lost to JKF. Was he "electable" when he lost?

We love All God's Gasbags Big and Small. We love how they're out there flaunting their ignorance so willing. Cokie Roberts and others with microphones shouldn't be the only gasbags. All you need to be a gasbag is to repeat media hype as fact.

For instance, Dems can't win in the "red states." Dems can't win, it's those 'vangical voters! Dems just can't win.

Now reality, as opposed to myth, is that the Democratic Party has allowed their candidates in those states to run from the Democratic label (Martin Frost, anyone?) . Reality is that the many of the candidates weren't interested in meeting the people in the "red states." The reality is that the final ticket was more concerned about "swing-states" than they were about "red states" so it's silly to make claims about races in states they didn't even make their presence felt in. Reality is that the Democratic Party has allowed the infrastructure to fall apart in the so-called "red states" for many years.

"Electability"? We think Dennis Kucinich said it best, "I'm electable if people vote for me.''

The party has enough bean counters and some of them have moonlighted as gasbags. So we think it's great that a new emerging crop of gasbags wants to moonlight as bean counters. Now they've got no hard data to point to, the way the bean counters do, but then the bean counter's data didn't really help all that much to begin with.

It's not just the Evan Blah crowd. We've seen endorsements for John Edwards for president since 2005. It must be nice, when no one's declared, to know who you would support in 2008. It must be nice to be so fixated on a person that you don't believe any issue could arise between now and 2008 (or 2005 and 2008), that might make you alter your opinion. One of us has a parent who will not do early voting under any circumstance. She waits until the day of the election. She will not vote before because who knows what might come out between then and election day.

But the gasbags are so certain, so sure of themselves (it's hard to believe they're sure of candidates because, after all, no one even has a campagin platform to run on yet), that no issue can deter them from cheerleading their choice.

It sure is interesting that Evan Blah's a sure thing, that John Edwards is a sure thing, that Hillary Clinton is a sure thing, that . . . Do gasbags ever attack each other?

That's a reality show we'd like to see. Online or offline gasbags (or a team of both) in an MTV style Gasbags Grudge Match.



Hope we didn't pop anyone's (gas) bubble.

Saturday's third hour goes to the arts on RadioNation with Laura Flanders

There's never a set topic for Laura Flanders. That's because she's smart and part of being smart is being curious. So instead of sound byte, sound byte, thanks for dropping by, she actually listens and explores. (By contrast check out Baby Cries A Lot anytime he has an author or artist on his show. Laugh at his jokes or he moves quickly through his prepared points.)

In the last hour of Saturday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders, Flanders spoke with playwright Peter Morris and actress Katherine Moennig about the upcoming play Guardians. (The play opens, on April 11th and closes on May 25th, at The Culture Project in NYC -- 45 Bleecker Street at Lafayette.)

Morris' play was inspired by events in Iraq such as the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Discussing the photos that have emerged (Flanders noted that "they aren't willing to release more" photos), Morris stated that it was the playwright's duty "to flesh out what's not covered." They discussed the nature of the scandal and how it was shocking news for a moment and then the corporate media moved on.

With Guardians, Morris is attempting to provide you with a fictionalized version of the story and to flesh it out beyond a news blip. (The play is a two character play. Lee Pace is the actor who stars with Moennig.)

Art should move you in some way. It can give you one of the emotions on the happy arc, or it can provide you with another emotion, but it should provoke and it should lead to discussion and thought. Somewhere along the way, the attacks from the right helped to distort that. Complaining about artwork such as Piss Christ, the right screamed for cutting off funds from the NEA and some in the public supported that and wondered why art couldn't just be painted landscapes and sea scapes. Or maybe paintings of animals!

What was with all the controversy, some wondered -- testifying to the need for a stronger liberal arts program in colleges and for increased funding of the arts in public schools for all grades. Art doesn't have to be "pretty" or "nice." In fact, if it's achieving the artistic goals, it very often is neither.

Something to remember after the news of a high school in Fulton, Missouri stopping the production of the musical Grease, due to three -- count 'em three -- letters complaining, and to cancel the planned production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible. As art (and entertainment) are the targets of "sanatized" campaigns, it's easy to forget that art's supposed to do something more than bring you the world you know, as you know it, and provoke nothing but the most simple response (of agreement) from you.

The role of art (in society, in politics, in the world around us) was a topic that Flanders, Morris and Moenning could address and explore and it's not every program that can do that. (Again, see Baby Cries A Lot for the rush-through-the-check-list approach.) We had decided ahead of time to make Saturday's third hour our focus for this edition because of an e-mail from Don who wrote, "Okay, maybe it's a great show but I'm tired on Saturday and don't feel like hearing about the news of the week." Well Flanders does cover the news (and we enjoy that) but every Saturday the final hour is usually devoted to the arts. It may be a playwright. It may be an author. It may be a musician. (Rickie Lee Jones remains our favorite Saturday final hour guest. ) Don wrote that he hoped we would note his e-mail and we have.

So here's our request for Don, forget today's show. It will be wonderful but you're not in the mood for it. Instead, next Saturday, make a point to listen to the third hour of the show. We don't know who the guest will be. But we know Flanders. Listen to the third hour of the show.
If you hate it, write us again and we'll note it. (Not every voice is for everyone.) But see if you don't enjoy it. If you do, maybe that's one hour of the program you can listen to each week. And maybe, if you listen for that hour, you'll start to wonder what she can do with political guests.

For those who are interested in listening to today's RadioNation with Laura Flanders (airs seven to ten p.m. EST), guests will include The Nation's Esther Kaplan and Bitch magazine's Lisa Jervis.

Why They Crawl

Last week we offered "Why We March" and there were a number of e-mails on that. One e-mail that stood out was from Jesse who wondered why so many elected Democrats in Congress refuse to call for the troops to be brought home now? Good question. As the twin piece to "Why We March" we offer this.

Because wars mean big money.

Because cowardice, not paranoia, runs deep.

Because lies and liars come in all shapes and forms as well as parties -- blood lust, like cowardice, runs deep.

Because they apparently aren't very informed and depend on interviewers to give them the news of the day.

Because a number of the so-called opposition acts no differently than the ones they are supposedly opposing.

Because war organs like The New Republican prop them up. (For laughs, Google "Our Choice" -- their January 7, 2004 endorsement of Joe Lieberman as the Democratic candidate for president.) (C.I. urges everyone not Google them and give them traffic, "Resist the temptation to laugh at them unless you're visiting a library." C.I. suggests you instead read Kevin Zeese on Lieberman in CounterPunch.)

Because corporate media runs with Evan Blah's attacks on Democrats who do speak out.

Because some have the blood lust.

Because some have no spine.

Because Zell Miller types are more common than you'd guess.

Because they haven't been touched by the war.

Because the media isn't the only one trying to sell war pornograpy as strategy.

Because "We are all of us in the gutter/ But some of us are looking at the stars" (Pretenders' "Message of Love" written by Chrissie Hynde).

Bush insinua que soldados estadounidenses permaneceran en Irak al menos hasta 2009

Bush insinua que soldados estadounidenses permaneceran en Irak al menos hasta 2009

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

Bush insinúa que soldados estadounidenses permanecerán en Irak al menos hasta 2009
El Presidente Bush señaló que los soldados estadounidenses probablemente permanecerán en Irak al menos hasta el año 2009. Bush dio una conferencia de prensa en la Casa Blanca el martes, la segunda de este año, y dijo que la retirada de los soldados estadounidenses de Irak será una decisión que deban tomar los futuros presidentes estadounidenses y gobiernos iraquíes. Bush también defendió el trabajo del Secretario de Defensa Donald Rumsfeld, en medio de crecientes pedidos de que renuncie. Pero Bush dejó abierta la posibilidad de futuros cambios, cuando dijo: "No voy a anunciarlo ahora".

Más de 80 muertos en Irak en los últimos dos días
En otras noticias sobre Irak, al menos 80 personas murieron en los últimos dos días en una serie de tiroteos desde vehículos, explosiones de bombas en carreteras y ejecuciones. En uno de los ataques más letales, un bombardero suicida se inmoló frente a la principal unidad de crímenes del Ministerio del Interior, matando a 25 personas.

Estados Unidos rodeó a todos los hombres adultos en localidad iraquí
Mientras tanto, en el oeste de Bagdad, más de 1.000 soldados estadounidenses rodearon una localidad cerca de Abu Ghraib. Luego que el pueblo fue acordonado, los soldados estadounidenses registraron todas las casas y reunieron a todas los hombres adultos del pueblo. Soldados esposaron e interrogaron a cada uno de los hombres de la localidad. Luego de interrogarlos, cada hombre fue marcado con una X en el cuello. Un coronel estadounidense defendió la operación alegando: "Lo que estamos haciendo es construir una guía Michelin para el área".

Adiestrador de perros del ejército condenado a seis meses de prisión por abuso en Abu Ghraib
Mientras tanto, un adiestrador de perros del ejército fue condenado a seis meses de prisión por abusar de detenidos iraquíes en la cárcel de Abu Ghraib. El Sargento, Michael Smith, fue fotografiado mientras utilizaba perros sin bozal para aterrar a los detenidos. Smith podría haber sido condenado a ocho años y medio en prisión, pero su condena fue mucho menor. Smith es el décimo soldado de bajo rango condenado por participar en el difundido abuso en Abu Ghraib. Hasta la fecha, ningún oficial de alto rango ni nadie en el comando civil ha sido responsabilizado por lo que ocurrió en la prisión.

Bush dice que no vinculó a Saddam con atentados del 11 de septiembre
Mientras las encuestas siguen indicando una disminución del nivel de aprobación de su mandato y de la guerra en Irak, el Presidente Bush pidió paciencia el lunes. Bush habló en Ohio y dijo que podía "entender que la gente fuera descorazonada", pero imploró a los estadounidenses que vieran los signos de progreso. Durante el período de preguntas, se interrogó al Presidente sobre las afirmaciones previas a la guerra de que Saddam Hussein estaba vinculado a los atentados del 11 de septiembre. Bush respondió: "En primer lugar, si me permiten aclarar un malentendido, creo que nunca dijimos, al menos estoy seguro de que yo nunca dije que había una conexión directa entre los atentados del 11 de septiembre y Saddam Hussein". Los críticos de Bush atacaron inmediatamente los comentarios del Presidente. En una carta al Congreso, entregada hace tres años, el Presidente Bush escribió: "La utilización de fuerzas armadas contra Irak es consecuente con que Estados Unidos y otros países continúen tomando las acciones necesarias contra los terroristas y organizaciones terroristas internacionales, entre ellas a las naciones, organizaciones o personas que planearon, autorizaron, llevaron a cabo o contribuyeron en los ataques terroristas que ocurrieron el 11 de septiembre de 2001".

Padre de contratista asesinado entre los 50 arrestados en protesta contra la guerra
Volvemos a Estados Unidos. Continuaron las protestas en contra de la guerra para conmemorar el tercer aniversario de la invasión a Irak. En Washington, cientos de personas marcharon frente al Pentágono, cargando un falso ataúd que pretendían entregarle al Secretario de Defensa, Donald Rumsfeld. La policía colocó un vallado en la calle para prohibir la entrada de los manifestantes. Aproximadamente 50 personas fueron arrestadas cuando lograron cruzar el vallado. Entre las personas arrestadas se encontraba Michael Berg, cuyo hijo Nicolas Berg, fue decapitado por secuestradores iraquíes en 2004. Antes de ser arrestado, Michael Berg dijo: "Mi hijo fue asesinado en venganza por las atrocidades que los estadounidenses cometieron en la prisión de Abu Ghraib; asesinando, violando, y torturando a los prisioneros. Así que decir 'miren qué horrible lo que le hicieron a mi hijo' ciertamente me da derecho a vengarme, bueno hay personas que pueden decir lo mismo porque hay personas en Irak que perdieron a sus hijos e hijas en esa prisión y hay 100.000 personas muertas en Irak, y piensen en todas las familias allí que consideran que tienen derecho a vengarse. No creo que se justifique la venganza bajo ningún concepto. La venganza en un ciclo sin fin y debe detenerse en algún punto, y se detiene conmigo".

Continúan protestas contra la guerra en todo el mundo mientras la ocupación de Irak ingresa en su cuarto año
Mientras que el domingo comenzó el cuarto año de ocupación estadounidense en Irak, se llevaron a cabo protestas contra la guerra en todo el mundo. Decenas de miles de personas salieron a las calles a protestar en ciudades de Estados Unidos, Canadá, Asia, Europa y Australia. En Irak, manifestantes protestaron en Basora y Bagdad contra la actual ocupación estadounidense.

Video iraquí provoca investigación de crímenes de guerra de infantes de marina estadounidenses
En otras noticias sobre Irak, imágenes de un video grabado por un joven estudiante de periodismo iraquí provocaron la investigación de cerca de una docena de infantes de marina estadounidenses por cometer posibles crímenes de guerra. El video fue filmado luego que una bomba al costado de una carretera mató a un infante de marina estadounidense en Haditha. Más tarde, soldados estadounidenses atacaron casas en esa área y mataron a 15 civiles. En un principio, el Pentágono atribuyó la responsabilidad de las muertes al atentado con bombas que mató al soldado. Pero unos meses después se abrió una investigación cuando un periodista de la revista "Time" le entregó la grabación a las Fuerzas Armadas. El video muestra a las víctimas tiradas en las casas bombardeadas. Tres niños murieron.

Informe: Estados Unidos acusado de matar a civiles iraquíes cerca de Balad
Mientras tanto, la policía iraquí acusó a soldados estadounidenses de asesinar a 11 civiles en un ataque llevado a cabo la semana pasada. Según un informe de la policía iraquí obtenido por la agencia de noticias "Knight Ridder", los residentes de la localidad fueron asesinados luego que soldados estadounidenses los llevaron a una habitación en una casa cerca de la ciudad de Balad. Entre los muertos se encontraban dos niños, un bebé de seis meses y una anciana. El informe dice que los soldados quemaron tres vehículos, mataron a los animales de los habitantes e hicieron explotar la casa. Un comandante de la policía local dijo que todas las víctimas fueron halladas con las manos esposadas y con heridas de bala en la cabeza.

Corte Suprema se niega a otorgarle a puertorriqueños derecho a votar en elecciones presidenciales
En Washington, la Corte Suprema rechazó un esfuerzo por otorgarle a residentes de Puerto Rico el derecho a votar en las elecciones presidenciales estadounidenses. El analista de política puertorriqueño Juan Manuel Garcia-Passalacqua, dijo: "Ningún territorio de Estados Unidos ha podido participar en las elecciones presidenciales de Estados Unidos de América", dijo el analista político puertorriqueño Juan Manuel Garcia-Passalacqua. "Ese hecho solo sirve para subrayar que Puerto Rico es ahora visto por la Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos, como una colonia miserable de Estados Unidos".

Los Angeles se prepara para protesta masiva contra proyecto de ley de inmigración
En Los Angeles, organizadores de protestas prevén que 500.000 personas se manifestarán el sábado contra una nueva ley contra inmigrantes que está siendo considerada por el Congreso. La Cámara de Representantes aprobó una legislación que criminalizaría a 11 millones de inmigrantes indocumentados y convertiría en delito que los curas, monjas, trabajadores de la salud y otros trabajadores les ofrezcan ayuda. El Senado está considerando una legislación similar. El Foro Nacional de Inmigración calificó al proyecto de ley como la legislación de inmigración más restrictiva de los últimos 70 años. El proyecto de ley generó oposición masiva por parte de las comunidades de inmigrantes de todo el país. El jueves en Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 30.000 personas participaron en una marcha llamada "Un día sin latinos". Fue la protesta más grande de la ciudad en años. Docenas de comercios latinos cerraron por la protesta. En Chicago, hace dos semanas 300.000 personas colmaron las calles.

Maria: Good morning. Now in English, here are eleven news stories from Democracy Now! Peace.

Bush Suggests Troops To Remain in Iraq Until At Least 2009
President Bush has indicated US troops are likely to stay in Iraq until at least 2009. Speaking at a White House press conference Tuesday -- his second this year -- Bush said whether US troops are withdrawn from Iraq will be up to future US presidents and Iraqi governments to decide. Bush also defended the job performance of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld amid growing calls for his resignation. But Bush left open the possibility for future changes, saying "I'm not going to announce it right now."

Iraq Death Toll Tops 80 Over Past Two Days
In other news from Iraq, at least 80 people have died over the past two days in a series of drive-by shootings, roadside bombings and executions. In one of the deadliest attacks, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the major crimes unit of the Interior Ministry killing 25.

U.S. Rounds Up All Adult Males in Iraqi Village
Meanwhile to the west of Baghdad, over 1,000 U.S. troops have surrounded a village near Abu Ghraib. After the town was cordoned off, U.S. soldiers conducted house-to-house searches and rounded up the entire adult male population of the town. Soldiers handcuffed and then interrogated every man in the village. After questioning, each man was marked with an X on the back of their necks. One U.S. colonel defended the operation saying "What we're doing is building a Michelin guide to the area."

Army Dog Handler Sentenced to Six Months For Abu Ghraib Abuse
An Army dog handler has been sentenced to six months in prison for abusing Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison. The sergeant, Michael Smith, was photographed using un-muzzled dogs to terrify detainees. He could have been sentenced to eight and a half years in prison but he was given a far shorter sentence. Smith is the 10th low-ranking soldier convicted of taking part in the widespread abuse at Abu Ghraib. To date no high-ranking officer or anyone in civilian command has been held accountable for what happened at the prison.

Bush Says He Didn’t Link Saddam Hussein to 9/11
As poll numbers continue to show decreasing public support for his presidency and the war in Iraq, President Bush appealed Monday for patience. Speaking in Ohio, Bush said he could "understand people being disheartened" but implored Americans to see signs of progress. During the question period, the President was asked about the pre-war claim Saddam Hussein was linked to the 9/11 attacks. Bush responded: "First-just if I might correct a misperception, I don't think we ever said, at least I know I didn't say that there was a direct connection between September 11th and Saddam Hussein."
Critics immediately lashed out at the President’s remarks. In a letter to Congress delivered three years ago today, President Bush wrote: "The use of armed forces against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

Father of Slain Contractor Among 50 Arrested at Anti-War Protest
Back in the United States, anti-war protests continued to mark the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion. In Washington, hundreds of people marched on the Pentagon, carrying a mock coffin they intended to give to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The demonstrators were met with a steel barrier erected by police to bar their entry. About 50 people were arrested when they managed to cross the fence. Among them was Michael Berg, whose son Nicolas Berg was beheaded by Iraqi kidnappers in 2004. Before his arrest, Michael Berg said: "My son was killed out of revenge for the atrocities that Americans committed at the Abu Ghraib prison; murdering, raping, and torturing prisoners there. So for me to say look how horrible what they did to my son certainly I'm entitled to revenge well there are people who can say the same thing because there are people over there in Iraq who lost their sons and daughters in that prison and there are a 100,000 people in Iraq dead and think of all the families there that think they're entitled to revenge. I don't think revenge is justified under any circumstances. revenge is an endless cycle and it has to stop somewhere and it stops with me."

Anti-War Protests Worldwide as Occupation Enters Fourth Year
As Iraq entered its fourth year under US occupation Sunday, anti-war protests were held around the world. Tens of thousands of people took the streets in cities across the US, Canada, Asia, Europe and Australia. In Iraq, protesters demonstrated in Basra and Baghdad to protest the ongoing U.S. occupation.

Iraqi Video Leads to War Crimes Investigation of US Marines
In other Iraq news, video footage shot by a young Iraqi journalism student has led to the investigation of close to a dozen US marines for committing possible war crimes. The video was taken after a roadside bomb killed one US marine in Haditha. US troops then raided homes in the area, killing 15 civilians. The Pentagon initially blamed their deaths on the roadside bomb attack that killed the soldier. But an investigation was opened a few months later when a Time magazine reporter gave the videotape to the military. The video shows the victims lying in their bullet-ridden homes. Three children were killed.

US Accused of Killing Iraqi Civilians Near Balad
Meanwhile, Iraqi police have accused US troops of murdering 11 civilians in a raid just last week. According to an Iraqi police report obtained by the Knight Ridder news agency, the villagers were killed after US troops herded them into one room of a house near the city of Balad. The dead included two young children, a 6-month-old infant and an elderly woman. The report says the troops burned three vehicles, killed the villagers' animals and blew up the house. A local police commander said all the victims were found handcuffed with gunshot wounds to the head.

Court Rejects Giving Puerto Ricans Right to Vote for President
In Washington the Supreme Court has rejected an effort to give residents of Puerto Rico the right to vote in U.S. presidential elections. "No territory of the United States has ever been able to participate in the presidential elections of the United States of America," Puerto Rican political analyst Juan Manuel Garcia-Passalacqua. "That fact only serves to underscore that Puerto Rico is now in the thinking of the United States Supreme Court a miserable colony of the United States."

Los Angeles Prepares For Massive Protest Against Immigration Bill
In Los Angeles protest organizers are predicting as many as 500,000 people will demonstrate on Saturday against a new anti-immigrant law being considered by Congress. The House of Representatives has approved legislation that would criminalize 11 million undocumented immigrants and make it a crime for priests, nuns, health care workers and other social workers to offer them help. The Senate is considering similar legislation. The National Immigration Forum has described the bill as the most restrictive immigration legislation in 70 years. The bill has generated mass opposition from immigrant communities around the country. On Thursday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as many as 30,000 people took part in a march titled "A Day Without Latinos." It was the city's biggest protest in years. Dozens of Latino businesses shut down for the protest. In Chicago, as many as 300,000 people filled the streets two weeks ago.

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Blog Spotlight: "Ava's Entry"

Who is Ava and why is she saying those bad things about us?  (Believe it or not, a few readers thought we'd be upset by this.  No one was.  Jim  loves it and reads it to people aloud.)  Ava did an entry at The Common Ills mirror site and a few people missed it.  (Including Kat and C.I.)  If you missed it too, here it is:
Ava here (The Third Estate Sunday Review).  I always think,  "Today's the day that I'll have time to write something for the mirror site."  Or that I'll be able to repost something.  That never happens because the e-mails always pile up.  That's with Jess and I both helping C.I.  and still they'll pile up.  I don't know how C.I. ever managed alone . . .
We get e-mails at The Third Estate Sunday Review but a good week is probably a little over 400 and the average is probably more along the lines of 200.  The members account alone (at The Common Ills) exceeds a thousand a day on a slow day.  And that's only because many members have started utilizing Gina and Krista and their round-robin.  The public e-mail account, which many members still utilize . . .
I have no idea.  That's because C.I. tries to stay focused on the membership so Jess and I do as well.  I know that Mondays are always a "Oh My God" login moment.  C.I. will have grabbed some e-mails there for the Sunday night entries but only the ones from members with headings that make it clear that they are for the Sunday evening entry.  Two Mondays ago, Jess phoned and said,  "Guess."  It was over 6,000.
So that's what takes up the bulk of my own computer time. 
Ty and Jess have now twice filled in for C.I. for the Sunday entries (the ones about reporting from outside the US mainstream media) and a number of e-mails came in asking me why I didn't join them?  Putting out The Third Estate Sunday Review is an all night marathon.  (The print version gets every thing -- even scraps.  Only the ones one of us or most of us or all of us feel strong about make it online.)  After we're done with that, I crash (usually around nine or ten a.m.) and wake up around three or four p.m.  I don't even want to look at a computer Sunday evenings.
There are some evenings, and Jim will back me up on this, that I don't even want to look at Jim.  I'll ask Dona if she and he can go out.  Jim's a great guy and would/will make an incredible editor but I lack his enthusiasm for all nighters and for explorations.  He will toss something around and around and just "open it up" to discussion.  By four in the morning, I just want the edition completed already.
If C.I. and I haven't had time to write our TV review by that point, everyone's running interference for us because Jim has a million ideas.  But it's never been an issue of not knowing what to write in a TV review, it's been an issue of C.I. and I being able to grab the time.
Dona's usually the best at saying, "Back off, Jim."  (Usually in much stronger terms.)  That may be due to the fact that they are a couple but it's also due to the fact that she's a very strong willed person herself.  As a team, they make the best editor. 
Jim's enthusiasm never flags and that's great in many ways but, for instance, Ty had the idea for an online novel and we did two chapters.  It was Ty's plot and we would all just adds bits and pieces to his plot.  But then Jim's enthusiasm was so great that Ty just felt like it was time to walk away from it because it was no longer the plot he had been setting up.
That's not to dog on Jim.  He'd agree with everything I've written and there are Sundays where, without that enthusiasm of his, we'd end up with no online edition at all.  But he knows there are Sunday evenings when I don't even want to look at him. By Monday, he can make me laugh and I really do want to hear what he thinks about whatever, but after the marathons I've o.d.ed on Jim.  It's not as bad as it once was.  And Elaine gets thanks for that because she set a boundary that, if she hadn't, would have destroyed Jim and my friendship. 
I don't want to hear, on Sunday evening, what the edition could have been or should have been or how I could've worded something or should've worded something.  He has strong feedback (and not all negative) but I've gotten maybe five hours of sleep and seen the weekend fly out the window ("again," as Dona says) and the last thing I want is to even think about the edition that was just finished.  By Monday, I can handle the autopsy but not before then.
I'll use the rest of the space to answer some of the questions that pop up the most frequently.
Did Rebecca start her site first or did The Third Estate Sunday Review? 
Rebecca was the first spin off site from The Common Ills.  She beat us by a few days.  Folding Star of A Winding Road followed us, if I've got the time line correct on that.
Why "Ava"? 
There was already a community member sharing with my name. 
Are Jess and I a couple?
I've made it a point not to talk about my personal life.  Dona and Jim are much more upfront about their personal lives and that's great for them.  I don't care to do that.  It may have to do with the nasty and threatening e-mails that came in from the moment it was announced that the TV reviews were done by C.I. and myself.  There are wonderful members in the community and, if I did decide to share personal details, I'd take it to the gina & krista round-robin.  I just feel that some of the online stalkers had more than information as it was when the first wave of e-mails came in.
What is Ty like?
Ty is the sweetest person in the world.  Jess is the most easy going.  Ty just has a sweet quality that radidates from him.  Everyone loves Ty.  He's just that kind of guy.
What is Dona like?
A lot of people seem to think she's a "bitch."  They never think that about Jim.  With Jim, he's just a man doing manly things.  With Dona, a lot of people feel that she must be a "bitch" from the way things come off online.  She's not.  She can be tough when it's needed.  I've actually learned to toughen up because of her example.  She's never been silenced in any situation I've observed.  That's with any group, even a group of males telling her,  "Oh I disagree."  She can handle herself and I admire her strength.  She also has a very goofy side that she only lets her closest friends see that is very endearing.
I think the issue of "bitch" comes up both because she's a strong woman and because of the fact that she's (and it's obvious in any discussion or roundtable we run) the one keeping time and saying, "Okay, let's wrap it up."  We once did a roundtable that went on five hours.  The full transcript went into the print edition.  Never again.  Thankfully Dona will remind us all of that.
Thankfully, Dona doesn't get worked up about how she's seen (by people who've never met her).  She takes it all in stride.  She also doesn't get bothered by the mash notes to Jim whom a number of women (and a few men) have decided is sex on stick apparently. 
Did we know we'd be doing this for over a year?
I can't speak to that except second hand.  I was a last minute thought.  Dona brought me in because we were friends.  I knew the guys but I didn't know them that well.  Did I think it would last this long?  I thought it was something we'd do for a few months.  I am pleased that so many enjoy each week's editions but there are times when I wish I had a weekend off. 
Some would argue that I got that on Christmas since I sat that one out; however, C.I. and I did write a TV commentary for that edition.  And Jim's always saying,  "If you want a weekend off, you should take one.  You and C.I. can just write the review early and you can have the weekend off."
But as much as I may hate the process in the final hour, I really wouldn't want to miss out.  There's a lot of fun, a lot of exchange, just a lot of wonderful moments.  But when I'm tired, I'm tired.
Why did you start when you did?
My understanding is that everyone had been talking about starting a site for at least a week, maybe two, then I got invited in and that Saturday (when we started) Jim had gone to a speech for a campus group.  Jim will tell you it was an amazing speech (not hard to believe) and that the whole time he was thinking,  "That sounds just like C.I."  Afterwards, Jim approached and said, "You're C.I. of The Common Ills."  C.I. was taken by surprise because no one had made the connection and it was a case of a nonpoker face giving it away.  So since C.I. was in our area, it seemed the perfect time to start up. 
C.I. wasn't supposed to help with every edition.  We just got very lucky.  The first edition we had C.I. with us and that was great.  The second week, we had C.I. on the phone and now we're often on the phone with many people.  My favorite times are when C.I.'s present physically.  I don't know why that is.
Maybe it's because I can exchange a look and it be read so we can go off and do the TV commentary.  I do not like doing a TV review or commentary at six am.  I'm tired and don't feel I have anything left to offer.  But there are times when we've had to do that.  Dona's usually good about suggesting that C.I. and I get off the group call and just get on the phone with each other to work out that week's piece.  But if it's crazy and/or intense, that might get overlooked by all of us.  Then it's six am and I'm trying to think,  "Is it funny?  Are we getting our point across in any way?"
Do you and C.I. really not read the TV reviews?
Not a word.  Sometimes someone will read a section of them to us.  If we know that's what's going to happen, we'll both stop the person.  I had a professor last semester who really enjoyed the TV reviews and wanted to discuss them with me.  I went to her office and she really knew them.  I thought it was going to be just a general,  "How do you do this?  What made you notice that?"  Big themes.  But she was really into the TV reviews and probably highly disappointed that I'd have to repeatedly ask her,  "Which review are you talking about?"
When we review something where we know people working on the show, do they ever get mad at the reviews?
The easy response is: If they do, they've never said so.  The longer response is that some people we know, we don't honestly care for and could care less what they think.  There's an actor and a reality show person who hate us, hate us, hate us.  We could care less in either case.  And there's an overrated producer (not one with a franchise) who despises us and attempted to find out who had leaked something to us.  He fingered an actress and even though she denied it (and was telling the truth) he was convinced for months that it was her.
There are times when we end up strongly criticizing a show and we didn't know we were going to.  We may not have realized how much we disliked it until we're going over our notes.  If someone with the show is someone we're really close to, we'll fire off an e-mail giving them a heads up that they might want to avoid the review because we really hated the show.  If we had them done earlier, we'd call (as we've done at least three times) to warn them that we're really going to town on their show.
Do you miss the news reviews?
I think I'm the only one who doesn't.  (C.I. may not miss them but would never say that.)  They were created as a way to do a quick feature.  One hour tops.  We'd do it like Democracy Now! in terms of it being a real time transcript and we'd all be working on our stories with C.I. anchoring (at Dona and Jim's request, C.I. didn't want to anchor).  Dona thought it up and it worked very well at the beginning but then it didn't.  And when it's taking two hours, that's really too long.  I always went near the end and would tell Jim and Dona mine could be cut out completely for time or that they we could go through and reduce what I had prepared.  But there are other people who would work really hard and they'd end up having to cut or maybe not even make it.  And sometimes, the report wouldn't be ready, the next one, so C.I. would have to stretch.  I had the information and had no problem with that.  Jess can do easy and Betty was a wiz at it.  I remember Cedric being good at it as well.  But it can put pressure on people and not everyone was comfortable when Dona would say "Stretch this out, the next piece isn't ready."
Did you really read The Common Ills before you started the site?
Yes, we all did.  You can see us highlighting stuff prior to the start of The Third Estate Sunday Review.  Jim and Dona were among the first members.  I wasn't.  It was probably right after Thanksgiving that Dona turned me on to The Common Ills.  But all of us were readers/members before we started our site in January of 2005.  And we still are.  We don't highlight as much because we do have our own site.  It's not fair to others, in our minds, since we have our own site.  But there are requests that members with sites highlight more.  Mike, Cedric and Wally are good about doing that.  If Dona highlights something, about once a month, everyone in the community pays attention.  I tell her she's more respected while Jim's more loved.  And Jim will tell you, he enjoys hearing that.  I kid him that if there was a children's book about him it would be entitled James & the Giant Ego.
Why no more members participating in the editions?
We capped it.  It's too hard to manage as it is.  (And everyone who helps is appreciated.)  Plus there were issues in the past of waiting for someone to help out or assist and it never would come about.  It's less of a headache.
The highlights are always from the community, was that planned?
No.  We'd hoped to highlight from outside the community.  That was the original plan.  But there are so many sites now that it's not a problem.  In fact, there are so many now, that the problem is figuring out how to highlight only one entry from a site.
Do you enjoy reading the e-mails?
Yes, I do.  They're filled with wonderful wisdom and shared experiences and they sometimes include a news story I wasn't aware of or one that I'd heard in passing and hadn't realized how important it was.
So this is my entry for "winter."  Hopefully, I'll do at least one for spring.

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Humor Spotlight: Betty tells us that Big Boob Thomas Friedman likes big boobs

We think Betty had hilarious chapters last week (two) but she said the hour was late so only run one. 

The Big Boob likes big boobs

So Rebecca is our blonde neighbor with the big boobs. They are nice boobs. I don't give them a great deal of thought but my husband Thomas Friedman does. He's fixated on them. Everytime we bump into her, his tongue is hanging out and drool's dripping from his mouth. They are nice boobs, but they are just breasts. And, point of fact, with all the canned cheese Thomas Friedman's consumed in the last year, his own boobs are almost as big. Give him another year and he may be able to fit into one of Rebecca's bras.

But Thomas Friedman is obsessed with her breasts and I say all that to say, Thomas Friedman is so obsessed with her breasts that he's now attempting to impress her. Now, if you're married to a man on the edge of middle age who's gone from stocky to portly and now beyond, a man who thinks "highlights" in his hair make up for the lack of regular bathing, you learn not to get jealous. Truth is, outside of a few airheads like Patti, there's not much chance that any woman will come along to take Thomas Friedman off my hands.

But Friday, Thomas Friedman's latest made it into print. "Worried About India's and China's Booms? So Are They" probably confused many readers. What, some may have wondered, is Thomas Friedman doing writing that "every country thinks it behind" and that the United States thinks it behind in math and science after Thomas Friedman made a point of screaming, a few months back, that we were behind in math and science?

The answer lies with Rebecca. Large breasts can inspire him more than even illegal wars. See, Rebecca wrote, back when Thomas Friedman and others were screaming for rote education, "more dreamers not just fact checkers" contained the following:

the 60s had street theater. we could use some more of that today. we could use some more art and some more thought that breaks out of the box. and that's where elaine came in on the third estate sunday review discussion. she and c.i. were talking about how we need new ways of seeing things. as u2 once sang, in better days, 'we need new dreams tonight.' or as carly simon aptly put it, 'let all the dreamers wake the nation.'
i hope educators get that. i hope they get that far behind how well some 1 can spit out a fact they've had drilled into them, it matters that children can think and can think beyond the obvious. that's really the future of any nation and how progress can comes about. you have to go beyond the obvious and beyond the same though pattern.
most of the people i know who are creative or think outside the box are music listeners or actually have musical training. i wonder how worried we are that the cuts to music in school continue and that 'leave every child behind' is set on turning every 1 into robots because the testing and the teaching for the test leaves no time for creativity and really doesn't leave time for thought.

If that seems vaugely familiar to you, it may be because Thomas Friedman took Rebecca's points and put them into the mouth of a corporate businessman. It's why suddenly Thomas Friedman is acting like he wasn't running through the neighborhood, naked, screaming, "More science and math, we're being destroyed by other countries!" (He actually did do that. I heard about it from the building manager who says one more nude outburst from "Thomas Flab-man" and we're out.)

He wants Rebecca to like him. More likely, he just wants her to show him her big breasts.

You and I look at Thomas Friedman and see Norma Desmond with more girth. Thomas Friedman looks in the mirror and sees a desirable reflection. It's the sort of delusion that's allowed him to cheerlead an illegal war. It's the sort of delusion that finds him stocking up on General Tao's chicken instead of heading to a gym. It's the kind of delusion that lets him think he learned anything in college. Most of all, it's the kind of delusion that makes him think he has something to say that people need to hear.

Wednesday, he wrote about "A New Grip On 'Reality.'" That came along as a result of Rebecca's mid-winter tan and plunging neckline when she stopped me at the mailboxes to ask me if I'd read the current Mother Jones article about the environment. I thought he was merely staring at her breasts while he licked his lips, but apparently Thomas Friedman was at least partially listening as Rebecca went into how our dependence on fossil fuel has destroyed the environment.

His new grip was the same as his old grip: a grip on Republicans. He can't hand jerk without wrapping his hand around a Republican apparently. Which is why in a column on the environment he had nothing to say about environmentalists who had long argued that we needed to break our oil dependency. He could, however, name check any and every Republican who has begun to think that maybe we might be better off developing alternative fuels. He wrote about "smart conservatives."

That's Thomas Friedman for you, always in denial and with very limited vision. Add "bad breath" and you'll practically be repeating what our "waitress" told him Friday night. She was counter-help at McDonalds, but Thomas Friedman insisted upon calling her "waitress."

"Waitress," he said drawing out both syllables in an annoying whine, "I believe I'd like you to carry our trays to the table."

"Doesn't work that way, Grandpa," said the woman who couldn't have been more than eighteen.

"Do you realize that in India, people would kill for your job!" Thomas Friedman demanded. "You don't know how good you have it!"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Children are starving in India, I've heard it all my life."

"No, you stateside twit, in India they are competative!"

"Are you saying India's better than America?" the woman demanded. "Rob, Vernon, this guy hates America."

They come up to the counter wiping their aprons and asking "What guy?"

"This one," she said pointing at Thomas Friedman, "This idiot in denial with the bad vision and bad breath."

Checking out Rob and Vernon, especially Rob who looked a bit like Slater on Saved by the Bell (we all know how obsessed with that show and the male cast Thomas Friedman is), he began to stammer out a response.

"No, no, I love, I love America."

They stared at him, he averted his eyes. Finally, they walked away from the counter as Thomas Friedman attempted to wipe away his flop sweat.

"My, oh my," Thomas Friedman sighed. "That was almost as dangerous as the Green Zone. I wish they would put me in the Green Zone, then I could really teach them something about inventing stories."

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Reality check for the paper of record (The Common Ills on NYT)

NYT: SITE gives Dexy translations, he gives them play -- None dare call it reporting

Dexter Filkins files "Iraq Qaeda Chief Seems To Pursue A Lower Profile" in this morning's New York Times. Files from where? Readers may wonder since it's a front page article without a dateline. So let's give it the byline and dateline it's earned: "By DEXTER FILKINS and RITA KATZ, SITE Institute, March 24."

Without a dateline but never without experts, wherever he goes, Dexter always packs his cliches and his experts. This time he tells us that "experts believe" and "American and Iraqi officals . . . are divided." An unnamed "American intelligence official" gives him a quote.

In paragraphs sixteen and seventeen of the twenty-five paragraph article (check my math), Filkins finally has names. Rita Katz comes stumbling in in paragraph sixteen. Ms. Katz is identified by Filkins as "the director of SITE Institute, which tracks violent Islamist groups" and someone who wrote "an opinion article in The Boston Globe."

Katz, though Filkins doesn't tell you this, has also written at least three times for The National Review. Katz has been sued by several groups who accuse her of falsely labeling them terrorist groups, another fact that Filkins doesn't provide to readers. She is also an Iraqi exile which Filkins forgets to tell readers. He also can't state she is a supporter of the Patriot Act. She has stated that the US had "success" in Afghanistan. (That laughable comment alone should prevent the Times from quoting her.) Despite Bully Boy's famous/infamous statement on his so-called war on terror ("I don't think you can win it."), Katz firmly believes that you can.

Dexy loves Rita. But when he noted her in December 2, 2005, he was able to note that she and her organization were "now working under a United States government contract to investigate militant groups." Today she's just an independent "expert" -- not affiliated with anything but the 'truth.' It's a loose affiliation, not unlike Dexy's affiliation with reporting.

Well Dexy's had go-go boy gone wild times in the Green Zone and apparently never learned the language so he has to depend on Katz and her organization "which provided the translations of his statements . . ." Him being Zarqawi, whose alleged statements are the focus of Dexy's article. She gives him translations (which he can't evaluate) and he gives her quote play. Rita Katz used to be "anonymous" but when she went on 60 Minutes in 2003, she was "Sarah." Anonymous is one thing, false alias, however, should give the press pause. Not Dexy. Dexy runs with the administration doggies.

Hadassah, in a profile on Katz, notes that she "honed her skills while working at the Investigative Project think tank run by counterterrorism expert Steven Emerson." Again, that should give the press pause. From Eyal Press' "Neocon Man" (The Nation):

Steven Emerson, another self-styled terrorism expert, who gained notoriety in the immediate aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing for suggesting that it bore a "Middle Eastern trait."

If Emerson is new to you, check out John F. Sugg's "Steven Emerson's Crusade: Why is a journalist pushing questionable stories from behind the scenes?" (FAIR's EXTRA!) and "Steve Emerson Eats Crow" (CounterPunch).

That is Katz's mentor. Also in Hadassah, she dismisses her mother's contradictions of her own version of life in Iraq and her father, who was not around after Katz turned six, with "It doesn't matter. These are my memories." Which is probably her explanation for her work on terrorism as well. (Note that Katz's father was executed in Iraq and Katz wouldn't learn of that until over a decade later.) (Also note that the "utlra-Orthodox" market is not the only apparent "goldmine" for Katz.)

From Sugg's "The FBI is on My Trail" (CounterPunch):

Emerson's researcher -- until a rupture two years ago -- was the truly weird Rita Katz, who claimed in her book Terrorist Hunter that federal agents were bowled over by her sexual appeal. She also wrote that an individual left Tampa the "next day" after a leader of the Islamic Jihad was assassinated. The truth is that he left almost a half-year before then, but Katz's deception puts a far more sinister cast on events in Tampa. At the very least, it arguably was intended to mislead the public -- and the press.

Neocon, apparently, means never having to say you're wrong.

Like Emerson, Katz believes the terrorists are among us. Like Emerson, Katz is seen by many as anti-Islam. Fortunately for her Dexy has no qualms about using her (or research she provides him with) for the basis of his thinly sourced story.

The other named source appears only in paragraph seventeen, Bruce Hoffman of the RAND Corporation. Possibly if Hoffman had fed Dexy documents (go-go boys from the Green Zone don't like working), he, like Katz, could pop back up later in the article.

Did the Times verify the translations Katz provided? There's nothing to indicate that they did.

Oh, come on, we're talking about Dexter Filkins, the guy who supposedly was in Falluja during the November 2004 massacre but didn't bother to tell readers about the slaughter, the use of white phosphorus or any number of things. (He did go rah-rah-rah war and that earned him an award. History, and his peers, have already questioned that award.) Dexy swallows everything that's fed to him by administration sources. So today he writes about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, not as a journalist, but as a White House flack. (Is he auditioning for Scotty's job?)

There's no reality here. Filkins writes of facts that aren't facts, never qualifies any of his assertions and continues to be the Judith Miller of the New York Times (a position he's held since long before Miller left the paper). Today's talking point, ironically as the White House wants to get the public back behind the illegal war, is that big-bad Zarqawi is on the prowl.

Since he's been reported dead numerous times by the media and since his own importance is questioned even by the administration (which frequently hides behind him), it's amazing to read the "Only from the mouth of Dexy" reporting until you grasp that Dexy's done no reporting. He's using the translations handed to him by a proponent/activist/cheerleader of the so-called war on terror.

Filkins knows nothing (a given for Dexy) yet presents it as fact (ditto). And the Times front pages it because they are oh-so-sensitive about the criticism that continues to mount over their "award winning" "reporter." Amy Goodman and David Goodman have noted a previous Times reporter who helped sell the 'nukes are good weapons' nonsense after the United States dropped the bombs on Japan. I'm not sure if they noted that a brother-in-law of the Ochs family was involved in that as well. (Noted in their book Exceptions to the Rulers, it's not noted in the article.) (From behind the scenes, of course.) Will we, years from now, discover that an Ochs or a Sultzberger is advising the US government? Don't be surprised.

In the meantime Dexy's given free reign to rant and rave over some documents he was handed by a questionable organization, documents translated by that organization. This is the sort of thing that brought down Judith Miller. This is the sort of thing that the Times swore never again to. (Yeah, right.) So Dexy is this year's Judith Miller. (With apologies to Francisco -- but Juan Forero can remain "the littlest Judith Miller" -- just think of Dexy as the full size Miller.) 'Til Tuesday had a wonderful song entitled "David Denies" (lyrics by Aimee Mann, music by 'Til Tuesday, on the album Welcome Home) and possibly Mann could redo it as "Dexy Denies"?

Reality, from Dahr Jamail's "The Zarqawi Phenomenon" (

The Bush administration has regularly claimed that Zarqawi was in -- and then had just barely escaped from -- whatever city or area they were next intent on attacking or cordoning off or launching a campaign against. Last year, he and his organization were reputed to be headquartered in Fallujah, prior to the American assault that flattened the city. At one point, American officials even alleged that he was commanding the defense of Fallujah from elsewhere by telephone. Yet he also allegedly slipped out of Fallujah either just before or just after the beginning of the assault, depending on which media outlet or military press release you read.
He has since turned up, according to American intelligence reports and the U.S. press, in Ramadi, Baghdad, Samarra, and Mosul among other places, along with side trips to Jordan, Iran, Pakistan and/or Syria. His closest "lieutenants" have been captured by the busload, according to American military reports, and yet he always seems to have a bottomless supply of them. In May, a news report on the BBC even called Zarqawi "the leader of the insurgency in Iraq," though more sober analysts of the chaotic Iraqi situation say his group, Jama'at al-Tawhid wal Jihad, while probably modest in size and reach is linked to a global network of jihadists. However, finding any figures as to the exact size of the group remains an elusive task.
Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell offered photos before the U.N. in February, 2003 of Zarqawi's "headquarters" in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, also claiming that Zarqawi had links to Al-Qaeda. The collection of small huts was bombed to the ground by U.S. forces in March of that year, prompting one news source to claim that Zarqawi had been killed. Yet seemingly contradicting Powell's claims for Zarqawi's importance was a statement made in October, 2004 by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who conceded that Zarqawi's ties to Al Qaeda may have been far more ambiguous, that he may have been more of a rival than a lieutenant to Osama bin Laden. "Someone could legitimately say he's not Al Qaeda," added Rumsfeld.

This entry's late in going up due to going through the e-mails and a call from Ruth. She is working on her latest report and wanted to discuss a few issues which led to us having a long (and enjoyable) conversation about feminism without either of us realizing that we'd be on the phone for hours. Ruth's latest will go up today. Maria's already sent in her contribution and Kat will offer the lineup for RadioNation with Laura Flanders. In terms of the delay, I'll take responsibility for sleeping an hour extra this morning and for searching desperately through this morning's paper for something to focus on other that Filkins; however, that's what the e-mails are about so we've made him the focus of this entry. Rebecca will be posting today (at her site Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude and has already called this morning to see if I needed her to do an entry here since there was nothing up).

As Mike noted yesterday:

How about the joint entry that Wally and Cedric did today? (Links take you to the post at each of their sights and it's pretty funny so check it out.)

They teamed up for a joint entry yesterday so be sure to check that out. As far as I know, Trina's intending to post today and Betty's working on a Saturday entry as well so check out their sites later today. Also be sure to read Seth's "Gaytime TV? ."

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