Sunday, August 12, 2007

Truest statement of the week

AMY GOODMAN: Marjorie Cohn, a lot of people talk about the war as being a terrible mistake. You don't. You go way further than that.
MARJORIE COHN: Yeah. The war was a premeditated, deliberate violation of the law. The UN Charter, also a treaty, also part of US law, says the only two instances where a country can use force against another is in self-defense or when the Security Council agrees. And there was never any evidence that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to us or to any other country. He hadn't invaded any country for twelve years, since Kuwait, and he had really been -- his military had been neutered by the Gulf War, by the punishing sanctions, by the bombings in the no-fly zones. And the Bush administration knew that. They knew that, and yet they sold this war. They sold this war.
They intended to invade Iraq since way before 9/11. And now it's really clear why they did that. And that is, to install huge permanent military bases, the biggest in the world, and the biggest US embassy in the world in Baghdad and to privatize Iraq's oil. They're trying to push through this Iraqi oil law that even Congress is touting as a benchmark for Iraqi progress, and it would give control of three-quarters of Iraq's oil to foreign oil companies.
And yet, we see the leading Democratic candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is saying, well, she is not talking about taking the bases out. She's saying we'd leave a force there, which means we would leave the bases there. So -- and I don't hear anyone but Kucinich actually talking about an end to the occupation, which is what we should be talking about.
But I think that it's very important not to say "the war was a mistake, the war is being fought incompetently." The war is illegal, and it's also immoral. It's killing thousands of US soldiers. It's killing tens of thousands of Iraqis, and it's draining our National Treasury. And the majority of American people know this, but Congress has not caught on yet.

The president of the National Lawyers Guild, Marjorie Cohn, speaking with Amy Goodman last Monday on Democracy Now! (August 6, 2007).

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Sunday. Some features went up earlier than usual. Some didn't. Even so we've had the best record of posting in months.

Here's who worked on this edition:

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

We thank everyone for their hard work. We thank Dallas for his hard work hunting down links.

Here's what we've got.

Truest statement of the week -- This was an obvious choice and everyone knew that barring a major statement by anyone near the end of the week, Cohn would get the pick. It says it all.

Editorial: The way it was/is -- Last piece written. C.I. pulled down the book of Bayard Rustin's writing to share something. We liked it so much we scrapped our intended editorial topic and went with this.

TV: P(ure)BS -- As I'll explain in a moment, we were thrown during the first piece we did for this edition. As a result, we knew there would be problems pulling together an edition. I (Jim) asked Ava and C.I. to scrap their planned review and push forward one they'd been toying with for a bit now. They said "No" as they always do. Then they thought about it and said, they could pair it with one other thing and probably get a so-so feature out of it. I have nothing against George Lopez, for the record. They've now twice had to postpone that commentary because I've asked for a stronger, hard hitting topic. (And for all I know, that may be a hard hitting feature when it does run.) But due to all that was going on, I knew we needed them hitting as hard as possible to make for a strong edition. I can't jump ahead so I'll just note this was the third feature written (and, of course, they wrote it themselves). I was banking on the fact that when they came back with this and I read to everyone, it would get us all back on track. Which it did. This is an instant favorite of mine -- both for the writing and for the sense of purpose it immediately restored as I read it out loud to everyone.

2 Books, 20 minutes -- Our book discussion. We're pretty much just going to be doing books on Iraq in these discussions. We're busy and if we're going to go to the trouble of all reading and all discussing, it needs to be on books that aren't getting noticed. A few have asked for fiction. We think you can get fiction reviews, discussion, et al elsewhere. These are two amazing books. You should really check them out.

Roundtable -- This was the first feature we did. We'd not had time for it last week. Betty, Ty and Cedric had wanted to address the whole John Conyers issue (and wrote their own feature last week when there wasn't time for a roundtable). We had other planned topics on the illegal war. Shortly after the Conyers topic was addressed, C.I. drops a bombshell. Jess got stabbed in the back. We're all reeling. Mike's point that the back stabber better not rush off an e-mail to the public account of The Common Ills apologizing is a good one. Jess was stabbed in the back. You have some apology to offer him, you offer it at this site instead of wishing & hoping that you can run to the public account and be protected. We're all disgusted. Dona notes in this that if we can get a strong editorial, the book discussion and Ava and C.I.'s piece, we'll consider it a success. We got that. We also made the decision to table any discussion on the bombshell outside of the roundtable until after we finished the book discussion to make sure we got that completed. That is when I pulled Ava and C.I. to the side and said, "I'm sure the Lopez thing would be amazing, but can you do something harder and wait on that? We really need something brilliant." They delivered. Except for pulling Ava's announcement of who the backstabber was -- she realized it and shouted out the name -- there are no edits in the roundtable.

She's a celebrity, get her out of here! -- This is the feature that ran in the print edition last week. It has a new illustration because we could never get Flickr to upload it. Print readers saw Katrina vanden Heuvel's head (a photo) on top of one of Judy Landers' body (also a photo). We did this quickly and one of the few that Flickr would take this week by us. After three hours of still uploading, we gave up on our other new and original illustrations.

Weeks load of crap in one morning -- Thank you to Allanah who e-mailed that to us. We weren't aware of it but shared her outrage.

Iraq -- Betty said, when Dona was crying "Short features, people, short features!", how about a few lines of verse? She pointed out that the illustrations might or might not load and that if they didn't, a few lines of verse "good or bad" could break up the cut and dry look.

David Bacon's "Living Under Trees" now showing -- Just a PSA for someone who deserves a shout out and has deserves it because his work has earned it.

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

And that's the edition. Hope you found something that prompted a laugh, a scowl, or an idea. See you next week.

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

P.S. No, you weren't crazy if you were here very, very early this morning. The book discussion went up by accident as soon as it was completed. We were all discussing the bombshell and whomever was supposed to hit "save" hit "publish." (Ty says it was me, I say I was talking to Ava and C.I. at that point so it was someone else.)

Editorial: The way it was/is

When all is said and done, we are all citizens of a world in crisis. The universe of human suffering is everybody's universe. Moreover, it may well be that the solution of one problem has implications for the solution of another. This being so, there is a role for citizens to play in the solution of different problems that converge and impinge upon their personal situation. All of which means that if there is not a part for the civil rights movements to play in the peace struggle, there is certainly a part of Negroes to play, by joining peace groups all around the country.
What's more, many Negroes do take a deep and genuine interest in the problems of war and peace, and are trying to find some ground on which they can make a contribution. As I travel across the country, speaking before religious, liberal, civil rights, trade union, and campus groups, I am invariably asked by a large number of Negroes what they can do for peace. On such occasions, I always advise them to become members of peace organizations. When young Negro boys come up to me and say they are conscientiously opposed to the war, I advise them to contact the War Resisters League, the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, or the American Friends Service Committee.
Of course I am aware that there is not going to be a tremendous onrush of Negroes into the peace movement. The immediate problems of Negroes' lives in America are so vast as to allow them very little time or energy to focus upon international crises. What is still crucial in the thinking and experiences of Negroes in our society is that even in some of the most liberal cities they have a hard time finding a job, living in a decent neighborhood, sending their children to quality integrated schools, or even getting a taxi. We have also got to realize that politically Negroes have carried a greater national burden for the past ten years. Almost all of the progressive developments during this period have been the result of Negroes' marching in the streets, demonstrating for equal treatment under the law. Negroes helped end McCarthyism on U.S. campuses because the freedom struggle attracted and awakened the best moral instincts of our college youth. An American ecumenical movement came into being primarily because the religious conscience had to respond to the struggle for human rights in our country. Therefore, one must be careful, while examining the extent of Negro involvement in causes beyond civil rights, not to demand that they ought, with equal ardor, to be catalysts in the struggle for social and human rights at home and the quest for peace abroad.

-- From Time On Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin, pp. 148-149, "Guns, Bread, and Butter" (1967; collection edited by Devon W. Carbado and Donald Weise)

Rustin wrote the above 40 years ago. How much has changed? The vernacular has changed. Some people use "African-American," some people use "Black American." What's really changed? When Rustin's speaking of the problems for African-Americans (our term of choice, Betty prefers "Black Americans") in 1967 and you go through that list today, how much has changed?

And in the last two weeks, when some voices have chosen to describe today's peace movement as a "White" movement, do they show any of Rustin's understanding about what can make some people less able to participate? No. And they don't worry about rendering invisible those people of color who already are in the peace movement and making strong efforts.

Some speak of the peace movement during Vietnam and repeatedly note the draft and say the draft, fear of being drafted, that invasive physical, et al, is why the student movement came to life but are you getting that from reading Rustin above?

Or are you getting the reality that the peace movement piggy-backed on years and years of struggle where civil disobedience was utilized repeatedly?

Dave Lindorff got slammed at The Daily Toilet Scrubber. It was hard to decide whether to laugh or wince at the comments. Cindy Sheehan was the focus. The others might well have not existed. The commentators hate Cindy Sheehan. They say Cindy Sheehan just wanted attention. That was a mass protest and they're only focused on Sheehan. Who has the screwed up priorities -- Sheehan or them?

A number of comments explained that civil disobedience was just not the thing to do. It's just not to be done! There are other ways, they insisted. And if you read and read you'd find no other "way" to garner change except by voting.

As they hurled their abuse at Cindy Sheehan, they rendered everyone else taking part invisible. They also got off shots at Lindorff for daring to comment on what Rosa Parks might think of the whole thing. How dare he, wrote a few, use Rosa Parks' name! Didn't he know the woman was dead!!!!

It was as though you were suddenly at GOP convention and the word had just come down that The Great Satan himself, Ronnie RayGun, had passed away and no one must speak his name!

Here's reality. We honor those who have come before by citing them. We honor them by tying them into the events of today. Dave Lindorff wrote nothing insulting about Rosa Parks. He held her up as the hero she remains. But, playing like Bill O'Reilly, they invent some mock outrage over some perceived offense and start screaming like crazy.

One misguided soul felt comfortable enough to offer, "Civil disobedience alone cannot change things. It requires people of reason speaking truth to power also. On the flip side people of reason speaking truth to power can change things without the need for civil disobedience." "Talk, talk, talk. Talk around the block," as Joni Mitchell sings in "Tax Free." Oh come let us praise the Great Orators of Our Modern Age . . . apparently. Talk without action will change . . . nothing. A. Philip Randolph is deceased. He died in 1979 so if the Toilet Scrubbers don't mind too much, we'll note him and note that FDR did not decide to desegregate the US military because of talk. He made the decision because Randolph told him he'd be leading a march to DC with over 10,000 African-Americans. The threat of that march is what forced FDR to issue Executive Order 8802. Not talk. In 1948, a similar threat by Randolph would force Harry Truman's hand with Executive Order 9981. Toilet Scrubbers may not be familiar with those acts because they don't fit the Cookie Cokie Roberts spin that WWII came along and life was just peaches and creams for African-Americans as a result.

As uninformed as The Toilet Scrubbers are, we also find it really curious how AfterDowningStreet suddenly has Cindy Sheehan exclusives and near exclusives. That's not an insult to David Swanson or to his site. That is noting that there was a time when Sheehan's writing showed up everywhere. Suddenly, it seems a number of sites now pass.

If it's that Sheehan's a candidate, if they're worried about some unknown equal time provision, might we point out that every House member is up for re-election in 2008 and that hasn't stopped them from posting their writings (usually their speeches).

Cindy Sheehan's 'crime' appears to be two-fold. She won't be satisfied with the notion that voting changes everything and she's not willing to take the hint that says, "Drop out of the race!" Silly Cindy Sheehan, apparently, for ever thinking that in a Democracy anyone could run for office.

She, like us, must have missed the Executive Order by the Bully Boy declaring democracy a spectator sport. Fortunately, there are so many Toilet Scrubbers determined to 'enlighten' us.

Cindy Sheehan declared her candidacy officially Thursday. She is running for the US House of Representatives from California's Eighth District.

Apparently that's a crime.

There's not a morning I begin without
A thousand questions running through my mind,
That I don't try to find the reason and the logic
In the world that God designed.
The reason why
a bird was given wings,
If not to fly and praise the sky
With every song it sings.
What's right or wrong,
Where I belong
Within the scheme of things...
And why have eyes that see
And arms that reach
Unless you're meant to know
There's something more?
If not to hunger for the meaning of it all,
Then tell me what a soul is for?
Why have the wings
Unless you're meant to fly?
And tell me please, why have a mind
If not to question why?
And tell me where-
Where is it written what it is
I'm meant to be, that I can't dare
To have the chance to pick the fruit of every tree,
Or have my share of every sweet-imagined possibility?
Just tell me where, tell me where?

-- "Where Is It Written?" lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, music by Michel Legrand, sung by Barbra Streisand on the Yentl soundtrack

Where is it written? Not in the Constitution but apparently at The Daily Toliet Scrubber.

TV: P(ure)BS

Last Thursday, we got calls from friends with PBS advising us that Senator Joe Biden, a 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, had come out strongly against the privatization of Iraqi oil in an interview on The Charlie Rose Show. Could we note a moment that actually mattered, we were asked? And how about showing a little Charlie Love while we were at it?

Biden's strong statements made it into Friday's "Iraq snapshot" and we've noted it here, at the top. But Charlie Love?

It seemed unspeakable but we figured what the hell, maybe he's on a hot streak. We'll give it a sample. He wasn't.

Friday, he did all but scream "For the HOUR!" with John Rigas. That, in and of itself, might not be a bad thing. Nor were we surprised that his introduction was so long winded. We were bothered that he repeatedly referred to "the tragedy." The tragedy. The tragedy.

As we know the story, John Rigas and his son Timothy were convicted in a court of law on eighteen counts and, reading over the convictions, we didn't find "guilty of the tragedy" in any degree among the charges listed. The eighteen counts were for fraud and conspiracy.

We're having a hard time believing that some day in the future, Rose will sit down at that ugly wooden table (disclosure, one of us has the same table in mahogany and uses it as a computer desk -- but in mahogany, not what appears to be pine) and talk to a convicted home burglar about his or her 'tragedy.'

First off, such a criminal isn't big enough to get booked on Rose's show. Second of all, even if they did, they'd be seen as common thieves. There is no difference in action, according to the public, court record, between them and the father and son Rigas. The only real difference is they were caught knocking over the equivalent of every home and residence in the tri-state area. But it's a 'tragedy,' Rose kept trying to convince the audience.

No, it's a crime. It's a crime that landed convictions. It's felony crime and Rose can try to pretty it up all he wants but we don't believe for a minute that if this hadn't been a millionaire family, he would have even bothered.

John Rigas? He's old. Maybe it was the way he was filmed or maybe he's just nuts. But he looked drugged or insane throughout the interview. (Which you can watch online here starting Monday.) How I Met Your Mother was not the first program to mention "crazy eyes," but they did a better job with it than anyone . . . until Rigas.

Watching, we wondered what the hell he was looking at and why the eyes seemed to frequently go off in opposite directions. Rigas was allowed to spin tales and Rose was buying each and every one while telling viewers that Rigas never was able to testify in his own trial.

Rigas wasn't able to testify in his own trial? Rigas elected not to take the stand. Let's get serious here, even if PBS won't, every defendant has the right to take the stand. No judge barred Rigas from taking the stand. He made the decision not to -- with the advice of his attorney. Had he wanted to argue his case in court, he could have.

But in court he would have been challenged and faced cross-examination. Much easier to sit down across from Rose and invent the most outlandish excuses when you know the host will never challenge a word you say.

Rigas was convicted of using the company as a piggy bank and his explanation there was a lot of nonsense. At one point he offered that he was buying future properties that would then be sold to the company (Adelphia). He was never questioned as to why he was doing that? If what he maintained was true -- no, we didn't buy it either -- then a responsible host might have pointed out that a CEO buying properties to sell later on to his own companies would raise eye brows as to whether or not he was using his influence to fleece the company by making a profit on the sales. The money in question is $2.3 million dollars. Rigas has told this fairy tale in the last few days (such as to USA Today) because he goes to prison (finally) this week and, unless he's found to be near death by a prison doctor, he'll likely be serving the full 15 years. The 2.3 million dollars, the $2,300,000.00, he likes to explain, wasn't all borrowed at once. It dates back to 1996. So a responsible host might have asked him why he was sitting on properties he intended to sell to Adelphia for six years?

A responsible host might have really probed about the golf course he was planning to build on his own property that would have cost shareholders an estimated $15 million dollars. There too, Rigas has an excuse. It wasn't going to be for him. It was going to be for the company. Just like the mythical properties he alleges he purchased to later sale to Adelphia, he asserts that at some point he would be turning over that parcel of land to the company.

He apparently had a very long range vision for when he was going to sale and when he was going to donate. And, if you could get past crazy eyes, maybe you could buy the fairy tale that an over 80- year-old man has all the time in the world to repay 2.3 million dollars and get around to donating land.

Rigas maintained repeatedly that he was innocent and the wronged party. We honestly didn't know why he bothered. He was being interviewed by Charlie Rose, not Mike Wallace. It's not as though Rose even read the eighteen counts Rigas was convicted of, let alone hammered away at him the way Wallace would have.

The impression viewers were left with was that Rigas is a nice man who did a bad thing. There are plenty of those in prisons across the country. They don't get soft pats. There's a man in Texas who is about to face the death penalty for driving a car. We doubt Rose will interview him and so his case will never be termed "the tragedy" (although in Kenneth Foster's case, it actually is a tragedy and a travesty since he didn't kill anyone).

Rose as the last public defender to White collar criminals is all the harder to stomach when you contrast that approach with PBS' wretched summer series History Detectives. Could Rigas actually be innocent? It's possible. Corporations are gobbling one another up and some might have wanted to get their hands on the cable company Adelphia (Time Warner's already purchased some of the assets). But if that's the PBS approach, explain the case of Charles Pryor.

In a really bad segment, Wes Cowan demonstrated why some Anglos should never try to speak Spanish ("el paaaah SO!" for El Paso) while explaining that a cursory glance of the public record was all that was needed in order to label someone a criminal. Pryor shot film of Pancho Villa and exhibited it throughout the country. Pryor claimed to work for Associated Press. This would have been nearly a hundred years ago. AP has no record today of a Charles Pryor working for them. Pryor did shoot film of Villa, that's not in dispute. But based on the fact that American tourists watched the Mexican War of 1912 from the roof tops in El Paso and a few newspaper clippings that note Pryor was arrested and convicted, he's discredited as a colorful fraud.

Now Pryor's run in came because he was an independent film maker distributing his own films and the police were in the pockets of the studios in those days. So Pryor's only crime may have been being an independent. A court transcript might clear that up but why go to that trouble when you can go by a few brief paragraphs in a newspaper clipping?

Maybe if his last name was Rigas he would have received a fair hearing from PBS?

History Detectives is a fraudulent show. It is not about "history" in any real sense. It's Antique Road Show zooming in one object (three objects per episode). What you see on your screen is supposed to be the 'detectives' conducting investigations. The ugly truth is that before the cameras ever roll), they've already done the investigation. Or as one of the 'detectives' explained during an online chat at The Washington Post: "The research for one story takes about 4 weeks but sometimes the research may take months due to locations and dead-ends. We tape a show in 5 to 6 days."

Now if that aired on Fox, you might not bat an eye. But this airs on PBS and is presented as if you are watching a real time investigation when, at best, you are watching re-enactments. With, we might add, the homeliest cast of actors you could imagine.

Friends at PBS begged off when we questioned them about History Detectives in regards to public television's mandate ("Oh God, I'm hanging up!" was one of the more colorful replies) -- all save one who wanted us to "get" that it was a hobby show. Because it's a hobby show, we were told, the rules that might govern news or documentaries did not apply. We're guessing that's the same operating principal that allows them to repeatedly air those Suze Orman infomercials.

But, thing is, it's not billed as Hobby Detectives. It's billed as History Detectives and it airs on PBS each summer (this is the fifth summer) so people watching probably feel that what is on screen is actual reality. It's not.

We were on the road, we think in Arizona, the first time we saw History Detectives. (Or, as Cowan might pronounce it, aaah-raaaah-zo-NA!). It was late at night and we were flipping around for news on Iraq when we heard Elvis Costello's "Watching The Detectives" (a good song but not the strongest on My Aim Is True by any means) and stopped to see what the program was? What it was was offensive: Cowan speaking to a Hispanic male and exaggerating every syllable in "El Paso". A poster was found in the San Francisco home of a man. (He didn't speak to Cowan. His father did. Why? We have no idea.) The huge poster advertised "The Great Mexican War" and that set Cowan off on the equivalent of a Google search via snail-mail.

But we only thought we were offended by what passed for 'historical research' until the last curio was 'researched.' Nora Holt's autograph book had been discovered. This segment included something we'd see many times in other episodes" the White detectives (all but one is White) moving quickly past any on air expert attempting to note discrimination against African-Americans. Apparently that doesn't sell curios or bring in the audiences.

Nora Holt was the first African-American woman to receive a masters in music -- the show noted and then played her off as a dilettante who was casually a part of the Harlem Renaissance and did a little composing. That's not reality. She was co-founder of the National Association of Negro Musicians, a radio host, wrote for Amsterdam News (as well as The Chicago Defender which was the only paper mentioned in the show). All of that was more or less dropped to focus on the curio: an autograph book filled with signatures of famous people, such as Woodrow Wilson. And the 'detective' was really hung up on how Holt could have gotten the signatures, not were they authentic.

At one point, we wondered if the 'detective' thought Holt was a washer woman from Queens? The 'detective' appeared completely unaware of the fact that Holt was wealthy before her fifth marriage -- possibly because her other husbands didn't work for the White Charles Schwabb and the 'detectives' are always looking for the big roller brush to White wash everything.

In the process, they create more problems. It was decided the autographs were genuine and that they had been collected, except possibly one or two, by her husband Joseph Ray who worked for Schwaab -- or maybe even someone else!, hold on for that -- and the half-stated reason for this 'conclusion' appeared to be that "captains of industry" wouldn't mingle with an African-American woman. (Apparently not even long enough to sign an autograph.) That's how you get questions like this one by the 'detective': "was, was she African American? And how did she happen to have access to people like this in 1921?" If it's still not clear, once the autographs are judged authentic, the 'detective' mused, "How and why did this African-American woman collect all these signatures?" As opposed to doing what? Picking cotton?

Herb Boyd attempted to bring up the issue of racism by noting "There was a notion that art would be a way to deal with racism. We can't do the political thing, we can't do the economic thing, we can't get the place in the academy, so we'll take the stage. And so you have this here, just a preponderance of artistic explosion." As though he'd just spoken in tongues, the 'detective' ignored everything he'd just stated to ask, "Where's Nora in all this?" For the record, Schwaab was always "Schwaab" or "Charles Schwaab" when the 'detective' named him, never "Charles" or "Charlie." Possibly if Nora Holt had been a "captain of industry," PBS could have treated her with a little less familiarity and a lot more respect?

But the best/worst was yet to come. Nora Holt's fifth husband was African-American so we both knew he wasn't going to get any credit. Turns out Charles Schwaab, the White Charlie, sometimes collected autographs. Most likely, the 'detective' explains to the owner of the curio and the audience, Schwaab got the autographs (give or take one or two) and presented it as a gift (a bonus?) to Joseph Ray who then passed it on to Nora Holt.

This was based on . . . Well conjecture. Because the 'detectives' aren't historians. They're glorified appraisers. Two are actually billed as such (with one of the two also being billed as an "art historian") while the other two are from the fields of architecture and sociology. (The architect was the one hunting down Nora Holt.) Not one genuine historian among them. If you want to know tax values, see an appraiser, if you want history, avoid them like the plague.

Though Nora Holt was a leading figure in Harlem and a wealthy woman, the idea that she might be able to collect autographs of famous White people ("WHY?" asked the 'detective') was just too much for the appraiser. Apparently, a wealthy woman like Holt was not able to travel outside of Harlem and certainly no "captains of industry" could venture into it, according to PBS. Strange, we've never heard of The Great Wall of Harlem.

Speculation Appraisers would be a more honest title. Acting surprised at the thought that Nora Holt might be African-American (when the 'detective' knew that weeks before) is as phony as everything else about this summer eye sore. But it's the rampant racism repeatedly on display that really irks.

If Nora Holt had these autographs, PBS informed viewers, they were collected by someone else and, at story's end, wouldn't you know it, they were collected by a White man. There's no proof of that. There was no real proof to calling Charlie Pryor a small time crook. But PBS is happy to run with it when the person in question is not a millionaire. When, like John Rigas, they were, they get the Charlie Rose treatment. It's a "tragedy" that Rigas is a White collar criminal who bilked millions from shareholders and got convicted of it 18 times over. It's "history" that an African-American woman couldn't collect her own damn autographs but needed a White businessman to do it for her. That's how 'reality' plays out on PBS and it's pretty disgusting.

2 Books, 20 minutes

Jim: This week, we're taking a look at two books on resisting illegal war. 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. The way this is set up, we're asking that if you comment on either book at length, you give others the shot at the other book. Mike wanted to kick things off with a personal remark or two.

Mike: If you're not happy with how regular the book discussions now appear, you can blame me. I'm usually the last one to finish a book. But it's also true that we're all busy and there aren't a lot of books worth noting if we're talking Iraq. This week we have two books worth noting and maybe International Socialist Review or The Progressive will note them but that's generally been it despite all the pages spent on books at periodicals such as The Nation. First up is Aidan Delgado's The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq. This book came out this month, put out by The Beacon Press, it retails for $24.95 and is 224 pages of text. The back of the book cover contains praise from Howard Zinn, Janis Karpinksi and Bob Herbert, the front contains a blurb from Amy Goodman: "Aidan Delgado is a powerful, eloquent writer. His description of how he was transformed by the horrors of Iraq is unforgettable. He is a diamond in the rough, sandblasted by the deserts of Iraq." He's got a prologue and an epilogue, as well as pages of notes, and I really enjoyed that. The first chapter kicks things off in March 2003 where he's landing in Kuwait City. He's soon on the border between Iraq and Kuwait and the thing I really want to point out is that his descriptions really make it come alive and he's a really strong writer.


Rebecca: Yes, he is. And one of the things you get used to early on is reading, "Get your sh*t together, we're under attack" in one form or another. I think the book is a more "You are there" approach than a reflection.

Elaine: Absolutely. Maybe because of his comments in the opening, but I kept coming back to Lillian Helman's Pentimento and that's meant as a compliment. I've never been in league with Nation scold Mary McCarthy and her attacks on Hellman. Or, for that matter, her attacks on pretty much every female writer. He has a very good eye for physical detail but he also is very strong in zooming in on the telling incident. A little over a third of the way into the book, he realizes he is CO and begins attempting to win CO status, conscientious objector status.

Cedric: That was the section of the book I really enjoyed. It's a great book but I do find religion an interesting topic. Delgado was exploring Buddhism already. But it's on the ground in Iraq that he really finds out what it means to him. I'm just naturally interested in the topic of religion and awakenings and expansions so I would've been hooked by it anyway but when you start adding in the whole torture you've got to go through just for attempting CO status, I thought this was very powerful reading.

Elaine: Right, because he's got a superior saying things about Buddhists can carry guns or they can do this or that.

Mike: Or telling him he can't be a Buddhist because he reads "violent" books. Lord of the Rings, etc. qualifies for violent books, if you can believe it.

Cedric: And we supposedly have freedom of religion but for CO's claiming religious reasons, they suddenly have to do this song and dance and jump through hoops.

Ava: And religious reasons are not required to be granted CO status, we should note that.

Cedric: True. That was Delgado's basis, though, and he has to prove it. And, sorry, Ava, I just got your point. In the book, he talks about how he learns of CO status. Ava'a valid point is that there's so little information out there we should be clear that religions is not a requirement. Correct?

Ava: Right. And Cedric's right that it is Delgado's basis. I think we also need to talk, specifically, about what happens to him after he turns in his CO papers. I assume that any other features on Delgado's book will run right to Abu Ghraib and many readers will flip right to that as well.

Cedric: But we've got an obligation, since so few cover resistance, to explore this in depth and I agree with you completely. So Delgado works for hours filling in his packet.

Mike: And then he turns in it and quickly it is known not because he's told everyone but because orders have come down to make sure it is clear to everyone what's going on. He's pressured by three superiors. He's questioned by a commander.

Rebecca: A commander who doesn't really know him, won't even look him in the eye when he speaks, and I love it when Delgado tells him that he (Delgado) is a better judge of his own moral character than the commander his. It's a shake down, pure and simple. You have disappointed Daddy and all the Daddys line up to treat him like a wayward son and hopefully pressure him into pulling his CO application.

Elaine: And there is also the pressure from those serving along side, pressure Delgado accurately identifies as the pack mentality. "Peer counseling".

Jim: Which is evident in more than the shunning of Delgado, it's evident in the knocking into him when he's walking, the threats of "wall to wall counseling" meaning an ass kicking. He's isolated, attempts are made to make him feel he's letting down Daddy and betraying the so-called brotherhood and when those don't work, it escalates to physical violence against Delgado. And I absolutely agree with Ava and Cedric that if there's one thing we need to do while discussing the book it is to note that. You're looking at approximately thirty pages continuously on that. It's a very important aspect of the story and it's one aspect that anyone considering applying for CO status needs to be aware of. I hear someone flipping pages.

Mike: Me. I'm looking for the thing with "peer counseling" to make it our excerpt.

C.I.: Middle of page 114.

Mike: Hold on. Okay, got it. This is Delgado on page 114:

Of course, this was precisely what the command had intended: to make me a pariah, to strip me of my friendships and social status until I became so lonely and desperate that I would recant my CO packet and beg to be let back into the club. "Peer counseling" is what I believe they call it. The result was that every young soldier who was still onboard with the Army and the unit felt it was their personal mission to make me unwelcome.

Elaine: That's really important because the socialization of the military is supposed to kick in here. It's supposed to allow the pack mentality to run free as they pick on the designated scapegoat but it's also suppose to instill a sense of "Let me back in, guys, I'm still part of the unit." Knowing what will follow a CO application won't make going through it any easier for anyone who tries to get CO status; however, it will mean they'll be less surprised.

Ava: And if I can grab a moment here to make a point that should be obvious but apparently isn't obvious to all. Aidan Delgado is Latino. He is very much a part of the peace movement and he is very much a visible part of the peace movement. In light of lies that the peace movement is all "White," I think we need to note that.

Jim: True. This is a really strong book with an involving story that we all recommend. Ava, Elaine, Rebecca, Cedric, Mike and I spoke on this one so the next book will be left to Kat, C.I., Betty, Dona, Ty, Jess and Wally. I'm going to toss to Wally for the set up.

Wally: This book is Army of None. The authors are Aimee Allison and David Solnit. It's a trade paperback put out by Seven Stories Press and available also at Courage to Resist -- as well as bookstores. It's cover price is $14.95. Not counting end notes, it's 187 pages. C.I.'s going to do some sort of wrap at the end. We roughly figured out how we were going to divide this ahead of time.

armyof none

Kat: First of all, like Mike was saying, we're all busy. In addition, we're all reading way more than we usually do. The point in terms of Army of None is this: There is no starting point. If you feel like picking up one more book that you have to read in order from page one to the final page will make you scream, pick up this book and determine the order you want to go in.

Dona: Right. Some of my favorite non-fiction books are that way. Susan Faludi's Backlash, for example. You can figure out what section most interests you and then read that part and pretty much construct your entire reading on your own. I know what Kat's talking about. We're all getting burned out on the reading. There are three sections to this book and, within each section, there are subsections. This book is your own journey. You can read it start to finish or you can skip around and make up your own order. This isn't Agatha Christie, you won't start with one chapter and think, "Now I know who the murderer is!" It all flows together for a tight book.

Ty: And Wally noted the illustrations. Thank you to the authors for those. There are times when we wonder if we should have any illustrations here because they take so much time. Then we come across that book that really breathes because of its illustrations. Those include photos, such as one of war resister Kyle Snyder, and drawings that are really too amazing to put into words. In fact, I want an illustration from the book to be our illustration for the book.

Kat: Which one? The poster art on page 24?

Ty: That's good, they all are, but I like the one on page 23: "WARNING: CHILD PREDATORS OPERATE HERE" which is about military recruiters.

Wally: That's a great one. If you've seen them on your campuses, you'll enjoy that one especially. And the book has a lot of information on that topic. It tells you about the recruitment and it tells you about efforts to fight it.

Ty: And going into the schools with information to explain to students about how there are other opportunites.

Dona: The lie is students are apathetic. The reality is that they aren't and have been working their butts off with little praise or attention for some time. Army of None gets that across. That alone should make everyone who is a student or recently was one want to pick up the book, to say, "Thank you for exploding the myths."

Betty: I have to take a moment to drop back and note the illustrations. Whether it's a classroom where counter-recruiting is going on or whether it's a drawing or poster, I was really impressed. In fact, I wish it were a huge coffee book just so we could enjoy the artwork. I know that if it were, that would put it out of the range of most book buyers they are trying to reach so I'm not complaining but I am saying, you're not going to say, "Oh, illustration, what's next." You are really going to enjoy studying these illustrations. The Pittsburgh Organization Group's brochure is just amazing. And shortly before that you have "High School Soldiers," a poem by Ryan Harvey. I'll note the first verse from it:

A child from my high school
Was sent off to Iraq
He got shot in the head
He's never coming back
I didn't really know him
But I know a lotta kids
Who sold themselves as soldiers
Whose fate may be like his

Betty (con't): I really loved how illustrations, poetry, etc. was used to add to the narrative and also to give a bit of relief to it. There are times when I do feel like, "I can't read another word." Usually, that's when I have to read a Thomas Friedman column to write a chapter. But this book, in what ever order you read it in, is just a joy to read.

Jess: Dona, Ty, Ava, Jim, Kat and I usually go on at least one speaking road trip with C.I. a month, at least one. And the thing we were noticing especially is that a lot of questions that come up when we're speaking with high schoolers about the illegal war are here in the book. We've all noticed the shift, especially on college campuses, of students no longer waiting for leadership and becoming their own leaders. If you're in high school or even middle school and you're wanting to start leading, this is the book to pick up. It's practicial and common sense in terms of advise. It isn't a cut and dry book. It's not a boring one. But if you're reading this and have been thinking, "I want to really get involved but I don't know how" -- and we've heard that on the road before -- pick up this book. It's not telling you how to stage a march on a DC, it's not telling you how to go pawn your CDs to make air fare for a trip to a national march, it's telling you the power and rights you have in the community you are living in.

Dona: Exactly. The week before last, two weeks ago, when I was on the road with C.I. and Ava, I was making that same point. This book needs attention because it is coming out at the right time. Students across the country have gotten tired of leadership that they feel has been less than forthcoming more often than not. They're also very tired of the "let's all go to DC!" aspect to a lot of the better known activism --

Jess: And tired of scraping together money to participate in those actions.

Ty: Or missing work to participate because a lot of students are also holding down jobs and those jobs are not professional jobs that have paid leave or Monday through Friday, nine to five hours.

Dona: Right. And Jess and Ty's point, before I get back to my own, is an important one. It builds on points that Ava, Jess and C.I. have long made here about who can pick up and travel and who can't. And all of that goes back to the point that what we've heard overwhelmingly on campuses and from student groups since March, when the Dems were caving in Congress but no one was supposed to notice, is how do I do something in my area?

Kat: Well, if I can, let me just point out that local actions are very important and that this rise in interest in local actions came about as certain elements of the peace movement -- not all -- were seen going along with the March proposal which was about continuing the illegal war. What students are talking about is having some control over the actions and being sure that these are actions to end the illegal war and not "Let's get cozy in DC! Yee-haw!" This book really provides that. It provides you with your rights as a student.

Jess: And to do what they did early, to highlight what needs to be highlighted but might get passed over elsewhere, if you've got recruiters coming on to your campus, you've got the right to invite counter-recruiters to speak to counteract the sales pitch from the military. And schools are staring up and one thing we're trying to get across with parents and students is that they have to request in writing that their child's information not be passed on to military recruiters. You have to do that in writing, you have to do that at the start of each fall semester. If you did it in fall of 2006, you aren't covered for this school year by that.

Wally: I passed my copy onto a ninth grader who lives next to my grandfather. He's against the illegal war and he's always wishing he could go to a demonstration. It's mainly older people on my grandfather's block and really young kids, like five and six-years-old. So whenever I go over there the kid is always coming over just to have someone to talk to. So I was mowing my grandfather's yard and the kid comes running over all "Hey, Wally!" and I've got to get back to mowing after a few minutes so I tell him to hold on, run over to my car and grab the book, then pass it on to him. He says he's getting "millions" of ideas from it and is holding onto it, which is fine, until the school year starts so he can share it with his friends. We're talking about how the book's coming out at the right time, and it is, but that, to me, is the perfect example. C.I.?

C.I.: This is a really strong book that won't just be read and put aside. It's the whole Gloria Steinem "Just add water" approach. When we're out speaking, I usually have one backpack with me that is nothing but give aways. There's usually one person who will come up after it's over, wait until everyone else has gotten to share --

Jim: Like me! That's how this site started.

C.I.: Like Jim, and they're often feeling depressed. I'll reach in grab a magazine -- although that happens less and less these days to the lack of magazine coverage of Iraq -- or a CD of something like Law and Disorder or Democracy Now! or a book. That used to be one or so person a gathering. That number has grown hugely because students -- of all ages -- feel they are being hyped, feel Democrats are being provided cover to prolong the illegal war, and feel like getting honest information is almost impossible. This book is really amazing. I'm not a student and it spoke to me. But I do think it will be especially well received by students in college, high school and middle school because they are having to confront liars a lot sooner due to the fact that so many they might listen to are now providing cover and it's equally true that in terms of their lifespans, this illegal war has been going on forever. The book covers war resisters as well and it needs to be noted this isn't a "The illegal war could have been won if only . . ." It's not garbage. This is a book for people serious about ending the illegal war. But, in terms of both books, this one and Delgado's, I wanted to note this:

Well, because of them, I found out about the movement. I found -- we found Jeremy Hinzman's site before I went AWOL. And one of our first thoughts was to go to Canada, and we found the G.I. Rights hotline, and we were looking at that. Then we found stuff on Camilo Mejia, Aidan Delgado, and, you know, it kind of inspired me that people were doing this. It let me know that there were other people like me that weren’t wanting to go to the war and that there’s people just trying to get it out there to, you know, soldiers and civilians alike, letting them know that they're not the only ones that don't believe in it.

C.I. (con't): That's war resister Ryan Johnson speaking to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! back on June 7, 2005. These stories matter. They do make a difference. We're seeing that more and more currently. Or the effects of it. And that will only grow. We all know the point of planting seeds. But you don't stop planting them. Resistance to the illegal war is not one crop that you harvest and then move on. Both books are important. You should be aware of them, even if you don't read them. If you want to read them and can't afford them, remember that public libraries are a great resource not just in terms of what they have on their shelves but also via loan agreements they have with other libraries which will allow you to request from others in their systems.

Jim: You took my whole "Use your public library speech!" away from me. Seriously, we don't have time for nonsense. We know most of you don't have time for nonsense. Reading either or both books will not be a waste of your time. Both books are about getting serious about ending the illegal war. Delgado's book will give you his account of serving in Iraq and why he concluded he could no longer participate in the illegal war. Aimee Allison and David Solnit's book will give you ways to combat the illegal war including starving it off at the source: recruiting.


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.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }