Sunday, July 08, 2007

Truest statement of the week

At this point, the main issue is modeled behaviors, organization skills and leadership. Students are no longer waiting for independent media to provide any of that. They grew impatient, as anyone would. Those of us no longer young America should be able to remember our impatience, and as much as Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A'Changing" continues to be quoted today, you'd think the older adults could grasp it (and grasp that they have gone from the ones who wished those not lending a hand would get out of the way to becoming the ones very much in the way). That's become the reality of today.

-- C.I., "And the war drags on . . ." What does it take to make "Truest statement of the week"? In this case, 21 impassioned e-mails from students all selecting this. (We suspect Goldie organized the e-mails. We could be wrong.)

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Long, long edition.

Let's get credit out of the way:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
and Wally of The Daily Jot

Thank you to those helping out. Thank you to Dallas.

It was a tech plagued edition. Less links, no art. We meant to put in the TV illustration and will at some point.

Let's get to what's up.

Truest statement of the week -- We listen to students (five of us are students!). We heard you.

Editorial: Meet Ross Spears -- I'm scared to make a predicition. I (Jim) did last week and, sadly, it came true.

TV: Global Boring -- "OMG!" as Mike would say. I'm tired. Everyone's about to fall over. This may be all I write about. Ava and C.I. planned this to be a blow off week. They've been trying to keep it low key since the May commentary that got so, so much attention. This week was going to be The George Lopez Show. Put an actor and a rock star on the phone demanding they cover this (as well as other friends) and they set Lopez aside. Epic? It's like the Beowolf of TV commentaries! (Ava and C.I. insist I come up with a different comparison. I'm having trouble thinking right now, too tired.) This is epic and beyond. First, we watched with them. We heard them talking on the phone, we heard the one liners. It was hilarious. Ava had 14 pages of notes and C.I. had 14 and 1/3. They did not include all their notes when they finally got down to writing. (Tracey, Ruth's granddaughter, called dibbs on the notes and, reading over them, said, "Oh, this was good too!" A lot of funny lines fell by the wayside to make it workable.) So they're funny and will make you laugh. What else? Okay, they cover Live Earth. They inform you of why the big names stayed away. (You did notice that, right?) They discuss issues of bravery and zoom in on Melissa Etheridge who came out six or so years after everyone knew. They then go into the issue of closeted gays and lesbians and drop a few historical refs. (Who is Frank McCarthy? I did not know the name before this commentary.) They call out self-promotion. They call out shoving governmental responsiblities off as personal ones. And it's funny. If you doubt it, FYI, they're writing about Madonna again. Check it out.

Roundtable -- Longer than Dona wanted but we all could have gone on for at least twice this length.

Got a feeling that you're playing some game with m... -- Okay, we were supposed to name all pieces except Highlights and Ava and C.I.'s commnetary after songs by the Mamas and the Papas. I forgot and messed that up on an earlier one. Got it right here and on the rest.

A bit of free advice (vice, vice) We'll tell it t... -- We don't need your stinkin' advice, Nation magazine!

Get on your pony and ride, Get on your pony and ri... -- Well, they really can't get a high horse, now can they? Get on your pony and ride. Get on your pony . . .

Boys & Girls . . . have a good time together -- Part of our "Sense of Purpose" series.

That's leadership on Iraq? -- Here's where I screwed up and forgot we'd picked out Mamas and Papaps songs for our titles this edition.

Those wonderful Republicans -- Short piece! cried Dona. And for once that actually happened.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Wally, Cedric and Betty wrote this. We thank them for it.

What's going on? We're almost finished. Notice t... -- look at that feature and find the title. One of our biggest problems was that we couldn't put in titles in Blogger/Blogspot. We had to mail them in then take all we'd written and slap it on to that page. It was so long. We are so tired. That's the short story.

That's it, we're about to fall over. See you next week.

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

Editorial: Meet Ross Spears

Meet Ross Spears. Who is Ross Spears?

He's 19 years-old. He signed up for the military.

And most of all, he doesn't exist.

He doesn't exist if you believe All Things Media Big and Small which tells you that (a) the resistance within the US military isn't leading to self-checkouts and (b) the only ones who do self-checkout are doing so because they have suffered from PTSD.

That's the media line. AP recently endorsed it and, goodness, if that story didn't get republished everywhere including at some left sites.

The story was nonsense but why call out the AP unless they're writing about White Water or gushing over Bully Boy, right?

Resistance within the military, oh, that's just too minor of a topic.

Only it's not. The growing movement, already large, continues to grow. And each time one of those stories comes out saying there really isn't resistance within the military (it's cute how they all avoid mentioning NPR's reporting that found the US Army was releasing 'official figures' that were incorrect), reality smacks it in the face. (For more on this, see "Editorial: War Resistance Is All Around" which includes links to the NPR story.)

But how many people are paying attention?

Did you see anything last thing on Iraq Veterans Against the War? If so, you were probably wading through the mainstream media. Where was independent media?

In last week's "A Note to Our Readers," this appeared:

Editorial: War Resistance Is All Around -- Adam Kokesh and Liam Madden have been very busy since Friday morning. Who's going to note it? Who's going to note the fact that another war resister who went to Canada has gone public? We won't hold our breaths waiting.

So does Jim have egg on his face (for writing that) or not? Or not.

And here's the really appalling thing. When Jim wrote that, Adam Kokesh, Liam Madden and Nate Lewis had only felt the strong arm of the alleged law on the Friday before last. After Jim's comment posted? A similar routine would play out at Fort Benning. But someone decided that wasn't news. (Last week was basically All Scooter All The Time for indymedia.)

Iraq Veterans Against the War are completing their summer base tour today. They're wrapping at 4:00 pm in New York at Fort Drum.

You won't meet Ross Spears, you will meet a lot of veterans who want to end the illegal war. You can say thank you for the service. Not that lame Baby Cries a Lot, "Thank you for your service." You don't need to lick any crotch just because it's covered in camo. You can thank them for their service to the county: trying to end the illegal war.

That really is what to thank for. Following orders? That's really easy. Anyone can go along. Taking a stand for what you know is right? You're going to get creamed, slammed and more. It takes guts and IVAW took it out on the road with their bus tour. That's dedication and that's strength.

Maybe that's why independent media shyed away? Didn't want to be reminded of what they possess less and less these days?

TV: Global Boring

NBC decided to broadcast three hours of Live Earth Saturday. As opposed to the usual Dead One? We were going to skip the musical wax works, we actually weren't even aware it was airing. Everyone knows not to bore us with pseudo activism. At least we thought that was the case. Two calls, out of many, persuaded us. So Al Snore's back and NBC had him. Three hours of remedial television dedicated to global warming but playing out like global boring taught audiences at least two things.

First, those School House Rock skits are still highly under-rated. Hearing Whoopi Goldberg and William Shatner do factoids and helpful bits in voice overs proved how hard it was to pull off School House Rock. The second thing that the audiences learned was that NBC isn't, after all, afraid to broadcast the F-word. FCC be damned, apparently.

There were other bits of news, for instance, Bon Jovi announced their retirement in a faux country song, "Farewell to mediocrity." Without mediocrity, what does the one time hair-pop band have? Besides, of course, Heather Locklear's pancake make up that Richie Sambora apparently got custody of and is intent upon wearing. We called an actress who was once involved in JBJ and she explained the desperation factor that has destroyed the (newly countrified) band. Jon, even as a janitor, never knew who he was. He still doesn't. When you make someone like that the band leader, there's always going to be trouble. Step away from the stage slowly, no sudden movements.

Be careful, also, when you worship at the feet of Al Gore -- there will be trouble. Of course, to get there, you'll have to kick Melissa Etheridge out of the way. As the cameras began to move in, one of us said, "Tom Petty looks awful." The other said, "I just saw Petty last month, that's not him." It was Melissa. Last week, Rebecca came up with the bit about Etheridge's career being over and we disagreed with that but agreed it was possible and, besides, it was funny. Well Rebecca built her fortune in the public relations business. We should have listened. Obviously NBC did. Which is why Melissa's face-time was reduced to this: "Now I want to introduce to you my hero and my friend" Al Gore!!!! No song broadcast from Etheridge, despite Al thanking her for that "amazing and brilliant wake up call."

A Melissa Etheridge story. Many years ago, when David Geffen still owned Geffen Records, there was a disgusting excuse for man-flesh who creeped everyone out. He was a sexist pig, not all that uncommon in that or any period of the music industry, and when he finally was shown the door, there were no tears. One of us (C.I.) bumped into him shortly after and there was an awkward moment before he finally said he was really into this new act: Melissa Etheridge. Since he reduced all women to the T&A scale this was surprising. Well, he explained, it was different with Melissa, looks didn't matter because she was a lesbian. Point?

Melissa Etheridge was never in the closet in the industry and the bulk of her fan base were also in on her "little secret" long before she finally got the guts to say "Yes I Am" well over a decade ago. Note, not, "I am." She merely confirmed what was well known. Five years after she became a name so, possibly, in 2008, she may find the courage to publicly call out the illegal war she opposes. Maybe not. The nonsense of 'bravery' with regards to Melissa is laughable. (And the only one who laughs louder than we do may be k.d.)

What is it, wondered one of the two phone callers who got us to review, this nonsense, about closeted lesbians that attracts them to easy causes? Because, he's right, there are a number of them pimping for Al Gore. We have no idea why. During the Red Scare of the 50s, closeted gays and lesbians in the entertainment world were overwhelmingly apathetic. That might have had to do with the fact that the Communist Party officially frowned on gays and lesbians. Or it may have been because when people are being targeted, those with something else to hide go out of their way to appear 'normal' to the point of bland.

Think of the hilarity involved in Frank McCarthy's life. Mamie and Ike's boy, as well as Truman's, went to Hollywood and became a studio censor -- a field he had a long history in having censored his own sexuality from public knowledge -- though J. Edgar Hoover's knowledge of it reportedly killed military boy McCarthy's ascension to the State Department.

But as our non-moss gathering friend (and he prefers that billing for this column to "rock legend") also wondered, "What is ____'s obsession with making closeted lesbians into stars? He's been doing that for decades. I go down on women too, didn't make ___ [the label] treat me any better." [Note: We cleaned that quote up.]

We were on the phone with him after the half-way point (when we were so ready for the ending) and laughing as Roger Waters, singing for the environment supposedly, performed "Another Brick In the Wall." We don't know if it was the "We don't need no education" line (isn't that more of a John Stossel mantra?) or if it was the fact that Waters looked and grinned (throughout the song) like an aged David Cassidy, but it was hilarious.

Our caller, like most of the name acts with enduring legacies, elected to sit out the Al Gore celebration. That's due to a number of reasons including the fact that Al Gore's pro-nuclear and coal energy. The crowd that stood up to say No Nukes isn't going to show up for any politician selling nuclear energy. NBC will, of course. The network worked in multiple shout outs to their own light bulb products. But no rock legends were going to sully their reputations by schilling for Al Gore.

Which is why the whole thing played out like a really bad (read White bread) TV music special from the 60s. For those who never saw them (or forgot them), you'd get your generic, middle of the road host (think Dinah Shore) with a group of "names" that had no street heat. For us, Live Earth was The Tennesse Ernie Ford Special with Danny Thomas, The Dillards, Andy Griffith and Diana Ross & the Supremes. That special aired in 1967 and all the acts were tired by 1965 if not sooner.

Now there are other reasons the names stayed away. There is, after all, the Tipper Gore issue. For those too young to remember, power drummer Tipper co-launched the witch hunt of the music industry in the eighties which led to stickering and censorship. You don't come back from that. No matter how hard you try, you don't come back. Which is why, in the early years of Bill Clinton's presidency, the big gossip in the music industry wasn't whom Clinton might be sleeping with but how closely Tipper was watching "E" and making sure "E"'s claim to fame remained picking out a tie for one of Gore's debates. You can't attack an industry and not suffer fall out. And just because your own life goes so pathetic doesn't mean you're forgiven. Not when your wife confesses to severe depression, not when you prove how spineless you are by refusing to fight for a presidency you won and not when your 24-year-old son barrels through the armpit of California, at 100 miles per hour, baked on pot and with enough pharmaceuticals to open a mobile CVS.

There really is no comeback but Al Gore likes to pretend otherwise. He trots out that annoying voice (which is actually a great deal like Dr. Phil's) and expects to ride the sympathy factor. Ann Curry, in a sit down interview with Gore, tried repeatedly to get an answer from him ("yes or no") as to whether he was planning to run for president in 2008? He refused to give an answer ("yes or no") and stammered and hammered on in the manner that irritated so many during the 2000 campaign.

So there was more than a little bit of karmic justice when, in a segment from Tokyo, Linkin Park was first bleeped in "Bleed It Out" but went on to clearly rap, "F**k this hurts, I won't lie. Doesn't matter how hard I try." The f-word wasn't bleeped. Oh, Tipper, did you cry? What about the children? What about the children!!!!

Al Gore explained (repeatedly -- as always with Al, never say it just once when you can instead belabor the point) that "the largest global audience" ("in all of history") was watching Live Earth. Which means a number of children were. Can Tipper help us out with what parental warning we should slap on the show for the Linkin Park bit?

Ann Curry also sat down with Sting and Trudie and this was instructive. Trudie, in response to a generic question about the environmental problems in Ecuador, began discussing the rates of cancer and noted that the problems were caused by Chevron dumping "18 billion gallons of toxic waste." Curry, who slouched and slumped throughout the broadcast in a silky number, immediately had to insist, "You know Chevron says the Ecuadorian oil company is actually responsible." After that childish nah-nah-nah moment, Curry then quickly switched the topic to 'personal stories.' She wanted to hear personal stories.

And that's really why this three hours of broadcast crap should have come with a sticker warning (and why so many names boycotted it). This isn't about responsibility, this is about consumerism. Two other sit downs (one with 'consumer reporter' Ann Thompson, the other with Mike Bloomberg) allowed NBC/G.E. to promote G.E. light bulbs. But it was on display throughout the broadcast. The environment can be saved if you -- and apparently only you -- will do your part. Rosario Dawson, introducing Kanye West, actually managed to break from that script (and the script was enforced according to two people who participated in Live Earth) noting, "If we all vote with our pocket books and vote with our ballots" we could solve the problem. For that minor straying from the script, Dawson was bad mouthed. The ones who deserve to be bad mouthed are all the dead and dying celebrities that continually promoted the environmental problems as something to be fixed by just stocking your homes more wisely.

It also needs to be noted that every commercial break ended with a plea for you to text (on a cell phone) a message. Where do the cell phones end up and what is necessary for their manufacture? Those are environmental issues but the feel-good nonsense wasn't interested in that. By texting words like "home" and "share" you could "Do your part and answer the call and," most important apparently, "you may get your name on TV." "Join others around the world," the same annoying segment noted but we didn't see "others around the world" listed in the crawl during the musical performances. We saw a lot of California, a lot of Florida, some Texas, some New Jersey, Puerto Rico (which is a US territory) and, once, Dublin. Those segments (which again, were broadcast after every commercial break though they weren't supposed to be, themselves, commercials) always ended by noting, "Standard message rates apply."

Big Business was all on board with this special. It's the perfect message for them: If everyone would just buy (more expensive) light bulbs, we could end environmental pollution!

We believe in global warming and believe the cause is man-made; however, we're not so stupid to believe that the toxic air so many of us now breathe came about due to individuals.

The special repeatedly broadcast it was up to you to fix the problems that you have caused but "you" was a funny sort of plural that never included Big Business. (Needless to say, the words "Hudson River" were never mentioned on a G.E. aired special.) While individuals can make a difference with the choices they make, it's also true that until Big Business (and, no, Bloomberg, the taxi cab industry in NYC is not Big Business) is forced to stop polluting, individuals taking actions in their own homes are merely slowing global warming, they are not preventing it. And the special, the alleged environmental special, had no time to address that. (Again, Trudie raised that very real issue and was shut down by Ann Curry and told to stick to 'personal stories.')

So what were the performances like? It's interesting to think of Live Aid because that was twenty-two years ago. Live Aid had its faults including the under-representation of people of color. The promoters boasted, in the week before the concert, that Teddy Pendergrass had been 'added' to the line up. What they failed to note was that no time had been added for him. Valerie Simpson and Nick Ashford -- Ashford & Simpson -- brought him on as their guest and shared their allotted time with him. That was also a segment that ABC didn't choose to air in their primetime coverage. (MTV aired the entire thing. Many UHF stations carried it throughout the day.) Tina Turner (riding her amazing comeback) was a guest of Mick Jagger's for his solo spot. Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin were guests of Hall & Oates during Darrell Hall and John Oates' spot. Last night, NBC's selected bits deemed worth airing were no better than the record ABC sat twenty-two years ago.

While people of color were in short supply, you saw plenty of boobs. In fact, in the NJ broadcasts, you saw breasts so often that you'd be forgiven for wondering if a hungry two-month old baby was working the cameras. Apparently the subtext was that braless women, by bouncing up and down in stadiums, will cool the earth and halt global warming. Someone should tell them that because they looked to be short on clues. It takes a lot of dumb to be grinning as you lip synch the phrase "Waiting for the world to change" or as you jump and down, grinning like an idiot, while you mouth the words "Blood in the water."

The latter is from the Dave Matthews Band's "Don't Drink The Water." It's not an "up" song, it's a song that's supposed to be about the destruction of the land and Native American culture at the hands of empire. Throughout the special, as various celebs kept going on about how much awareness was being raised, we flashed back on the two grinning women mouthing lyrics to that song and decided that even with regards to awareness the concert had failed. In fairness to the big breasted but small brained duo, it needs to be noted that the audience was grinning throughout the song (and swaying) as if they were filming a Pepsodent commercial. Even Dave Matthews himself started to grin while singing this song about the rape of the land and the destruction of a people. He caught himself, stared down at the stage for a bit as he composed himself, and then returned to performing it solemn faced.

For all the chubby chasers out there, Dave Matthews didn't appear to be wearing underwear. That wasn't noticed in a tight close up because men were always in wide shots (such as John Mayer, Kanye West, etc.) or in a tight close up of the face. The camera work was so consistently bad in NY*, in fact, that we wondered if those filming grasped just how popular Flea is? (A lot more popular and a lot more interesting than the ever aging Anthony wearing a shift-sheet-caftan to hide the weight gain.) The cameras were, however, all over Shakira whose biggest misfortune was in performing in a venue with bad sound (Hamburg). Even with the sound going in and out, Shakira managed to prove she was this century's Charo. Before she even began singing "Hips Don't Lie," she'd already lifted her blouse to the cheers from the crowd (it wouldn't be the last time she'd do that). She squealed "Ewww!" a lot while thrusting her chest and squinching up her face. Apparently, that's her version of "Coochie-coochie-coo!" She was followed around on stage by a man who repeatedly grabbed at her ass. The really sad thing, when you think about it, is that Shakira's paying the man and paying him to treat her like a piece of meat.

Other bad performances included the Foo Fighters -- which may or may not be redundant but it is certainly not surprising. Dave Grohl, the drummer who never knew his place, dedicated his one (aired) song to Al Gore. The song itself? The same quite-loud-quiet-loud crap he's been churning out for years. As always, Foo Fighters came off like a really lame Nirvana tribute band. Dave, the Horseshoe in Shreveport is calling,

There was also Al Gore before the crowd and Gore is no Hillary Clinton. Where she can energize, he can only lull. He was reciting a seven-point (no, we are not making that up) pledge. (For any wondering, the pledge did not include "Talk to your kids about drugs.") In the midst of an alleged music festival. He was so huge that the audience might not have recognized him and, possibly, that fear may be why he recited a pledge by himself -- rushing through and never giving the audience time to respond.

Kelly Clarkson should have taken Al's lead. Performing one of her many bad rip-offs of No Doubt circa the 90s, Clarkson repeatedly snapped, "Yeah, yeah! Sing it!" Despite holding the mike out to the stadium, no one really did. Did Clarkson know she was supposed to go on? She was dressed as though she stumbled by on her way to Sack and Save and if those (overly) touted American Idol pipes can't get in front of that din of that (bad) music, she needs to step aside. Kanye West needed someone to take him aside and explain that a cap might work in the clubs but, in a stadium, it only hides your face and pisses off the people who've paid to see you.

London and the US were 'important.' They got many segments. (Others got only one, such as Rio which got one segment that ended while the song was still being performed -- Lenny Kravitz and the song was "Let Love Rule.")

To telegraph that it was a world event, they assembled a couple of minutes from various locations that contained several different acts playing. From the clips, it appeared that all the other concerts were far more interesting. In Australia, Jack Johnson effortlessly created the feel Dave Matthews has to work up a heavy sweat just to approximate. That clip ended with Crowded House, still the most melodic male group to come along in years, performing an amazing version of their 80s classic "Don't Dream It's Over" which, pay attention Clarkson, the audience actually sang along with. The other clips? Apparently NBC feels that no one cares about people from countries where English isn't the main language. That would explain the fact that none of the artists (briefly) shown in the Shanghai or Koyto clips were billed. It's a global event! Starring the US! And a few we don't care about enough to even name!

In London, the low was Metallica (which appeared to have borrowed the grinning, high energy performance style of the Go-Gos). The camera mugging was so bad even Duran Duran couldn't take bottom 'honors'. The high was the Black Eyed Peas. Leave it to,, Taboo, and Fergie to show more guts than supposed (middle of the road) artists. There song noted that there are terrorists in the United States (more reality than any one else could muster) and Fergie has vocal power. Even holding the mike out to the audience, you could clearly hear her vocals. (London was not the worst sound -- Hamberg and Rio were -- but it was bad. Fergie overcame it.)

Strangest moment in the entire broadcast? Chris Rock, introducing the Red Hot Chili Peppers, noted, "Every day in Jamaica, a little baby bursts into flames." If you're scratching your head over that (delivered sincerely) remark, so are we.

Which brings us to the reason we watched in the first place. No, not to see Alicia Keys' gut and take part in the is-she-pregnant rumors (she's not). On the phone, an actor we've quoted in these before, told us we had to watch what was then airing, already airing, because Madonna was on. She had told him she thought our last take was "a little funny." Actually, Madge has said a few unprintables about what we wrote and we embrace that and any other sign of life in the otherwise tired persona that currently is Madonna. To others, she's cautioned that we better stay away from her stomping grounds which struck us as cute because (a) we generally don't visit the retirement community in Florida and (b) when you peaked in 1991, you really don't have any stomping grounds to claim.

But the actor assured us that Madonna thought our previous commentary on her was "a little funny" and that she said she'd really worked hard building her performance for Live Earth. When we wondered if his wife knew how closely in contact he (still) was with Madonna, he laughed but had to go.

What the hell, how bad could it be. We turned on the TV.

We gave her credit for wearing all black (especially after the outfit from her last special) but we were puzzled. Not by the limp wrist pose she repeatedly used. (We're sure some Madonna freak will find shades of meaning in that and write many dissertations on it.) It wasn't the fact that her entire act seemed to consist of posing. This is Madonna and she is getting long in the tooth.

What puzzled us was how Jennifer Grey, with her original nose, ever became a sex symbol in the first place? That was who Madonna reminded us of. She has bangs now. And the nose didn't look pretty. Had she, we wondered, finally reached the stage where well maintained would no longer be able to pass for "pretty"?

We enjoyed her vocals -- both the live bits and the pre-recorded ones. She performed "Hung Up," a minor hit in the Madonna canon -- but minor hits are apparently all that's left from the woman who once shook and shocked the world. These days, the little bits of walking around the stage caused her to pant in the mike and, no, not intentionally as in "Burning Up." We especially enjoyed one vocal bit she did on the word "you" when her voice warbled and went round and round the note without ever finding it.

That was when we turned on the broadcast. Anything before that we missed. But we were able to see Madonna again near the end and that was a good thing. She was not like Jennifer Grey at all. She'd changed her clothes, fluffed her hair and, looking at her then, we realized we were wrong. She's Bette Davis. After the slide. Well, she's always changing looks and personas. The hair style is actually the poodle -- which Davis favored in films like Dead Ringers. After we grasped that, we wondered how many realized Madonna's actually older now than Davis was when Warner Brothers washed their hands of her?

Our favorite musical bit in this performance (of "Hey You") was when she, all by herself, sang "Hey you" in a vocal style that can only be described as "curdled." We found it fitting that, at Live Aid, she performed the then unreleased "Love Makes The World Go Round" while, at Live Earth, she performed "Hey You." One festival addressed world concerns, the other tried to push pollution as an individual problem.

Madonna didn't close Live Aid and, sign of the times?, she didn't close Live Earth either. NBC closed their broadcast proper with the Police. "Message in the Bottle" was the song and it went smoothly enough at the beginning. Sting was over-miked resulting in a sort of Sting with the Police type sound but Sting was the only one who ever mattered in the group to begin with and still is. Apparently wanting some sort of jam to go out on, John Mayer and others joined them onstage. Most didn't harm the song. Then Kanye West strode onstage. If, over Sting's singing, you need to hear West chant "S.O.S. S.O.S. S.O.S. S.O.S. S.O.S." then you might have been happy. If, in the middle of Sting singing the third verse, something inside craved you Kanye shouting "Yeah! Yeah!" over and over, you might have been ecstatic. And we'll assume you then reached climax as Kanye went into "Uh, uh, uh" and tossed out tired lines about waving your hands "like you just don't care."

But for those who really didn't see "Message in the Bottle" as a rap song or a song that needed Kanye yelling over Sting's vocals, take heart. Kanye was present at Live Earth last night. In spirit, if not body, he was also present at Live Aid. As he chanted, "Hey, hey, hey, hey . . ." at one point, we realized he was, in fact, giving a shout out to Live Aid and trying to recreate the magic of the MTV telecast when Martha Quinn thought the audience tuning in wanted to hear her and not the acts on stage.

But even with Kanye West and interviewer Carson Daily trying their best to keep the flame alive for Martha Quinn, there were still too many differences. Live Aid offered memorable moments from Ashford & Simpson and Teddy Pendergrass, Mike Jagger and Tina Turner, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Pretenders, Run DMC, Crosby, Stills and Nash (and C,S,N & Y), Queen, David Bowie, The Who, Sade, Elton John, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and, the US part, was opened by Jack Nicholson and Joan Baez. Live Earth offered up nothing to even rival that. Instead of art, you got a lot art-lite. When an actual artist was performing, as with Lenny Kravitz, the NBC broadcast cut away before the song was over.

But most of all, Live Aid gave viewers a sense that, if everyone pulled together, maybe hunger in Africa could be wiped out. Didn't happen but it gave viewers a sense of purpose. Live Earth didn't leave you with a sense of purpose, it just offered tips, bad entertainment, the f-word on primetime network TV and, most of all, a sense that it was all up to (and the fault of) individuals. Like many an Al Gore campaign event, it left those watching wishing it hadn't played it so damn safe.

*Giants Stadium is in New Jersey; however that staging of the concert was billed as the "New York" performances and you can check any rock press that has filed or does file and you'll see them refer to it as the New York wing of the concert.


Jim: This will be a brief roundtable. 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. After we'd finished last time, we ended up doing the usual of putting in a DVD and all watching as we fell out. While we were falling out, C.I. made a comment and Dona said, "If I'd known you were going to make that point, I would've demanded that we do a roundtable."

Jess: To clear something up, "we" was Kat, Dona, Jim, Ava, C.I., Ty and myself. In the feature that posted at all sites on Thursday ["Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you must have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis,"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"], we -- Jim, Dona, Ty and myself -- wrote a lengthy bit about this site's beginning. We had input from all except Ava and C.I. who walked off during that portion because they were mentioned it. No one thought to note "and Rebecca, Mike, Wally, Cedric, Betty, Kat and Elaine regularly help out while Ruth's always been there to help out when we were short handed -- like Christmas 2006 when the only ones in charge of this site doing any work were Ava and C.I. -- or that Trina has also helped out here." That should have been noted. The fact that it wasn't goes to Dona, Jim, Ty and myself. When Ava finally read that part, I don't believe C.I. still has, her first comments was, "Why didn't you credit everyone?" We were rushing and not thinking. So our apologies to Rebecca, Kat, Betty, Cedric, Elaine, Wally and Mike.

Jim: Good point, but Dona's told me "Be brutal." So unless there's anything else like that, we're diving in. No? Okay. Ty, briefly, explain this edition.

Ty: We're calling this our "Sense of Purpose" edition. After Pretenders' song "Sense of Purpose" on the CD Packed! Why that? C.I. was e-mailed last Monday by The Nation. It's . . . You know what, I'm tossing to Ava or Jess.

Ava: I'll grab. Jess was typing away on the laptop without stopping and it had been a good thirty minutes. I stopped him and said, "What are you doing?" I knew he was in the e-mails and 30 minutes for a reply is excessive. Jess.

Jess: The e-mails for The Common Ills. Ava, Martha, Shirley, Eli and myself all help C.I. out with those. I explained The Nation had written C.I. about us and I was replying. Ava asked me to save to draft and let her read the e-mail.

Ava: So he slid the laptop over to me and I said, "Forget it." I actually worded it more strongly. But my point is, no one deserves an e-mail that takes more than 30 minutes unless they are a community member and there's not even time to give them that. We're certainly not wasting time on someone who e-mails to insult us. Ty?

Ty: The e-mail was meant to be 'passed on' and it was. The Nation thinks they know all about us and that we're in need of their keen sense of direction. Cedric just burst out laughing. So for anyone who's confused, this is the "Sense of Purpose" edition. I'll toss to Mike who's eager to go. I should note that we're all together for a change and no one's by phone except for Dallas.

Mike: Yeah. We're all out here hoping to have some fun after The Nation ruined 4th of July for all of us. So what's going on is that sections of the e-mail are being quoted with a response. That's the theme for everything.

Elaine: Except Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary.

Mike: Right. So you've got whatever The Nation says and our response. There's a point to it and we hope it reads it well but, like Jim said when he read over Ava and C.I.'s piece, "With this TV commentary, nothing else we do this week is even going to be noted."

Jim: So that's the set up for this edition and it works well with the comment C.I. made last week. We've touched on it here before and that's usually been Elaine or C.I. talking about it. But it just really became clear last Sunday. I can go to Kat here or go to Wally.

Kat: Go to Wally.

Wally: Okay. The plan has been that come the 2008 election, all sites would go dark and I'm the wrong one to go to because I wasn't doing a site when that decision was made.

Betty: I'll grab. We were doing an edition, summer of 2005, our sixties edition, in fact. I loved our editorial on Iraq then and still do, about the tripping point or the tipping point? During that, in a fiction piece, we were working on some things and responding to them humorously and C.I. said, "The thing that happens is it goes up here and I'm the one who has to hear about it."

Rebecca: Truer words were never spoken. True to this day.

Betty: Exactly. C.I. was exhausted, more so than usual. It was after the health scare and the response had been to hit the road even harder than before. C.I. was worn out and really had no protective layering.

Jim: I'll jump in here. Betty can get back to that point but just to note, I do use that in editorials and always have. When C.I.'s exhausted, we have always gotten some of our most powerful passages for editorials. Dona's said at times it was flat out cruel. Mike's described it as I'm the pitcher and C.I.'s the catcher but I think it's more like a home run than tossing back. But what Betty's talking about is just what my father's called "naked soul." And --

C.I.: I hope we're going to talk about something other than me.

Jim: We are. But whatever the topic is, I'll be on C.I. about "put yourself there" and we'll get this amazing passage out of it. Because there are no defenses up. Dad said it was painful to watch and like listening to Joni Mitchell's Blue. So that's the end of any edition. Betty's talking about how it was that way throughout.

Betty: Right. And we reached the breaking point. I don't remember exactly how. I just know C.I. was frustrated, not angry, not mad. Just wiped out. And that's when we were all shocked to find out that The Common Ills would be going dark in November 2008 and that, here was the real shocker, C.I. thought the illegal war would still be going on. There was a lot of denial about that on our parts initially, that the war would could still be continuing. How wrong we were.

Rebecca: C.I.'s about to get up and walk out so let me finish quickly. It's a lot of work to do a site. Just to do a site. C.I.'s on the road speaking out against Iraq, working friends in the press to get serious about Iraq and doing a lot at The Common Ills on top of that, including e-mails. C.I. needed an end date. And the fact that we were about to post something that was going to lead, as it always do, to people complaining to C.I. and being angry with C.I. was just too much. Kat, and we're off you, so sit back down. That was to C.I. for those reading.

Kat: So from that moment, we've all worked with the idea that we would shut down in November of 2008. That's those of us who were part of that edition and those who joined up after. What that really did was free us up. There's a song by David Rovics entitled "Crashing Down." And that just clicked last Sunday, this section of the song: "It can happen in a moment, And sometimes it does, When what could be is, And what shouldn’t be was, There are times, When you gotta stand steady, There are other times, When you gotta be ready." I mean, we all knew that was target date, November 2008. And we knew we had to do our bit and all. But we've talked about how silences on the part of the left allow the right to grab the conversation before. We'd addressed that. But only C.I. and Elaine had addressed, here and at their own sites, this whole notion of a moment. I think the fact that approximately 70% of the American people are now against the illegal war drove the point home last weekend.

Elaine: If it wasn't clear before, blame me. And C.I.'s waving a hand so blame us both. But --

Rebecca: " There are moments you remember all your life, There are moments you wait for ans1 dream, Of all your life. This is one of those moments." Barbra Streisand from the Yentl soundtrack.

Elaine: Rebecca loves her Streisand, always has. But that's right. There are moments. And these moments matter. They don't come around all the time. But when they are arriving, they define many years to come.

Wally: C.I. was using FDR and other examples.

Elaine: Right. That was a moment, the lead up there. All the things Americans got as a result of FDR administration's came about not from appeasers and realists on the left and left of center saying, "We'll just go along." It came about from intensive pressure in the lead up to FDR.

C.I.: And that's just one example. You could use the '60s' as well. What happens is in defining moments, and the right has them as well, but we're focused on the left, is that the lead up sets up what can be achieved. What follows is the implementation of some of that. Then comes the mini-backlash which leads the reformers, supposedly of the left, to make 'alterations.' Such as, using the choice issue, deciding government funds won't go for abortion. Now, the reformers say, we're not taking away abortion. We're just saying government funds won't pay for them. The reformers overreact to a mini-backlash. These 'friends' are the first to chip away at what we have. This is followed by a very real backlash and reformers have already set up the stage for bigger caves. It's actually followed by a back and forth and then comes the big backlash but I'm simplifying for time.

Mike: And Wally was telling me about the conversation when he called the next day and I was all, "Man, I wish I'd been there." To me, it backs up about a dozen points that Stanely Aronowitz makes in his books. And I was talking to Elaine about it and she pointed out Howard Zinn's points as well. Like his point about we are not Congress and we do not go along and just settle when we're not even given anything. It's not like they say, "Okay, we can't give you that, but we can give you this much." That didn't happen with the Pelosi-Reid measure, forget the eventual sell out on the supplemental, it wasn't even there in the Pelosi-Reid measure that many pushed.

Cedric: Including The Nation in their timid editorial endorsing the measure and the benchmarks,which, for the record, blame a puppet government for not having more control over events.

Jess: So the point is we're getting up to a moment and we can make something out of it or we can't and I think I leapt ahead. Dona?

Dona: No, that's fine. But there's a mood in the country that creates one of those moments, calls for a response. And we can either be demanding responses or we can play Party Hack and cheer the Democratic Party for the legislative equivalent of remembering to flush the toilet.

Cedric: It has to do with where the bar's at. Like right now, Bill Clinton's a supposed hero and why is that? I'm not saying he's evil.

Rebecca: This isn't a thread, you don't have to explain. That's a joke and Cedric's laughing, just FYI. Clinton gave us a good economy is the big talking point there. Well it wasn't that good, first of all. Second of all, this is an accomplishment? I thought that was a duty, if you're going to credit a president -- any president -- with an economy. I mean that is a basic. That's like expecting someone to show up to work on time. You expect it. If you're voting someone into office, you aren't saying, "I'm voting for her or him because I hope they'll tank the economy."

Elaine: Just noting, Betty's uncomfortable. I'll try to temper my remarks. Betty really loves Bill Clinton.

Betty: I do.

Elaine: And she should share why, we all know why participating, and no one devalues her reasons or says, "You're wrong." But Clinton was, at best, a reformer. The safety net got attacked repeatedly. He is the backlash responding president. Not the Bully Boy who has not responded but has pushed the country to the right. This was one of those moments for the right but we're coming out of that. Clinton backed NAFTA and a whole host of other things that we all know so I'm stopping to let Betty make her point.

Betty: I've said this before so I won't go in to much detail. But I remember life under Poppy Bush and I remember there was a change, a move towards inclusion, signaled by Bill Clinton coming into office. He has his faults like any of us do. He has some policies that I would've smacked him on the back of his head if I'd known him and he'd asked my opinion. But when he's called the first Black president, a lot of that is coming from the fact that he set a tone which rejected Bush's previous tone and said, "We are all Americans." I think that's true of Hillary as well and if she could address Iraq honestly, I'd be supporting her but I'm behind Dennis Kucinich because he is addressing Iraq.

Kat: I don't like Bill Clinton or Hillary. But, just to follow up on what Betty's talking about, Bill did make steps towards inclusion. That was African-Americans, that was gays and lesbians, that was a whole host of people. And I think it is worth noting that what Rush Limbaugh does, that hateful 'humor,' wasn't relegated to AM radio under the previous Bush. Or under Ronald Reagan. I don't care for Bill Clinton but, if you were old enough, you saw a big shift. It was other things as well but gone were the days of someone thinking, a public figure, that they could, for example, say "AIDS is God's curse on homosexuals" and have most people either look the other way or fail to object. With other administrations, it seemed like you defended your own subgroup whatever it was. Under Bill Clinton, it seemed like the country, with regards to differences, got smarter. That's not a minor thing. Think of Matthew Sheppard and the reaction to his murder. If that had been under the first Bush or Ronald Reagan, even in the nineties, but under them, I don't think there would have been the awareness and outrage there was. I'll blame him for many things, but I will credit Bill Clinton with fostering a tone of inclusion when he went into office.

Rebecca: I'll just add that we're not just talking about 'symbolic.' We're talking about a change of tone and it was real. And if you're underestimating that, chances are you're a White male or someone who identifies with them, a straight White male, and never grasped how limiting and limited the view being put down was.

Cedric: And I credit him for that but he was a reformer and, either the way he was set up or the way the system was, the reforms all ran to the right.

Jess: Well he and Al Gore both favored that nonsense of Reinventing Government which I finally read, pulled it off C.I.'s book shelves, and that really explains the attacks on government, on the safety net and everything else. Under Clinton and today. They came in wanting to reform and their reform was privatization and the belief that business could do better than government.

Cedric: Right. We need to be really clear that the Clinton administration, along with NAFTA and other things, allowed privatization. Made it 'bi-partisan.' Gave it a Democratic cloak. FDR must have rolled over in his grave.

Dona: I am loving this discussion and hate to be the bad guy --

Elaine: The grown up.

Dona: Thank you. But I'm aware that when we finish this, we'll still need two hours before everything can be posted due to the technical problems Dallas is having with links currently and the problems we already knew about with regards to titles.

Jim: Blogger/Blogspot won't let us do titles. Our way around that is going to be e-mailing titles to the site, putting titles in posts we e-mail, then clearing out the post and pasting everything in. That's going to take a long time. Dona, who's not speaking?

Dona: I think everyone's doing a good job. I was worried about Cedric getting enough time and then he jumped in. Right now, I think everyone's making strong points but Ava and C.I. are taking notes and they'd know better.

Ava: Cedric made some strong points strongly but that just gave the appearance that he's contributed a lot, the force with which he spoke. Wally and Cedric both should be encouraged to speak more. C.I.'s taking notes and that makes it hard to speak but C.I. needs to grab more as well. Mike, I'm saying, step it up.

Jim: Okay, that was the heads up, we're all grown ups, we're informed, it'll either happen or not. We need to get back to moments. Tossing out to Wally, Cedric or Mike and then it's open to anyone.

Cedric: I'm being motioned to by Wally and Mike. Moments. The Democrats have no ideas. That's been said for over a decade and a half. They're running on fumes from the New Deal or the Great Society. Some would say the Great Society was just an update to the New Deal, those people would probably not be African-Americans. But either of those didn't just happen in DC or in the DNC leadership. With the Great Society, it was a reaction to the Civil Rights movements and other things. With the New Deal a reaction to what was learned from the Depression. What's followed, Republican or Democrat, has been back off and chip away.

Mike: I'll go concrete. Call me Laura Flanders! That's not an insult. But take health care. People are ticked off by the costs, outraged by the system, you name it. People favor universal health care. They favored it before Hillary Clinton presented her plan, which wasn't universal health care, it was managed care. The press, as my mother or Elaine can tell you, did a real good job clamping down by refusing to address what the people overwhelmingly favored. When a moment comes, the people can be so powerful that the press is overridden. So, one instance, we can push there or we can accept whatever comes. We can blow the moment or we can fight.

Wally: And that's not coming about, fighting, with sloppy, open kisses to the Democratic Party. That's not coming about by enlisting into the Party Hack division. We need an independent press. We don't need all these "Ooooh, Obama." We need reality and, regarding The Nation, it's in short supply. We were going through the issues, from the last six months of The Nation, and, yeah, they hit hard on Hillary. Obama? Four or five open mouthed kisses, which was it? Point is, your press or your a fan club. If you're press, start acting like it.

Kat: Dona will kill me for this after, but Wally and Cedric got slammed for an Obama post last week and I want them to put their response on record. I thought they should have posted it.

Cedric: Wally's motioning to me. We got multiple e-mails asking basically, "Who do you think you are to criticize Obama?" Wally and I do joint-posts. Our response, short version, was we are the best qualified to criticize Obama. Wally's White, I'm African American. Together, we are Obama.

Betty: (Laughing) I'm glad Kat got that put in there.

Dona: Me too but everyone's laughing so I'm signaling out C.I. for a comment to get us back on track.

C.I.: Okay. The point is, Howard Zinn, Stanley Aronowitz, Laura Flanders, all in their own way, and more, make the point that people have the power. There are times when people power is up against a wall of indifference. The corporate press doesn't, now or ever, exist to serve the people. Those classified ads don't provide as much money as corporate ads do. They exist to maintain the status quo and, occassionaly, modify it. Howard Zinn . . . I'm not going to say. I wasn't going to say anything unfavorable but Elaine's always loved Zinn so I'll let her pick that up. Stanley says we need theories and we need to get them out. He says the people want them. He's right. Call it theories or proposals, we want them. Laura's actually backing that up. Her travels through the country, her connections with callers from around the country, have shown her what's happening on the ground. She can back up that point in a hundred ways. Tossing to Elaine and I'll grab back if she wants.

Elaine: I will want. So Laura's got the factual proof, Stanley's got the idea that if we put it out there, people will respond and Howard Zinn's point is that the people have more power than they ever know. Or, more Zinn-like, more power than they are ever told. Only The Nation magazine would set out to put Laura Flanders and Stanley Aronowitz in a debate -- and a debate over the Democratic Party no less. That was a waste of both their talents. A real conversation would have teamed them with Zinn and they could have ended with a strategy. None of the three are at odds. They all compliment one another. Call it theory, call it framework, call it dreams, we need it. The moments coming and we're either ready or we're not. Carly Simon, "Let the River Run," "Let all the dreamers wake the nation." That's what we're talking about. Not stop-gap measures. Not reform. This isn't where we take an existing program and dispute what to do -- usually how much to cut from it. This is where what used to be called "people's programs" get established.

Mike: Because, when Dems are slammed for having no ideas, what that's really about is that there's nothing. There's "We'll do this and we'll do that" and it's nothing. It's a tiny raise in the minimum wage. It's not universal health care. Bully Boy grabbed his moment to slam through an attack on education -- with the help of one of my senators, Ted Kennedy -- and to slam through his attack on just about everything. Democrats saying, "We'll roll it back to the way it was" isn't good enough. Things weren't perfect the way they were. Everything had been chipped away and chipped away.

C.I.: So the point, Dona's pointed to me, so the point is this won't come from Democratic leadership. It has to, Howard Zinn's points, come from the people. Laura Flanders notes people in the grass roots are already trying to make changes and doing so on the municipal and state levels. Stanley's saying changes, to be successful, need to be popular and, for that to happen, people need to know about them and know what's at stake. You don't get that in article after article chasing after Obama or anyone. You don't get that by responding. Independent media needs to lay off the counter-narratives and start leading. This is a moment. We can imagine it. When we do, we can make it happen.

Ava: Can I jump in? C.I.'s nodding. That's really all I cared about because if I'm not taking notes and C.I.'s not, no one is. This really goes to our TV commentary. About how awful that Live Earth was. That was reform. "Everybody shop better! We'll stop global warming!" Last time I checked my shopping list, plant stacks pouring pollution wasn't on them. That's all Live Earth could repeatedly offer. "Okay, you're going to use less napkins, you're going to take your own bag to the store, and you're going to use better light bulbs." By all means, inform people of what they can do in their own lives, but don't act like that's the real issue. The real issue is Jose Valdez and Joan Smith and whomever aren't polluting the rivers. We're not seeing the Mississippi resemble the Dead Sea in parts because of that. It's industrial, commercial pollution. Let's all stop being so stupid and stop playing like Al Gore's Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute campaign is about anything other than placing government responsibilities off on the people. He's yet again privatizing. This time he's taking global warming and privatizing it off on citizens.

Jess: That's said wonderfully. And, as a non-Democratic Party person, I'm a Green, that sums it up on every issue. We need to stop this nonsense of, "You are the problem."

Betty: Jess, I know you've got more to say but I'm getting your point ahead of you and want to grab it.

Jess: Go for it.

Betty: The big move in Black politics, usually from outside but Bill Cosby and Obama love to bring it inside, is that our problems are us. We just aren't responsible. Thomas Friedman plays that card with all races in his column. No surprise. So we get, from Cosby and Obama, blame Black fathers. As if Black men are so naturally cold or cowardly that they set out to have children and walk away. Some end up doing that because they are creeps -- I know from personal experience. But that's true of every race. Do not look at what's happening to Black America and try to pin it off as a personal, individual problem. It is a problem that goes to employment and lack of opportunites. And we sure can't count on the Supreme Court under Roberts. But we certainly don't need 'leaders' who can't face reality. Obama's Chicken Sop for the Soul goes down well for some White people. But it's got a bitter after taste for Black people as we hear him repeatedly tell the mainstream, read White, that our problems are because of our personal behaviors. That's not reality. Our personal behaviors, one example, did not create the drug laws. They did not create a judicial system that looks one way towards White people and another towards Black people. They did not create a public that hears Al Gore the third was stoned and traveling with drugs that he didn't have a prescription for but Al Gore says it's a private matter that his adult son was busted so everyone backs off. Don't refuse to note the problems, the systemic problems, and turn around and tell me, "The problem is Black fathers walking out." Some do, believe me, I know. I've got three kids I'm raising myself and their father doesn't see them, doesn't contribute towards them. I know what reality is. I also know, and I hate saying this, that he originally left because, their father, because he couldn't get a job. And I live in one of the more Black friendly areas of the country. A system has been set up where Black men are either thrown in prison or denied opportunites in large numbers. Don't come tell me that it's a personal choice. Once upon a time, we had jobs in this country where we made things. It's a service economy and just when my generation should be benifitting, of all races, because the Baby Boom's stepping down, we find that the government's shipping everything overseas. So quit telling me that the crisis is a sudden refusal of Black men to take their responsibilities seriously when the crisis is caused by the decay of the manufacturing segment in this country, the attacks on unions and a whole lot more.

Elaine: I agree with what Betty said. I'm glad she said it. And I want to note just one example that drives home how much the jobs have left. It's a simple example for anyone who was an adult in the 90s. People of Betty's generation were told it was going to be an employees market. And employers were going to offer this and that. All that really happened was casual Friday and, Rebecca's pointed this out, has anyone noticed the attacks on that from big media?

Rebecca: Oh my God. The ones whining about Darfur coverage, have they noticed how many ads and how many articles have appeared about men not tucking in their shirts? Suddenly that's a serious problem? No. What is it? A sign that the announced employee market has already shifted away. I read fashion all the time but rarely talk about it because people think "It's fashion." It's a shift and a signal. And it's gone beyond the fashion press. And we're dealing with what was supposed to be "Oh, kids can go to work in blue jeans blah blah blah" to this huge shift to uniforms. I'm not talking about business dress. I'm talking about moving to uniforms. Those ugly things that I see someone behind the counter at a fast food place wearing. To give one example, I've got a friend who's still in p.r. and is having to sell this to municipalities, those type of uniforms coming into government jobs. Jobs where you used to be expected to dress nice and 'professional.' And now these city workers are going to have wear uniforms like they're asking, "You want fries with that?" I mean, they're ugly. I've seen photos and seen them up close when she came by to show me and ask, "Should I walk?" I said walk. Don't help sell that crap. But the fashion, pay attention, isn't about professionalism. It's about taking what were respected jobs and changing the clothes so that they're no longer the jobs they were. Sending the message, with other ways to come, that you're nothing but an assembly line worker. I'm talking about people working in offices where, let's say it's a guy, they would probably be expected to wear a dress shirt and a tie with slacks. And they're about to get these really ugly, forest-green is the ugliest color I've seen, uniforms. This will effect the way you see the job and the way you see yourself and that's what the point of it is. So we've already left the employees market. And I'm sitting here thinking, "Oh, we are off topic!" Don't hate me, Dona.

Dona: I won't. But I will toss to C.I. and note this needs to wrap up quick.

C.I.: Just to follow up, Rebecca told me about that. The selling point in the uniforms, how they're being marketed to cities, is that it will make the worker more dispensible. It's prettied up but we don't have time for the long version. And the attack bought their way into a TV show, by the way, just FYI. It didn't just start this year. And money was exchanged for that buy in. But the point is, there's a lot everyone's up against. That's always true. What happens in moments is that people get disgusted and something changes when enough are outraged. The illegal war has already led to many rethinking the issue of the occupied territories. At some point, the people will end the war, they will force Congress to address it. When that moment comes, the immediate reaction isn't, "Oh, let's all go away." The reaction is, as in Nine to Five, "We've done this, but we could do a lot more." That's how moments are created. The people are disgusted. They push to change one thing and others are carried along. I am really short handing this and my apologies but I know Dona wants this wrapped up so it's simplified to the max. We're approaching a moment. The population is not tipping against the war, America is against the war. An independent press would use that as a calling card. They would work that repeatedly and use the attention from that as a spotlight for other areas. An independent press would stop responding and start leading.

Jim: C.I.'s looking over at Dona so I'll wrap up. Don't e-mail to say, "Please don't shut down in November of 2008." We may not. If C.I. does, we probably will but maybe C.I. won't. Regardless, that's not the issue. The issue is we need to use our time wisely. All of us, each of us. In terms of those of us working on sites, we're going to be strong voices. If you're the press and you don't like it, too bad. And, let me do an aside that will have Dona rolling her eyes, if I hear one more idiot complain about Rebecca, some drive by always does, you don't know what she's doing. Rebecca worked in p.r. for years. She knows the hard sell, she knows the soft sell. If you're wondering, "Why did she write about that?" focus on yourself. She knows what she's doing and she regularly gets points across to her audience, largely high school and middle school, that have me shaking my head in amazement. A lot of times, I see her posts as fables.

Kat: Agreed and I'm jumping in here. If one more man e-mails about Rebecca I'm going to let it rip at my site. Like Jim's saying, Rebecca's geared to the youngest audience of any of us. She knows what she's doing. She also is a new mother. If you're obsessing over what she writes and find it lacking (a) you don't know what you're talking about and (b) go away. She doesn't do one post. Rebecca's laying groundwork all the time. Two weeks later, you're reading something and, if you really pay attention, you grasp she set that up long ago. She's either the most brilliant person I know or the most devious.

Rebecca: Thank you both.

Dona: I'm not going to complain about that. Other things but not that. Rebecca tosses out what seems the most random line. She returns to it. It seems like trivia or gossip. Then she zooms in on a subject, apparently unrelated, weeks later and you realize she guided your reaction to it from long ago. But I am going to wrap up. Our time is likely limited. We will likekly go dark. We are not going to waste our time being cheerleaders for Democratic leadership. That's not our role and it shouldn't be. Our job is to press for change. Our job is to push and push and if you don't like our tone, I believe we inform you to go elsewhere at the top of our site. Our job is to expand not to shrink. We either take on what needs to be addressed or we write dopey things like cat blogging. Hide behind us if you like. Say "Oh I'm reasoned, look at those lefties over at The Third Estate Sunday Review!" But we are here to push the conversation to the left. A lot of cowards have allowed the conversation to move center-right so it's important that we push hard. Do your job and you won't get called out. Don't do your job and you will. And we don't need to hear your whines. We believe a moment's approaching and we're not going to waste time with "Oh the up side of this is blah blah" or "Well, Dems have a really hard time in Congress . . ." You have accepted limitations on who you are and what you can ask for. We're not accepting those. We are fighting for better.

Got a feeling that you're playing some game with me, babe

The coverage there of the Nation is warranted and has its place, but its also riddled with errors and inaccuracies; the "count" makes a very valid point, but its also compounded by mistakes that detract from its impact; it would be a step to at least have a channel to challenge glaring errors when they appear.

So wrote The Nation, to C.I., about us, last week.

If you're starting with this feature, you may wonder about "it would be a step to at least have a channel to challenge . . ." What's that about?

The Nation magazine wants to write about us errors while complaining that we don't allow comments or post an e-mail address.

"You do post your e-mail address!"

Yes, we know. That would be an error on the part of The Nation . . . in an e-mail where they complain about our alleged "glaring errors."

To steal from Phoebe (Friends), we respond, "Hello Monica, this is kettle. You're black."

And pot, er, The Nation has many other errors as well, don't they. We're not going to list all but, let's see, which one stands out the most of all we've noted in the last almost a year?

Gee, how about Christopher Hayes' claim that John Kerry made a statement at the DNC convention in 2004 that he didn't make. John Kerry, readers, made that statement where? In an advertisement that ran in Iowa.

Did he say that at the convention?


Is The Nation aware of that?


Have they ever corrected it?


Got a feeling that you're playing some game with me, babe
Got a feeling that you just can't see
If you're entertaining any thought that you're gaining
By causing me all of this pain
And making me blue
The joke's on you.
-- "Got A Feeling," written by John Phillips and Denny Doherty, appears on the Mamas and the Papas' If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears.

And how do we know The Nation knows about that error?

Well, we knew they knew in December. And, of course, we got the admission in January.

But, shh, on the down low.

The Nation thinks they know everything. They don't even know how to find an e-mail address.

So let's leave comments and participants in the round-robin out of it. Yes, The Nation magazine, one of you has participated in a roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin. (C.I. did check with ___ to make sure that could be noted. On speaker phone, we were given permission to note it here.)

They want to lecture us about errors? They don't know the first thing about us, do they?

As we stated in:

"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you must have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"

We're sure we have errors. We're human. We make mistakes. Point it out and it will be corrected. (We've got a link that doesn't work that we're correcting from the feature above -- correcting only at this site -- and also a date issue on one "Nation Stats" -- the date's correct at the link, it's not correct in the summary of the previous links.)

But here's the thing, "What errors?"

The Nation says we are "riddled with errors and inaccuracies" and that we have "glaring errors". Okay.

Well where are they?

The Nation never says.

But we're told they're pissed off about a parody feature. Hint, something set years in the future is parody. Take the stick out of your ass -- unless it's there because you enjoy it -- and get a sense of humor. Isn't it funny, C.I. says keep this part brief, that someone with The Nation attacked C.I. publicly well over a year ago and C.I.'s never commented on it. C.I.'s never said a bad word against the person -- not even to any of us. But do a Gilligan's Island parody and suddenly check out who's all thin skinned.

Golly gee, if you've finally managed to reach us, through C.I., and want to tell us we have tons of errors, you might think that in your long e-mail (67K), you could take a moment to note even one error. 67K. And not one error noted.

We have typos. Tons of them. We're sure there are errors. But if you're going to accuse someone of repeated and glaring errors, it's probably a smart idea to note at least one.

Like we have with Christopher Hayes. We could note more from him (and have before) but we've really tried to avoid the issue of Christopher Hayes in the last few months. (And he's not the only in the magazine with errors.)

But, a question. Christopher Hayes writes a feature and what happens then?

Does Christopher Hayes rush it into print?


See the magazine has a staff. A paid staff. And guess what, it's someone's responsibility to check for errors.

How hard is it to find out what John Kerry said in his acceptance speech at the 2004 DNC convention?

It's not very hard. We managed to do it and we're known (at The Nation) for "glaring" errors, for "repeated' ones.

Strange, isn't it?

A bit of free advice (vice, vice) We'll tell it to you now (tell it to you now)

Its odd, and it turns the "third estate" from something that is really leading the way on discussing something important (representation of women in print in the Nation) to something that feels oddly ... personal, or like a grudge more than an intelligent discussion.

So writes The Nation to us (via C.I.). First off, you've got a lot of nerve pretending to want an intelligent discussion when you feature the scribbles of AlterPunk.

But let's get serious.

We've been accused of a "war with The Nation" for some time.

Ironically, no one ever notes when they were briefly not linkable.

Let's start with that story. When The Nation was trying to beef up their online presence, they utilized Technorati. Tags. If a website mentioned The Nation, tagged the article and was read by Technorati (most aren't read by it), if you clicked on an article at The Nation and it had been commented on somewhere online (that met the qualifications we just noted), you'd be listed on their web page (most recent were listed, you could click for additional posts).

In this community, Rebecca discovered Technorati. She says we're making her sound like an explorer. We're not trying to. It already existed but she's the one who found out about us among our group. She insisted we all use it. Including C.I. It would help the community. C.I. doesn't want drive-by readers and already had more than enough attention for The Common Ills but, Rebecca argued, "If you tag, it could draw attention to any of the community sites." C.I. tagged. We all did. Even this site. Rebecca, Elaine and this site were never read by Techonrati and we dropped the tags. Kat, Betty and Cedric were read. Briefly. Technorati would read their tags and include them. Then they weren't. Cedric stopped tagging (before he and Wally started doing joint- posts). Wally was never read and stopped tagging early on. Mike and C.I.'s tags were and are still read. It is a pain in the butt to do tags. C.I. points out, "I didn't want to and now I'm stuck with it." (And if someone's quoted in an entry at The Common Ills and doesn't also get a tag, believe it or not, some will e-mail to complain. Professional journalists will e-mail that they were quoted, named and linked but they, heavens no!, didn't get a tag. It really is a pain in the ass and Ava usually replies to those e-mailing C.I. about this with two words: "Poor baby.")

Because C.I. tagged, when there was a problem, we all got e-mails. The problem? The Nation wasn't reading their tags. Bloggers, small ones, were noting their articles and tagging and not getting the links via The Nation's articles. They were furious. They staged a three week no-link to The Nation (and some never linked again). Ty estimates this was over thirty but less than fifty e-mails in all. But we honored the strike. (We always honor strikes.)

When it was over, we went back to linking. It's strange that so many want to note an undeclared war (on our part) and never notice that first incident.

Do we have a grudge against The Nation? (Mike asks, "Do they ask Stanley Aronowitz that, or just us?") Here's reality for The Nation. This site linked to it more in 2005 or 2006 than most sites ever did. Even if you don't count the multiple links to Elizabeth Holtzman's original article on impeachment by C.I., The Common Ills probably linked to The Nation more than any site online. That was partly due to the fact that friends with the magazine asked for things to be linked to (but it's also true, C.I. only linked to things worth linking to).

Now The Nation, in the same time period, linked to us how many times? If you guessed zero, you are correct. So, to pull from Sharon Stone, "Don't ask me what my problem with Ahnuld is, ask him what his problem with me is!"

As did C.I., we noted here that the impeachment talk in print in 2006 was started by Elizabeth Holtzman. For those who don't remember, she led the way. Several men followed with print articles. Several men were being credited for starting for the impeachment talk with their print articles. The only reason the record is semi-correct is because some of us repeatedly noted that Holtzman started it.

We noted The Nation repeatedly in our first edition. We noted it repeatedly throughout 2005 and 2006 until that summer when Iraq fell off the radar and the issue of the low amount of women being published was raised.

So it's a bit strange that all this time later, they want to show up and claim we have some personal grudge with The Nation.

We actually (and actively) sat on criticism about The Nation prior to that out of respect for C.I.'s fondness for Katrina vanden Heuvel. When that became an issue, we all decided we weren't going to be gatekeepers.

We've called out Amy Goodman (we've also praised her) and she's never e-mailed to whine about what we wrote. (She's never e-mailed period.) We now have a very small list of people we won't call out. There are no bigger whiners than thoses at The Nation.

The e-mail we quoted from above is from a whiner. How do we know that?

He (it's a man) wants to set the guidelines for what we can or cannot do.

Guess we missed those paychecks signed by KvH, huh?

A bit of free advice (vice)
We'll tell it to you now (nice, twice).
If you've got some habits
Some people won't allow (won't allow, allow)
Be cool; be clean
If you know what I mean.
-- "Free Advice," written by John and Michelle Phillips, recorded by the Mamas and the Papas for The Papas & The Mamas [and no, The Nation won't "know what I mean"]

If someone thinks they can dictate how we'll write, they must be paying us to write, right?

One of our few off limits groups is Media Matters. We've avoided calling them out even when we disagree. Why? Because the left (and MM is more Democratic than left) has been cowardly for too long. If MM ever goes overboard on a topic (if), we say it's long overdue and applaud their energy. The Insanity Crowd (Spinsanity) for too long represented the left with their faux b.s. It was weak and it was geared to MSM coverage and attention.

Media Matters is needed. We applaud their spirit. We applaud their passion.

The Nation apparently thinks that conversations can only take place in one manner and that they get to decide on the rules.

Doesn't work that way.

We don't work for The Nation.

And we have always argued that the answer in democracy is more voices not less and more voices speaking their truths in their voices.

But The Nation wants to tell us that we need to speak their way.

No, we don't and no, we won't.

Who's really out of bounds here?

The Nation is.

They want to show up over two years after we started, after we've built up a sizeable audience and tell us what to do.

Who the hell is The Nation to tell us anything?

Do they not get how offensive what we've quoted above is?

Now they can ask one of their writers that Ava tore into when he whined too often (yes, it was a man) to The Common Ills and he can repeat what Ava said which was, "We're focused on ending the illegal war."

We don't have time for the glad handing. We don't pretend to float on clouds and be above it all.

When we've gone to campuses with C.I., we hear the same gripes about The Nation that we've offered here and the only thing is, we heard the gripes before we wrote them. This site is run by Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I. All but C.I. were college students when it started. In addition, Mike and Wally are college students. We see the same things that other students committed to ending the illegal war see. We feel the same way.

If the writer of the e-mail wants to apologize for assuming that we needed his direction or his orders, we'll be happy to forgive and move on. But as it stands now, he's insulted us. He can have all the other nice words in the e-mail and just include that portion and he's insulted us.

Unlike AlterPunk, we haven't called for a Ps & Qs online. We say, let it rip. If that's what you want to do, do it. If it's not, don't. But write in your own voice. Speak your own truths.

That's why the comments above are so damn offensive to us. We'd expect it from The New Repbulic(an) a few years back. We would have never, even at this late date, assumed The Nation would ever think they could get away with telling other people how to write.

Rebecca, who is not a college student, says, "It's as though they arrived without an invitation at my front door, stepped inside and began insulting my decor. It's flat out rude. No one asked their opinion of what we wrote and no one asked for instructions."

Elaine (using her field, we're sure ) points out an obvious: The Third Estate Sunday Review is not only reduced to Third Estate, it's in parenthesis and lower case. The Nation, on the other hand isn't in parenthesis or in lower case. What's really being said with that?

If we hear from The Nation again, we hope they will address that because we're reading it as an insult.

Betty notes that in the last mailbag, Rebecca talked about the summer thus far, for her, personally. She noted her newborn child and she noted the illegal war.

The war is personal.

We're sorry that it's not to The Nation, but we take it personally. As citizens of the US, we are responsible for an ongoing illegal war and it is our obligation to try and end it. It is our duty. We take it very personally.

To the issue of a "grudge," we didn't even see that movie. We joke, we kid. But a grudge? Our main goal is to end the illegal war. If you're in our way, you're in our way. A writer for The New Republic(an) (who, ironically, first wrote us in July 2006 telling us that we always praised The Nation and, quote, "they're not that perfect") writes this site every three to four weeks. Sometimes he includes links to the magazine. Always, he asks why doesn't he get links, what does he have to do to get links? Get serious about the illegal war.

We wish he would. We stand opposed to this day to the attacks on Arundhati Roy. But the rag could change into a mag. If it did, we'd link. C.I. has always said no to links to Newsweek (for their attack on Jean Seberg among many other things) but C.I. linked to it repeatedly last month (all one column). We'd written off In These Times but recent developments (and advocacy by one person with the magazine) are making us think we will be linking to it in the future.

We may hold a personal grudge against a person forever if it's warranted. We may not. But an outlet? You're the one, the man e-mailing from The Nation, that's personalizing.

Even with the fallout The Nation's seen recently (before we ever started calling out), if the magazine got serious, we'd link to it. We avoided linking to the editorials on the illegal war because we saw where that led. The magazine got their praise and proceeded to ignore the war. No site but C.I.'s will note any fund raising appeals from The Nation but The Nation could be linked to again if it got serious about the war and stopped this centrist crap.

This site was started by Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I. (C.I. didn't come on board for full credit as a core sixer until last year.) Let's talk about The Nation for a minute because it may be past time. We're focusing on Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava here.

The magazine that thinks we have a grudge? One of the five of us has had a letter printed in your magazine praising a story. Did you know that?

No, because you don't know what you're talking about you're just assuming.

Before this site started, what were Jim and Dona doing? Regularly calling out CJR's then Campaign Desk for refusing to cover The Nation. Calling them out in all kinds of ways. One way you could check that is to go to CJR Daily and, if they still have their old discussion pages, you could look for Jim and Dona who regularly posted comments noting the fact that The Nation was ignored in "Blog reports" and "Magazine reports" and in every other way.

When this site started, that was carried over and you could check our parodies of CJR (here and here) for that as well.

So you really don't know what the hell you are talking about.

The five of the core six were like every other college student in 2004, reading The Nation, being thankful for hard hitting coverage of Iraq, praising Naomi Klein through the roof, praising many.

That's reality. Once this site started, we continued to praise The Nation.

The Nation doesn't deserve praise now. That's our opinion and you can disagree but before you toss around words like "grudge," you need to know what the hell you're talking about and, frankly, you don't.

Want to return to those days of yore? Get serious about the damn war.

C.I. pointed it out weeks ago. This silence from so many on the left (or, worse, thinking dropping back to what Judith Miller did in 2002 and 2003 counts for 'coverage') is allowing a lot of space for the center and the right. Both are interested in selling the war as 'won' and the occupation as 'lost.' That's why we use the term "war" here. If they can sell one phase as won, that means they have a chance of convincing Americans that we can win illegal wars and should win them, we just need to fine tune our occupation skills!

The left can't afford to be silent.

When the left makes like a travel study and covers every other topic in the world but Iraq, you better believe it creates huge spaces for the illegal war to be rewritten and to continue.

The current makeup of The Nation is embarrassing. But, historically, the magazine's bounced back from shoddy phases. It may happen again and, sorry, but you're honestly not important enough for a grudge.

If any of this is confusing to you, maybe next time you'll do a little research before you write an insulting e-mail that questions our character, questions our writing, questions our commitment to feminism and oh so much more. Your e-mail was insulting.

But the biggest insult was your mistake that we wanted to be on your 'level' that you (wrongly) assume we value. It's a funny sort of 'level'. It was nowhere to be seen when your magazine ripped apart Janeane Garofalo over a joke. It was nowhere to be seen when you ripped apart Sarah Chayes and Ann Jones. It was nowhere to be seen when you published that screed against Joan Mellen and others. So if you think you have a 'level,' how about you start rising to it and stay there consistently instead of lecturing us?

We know we're not supposed to talk about that, especially not about Garofalo. We know the fallout that came from that and let's go on the record and say that The Nation earned that fallout and more. That wasn't just not rising to the level you seem to think the magazine addresses from, it was a brutal stab in the back to one of the magazine's strongest supporters. If you've forgotten, until that stab in the back, Katrina vanden Heuvel was a regular guest each week and Garofalo went out of her way to be supportive no matter what was said. And her thanks for that is to be ridiculed as a second rate hack?

We honestly believe she should have cancelled the next day interview with Katrina vanden Heuvel's husband. Instead, Janeane Garofalo rose to a higher level than the magazine and did the interview.

But let's be real clear, your suggestion that there's a level is not only insulting to everyone, the laughable claim that the magazine's ever maintained a level of discourse is a flat out lie and we're too wise to buy into that myth.

You're so vain
I bet you think this song is about you
You're so vain
You probably think this song is about you
Don't you, don't you, don't you
-- Carly Simon, "You're So Vain," appears first on her album No Secrets

You're not preaching to the converted, you're preaching to the observant and we know the acutalities.

As for our risk in leading . . . We already lead. We don't need the permission of The Nation to lead or the suggestions of how to lead. We lead by default in many cases because the so-called left drops Iraq all the time. We don't.
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