Sunday, August 12, 2007


Jim: Another official roundtable. We've got a lot to cover and probably won't get to it all. Dona will be firmly enforcing the time limit. 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. We're going to start off with the topic that prompted last week's "John Conyers Is No MLK (Betty, Cedric & Ty)."

Ty: John Conyers is a member of Congress. He is someone who repeatedly advocates impeachment to the people, he is someone who mentioned impeachment throughout 2006 as something a Democratic majority in the House could accomplish and he's edited a book on impeaching the Bully Boy. The Democrats now control the House. Conyers continues to talk impeachment at rallies and gatherings and in interviews with alternative media. A group of activists met with him. They went with petitions, they were calling his office to show their support for impeachment and for him. Three activists met with him, Ray McGovern, Cindy Sheehan and Lennox Yearwood. In the meeting, they were told by Conyers that the answer wasn't impeachment, it was even more Democrats elected in 2008. They were told, by Conyers, that if he pushed impeachment Fox "News" would make fun of him. After the meeting they rejoined the other activists present and filled everyone in. The decision was made to peacefully occupy Conyers' office. Conyers' office called the police and and had the people practicing civil disobedience arrested. What immediately followed was criticism of Conyers. This was quickly followed with nonsense that since Conyers was African-American, the criticism was off limits. A lot of faux Blacks who couldn't say one damn word to defend Cynthia McKinney -- not unlike Conyers himself who proved a coward on that topic as well -- suddenly began screaming "Racism!" Yearwood wrote a rather weak defense of himself, and looking back that's what it was, self-obsessed, self-focused. That apparently wasn't enough and then Yearwood wrote something even more embarrassing. Along the way the faux Blacks embarrassed themselves and everyone else.

Betty: I think that pretty well sums it up. For the record, I don't care what happens to Yearwood and the military. I'm not really into supporting people who cave when a little pressure comes their way. I do not want to spend my August or September defending someone who may turn around and say, "Well the military had a point . . ." That's exactly what he did with the case of Conyers. My times is valuable to me. There are a thousands topics that need action and I have to pick and choose wisely. It would be unwise for me to utilize my time to support Yearwood since his collapsible spine means he won't support himself. Ty, Cedric and I are the Black voices doing sites in this community, and of course Gina does the gina & krista round-robin, so we have a special obligation to speak up and speak up strongly. Similarly, Yearwood has the same obligation. He elected not to own that obligation but instead to cave. I don't pretend he wasn't under pressure. I also don't pretend that I have any interest today or tomorrow in wasting my time supporting someone who will more than likely cave whenever things get rough. Right before the 2006 election, C.I. noted in a snapshot that John Kerry's 2008 campaign was over. It would take a few more weeks for Kerry to announce he'd decided not to run. No annoucement was necessary. When he was attacked for a joke and he initially stood up only to cave he lost the respect of everyone.

Cedric: Wally and I hit hard defending Kerry, as did C.I., and that was because Kerry was supposed to be standing. We were told there would be no backing down this time. When he did back down, Wally and I were disgusted. Betty's talk about utilizing time is exactly right. Wally and I could have spent those days on something else. We were happy to defend someone who was going to stand up. We felt used defending someone who wouldn't even defend themselves. In the current climate, Congress caves repeatedly and I share Betty's attitude, and Rebecca's as well, that there are better things for this community to focus on than applauding Yearwood for some future action that, if the pressure is applied again, he'll only back down from. I'm following Ty's lead, by the way, and assume Betty is as well, in just using his last name.

Ty: John Conyers caved. And we're all aware he was talking impeachment yet again while caving. We're all aware his wife participated in an impeachment gathering. He is not Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That is obvious and some little faux set wanted to run in and scream, "How dare a White person say that!" I'm not White. I'm African-American. John Conyers is a coward. He is not MLK. But any White person can say that as well. I love how the faux folk want to act as though stating the obvious that Conyers is no hero is the political equivalent of using the n-word.

Betty: That is the perfect example. That's really what it all boils down. They're treating an observation on Conyers' very obvious cowardice as though it were a racial slur. We had planned this topic for a roundtable last week but there wasn't time for it. So when problems with illustrations meant planned features ran in the print edition but didn't make it up here, Ty, Cedric and I wrote "John Conyers Is No MLK (Betty, Cedric & Ty)." I thought Trina wrote a very generous piece yesterday with "Spinach, Orange and Almond Salad in the Kitchen." In that, she's making the comparison to the ones who rushed in to defend David Obey after he attacked Tina Richards. She's noting that hero worship often results in an immediate knee jerk reaction. I hope she's right and that, a few weeks on down the line, some of the ones rushing in to rescue Conyers will realize the realities. But I'm in no mood for this nonsense. Racism exists in this society and it's hidden when fools term holding Congressional members accountable "racism." John Conyers is a coward. He's old. He's tired.

Cedric: He really is. And he needs to retire if he's incapable of fighting for what he believes in. If he doesn't believe in impeachment, then he's a liar who used it to win votes and sell some books.

Ty: I'm going to kick the dialogue over to The Black Commentator. That's delinked everywhere. I made the decision at this site. No one argued with me. Keesha and Carl led the push for that in this community early on and by Thursday night, in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin, Gina and Cedric were calling for it community wide. The Black Commentator, and no link, ran an insulting feature in many ways this week on the controversy they'd driven and manufactured. I found it offensive that every e-mailer they printed was presented however they self-presented with one exception: a vet opposed to Larry Pinkney who was billed as claiming to be a vet. I found a lot of little slurs like that throughout the piece. Rebecca noted that the feature was happy to provide Cindy Sheehan's letter and Pinkney's stupid response but in their end credits where they noted organizations for everyone, they didn't note Cindy Sheehan. I do think that was sexist.

Betty: And as Cedric pointed out, Cindy Sheehan was basically called a racist by Pinkney in that feature. I found Pinkney's tired rambles rude and insulting. Rebecca?

Rebecca: Cindy Sheehan did not attack Conyers. Whether it was in her interview on KPFK or anything else, she went out of her way to speak kindly of Conyers. That's nothing the rest of us felt. But for Pinkney to write those things about Sheehan demonstrated that he didn't know what she'd said, what she'd done or what was what.

Cedric: Exactly. But maybe to him, all White people look alike? Sheehan was very respectful and kind about Conyers. That's generally her way. I found Pinkney's hissy fit to be embarrassing and insulting.

Ty: And I'm real sick and tired of hearing from the Toy Radical Set about this and that. He's the Toy Radical Commander. We have other issues to fight, he seems to argue, but who can tell with his bad writing, and that includes dismantling the system. Well get to it Radical Action Figure! But as I remember the quote, Audre Lorde, "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." So that the Toy Radical Set wants to pretend that someone who has served continuously in the US Congress since the 1960s is not very much a part of their perceived problem -- the system itself -- is really a bunch of hog wash.

Betty: I agree with that. Maybe Trina's right and this was just a hiccup that resulted from a lot of old timers with hero worship not wanting to face reality about feet of clay. But it was the biggest waste of time and I'm getting real tired of the faux set claiming to speak for Black America. The Black Commentator does not speak for me. I find it to be the most wishy-washy weekly. Like Cedric, when Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon and Margaret Kimberley left to form Black Agenda Report, I had no more use for The Black Commentator. They took the real strength with them. Maybe you agree with every word they write or only some, but you can never deny that Ford, Dixon and Kimberley are independent and not playing nice. They aren't being useless.

Ty: Or making themselves useless.

Betty: Agreed.

Cedric: And Trina's really right. There's no difference from the crowd right now rushing to defend John Conyers for being called out on his inaction and spineless nature and the crowd that rushed in to tell us in March that we all needed to shut up because the Democrats in Congress were going to end the illegal war. John Conyers' as Civil Rights Hero is a bit of stretch for me. He clearly benefited from the Civil Rights movement, as all of us did, but whatever he did or did not do, I live today. What's he doing today? If he wants to be worshipped for the past, retire. If he wants to be a member of Congress, he needs to be active and he needs to be held accountable.

Ty: C.I. talked about the generational split on Melissa Etheridge awhile back in a roundtable. How people, regardless of sexuality, may see Etheridge as brave for coming out. I'm not giving her 'mad props' for that. Why was she ever in? More importantly, what has she done since she came out? And on the issue of gay, I am gay, I found Pinkney's list of the wronged very interesting since it failed to note the very real homophobia that exists. But since he only sees discrimination in terms of skin color -- not gender, not sexual orientation -- that's probably not a surprise.

Betty: And as a Black woman, I know exactly what Ty's talking about. We're expected to reduce everything to skin color. Well, sorry, Pinkney, I've suffered sexism from Blacks. Ty's suffered homophobia from Blacks. I'm real glad in your simplistic world there's no cross over but that's not reality. My father was talking, and gave credit to C.I. for drawing the illustration, to the whole "We have to shut up and support Clarence Thomas! He's Black!" movement. Clarence Thomas is a pig. What Anita Hill had to suffer through was criminal. That Black voices were more concerned with getting him on the Court instead of calling out reality was shameful. And look what their actions forced on us -- one of the biggest foes to Blacks sits on the Court now. As a Black woman, I'm fully aware that when the Black flag gets waived, it's usually for Black men. Look at the attacks on Alice Walker for the novel The Color Purple. Again, it was more important to defend an abuser -- in that case, fictional characters -- and to refuse to support a Black woman. I'm sick of it. And Pinkney's an idiot. Ava?

Ava: I have not only never missed a peace action in my own area, I have regularly traveled to DC and NYC for national actions. Since Pinkney wanted to be a defender of "Brown" people as well as African-Americans, let me put this real simple: Shut the hell up. I'm far from the only Latin face in the peace movement. I don't need his or Yearwood's stereotyping of the movement as a "White" movement. Cedric made the point that minorities in the general public will usually be minorities in movements representing a broad section. That's basic. I've already had to live through the "Students Are Apathetic!" myth that the alternative press and the mainstream media was happy to run with, I'll be damned if I'm going to be robbed and see others robbed of the very real contributions because Yearwood and Pinkney want to lie and claim the peace movement is all White. Maxine Hong-Kingston, Alice Walker, whom Betty was just mentioning, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Camilo Mejia, Aidan Delgado, Ehren Watada, are famous people of color in the peace movement, but they are far from the only people of color in the peace movement. That the mainstream press has marginalized people of color -- in every way, in every movement -- is not surprising, that alleged defenders want to do the same is disgusting. It needs to be called out. Ty's the only one of us, the core six responsible for this site, who has never said, "Let's drop ___ from the links" before. We were on the road speaking at campuses -- where we saw many of color who are part of the peace movement -- and Ty came over to C.I. and I on Thursday, after one African-American woman spoke loudly against Pinkey's nonsense and said, "I really want to delink from The Black Commentator." He had our full and immediate support. He had that with everyone responsible for this site as they learned about it. Certainly the community was pushing for that as well. It was insulting and it goes against everything we are working for and believe in. Let me add Bob Watada to the list of famous because he's an amazingly strong voice for peace. There are many others but they all get robbed, as do the non-famous, of their earned credit when someone has an axe to grind and wants to repeat lies that the peace movement is universally "White."

Jim: Okay, no one's adding so I'll assume we've addressed that topic. Just to kick it to another aspect, Ty found an e-mail asking why Cedric was so "against rap"?

Cedric: I tried to be clear that I was talking about the rap that is pushed and popular. If you flipped through my CDs, you'd find rap. But I've never been interested in the rap that's sold to enforce stereotypes. It's equally true that I'm getting real tired of stepping out of the grocery store and walking to my car only to hear f-this and f-that, "ho" and "bitch" as I'm just trying to put my groceries in the trunk of my car. The f-this is never aimed at the government, not the rap pouring out of car speakers, it's aimed usually at women. I'm also sick of angry pose in pictures and in the rap. I'm all for anger but aim it where it belongs and it's not at our sisters, it's at the government. I think rap has cratered in terms of any hopes for art in what the mainstream repeatedly pushes. I think there are tons of insulting stereotypes and those include the rappers themselves. I'm just tired of it and don't expect a lot of people to grasp that because they're not hearing "Screw" or the other genres blasting out in their areas. I also don't confuse spoken word with music. I'd rather sing along with anything on Prince's new CD then listen to the nonsense. At this point, they've reduced the formula for success down to rap about violence, dis women, and wear whatever passes for a dew rag on your head while you front a tough pose. I'm also seeing too many little kids embracing this nonsense. I'm talking 8 and 9 year-olds. In my church, we're trying to draw the line because it is becoming an issue. My own feelings are that this is leaking sewer polluting our culture. Again, I'm speaking of what gets the big push. So that's where I stand. When I was a kid, and this may be why I really feel the need to call it out, rap wasn't the big crossover. So they were mainly speaking to the community. Now I feel like we're being distorted and big labels are profiting off of it while reinforcing the most racist nonsense. The real artists are being marginalized and the ones selling "Look at us fools shooting our guns and thinking that makes us men!" are being shoved down our throats.

Jim: Okay, switching to a minor topic. Sultan e-mailed wanting to know if we had any thoughts on the reduction of the physical size of The New York Times' print edition?

Dona: Let me grab that because I was home last week, I'm calling C.I.'s place home, while everyone was on the road. I find it interesting that the paper knew they would be shrinking their physical size but made no attempt to shrink down their plastic bag the paper comes in with "The New York Times" printed on it. The paper just floats in the bag. A good question could be asked why plastic bags are needed on non-rainy days to begin with, but it needs to be noted that the size reduction of the paper was not accompanied with a size reduction in the plastic bag.

Jim: And I'm going to answer this question that a number of e-mails asked about. Did anyone see all of Woody Allen's films? Nope. Mike answered this question at his site. Ava and C.I. have each seen all but one film -- Ava didn't see Deconstructing Harry, C.I. didn't see Celebrity.
We did it roundtable fashion, if anyone's commenting, they're commenting on a film they've seen. The piece ran very long, in writing and also in length. When we have long pieces like that, we end up with huge problems when it's being typed. Mike explained this as well. These entries are typed in a Blogger/Blogspot screen that allows you to see 14 lines. On long pieces, there is a huge delay the futher in you get between what has been typed and what is displaying.
Along with that delay, it's also true that doing anything in the screen requires a lot more time because it moves slower. Spell check doesn't work beyond the first third of that piece. Those typing, and Ava, C.I. and I typed the bulk of it, couldn't see what was being typed. That's why there was the note that we wouldn't be correcting typos. If there was a factual issue, we would go in to correct, but we weren't going to fix typos. Dona made the editorial decision, which we all supported, that the last phase of the films was worthy of very little attention. That was due to the fact that we have reached "out of space" warnings before and were very likely to reach it on that piece after we'd written it. Finn e-mailed a thing from The Washington Post and wanted our reaction to Barack Obama's dismissal of claims that he is "not Black enough." He is quoted in the piece saying, "It is not because of my physical appearance presumably. It's not because of my track record... I think in part we're still locked in this notion if you appeal to white folks, there must be something wrong."

Betty: It is because of his track record, it is because of his signaling. I would refer anyone to Glen Ford's "Barack Obama: Warmonger" (Black Agenda Report). I would also note that yet again he's broken with his church. Last week, he refused to call for universal marriage rights as his church does. This follows his publicly sidelining his pastor. Though not an issue to all Blacks, it is an issue to some, whether you stand with the church you choose to worship in or not. You can add in that when you sideline your clergy and you take your advice from the White Samantha Power, the war mongering Samantha Power, issues as to whether you, a bi-racial man, are "Black enough" will naturally arise.

Ty: The YouTube 'debate' demonstrated that Barack Obama won't make waves on the issue of sexual orientation. He loves the integration the military was forced to do racially in WWII. He appears to agree that interracial couples should be allowed to marry, the only surprise there was how weak his stance was since he is the product of interracial coupling, but he won't call for equal rights for gays and lesbians with regards to marriage. There's enough cowardice on the issue and I'll note that High Point Church in Texas, the AP reported, cancelled a memorial service for Cecil Howard Sinclair who died in the Iraq war because, according to his sister Kathleen Wright, his obituary noted that his life partner. That's disgusting and the church should be ashamed. They knew he was gay but when it was noted publicly, they had a problem.

Jim: That is disgusting. Wally wanted to note something.

Wally: Totally off topic. "USA Today editorial failed to identify jailed members of Congress as Republicans," "Once again, Fineman looks at Republican failures and sees problems for ... Democrats" and "On Hardball, Cillizza asserted Democrats 'need to prove' they can keep Americans 'as safe as Republicans can'." Those are all items from Media Matters. They were sent to me on Monday. Cedric and I had already done our post and, generally, if it's made it up at Media Matters, it's not a topic we're going to use. It's been dissected already. We're looking to have fun with news. And we're generally looking for the off the wall. Some days, we can't find it and we end up writing a different way. But I never had time this week to work them in when Cedric and I were doing our joint-posts so I thought I'd note them here.

C.I.: Just to jump in. Cedric and Wally are generally addressing a topic that will be one of the big ones the next day. They're not covering what's already been noted throughout the day. Media Matters is a strong resource and, off topic or not, it deserves to get a shout out in the roundtable.

Jim: I'd agree with that. They hit hard and that's needed. While we're noting links in e-mails, there was an e-mail last week noting a Draft McKinney 2008 page, Cynthia McKinney, to run for president. Because it's McKinney, we'll note it even though it's MySpace which we avoid due to it being owned by Murdoch. On the issue of McKinney, Bernice wants to know why we've all been silent on a lawsuit?

Kat: I'll grab that because I'm probably the main reason. You can read about it in "Cynthia McKinney Confronts Corporate Media Malice in Court" (Black Agenda Report). I called Betty when I saw that. I was going to write about it. It mentions the woman who steered the attacks on McKinney repeatedly. Betty loathes that woman and long ago requested that the woman not be linked to or named. So I called Betty and she read over it. While she supports McKinney and thinks the lawsuit is needed, as we all do, we wanted to avoid mentioning the 'reporter' and I think we all felt our hands were tied on that. I spoke to others, including Elaine and Rebecca and Mike, about how to write about it without mentioning the 'reporter's' name. None of us could figure out how. The woman's presented as a 'progressive' and she's not. It's something we took a pass on due to the ban of mentioning that woman's name.

Betty: And I'm the one who asked for that and appreciate that everyone's respected it. If Cynthia McKinney directly mentions the woman, I'd note the quote myself but as it is I find that woman disgusted and never need to hear her name again.

Jim: Staying on e-mails, BIll87 wants to know why there's not been a reply to him from either Elaine or C.I.?

Elaine: Every e-mail doesn't warrant a reply. Sunny handles my e-mails for me. If she didn't feel you needed a reply, you didn't get one. Is this a community member?

C.I.: No, it's a War Hawk. Sunny tries to reply to as many e-mails as possible for Elaine. She frequently will call me, that's no problem, and ask if someone's a community member because she always tries to reply to them. I passed on to her and asked her to notify Elaine of something. We're not replying to everyone these days. That's my imposed thing. Before, it was a matter of time. But I've also instructed Jess, Ava, Martha and Shirley not to reply to anyone they haven't had contact with prior, I'm speaking of people e-mailing The Common Ills public account, without first contacting me. Elaine's the only one participating in this who knows what happened. I'll go into it in very small detail now. If you have questions, it would probably be better off to hold them until after the roundtable. In May, a reply was sent out from The Common Ills. That e-mail was forwarded to The Nation and that's why (a) they thought this site, The Third Estate Sunday Review, did not have an e-mail address posted and (b) why they suddenly show up late on July 2nd about our July 4th planned piece.

Jess: Oh my God, I wrote that e-mail.

C.I.: Yeah. I didn't read it then, I didn't need to. I have read it since thanks to friends at The Nation.

Jess: I'm sorry, I had no idea --

C.I.: Watch the words, I don't want the person named. No, you didn't. And you didn't do anything wrong. When I was told last month about it, I refused to believe it. That's why I was supplied with proof. I think that's disgusting. There's no excuse for that. I referred to it vaugely this week and there was concern after that of "Is it known?" To the one who passed it on: "Yes, it is and you should be ashamed of yourselves. That's not journalism, that's not professionalism and it's cowardice. You can expect to be called out loudly and repeatedly when you screw up and my former approach of never saying anything bad about you is over. You should have e-mailed the second you suspected it was known to apologize." I'm also aware of comments that were made and I find that even more disgusting.

Jim: We're going to be told who the person was after the roundtable?

C.I.: Yes.

Jim: Okay. Well that does explain why, in July, the idiot from The Nation is claiming we don't have an e-mail address posted when we always had except when we did the switch to the template. And that was corrected in May.

Dona: I'm just going to go on the record of saying anyone confused should see Rebecca's site because it's perfectly obvious to me who elected to stab us in the back. If C.I.'s referring to comments supplied to The Nation, that's even more disgusting. It was confusing how we could repeatedly hear from people at the magazine here over and over in the last six months and then someone shows up in an e-mail claiming we didn't have our address posted. As I understand it, and I've gotten very good about reading between the lines, someone wanted to score a few points with The Nation and elected to use Jess to do that. Is that a correct evaluation?

C.I.: It is correct.

Dona: Then I want it made clear that they are now on our watchdog list.

Jim: I'm a little slower than Dona but I'm realizing now who it was and I wonder if he, it was a man, would like it if we posted his e-mails since he elected to pass on Jess' e-mail? I will argue that we should seriously consider doing that. I would further argue that you shouldn't speak of the need for openess while you're also stabbing an independent website in the back.

Jess: I just want to stress that I'm sorry. That person's e-mail and who it was from, made me think, wrongly, that I could speak freely. I feel offended for everyone but also betrayed on a very personal level.

Jim: No one's mad at Jess. We all would have made that mistake. We've got our Labor Day piece planned and I just want to know if anyone's shared that outside this group?

Rebecca: I doubt that's possible. Most of us know the topic but don't know the thing it is hanging around, being hung around. Elaine and C.I. do. And they've both refused to discuss it with me in advance over the phone, in e-mails or face to face. I know I'm the worst at keeping secrets but my guess there's a tight lid on this piece.

Jim: Elaine and C.I.?

Elaine: I haven't spoken of it with anyone except C.I. and we speak in code when we address it. You know the topic, Jim, and so does Dona, Ava, Ty and Jess. I don't know if even Kat does.

Jim: C.I.?

C.I.: I've been asked repeatedly and refused to answer.

Jim: Alright. So look forward to a Labor Day piece that will post at every site and one that is not leaked or known in any way. I really want to be on the record here expressing how offensive I find it that while someone's apologizing to us, they're also running to The Nation to say, "Look, what they've got planned!" We were public about the piece. But the offensive aspect comes in the way the man repeatedly presented himself, and correct me if I'm wrong Rebecca, he did that to you as well, and the way he acted behind our backs.

Rebecca: No, you're not wrong at all. Dona's also correct that any reader of my site knows exactly who the leaker is. I'll also note that apparently my mother-in-law knew as well because last week I was torn between two topics and she steered me towards one. When I said, "Oh, I'm not sure I want to call them out," she told me to call C.I. who agreed that it needed calling out and said, "I'll be doing so tomorrow."

C.I.: Yes, she knew. She heard about it, it was laughed at, at a party she attended. She immediately called me and I explained to her what had happened.

Ava: I'm biting my tongue very firmly but I will note that apparently you can't only not judge a book by it's cover, you can't judge certain organizations by their title. No one blames Jess, I'm sure, but of all the people to stab in the back, I'll note that Jess was their worst choice. The payback for this will be extreme on my part and you can bet on that. I'll be having a long conversation with my father this afternoon on why no one from that outlet needs to be booked and none of their work ever need be noted. I imagine C.I.'s already done the same with network friends.

Jim: And I'll move the conversation along. If I respond to an e-mail these days, I do so in less than three lines. I think our policy here will be if you're not a regular reader or someone who regularly writes, you get no private e-mail from us. Does Ruth know about this?

C.I.: Yeah and it means no Ruth's Report this weekend because she'd already planned what she was writing about and now has no interest in promoting that. And Ava's exactly right, of all of us to betray, Jess was your choice. We'd be angry regardless but in terms of laid back Jess, you really went after the wrong person. The policy Jim is speaking of is the one that we now more or less have in place for The Common Ills.

Jim: I'll note that I have three e-mails I'll be writing to people praising Rebecca and C.I. for something last week. Obviously, that topic is now 'off the table.' Their actions deserve praise and we all felt that way before finding out about Jess being stabbed in the back.

Dona: This is clearly going to be a topic that we are going to explore at length in private because, other than Elaine and C.I., we had no idea until it got brought up in the roundtable so I'm going to be steering us into the book discussion and asking that everyone table their questions and comments on this until after the book discussion. We can pull together an edition with just this, the book discussion, an editorial and the TV feature. But we all want the book feature so hold off on discussing this topic until we've completed that.

Mike: Agreed. But I want something to be clear before we move on. This appeared at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Jess, a part of The Third Estate Sunday Review, was stabbed in the back. The man had better not write to C.I. with a weak ass apology. Writing to the public account of The Common Ills will be read as wanting protection. You deal with the person you stabbed in the back or you keep your cowardly mouth shut.

Jim: Good point. I'm going through other topics, and we had a lot planned but the stab in the back pulls some and also surprises us so I'm little flustered. We can deal with Timmy Howe if anyone wants to weigh in?

Mike: Timmy is the perfect example of abusing the confidentiality policy at The Common Ills. The rest of us don't offer that. It's been repeatedly abused by people writing C.I. to whine about what went up elsewhere. The Nation is the perfect example. Why write C.I. about a piece that was going up at all sites and why ask C.I. to pass on something to begin with. Comments are allowed at Cedric's site. All of our e-mails are posted except Kat who can be reached via The Common Ills and whose title is "Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)." It's a way of hiding. It's a way of getting to spew your hate and then feeling comfortable that no one will ever know how despicable you are.

Wally: And it's offensive to everyone us writing evey time someone goes running to C.I. in order to whine about what one of us wrote. Elaine did a post on something similar not all that long ago ["John Halle, Norman Finkelstein, Ruth Conniff, etc...."] and I'd like her to talk about that.

Elaine: Okay. Norman Finkelstein is someone I support. Ruth Conniff made some comments that he disagreed with while doing a radio interview. I agree with him that the comments were insulting. What I disagree with is that he e-mailed Matthew Rothschild, Conniff's boss, to complain about them. Ruth Conniff is an adult. There's no reason to go to her boss. That's insulting. Matthew Rothschild can answer (or not, his choice) for what he writes. He can even answer (same qualifier) for what appears in The Progressive. What Ruth Conniff shares in a radio interview, comments that have not appeared in The Progressive, are really no business of Rothschild's. Nor should he be drug into the situation. I noted in that post that Conniff does not have a posted e-mail but the website for the magazine does. I also noted that you could write in the subject line "For Ruth Conniff." Or "Attention: Ruth Conniff." There was no reason to bring Rothschild into it. Conniff's an adult and she can answer, if she wants to, for what she said. I think I compared it to me seeing someone at a fast food place taking part in some political action and then me running to complain to their boss at work. I also noted the gender issue involved and how a man was running to another man to complain about a woman while avoiding taking the matter directly to her. I'm glad that the situation or remarks resulted in discussion and debate and think that's healthy; however, I do think it needed to be noted that since Rothschild did not make the remarks and since they did not appear at the website or in print, there was no reason to go running to Conniff's boss to complain about her. I tied that into the ones who run to C.I. to complain about us and I think we've all been 'tattled' on at some point. It's insulting.

Wally: I agree with what you wrote and what you just said 100%.

Mike: And I could be wrong but I believe Rebecca is the most tattled on so she should probably talk about this.

Rebecca: A centrist organization that exists to dismantle things such as Social Security was presented as a left organization by The New York Times. I posted about it. They have a position paper arguing for the privatization of Social Security online. It's lengthy and contains a disclaimer that, fair use be damned, it cannot be quoted from without the centrist's organizations express permission. Not being able to quote from it, I zoomed in on the membership. I noted the tacky eighties wardrobe of one woman and other things like that and also included that a man looked like his mommy had slapped a bowl over his head to give him a hair cut. The man went running to C.I. I believe this was the first time, it was far from the last.
I was so mean and so unfair. In talking about his haircut. He didn't give a damn about other insults I'd hurled at his peers. He posed for a professional picture and the picture's posted online. Fair game. Get the hell over it. Now he didn't write me to complain. He wrote C.I. This is in early 2005. Hey cry baby, my e-mail was not only posted on my profile, I frequently typed into posts. It's insulting. They go whining to C.I. because of C.I.'s policy which is not supposed to provide cover to attacks on us. If he'd sent me that e-mail, I would've posted it and responded. As Elaine has. He knew that and wanted to whine and moan. It's happened since. That was the first time and at some point I shared that story with everyone participating because someone's gone whining about them to C.I. and they can't understand why a grown up would e-mail C.I. about something that C.I. didn't write, didn't crosspost and didn't even link to. It's happened many times since but the first time was a real shock, to be tattled on. I actually think Kat should share her own experience here because it's probably the most offensive.

Kat: I noted that Bob Dylan was not the Lord savior Jesus Christ. I linked to a column praising him. I gave the link thinking I was being supportive. The motto in this community is that we don't link to trash. The next day, I've got this angry e-mail from this man. He's insisting that I've distorted him. I had maybe one sentence about him -- the title and link of his column. He wants this and he wants that. And he's screaming. I tell him, "Write what you want and I will post it at my site." Which he kind of did. He wrote what he wanted posted but not as if he wrote it, he wanted me to post this apology and mistake coming from me. He wanted me to take his "I was so wrong" writing and act like it was my own. First of all, I wasn't wrong. I had planned to note that he disagrees, post his response and then say, "Here's the link again. Read it yourself and make up your own mind." He would not accept that I would not pass off his words as my own. I wouldn't do that under any circumstance but I certainly wouldn't pass off groveling as my own words -- and I don't think anyone would have believed they were my words. It became this huge thing because members were aware of it and were writing the site in question. Then the woman in charge of the site slammed me publicly. Now let's be really clear on what happened.

C.I.: Yes, let's be clear. I've got what you posted. You didn't even address the post. You were commenting on the people leaving comments at the site. The man who was so enraged by what you wrote wasn't even the subject or focus of your post. You were weighing in on the comments left to the man's post.

Kat: That's right! I'd forgotten that. We're dropping back to something like December of 2005 here. And he thought he could show up and bully me into posting words he'd written as my own where I basically said, "Bernie is a god. I was wrong to ever doubt it." We're talking several paragraphs here. By the way, that's when I closed off that e-mail account and started using the public account for The Common Ills. It was an all week thing with Bernie bullying repeatedly every day. Until the woman in charge of the site stepped in, I'd been nice. It may not had been the kind of groveling Bernie is used to but I don't grovel. Then she steps in and also wants to tell C.I. that I was rude.

C.I.: I read all of Kat's e-mails after that, with her permission obviously because she had a hotmail account posted at that point, and Kat wasn't rude at all. She'd told him things like he has a sharp eye and a passion for music and that she shared the passion. She firmly explained repeatedly that she would not post any words written by him as if they were her own. Possibly that was how she was rude? Meanwhile, not only is Bernie bullying a woman to force her to retract her own words, he's also trying to strip away her voice. So when that woman offered a grossly distroted version of it at her site, I went public by stating in an entry at The Common Ills, "Cut off all contact with that site." I had stayed out of it in terms of taking any public position because Kat's a grown up and can fight her own battles. But after that, I did weigh in because no feminist should ever be pleased with a man bullying a woman into retracting her own opinion and putting up his words as if they were her own.

Kat: And I had to ask C.I. to stay out of it. See that's what's really confusing when this happens. You've just been tattled on and you're trying to figure out the whole thing and it's bad enough that you were tattled on but you're trying to figure it out and you don't want to go "Protect me, C.I., protect me!"

Wally: You're leaving out one thing. In addition to everything you're describing, Bernie also trashed you online and also misquted you, in quotes.

Kat: Oh, that's right. Yeah, and if he didn't know the quote was wrong, he knew when I pointed it out in e-mail replies to him. He refused to correct it.

C.I.: Maria and Martha also pointed it out both in comments at that site and in e-mails to the woman running that site. The woman elected to dismiss the fact that her site had an error, which made Kat come off in a bad light as intended, as unimportant.

Kat: So he couldn't put words into my mouth at my own site so he did so at the site he writes for. I'm going to be really honest here because we're talking about what happens to you when this is done. I didn't ask C.I. to stand up for me but I also wasn't sure it would happen. Now since then, we've repeatedly seen C.I. blow off any links so we know it's not an issue. So maybe it's different today. But this was a woman who self-presented as a feminist and I wasn't sure that between her and me, C.I. wouldn't feel torn. So there's a chance that you will feel alone. I mean, honestly, if it weren't for that woman, I would've written Bernie back with, "Wah, wah, big cry baby, get a life." I had no factual errors. He didn't like my opinion, get over it. But C.I. gets dragged into it before I'm even advised there's a problem and there were moments that week when I wondered about how much support I would have if I told Bernie off. Now all I had heard from C.I. was something like, "Kat, you've got some e-mail complaining. Could you check your account." But I went over that and over that as Bernie was e-mailing repeatedly trying to figure out what would happen if I said, "Go screw yourself."

Mike: Which is what you should have said.

Kat: And what I normally would have said. So the whole tattling thing is belitting and it's cowardly.

Cedric: And it really is cowardly. I've been tattled on to. C.I. asked me if I wanted to see it. I said sure and it got sent. I ignored it, this was after Kat's whole experience so I did like Kat suggested and just ignored it. Then the guy writes me directly a month later wanting to whine again. I started my site on Blogdrive and then moved it over to Blogger/Blogspot. I repost at Blogdrive and that's where the UK Computer Gurus set up the backup site for The Common Ills. A lot of you may not know this, like The Nation?, but you don't need to go to a profile to get my e-mail address. You don't need to go C.I.'s profile or the "The e-mail address for this site . . ." message is to e-mail C.I. At Blogdrive, right up the top, you click on "Contact me" and are taken to a form page where you can type up your e-mail. On our end, when we get those, we know they were from people using the mirror site because the titles of the e-mail says so.

C.I.: The subject heading reads "Contact Form" and the return address is ""

Cedric: Right. So the guy's griping again and whining. I reply back with a link to my site on Blogger/Blogspot and note that he can post his comment there. He never does. They just want to whine in private. Heaven forbid anyone find out what little babies the all mighty press is. But the points Elaine made are valid ones. If you've got a problem and you're a grown up, take it to the person you have a problem with. Don't drag others into it. In the case of the person Jess replied to, why were they even writing The Common Ills? Once again, this was something that had never gone up at The Common Ills. To this date, the problem the person had with what was being said -- and it was rightly said -- was never a topic at The Common Ills and was never mentioned, to this day, by C.I. So why the heck are they dragging C.I. into it? And another issue I want everything to think about is about links. I'm glad Wally noted MediaMatters. I know that was bothering him. But I'm honestly real tired of those who want links but do nothing in return. You call me up and say, "My car's in the shop, could you give me a ride to work?" I'm going to give you a ride to work. Unless it turns out that I've done that before but you've never attempted to help me out.

Jess: Dona's passed me a note saying this is almost over and I haven't spoken enough so let me jump in on a similar note. If you're sending links, get it together. I'm referring to one mainstream daily paper, not The New York Times, not The Washington Post, which wants links and e-mails the public account of The Common Ills constantly. First, they didn't know how to do links so their links were wrong. Then they got that right but they're giving out the wrong links. C.I.'s on the phone with two different editors at that paper asking, "What have you got? Do you have anything?" They spell the links out to C.I. over the phone so I'm guessing those are the links the paper wants linked to -- the print edition of those stories, not early web postings. Now this has been going on for about a year now and three Sundays ago, C.I. finally replied to the one or ones sending out the links stating that two different sets were being used. It was a nice e-mail but I heard it, C.I. checked it with all of us, as, "Hint, hint, if you are getting the links you're requesting at other sites, you're cutting into an article's page ranking because editors and search engines pull up the print edition and you're promoting these other web addresses." Three weeks later, the e-mail still comes in each day from that paper and each day they are requesting links for the wrong pages. The paper is trying to create a strong online presence and that's not happening when one group of reporters are saying "link to this" and giving page B while editors are telling C.I. over the phone to link to page A -- the print edition. I'm glad that they're trying to get the word out on their stories but they are shooting themselves in the foot by not knowing what they are doing or, for that matter, what other parts of the paper are doing.

Jim: Of course I know what paper that is. C.I. has a friend who toys with the thought of buying it. But just to clear it up before anyone thinks the paper gets off easy, C.I. has critiqued their coverage in a negative manner when it's been required and, in fact, did so last week.

Dona: This roundtable has gone nothing like anyone expected other than the starting point. I want to shut down the discussion with C.I. talking about the public account because Jess asked me to do that.

C.I.: I'm in the dark here. In terms of what?

Jess: In terms of people e-mailing to get things noted.

C.I.: Gotcha. There was a time when a known Murdoch paper outside of Australia wouldn't get noted. There are few reporters in Baghdad, even in the Green Zone, so these days we'll go with whatever. That's usually what I've found by phone calls or what members have noted. In the morning, I'm going back and forth between the private accounts and the public account while juggling the phones trying to find things on Iraq. If it's Iraq related, it has a better chance of being noted. Jess is, I'm assuming, referring to all the articles on presidential candidates that have been noted repeatedly of late. We're not a horse race site. Is the candidate talking about Iraq in the piece you're sending? If not, it goes right in the trash. Is the candidate talking seriously about Iraq? If so, it may get mentioned. But almost anything that's in the morning posts comes from friends I've called, members who have e-mailed or regular visitors who have e-mailed. I'm spending about two hours on those. A lot of that is cornering whomever I've got on the phone and saying, "This thing in" another outlet "doesn't make sense. Walk me through it." I do not have time to read all the e-mails that have arrived that morning or overnight. If you send something and it's not immediately noted, you can remind about it, it won't hurt, but you don't need to send the angry e-mails. It's probably a good idea, I'm thinking of one angry e-mail last week, to also check the site before you write those angry e-mails. There was one last week complaining that I didn't highlight the story passed on. I didn't in the morning entries. I did in the Iraq snapshot later that day. Is that what you wanted Dona?

Dona: Yes, because it's going to take another person soon to help with all the e-mails at the public account. Jess was telling me that last week and I told him I'd be happy to help out some.
And also on that, someone mentioned earlier who worked the e-mails. I don't believe Eli's name got mentioned. I might have just missed it. But to give credit where it's due, Eli is the oldest of any member in the community. He's a wise voice and one that we all respect. So let's note that he does work the accounts for C.I. as well.

Jim: And on that note, the roundtable is officially over.
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