Sunday, November 25, 2007

Truest statement of the week

Sadly some of the worst offenders of the "Glories of the Draft" are, yes, some men on the left who continue to trot that lie out even though none of the ones trotting it out were ever drafted. You really think Canada gave a damn if the US drafted or not? The issue was an illegal war.

Can you be sent to fight in an illegal war was the issue and the government of Canada provided refuge to those resisting. The issue was not, "Can you be drafted? Should governments draft?" Those were not issues that mattered in terms of what was going on then. There was not a motion to support those resisters who were drafted but not the ones who enlisted. For those late to the party a draft resister or 'draft dodger' had not been inducted but received notice, a deserter was someone who had begun serving and self-checked out.

So let's all drop the nonsense that Canada provided asylum because there was "A DRAFT!!!" Those lies are hurting today's movement.

The draft was not the issue. The issue was the illegal war. Pierre Trudeau said what in 1969? "Those who make the conscientious judgement that they must not participate in this war . . . have my complete sympathy, and indeed our political approach has been to give them access to Canada. . . . Canada should be a refuge from militarism." He said nothing about "Those who make the conscientious judgement -- because they are drafted . .."
Flashing back to October 2nd, US House Rep Christopher Shays insisted, "I was a conscientious objector. I was in the Peace Corp!" Point being, the draft could be got around by White men -- as a number of men of a certain age damn well should know -- and was. Nearly half of the US men seeking refuge in Canada during Vietnam were deserters. There was no Q & A they had to participate in asking, "Well, did you enlist or join after you got a draft notice? Oh, you enlisted? Sorry, you'll need to return to the US." The concern was the illegal war -- which Canada's government sat out and the people of Canada overwhelming opposed -- same as today.

The illegal war. The abuses that were taking place. The crimes that were taking place. The lies about the war, about how it could be won, how it was being 'won,' lie, lie, lie while more Vietnamese and US service members died. The "DRAFT DID IT" lie not only erases the involvement of women in the peace movement and the work done, it not only reduces a generation that had beliefs and values into something much more shallow than the right-wing could imagine. The issue was the illegal war then and it's the issue today.

Attempting to make it the draft -- as some on the left encourage with their talk and some on the right sieze on -- is ridiculous. The issue was the war and is the war.

-- C.I. taking on the nonsense from male Boomers who think it's all about them as opposed to the reality that it's about Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey and others engaged in the struggle not decades ago but today.

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Another Sunday. We postponed the edition for three reasons.

1) I (Jim) ate a lot of turkey during the writing edition and was yawning throughout.

2) Elaine was visiting and she and C.I. had a lot to catch up on but no time prior to the writing edition to really talk.

3) Mike was visiting (of course, he and Elaine are a couple) and he's really guilted us by pointing out (rightly) at his site that there were a lot of promises made, when we were living in New York, that we'd drive over and do things. That, outside of protests, never happened. So with Mike in our midst we wanted to really give him a strong Sunday to go out on.

4) It's also true we wanted them (Elaine and Mike) to get some sleep before heading back east.

Here's who participated 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

Here's what we produced:

Truest statement of the week -- one of the benefits of being late is that C.I. just doesn't care. If it's a week where C.I. gets the truest statement, you can be sure it was a long session and C.I. just wanted it over. C.I.'s was the only vote against this pick.

Editorial: Are you helping or hurting? -- This topic really it a fire under our readers when C.I. addressed it at The Common Ills last week. Not only did some e-mail saying that it had to be a truest nominee and/or a highlight (it's both), but others wrote to say that we had to address this topic. Reader Brianna even reminded us, "This started out as a place to give voice to college students." Indeed it did -- way to lobby, Brianna. When this topic was addressed early last week in a snapshot, Ava called me and said, "Jim, I think I know the editorial topic for Sunday." So we were on the same wavelength as the readers. Good when that happens.

TV: The either or -- What would be the reaction? That was a concern of Ava and C.I.'s because they know that there are readers who stop by only for their TV commentaries. Early reaction is understanding and agreement. If anyone does end up offended that they won't be covering TV entertainment programs, too bad. They've made their decision and, as I noted last week, we almost didn't end up with a commentary as they weighed the various perspectives. They spent a huge amount of time on Friday and Saturday (and a sizeable amount of time on Thursday) seeking input from writers on strike. They will continue their TV commentaries during the strike but they will not cover entertainment shows. They may or may not grab CBS (they've never reviewed 60 Minutes, the only network news weekly they haven't) but if CBS News writers go on strike, they will not be covering any news program or special on CBS. One complaint has come on -- not about their focus for the duration about the strike, but about the fact that they didn't mention Gwen will be doing a live chat online. No, they didn't mention it. They decided not to. Gwen announced on air that it would be live and at noon on Thursday. They weren't in the mood to translate Gwen to the United States which is not all in the Eastern Standard time zone.

Howard goes down -- Skip and Olive, long term community members and readers of this site, were among those requesting that we highlight C.I.'s commentary on the Australian election and that we also "consider" (Olive, always worded so nicely) also doing a feature on it ourselves. We agree this is big and that most US outlets will miss the significance of the loss (Howard's loss) and how it began some time ago.

Shame of the Senate, shame of the magazine -- The long promised feature. We honestly forgot. It was intended and announced for at least two weeks ago. When we're working on these editions, we're trying to get something useable. That then goes into the print version. Then we're attempting to get something worth sharing online. A number of things get forgotten. Thanks to the readers who reminded us. We picked it up this week. And we'll be addressing The Nation further before the end of the year (and most regular readers should know exactly what that means). Two other things still haven't made it online. First is the issue of the primary schedules (we did run something in our print version on that). Hopefully, we'll address it in the future. We did plan to do Joshua Key this week (another announced and postponed feature) but due to something happening in other areas of the country, we've got it penciled in for next Sunday with the hopes of pairing it up with another feature.

Tuesday Pacifica Radio Archives broadcast -- It's this Tuesday. We've noted it before. We support the Pacifica Radio Archives. (We actually considered scanning vouchers that we still haven't used from last year but we were too tired.) If you're able to enjoy audio and you are able to stream, there's no reason not to listen. (Those in broadcast areas can listen over the airwaves.)

The hiring and firing of Peter Laufer -- This was raised in an e-mail on Monday. By Tuesday, the topic was mentioned in four e-mails. Each day it was a topic in the e-mails. We're not sure whether anyone will be pleased with our take on it. (We are sure that we'll hear Sasha Lilley is again 'miffed.') That's our take on it and we spent a great deal of time speaking to people at KPFA about this topic. We thank them for their time.

Passings -- What gives? Amy Goodman notes a death on Monday and that's it? The AP, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times (late on the last one) did get around to noting the passing. C.I. says it's due to the holiday and everyone knows if you want to announce a divorce, you do so in this period because the press is on holiday. We hope that explains it.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Kat, Rebecca, Betty, Cedric and Wally wrote this and picked the highlights (unless otherwise noted). We thank them for it.

Thanksgiving note -- our note that we'd be posting late.

See you next weekend. Listen to the Pacifica Radio Archives broadcast!

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

Editorial: Are you helping or hurting?


Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey are war resisters in Canada. They went to Canada, like many before, because they couldn't take part in an illegal war. Both the War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist have launched campaigns to force the Canadian parliament to step up and do the job that the Canadian government once did: provide a haven to war resisters.

History is important, nostalgia is trivia. Some of the men from the '60s' need to learn the difference. Though they weren't drafted (most were in college with college deferments preventing them from being drafted), these White men continue to pontificate at length about the draft. "We had a draft then, man." Well if you come up from the haze of what may only be faded memories (though who knows? and who are we to judge?) long enough to recognize reality, you'll grasp that there is no draft today.

Your tales of "Glory Days" (nod to Springsteen) not only offer little today, they actually harm the war resistance of today. As you repeatedly go to the well on the draft (turning women invisible with laughable claims of how the 'invasive' draft physicals resulted in student resistance), you send the message that it was all about the draft.

That makes about as much sense as claiming it was all about Lou catching Donald in his underwear in Ann Marie's apartment when a mouse frightened her. (That Girl, March 13, 1969, for those interested.) War resistance didn't spring from Ann Marie and Donald switching apartments due to a mouse and it didn't spring from the draft. The draft was in place prior to Vietnam and it hadn't fueled large resistance during the Korean War.

The issue in the Vietnam era was the illegal war. We think the next person (man) who wants to assert, "It was different then, we had a draft," should immediately be escorted to a rocker and encouraged to stay there and far from the young 'uns.

What this non-stop nostalgia has done is created a myth that, had there not been a draft, Canada would never have provided asylum for war resisters. As the old boys well know, there is no draft today; therefore, their trips down memory lane onto that sidestreet have no bearing on today.

By repeatedly emphasizing the draft as opposed to the illegal nature of the earlier war, an out is provided to many (many of whom were actually against the asylum during Vietnam as well) to say, "Well, if Hinzman, Hughey, Corey Glass, et al were being drafted, that would be different, but there is no draft."

It's gone beyond boring, beyond flaunting sexism (US women could not be drafted and that did not prevent from fueling a good half -- if not more -- of the peace movement during Vietnam), to doing actual damage. It needs to stop.

The issue, whether in the asylum granted in Canada or the war resistance at home, was the illegal war. The student movement today is alive and well, despite the fact that they've had little encouragement, a lot of lies told about them, and near-universal scorn.

They aren't coming off the Civil Rights movement, they aren't coming off any broad-based, national movement. When they are 'invited' along by their 'elders' it's the equivalent of 'fill the pews' ("March in our rallies, show up for our demonstrations"). In addition, the bulk of people attempting to sell their latest books show up on campus talking about the old days and leave students with no building blocks, no useable information, only the status of audience to tales of a time gone by.

The issue was the illegality of what the US was doing in Vietnam. That's going there to begin with, that's what was happening on the ground and from the air.

Before you attempt your next heady high from what once was, you might ask yourself, "How does this help anyone today?" If the only one being helped is your own ego, consider tabling your talking points.

Students today have had to find and chart their own paths. That may be the most offensive thing about so many of the boomers today who would have gotten nowhere were it not for the wisdom, advice and assistance of their then-elders. That's a debt rarely acknowledged today and one that many 'wise voices' and 'leaders' appear to be in no rush to pay off by assisting the students of today.

Before you next wonder what's hurting student action today (which is ongoing, though largely unreported), take a look in the mirror.

TV: The either or


"Every day that Iraq is not in the news," explained ABC's Martha Raddatz, "is a good day for the president."

Bully Boy must be doing cartwheels. Only more so if he caught Raddatz on PBS' Washington Week. Gwen Ifill asked her if the 'surge' was working and she replied, "Absolutely." Time, like bad lighting, can be very harsh and Raddatz learned both on the program that began airing on PBS stations Friday. On Thursday alone, over 54 deaths would be reported in Iraq. US media has a prejudice against against non-US events so it's no surprise that if it doesn't happen in the Green Zone in Baghdad (aka "Little USA"), it doesn't register on the radar of the domestic mainstream press. On Friday, the day the program began airing, over 30 deaths would be reported and the mainstream media would latch onto the narrative: "Violence Returns to Iraq."

If you haven't already guessed, the violence included the bombing of a pet market in Baghdad on Friday. When it's in their own backyard, even the mainstream can sort-of, kind-of see it, provided they aren't pre-taping.

Raddatz would go on to predict that the White House would soon (once again) "change the terms of success in Iraq" apparently ignoring the fact that she herself had. Possibly her train of thought derailed under the weight of offering 'facts' that weren't. One of the more laughable claims -- a hard prize to award, granted -- was that "they pretty much believe" they've "wiped out" al Qaeda in Iraq. "They"? "They believe"? What of Raddatz? She didn't have an opinion and didn't have any facts at her finger tips.

al Qaeda in Iraq was always a small group. But the underreported attacks on officials in Iraq does include attacks on the US collaborators the Awakening Council and a body count -- forget assassination attempts -- would suggest that al Qaeda is far from over since the Awakening Council's stated purpose for existence is to stamp out al Qaeda in Iraq. al Qaeda in Iraq is better known as al Qaeda in Mesopotamia but Radditz obviously felt the need to dumb down for viewers -- possibly she thought she was appearing on her network's This Week and not Washington Week?

Dumbing down included reducing Iraq to "two sides." The real failure, Raddatz offered, was that there was no news on "bringing the two sides together." Iraq, prior to the start of the illegal war, had a diverse population. Too diverse for the United States to digest -- or so the press thought -- so it was quickly reduced to a region of Shia, Sunni and Kurds. Raddatz apparently feels that those three (oversimplified) categories are one to many thus her reductionary opinions.

It's not as if there isn't still some (international) attention given to other groupings in Iraq. On November 9th, the United Nations issued an alert about the Palestinians trapped in refugee camps on the border between Iraq and Syria. Just yesterday, Pope Benedict made a plea on behalf of the Chaldeans. In the middle of last week, if you searched hard, it was possible to find some attention given to the Mandaens. Others suffering include Iraq's Jewish population which is now largely displaced outside the country. Believe it or not, we haven't scratched the surface so to hear Raddatz go on about the "two sides" went beyond uninformed to flat out insulting.

It's not even possible, for those who might feel the need to rush to Raddatz' defense, to argue that, by "the two sides," she was referring to the conflict between Shia and Sunni. For those who've missed it, the Kurdish region has been a source of conflict for the central (puppet) government out of Baghdad. That's not limited to the continued tensions with Turkey over the presence of the PKK, it also includes the issue of the Kurdistan Regional Government making oil contracts (that the central government says they have now cancelled) with foreign nations and the intense tensions created over whether oil-rich Kirkuk should or should not become a part of the KRG. Kirkuk was just placed under "curfew" and US and Iraqi forces sent in which further demonstrates the problems with Raddatz' scope.

She presented Western dualities when the situation was far more complicated and, as an alleged independent of the government reporter who is seen as someone versed in Iraq, her presentation goes a long way towards explaining how an illegal war could drag on and on.

But dualism is what Washington Week offers repeatedly. Each issue, like a coin, has two sides is the message sent out. That's not 'balanced' since many issues have multi-sides. Take the 2008 elections. Jeff Zeleny, of The New York Times and author of many bad reports, was on the show to offer 'political' coverage. You had a better shot at getting insight on ESPN's Sports Night. He spent the bulk of his allotted jaw-boning time discussing Hillary Clinton, senator and presidential contender, and Barack Obama, also a senator and a presidential contender. It's the 'dualism' of it all apparently. Having wasted the bulk of his time, he then felt the need to share what, for him, was a shocking development: he's struck by the amount of people "still coming to see" presidential contender John Edwards.

Shocking! Don't those people seeking out Edwards know the press has decreed it a two-horse horserace? Zeleny noted that the press coverage really doesn't "reflect" that occurrence (crowds turning out for Edwards)+. His presentation certainly didn't since the bulk of it revolved around Clinton and Obama. (For those wondering, the Edwards footnote was as far as Zeleny got in terms of discussing all the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.)

He did note that it's "hard" polling in Iowa and that the state isn't reflective because "this isn't a primary, it's a caucus." Far be it from us to disagree with a point we made Wednesday when filling in for Elaine and Mike. But what was the value in anything Zeleny offered? You could see Gwen grimace (and remark on) Zeleny's prediction that New Hampshire might bring a second Clinton comeback. But if you thought narrowing the race down to two candidates might mean you could hear some positions the candidates had taken, you would be wrong. It was all jaw-boning based on assumptions. Including the assumption that you knew about New Hampshire. In 1992, Bill Clinton's campaign managed to launch a comeback by spinning a second place finish as a 'win.' What that had to do with today's race was zilch but it was a nice way to offer a reference that made it seem like you had some background and could actually discuss the topic intelligently. But passing yourself off like Hedda or Lolly won't make you a real journalist (hint: no one needs to know the factoid on how much time Hillary or Bill Clinton intend to spend in Iowa between now and the caucus -- that's not an issue, that's not a position).

Joan Biskupic, of USA Today, was also caught up in the dualities. She used her allotted time to address the upcoming case before the Supreme Court involving the right to bear arms. On the plus, she didn't assume that everyone would know the nicks and crannies. There was no fleeting mention of New Hampshire, instead she read the Second Amendment to the Constitution and explained that the federal courts have traditionally held -- in the last century -- that the amendment applied to state militias ("National Guard," she then clarified) and not to individuals. A recent court verdict found that it applied to gun owners so now there was a conflict that the Supreme Court needed to resolve, according to her. She then rushed through with some half a sentence shout outs to other upcoming cases (including the issue of the prisoners of Guantanamo) before waiting for questions that really didn't come. (We'll be kind and ignore the one she answered.)

Charles Babington, of Associated Press, always comes off a little too "The glass still has a drop of liquid in it!" Opposite Gwen, he continued to maintain that extreme optimism. He stated that Congressional Democrats "thought the 2006 election was a mandate" on Iraq. Well, the 2006 election was a mandate on Iraq. The polling demonstrates that was what the voters believed. As for the idea that Democrats in Congress ever believed that or intended to act on it, Charlie offered no proof. He really wasn't interested in the topic, he found farm subsidies much more 'sexy' judging by the manner and length he went on about them. For the record, no large grouping in national polls found that voters returned power in both houses of Congress to the Democrats on the issue of farming. If someone could get the word to Charlie, it would be hugely appreciated. He went on to warn, "I think 2008 might be a difficult year to get things accomplished in Congress."

2008? Has he slept through 2007? (Shhhhh, no comments about the bed hair he sported.) He did speak about Democrats in Congress' concern that Bully Boy might bypass them with recess appointments if they all took the two-week Thanksgiving break. To avoid those appointment which would bypass Senate confirmation, he explained Congress was running a skeletal crew on the graveyard shift so that a meeting (he said one lasted only thirty seconds) could take place every day and Congress would not be considered in recess. That almost made up for his obsession with farm subsidies.

For him, it was the dualities of Republicans v. Democrats, for Zeleny it was the duality of Clinton v. Obama, for Biskupic it was the duality of the NRA v. the federal courts' traditional decisions. Every topic was simplified to the extreme and the conflict was always between two participants -- as if public television's mandate was to simply Americans understandings instead of challenging it. So it's no wonder that Radditz played along taking a complex issue like Iraq and seeing it populated with "two sides."

Whatever happened to the mandate under which PBS was created? Pat Mitchell was referencing it on January 13, 2005 (plugging a joint-production with HBO), simplifying it down to "to foster an engaged, informed citizenry through content that offers insight and sparks meaningful dialogue." Who's informed by discussions of polls and who's going to be where on the campaign trail? Since when is an itinerary a political position?

Complexities? The Writers Guild of America is on strike. This effects TV and film. CBS News writers may go on strike next. If CBS News writers go on strike, the network would not be linked to in any "Iraq snapshot" or anything else community wide for the duration of the strike.

We're not writing for television. Our sympathies and loyalties are with the writers -- who are striking to get their percentage from markets that have emerged since the last significant strike (DVD and internet royalties). Money is being made and the writers are not receiving their fair share. We thought the strike meant only that we didn't physically cross picket lines.

Each week we cover TV here. When the strike loomed, we joked to each other about the time off we could have if we stopped writing about TV as a show of solidarity. Those were just jokes (and longing to have a week or two off). Then the strike started.

We continued doing our TV commentaries. Most writers on strike that we know had no problem with it and we had polled several when the strike was announced. After we continued doing the commentaries, others let us know that they thought we were breaking the strike. Last Sunday, we almost didn't write a commentary. We asked those upset with us to wait until the end of last week when, due to Thanksgiving, we'd be off the road and able to speak to face to face as long as needed.

We've done that. All input was appreciated but we especially note a show runner (of a show we reviewed a long, long, long time ago). Writers are on strike to get a slice of the pie that they are entitled to. The strike itself is being utilized to send the message that it's not business as usual. As such, we will not be reviewing anything other than news programming and syndicated programs (that have long since been cancelled, not first-run syndication). What is currently airing is (obviously) TV episodes that have already been taped and filmed. To continue providing coverage of them would send a message that it's business as usual.

When the strike is over, we will return to covering the entertainment offerings. Until then, we'll be (sadly) spending a great deal of time with PBS news programming. In the strictest of terms, in the "dualities" Washington Week is so damn fond of, the strike doesn't apply to us at all. But things are rarely as simplistic as they sound when people sit down across from Gwen. Providing coverage of first run episodes -- even if it's negative coverage -- is steering people to those shows and we aren't comfortable with that while a strike is going on. We thank those who told us it didn't matter. We appreciate their input. We thank those who told us it did and agreed to table the issue until we could speak face to face. After speaking at length with the second category of friends, we agree that our entertainment coverage needs to immediately stop.

As far as we know, there is, however, no strike preventing coverage of Iraq. In the biggest truth spoken on the latest Washington Week, Raddatz declared, "Every day that Iraq is not in the news is a good day for the president." We've explained why we will not be covering entertainment television, maybe it's time for people to ask independent media outlets why they aren't covering Iraq?

Howard goes down

Desperate to grab a few more minutes of almost-fame, John Howard attempts to insert himself into the conflict. The Herald Sun of Australia reports the bully boy down under has declared that "the tensions on the Turkey-Iraq border will not help the west's battle for democracy in Iraq." That 'battle' was lost long ago but Howard's days in office may be numbered and he needed to play lapdog one more time in public.

"Iraq snapshot," October 25, 2007.

John Howard, Australia's Prime Minister. A Bully Boy wanna-be. As significant and important to the Bully Boy as Stacey Q was to Madonna. "When we're together it's like/ hot coals in a fire/ Hot baby/ My body's burning so come/ on heat my desire/ Come on come on . . ." As much as he embarrassed himself on the international stage, Howard may as well have pantsed the Bully Boy in public and planted a big, wet one on his butt.

While the study and the numbers are discussed, John Howard, prime minister of Australia, appears to think the Iraq war is all about him. That might be a good thing since no WMDs have been found and that claim, and all the others, have been revealed as lies. However, Ian McPhedran (The Daily Telegraph) reports Howard is stating that if Australia leaves Iraq "then it is good enough for the Americans and the British to do the same. . . . The present reality is if we pull out and the Americans pull out and the British pull out . . ." The answer to that long winded sentence to nowhere is, as George McGovern noted on The Morning Show today, no one knows for sure. But Howard seems convinced that he is the last glue holding Blair and Bully Boy together.

"Iraq snapshot," October 12, 2006

John Howard, always good for a few laughs and he actually provided Senator Barack Obama with the only moment in his presidential campaign worth applauding:

Where there are no sane comparisons to be made there is John Howard. Howard is not just (for now) the prime minister of Australia, he is the last of the Bully Boy defenders who got on board with the illegal war and (for now) still holds his official title. Now Howard didn't get way on board with actual troops. In fact, his loud mouth and hyperbole appear to be a desperate attempt to compensate for that and prove he can waddle with 'the big boys.' While he talks big, he sends very few troops. (Australians would not put up with him increasing the troop levels and they may not be putting up with him much longer as the election looms.) But Howard loves to shoot the mouth and this year decided the thing to do was to interject himself in US politics as he went on attack against US Senator and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.and the Democratic Party claiming their victories in 2008 would be a windfall for terrorists and terrorism. "Barack Obama: Warmonger" (Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report) has made embarrassing steps repeatedly though the Sammy Power crowd tries so hard to prop him up. In this instance, dropping Chicken Sop for the Soul and leaving aside the I Talk Tough rhetoric, Obama actually scored points -- against a world leader. (It should have been a tip off to his chaotic campaign, but they're all so lost.) Noting that the loud mouth John Howard liked to talk big but has only provided approximately 1,000 troops to Iraq (that would be approximately 159,000 troops less than the US), Obama declared Howard should put up or shut up, send 20,000 more troops into Iraq, because "[o}therwise, it's just a bunch of empty rhetoric."

If only Howard could have continued to play comic foil to Obama, the senator might have had a campaign that lived up to all the heavy panting from the press. (The Nation was supplied with oxygen tanks to allow them to continue their heavy panting without fear of passing out.) As early as July 2005, public calls were being made for Howard to "face up to the consequences of going to war in Iraq." Who made that call? Kevin Rudd. Kevin who?


That would be Kevin Rudd (above) the just elected Prime Minister of Australia. In March of this year, the writing was no longer on the wall, it was etched in the eye balls as a poll found that 68% of Australians -- already strongly against the illegal war -- felt that the best description for Howard was "arrogant." Rudd's already disappointing with reports that he's only calling for "combat troops" out of Iraq (Australian soldiers -- Diggers -- have largely protected embassy staff and avoided combat so we're looking at a con game). But after the tiny ogre that was John Howard, anything may be seen as an improvement.

A number of outlets attempt to scramble for the meaning of Saturday's election returns, to explain the 'great upset.' That's largely due to the fact that they couldn't cover Australia in real time and that includes independent media. Special credit goes to Deepa Fernandes and WBAI's Wakeupcall Radio which provided real time coverage of the Australia's own Hurricane Katrina -- one of the few outlets to do so, big or small. Conventional wisdom in the US is that Katrina revealed the Bully Boy had no clothes on and shifted the entire dialogue. For Australia, that moment was the Jake Kovco's death and the aftermath. No one could ever explain why Kovco died. (Not even the official inquiry.) No one could explain why a loaded gun was carried back to the barracks. No one could explain why the crime scene wasn't sealed or why the clothes Kovco had been wearing were destroyed. Before those questions lingered in the air, there was Howard's hand picked Defence Minister Brendan Nelson playing Chatty Cathy with the press and issuing one contradictory statement after another. And, of course, there was the moment when the Kovco family arrived at the airport to greet the body of Jake Kovco -- the first Australian soldier to die in the illegal war.

What did they find? Not Jake Kovco. They found, in Kovco's casket, Juso Sinanvic, a Bosnian carpenter. Where the hell was Kovco? The government took a bit of time to figure that one out. (They also took nearly a month -- even with Howard publicly proclaiming he was personally involved -- in returning Sinavic's body to his family.) Trying desperately to get Kovco's body returned for ANZAC Day, Howard and his people were all over the media talking about the sacrifice Kovco made, talking about how much Australia appreciated it, hailing the young man (25-years-old) as a hero. The Kovco family went to the airport to greet Jake's return only to discover that whoever was in that casket wasn't Jake.

It was a shocking moment, an offensive one, for many Australians and underscored that the Howard government was good at issuing lofty statements but lousy at actual governance. The Howard government was never able to provide the people with an explanation of how that happened. Even the summer 2006 inquiry consisted of a lot of finger pointing and no real answers.

Similar moments occurred for other military families and while Howard strutted and boasted in public, he was losing the confidence of the bulk of Australians.

With Tony Blair out, Howard was sure he would be the new 'best girl.' He'd certainly waited in the wings, yucked it up, sung the praises of the Bully Boy. But in the end he was left pining. Now he's left out in the cold.

If he's missed for anything, it will be for the non-stop yucks he provided to outsiders (we realize it wasn't easy for Australians to laugh -- realize and we sympathize, believe us, we sympathize).

With him gone, who will provide the chuckles? Who can't forget, for instance, Howard speaking publicly about a letter he'd just penned (August, 2008) to the puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki stating "Iraqis should follow the example of their nation's Asian Cup-winning soccer team". Laughable then since all the soccer team didn't return to Baghdad and those who did had to be heavily protected. Laughable now since last week started with the reports that three members of the Iraqi soccer team and an assistant coach were in Australia requesting asylum.


Though he was an international shame, he'll always have the memories of holding hands with the Bully Boy. Even then, Bully Boy was turned away from him.

Shame of the Senate, shame of the magazine

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the state's Democratic Party pushed back Wednesday against a proposal by a coalition of progressives to censure the four-term senator for her recent votes siding with the Bush Administration, dismissing the proposal as a distraction put forth by activists who did not speak for the majority of Democrats in the Golden State.
Feinstein's office defended what they called her record of standing up to Bush, citing her role in recent probes into allegations of partisan firing at the Justice Department, as well as her votes against the Supreme Court nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito.
"She led the Judiciary Committee investigation into [former Attorney General] Alberto Gonzales and the firing of the U.S Attorneys," said Feinstein spokesman Scott Gerber. "What Sen. Feinstein is going to continue to do is fight for this issues that are important for all Californians."

The above is from Max Follmer's "Dems Set To Kill Feinstein Censure Resolution" (The Huffington Post). The censure measure did fail -- not because it didn't have solid grounds for proceeding but because Di-Fi can toss around a lot of money. We're speaking of her fundraising abilities but we'll get to her personal profit margin in a moment. First, let's be clear that Di-Fi's votes against Roberts and Alito do not in any way erase the way she conducted herself in the hearings. To focus on the Alito hearing, for some strange reason, she felt the perfect thing to do in the midst of Senator Ted Kennedy's tough questions was to interrupt. As he was setting up a question, Feinstein interrupted him to say, "Read the last sentence." Did she really think he wasn't going to? Kennedy was setting up the argument. Feinstein's interjecting herself -- during another senator's allotted time -- not only was unprofessional, it wasn't helpful. After awhile, you have to wonder if she's not intentionally being ineffecutal?

When talk of censuring her first arose, you saw the usual party hacks insist that she was a loyal Democrat -- often inventing percentages to demonstrate how often she voted with the Democratic Party. It would have been nice if some reality could have been introduced to the conversation. For that, we'd need a strong independent media.

On February 25th, Katrina vanden Heuvel -- editor, publisher and destroyer of The Nation magazine -- offered up "Suppressing News: Deja Vu" to celebrate how brave the magazine was during the early 60s. It's easy to wax poetic of the past. Under her reign?

Project Censored 2008 is out and features their "Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008" -- the top censored stories is an annual feature. Story number 23 is Peter Byrne's expose on US Senator Dianne Feinstein who has "voted for appropriations woth billions of dollars to her husband's firms." We've noted that here before, we've noted that The Nation magazine funded the investigation and we've noted that they refused to pay for it. What's new is Peter Byrne's update where he notes that Joe Conason ("from The Nation Institute") wanted The Nation's name removed from the funding credit "because, he said, Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation's editor and publisher, did not want the magazine or its non-profit institute to be postively associated with [Rush] Limbaugh. . . . The back story to that encounter is that, in October, vanden Heuvel had abruptly killed the Feinstein story, which had been scheduled to run as a cover feature before the November 2006 election in which Feinstein was up for reelection."

Associated with Limbaugh? Limbaugh was calling out Fienstein for her war profiteering. That is what Byrne was writing about. Apparently, an independent magazine run by vanden Heuvel kills hard-hitting stories out of fear that the reports might get attention.

Byrne goes on to quote from a letter to him from the magazine's Robert Moser which states that the story was killed due to the fact Feinstein wasn't "facing a strong challenge for reelection." Is The Nation still trying to pretend to be independent media? Use the link to catch up if DiFi's war profitteering is new to you, but this should have been a huge scandal and any outlet should have been glad to have the expose. vanden Heuvel kills the piece and, note, it's because there's no strong electoral challenge. That's what journalistic decisions are based upon?

Journey with us to pages 208 and 209 of Amy Goodman and David Goodman's The Exception to the Rulers. In that section they are discussing the press coverage of the War Crimes of Bob Kerrey while serving in Vietnam (slaughtering innocent civilians). On page 208, they write:

As shocking as the incident was, so too was the media cover-up. Newsweek had the story from its national security correspondent, Gregory Vistica, in late 1998, when Kerrey was considering a run for the presidency. But top Newsweek editors spiked the story when Kerry decided not to run. Vistica later quit the magazine and brought the story to The New York Times Magazine and 60 Minutes II.

"We could have run the story," said Evan Thomas, a Newsweek assistant managing editor. "We just didn't want to do it to the guy when he wasn't running for president."

Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker added that when Kerrey's presidential aspirations ended, "the relevance of this story changed a little bit."

Relevance for whom? It was still relevant for the families of the unarmed Vietnamese civilians who were slaughtered. Newsweek was not concerned about the victims, but about the feelings of the perpretator, a powerful U.S. Senator.

That's disgusting. And it's exactly the same thing The Nation did. There was no concern for the victims, just a need to protect "a powerful U.S. Senator."

As Amanda Witherell (San Francisco Bay Guardian) pointed out last month, "Sometimes the story behind a story is just as juicy as the story itself." A sure sign of how EMBARRASSING this is for the magazine can be found in the fact that Ben Wyskida felt the need to post -- "nationBen" is the handle -- and deny the quality of the article. For the record, Ben's title is "Publicy Director." As such, Young Ben has no first-hand knowledge of the article (he was SOOOOOO much more interesting when he was all about sex and sarcasm). Young Ben knows a magazine's party-line, if not reality, and feels the need to offer that that the rag has been happy to go after Hillary Clinton.

Yes, they have. But let's all stop kidding that this had anything to do with what Hillary did or didn't do. This is a personal grudge and the magazine's not supposed to be used for that. Now while KvH was killing that pre-election article, she also killed a post election article, Christopher Ketcham's investigation (run by CounterPunch). [We noted that in March.] These are far from the only stories that magazine has killed -- articles that have found other homes. Apparently reporting on the War Profiteering of Feinstein might interfere with the magazine's 'purpose' -- Democratic Party organ.

Feinstein's supporters were able to recently portary her publicly as a "good Democrat" and we don't think a good Democrat profits from a war (illegal or legal) nor do we think a "good Democrat" uses her committee positions to steer business to her husband.

If The Nation were "good independent media," a lot more people would be aware that Feinstein's profitted from the illegal war the same way many think to this day she profitted from the murder of Harvey Milk. She rode that assassination to high profile and high office and disgusted many in the process.

A while back there was talk of Feinstein running for governor. Wasn't going to happen. She can't go up against a charamastic opponent (for all of Ah-nulds many faults and many crimes, a number of people find him charasmatic). She really can't run for any office except as an incumbent. She has too much baggage. She knows it and the polls she commissioned when she flirted -- ahead of the recall -- with running for governor demonstrated that the voters knew it as well. Ahnuld was the nightmare Republican for Di-Fi. He projected a sweeter nature than any of her opponents in Senate races have. They come on strong and menacing and allow Di-Fi to play the 'sweet, little me' card -- the same persona she utilizes in committee hearings.

There's nothing 'little' about the amount of money she and her husband have raked in over the illegal war. There's nothing 'sweet' about a war profiteer.

An article that brought that home should have run in The Nation, was supposed to run in the magazine. Instead it was killed because she didn't have "a strong contender." It's not at all different from Newsweek deciding to kill their story on Bob Kerrey when he decided not to run for president. Truth matters or it doesn't. Independent media tells it or it doesn't.

Under Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation is becoming more famous for what it doesn't run than what it prints.

Tuesday Pacifica Radio Archives broadcast

As Ruth and C.I. have noted, Pacifica Radio Archives is celebrated Tuesday with a nineteen-hour special. Whether you can pledge or not, if you're able to listen to a broadcast over the airwaves or online streaming, you can participate.

Pledges are tax deductable. $25 will net you a "One year subscription to Ms. magazine. The title of Ms. magazine came from a friend of Gloria Steinem's who heard the term in an interview on WBAI radio and suggested it as a title for the new magazine." With $50 or more, you have more selections including a voucher that you can utilize at a later date to obtain an archived broadcast from the catalogue (which, ideally, you should receive in time to make a gift of it for those thinking of next month's holidays). If you have the money to give (no one who doesn't have it to give need feel guilty or think they shouldn't listen) but it's a smaller amount -- say ten dollars -- that's not a problem. All donations are appreciated and, if you time it right, you might come across a matching period where someone matches your donation and the amount Pacifica would receive doubles (i.e. you pledge ten dollars and the donor agreeing to match adds their amount so that's a twenty dollar pledge -- your pledge amount that you provide is what decides the gift so if you give $25 dollars during a matching period, that does not entitle you to select from the gifts for a fifty-dollar pledge). You can pledge securely online or by phone -- (818) 506 -- 1077 in LA, (800) 735-0230 outside of Los Angeles.

What all who listen get is important history and an enjoyable broadcast. You may learn new things, you may be reminded of things you have forgotten. We would encourage listeners to tune in or stream the broadcast at work so that it can be shared. The broadcast begins Tuesday in the EST zone at seven a.m., in the Central Time zone at six a.m. and in the Pacific Time zone at four a.m. You can listen at (or over the airwaves in the Berkley area), (or over the airwaves in the Los Angeles area), (or over the airwaves in the Houston area), (or over the airwaves in the New York area), (or over the airwaves in the DC area) and it should stream live online at the Pacifica Radio website. We've included all stations and, if you already listen to one, that should be your natural choice. But it should be noted that both KPFK and WBAI have had streaming issues in the past for some readers but that is "in the past." You can select other streams at either now (Kat recommends "behind a firewall" if you're listening to KPFK online). If you don't already have a player that allows you to stream, we know you can download one -- free -- via Houston's KPFK.

Among the programs will be:

"Sounds That Change The World: Wake Up And Hear The History"

"Beat Of The Drum: The Power Of African Women"

"Battles Cry: Conscientious Objectors from Vietnam To Iraq" -- this is a two-parter hosted by Amy Goodman and Aimee Allison will be featured on the second part.

"The Whistle Blown: Conversations With The President, 1973" (featuring dramatic re-enactments of the Nixon Watergate tapes) -- this is the special, pay attention regular readers, that will feature Cass Elliot. We all love Cass. Here is your chance to hear her take part in a historic broadcast you may have forgotten or been unaware of until now.

"Alan Watts: Preaching To The Unconverted"

"The Black Panther Legacy: Without Silencers"

"The Big Band: Where Were You In 1968?"

"The John Coltrane Legacy"

"Things That Go Bump: SF & The Star Pit"

"Ringing Testimonies: Women Of The World Speak Out"

"Malcolm X: A Voice Of Influence"

"Booming Industry: A No Nukes Reunion For A New Nuke Crisis" featuring a 2007 conversation with No Nukes co-founders Jackson Browne, Graham Nash and Bonnie Raitt.

That's a pretty amazing lineup. There's not a yawn or what-else-is-on moment in the bunch. The lineup can be found here and it also contains preview audio of each special.

Pacifica Radio Archives

Last year's "Voices for Peace" broadcast exceeded the target fundraising goal. That can happen again this year. You do not have to donate to listen. It's a Bully Boy economy and no one that can't afford to donate should feel shut out or excluded. It's radio for the people, all the people. If you know you won't be able to donate and our words don't reassure you, you can 'donate' by getting the word out on the special so that it has one of the largest audiences in history.

We all support the Pacifica Radio Archives because it is an audio history. If you're new to that concept, Tuesday will provide you the basics.

The hiring and firing of Peter Laufer

Last week, "Dear Sasha" addressed KPFA's Interim Program Director of KPFA, Sasha Lilley, interjecting herself into the LSB (Local Station Board) elections. The feature resulted in a landslide of e-mail. Many issues were raised, some of which we're honestly not interested in addressing. One issue that came up early was Peter Laufer. The first e-mail to this site on the issue received the following e-mail reply from Jim:

I'm learning of the firing from your e-mail. C.I. may have known of it but, if so, didn't mention it.
Peter Laufer has been noted at our site many times. We included his Mission Rejected in a
March book discussion.
C.I. regularly mentions Laufer at The Common Ills.
We have not covered or mentioned his show because we do not give attention to KPFA programming since the threat to stop the online stream resulted in community members of The Common Ills being in an uproar. Every few months, C.I. sees if the community has moved past that. As of now they haven't.
I'll put the issue on proposed topics for next Sunday's edition.
I don't know that we'll write about it. If we do, I don't know that you'll like what we write. The last sentence is because C.I. said, when the announcement was made, that Laufer wouldn't last the year, that it would be a very bad fit for both. That wasn't said gleefully (C.I. likes Laufer and knows him). That was partly due to what Laufer was going to be taking on and the management of KPFA. Because C.I. has a lot of respect for Laufer, that statement surprised me. C.I. explained the move was a public relations coup for KPFA but Laufer was going to end up hurt from the whole process.
If we cover it, we'll probably cover it from that angle.
Thanks for writing,

The back story. Legendary broadcaster (not just a legend at KPFA), Larry Bensky hosted the two hour Sunday Salon each Sunday morning. Prior to that, his broadcasting work included being a national correspondent for Pacifica. He has many credits to his print journalism career as well. The point is Bensky was and remains a legend. (Judith Scherr offers an overview of Bensky's career at The Berkeley Daily Planet.)

That does not mean that every KPFA listener enjoyed him or listened to his two-hour radio program. Every voice is not universal. Some segments of the listeners saw him as openly hostile and shed no tears when Bensky's departure was announced.

Though he informed KPFA in November, the public would have to wait until March 1, 2007 when Bensky posted an announcement online (the following day, his upcoming departure would be announced on KPFA). In his announcement, he noted the following:

However, it is also true that had things worked out better for me personally, and for KPFA and Pacifica as an organization since our turmoil in 1999-2001, I might feel differently about continuing. Or at least differently at this time of leaving. As I see it, the so-called "democratization" of our local and national governance structure has not enhanced our effectiveness as a media outlet, or as a force for peace and social justice. In fact, despite the best intentions of a few people involved, Pacifica's current governance and administration is a wasteful, counterproductive, and far from transparent distraction.

For me personally this has meant that, despite repeated and tantalizing hints and promises, I never got the job I back that I worked so many years to establish: National Affairs Correspondent. Nor has Pacifica managed to re-establish itself as national programming entity, with or without me as part of it.

The announcement was greeted with the same divisions that marked much of Benksy's work in the later years. Some negative criticism was to dub the announcement "self-serving," while positive criticism was to note how much Bensky had provided the station with over the years.

The two-hour Sunday program was prime 'real estate' on the KPFA airwaves. His departure opened it up. Repeating, the station had been informed of the impending departure in November 2006. What followed was a gross mishandling and misunderstanding of what it meant that went far beyond the insulting Elvis painting gift Bensky was presented with. It was a joke, insisted Lilley and Lemlem Rijio. Most aware of the 'joke' saw it as an insult. The fact that the interim program director and interim general manager of KPFA could so bungle a goodbye gift did not bode well.

Bensky was not present at the creation of KPFA, as he himself often noted. But he was someone who had spent a large amount of time at the station. With his departure, the hope among many at KPFA was that the two-hour slot would be opened up for others who had also 'put in their time.'

Peter Laufer had filled in for Bensky on Sunday Salon many times. Laufer was not, however, part of the KPFA family. Laufer is a mainstream journalist with many substantial credits to his name. As whispers at KPFA began to circulate that Laufer would be the one given that two-hours each Sunday morning, there were a lot of hard feelings. The bulk of the frustation was not aimed at Laufer but, where it belonged, at the management. Exactly what was the point, wondered one programmer, in bringing in pledges, putting in your time, when a highly desired slot opens up and management elects to skip over those at the station and award the host duties instead to an 'outsider'?

As the topic became a big issue around KPFA, management should have sensed there was a potential problem. They also should have grasped that the issue wasn't "sour grapes" but instead something that would be reflective in the listening audience.

Laufer is not only an accomplished journalist, he is also a war resister (during Vietnam). Though an "outsider," he had many qualities that KPFA listeners could respond to. For them to be aware of those qualities, they would have to know about them. Any hopes that management might grasp that were dashed in a June 1, 2007 report to the listeners. In the midst of the report, Rijio and Lilley brought on Laufter to announce that he would be taking over the Sunday spot. And?

And that was it for the interim program director and general manager. This was a huge announcement and listeners deserved to be introduced to Laufer. Instead, Laufer was instructed to introduce himself. As 'hosts' of the report, it was incumbent upon the program director and the general manager to conduct an interview. They didn't do that. They basically said, "Dance for us, perform for us." Laufer seemed a bit taken aback on air -- you can listen at the KPFA archives -- but he went along with it and offered some of his career highlights. Then the two women were done with him.

An award winning journalist, a well known journalist, coming to KPFA was news. It was a feather in the cap for KPFA. It said, "We are serious players." But that appears to have been the only thought that went into it on management's part.

There was no attempt made on the part of management to explain to Laufer what he was facing. He had no idea and was completely blind sided.

Laufer made one big mistake that he is responsible for. When he took over the program, and for weeks later, it had no title. On his end, he thought he and the listeners could come up with a title together -- which they eventually did, calling the program Sunday.

Though this was an effort on Laufer's part to involve the listeners and to approach his KPFA role in a free-wheeling approach that goes to the roots of FM radio (and Laufer worked at KPFA decades ago), it was seen by some as a sign that he really didn't appreciate the slot he had been handed. That was programmers, that was listeners. "He got Larry's spot and he can't even think of a title!" was an outraged programmer's comment four weeks after Laufer had been doing the show.

That was Laufer's big mistake. He didn't grasp how this would appear.

As Ava and C.I. have noted, a successful replacement takes the Cheryl Ladd approach. You come on like the kid sister. A successful replacement isn't someone you feel is being crammed down your throat.

That has nothing to do with Laufer but has everything to do with management. Any 'new' person brought in and handed that two-hour slot was going to (and will) have the same problems. If you're going outside the KPFA family for that slot, you do it wisely.

From the start, management did a very poor job. That was obvious when Rijios and Lilley failed to introduce Laufer, failed to do the basics of having a conversation with him on air in the listeners' report. That was obvious when he soloed from the start. Laufer, though a substitue host for Bensky, was the "new guy" everyone would be following including people who did not listen to Sunday Salon because they didn't care for Bensky.

The smartest thing to do would have been to pair him up with other hosts as guests for his first few weeks. Listeners could hear a Nora Barrows-Friedman, Kris Welch, Dennis Bernstein, Bonnie Faulkner, Philip Maldari, Jennifer Stone, etc. relate to him. As they heard that relation, Laufer was no longer the "stranger," he would become part of the family.

The way KPFA largely works is someone dies or they retire and only then is their slot open. Listeners are well aware of that. Bensky himself has complained about that publicly. So when a high profile slot opens up, attention will be paid to who it is given to.

Had they gone within the 'family,' there still would have been skepticism for many. But you cannot hand over a slot to an 'outsider' and not be aware that you are begging for a hostile reaction to them from listeners.

Laufer, going to the roots of KPFA, did free-form radio and did it well. Each hour had a different topic. Each week you got two different topics. This worked for Bensky because he was a legend and a known personality. For anyone new to the station, it will continue to be a nightmare. When a new host is appointed, the bulk of listeners are no longer tuning in for a host. Skipping around the political topic landscape -- going national or international one hour, local the next -- is not going to work. Each topic will find some people bored with the choice and you can't afford to run off listeners from what is a new program. Management should have said, "One hour each week will go to ___." For us, obviously, that would be Iraq. But regardless of what that one regular topic was, it needed to be selected and it needed to be followed.

Listeners of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show know that every Friday they will get two hours of roundtable. There are listeners who tune in on Fridays only and do so just for that regular programming. When you are new to a program, listeners need to know what to expect. "Lively" isn't enough.

Management should have grasped when Bensky announced his intention to leave that they were (a) replacing a legendary host and (b) that this would be a very difficult task. Nothing on management's end indicates that they grasped anything other than they had to fill two hours.

Peter Laufer did the job he was hired to and did so with no guidance. He is to be congratulated for his performance. However, he was instead fired.

Why was he fired?

He was fired for the reasons listed above.

Peter Laufer believes he was fired for because of complaints from one vocal segment of listeners. He believes that based on what Lilley did and did not tell him.

Firing is hard, no question. But you do a disservice when you don't make it clear.

Lilley's explanation has led Laufer to believe that a group -- the same group Lilley trashed in The Berkeley Daily Planet -- is responsible for his firing. That isn't reality.

Lilley doesn't give a damn about those listeners as was obvious from her published remarks.

What happened was that she (and others) needed a big profile hiring to prove that Larry Bensky's departure wasn't a huge blow to the station. Laufer was and is a name. He was a feather in the cap. His hiring was used to give the appearance that management was strong and knew what they were doing.

From introducing him on air to 'explaining' the firing, management did a lousy job. Laufer only made one mistake throughout his hosting and that was assuming that the title could wait and not grasping that what was genuinely intended as a relationship building excercise between the listeners and himself would be seen by some as an indifference/lack of appreciation for the slot he'd been given.

There were problems with listeners. That was from the group Lilley rails against. That was also from other listeners who felt detached from the program and the host. Those problems stem from management not grasping the huge undertaking replacing Bensky would be. (Though there are many at KPFA who argue it was grasped and that Laufer was always intended -- without his knowledge -- to be nothing more than a stop-gap measure.)

Laufer could have successfully replaced Benksy. Many people could and can. The reality is Bensky was not interested in continuing the program so Bensky wasn't going to be on air.

Who was going to replace Bensky was always going to be an issue. Laufer thinks, due to the 'explanation' he was given, that a great deal of the firing has to do with the fact that he is not a person of color. That was an issue before his hiring was announced. It's an issue management ignored despite the fact that the Bay Area is far more diverse ethnically and racially than KPFA on air demonstrates. Gender's also an issue that should have been factored in before hiring anyone. But no one was fired due to race or gender. (Women and people of color can make the case that they haven't been hired due to race and gender.)

What happened was that the "outsider" was an "outsider" to the end. Laufer should have been made aware of the issues arising. He had an audience and he didn't need to rally them to his defense but he needed to be made aware of the fact that he wasn't connecting with many other listeners. That feedback is a basic and that it wasn't provided goes to management. Had he been provided with the feedback, he could have had time to ponder it and address it.

But at the root the problem wasn't what he did or how he did it, the problem was his "outsider" status. As a guest host for Bensky, he was brought in by Bensky to do Bensky's program. He wasn't a 'known' from those fill-ins. When it became his own program, it was incumbent on management to get across that he wasn't just the 'new hire,' he was a part of the community. They failed to do that and, by refusing to give Laufer feedback, they failed to clue him in that there was a problem. Instead, the problem was left ignored and grew until the only answer management had was to fire him.

There were other answers. This wasn't a case where a host was running off listeners with what he was doing, this was listeners just not feeling vested in a host. Instead of ignoring the situation, management should have said, at the very least, that the second hour was going to be a roundtable for the next four weeks where Laufer would interact with various on air 'knowns' such as Bonnie Simmons and others listed. Laufer could select the topic but the fact that the KPFA 'family' would be present would have given his new show exposure to listeners who were wary of him (as they would have been by anyone brought in). Instead of addressing what was a minor issue (one they will have again), the decision was made to fire Laufer. That was a huge mistake.

Laufer hasn't 'bounced back' -- he hasn't needed to. His life goes on with him doing the same show on San Francisco's Green 960 at the same time each Sunday. He continues to co-host the national program Washington Monthly Radio each week. Sundays, on 960 a.m., he will no doubt continue to grow and improve along with his program.

But what does this say about KPFA management? After less than six months on air, a high profile hire is fired. Has anything been learned from the experience?

That's an important question and one that management needs to explore seriously. The high profile hire got KPFA attention (including a write up of Laufer by legendary journalist Ben Fong-Torres in The San Francisco Chronicle). The station now has attention for their firing of Laufer. The next person to fill the slot (if it's not eliminated) will be watched even more closely. Exactly how does KPFA management intend to work with the person to ensure a smooth transition?


Finally, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "And the civil rights attorney Victor Rabinowitz has died at the age of 96. In 1937 he helped found the National Lawyers Guild. He was a longtime law partner with Leonard Boudin." Rabinowitz wife, Joanne Grant Rabinowitz, passed away two years ago (January 2005). In his Unrepentant Leftist: A Lawyer's Memoir, Rabinowitz listed his contribution to preserving the NLG as one of the things he was proudest of in his professional life. In addition to being a founder, he was also president of the NLG from 1967-1970. With Joanne Grant Rabinowitz (married 1967 until her death in 2005), he had two children: Mark and Abby; and he had two children from his first marriage: Peter and Joni. Among Rabinowitz' many professional accomplishments were his work with war resisters during Vietnam, his lifelong advocacy of the Constitution (even when administrations and Congress seemed estranged from the Bill of Rights) and forcing professional cocktail circuit embellisher Hendrik Hertzberg to issue what we'll term a "corrective" to a 1985 smear against the NLG. In addition to the many cases he argued himself and with partners, Rabinowitz also filed amicus curiae briefs on cases, such as New York Times Co. v. United States, where he was not counsel but the issues involved were too important to stand on the sidelines.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"It Returns" -- Why are Thomas Friedman and the peace resister so cozy? A new development in Betinna's life (and struggle against imperialism).

"Mashed Potatoes in the Kitchen" -- Trina provides you with two ways to dress up those leftover mashed potatoes and also explains why you need to be taking Dennis Kucinich seriously as a candidate for president.

"Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. explaining nostalgia is not activism and lies are not helping today. This highlight was selected by 32 readers of this site, 31 of whom identified themselves as college students. Translation, the message especially resonated with the 'young.'

"Students & the peace movement" -- Elaine runs down the different factors for war resistance and students then and now.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Lame Duck Turkey" -- Bully Boy gives us one thing to all be thankful for.

"Ruth's Report" -- Ruth's latest report focuses on realities re: a radio station.

"Thoughts" -- Elaine calls this her "most typo filled entry." She doesn't care and we don't either. (Elaine has noted her site is a journal and that she wouldn't go into a journal and fix spellings.) She's reflecting on a passing.

"John Edwards (Ava and C.I.)" & "John Edwards (Ava and C.I.)" -- Ava and C.I. fill in for Elaine and Mike (who'd just arrived in California and were hungry and tired).

"Bad lies from the bad leader in the White House" & "THIS JUST IN! THEY CAN'T EVEN LIE WELL!" -- Wally and Cedric point out that in the current economy, Bully Boy and the White House whining that their might be cutbacks at the Pentagon because they just got only $460 billion isn't going to strike up a sympathetic chord in the hearts of most people struggling with one of the most economically depressed Christmases in recent memory.

"John Howard's 'humiliating' defeat" -- Jim says Skip and Olive have already e-mailed on this. So have others but they are Australian community members and they asked that this be highlighted.

"The latest Congressional attack on freedoms" -- Kat addressing the latest attacks on our freedoms. Why does Congress hate us for our freedom?

"realizations will end the illegal war" -- Rebecca explaining the basics and what's needed now.

"Third, Dave Lindorff" -- Mike offers the rundown on Third, talks about NBC's Chuck and more.

"F.C.C." -- Ruth continues to note the FCC issue and remember that you have until December 11th to register your objections over further media consolodiation: Chairman Kevin J. Martin:; Commissioner Michael J. Copps:; Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein:; Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate:; Commissioner Robert McDowell:

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Canada in Distress" -- Isaiah's instant classic editorial on Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey.

"The 'Great Return': Bussed in & bought" -- Most requested highlight in e-mails to this site. Bought and bussed, realities about the 'great return' in Iraq.

"Look who's endorsing" & "THIS JUST IN! ENDORSEMENTS HURT!" -- Cedric & Wally on endorsements and when trash comes to your door, you should sweep it up, not display it.

"Day by Day, USA Today brain injury signature wound" -- Ruth steering you the fact that even the MSM is admitting brain injury is the signature wound of this illegal war.

"robert parry, etc." -- Rebecca covering a number of topics including the time she participated in an underground railroad.

"Thanksgiving, Dave Lindorff" -- Mike's Thanksgiving day post. Covering a number of topics. And it's worth noting that of all of us, only Mike and C.I. put up new content on Thursday. The rest of us are slackers one and all.

Thanksgiving note

We're publishing this evening due to the holiday. Ava and C.I. have already written their commentary this week. It's covering a PBS program. In addition, we have three other features completed and the rest in various drafts. However, we have to take Elaine and Mike to the airport this morning and we'd all love to have some sleep. C.I.'s agreed to wait on posting at The Common Ills as well.
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