Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bonus feature: News for July 4, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Chaos and violence continue. As Dahr Jamail said on Monday's Flashpoints, "It really is horrible to try to keep in context the level of violence . . . Here we are doing it again with no end in sight and I wonder just how long we'll continue doing it? . . . Things are not just staying the same in Iraq, it's getting exponentially worse."

As Sandra Lupien noted on yesterday's KPFA's The Morning Show, former US soldier Steven D. Green was arrested and charged Friday with raping an Iraqi female while he was serving in Iraq and then killing her and three members of her family. The twenty-one-year-old Green was a member of the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army before being discharged with what The New York Times termed a "personality disorder." The BBC notes that Green's next appearance in court will be July 10th. Various press reports note that four others are suspected of involvement but Green has been the only one charged. The Associated Press reports that Minister Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shebli, Iraq's justice minister, has "demanded" that the United Nations provide oversight to ensure that those guilty be brought to justice.

Though the United States military has maintained that the rape victime was at least twenty-years-old, reports beginning with Ellen Knickmeyer's (Washington Post) on Monday have placed the female's age much lower. Yesterday, Reuters reported that the mayor of Mahmudiya declared today that the woman "was no more than 16 years old when she was killed along with her parents and young sister".

In the United States, members of CODEPINK, Granny Peace Brigade, Gold Star Families for Peace, United for Peace & Justice and Women for Peace have gathered in DC and are fasting: "While many Americans will be expressing their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we'll be fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq."
Yesterday, they gathered in front of the Ghandi statue at 3:00 PM where Cindy Sheehan spoke: "This war is a crime. We represent millions of Americans who withdraw their support from this government." Others participating include Daniel Ellsberg, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn and Dick Gregory. On yesterday's WBAI's Cat Radio Cafe, Janet Coleman spoke with several members of Granny Peace Brigade about the fast and other actions. Among the women Coleman spoke with was former WBAI programmer Vinnie Burrows who sang a portion of one her songs: "The kids are dying far away in a foreign land/ I must keep on trying, their lives are in our hands."

In Scotland last weekend, members of Military Always Delivers (an activist group like the Billionaires for Bush in the United States) participated in a pro-war march and rally on Saturday. Scotland Independent Media Center reports (text and photos) that many pro-war marches were not in on the prank as members of MAD shouted slogans such as "Cut Welfare, Buy More Bombs!"; "War is the Health of the State"; and "Power Grows out of the Barrel of a Gun" while passing out "deception dollars."

Today, in Iraq, Reuters reports that Raad al-Harith, Iraq's deputy electricity minister, and 19 of his bodyguards were kidnapped in Baghdad. In other violence thus far today, a roadside bomb in Baghdad claimed the lives of at least two police officers and wounded at least four; in Hawija, a mortar attack claimed the lives of at least one and wounded at least two others; and, in Falluja,
"[g]unmen wounded a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars."

An upcoming event: Brava Theater, 2789 24th Street, San Francisco, Friday, July 7th, 7:00 pm. (415-647-2822)
Mark Manning will be screening his film Caught in the Crossfire for those interested in knowing the realities on Falluja that Dexy and the other Green Zoners never got around to telling you. Nadia McCaffrey, who lost her son in the Iraq war, will bespeaking as will Dahr Jamail.

To date 2538 American troops have lost their lives in Iraq (official count). And 150 members of
Alpha Company of the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry are headed for Fort Dix and then Iraq.

Around the globe. The AFP reports that confronted with a direct threat of nuclear strikes, from North Korea, the White House shrugs and White House spokesmodel Tony Snow declares, "It is still deeply hypothetical." However, the Bully Boy demonstrates no reluctance to play Wallflower with Iran. The Associated Press reports "Western powers" are demanding a July 12th dealine for beginning talks and ceasing nuclear enrichment -- after that, it's a nuclear dance off! This despite Seymour Hersh's reporting that "Pentagon planners and other experts" are not in support of Bully Boy's plan to nuke Iran. Korea? Iran? Iran? Korea? Michael R. Gordon's head spins as he attempts to figure out which war is a "go" in order to start marketing his own brand of home-made (war) porn. (Seymour and Shane -- what have you wrought!) And in the occupied terroritories? The 'jokesters' at the Associated Press, reporting on continued armed agression, dub their story "Israel keeps up pressure on Gaza." In the real world, Nora Barrows-Friedman, on KPFA's Flashpoints, noted that over 130,000 Palestinians have been left without water; that sonic booms are being used to terrorize the population throughout the night; that Israeli forces, in the last week, have abducted " one-third of the Palestinian government. No one in the international community has yet expressed any outrage at this or the Palestinian political prisoner's conditions."

In election news in the United States, Robert Parry writes on the campaign "tool" that benefitted the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004: Osama bin Laden's rush-released video timed to debut four days prior to the election. Though it didn't fly off the shelves at Blockbuster, CIA analysts studying the release came to the judgement that "that bin-Laden was trying to help Bush gain a second term." Meanwhile, professional politician Joe Lieberman, who never met a baby or an ass he couldn't kiss, has thrown down his Zell-Miller-like marker announcing that if he doesn't win his party's nomination (Democratic), he will run as an independent to hold on to his Senate seat. Particularly surprising to Lieberman may be no cries of: "Say it ain't so, Joe!" This as fellow Democratic War Hawk Maria Cantwell appears to hope she can just wish the war away from constituents' minds. In contrast to Cantwell's fiddle-dee-dee approach, newly declared Democrat Jim Webb stated in Saturday's Democratic radio address: ""I have believed strongly that when things aren't working well, it is the responsibility of our leaders to admit it, and to fix the problem. Some say that speaking out against a war is disloyal to the troops. Whoever says that should consider what it's like to be a troop, wishing someone would speak the truth."

In other election news: Que una sorpresa -- another election in Mexico is rife with accusations of fraud and rigging. Possibly, next time an election approaches, US media outlets could spend less time shoring up the lite candidate as "left" and more time exploring the system that continues to fail the people? (We mean the system itself, but if it's easier to focus on the voting mechanics, even that would be preferred.) The BBC reports that conservative Felipe Calderon is the winner and the less conservative Manuel Lopez Obrador is waiting for a recount while the people of Mexico wait for a real leader to emerge. (The actual count of the votes will not begin until Wednesday, as noted by the KPFA Evening News Monday.)

In science & techonology news, the London Free Press is reporting that: "A huge asteroid whizzed by Earth early yesterday, passing about 433,000 kilometres from the planet's surface -- slightly farther away than the moon." Meanwhile, Jane Kay (San Franciso Chronicle) reports on a new study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Science which has found the world's bird population to be disappearing at an alarming rate: "The study, the most thorough analysis of global bird species, says 12 percent of existing species -- about 1,250 -- are threatened with extinction by 2100." La loco bird flies on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post where the always laughable Eugene Robinson shows up days late, without a tardy slip, and rushes to shore up the justifiably (long) tarnished image of Star Jones (a modern-day Joan of Arc burned at the TVQ pyre, to hear Robinson tell it) in a column that will provide laughter for years (print it up, it's doubtful the 'collected works' will ever be published). The always late for the train Robison trots out a seventies spoof of Barbara Walters but seems (not surprisingly) unaware that Star Jones has been spoofed repeatedly in more recent years on both Saturday Night Live and Mad TV. For the record, roaches weren't used in any spoof revolving around Walters. Alleged homophobe, peace-activist hater, and attorney Jones will apparently next argue the case that her firing from The View just because the audiences hated her was a case of wrongful termination at I-Hops and truck stops across the country. Chances are that she won't draw a crowd there either. Meanwhile Robinson is prepping his next hard hitting column: an exploration of Shannen Doherty's public firings. [Note: C.I. participated in the writing of the previous six sentences only after consulting with friends at the Washington Post.] In a better use of space, investigative journalist and internet sleuth Ron Byrnaert discovers that a certain Free Republic poster is apparently better known to many as a voice of the left or 'left.' Ron (Why Are We Back In Iraq?) searches for the answer to the question of "Who is Vis Numar?"

Monday's Democracy Now! offered "We Shall Overcome: An Hour With Legendary Folk Singer & Activist Pete Seeger" while today's broadcast will feature:

StoryCorps: A national social history project records the voices of ordinary people -- citizen and non-citizen, old and young -- telling their stories to each other.

Musical question of the day from Carly Simon's "Playing Possum" (written by Simon, title track to the CD of the same name):

We lived up in Cambridge
And browsed in the hippest newstands
Then we started our own newspaper
Gave the truth about Uncle Sam
We loved to be so radical
But like a rugged love affair
Some became disenchanted
And some of us just got scared
Now are you playing possum
Keeping a low profile
Are you playing possum for a while?

This joint entry written by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me, 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; Wally of The Daily Jot; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; and Ruth of Ruth's Public Radio Report. [With additional help from Dallas and Tracey.]

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Editorial: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld -- what matters

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, finding in a 5 to 3 vote, that the Bully Boy had overstepped the rule of law and circumvented treaties that US is a signatory to. (5 to 3 vote because Roberts had to recuse himself since the Court was hearing an appeal from a lower court that Roberts had served on. He found in favor of the administration while serving on that court and while being wooed for the Court by the Bully Boy.)

Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights was quoted in Friday's New York Times saying of the verdict, "It doesn't get any better." Barbara Olshansky, also with the Center for Constitutional Rights, appearing on Democracy Now!, spoke of the verdict:

You know, for us, I think it was a tremendous reaffirmation that -- of the institutions and how they can work in the country. The fact that the judiciary was willing to step up to the plate and look at what the executive is doing and do the right thing, take the action to make sure that the executive complies with the law. And for me, although it sounds so basic, it's something that we were watching erode over the last five years, and so that was, you know, probably the most heartening part of it, and that they were willing to look at it in its entire scope. And what this decision says in very sort of calm, rational, historical terms is that the entire structure of the war on terror is unlawful, that it was based on a premise, an idea of an enemy combatant, which is a status that was created by the President, that it was intended to take place on an island that was outside the law somehow, and that the President could create all of the laws that applied there, like it was his own constructed universe. And what this decision does in a very rational way is say you can't do that. No piece of what you have done is lawful. And it's quite an astounding decision for that reason. It really goes to, as you said, every part of the war on terror.

They're speaking of the verdict itself. The verdict is and was a clear win.

But what happens now?

There are several levels of concern. The most basic being, as the Center for Constitutional Rights would be the first to note, Guantanamo was only one prison. Others exist under the radar, some in secret. This is a verdict on Guantanamo and should apply to all but, more than likely, will be applied only to Guantanamo.

As Juan Gonzalez pointed out in the interview he and Amy Goodman conducted with Olhshansky on DN!, Congress is talking about actions -- if the administration didn't have the power to do what they did, as the Court found that they did not, let's pass some laws to give them that power. And some consultants and gas bags are urging Dems to go along with that so they look 'tough on terror.'

The Democrats, as a group, in Congress were no friends to these issues. They refused to address them repeatedly, they stalled and ignored. Lawyers working on these cases have made that point repeatedly and publicly. So with Republicans in the Senate spitting out "Weak on terror! Weak on terror!" are the Dems going to have enough guts to scream back: "Law breaker! Law breaker!"?

Somehow we doubt it. They've caved too often and too early too many times for us to have any faith in them on this. Olshansky told Goodman and Gonzales that she thinks Arlen Specter's proposed hearings will allow the case to be aired. Possibly. But we're not feeling optimistic.

The third issue of concern is the Bully Boy himself whom, The Christian Science Monitor reported, "said he would honor the decision in the case called Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, but do it in a way that did not jeopardize the safety of Americans."

What was that?

It sounds like some sort of verbal equivalent of his infamous signing statements only this time he's saying, "I know what the Court said, now I'll do what I want." The verdict isn't open to interpretation. It's very straightforward. As Linda Greenhouse noted in The New York Times, "an important part of the ruling" rested on Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions:

The provision requires humane treatment of captured combatants and prohibits trials except by "a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people." . . . The flaws the court cited [in the kangroo courts created by the administration] were the failure to guarantee the defendant the right to attend the trial and the prosecution's ability under the rules to introduce hearsay evidence, unsworn testimony, and evidence obtained through coercion.

That's only one aspect of a very clear ruling by the Court. It should be "honored." How to honor it is very clear. There's no need for the executive branch to attempt to 'intrepert' the verdict, they just need to act on it. Forgive us if we don't have a great deal of faith in Bully Boy's ability to execute the laws of the land.

TV: TESR Investigates: NYC

We were in the land of milk & honey, poolside, well we might have been later. Right now we were in the middle of a party, in the middle of conversations, on opposite sides of the room when both our cells went off.

It was Jim talking in two phones at once because God forbid he make one call when he can make two calls.

"Ava! C.I.! If your brains haven't gone to mush and browned like guacamole left out too long, we need you here in NYC!"

NYC? It's summer. It's hot there. There's no breeze. Next month, everyone who can will be fleeing and you want us to fly out there?

"Well, you don't have to stay the whole week, just long enough to get some set-up shots then you can return to California where crap is so freely churned out."

From across the room, we caught one another's eyes and shook our heads. Bad dialogue should be left to the hacks that work for Jerry Bruckheimer. As if reading our minds, Jim said: "Jerry Bruckheimer."

Like Drew and Lucy in the first Charlie's Angels, we began walking towards one another while we held our cells to our ears.

"Jerry Bruckheimer," we whispered softly.

Not with hushed reverance but because we both know those two words can kill a party faster than anything else.

"Yeah, you two missed a show. There's another one. CSI: NY. It's supposed to be a real turkey that stars a turkey."

We stood immobile because in that show they don't even have the energy for head turns. We tried to stand still dramatically but we feared, like the actors on the show, we just looked like we'd forgotten our lines. Long pause.

Cue opening theme music.

If we still have time, we might still get by
Every time I think about it, I wanna cry
With bombs and the devil, and the kids keep comin'
No way to breathe easy, no time to be young

But I tell myself that I was doin' all right
There's nothin' left to do at night
But to go crazy on you
Crazy on you
Let me go crazy, crazy on you, oh

Quick shots of streets in NYC. No real point to it but it plays "real."

We stand talking to people in front of a construction site because, dig it, it's real! It's gritty. It's "life." Deal with it.

We bring up CSI: NY in various long shots and the people become excited.


"Questo e orribile!"

"Nooit opnieuw!"

"No puede suceder!"

In one language after another, the message is the same: "For the love of God, they must not come back." After explaining we weren't a scouting crew for locations, most were able to calm down.

We thought about pulling the typical CSI move that the NY franchise especially favors -- screwing with someone just because they were a minority and we had a badge. It plays well to the White CBS audience but we passed because we have to live with ourselves. We also didn't arrest anyone but agreed that, if we were going to do, we'd read them their rights first. That step doesn't play on CBS where the target demographic appears to be Scalia and Thomas.

So we headed to the office. Was it time yet for one of those scenes that go nowhere but make us look real? No? Oh, okay. Let's do corny humor.

"Hot enough to fry an egg!" said Ty nodding to us as we stepped in. "Speaking of poultry, did you find out anything on the turkey?"

We shook our heads "no" and headed for a window unit. Dona stopped us en route and pointed to a room.

"Corpse is in there."

We nodded and looked at one another. Taking a deep breath, we opened the door.

There it was all right. Filmography of a Hacktor. Everything but his Scarborough Country appearances. Guess doing happy talk to counter Abu Ghraib was such an embarrassment that even he doesn't want to own that?

"Is there anything worse than being in both Snake Eyes and Reindeer Games?" asked Ava out of the right side of her mouth.

"How about being the second banana in both?" asked C.I. going for the left.

"Mission to Mars, Imposter, I mean . . ." Ava began before stopping. "Screw this. I don't care that he does it. I can't spend an entire review talking out of one side of mouth."


"I don't even remember him in Reindeer Games. Did anyone see that movie for any reason other then Ben's butt?"

"Sure you do," explained C.I. leafing through the filmography and missing the latter portion of what Ava said because that's how the show's scenes play. "Remember the long hair trying to be Steve Buscemi and failing miserably?"

"Oh yeah," Ava replied nodding as C.I. went into convulsions.

Alarmed Ava asked, "Are you okay?"

"Sorry, Quick and the Dead," C.I. explained pointing to the filmography.

Understanding, Ava rushed to open a window.

We were in Jim's office now.

Jim, "There's bad TV. Bad TV people will even defend. But then there's CSI: NY. It's such a turkey that no one defends it."

We exchanged a look that said, "Thank God, we write these thing without any help now." We wondered if Jim was speaking particularly dull because he was tired or because he was trying to get into the spirit of CSI: NY?

Ava sighed, "Well what do you expect from a show that stars a man who looks like he spends hours plucking his eyebrows?"

"We're talking about," C.I. said leaning in very slowly, because on the NYC based spin-off no one moves to quickly or too much, "a hack who fancies himself as the American Daniel Day Lewis even though he's consistently inspired more yawning than panting."

"How did he get a show? How did he get a career?" Jim asked.

"I think 'career' is a bit generous," C.I. objected trying to do the Jack Webb pose Gary Sinise favors.

"'Pubes stick together," Ava offered. "It's like that laughable church theater group he started. I mean, what was that but freaks on parade? Him, Terry Kinney and John --"

"Don't say that name!" C.I. interrupted choking. "There's a reason his career's in the toilet."

"Uh, sorry to interrupt," Jess said stepping into Jim's office, "but the hactor's filmography's starting to stink up the building. What do we do?"

We took it as our cue to leave. We didn't agree to film the disposal scene.

"Hey," Jim offered, "Maybe you could work in a joke about how his pal Bully Boy spared his life on Thanksgiving? Get it? 'Cause he's a turkey. Funny, right?"

We were out the door and down the hall. We tried slinging our rears but there were no tight blue jeans on this show, just really, really bad clothing to match the really, really bad acting and the really, really bad dialogue.

"How about," Jim hollered, "if you write something about those bags under his eyes looking like a turkey waddle?"

We headed for a bar where we tossed back many drinks.

How did someone so untalented continue to get so many (minor) breaks? We tried to ask the most obvious questions in the world in the most uninteresting manner -- we were striving so hard to be just like CSI: NY.

See this show doesn't do twists and turns. It fancies itself as the most "straightforward" of the CSI shows. So people sit around a lot unless it's dialogue-less scenes with annoying music -- in which case people stare or do a lot of entering and exiting rooms. It was too hot for the latter and, besides, Aretha was on the jukebox.

"I love how he fronts the so-called grassroots group that the Defense Department funds," Ava said ordering another drink. "You think maybe the Defense Department pays people to watch his show?"

"That would mean it had viewers," C.I. said gulping to catch up and then ordering another drink.

"Nothing happens on the show. Repeatedly. It doesn't even use the sex and death combo that the others milk like crazy! I guess that's because the hacktor didn't 'cross over,' he was always a Pube."

"The show's as boring as his hairstyle," agreed C.I.

"Yeah and what's up with that? Does he think the Jack Webb 'do makes him look less like an aging Norma Desmond? And what's up with all the hair anyway? Have you ever seen so much bad hair on TV outside of a televised RNC convention?"

"All I know is, I'm so glad that we agreed not to give up hair care products in our effort to emulate that show," C.I. said not making eye contact because people on these shows, the leads, tend to look at each other only after delivering lines, not while saying them.

"Is it any wonder that only Marg Helgenberger has emerged as a star in the franchise? She's the only one with any sense of style. If you're gonna go slumming, do it with some style."

"What you two talking about?" asked the bartender.

"CSI: NY," we replied together.

"Not in my bar! I run a nice establishment, you want to talk that crap, you take it somewhere else."

"We don't like the show," Ava explained while C.I. stared at the guy like he was a suspect.

They do that a lot on the show. Have one actor speak to a witness or suspect and just let the other stare.

"Oh, well that's different," the bartender said warming up. "That guy in it, he looks like a child molestor. He's just creepy."

"A friend of ours thinks he's a turkey," Ava offered.

"A turkey? Gobble, gobble. Loking out the side of his head? Yeah, I can see it."

The bartender was bored with the World Cup and asked if we minded if he changed the channel.

We shook our heads no, downed our drinks and threw some bills on the counter top.

We were almost out the door when we heard "Th-th-th-that's all folks!"

We looked at one another.

We looked at the TV.

Porky Pig!

Our looks said "Of course!" and the dialogue may have said it as well. It's rare that they don't underscore and explain every moment on CSI: NY.

After the commercial break, we were standing near a smiling family. Like the show in question, we wanted a 'happy family' bit to go out on.

The father grabbed the carving knife, a plate and sliced into Gary Sinise.

Our mistake was in listening to Jim who dubbed Sinise a "turkey" when he was clearly a "ham."

Hams always get work and cured ham certainly explained the face.

As slices of Sinise were served up amongst the happy family, we tried to do that half-smile he does at the end of every episode but since we both possess generous, full lips it didn't quite work.

["Crazy On You" -- the song quoted above, was recorded by Heart and written by Ann and Nancy Wilson.]

Two books, Ten Minutes

Jim: We're doing another book review and we've got two books. We're short on time so we'll be moving quickly. These aren't reviews, these are points that stood out. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me, 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. First book is Katha Pollitt's Virginity or Death! and Wally will do the overview.

Wally: Katha Pollitt write a column for The Nation. This is a collection of her columns from February 2001 to February 2006. She's written an introduction for the book, which is priced at $13,95, reasonable as she noted a few weeks back on RadioNation with Laura Flanders. The book is titled Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time. The front cover includes praise from Barbara Ehrenreich and the back cover includes praise from Victor Navasky and Anne Lamott. It's 265 pages.

Jim: Well done, Wally. Cedric has the first comment.

Cedric: I only knew of Katha Pollitt's writing and that's from working on these editions and usually she'll be mentioned at some point or Ava and C.I. will note her in a review. There were at least two columns that I know I'd seen excerpts of at The Common Ills. I heard interviewed by Laura Flanders that Sunday and I respect her for noting that she may have mispoken during the interview. A lot of people would stay with a comment but she obviously thinks things through and that comes off the page when you read. That's my praise. I enjoyed the book. The reason I'm first up is I had a serious problem with one essay. "Summer Follies." In it, she takes then NAACP president Kweisi Mfume to task for addressing the issue of, quote: "the absence of black faces on television." Representation does matter and it's been a backward slide for African-Americans for some time now. I took offense at that and thought that before she next contemplates whether or not representation is important to African-Americans, she might want to think a little more.

Betty: I had a huge problem with that as well. I'm not really sure that I need that sort of talk, I hate to say it, but I will, "from a White woman." She has at least one daughter. I'm glad that her daughter, at that time, could see herself reflected on TV in Friends, Will & Grace and Dawson's Creek, the shows she lists. I've got three small children and, as I've noted before, I've tried to pass off a character on Arthur as mixed and was successful until my oldest got wise. I frankly don't think she knows what she's talking about on this. Along with my three children, I have young nieces and nephews. Representation is an issue. It's an important issue. She may not feel that TV matters and that's her right. It isn't her right to think she comes off informed dismissing an issue that's very important. She likens it to a number of summer scandals in the summer of 2001. This wasn't a summer phase, it has not blown over. Blacks are not represented on TV and that was true then and it's true now. When we are represented it's either as crooks or shuck and jive artists. We've gone back to the previous portrayals and it's not a non-issue. It matters. Our children watch these shows, even if it's Arthur, and they wonder where they are. That's reality. I've got three children, they're Black just like I am and I'm so tired of having to explain to them why there are bunnies and bears and there are yuppies and office workers and you name it, but none of them are Black. To use Thursday nights on NBC, the night Cosby built, last year featured one Black, the idiot Darnell on My Name Is Earl. It doesn't cut it and it is an issue. I know we're trying to hurry but that actually wasn't the only thing that bothered me in the article.

Jim: Go for it.

Betty: I live in the Atlanta area. To make her case, Pollitt cites Cynthia Tucker. For the record, for every White person out there, quit thinking she speaks for Blacks. My preacher says Tucker didn't forget she was Black, she never wanted to be it in the first place. She is one of the most loathed people in the area, whether you're at the supermarket or at church, at day care or in the park, mention her name and expect the boos and hisses. She's achieved some level of 'fame' as a progressive. It's bad enough when the right-wing embraces an Uncle Tom but the left certainly shouldn't. She's made her name off attacking Blacks. Her attacks on Cynthia McKinney will never be forgotten. She is not a progressive. She's not a friend of Black people. The joke about her hair, locally, is that it looks like she bought the weave in a dollar store. But the point is, from the printed text to her physical appearance, she has no interest in being mistaken for Black. Whenever it's time for the media to launch a lynching, we always know that Cynthia Tucker will show up with the rope. If including her is a form of "represenation," don't do us any favors. Bad representation may be worse than no representation at all.

Ty: Let me back Betty up on that. I would agree with everything she said except I would have said "African-American" because that's how I self-identify. Otherwise, word for word, I'm with Betty and with Cedric as well. If people were listening, they'd know Betty sounded nervous which is why I jumped in to back her up.

Betty: And I appreciate that, Ty. I would hope that, having shared my feelings, we won't link to her at any of our sites. I spoke to C.I. about this a year ago. We were just talking about something on the phone and I'd been meaning to make a request for some time. So as we were winding down, I spat out, "Cynthia Tucker." C.I. said, "Betty, if you're asking for a link, I really don't care for her. I don't mind discussing why but she's never been linked to and she never will be." C.I. thought I was going to ask in a "Give a home girl a break" kind of way. I was relieved to know that she was not someone that had been mistaken of as left. She attacks Blacks repeatedly and that is her designated role in the media. I know that Ben & Jerry's [Working For Change] links to her and I'd guess they were trying to find a "Black voice." But she's offensive and I don't know any [Black people], besides those trying to pretend they're White, who find anything of use in her writing.

Jim: Well, Ty and C.I. are two of the six behind this site and you know Ava and C.I. vote the same, so I don't think that's a problem here. Anyone else have a problem with it? No? Okay, you'll never see a link to Cynthia Tucker from any of the community sites.

Dona: Just to add to that, Betty is from the area, she knows the woman's writing, she knows the woman's reputation. That's really all anyone needs, or should need, to make the call not to link in this community.

Jim: So it is spoken, so it is done. C.I. you had a point.

C.I.: I like Pollitt, by the way, I do agree with the points made by Betty, Ty and Cedric. I like Pollitt's writing. I hadn't read the book yet --

Jim: When you gifted us all with copies.

C.I.: Right. And we're trying to get four books ready, we're doing two this morning, for a book discussion so I knew it would be awhile before we were ready. So I passed it on to an activist friend in college and she had a point about a column I hadn't read in the magazine so I paid attention when I got around to the book. For at least one of her columns, Pollitt's done an update or a note. If she hadn't done that, I wouldn't make a point of it. She's using what was known when she writes her column. However, having updated at least once, her column "Mourn" requires an update. She's going by the media myth that there was no difference in young voter turnout in 2004. That was the myth and I belive Cokie Roberts was one of the first to feed it on Morning Edition, which Pollitt listens to, the day after the election. A myth isn't reality and, for my friend and all the young activists I know who worked so hard to turn out that vote, let me say that the myth is wrong and putting it into a collection without noting that it's wrong was a mistake.

Jim: Ava?

Ava: I'll tackle Fraudan. By the way, I like that name for her. Pollitt ends the book with her column on Fraudan. Yes, I'm younger than Fraudan, younger than Pollitt for that matter, however, it doesn't matter.

C.I.: To clarify that, Pollitt's writing of how young people she teaches don't get Fraudan without a whole history lesson. That's what Ava's saying doesn't matter, the fact that she's younger and didn't live through the fifties.

Ava: Right. As a Latina, I don't exist in Fraudan's world. That was obvious from the book, it was obvious in a wonderful confrontation that Third World women had with Fraudan which WBAI's Deepa Fernandes replayed on Wakeup Call after Fraudan's death. She wanted to lecture and tell them what life was. I say 'Way to go!' to those women who refused to let her. She also wanted to smear Gloria Steinem, yet again. That wasn't a one time incident, it was repeated over and over. And it was key to the way she was and the way she lived. For so obvious a phoney to question someone else's legitimacy was laughable. But you didn't read about that in the glowing tributes. C.I. had a phrase that got pulled even though Kat, Jess and I were saying, "Include it!" [Pulled from an entry.] I'll include it, with permission, now: "Fraudan is finally underground -- the closest she's ever gotten to it." She wasn't the mother of us all, she was the mother of an upper-class, highly educated, White, Anglo group of women. Her death, like her life, is meaningless to me and I won't abandon Third World Women and let it seem like their very real problem with the works and words of Fraudan were their personal problems.

Jim: Did anybody like Pollitt's book?

Rebecca: It's not that we didn't like the book. We did. I think everyone who's spoken would recommend it. But you're talking about politics and there are thousands of issues tackled in this book. Cedric called to speak C.I., I've been a house guest at C.I.'s, and C.I. wasn't there so we were talking. Cedric outlined the problem he outlined here and I told him he should bring it up. This is a book by a thinker worth discussing. I'm not going to call her a writer, not because she can't write, she writes wonderfully. I'm calling her a thinker because she's putting thought into it when most people just slide. I told Cedric the highest compliment that could be paid to her work was to treat it with critical-thought.

Jim: Kat, should I ask you or did everyone work out their feelings on the West coast?

Kat: We did exactly that and ended it with a group hug. I'm with Rebecca. No one's calling Pollitt a bad writer. We don't join in the hoopla around Fraudan. We didn't before Pollitt wrote her column and we won't now. We're not hypocrites. C.I. was excited Saturday morning, going through the e-mails, because someone had copied and pasted Pollitt. But it includes an oversimplification about Steinem and it includes Fraudan. We're not interested. None of us are.
She demonstrated, repeatedly, that a feminist can be a chauvinist. Others can applaud Fraudan but you'll never find anything at any of our sites praising that woman. It's not an off the wall opinion. When C.I. noted her death in that wonderful rebuke of Fraudan and her ego, my phone didn't stop ringing with women wanting to pass on their thank-yous. Pollitt clearly admires Fraudan. We clearly don't. We'll never agree on that. That's life. Ava stepped around the smear and I know why, we hate to repeat it because it gets traction all over again, but what she tried to do Gloria Steinem wasn't something minor. She tried to take her out. Repeatedly. She tried to destroy her credibility over and over. Don't start talking mother of us all or any other bullshit about that chauvinist because there's no one here that will stand for it. She was a lousy person. She hid who she was in her writing for 'the masses.' She was about trickery and deceit. When she went over to her 'second-stage' Reagan days, that was just another attempt to try to trick people. She didn't have faith enough in her own ideas to share them or be honest about them. If someone's offended by that, we're offended by the fact that her trashing of Gloria Steinem, which wasn't an isolated or one time, or one year, incident but a repeated thing with her that went on year after year, was supposed to be forgotten so we could all celebrate in the so-called mother of us all. This may be a West Coast feminist thing, but she never played all that well in my area. There's a conversation I fear we, as feminists, are loathe to have. Fine. Don't have it, but don't whitewash her either. I'll never praise Fraudan, I will praise Pollitt's book. We did discuss it, on "the West Coast," Rebecca, C.I., Ava, Jess, Ty and myself. I also discussed it with Betty. I think the only one I didn't discuss it with was Elaine.

Elaine: Yeah, what was up with that? My phone never rang once this week. Was it party, party, party all week for you?

Rebecca: Everyone was trying to make sure I was okay. As noted before, I had a miscarriage and this was the week that I got the word back from the doctor on future pregnancies. So I think I was everyone's focus. I didn't call, and I wrote about this, because I kept forgetting the time zone. I'm used to calling you at seven. Usually with my TV on and some dopey show just starting. But we were in a different time zone and I kept forgetting that.

Jim: So what did you think of the book?

Elaine: It's a strong collection of think pieces. Not in a wonky sort of way. There's actual thought poured into these pieces and humor as well. Did I agree with everyone of them one-hundred-percent? No. Would I expect to? No. Pollitt's not striking a pose which is why her work can be laid out in the manner that it is, five years worth, and you're not seeing a print version of Madonna. Others could learn from that consistancy of conviction. There are strong pieces. I loved her piece on Jim Wallis. I loved it when I read it in the magazine. I remember calling C.I. and, I buy the magazine, C.I. subscribes, asking if it had arrived yet? When I was told it hadn't, I read the entire column over the phone. It was, and is, that important to me. Feminsim, and I would love to have a roundtable on this, is not a monolythic, group-think venture. What Pollitt sees as important, I may not. What matters most to me, may not mean anything to C.I. But, as a movement, I think we recognize that and we try to respect it. There are differences of opinion. Right now, I'm ready to go after Naomi Wolf. In the magazine, I must have missed Pollitt's column where she mentioned Wolf gushing on how she's was writing against late-term abortions. I don't take Wolf seriously as a feminist. That's where I draw the line. I can disagree with Pollitt, and I agreed with her far more than I disagreed with her, but I can't stomach a woman who has already bored us with a tale of how tough it is for upper-class women, who give up their jobs, to be taken seriously by their husbands -- not one of the big issues of most people's day -- and is now writing about the need to stop late-term abortions. If we were having a discussion on feminism right now, I'd note that, like C.I., I used to disagree with Rebecca about the need to have more guidelines on feminism. I thought, once, that the more people who used the term to self-identify with, the better. I no longer think that way. Rebecca's right. Feminists for Life, for instance, that's not feminism. Trying to take away rights from women isn't feminism. You can be opposed to abortion, and I believe Pollitt makes this point as well, I read her first and then the other three books so I may be confused --

C.I.: No, she makes the point you're about to.

Elaine: Good. You can be against abortion and be a feminist. But when you're working to outlaw abortion, then you're not a feminist. My opinion. I'll add that I enjoyed Laura Flanders' interview with her and I hope she'll be on again.

Jim: Okay, so we did like the book? Alright then. We have limited time, Dona's pinching me, so we'll move quickly to Antonio Juhasz's The Bush Agenda: Invading the World One Economy at a Time. Ty's going to do the overview.

Ty: Antonia Juhasz is a wonderful speaker. A number of us went to one of her book signings and if she comes to your area, you should go as well. She's funny and insightful. That comes across on the 343 pages of text. The book is priced at 26.95. You should be able to find it at your bookstores and libraries. What you'll find in the book is an indepth look at how the Bush agenda started, where it went and what we can do to stop it.

Jim: Jess, Mike and Wally haven't weighed in with an opinion yet so they'll be the ones we go to. In addition, we have a few announcements at the end. So we're looking at roughly two minutes before Dona brusies my arm with the next pinch. Jess.

Jess: As much as I enjoy hearing you scream like a little girl when Dona pinches you hard, I'm going to take a pass except to say I enjoy the book and recommend it. I know Wally and Mike both have some points they want to make.

Jim: Okay, Mike, we'll start with you.

Mike: Start with Wally.

Jim: Okay. We'll start with Wally.

Wally: Great book. It's intense. But when it would start to feel too heavy, there would be a quip or a joke and they seem to be placed where they are most needed. It reads like someone who really knows her stuff but is making it easy to follow. It's not a humor book like Greg Palast's Armed Madhouse often is, that had me laughing page after page, but it's not cut and ry the way you might worry from the book jacket. For me, the best part was the rundown of the corporations. Both the backgrounds on how Bechtel, for instance, started out and then the explanations of how they ended up in Iraq, repeatedly. This is history and I hate to say that because I said it to a friend who thought the title was interesting and he kind of sneered. So searching for another word, this is the how-to. It's a how-to book. It's how they sold this war, pre-testing it elsewhere and it's how-to about how they'll keep selling it, long after Bully Boy is gone, unless we get wise to what has been going on. Did I leave time for Mike?

Jim: We're making time. Mike.

Mike: I knew what part Wally was going to focus on because we were talking on the phone when we were both reading the book and when he got to the section on Bechtel and the oil companies, that was his big thing. I wanted to focus on the end. None of us are fond of those books that say here's the problem and then slap "The End" on it. This book doesn't do that. It has answers and I'll now go over each one. Kidding! Want to know the answers, read the book. But her point, whether she's writing about the war or the profiteering, is that people do matter and we can make a difference. I want to quote page 340 . . .

Dona: We don't have time for a full page.

Mike: One sentence. "I have learned one very important lesson in my years of work on public policy and in social movements: Change is slow, but it does happen everywhere all of the time." That's really the key to this book. Juhasz started out in Congress and she saw the stumbling blocks, like not getting to see a report when she was working for John Conyers because she was told it didn't exist and then she was told that it did exist but Conyers wasn't on the committee and she shouldn't "worry your pretty little head" over it. She could have gone along with that thinking or she could have said, "Screw this, I'm going home and focusing on my own life." Instead, she saw a roadblock and found a way around it. It's never "Oh, this can't be done." It's always, "Okay, if it can't be done that way, then let's figure out how it can be done." There are so many examples in the book and it's a really important one.

Jim: It is and I think you and Wally summed it up very well. Announcements quickly. Rebecca and Elaine both head for the tropics July 5th. For Elaine it will be one week and then she'll be back. While she's gone her assistant Sunny will blog at least once at her site. Rebecca's open-ended as always. While she's gone Betty will be filling in and, at Rebecca and Rebecca's readers request, the first post will be about Betty's online novel Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man. Neither Elaine nor Rebecca will be participating in the edition next week. We're announcing that for a reason. People need to take time off when they need it. We appreacite everyone's help but they need time for themselves. We may bring Rebecca in while she's on vacation, if she offers, if it turns into another vacation that goes more than a month. The last time someone didn't participate, Ty read e-mails about how there must be a personality conflict or the person isn't dedicated. Dona will address the latter.

Dona: We put these things together as quickly as possible. Even with that, you're looking at more than an all nighter. The print edition gets everything, even the ones not fit to print. What goes up here is the best or what we judge the best that week. People are putting in hours on these things. We started at 6:00 pm EST on Saturday and it is now 6:31 am on Sunday. If someone wasn't dedicated, they wouldn't take part. Those who have church, Betty and Cedric for instance, often have to leave at a certain point. We understand and don't question their dedication. Ty will address the first part.

Ty: Jim's big on letting it all hang out as is Rebecca. There is a soap opera nature to the lives of those particiapting. Call it The Nightmares of Our Lives, if you want --

Jess: Interrupting to say Fleetwood Mac's Rumors.

Ty: The Mac's Rumors. Others are less inclined to let it all hang out like Jim and Rebecca because they anticipate the reaction of some such as Tommy who wrote in to say that we must want "to take a tire iron" to someone who didn't participate a few weeks back. No. That's not the case. We all enjoy working with one another or we wouldn't do it. But the fear that someone might think there is a problem if we're not all participating does make some rearrange their schedules. That's not necessary. The core six, the ones behind this website, include Ava, Dona and myself who have each taken a week off. A kind-of a week off in Ava's case because at Christmas she did work early in the week with C.I. on their TV commentary. We wanted to make this announcement so that if someone does take time off the automatic assumption is not that they don't get along or we don't get along. We also wanted to make it to be sure that no one felt they had to participate when they didn't have time out of fear that the assumption would be made.

Jim: Those are the announcements. Katha Pollitt's Virginity or Death recommended strongly and obviously a book that will lead to passionate discussions and debates. Antonia Juhasz' The Bush Agenda, just as strongly recommended, that will explain how we ended up in Iraq and how the hell we're going to get out.

Somebody Killed Her Career

Once upon a time, Margaret "Maggie" Carlson was able to shuck and jive with the best of the career 'liberals.' There was Maggie calling Al Gore a "liar," there was Maggie, after the 2000 election, explaining that it was just so much fun to go after Al Gore.

She might have gotten away with it. Others had done similar in the past, the faux liberals running with the pack from chat & chew to chat & chew. Possibly all the hacks who came in from the cold to style themselves as "journalists" helped put her out of business?

No, twas Maggie herself that killed her career. (As it was Michael Kinseley himself that killed his. Sh! We're not supposed to talk about what really happened re: LA Times.)

Maggie shucked and jived according to the playbook (she's still using it). Career 'libs' always find success hailing the right-leaning (or the right) candidate/elected official as "authentic." They take swipes at the "loonies" (take your pick). They do that because the average viewer watching may just hear "And from the left . . . Margaret Carlson."

"From the left you say? Oh, I better listen!"

Then "from the 'left'" goes on to trash the genuine Democrat and the average viewer who has eight million other things to take care of in a day, pressing things, is supposed to be left with the message: ____ is so bad, even the "left" doesn't support him.

It's a cute little game and it's played out for years.

Not too many questions get asked. Like why "the left" is supposed to mean "Democrat"? Or why "the left" includes assholes schilling for KFC (SuperSize your brain, Paul Begala)? Or why "the left" would all loudly and proudly (those given TV time) distance themselves from Cynthia McKinney in 2002?

It's a world of James Carvilles and Begalas, a world of Margaret Carlsons and Cynthia Tuckers, a world where "up" is "down" and "left" is really right (wing).

So how did Maggie destroy her career?

Well, she's a woman so that's always going to factor in. Those chubby cheeks carried her through a certain age and looked appealing, now they just look ridiculous. Paul Begala can induce vomiting in many viewers just by appearing on camera, but there's always been a different standard for men.

(And especially a different standard for men who play "left." It's almost as though Central Casting sent out a memo: "Give me the most unnattracitive, the most annoying voices, the most effete to play the really left." Obviously, Alan Colmes heard of that cattle call.)

But here's how Maggie hurt Maggie the most. Men didn't like her. She never appealed to male viewers. Who did she appeal to? Some female viewers. They found her "independent" ("spunky" was another popular term in one test marketing sample).

They watched her demonize Al Gore repeatedly. It wasn't that unusual. The career "left" has done the same before and since. But Maggie 'authentisicm' fell into question once Bully Boy was sworn in.

What killed Maggie was her core group of supporters in any given sample audience were women. Women remembered her shucking and jiving. They didn't label it as such in real time. They thought she was being "independent." What her chirpy, airy character assassinations couldn't convey in real time, history did eventually.

They saw Bully Boy not as the 'caring' man Maggie swore he was, not as the 'honest' man Maggie swore he was. They saw the candidate she'd pimped for (from the "left") for what he was -- dangerous to women. Much more so than any hyper-inflated, cariacture of Bill Clinton could ever have been. The global gag rule was back. There was a reason Bill Clinton lifted it. They saw attacks on abortion, they saw attacks on gays and lesbians. They saw the Bully Boy for the ogre that he was. And while they might have been willing to write a pass for some of them (in a "those boys don't know any better"), they didn't show Mags the same sympathy.

Like another woman we're addressing this week, she seemed to think the viewers she could bring in were being pulled for Pax.

So now she's trying to resurrect her career and it hasn't been easy. Like other dress up "liberals" the first Bully Boy term was hard for her. She lost her cushy post at Time where her soft mind and writing were given free reign. Kinseley said, "Mags, come on over here with me, I'll set you up good and we can play 'liberal' dress up together." But that didn't reignite the career.

What's an out of work, frumpy minded, frumpy looking woman with no future left to do? Why root for Joe Lieberman of course!

Now some not so nice souls might point out that if she really believed all the things she's currently writing about Lieberman, she wouldn't have worked so hard to bury Al Gore in 2000.
(Lieberman was his running mate, after all.)

But that would be using something called "logic." There's no logic in the minds or professional lives of career 'liberals.' So she attacks Ned Lamont, whom she knows little of but she knows he's made some kind of anti-war noise and that's enough for the writer who enared her Luce money the old fashioned way.

She gets in some slams against the blogs because she's knows that's "hot" to do now.

She makes the plea for her boy Joe saying that if it were a general election, this fine upstanding Democrat, he could win. She avoids pointing out the reality -- in a general election, he'd win by garnering votes from Republicans. (Something most upstanding Democrats wouldn't have to consider their base -- but again, being a career liberal means never having to be logical.)

She's Mags the Simp once again. It played well once, it doesn't anymore.

[Those who need a refersher on Mags the Simp should go to The Daily Howler and search the archives.]

Career rehab? She could avoid trying to sound so earnest and desperate to please. Cokie Roberts never does. She never fails to display her contempt for America. It's a good move for her because she's not very likeable. National Pension Radio ignores that fact year after year but she remains the most highly exposed of the least liked on their roster.

"B-b-but," Maggie interrupts waving her hands at her own body, "I'm a tree stump. Cokie's statue-esque, like a good drag queen."

That is true. But she's not classy. That doesn't prevent her from presenting herself as that. No one buys her as classy (is she still serving that Frito pie?) but, like Joan Crawford before her, she knows if she brings the full force of her will down firmly, most will be too imidated to question her directly.

Mags, you rode the "career liberal" circuit for all it was worth. You were a little Kate Smith, singing your standard anywhere you wanted. Well times are hard, it's a Bully Boy economy, and you've found that there's no Atlantic City for "career liberals" to pasture out too. You're not alone in isolation -- just look at Bill Press.

You ran snapping with the mad dogs of the chat & chews. But you lacked the strength, everything was given to you once you demonstrated how mushy your supposed principals were. What can we tell you? Life's a Cokie . . . and then you die. Your career has.

Psst, over here, it's the story you're not supposed to know about

In "U.S.: Civilian deaths feeding insurgency," Nancy A. Youssef noted the following for Knight Ridder (it was still Knight Ridder on Monday when her story ran):

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The death of civilians at the hands of U.S. troops has fueled the insurgency in Iraq, according to a top-level U.S. military commander, who said U.S. officials began keeping records of these deaths last summer.
Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who as head of the Multinational Force-Iraq is the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, said the number of civilian dead and wounded is an important measurement of how effectively U.S. forces are interacting with the Iraqi people.
"We have people who were on the fence or supported us who in the last two years or three years have in fact decided to strike out against us. And you have to ask: Why is that? And I would argue in many instances we are our own worst enemy,'' Chiarelli said.
Chiarelli said he reviews the figures daily. If fewer civilians are killed, "I think that will make our soldiers safer,'' Chiarelli said.
U.S. officials previously have said they don't keep track of civilian causalities, and Iraqi officials stopped releasing numbers of U.S.-caused casualties after Knight Ridder reported in September 2004 that the Iraqi Ministry of Health had attributed more than twice as many civilian deaths to the actions of U.S. forces than to "terrorist'' attacks during the period from June to September 2004.

We're not sure whether Youssef committed a fashion faux pas or was simply ahead of the curve, but we know for some reason, the story didn't get traction. To nutshell it: The US Government is keeping figures on the deaths of Iraqi civilians. It is now confirmed. It would be news but you'd have to hear or read about it for that to happen and instead of following this, too many reporters got caught up in al-Maliki's peace 'scam' and what 8 or 10 resistance groups might do (8 or 10 out of how many groups throughout the country?).

It's news. Apparently, we're supposed to keep it on the down-low. (For those who are members of The Common Ills community, Mike has a column in today's Polly's Brew letting you know who was contacted and passed on linking to or noting the story. It's a long list, be prepared to be disgusted.)


The general offered no apologies
He said, "The soldiers erred in judgement
They should have hired a hooker!"
No apologies
-- "No Apologies" written and recorded by Joni Mitchell, Taming the Tiger

A family of four dead in Mahmoudiya. That much is known. The rest? Under investigation. Two American soldiers have spoken of a rape and then killing of the family. One claims he saw blood on the shirts of at least one soldier and that he heard them planning the cover up.

Whether American journalists want to visit Mahmoudiya or not (the thought doesn't appear to have occurred to any of them), the allegations are having an impact in Iraq where the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars have issued a statement that "raping this girl then mutilating her is shameful and will remain as a sign of shame to American invaders."

Current June figures (they will probably be added to) are 62 American troops died last month (2 "others" as well) and at least 1,009 Iraqis civilians died.

Meanwhile Nouri al-Maliki takes his peace 'plan' on the road to Saudi Arabia where he wins "approval." That's the same plan that, while al-Maliki is out of the country, the parliment has announced they'll make "some changes" too. Also in parliment news, Tayseer al-Mashhadani was kidnapped on Saturday -- a Sunni and one of the few women serving in the parliment -- causing the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front to walk out and refuse to participate until al-Mashhadani is returned (she was kidnapped in a Shi'ite section of Baghdad). Another member of parliment, Shi'ite Iyad Jamal al-Din was targeted by a bomb that "just missed." Also on Sunday, Retuers is reporting that another member of parliment, Leqa al-Yaseen (Sunni, female) was the victim of an attempted kidnapping (apparently eight of her bodyguards were kidnapped). The approval of Saudi Arabia really doesn't seem to be the issue.

Saturday, a car bomb in a Baghdad market killed at least 62 and wounded over a hundred. AFP says 66 dead and notes this occurred after the explosion: "A US military vehicle, which attempted to approach the blast scene withdrew in the face of a hail of stones from angry residents." In the "What you talking 'bout, Willis?" department, Reuters reports: "A PREVIOUSLY unknown Iraqi Sunni Muslim militant group claimed responsibility for a car bomb blast in Baghdad today that killed at least 66 people, saying it was avenging Shiite Muslim killings of Sunnis." B-b-b-b-ut, 8 or 10 or 8 of 10 'insurgent' groups were talking to the government about laying down arms! Remember the news telling us that! Remember how we couldn't get any real news because 8 or 10 or 8 out of 10 out of how many 100s of resistance groups were talking?

Reuters reports a car bomb in Baqubua and multiple ones in Baghdad claimed the lives of at least five lives and wounded at least 32.

Uh, Correction Time, New York Times

As C.I. noted Saturday of Edward Wong's "G.I.'s Investigated In Slayings of 4 And Rape In Iraq:"

Wong tries to pad by noting fatality counts. With regards to the month of June, it's the first day of July. Translation, the figures aren't in yet. He writes 60. Since the military is often slow in releasing data, it's not uncommon for two, three or five to be added to the month's fatality count a few days after the press runs with the day-of-figure.

Wong couldn't wait. The number for June is now up to 62. Don't expect a correction in The New York Times, they never correct this.

You can't say they never learn because that would imply they gave a damn.

C.I. also noted this:

He also writes of Iraqi fatalities and notes Iraq Coalition Casualty Count. I'm not seeing his figure (840) on their page. I see a notation of their estimate for deaths in June since June 7th (719) and possibly he's adding in a figure they provide for Iraqi troops and police officers killed (134, though would that qualify as civilians?). Is that how he got his estimate?
In Baghdad, the morturary has stated that they've recevied at least thirty corpses a day this month. That would put the figure at over 900 for Baghdad alone. It matters for a number of reasons including the fact that deaths do matter. Another reason is because Wong can pick up the phone and call the Baghdad morturary and ask for their figure. That's necessary if he wants to use the figure to write of 'trends.' And considering that radio reports right now say at least sixty people have died in an explosion in Baghdad, probably not the best time to write of the 'trend' where civilian fatalities are going down. (It's called "timing.")

Wong was selling the peace scam, writing of his "840" that it "compared with an all-time high of 1,100 the previous month, according to the site" (Iraq Coalition Casualty Counts). So why didn't he call a morgue?

AFP reports the Iraqi government places the number at "at least 1,009." Not a huge difference between it and the "all-time high" but 840 won't spoil the weekend buzz, now will it?

Again, don't hold your breath for any corrections.

Cheney has a heart!

Cheney has a heart, or that's what the press reports.

Disproving critics and wags, Cheney went in for his annual tune up:

July 1: His annual physical shows that the pacemaker is working properly and his overall heart condition. A stress test on a treadmill is scheduled for the fall.

This is where we could lash out at 9-11 critics, after all this does qualify as science and medicine, right? Yeah, we're referring to the monthly rag that just gets worse with each issue. (We missed the defense of stay the course, thankfully, but aren't surprised considering the piece of trash at work at the rag now. The piece of trash who'd shouted that cry before. We're not worried about trash seeing this. We know trash is too busy scanning Mike's site to figure out what to rip off next.)

A non-Star loses her sparkle time

Star Jones had an interesting run of it. A plus-size woman, she gained fame on ABC's The View early on with her 'catch phrase': "I'm a lawyer" (equally popular -- in her own mind -- was "As a lawyer"). Watching her weight balloon and balloon, watching her co-hosts have to help her onstage (didn't Payless make any sensible shoes?), Star Jones wanted so badly to be America's next diva.

(America's Next Diva? Fox, get right on it! It's your next reality hit!)

But Jones never understood what makes a diva. It takes more than screaming hissy fits (in front of too many audiences). It takes more than being opinated.

Diva like behavior has to be grounded with the audience's understanding that you're genuinely a nice person. The cackle didn't help. Nor when it was utilized. The obvious tension with Debbie Matenopoulos didn't help. The outright hostility to any opinion Lisa Ling voiced only made it worse.

But she might have managed to pull off plus-size diva if December 1999 had never happened.

That's what Star Jones could never live down.

Who loves a diva? A lot of straight women, a lot of gay men. Most of the straight women are comfortable with gay men.

So imagine everyone's shock, having embraced the weight struggles of Star Jones, having laughed as she couldn't keep her hands off male guests (Michael Douglas was all but raped on air by Star Jones), when suddenly Star needs to prove that, hey, she's got deep thoughts too.

She votes God when she squeezes into a voting box. That's what she explained in December of 1999. That's why she can't support same-sex marriage (did she really make the "Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve" joke?), why she won't support candidates who support it.

It didn't go over well with the studio audience, it didn't go over well with ABC's poor switchboard operators having to address the call ins. It didn't go over well on the show's message boards (which crashed during the show due to being overwhelmed with users).

Star Jones was encouraged to pen a statement that could be snail mailed and e-mailed to all the viewers complaining. (The View never received as much mail, e-mail or calls, up to that point, as they did when Star outed her inner homophobe.)

The laughable statement became the most circulated item in entertainment circles. For those who missed it . . . Not everyone watches The View and not everyone gets the laugh of the week forwarded to them by others in the entertainment industry, C.I. offered to dust it off last weekend but there was no need. On Monday, as rumors began spreading about something happening with People magazine, the 'response' was e-mailed and faxed like it was 1999 all over again. It's dated December 21, 1999, FYI.

Some say to prohibiting same-sex marriages is a violation of the right to privacy. I disagree: In my opinion, who you have a right to love is private, who you have a right to marry is a matter of public policy.

Translation, second-class citizens is all you same-sex peoples deserve in the Tubby World of Star. While the world was expansive in girth, it was small in mind. Translation, hop back into the closests, losers. Jones (and others) worked harder on this response than on her "book" which is why it surprised many to see "Some say to prohibiting same-sex marriages is . . ." as opposed to "Some say prohibiting same-sex marriages is . . ." so early on in the letter. She was a lawyer, right?

I see marriage as a sacred union between a man and a woman that is blessed by God.

The 'response' goes up in full if the rumors (we didn't start them) about her own husband end up being true. (If they're true, he'll be bailing shortly.)

In all honesty, this is not an issue that will make me go out and campaign against it, but if I'm asked my opinion...I'm going to tell the truth.

Some might respond, "Tell the truth about the weight loss." Considering that Jones stated on the air (what prompted the response) was that she votes 'her God' and that she couldn't support those who supported same-sex marriage, that was campaigning against it. (What? She thinks we really believe she could have survived even two houses on a block walk?)

My only goal in this regard is to go to bed every night, wake up every morning and look at myself in the face, knowing that I have not betrayed what I believe in.

Well she certainly has more than enough time now to stare at herself in the mirror. Maybe she'll be able to grasp how freakish she looks to so many?

There was a huge fallout over this. There was a fallout from guests, who didn't take to making cheery talk with the homophobe, and from the audience. There was a huge drop in her positives (which were never all that) because her core, such as it was, was made up of those who bought into the "Diva" myth.

A diva can be a real bitch to her assistants, but she's expected to have love for the world as a whole. She can rip apart room service, but when it comes to the people who are scapegoated, she's supposed to be welcoming. She rolled over and squashed any personal hopes of being a diva then and there.

Over ten years, she struck many viewers as getting nastier and nastier -- which made little sense to them because didn't she now have it all? She'd finally found a husband ("finally found" because she repeatedly and publicly made it her chief goal, year after year). There was a book out with her name on it, right? According to her, she had so much strength and determination that she was able to shed the pounds practically overnight. (Maybe she should have put her name to a book for the body as opposed to the soul?) Why was she still so nasty and unhappy?

And what was her problem with Joy Behar? Viewers couldn't stop wondering that?

They'd seen her dimiss Debbie (while Debbie was still speaking) and figured it was just an annoyance at a young blond. Then came Lisa and she was even more condescending and hostile to Lisa. For all the rumors of Rosie O'Donnell joining the show and the tension that would emerge on the first day, the truth was, there was already tension on the show. (Do you think Bill appreciated all the tantrums she threw? He didn't.)

You can get away with that behavior if you're popular. She wasn't. Beginning in 1999, she lost support and only continued to lose it. (Hold-out viewers, determined to see the best, were shocked to see her gimmie-gimmie attitude when she was to be married. Again, she's talked of nothing but a huband for years and years. Now it was all about the freebies and gifts?)

Mad TV and SNL's parodies of her (written by people who knew how vile she was) didn't help. SNL was seen by more but Mad TV hit harder spoofing her Payless commercials, portraying her as someone who needed food breaks to put on a pair of shoes, someone who couldn't see her own feets, and a slob who threw the remains wherever (leading to the hilarious moment where she finally steps into a shoe and on a sizeable roach inside it).

People thought it was funny. And it, and the tacky commercials they were based on, further hurt her.

Ava and C.I. are no fans of Barbara Walters (as they've established in features here before). They don't care for her. But they were the ones suggesting this feature because, though they don't like Walters, they couldn't believe the way Jones was attempting to Eve Harrington her. (All About Eve, a film starring Bette Davis, is about a backbiting, self-serving Eve trying to steal the spotlight from Davis' Margo Channing.)

They say, Walters didn't just carry her for the last eight months, she carried her for years. Walters was fully aware of how viewers had turned off to Star Jones. She was aware that it was unlikely Jones could or would recover from December 1999. But Walters was committed to keeping the group intact and giving Jones a chance to find her footing. ABC wanted Jones gone long before last year. When her negatives grew so high, only then did Walters agree. It had been six years of negatives at that point and Star Jones was no longer just harming Star Jones, she was now harming the show.

Walters didn't kick her to the curb. She carried her though several months (and Jones knew the end was near months ago). She did that out of a sense of loyalty and fairness. It wasn't a "business decision" (that would have required ejecting her immediately).

Walters' payback for months of kindess (and lots of easy money for Jones who was paid to attract an audience, not repel one)?

Jones initiated her own counter-plan. She'd go out this week. She did a hush-hush interview with People. One that, hush-hush or not, still made the rounds and one that Walters was aware of (but chose to believe Jones was taking the high road in it). Then, to promote the upcoming article and herself, Jones broke from the planned topics to announce on air that she was leaving. No dummy, People immediately published their story online to get credit for their scoop. (They'd planned to publish it in print on Friday.)

Jones didn't arrange the interviews that followed after she'd made her announcement. ABC and Walters began hearing rumblings immediately after the show airing her "I've decided to leave" announcement was off the air. (Jones never learned that the ones who kiss your ass the most are usually the first to rat you out). Within hours, those interviews were confirmed.

The response of Walters to being stabbed in the back by someone she'd given a job to (when no one else was lining up to make the woman a regular on a TV show) was perfectly natural. We honestly wish she'd be a little more vocal. (Ava and C.I. say she won't this year. They say it will come out in bits over the next few years.)

Now the homophobe who didn't burn up the publishing industry, who has no shot at Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers commercials because too many doubt her official story on the weight loss, the woman who had the worst TVQ some at ABC have ever seen, is out on the street. Is it really true that she's offered her services to Fox Friends or whatever that daytime talk show is? Is it really true that she offered one interviewer, off air, that she'd be happy to fill in for him? A bit of advice, take the Court TV offer. No, they aren't meeting her "demands," but it's only the concrete offer currently. She's also rumored to be attempting to interest the publishing industry in "My Side" (her potential tell all).

She's under the impression that she has an audience among viewers (the lack of "We're with you, Star!" response should have corrected that impression) and among the entertainment industry (her shameless self-promotion and back stabbing ensured that was not the case).

We'll close this by correcting some impressions. Rosie O'Donnell is not "replacing" Star. She's been brought in to fill Meredith's spot. Who will "replace" Star?

ABC hoped it would be Patricia Heaton. They signed a generous contract with Heaton and have had to face the fact that there's no sitcom that can be shaped around her limited talents (short of starring her in My Wife, The Shrew). As reality sunk in that nagging isn't what most look to in a lead character, they hoped to save the contract by sliding her over to The View. But she's doesn't test well with women.

As a reader once pointed out, Heaton took to the airwaves to slam Michael Schiavo and repeat lies about Terry Schiavo's health status. That doesn't help her test results. It also doesn't help that women didn't love Raymond as much as men did. Heaton played the male idea of the wife from hell (never wants sex, always battles with your mother openly, nags you, go down the list -- while Ray was Peter Pan and 'loveable').

Star Jones never understood The View audience. Her homphobia would have played well on Pat Robertson's show. It didn't play well on The View where the audience was a little less rabid and a great deal more educated. Some at ABC have realized that putting Heaton on the show is asking women to embrace self-hatred (for her positions and for the character that made her semi-famous) and be back in the Star Jones trap. They're also starting to get concerned about how potential guests would respond to the addition. (Not well. Her remarks to Jay Leno were the kind of self-immolation that helped kill Sean Young's career.) They thought they had a "common sense" type (a la Meredith -- that's how they saw her) and now they're starting to grasp all the baggage Heaton brings with her.

It's an interesting time for The View. Changes will occur this fall. If Star Jones had shown even the basic sense of decency (if not appreciation), it could be an interesting time for Jones too. Instead, most people think it's "sad" -- when they're not busy laughing that she got what she'd long deserved.
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