Sunday, May 13, 2007



Due to the fact that Dona read over some of the e-mailed questions and topics Ty had pulled for the roundtable and enjoyed the mix, we're also doing Mailbag this edition.

Brendan e-mailed to note that Elaine (Like Maria Said Paz) had an idea for a feature here on Wednesday but by Friday had given it up. How often does that happen?

Elaine: Today's Mother's Day, so peace to all, and I had a thought for a feature here. It was a fictional one. On Friday, Laurie Hasbrook's "This Minute and Then the Next" was up at CounterPunch and she'd done it much better, realistically, then we could have fictionally so I tabled the idea but do urge everyone to read Hasbrook's piece.

It's not uncommon for that to happen. We'll have ideas during the week and discuss them then, by the time Sunday rolls around, someone's grabbed them and we don't feel we have much to add to the discussion. (Jess says "Now That's Everything's Be Said" -- a Carole King song.)

Winter093 notes that Mike (Mikey Likes It!) used to talk more about his mother (Trina's Kitchen) at his site and doesn't as much now. It's either "folks" or it's "Dad." Why is that?

Mike: It's obvious, huh? Because I catch hell from two older brothers when I mention Ma and forget to do a link. I don't know how everyone else does their posting. I know C.I. usually gets links and then writes around them. But I write all the way through and when I'm done, I go back in and add my links. I had a story about Ma last week that I really wanted to share but didn't because I was tired and in the middle of the post when I thought, "If I forget the link, I'll have two griping phone calls tomorrow."

With the exceptions of Wally and Cedric, everyone's pretty bad about linking. We've all told Kat not to worry about linking to us when she puts in our names. (We is actually: Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava, Ty and C.I.) We're usually all together when she blogs and we know she's usually leaving something fun to do it and hurrying to get back. We should all do a better job of linking but the reality for those who post during the week is that they're dealing with what's happened on Monday and a lot of other things, including being tired and there's not always time.

Elaine notes that she never goes back and re-reads herself. Usually on Wednesday, she's asking Sunny, "Did I link to Trina?" or whomever so that she can get in that link before she takes Thursdays off.

Marv wanted to know what the deal was with Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) and Wally (The Daily Jot)? Last week had some shorter items and then a really long one on Saturday and what's up with posting on Saturdays anyway?

Cedric: It's a combination of time and how much space we need to say what we want to say. Sometimes we can say it in as little as three sentences. When that's possible, we do so.

Wally: There has been non-stop complaints in the community that not enough goes up on Saturdays. It's also true that it can be easier for us to post on Saturdays. We play it by ear but are seriously considering dropping the Friday posts for good and instead doing a Saturday post each week.

CallieLouBelle e-mails that as someone who does not get the print edition, she feels very cheated for missing out on the feature Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) led on and then pulled. She wonders if there's anything Rebecca has to say about her pregnancy that can be shared online?

Rebecca: I pulled it because it said too much. I'm a really open person and always have been. I know that means you get it slapped back in your face from time to time and I am cool with that; however, we're talking about my child and I'm following Ruth's lead on that because who knows what it would be like ten or twenty years from now to read about your life online? I regretted pulling the piece only because (a) I felt I put everyone behind (which everyone says wasn't the case) and (b) a lot of time was put into it. In terms of my pregnancy, what do you want to know? My weight gain. Want to hear about my trips to bathroom? My back pain? I've actually blogged about all of that at my own site. I think you actually mean if there's anything I want to share about the birth or the baby? My child is off limits. Regarding the birth, I'll note that I sailed right through it. I'd heard, my entire life, about how painful it was and how long and all the rest. Mine wasn't like that at all.

Betty asks that we note it's okay to hate Rebecca for the easy labor; however, she "is one of the most genuinely nice people you'll ever meet." Elaine notes that Rebecca's long wanted a child for so long that she honestly thinks Rebecca was (naturally) high during the birth and didn't register the pain for that reason. Elaine adds it's also okay to hate Rebecca for emerging from giving birth looking ready to pose for a magazine cover. (Mike adds ":D")

JuJu praises Betty (Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man) ("everyone in fact, but really Betty") for her guest posts at Rebecca's site and wants to know if Betty would consider doing two blogs -- her own and a new one where she just blogs?

Betty: Thank you, JuJu. Filling in for Rebecca, or Kat or anyone, is always fun for me because I can just talk without all the structure and conventions that go into posting at my site. To do a site like that of my own, I'd have to drop Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man because I'd tell myself, "Oh go write at your blog. It's easier and you're not making any sense here." I would use it as an excuse to avoid Betinna's story. I love Betinna but some of the people that girl hangs around with -- ay-yi-yi.

BlueDogYouDog e-mails to complain about C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot"Thursday, specifically this statement: "Like the triangulator in the US, Bill Clinton, Blair destroyed his party." BlueDogYouDog doesn't believe there's any basis to that statement.

C.I.: You're entitled to your opinion. You may be right. I happen to disagree.

Jess: C.I. sent out that blanket statement all last week to about 27 people who e-mailed defending the illegal war: "I happen to disagree." I'll add my two cents. Bill Clinton 'triangulated.' He didn't fight from the left, he fought from the middle. As such, he sold out a number of people in the policies he backed and advocated. This did very real damage.

Ty: Jumping on to that, his dramas -- some were lies but some were self-created -- took up a lot of time that should have gone elsewhere. Hillary had no right or reason, my opinion, to hide away health care. That was the people's business and it shouldn't have been conducted in secret. When they were attacked for that or for inflated claims or outright lies, we used all energy trying to defend them. It wasn't about the party at that point, it was about the Clintons. Time that should have gone into the party went into them.

Betty: As someone who continues to have a soft spot for Bill Clinton, I'll add that I agree with what was said but I'll further note that leadership and bean counters did an equal amount of damage thinking the answer was 'personality' and that all they had to do was find charismatic candidates. I think 2000's choice as well as 2004's choice demonstrates charisma is not easily found. Time could have spent on real issues during Clinton's terms -- I mean time spent by the party -- but they thought they'd found the quick fix and ran from real issues.

Dona: I don't think it's open to debate. I'm jumping in because Ava asked me to because she finds the comment so "stupid and repugnant" that she's not even addressing it. But the Democratic Party stood for something. When Clinton moved to the White House he was interested in standing for something else. He wanted to please and to reach out and did so at the expense of those he was supposed to protect. The desire to please by him and his administration allowed Poppy Bush to get away with breaking the law by allowing Iran-Contra to be set aside. If everyone read Robert Parry (Consortium News), I think it would have been more difficult for Bully Boy to be installed into the White House. But as much as I appreciate Parry's strong work, it's really sad that a journalist had to do what Congress and the administration wouldn't and that, having done that, there's never been any governmental follow up. Larry Bensky recently stepped down from his regular duties at KPFA and in the retrospective they broadcast, he was on NPR being asked about Oliver North. He explained he didn't feel sorry for North because North and his family weren't raped or killed or maimed or injured but North's actions allowed that to happen to many other. The NPR host said, paraphrase, "You're talking about a man that many consider a hero." Larry Bensky responded, "So? I don't." The reason many considered, or even any considered, North a hero when he broke the laws was due to the fact that so many wanted to cover up. The cover up then goes a long way to explaining the situations we're in now. I could give other examples as well. While consensual sex is not an impeachable crime, it sure did get old having to repeat that over and over. No question, that was a witch hunt. But, no question, Clinton did a stupid thing allowing that to happen in the first place. I'm not speaking of morals, I don't care what his morality is or was. I do know he went into office with a "bimbo" cloud over his head and he presumably wanted to be president. I think, regardless of whether he's faithful or not, he could have kept it in his pants while occupying the White House since he already knew the fallout from various 'bimbos' and that the press had such a field day with it originally that it nearly sank him in the 92 primaries. It was a self-control issue for him, a lack of it, and Democrats like me ended up having to explain over and over how consensual sex is not rape, is not harassment. It's easy to say, "He was under attack!" But the reality is he handed out the ammo for this attack by his own actions. But to repeat, consensual sex is not grounds for impeachment nor is lying about it.

Lastly, Kystal wants to know, from Elaine and C.I., what they see as the difference for war resisters then and now in terms of coverage?

Elaine: Well, during Vietnam, there was a greater awareness of war resisters. They might be people who avoided the draft and never showed up or they might be ones who were inducted and then checked out. You knew there were different ways. Today? You get reporters who don't even comprehend the difference between AWOL and desertion. C.I. pointed out last week or the week before, a reporter saying that the maximum someone could face if convicted with desertion was one year, that the reporter really didn't know what they were talking about. A mistake like that back then would have resulted in a correction. I'm not sure that there's the same level of awareness, the same number of people who could complain about an error like that. That's one way, I know Dona said keep this quick.

C.I.: I'll add to that. The awareness Elaine's speaking about existed because of the press as much as because people knew a war resister or two. One difference today has to do with the fact that you have less outlets. Back then, outlets had to compete. Today, they're all owned by the same basic people. Back then, if you were a radio station and you were silent on war resisters, you better believe another station was covering it and people would listen accordingly.
Alternative weeklies were a strong source and there were more of them with less connections and less concentrated ownership. Today you have syndicates and many aren't interested in the topic so you're not, as you might have then, seeing the topic cut out of just one weekly on one person's say-so, you're seeing it cut out of ten or twenty.

Ava: I'll grab the last word and note that the silence on Joshua Key's book was very sad. The Progressive has just run a review in their May issue. ZNet has one online that may appear in print. The Nation has been silent despite all the space they have each issue devoted to books and despite the fact that their book edition, devoted to books, just came out. Let me change my "very sad" to read "very sad and very telling."
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