Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ridiculous Statement of the week

On the campaign trail, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia hold contests today in what’s known as the "Potomac primary." Democratic Senator Barack Obama is expected to follow his weekend sweep of five states with another string of wins.

-- Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, Headlines, February 12, 2008. Pay attention, Goody, news does not predict, news certainly doesn't predict before the voting starts. It wasn't news and Goody's continued efforts to peddle her ass for the Obama campaign leaves her far, far from jounalism. One of the sorriest developments of 2008. News reports what happens. Possibly Amy Goodman could rush over to the Psychic Hotline? Peter Hart rightly pointed out that the MSM failure on New Hampshire was not because the polling was wrong, it was because they passed polling off as news. As Marcia noted, "Amy Goodman needs a tutor."

Ridiculous statement of the week II

While it would be unfair to fault Hillary Clinton for the mistakes of her husband, the only precise information the public has about what she would do on Day One is her husband’s unchallenged statement that her first act in office would be to send him and George H.W. Bush on an international fence-mending tour.

-- The increainsgly ridiculous Robert Parry in "Explaining Our View on Clinton-Obama" (Consortium News). Of course those words above didn't prevent him from doing exactly what he says is unfair -- maybe his long, long talk to Amy Goodman about Bill Clinton's passport in the 1992 election and it being 'skipped over' after Clinton was elected slipped his mind. There are other examples. We hadn't planned to note the above, mainly because we hadn't seen it. A one-time colleague of Parry's at Associated Press called to pass the above on.

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --

It's holiday weekend and we are very late. I'll comment on that throughout. ("I" being Jim.) 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,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,

We thank all of those who helped and we thank Dallas for his help always.

Ridiculous Statement of the week -- Amy Goodman, comedian.

Ridiculous statement of the week II -- Again, that was brought to us. We note it happily.

Editorial: "Pimp" was not the word -- Remember, the next time our 'left' 'independent' media wants to call out sexism. Of course, the reality is, they don't call out sexism. If they have sexist and racist remarks to call out, they call those out. They make a big production out of being offended by the sexist remarks as well but reality is that on their own, they regularly ignore calling out sexism and, in fact, often contribute to it. They certainly did last week. We ended up with a merger in this editorial. Another feature was started but on hold until Ava and C.I. could speak to enough friends regarding Ensler's latest for-show event. When the calls came in it was Sunday evening. We quickly pulled this from a scrapped feature and inserted it into the editorial.

TV: Bad TV takes no holiday -- Ava and C.I. -- no surprise -- hate this. They always hate their writing. Why they hate this one especially is that Dona and I had a very loud argument and they had to stop writing this and come in to see what was going on. When they picked back up, they'd lost their steam and just wanted "the damn thing" over. They swear it's obvious where the stopping point was. It's not obvious. It's also another epic on their part. They hit hard, they make you laugh, they are amazing. If it looks like the strike is over (of if the contract is signed before the 25th), they hope to offer up an entertainment program next Sunday. They're toying with an animated series but that's iffy right now -- as is the chance that they might not be reviewing news and public affairs program. I am thrilled the writers appear to have gotten what they deserved as a result of standing up and striking. I am personally thrilled that, as a result of the strike by entertainment writers, we were able to enjoy Ava and C.I. taking on the news programs week after week. They did amazing work. They set standards. They are one of a kind and the deserved hallmark/calling card of our site.

Roundtable -- This was what Dona and I argued over this morning. The roundtable went on for six hours -- some minutes more but I don't hold the stop-watch, Dona does. There are a number of topics covered in our rush transcript and we think it is very lively. I'll talk more about the argument in a bit. I really think this is a strong roundtable but it was also one of endurance.

The Sad Rot of the Left -- Community member Heather disagreed with an endorsement of Barack Obama. She left a comment at a website. The author of the piece decided to e-mail her and disagree. His comments (Ava and C.I.: You knew it was a man, didn't you?) were ridiculous. Read it and enjoy for the laugh factor but join us in shaking our heads over the sad rot of the left.

Swanson Dinners Music Theater Critique -- This was a longer piece. Dona told Ty, "Turn it into a short piece. The roundtable's a nightmare to type, we need short pieces to break things up." Ty did. We'll probably provide the parts cut as a stand alone feature at another date.

Women's History Made Before Your Eyes -- Dona, Kat, Ava and C.I. wrote the intro to this piece that is Hillary's speech on Super Duper Tuesday. Apologies to Rebecca because we did agree, at the start of the writing edition, that we would do a serious article on Hillary. As it was, even this was forgotten during the writing edition. Dona, Kat, Ava and C.I. pulled this together quickly this evening after Rebecca called to remind about this feature.

House Armed Service Committee Hearings you should... -- C.I.'s commentaries on two Armed Service Committee hearings you should have heard of. Dona writes a lengthy intro. In her intro she notes the problems with this edition. She is correct. My apologies for wasting (I wasn't the only one) so much time. As she pointed out, we could all be doing something fun tonight instead of rushing to finish typing and editing. The whole day was blown. The main reason was defocusing in the roundtable. Although I wasn't the only one, I'm the one acting as moderator. I should have been stopping the meandering non-topic discussions. Instead I not only contributed to them, I often led on them. Along with telling Dona I'm sorry, I need to say that to Ava and C.I. who had to take down notes on a six hour plus roundtable and the bulk of the notes were never used. There will not be a roundtable next week. When we next do one, I will try to ensure that it lasts no longer than two hours tops and hopefully a lot less than that.

Highlights -- Mike, Kat, Rebecca, Betty, Cedric, Wally and Elaine wrote this and selected all highlights unless otherwise noted.

That's what we got. See you next weekend.

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

Editorial: "Pimp" was not the word

You're very square, cookie. No, pimps don't get dates for you, they just take your money.

And 'independent' media doesn't practice journalism, they just take your money. The quote at the top is from Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda in one of her two Oscar winning roles) in Klute and while you read it again, grasp the there's no bigger pimp than "independent" media these days.

"Pimp" is the word that you heard . . . or didn't. And you should be wondering why you didn't.

As Rebecca pointed out, this is the exchange that took place February 7th on MSNBC's Tucker:

David Schuster: Bill, there's just something a little bit unseemly to me that Chelsea is out there calling up celebrities saying, 'Support my mom.' And, apparently, she's also calling these super delegates.

Bill Press: Hey, she's working for her mom. What's unseemly about that? During the last campaign, the Bush twins were out working for their dad.

David Shuster: Didn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?

That is offensive. First of all, Press' comments clearly indicate: "Danger, David Shuster, danger." Yet Shuster, an alleged journalist, ignores them to get in his "pimped" remark.

It's really important to him that he introduce to the news cycle the smear that Hillary Clinton "pimped" her daughter. It was offensive. It was offensive to suggest that of any parent. It was offensive to suggest it of any child. It was offensive that this sort of 'critique' introduces itself for the first time when it can be aimed at a female candidate. It was offensive, it was sexist and it should have been called out.

Only it wasn't. Not by 'independent' media. Amy Goodman -- good little whore that she is -- wasn't interested. She can (and does) distort on her laughable show day after day to praise Bambi while ripping apart Hillary, but she can't note this event.

Nor could FAIR who seemed to go into non-stop action alert over Don Imus last year.

It's because there are no standards in 'independent' media, just non-stop begging.

This was a story about sexism and because it didn't paint Hillary as "EVIL," Little Media took a pass. Laura Flanders, so quick to laughably write about her "womahood," had nothing to say on the matter. Oh, if only that were true more often -- on every topic.

It was also a story about the media and the story included the fact that when Shuster got into hot water, he lied. As Media Matters notes, on February 8th's Morning Joe, Shuster tried to brush off his remarks -- without ever stating what they were -- by lying that he'd also stated, "
"Americans should be proud of [Chelsea]" and "everybody, all of us, love" Chelsea Clinton.

A journalist for MSM is caught lying on air and you'd think Little Media would be all on it, only they weren't. They're so committed to PIMPING Obama that they couldn't be bothered with covering this story. "PIMPING"? Yeah, we used it. Little Media -- though childish -- is not a child. We use the term frequently to describe the way journalists push a story. We have never, ever used the term to describe any parent-child relationship nor would we because somethings are truly out of bounds.

It wasn't merely tasteless on Shuster's part, it was offensive. And it was NEWS.

MSNBC thought so. They suspended him. The most FAIR could do was re-publish a 2005 praise-be-Shuster article. (The trash worked at Fox "News" for years and when that dried up finally, he had a few harsh critiques of Fox "News." That passes for sainthood at FAIR.)

Last edition, we called out Katrina vanden Heuvel for a weak ass response. vanden Heuverl nows stands as a GIANT in Little Media for she's the only one who tackled the topic.

It was news. Even though Little Media went out of their way to avoid the topic. As Feminist Wire Daily explained:

MSNBC anchor David Shuster was suspended from the network last week following his offensive comments about Chelsea Clinton's work for her mother's candidacy. While guest hosting on "Tucker," Shuster remarked that Chelsea's efforts to support her mother were unseemly and that it was like she is being "pimped out" by the campaign.
Shuster has been suspended from all NBC network appearances other than to issue his apology. He also apologized to the Clinton family. NBC News President Steve Campus said in a statement: "David Shuster . . . made a comment about Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton campaign that was irresponsible and inappropriate. . .NBC News takes these matters seriously, and offers our sincere regrets to the Clintons for the remarks."
"I am a mom first and a candidate second and I found the remarks incredibly offensive," said Senator Clinton said at a news conference over the weekend, reports Reuters. "I have sent a letter to the head of NBC expressing the deep offense that I took." Senator Clinton did not say whether or not she would participate in the debate scheduled for February 26th on MSNBC. Take Action to tell network presidents that sexist comments like Shuster's are not acceptable.

On Friday's Democracy Sometimes!, Amy Goodman and Eve Ensler alledgedly chatted about the attacks on women and girls. Since, even in that segment, they couldn't mention Shuster's actions, Eve was talking out her butt and not her vagina and Goody, of course, has no option but to talk out of her ass. Evie was PIMPING a "LOVE" event. Don't make us laugh, "independent" for Obama, Eve. "Love" and "respect" for women requires calling out what happened. You didn't.

There's something that a number of women who try to pass as feminist haven't factored in and we'll bring that up now since Eve has endorsed Obama from her "independent" position: History.

If Eve and her kindred favored Obama while holding both up to a similar standard, they'd have nothing to worry about when history gets written. Instead, they've created a standard for Hillary and had none for Obama. Instead, they've trashed Hillary in some very non-feminist ways. They've done so in the midst of a very public trashing ("trashing" in the feminist sense). That won't play out any better than the actions of their actual spiritual foremother, Emma Goldman, have played out in feminist history (she argued against the vote for women -- during the suffragette movement -- Moscow wasn't for women voters).

They better live in fear of the next Susan Faldui. Ten years from now, another Backlash will be published and they've provided their own set of things to find hilarity in -- the way Faludi rightly (and humorously) called out Susan Brownmiller -- 'feminist' -- fretting in text whether or not she should pluck a stray hair growing on her chin and whether or not the hair itself is a sign of masculine ambition.

With Kimberly Crenshaw, Eve penned a column that has many laughing (at The Huffington Post, google, no link to trash):

Progressives, feminists, civil libertarians, compassionate conservatives and independent thinkers alike denounced the president's rant as a simplistic but frightening attempt to hijack the outpouring of grief felt world wide to serve his pro-war agenda.

What's missing from that sentence? Try "Socialists and Communists" -- rather strange that Evie, of all people, would leave them out, isn't it? Or maybe not so strange.

Our Lady of the Closet goes on to co-pen:

In seeking to corral wayward souls into the Hillary Clinton camp, the new players of this troubling game are no longer the hawkish Republicans but "either/or" feminists determined to see to it that a woman occupies the Oval Office. Drawing their feminist boundaries in the sand, they interrogate, chastise, second-guess and even denounce those who escape their encampment and find themselves on Obama terrain.

Either/or feminists? They're the problem? We think the problem is the ultra-left living in shame (not the ulta-left itself, but the ultra-left living in shame) that prevents them from publicly fessing up to what they are. We assume it would be uncomfortable for some to see feminists draw lines when they work so hard to blur the details of their own lives.

That column was pathetic and laughable and we're damn sick of the closet-cases trying to pass themselves off as something they're not. You have a political ideology, Eve, get honest about it.

Tony Kushner once infamously said it was easier to come out as a gay man than as a Socialist. We think that's a damn shame and we don't think the doors on the closets get blown off until people start getting honest about what they are.

We also think that while a very public trashing (in the feminist sense of the word) is going on, feminsts or feminist-hybrids don't join in. If they do, they're pathetic (and history will not be kind). Pathetic is the garbage that Ensler's pushed such as Bambi's a no-nuker. Bambi's bought and paid for by the nuclear industry as well as the coal industry. Get honest, Eve. In fact, let's see all the 'feminists' trashing Hillary get honest.

Some aren't feminists and some are committed to party lines which have nothing to do with the feminist movement. Their loyalties go beyond the feminist movement which, for them, has never been about anything other than having a cloak to gather round themselves and hide beneath. Consider it a political burka. That's why hacks like Eve Ensler can co-write a column where she trashes Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinemn without naming them. Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan wrote honestly. That's not a claim Eve Ensler can make.

Ensler's V-Day has two 'events' coming up and we wondered about this editorial in terms of damange to the vents but as one who walked in Juarez in a 2005 event V-Day put on (and will not be participating in Ensler's latest attempt to grab headlines) noted, "She made that the issue and then she just dropped it. Three years later and not one damn thing for that issue." Why is that? Well maybe she's a grass hopper, maybe she has the attention cycle of a gnat or maybe she lets others determine for her what the 'big issue' of the day is?

People have a right to know -- when someone endorses a candidate -- what the person's politics are. When Eve Ensler thinks she can join in the public trashing of a woman, when she thinks she can slam Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem and get away with it, we think people have more than a right to know where she's coming from.

"Pimped" was offensive. It took but honesty to report on it, to comment on it. It's not a surprise so many public liars took a pass.

TV: Bad TV takes no holiday

In what we (Ava and C.I.) hope is our last TV piece on news and public affairs programs for some time, we started the week thinking, "We'll say kind things." That would certainly please our PBS friends who became as prickly as porcupines when the writers strike meant we stopped covering entertainment programming. But that wish sputtered out quickly, like a Rudy G presidential campaign when faced with reality. The reality we faced was actually watching.


"Make someone happy, make just one someone happy, and you will be happy too," Jimmy Durante sang so let's do that in order to be happy too! And if anyone deserves to be happy it's the entertainment writers who staged a 4-month strike and appear (the contract needs to be signed still by February 25th) to have won. So it was a bit of surprise to finish speaking Thursday morning, check our cell phones and find non-stop voice mails from writers. They were mad. They were angry. They felt disrespected by Democracy Now! And, guess what, they were.

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez did at least their third sit-down interview on the strike and, yet again, they went with Michael Winship. Winship is president of Writers Guild of America East. Sorry to break the news to Democracy Now!, but since Desi Arnaz devised the method to film a sitcom with multi-cameras, NYC hasn't been the heart of the TV industry. It's also not the heart of the film industry.

Now members of the Writers Guild live all over the world -- not just the United States. There's no requirement that they live in NYC or the Los Angeles area. But somehow Winship was allowed to be the voice for the strike and that has ticked off huge numbers of friends on the West Coast. They're right to be mad. The picket lines in the LA area were significant and Winship didn't speak to those and couldn't speak for those. It bears noting that the only time Democracy Now! offered writers speaking about the strike in a segment, they were also from NYC. A national strike . . . reported as NYC actions. Since the show is no longer merely aired on NYC's WBAI, that is offensive. That's not the worst of the offenses on Valentine's Day, but that really needs to be noted.

Some may argue that Democracy Now! needs to go with local guests due to their location. They've done phone interviews before (including on Friday), they've had interviews beamed in from other studios. There was nothing preventing them from inviting on somone representing the Writers Guild West. Due to the well known split between the East and West Coasts, having invited the president of the East chapter on twice already, it was more than incumbent for them to bring on the West Coast chapter.

In the East, the left media really doesn't grasp the differences or just don't care. It's why they pushed for a former president of the East Coast chapter in a Senate run and were surprised that not only did he not have overwhelming support in the NYC region, he had little to no support. He, in fact, had a number of very vocal critics. Equally true is that the East Chapter seems to have trouble getting it together on very basic things. During the strike, you may have heard the statistics that 48% of the membership was unemployed? That's the statistic from and for the West Coast Chapter. The East Coast Chapter still can't even get their act together enough to figure out that basic statistics on their membership. That point was stressed repeatedly in voice mail messages and in all the calls that followed. It's a good point. If you want to know about the strike -- and it had a greater impact on the West Coast -- then why is that chapter not being invited?

It was the Oscar telecast that forced the networks hand. A West Coast event. "I'm not trying to be divisive," explained one TV show runner, "but they have yet to feature anyone from the West Coast." That's not divisive, that's noting reality. The East Coast TV industry effected by the strike was much smaller and the motion picture industry remains based in California -- where it's been based since before the advent of sound. To be sure, the East Coast members should be heard, but they are not the only voices and they are not the bulk of the industry. As Winship popped up in USA Today, The New York Times and other publications throughout the strike, a number of members of the West Coast Chapter began wishing he'd develop a case of laryngitis for the duration of the strike and that was not limited to the issue of glory-hog but also included what the felt were misrepresentations.

The above was bad and goes to fairness. Fairness also includes honoring those who strike as well as, if not dishonoring, refusing to honor strike breakers. Introducing the segment on Thursday, that the strike was over, the program felt the way to go was with ha-ha sketches from The Daily Show and The Stephen Colbert Report. For those unaware, both programs broke the strike. Both crossed picket lines to return to production. David Letterman, who worked out an agreement with the Guild, did not break the strike. Nor did Craig Ferguson whose program is produced by Letterman's World Wide Pants. So if we were in the mood to celebrate, why is it that the allegedly pro-union Democracy Now! elected to go with ha-has from strike breakers? Did they not get how offensive that would be?

The Jon Stewart clip required heavy bleeping to rebroadcast due to his repeated use of the f-word. As one sketch comedy writer said, "Anyone can get a laugh swearing. That was low comedy and it lowered our victory." Please note, that man knows no "sacred cows." He has gone after everything and will again. But even he was among the offended by the clips. Stephen Colbert was seen as even more offensive -- and it's shocking that Democracy Now! couldn't grasp that he would be -- since his skit involved bringing on stage the 'returning writers' which, a giggling Amy Goodman explained, included "former New York Times reporter Judith Miller and actor Kevin Bacon."

Oh, ha, ha, ha, ha. Judith Miller being included in that joke? It was offensive. Judith Miller's not a comedy writer. Judith Miller is most famous for selling the illegal war with questionable, lie-riddled stories. It was offensive. It wasn't funny. It showed hostility and disrespect. And, hate to break it to Goodman, but comedy writers weren't the only ones on strike and it was when the show runners of dramatic shows started complaining that we really got an earful.

"We're Judith Miller?" asked one. "We're Judith Miller and that's supposed to be funny?"

Goodman may never grasp how many writers she offended. She should quickly grasp that when you're supposedly 'honoring' the strike, when you're supposedly 'pro-union,' you don't 'celebrate' the strike (with trashy skits or otherwise) by highlighting the work of strike breakers and that is what Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were. Now a Writers Guild East president might find that funny, he might have to scrape and bow before the tiny gods of basic cable due to how little of the entertainment industry originates from NYC today, but on the West Coast, there was no rejoicing that strike breakers were being presented as the go-to-source for news on the strike. It was offensive and anyone who claims to support unions or to be pro-labor should be embarrassed. We wonder how Pacifica workers, who staged their own successful walk-out earlier this decade, would have felt to hear strike breakers being 'amusing' over Pacifica airwaves without being called out for their refusal to honor the strike?

On Friday, Goody was back to do more damange. (Feb. 14, 2008 was the Thursday show, Feb. 15th the Friday show. You can google "Democracy Now!" if you need the transcripts but we're not linking to trash.) She interviewed Eve Ensler about V-Day. Yeah, that'll make everyone forget that Goodman published in H**stler or that she set Gloria Steinem up. Of course, Ensler's one of those 'independents' who supports Barack Obama. Funny, we thought Ensler belonged to a political party? Strange. Who knew she was just another dull homebody who read Good Housekeeping? During the interview, Amy Goodman felt the need to give a 'shout-out' to the Iraq War. It only revealed how uninformed you are when you drop the illegal war repeatedly and then try to pick it up as an aside.

Goody declared, attempting to brandish non-existent feminist credentials, "One of the stories we heard was that women soldiers stopped drinking water, where it's extremely hot in Iraq, 120 degrees, at around three of four in the afternoon because they were afraid if they drank water after that that they'd have to go out to the latrines at night and they were too terrified to walk out because they were afraid of being raped by their fellow soldiers." Well, as Stevie Nicks once sang, "Welcome to the room, Sara, Sara, welcome to the choir, sir, well of course it was a problem."

But Goody's problem is that she thinks she can pick up Iraq ever so often and come off as an expert. She can't. And her statement is ridiculously offensive. Women serving in Iraq did that because they were terrified? No, they do that because the military refuses to address the problem, the crime. They do that because the military told them not to go the latrines at night alone. They do that because the military's 'answer' to rape was to order the women to only go to the latrines at night with a 'buddy'. That is a huge indictment of the current military system and Goodman wants to reduce it to a personal whim or fear on the part of the women serving? She wants to pull it out of the context of the system? She avoids noting that the military provided an 'answer' to the problem that was no answer at all and further encourages rape because, if it's a woman responsiblity to take a buddy or risk being raped by those serving with her, then we're back to the "She asked for it" nonsense. Eve Ensler paused a moment before replying and, when she did reply, didn't call that out. Guess it wasn't V-Day in that moment. Guess it was retro-throw-back day. No woman was well served by that nonsense.

Let's move over to NBC's Today Show on Thursday (which you were given a heads up to the morning of). One incident is getting a huge amount of attention and they should be very glad for that, it allows the actions of the on air staff to go overlooked. That's not limited to Meredith's stating, before the show's theme played, that it would "take a miracle" for Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic presidential nomination now. At the desk, after the theme played, Natalie Morales would announce it was "impossible." We weren't aware that either was an expert on US politics. We quickly became aware that there is worse than a turkey waddle -- such as whatever you call the thing bulging beneath Meredith's chin -- a bulge that shook wildly when Meredith intoned, "Chicks rule the roost!" (Matt Lauer's voice had given out and, though he showed up at the studios Thursday morning, he was unable to go on. Morales filled in for him.) The most important "chick" (judging by viewer feedback) wasn't present: Ann Curry.

Her absence is always noted by those contacting the show. It should have been noted by all watching on Thursday. That's when the Larry Craig ethics issue was 'addressed' by news reader Hoda Kotb who declared that the Senate Ethics Committee found that "he acted inappropriately with the mens room sex thing" or "sex sting." We're being kind and offering the "or 'sex sting'." To our ears, she's saying "thing" but friends at Today maintain she said "sting." Being kind and allowing for "sting," it's still wrong. It gives the impression that Craig was admonished for assisting law enforcement in a sting. That's not what happened by a long shot.

The (PDF format warning) committee statement can be found here. It's very clear that he entered a guilty plea to "disorderly conduct" and that committe found he attempted to use his standing to circumvent the arrest process: "Following your arrest on June 11, 2007, you showed the arresting officer a business card that identified you as a United States Senator and stated to the officer, in words or substance, 'What do you think about that?' Under the circumstances present at the time, you knew or should have known that a reasonable person in the position of arresting officer could view your action and statement as an improper attempt by you to use your position and status as a United States Senator to receive special and favorable treatment." The committee further found that he was in violation of Senate Rule 38.2 by using campaign contributions without the committee's approval to pay for his legal expenses ("and apparently, 'public relations'"). The amount of money in question is listed as "over $213,000". Gee, if only everyone who got caught soliciting sex in a men's room had that kind of money to fight the charges. Being kind and allowing that the word used by Today was "sting," it still doesn't address what happened or what the Senate found.

Which brings us to PBS. Many think the road shows killed The McLaughlin Group. Possibly Gwen Ifill is as tired of her show as we are and is attempting to kill it off? More likely, she's hoping for a tie-in with Antiques Road Show -- another PBS time waster. Gwen and the gang went to Florida and, if there's anything worse than seeing her and the gas bags, it's seeing them on stage trying to get laughs. Nothing like seeing 'experts' giddy with the hopes of receiving laughter and applause to grasp how empty the gas bags are. Chief among them was Todd S. Purdum. Purdum is someone who, having left The New York Times, we really hoped to never offer an unkind word about. If you drop back The Common Ills circa 2005, you will read often of Purdum. It was a period when, at many other sites, words like "knee pads" and "Elisabeth Bumiller" had to be appear in the same sentence. Apparently, a Constitutional amendment had been passed that we missed.

We weren't outraged for the sake of "tone," but we did wonder why women were the only one receiving the "treatment"? As a result Todd S. Purdum became the whipping boy and the joke was that he reported as though he were wearing an atheletic cup. The joke was that it was a smelly one whose fumes were getting to Purdum. As repeatedly noted at the site (and in reply to e-mails), Purdum does not have a body odor. This was in response to the easy slams launched on women while men doing similarly appalling work were overlooked. So you got "NYT: What can the Times do about Todd S. Purdum's smelly jock strap?," "NYT: Todd S. Purdum 'cupping' the story," "NYT: The fumes from his smelly jock k.o. Todd Purdum yet again," etc. Now the joke worked on a number of levels and one of the most satisfying to those who know Purdum (C.I. does) is that Purdum's sports obsessed. So it shouldn't have been all that surprising to catch him on Washington Weak Friday citing sports. But it should have appalled everyone watching that he was listing one year on a basketball team, second string, as evidence of leadership.

Again, there was a reason "athletic supporter" was used on Purdum. We'll be kind and say he wasn't trying to come off like Frank Hart but his comments certainly did bring to mind Dabney Coleman's 9 to 5 character: "You girls, of course, never got a chance to play football or baseball and I've -- I've always felt that that was unfortunate because I think it's probably the best place to learn what team work is all about." Purdum's 'insight' offered nothing to do with leadership or anything to do with being president. Surprisingly with two female gas bags and Gwen on Washington Week, not one woman thought to make that point on air.

Then it was Bill Moyers Journal and, as we noted at the top, we really hoped we'd be able to have kind things to say. Since this could be the last week (it probably won't be) that we have to tackle news and public affairs for some time, we really wanted to be able to offer nothing but praise for Moyers' program. "Didn't work out quite the way you wanted, how were you to know?" asks Carole King in "Chalice Borealis" but, thing is, we should have known.

The first segment (after Moyers with a book note) should be called out by many. Thing is, it won't be and it'll again get back to us about how "mean" and "nasty" we are. (And those are the nicer comments.) It's hard to know where to start with that segment so let's start with assumptions.

The assumption that's being operated on right now is that Democrats will regain the White House in the November elections. That's not a prediction among the gas bag set, it's an assumption.

If you doubt it, you need only look at Scott Biddle and Jean Johnson, Moyers guests for the first segment. It's time to get serious, it's time to realize we can't pay for everything, it's time to tighten the belt. You may know the mantra. If you're old enough, you may grasp it only gets trotted out without rebuttal when a Democrat is in the White House or thought to be headed to the White House. When it's Dem time in the White House, suddenly every half-wit in the pundit set or on an editorial board is an economic expert and preaches "self-control," "moderation" and cuts, cuts, cuts. Contrast that with the spending spree Bully Boy's been on for over seven years now. We only get those speeches when a Dem is in the White House or assumed to be headed to it. That should offend a number people. Actual economists (and Paul Krugman may tackle this aspect shortly if a Democrat gets into the White House) know that a deficit in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. (That's not a defense of Bully Boy's economics. They are a disaster. That's speaking in terms of basic principles.) The gas bags weren't actual economists.

They are this decade's Faith Popcorn and it's too bad for them that everyone won't be as mesmerized by their statements as Moyers was -- too bad for them, but good for the country. Neither Scott Biddle nor Jean Johnson holds any degree in economics. And you need to keep that in mind as we get into their 'proposals' and their 'economic' understanding. What you've got is Jean who made a tiny splash at a tinier record label (back when they were called 'record labels' by all) and communications and journalism major Scott who was handling the 'hard hitting' travel features not all that long ago. Now Faith Popcorn is a name that many today won't know. There's a reason for that. She was a mini-media god during the 80s. Her 'research' was all the rage the way a Scott Biddle or a Jean Johnson's will be today. They will be proclaimed as straight talkers, nee, as seers, and we will all be encouraged to weigh each of their half-baked words as though it were gospel. But they are The Markateers and they have a very short shelf life.

Before we go further, it needs to again be stressed, the two have no economic background. The average reader knows more about economics than they do. They know marketing. That's what their careers basically were long before Public Agenda and it's what it remains. What are they marketing? A Social Security crisis. There is no crisis. Repeating, there is no crisis.

To hear them tell it, there is and it must be dealt with immediately -- to hear them lie. To hear them lie, 2040 sees a meltdown of the system. That's not reality.

The US government notes, "Presently, Social Security collects more in taxes than it pays in benefits. The excess is borrowed by the U.S. Treasury, which in turn issues special-issue Treasury bonds to Social Security. These bonds totaled $1.9 trillion at the beginning of 2006. Social Security received $94 billion in interest from bonds in 2005. " Students of Gore Vidal -- someone Moyers should immediately book to address this topic -- know where we're going. That's the current surplus Social Security is running. Social Security has always run a surplus. If there is no outbreak or mass catastrophe by 2040 or a baby boom over the next two decades or a restoration of an actual production economy in this country, it is thought that that for every two Americans paying into Social Security there will be one person collecting. As Vidal has long explained -- though Markateers ignore it -- the government has long used the monies paid into Social Security for their own benefit. Treated it as an asset, included it in the general revevnue and spent it. But they've left the bonds as markers. (Al Gore, a relative of Gore Vidal, attempted to address this in 2000 but was widely ridiculed by the media for "lock box.") Having run at a surplus for all the years of existance, Social Security has 'markers.' When it's time to pay off benefits in 2040, it won't just be about 2 workers for every person receiving benefits, it will also be about those "markers" being called in to keep the program afloat. Will that cause a strain on the government? It may or may not. We're talking three decades from now and the two are not economists. But you don't borrow money without knowing you'll have to pay it back, even if you're the federal government. Especially, if you're the federal government. They've double and triple dipped into the people's pension and too damn bad if paying back is going to be a little harsh but it is paying back, not a gift to the system.

Please note, Biddle and Johnson aren't just arguing for cuts to Social Security, they are arguing for cuts to all programs -- all people's programs. They never once noted the runaway defense budget. Pressed by Moyers about the cost of the Iraq War, they maintained it wouldn't make a difference because it was so small comparatively speaking. Really? The figure most often cited as needed for the next 75 years is 4.3 trillion and the National Priorties Project running counter on the cost of the illegal war currently lists it at closing in on the half a trillion mark. (By the time this post, it will be over the half a trillion mark.) We need 9 "half a trillions" according to the most bandied about figure and the illegal war has already cost one of those. That would leave 8 more needed and Biddle and Johnson want to dismiss the cost of the illegal war (ironically, they were less dismissive of it at The Huffington Post this month but Markateers are all about 'tailoring' the argument to the audience.)

Remember that half a trillion figure because it's a figure Biddle and Johnson don't know. Biddle claims, "Between 2001 and 2007, we spent about $600 billion on the entire war on terrorism: Iraq, Afghanistan, everything else. Over that same period, we added 2.3 trillion to the debt. So the war is certainly making our financial problems worse. But it's not the sole cause, and it's not the sole answer." If you just got uncomfortable, that is another problem, the two constantly referred to the Iraq War as "the war on terrorism." Considering Moyers' Buying The War opener for this series, he should have corrected them. When people wonder why some of the public would still believe there's a connection between 9-11 and Iraq, look no further than the likes of Biddle and Johnson (who are affiliated with the dreaded war hawk Council of/on/for/about Foreign Relations).

$600 billion is incorrect. That would mean that hardly a dime is being spent on the Afghanistan War. Where they get their numbers you'd probably have to shell out your hard earned money for their easy-to-read book in order to find out. Don't bother. They're liars and hucksters. Your clue list on that should include the citation of Homer Simpson, talk of "focus groups" (not really a huge concern to those working in the field of economics), and non-stop crap designed to make them appear 'caring.' Jean's ready for "change" and sure the country is as well. Scott explains he's "an optimist." And this is how Jean rewrites the Bully Boy's tax cuts (and gets away with this crap unchallenged by Moyers):

I think, like the war, it's a lot of money. But we are routinely overspending. And even if we rolled back all of those tax cuts, which not even the Democrats are proposing. Some of those tax cuts are for families and for married people. We still would face a major, major problem balancing the budget. And we have to remember, balancing the budget is not enough. We also have to look at Social Security and Medicare and make some decisions about them.

The tax cuts that people speak of rolling back -- the bulk of the tax cuts in fact -- are not for "families" (outside the Jack Welch and Summer Redstone families) or "married people" -- they are for the extremely rich. The two think they can play you for a sucker. It's equally true that the two hucksters made no attempt to address the decade by decade decrease in tax on corporations.

It was alarmist hogwash and we're offended it aired -- and that Moyers refused to challenge them and that he even booked them. They are a fad, a hula hoop and we're damn sick of their likes being treated as "knowledgable" and "informed." We are all going to have to give up a little, they inform on the show, but somehow "we" never includes Defense Contractors. The defense budget -- leave out the costs of the two wars -- is nothing but pork -- million and billion dollar give-aways for planes that don't fly, guns that don't shoot without jamming and tons of other programs that never pass the accountability test. While other business, such as Mrs. Field's Cookies, have to pay for their own reasearch & development, the government doesn't just purchase from the defense contractors, it funds their r & d.

Not mentioned, it is, after all, PBS, was aid to Israel. It's real funny, really damn funny, that US citizens are being told "we" all have to sacrifice when, by 2001, Washington Report On Middle East Affairs was noting, aid to Israel (the bulk of it military hardware) had reached $91 billion since 'aid' began. This month last year, Haaretz was reporting of US aid to Israel, "The present package, which ends this year, covers 2.4 billion in annual military aid." And the paper was reporting that this wasn't enough, that it was time to ask for an increase. 2.4 billion over the next thirty years would mean over sixty billion dollars. When it's time to make cuts, there's a good place to start. But being Council 'folk' and being on PBS, Biddle and Johnson are never going to propose that. They speak vaguely of money flying out of the US government but when it's time for specifics, it's Social Security and Medicare that need cuts -- as though they studied under George Will. Under George Will? What a horrifying thought.

Another thing -- much lower on the cost scale but if 'we' are supposed to be tightening the belt, let's mention it -- that could be tossed on the chopping block is AIDS 'education' funding in Africa. The minute you start wasting money on 'abstinence' 'education,' you are no longer teaching scientific prevention and you are undercutting everything else. We've long called that nonsense out and didn't need to wait for the studies that have since come in saying it doesn't work, all we needed was a working knowledge of human nature.

Here's something the studies still haven't gotten around to telling you, "Just say no" translates as "If I have unprotected sex only a few times, then I won't get AIDS." That's a basic of any 'wrong' the young are taught to 'stay away' from. How do you prevent AIDS? That requires safe sex, protected sex. You betray science and prevention when you water down that reality with your dream that you can prevent sex outside of marriage (it's never been preventable in any known society -- not even the Shakers at their largest managed to practice it which is a reason their numbers 'dwindled' -- and a reason often left out of the telling of that religious group's history). You do more damage than good because 'no' translates to people who want something as "I'll just do it a little and that's almost a 'no'."

They end the segment with Moyers' coyly asking them why they dedicated their latest non-book to their fathers (the answer is on the dedication page, but let's all play dumb) and they respond it was because their fathers never would have left debt for them to pay. Apparently their mothers are a different story? And how lucky for them that their fathers (we'll forget their mothers, the two of them did) weren't, like many seniors, living check to check. When they start talking cuts, that's another reality they failed to note.

When we call out Moyers, it's apparently a big deal and PBS friends flock to their phones to tell us what's being said. Apparently so much ego stroking has been done (and it has been), that reality is not just a shock, it's a brutal shock. That first segment (and any news magazine show knows the first segment is the most viewed) pushed the lie that the Iraq War is about 'terrorism,' it pushed the lie that 'we' need to tighten our belts but 'we' is always the people when people's programs (such as Medicare) account for so damn little of the federal government expenditures. It pushed the lie that Poppy Bush's tax increase (near the end of his one term) was the same as all the cost-cutting measures under Bill Clinton, . . . . We could go on and on down the list but that segment was insulting and nothing but the lies of Markateers passed off as "economic realities."

Apparently, we are all supposed to be unquestioning idiots while the Moyers program airs. We're supposed to nod along spellbound -- while breathing through our open mouths? -- and never for a minute believe that there are standards and they must be maintained. Wealth and want, Henry George was calling out the contradictions the program avoided (calling it out at the end of the 19th century) but we're all supposed to avoid that and any other knowledge or history that refutes the crap and lies the first segment offered.

Again, we wanted to offer a valentine to the show. It's the best thing PBS has to offer. It's the only reason to donate a dime to PBS. But it is not perfect and some of the segments really require calling out. This is now the second time in two months that the program has floated the notion that Social Security is in trouble. That's a right-wing talking point and, you'll note, that each time it was floated, it came via pollsters. We could say a lot more on that segment and could, for instance, note who was asked questions in the segment, who Moyers directed the conversation to (the male guest) but let's keep it real simple for a very touchy program: No one benefits from these attacks on Social Security.

Nor does anyone benefit from the "greedy geezers" stereotype that is once again being promoted. It was promoted in the seventies, it was promoted in the eighties, it was promoted (and marketed to Gen-X) in the nineties. It has never, ever been true. But it has done real damage and led to real cuts in Social Security that have left many current seniors dependent on Social Security living precarious lives. If it hurts to have your program called out, quit airing these distortions.

There were two more segments and, yes, they were wonderful. Yes, they were everything that PBS is supposed to strive for and hallmarks of public affairs programming. But to get to them, viewers had to wade through a cess poll of lies in that first segment that older viewers should have had a sense of Deja Vu about because we've been there many, many times before.

Turning to the positive . . . Susan Jacoby, the author most recently of The Age of American Unreason, for instance, won't be popping up on Dateline or 20/20. Jacoby's segment was a lively discussion of themes and myths that need dispelling such as the use of "commander-in-chief" to describe a president because a president is not "commander-in-chief" of the people, such as the fact that a White House that wants anything (good or bad) has an obligation to educate the people on the proposal they're making, the laughable creative use of "troop" that now tends to dominate press coverage, we could go on and on. It was a very important segment and had it been expanded (it easily could have been) so that it replaced the first segment, we'd be able to offer our desired valentine. That's not because we agreed with every word that Jacoby uttered, that's due to the fact that she wasn't a huckster prepared to sell yet another round of attacks on Social Security, another round of right-wing lies that only take hold when they can peel off the left with spin masked as 'reason.'

The third segment was an interview with photographer Lori Grinker about her photos of victims of the Iraq War and that too was an amazing segment. For this exchange alone, the segment deserved high praise:

Bill Moyers: It's hard to understand what it is to be orphaned by history, you know, to just be rolled over.

Lori Grinker: It's . . . You know, they're followed by the war now, and will be forever. And that's what I want to document. You know the war doesn't leave them. For them, they're living it. And they're living it all the time. And these people will be living it forever. These people's stories can tell us the story of the Iraq war. To see individuals -- kids and teenagers and, you know, families -- without any idea of what's going to happen in the future, and that it's all related to this war, I hope that will teach the story of this war. It's a very long road for them.

There's a moment where the program shows you a photo of women in a bus, prepared for a wedding, and then Moyers and Grinker discuss the photo with Grinker pointing out how easy it is to first see that photo and not notice that all have been shot by a sniper. Those are wonderful segments and the program frequently offers many wonderful segments.

So is it carping to to critique the first segment or similar ones we've noted in the past? No. It's calling out crap. We're all for an open discussion in the public square. An open discussion is not Bill Moyers allowing lies to be stated on his program and not calling the guests out. That's playing stupid and playing the viewers stupid. Moyers is more than old enough to have lived through every attack on Social Security. If he truly did not recognize the one happening before his eyes that's still no excuse for allowing guests to falsely tie Iraq into 'terror' or for him to play dumb -- and remember Moyers was part of the LBJ White House -- on how tiny a sliver of the annual budget goes to people's programs.

Moyers is fully aware of what the big-ticket items are -- year after year -- and how easy it would be to cut them out. Instead of asking them to explain their book's dedication page, he should have used the time to ask them to explain the realities of the federal budget and where the bulk of the money -- year after year -- goes. He should have asked them to explain how much has been spent on the laughable 'Star Wars' program and maybe that could have led to a real discussion about the militarization of space -- one that included how unpopular it is with the rest of the world and the animosity and ill will it is breeding towards the US from outside.

"Even Bill only has so much power," one PBS friend offered as a defense for the appalling first segment. Oh, like that idea had never popped into our heads? Of course, "even Bill" faces the same restrictions and head butting into walls that many at PBS face (with more walls constructed each year -- under the myth that it's 'saving' PBS). That's why you don't invite on hucksters and con-artists. That's why our answer -- constructive criticism that we supposedly never offer -- who knew we were summer camp counselors supposed to impart life lessons? -- to Friday's broadcast was not invent a new segment, just expand the two worthy ones. You would have had a full hour of quality television if that had been done.

Instead we got yet another attack on Social Security and we can't understand how anyone could book that segment and not grasp that? Before Biddle and Johnson ever uttered a word, it was obvious that all they had to offer was tired spin that's been repeated non-stop since the end of LBJ's administration. And that's the thing, LBJ was not the great 'evil.' His legacy should include some actual work done domestically for the people. The Johnson administration truly gave a damn about people's programs and we're not sure we can say that about any administration -- Democrat or Republican -- since.

We will gladly note that Bill Moyers truly gives a damn about people. His ego is the same as anyone else with a history in broadcast journalism, no question, but if it was all about his ego, he'd have descended to the embarrassment that so many of his peers have (which doesn't stop with hosting informericals, yeah, Hugh, we mean you). We're fully aware that week after week, he offers at least one segment that challenges and demonstrates that at least one person on air at PBS still remembers why it was created to begin with.

We know why we do these pieces. And we know our mission is not to provide aid and comfort to those who supply bad TV. So as much as we wanted to offer up hearts, flowers and candy to Bill Moyers Journal, our obligations to call out the damage done is far greater. It's about responsiblities and that's why we're, yet again, unable to ask: "Bill, will you be our valentine?"


Jim: Roundtable time and due to an impassioned e-mail by Jordan who pleads for "one more, I know you are all sick of doing them but they are fun to read and I have a feeling there may be a long dry spell for the roundtables due to the fact that you've done so many this year." There probably will be, Jordan. We'll be dealing with a number of topics and we're going to seriously try to work in e-mails into this since doing a roundtable means no mailbag. 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, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Wally of The Daily Jot and Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ. If there's an illustration with this piece, they are added later, it's by Betty's son. To make sure that e-mails are not forgotten, I will periodically be calling on Ty who has a number of e-mails selected. We'll start with Ty.


Ty: Julie, who is a community member, writes to say thank you for quoting from the Shangri-Las in "Editorial: State of 'Independent' Media" and wonders if we could please up the music factor? She also wants to know when Kat's doing another CD review?

Kat: I plan to have a CD review up on Monday at The Common Ills. Plan to. I've got two paragraphs written now and that's it. I'm not working on it Sunday. My plan is to work on it Monday morning and have something up by the end of the day. My goal is 12 pieces a year and I usually get more than that. My year in review went up the first of January and that was my January piece. One thing to note is that I'm now hitting the road with Ava and C.I. most weeks and if I'm taking part in that, in speaking to groups about the illegal war, it's kicking my butt just to do the little I do at my own site, let alone do a music piece. Equally true is that there's nothing that's really grabbed me since Ann Wilson's CD. Mary J. Blige is someone C.I. listens to a great deal when we're on the road. I didn't realize that one of the CDs I really enjoy is her latest, Growing Pains. Those things are being shoved into the CD player of a rental car and we're not paying attention, or I'm not. We all bring Tori and other CDs. But C.I. has all of Mary's CDs and my favorite has been The Tour but as Growing Pains has grown on me, I asked, "When did this come out?" It came out in December and I would assume anything that could have been said on it already has. Being on the road means I'm not haunting the CD stores, and of course Tower's closed. But I have considered writing something on Growing Pains if I can find the time to read a few reviews and be sure that what I'd like to say hasn't already been said over and over. I've also considered, due to the fact that it is very slow for music these days, reviewing Tori Amos' Scarlet's Walk which came out long ago, before I started reviewing at The Common Ills, but is something we never stop listening to on the road. I almost mentioned this in a review I did last year, but we were jonesing hard for that CD one week, when we hadn't packed it, and we were on a campus to speak to music majors about the illegal war. We were actually early and Ava went somewhere to take care of something and I headed for the ladies' room. We get back to near where we're supposed to be speaking and hear music down the hall from one of the practice rooms, amazing music. So we head down the hall with the professor who's organized the speaking and it's C.I. at the piano running through the Tori canon. It was amazing.

C.I.: It wasn't amazing. I never have time to play anymore but we were nearly a half hour early and I could feel the pianos calling.

Kat: Ava?

Ava: It was amazing. It was fierce, it was ferocious, we were among a very sizeable crowd crowded outside the door of the practice room.

C.I.: It was adquate at best.

Elaine: Give it up, C.I.'s never going to admit it was good let alone amazing. Rebecca and I know better and used to go with C.I. all the time, back in college, with our books to the practice rooms just to hear C.I. play. I'll assume the biggest shocks were when C.I. altered things like tempos or added bits to the songs.

Kat: Exactly. It was amazing. But I'll change the subject -- and C.I.'s reaction right now is why I didn't include it in my review. I have two CDs on deck to review. One will be Monday if everything works out. The other will either be at the end of the month or the first of next month, which isn't that far away. The reason I'm considering holding the second one is I'm not sure anything's going to be worth writing about in March. The second one, by the way, is a favorite artist of Elaine's.

Elaine: I'm so glad you're going to review that and, for Julie, I'll try to write about music at my site one day next week. I agree we need more music.

Ty: I'll help out before we move on by addressing one CD I know Kat's not going to review. Rufus Wainwright's Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall and may have made for wonderful live performances but I found it unlistenable. "The Man That Got Away" was just irritating.

Rebecca: That's Rufus doing, redoing, Judy Garland's best selling Judy at Carnegie Hall. That track was the most disappointing because it never took off and I thought if anything on the multi-disc set, it would be that song.

C.I.: That may be from the hall itself, but Rufus and the arrangement are off. The arrangement needed to be in a higher key, much higher, and Rufus singing in that key makes for a drone. In fairness to him, that's a difficult thing to do live, the entire project, and his voice was ragged for some performances. I also think the issue of acoustics goes into it and most feel he was best doing that concert at the Hollywood Bowl which is an open theater but had better acoustics. It's also true the project was a labor of love for him and honoring an album that meant something to him.

Ty: Which I'll give him credit for but it doesn't make it on the CD player. And you're right, "The Man That Got Away" does sound like a drone.

Jim: So there's a bit of music for Julie, and she's not the only one asking. We're all looking forward to Kat's upcoming review because we all love the CD she'll be reviewing. As we're doing the roundtable, the total for US service members killed in Iraq stands at 3960. Let's talk about the count.

Wally: The first thing there is the fact that it is the DoD count which does not include Anthony Raymond Wasielewsk, Gerald J. Cassidy, Jack D. Richards, Raymond A. Salerno III and John "Bill" Smith who all were injured in Iraq, transported out and died from their physical wounds received in Iraq. We know about those five. There may be more.

Cedric: Right and since those five are known, it is a mystery why the Defense Department doesn't include them in the official count. Another question is what happens when the 4,000 mark arrives. Currently, it's 40 away on the Defense Department count.

Elaine: And will anyone note it. We saw what happened with the 3,000 mark. It wasn't noted. It came on New Year's Eve and that was a Sunday. That morning we'd noted that it was looming in the editorial.

Dona: Correct. Sunday morning, we'd done "Editorial: The 3,000 mark looms" and the number was 2998. As Elaine points out, that was also New Year's Eve. At this site, Sunday night, we came back and did "The 3,000 mark has been reached." Everyone, despite it being New Year's Eve, everyone with a site, including Trina who isn't participating in this roundtable, tore themselves away from the 'festivities' long enough to note the mark had been reached. Normally, the only one who posts anything on Sunday nights is C.I. The rest of us all are 'off.' And it was New Year's Eve. I know Wally was e-mailing from a party because I was one of the people calling him to give him a heads up that the mark had been reached. So it was awfully strange to see the silence from Little Media.

Betty: But of course while Little Media was silent, The New York Times would have a front page story on it come Monday morning. They noted it. Where was independent media? Either Tuesday or Wednesday, The Nation, in a blog post on another topic, would mention it in one sentence. As a side note. When people are disgusted with the media's silence on Iraq, it goes to junk like that.

Jess: Or, another example, KPFA offering up their pre-recorded New Year's Eve music specials and not breaking in to note the news which was news, real news.

Kat: And talk to any veteran back in the US and they'll mention how the American people do not even seem aware that a war is going on. How would they when something like the 3,000 mark goes unnoted. The reason this is a topic right now is because the 4,000 mark will be coming up and people better be prepared to note it. It's funny how a corporatist candidate can be killed in another country and our 'peace movement' 'leaders' can come off their winter vacations to write tributes to St. Bhutto but they couldn't say one damn word about 3,000 dead in an illegal war they allegedly oppose and are allegedly attempting to end.

Mike: And Kat's right about talk to any veteran. I'm not at Elaine's office every Thursday night but I'm there a lot. That's when she does her Iraq veterans group. And I'll hear about it from veterans before the session starts and after. They are very offended by this and they should be. And they are very specific in their remarks to me about who is ignoring the illegal war, who in 'independent' media and 'peace' groups, while giving lip service to it when forced. It's a very big issue.

Betty: And it should be. In the last months, The Nation has taken down their "Iraq War" folder and the Iraq War hasn't ended. But it's not even worth a folder on their home page. So let's all quit pretending that 'independent' media gives a damn about the illegal war, let alone about ending it. There's not a bit of difference between them and the Democratic leadership in Congress. Both rode to greater prominence on the illegal war and both have no interest in ending it.

Mike: And Betty's last two sentences, I've heard that expressed over and over from veterans in Elaine's group. Betty's not wrong. Independent media would rather cover anything other than the illegal war. Ruth?

Ruth: Well, listen to Pacifica and try to find evidence that the Iraq War matters. You pretty much will not find anything to back up that claim. As has been pointed out here, Democracy Now! went through the month of January without a segment devote to the Iraq War until January 25th -- we're not counting the "We only have one minute!" segment that followed non-stop gas bagging about the political races.

Marcia: And we shouldn't count it. That segment was announced at the start of the show. If it mattered at all, that offices were being protested, you don't yammer on and on about a political race until you run out of time and start a segment saying you only have a minute. That's as bad as ignoring the illegal war, reducing opposition to it down to one minute. I think if FAIR did the same type of studies on 'indpendent' media that they did on the MSM, they'd have a lot to call out but, of course, FAIR won't do that.

Ty: We will. We're not in the mood to hand out lolly pops. 2008 is the year that we take it up a notch because it needs to be taken up a notch. A lot of people are posing as "I really want the illegal war to end" -- although some can't even call it "illegal" -- and yet if they had to list something to prove that, they'd all be falling back on stuff from 2003 and 2004.

Betty: And that's why it's all the more disgusting when someone posing as a voice against the illegal war is wasting time with columns endorsing candidates -- who aren't calling for all troops home now -- or scribbling away about super delegates. What is all that crap? Their audition pieces for Meet the Press?

Ava: And the concern that Kat, C.I. and I have, we all do but the three of us are on the road each week so we speak about this a great deal, is what does this mean for Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier Investigation next month in DC? Will it recieve any significant attention or will it be ignored the way Camp Casey was in the summer of 2006, the way it was ignored when it moved to DC the same summer? These are serious questions and concerns. Will it be ignored the way Agustin Aguayo's court-martial was? Think about all the crap that 'independent' media has served up in the last two years including but not limited to the gas baggery on horse races and we're seriously concerned about what's going to get play and what's not. I mean, last week, and I went to all the sites trying to find it so if you wrote about it, grab the credit, but maybe it was part of the snapshot on Thursday that C.I. edited out due to space reasons, Amy Goodman shows up on Valentine's Day, Thursday, to offer up her annual report on chocolate and diamonds and how they are produced. On Valentine's Day! Who needs that crap? It's the morning of Valentine's Day all that report does, at best, is produce guilt. Anyone getting a diamond had it bought before the morning of and that's true of most of the candy. That report needs to air several days before Valentine's Day to do any good. But each year it shows up when gifts have already been purchased and, in a lot of cases, exchanged, so what's the point of it besides "guilt"? If raising awareness was the goal, do it several days before Valentine's Day so people are aware and can say, "Look, I don't want chocolates or diamonds as a gift." Airing that nonsense each year on Valentine's Day only produces guilt for anyone not previously aware of the problem, it doesn't change a damn thing. It's a chance for Goody to hop on her high horse, it's not cutting down on the purchases because it comes far too late for that.

Jim: I agree with you one-hundred-percent. It's ineffective, it demonstrates lack of preparation and indicates that someone woke up, slapped their forehead as they realized it was Valentine's Day and rushed to drag that annual topic out of mothballs to air it again. I'm going to go to Ty again because I believe he has an e-mail that goes to this.

Ty: Yes. Friday, Mike's "Jarhead, Bruce Dixon" noted something that C.I. was working into the snapshots and Sol read that and e-mailed. Thursday's "Iraq snapshot" and Friday's "Iraq snapshot"report on Congressional hearings that are Iraq related and Sol writes, "Mike is right, I didn't read about or hear about those hearings anywhere else." Sol was hoping C.I. would talk about that.

C.I.: Mike details what's going on in the post Ty mentioned. A friend's adult child is now working for a member of Congress and the biggest shock for them was how much goes on in Congress each week that never makes it into the news. For a few weeks, we've been exchanging calls and e-mails on that. And it's true, there's not any Congressional coverage. The DC correspondents in Washington for Little Media aren't covering anything but the big showcases that alerts have gone out about. One of the two, Friday's, was aired on C-Span. Thursday was when the US House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on Military Readiness: Implications for Our Stategic Posture which was chaired by Ike Skelton. Friday, US House Rep Susan Davis chaired the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the US House Armed Services Committee held a meeting on "Medical Care For Wounded Soldiers." Those were public hearings and they have implications. They weren't covered. They should have been. To be clear, I wasn't in DC. The way I've explained it to ___ is I want three people I can talk to who were present for the hearings, three staffers, and I'm not going to promise that the Congress member they work for won't get called out. I want three staffers I can ask questions too quickly. In terms of Susan Davis, we quoted from her opening statement and it wasn't online when we were dictating but it is up now. They are not providing transcripts of either hearing, either when I was dictating the snapshot or since. I think that's a huge mistake. In addition, I'm calling a friend who's attended the hearings and I always know at least one person attending a hearing. From that, I'm pulling together what's included in the snapshot. If I have enough of a heads up, I will try to catch it on C-Span, if it's broadcast. But if Congress is in session and I'm aware of one hearing that can be seen as Iraq related, we will include it in the snapshot at least once a week. The child of a friend is just completely amazed at how much is going on in Congress and how little coverage it receives. That's very true. Congress meets, when in session, on several topics every day. The bulk of it goes uncovered or shows up months later in a report. It's really appalling that independent or 'independent' magazines with a DC staff allows their staff to write about the presidential primaries when they should be covering Congress. One of the great failures of independent media post-Watergate has been the cutting back of Congressional coverage. It's probably obviously, considering my own politics, that the staffers I've been speaking to thus far are working for Democratic members of Congress; however, if you read my comments on those two hearings, the bulk of the praise went to Republicans. Sorry about that but that's the way it was. I was provided with quotes, from Democratic members, and I said, "That's supposed to be a good quote." In terms of Friday's hearing, which was aired on C-Span, I also called a friend who's a political junkie so I knew he would be watching and I asked him to tape it. I listened to it for thirty minutes with me yelling "Fast foward" when they were stuck on nonsense -- like shout outs to a movie or making the same point over and over or praising Bully Boy's State of the Union speech -- and my main concern was making sure that the staffers hadn't missed something because my judgement of what they were supplying me with was that the Democrats behaved appallingly. They weren't asking the questions that needed to be asked. That was confirmed by listening to the recording. And, possibly, were these hearings actually covered, a number of people would be bothered by that and asking their Congressional members why they attended a hearing and made jokes or just wasted time? Susan Davis does laugh in her question and that was from the C-Span recording. Dallas just told me, I didn't know this, the House Armed Service Committee webpage has a link for live broadcasts and all scheduled hearings are broadcast. I'll add a link to their home page at The Common Ills on Sunday for that reason. But, Davis, as chair on a hearing into the very serious problems -- I'd call it a crisis -- in health care for service members and veterans, asks, in a public hearing, "Any additional thoughts on what the problems were? Whether there was a miscomunication somewhere?" and she laughs before "miscommuniation somewhere." I'm screaming "Stop!" over the phone because my friend's holding his phone up to the TV and I have to scream for him to hear me. So I get him to rewind it and go back to that section to make sure. I don't find it ammusing. I don't find it to be funny or the way a Congress member, let alone a chair, conducts themselves in a hearing. I guess it was ha-ha time for Davis and others but the issue was very serious to those effected and maybe if these hearings got coverage -- not just critical, but any coverage at all -- a chair couldn't find it amusing that there was a "problem" in health care for wounded service members and veterans. I was appalled and hoping I'd misheard. When it was played the second time, I was just disgusted. Ideally, if someone -- Democrat or Republican -- makes a strong point, that's what would be included in the snapshot. If they made a weak point and a strong point, we'd just go with the strong. If, however, they're making a fool of themselves, that'll go in.

Dona: And, if time permits, we'll do a feature on those hearings. We have recordings of both hearings from C.I.'s friend who is a political junkie. If time doesn't permit, Jim and I have already decided that we'll just copy the commentary from the two snapshots and call it a reposted feature. It is important. As C.I. was discussing with this person working for a member of Congress over the last few weeks, the resistance on C.I.'s part was, "If I do that, I'm going to get a ton of e-mails because there's not going to be any links and it's going to be, 'Prove that you're not making this stuff up!'" And I do understand that concern because the whole point these days is to reduce the number of e-mails to the public account. But my advice to anyone -- I do work the public account at The Common Ills -- to anyone who's in doubt will be, "For a few dollars you can subscribe to a service that puts out Congressional transcripts. Members are allowed to pull or alter their remarks from that allegedly officially record, but try spending a few dollars before you start asking for proof from someone who doesn't owe you a damn thing."

Elaine: I'd agree with that and note that Sunny and I were talking about those sections of the transcript and I explained to her why C.I. was including them and why C.I. had resisted it. She understood on the e-mail issue -- she reads all my incoming e-mails -- but pointed out as an example, when Ehren Watada changed legal representation and how C.I. noted that -- which wasn't being covered anywhere and C.I. knew about the change due to personal sources. She said the site's for community members and if it's a question of serving them with information they'll be interested in or worrying about the visitors who e-mail "Not true!" that the visitors just need to be ignored. That example stands out to her because we all repost the snapshot at our sites if we post that day and for some strange reason visitors can't understand, even when it's clearly labeled as being from C.I., that those of us reposting it did not write it. On Watada's change in attorneys, there were probably 35 e-mails on that calling me a liar between when it appeared in C.I.'s snapshot -- which I reposted -- and when the media finally reported on it.

Jess: And I agree with you but just to explain the reluctance, or one reason, C.I. noted an Al Jazeera TV report in one snapshot last year. Al Jazeera was the only one reporting something and it wasn't up at their website. So C.I. noted it and noted the correspondent. That story took two days to get in the US media. Before it did, it was non-stop "Liar!" e-mails from visitors. No one cares about screaming e-mails from visitors in terms of "Oh my feelings are hurt" but the sheer volume of them means that they clog up the public account.

Betty: Well let's use another example. In November, throughout November and as soon as the lie started getting reported as truth, C.I. was calling out The Myth of the Great Return. In Big Media's case, they just repeated the lies, in Little Media's case, they played dumb. By the end of November, you had an 18% increase in public opinion on the escalation, aka 'surge,' working. That resulted from a month of propaganda saying huge numbers of Iraqis were returning to Iraq because it was safer -- when the very few returning were doing so because their funds ran out or their visas weren't renewed or they were deported -- and where the hell was independent media. By the end of the month, even The New York Times was calling it out, but independent media was being silent. So I really did enjoy last Sunday's "And the war drags on . . ." about how, my words, it's good that a brave voice finally showed up in the middle of February to decry the lie but where were they in November when the lie was doing real damage? And you can carry that over to the helicopters which just dropped from the sky according to the coverage until C.I. started hitting hard on the fact that these were crashes and they were shot down. And I won't name the person but it came from a network correspondent who could not get that detail on air so C.I. hit on that topic over and over for something like two weeks and the result was that suddenly the MSM could report a crash as a crash and note that it was shot down or possibly shot down. So to me, the hearings being included in snapshots, is needed and fits into the take it up a notch approach we have for 2008.

Cedric: And think about those St. Bhutto pieces coming from alleged leaders of the 'anti-war' movement and how they could have used that space to call out The Myth of the Great Return but they didn't. They never commented on that. I mean, if our 'leaders' used their voices to follow Iraq, to get the word out on Iraq, imagine how much closer the illegal war would be to over.

C.I.: Before the topic changes, and it needs to, just to give credit, The New York Times reporters who called out that lie were Cara Buckley, then Damien Cave. That was real reporting and they deserve credit for what they did. I can't imagine their in-boxes were filled with "I love you!"s because the public account was filled with non-stop hatred starting November 5th when we were saying the great return isn't happening. For two reporters at a MSM outlet, let alone that paper, to get the truth into print is something that they deserve huge credit for.

Jim: Agreed. I'm tossing to Ty for another e-mail.

Ty: Len2477 e-mails to complain about the comments made by Kat and Jess in last week's "Roundtable" and he also complains that there hasn't been any Green coverage since that roundtable "at any of your sites."

Ava: Well, take that, Elaine, you've been kicked out of the community!

Elaine: I guess I have. Ava's referring to my post last Wednesday, "Ted Rall, Ralph Nader."

Jess: Kat can jump in anytime she wants. She did vote in the Green Primary here in California this month and she voted for Cynthia McKinney. So I don't know who this guy is but any comment Kat wants to make, she's more than allowed to. Not only is it still supposed to be a free country, she voted in the Green primary. But before I go on, I want to ask C.I. to stop taking notes for a second to check e-mails. C.I.'s the only one who signed up for Ralph Nader's alerts. And I want C.I. to check before I make my comments. While C.I.'s doing that, just to explain, I am a Green, I was raised a Green. My parents are Greens. Whoever the nominee from our party -- if we even have one -- will get my vote come November for president.

C.I.: Jess, the last thing sent out was the Valentine's Day message about the DVD Awake From Your Slumber. Which features Patti Smith, FYI.

Jess: That's what I figured. Elaine's post on Wednesday includes the "announcement coming soon" nonsense. Elaine posted that when C.I. forwarded it to her. Elaine's the only one who could have without getting grief from the community. That's because she's the peace queen, no one doubts that. No one doubts questions how she will vote -- she voted for Mike Gravel on Super Duper Tuesday. That wasn't in a snapshot and couldn't have been. Rebecca might have gotten away with posting it, maybe. Kat couldn't have. We couldn't. And the reason is that Kat and my remarks last week were in keeping with the mood of the community. Len or whomever may not like it but too damn bad. I was assuming this would be a topic and have worked on my thoughts on this all week, including in an e-mail to a professor Friday morning who wrote in to compliment C.I.'s "I Hate The War." Cynthia McKinney is a strong candidate. She's a candidate we -- at least many of us -- supposedly wanted to run. Not only is she running, she's also switched her party membership from Democratic to Green. Now it would be one thing if she was competing in the primaries with someone else, say Kat Swift. That would be fine. But she's losing -- or appears to be -- to someone who's not even declared? That's offensive. Ralph Nader needed to declare before the primaries. He didn't. He just announced he was forming an exploratory committee. On the 13th last week, he sent out that announcement that an announcement was coming. Where is it, Ralph? You're doing damage right now and the Green Party doesn't need your s**t.

Kat: Let me talk about the damage, Cynthia is running for the presidential nomination. Ralph is getting votes. If Ralph decides not to run, the implication in the press will be, "The Green Party couldn't get their first choice, so they settled on Cynthia." His bulls**t right now is hurting Cynthia and it's not hurting her because he's running, it's hurting her because he can't make up his damn mind. If he decides not to run, he will have left the public with the impression that the most popular choice for the Green Party nomination didn't want it so here's Cynthia. It's disgusting and this is the feeling of the community and Dallas will not be supplying any links to Ralph Nader when inserts links into this transcript -- thank you for the work you do, Dallas -- because we are sick of it. I voted for Cynthia because I believed she was the best candidate, Green or any other party, to be president. My choice is being held hostage by Ralph Nader.

Jess: It goes to what everyone suspects which is if Obama gets the nomination Nader's not running but if Hillary Clinton does, he's running. That's no way to make a decision on whether to run or not and he has not seriously dismissed that speculation. He said he would announce before the end of 2007. 2007 came and went with no announcement. Not only is it now 2008, but the Green Party has held primaries and Nader still can't make an announcement. It's pissing people off and it is hurting Cynthia McKinney and the Green Party. It's hurting her candidacy because she's losing to someone who can't even say he's running for the nomination. It's hurting the party because if he decides he's not running the impression, as Kat just said, is that the Green Party went with Cynthia only because they couldn't get Ralph. This is nonsense. I e-mailed Green Party members of the TCI community following the roundtable to see what they were feeling? All felt that it wasn't fair to Cynthia. All felt Nader needed to make an announcement. How he expects to run for president, if that is what he's planning, by declaring in March or April when the election is in November is beyond reason. The feeling was that they didn't want Nader mentioned at all until he declares he's running or not. When C.I. saw the e-mail, it was passed on to me and I thought, "Yeah, we won't hear another word this week." And we didn't. C.I. knew Elaine was the only one who wouldn't get complaints from the community, so it was passed on to her with a note to call me because we hadn't spoken since working on last week's edition. So she calls and I explain what's going on with Green Party members and that she might be walking face into a hornet's nest if she posts it.

Elaine: Jess was very upfront. He said I didn't have to post it -- which meant from him as a Green, he'd never tell me 'post this' or 'don't post that' -- but if I thought it was worth posting to go ahead but be prepared for the fallout. I was already planning to highlight Ted Rall's wonderful "There Should Be Blood" and had planned to note candidates and the need for third parties so I figured I could include it without any fallout. To be clear on that, Jess wasn't talking about some member e-mailing, "I hate you! I hate you!" No member would, the community's mature. But he was talking about the fact that Cynthia McKinney, the treatment or perceived treatment of her by the Green Party, is an issue with Green Party members and their attitude right now is that until Nader makes a decision, they don't want to hear about it.

Jess: Greens in the community use terms like "embarrassed" and "ashamed" to describe how they feel about what is going on in the party's presidential race. I mentioned those reactions to C.I. who asked me to see if they just wanted Cynthia mentioned because that could be done but their opinion, and I agree, is that if Cynthia's mentioned and Ralph does decide he's running and grabs the nomination, is the Cynthia coverage going to hurt the party? That's what he's done with his nonsense of "I'll tell you someday . . . soon!" He's prevented coverage. Cover him in the snapshot and if he doesn't run, he's damaged Cynthia's campaign. Cover her and if she doesn't get the nomination because he FINALLY decides he's running, it's damaging the party. So there's no coverage at present and that's why. In terms of future races, no more placeholders. You either declare you're running or you're not on the ballot. The Green Party needs to fix that right away. No other party would put up with that nonsense. You think John McCain could be saying right now, "I'll let you know if I'm running soon but in the meantime Orrin Hatch is my place holder so vote for Orrin who won't run but will hold my place in case I decide I want to run." It's insulting, it's damaging the party, it's damaging Cynthia's run and it's making us look ridiculous to outsiders. He's not declared he's running but he's winning primaries. Again, a rule needs to be made before the next election cycle that there will be NO place holders. If you want to run, you declare. If you do not, you're not on the ballot and you are not in the running for the nomination.

Rebecca: I was going to write about Cynthia last week and then Jess called me to pass on what was happening. I voted for Cynthia, by the way, and hope she at least won in my state which is still counting when I checked last on Friday. But I have a lot to say about Cynthia and I'm not saying it out of respect for the community's feelings on this. Let's point out one more thing, Ralph has run on the Green ticket but he is not a Green. I don't mean to tick any community member off by addressing this subject, but it's really insulting that Cynthia McKinney could have tried for that have-it-both-ways approach but instead changed her party membership and it's apparently still not enough to get her appreciated. Jess and I had been comparing, as Kat had already, the treatment of Cynthia and Hillary and wondering, "What does a woman have to do to get credit?" That's what I was planning on writing about last week and Jess knew that and called me to say, "Hold off. Greens don't want any coverage." I understand why. And I think it's making the Green Party -- this Ralph may or may not run -- like a joke. One person does not hold a political party hostage. How long are the Greens going to wait for Ralph to make a decision? He said he'd decide by the end of last year and didn't. If he's still on the fence when they hold their convention this summer are they going to let him wait. He needs to make an announcement -- one way or the other -- real quick. And if it's not made by the end of next week, I will probably be sharing what I think, exactly what I think, about this nonsense at my site. No offense to members who are Greens, but this is pissing me off.

Jim: So, in terms of the snapshots, C.I., what would make it in right now?

C.I.: If Rebecca writes about it, it would get a link. If Cynthia McKinney made a statement about it, about how her campaign was in hold pattern while she waited for a man to decide whether or not he wanted to run, it would get noted. If she challenged him to a debate, it would get noted. Otherwise, it's a topic for newsletters. And Third Party will have a column on this topic in Polly's Brew that will go out on later today.

Jim: Okay. We're on presidential politics and Wally and Cedric are joining us on the line this week from Texas. They've gone down there to campaign for Hillary Clinton. How's that going?

Cedric: Before we answer, we're wondering if C.I. would pick one county that the national media needs to watch.

C.I.: In terms of the Texas primary on March 4th?

Wally: Yeah.

C.I.: I would pick Smith County or Gregg County. Both are in East Texas. Both have diverse populations and are a mixture of rural and urban so if you were going to follow one county, I'd pick one of those two. There are heavy Latino communities in other counties and they will determine the final vote, I'm not trying to suggest that they won't. However, my assumption would be that they would play it easy -- networks and newspapers -- by going with Dallas or Houston or Austin, the last is the state capitol. The problem with those three are that they aren't necessarily indicative of the whole state and all three have huge turnover rates with transplants from outside the state arriving daily. So if they picked one of those three and tried to extrapolate from the findings there, they might be correct in their predicitions but they also run a huge risk of being wrong because those three areas are so different than the bulk of Texas.

Cedric: Smith County was our pick. We're here now. We go to Gregg County on Monday.

Wally: We're staying with a friend of yours.

C.I.: Is it a woman?

Wally: Yes.

C.I.: I know where you are. She's with Texas Democratic Women. Yea for Texas Democratic Women which always does amazing work each election cycle. Be sure to tell her hello.

Cedric: We will. What we're seeing is rain mainly. I'm laughing but, there's a lot of rain. Dallas could probably talk about that as well. Dallas?

Dallas: Well some were prediciting snow flurries, so be glad it's just been rain.

Wally: Okay, now it's Cedric and C.I. that have gotten Dallas to participate in roundtables. But, yeah, it's been a lot of rain. We're mainly doing college stuff but we're talking to other groups as well. Last March, when we were all doing the week in Texas, we did visit Smith County but it's different this time because we've got more time and it really is diverse. One minute, you're bumper-to-bumper traffic then it's wide open spaces. Is Tyler the county seat?

C.I.: Jim's pointing to me. Yes, it is.

Wally: Okay, so it's the county seat. And just to explain for people who haven't visited it. If you start on South Broadway, say down by Best Buy and take Broadway up to the courthouse downtown, it's really is this huge mixture. You're going through heavy commercial district traffic and then it eases up a bit and seems like you've got a graveyard and nothing much then, boom, you're back in heavy traffic -- remember this is just one street -- then you're in a residential district and then you're in real heavy traffic as suddenly you're downtown where everything's packed a little tighter but if you go right past the courthouse, suddenly you've got lots of empty spaces for miles and miles.

C.I.: And I believe Tyler Pipe as well.

Cedric: We had to roll up the windows and we could still smell it. I don't know how people come into Tyler that way. What we're seeing here in Smith County is heavy support for Hillary.
We do a thing tomorrow at a church, a Black church, and it may be different but so far, regardless of race or ethnicity, it seems like Hillary's going to sweep Smith County. Now there may be this huge group of Obama supporters we're not seeing but that's how it's gone so far. That's at various groups and places. We were at the junior college on Friday speaking to three classes and there was some support there for Obama but it wasn't even heavy enough to indicate a draw.

C.I.: Should I add any perspective?

Jim & Cedric: Yes.

C.I.: In September or August, I believe Septemeber, of 1992, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and Tipper Gore took their bus tour there. There is the junior college which I believe is Tyler Junior College. They had an amazing turnout. I mean, Tyler Democrats really got the word out on that and challenged Democrats in other states to do the same. They really set a mark that no one expected. Ron Brown, a month or so later, would get some turnout in the same area but the talk of Texas and in that region nationally in 1992 was how the Democrats based in Tyler worked hard and got the word out on the event. It lasted longer than was planned because there were just so many people turning out. And they vote in Smith County. It's not "Oh, this election is important!" so they rush to the polls for some and don't for others. They have strong turnout rates.

Wally: That's been the biggest suprise. We're not encountering any people saying, "I need to register." It's too late to register but we've encountered a number of people elsewhere, especially in Dallas, who aren't registered to vote and think they're going to show up and vote March 8th. Those have been mainly Obama supporters.

Jim: In "Bambi advertises in Texas" and "THIS JUST IN! BAMBI'S BAD AD BUY," you noted the ads the two campaigns -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's -- were running and Billie offered her take in "Other Items." Could you talk about the ads?

Cedric: I'll talk over all and let Wally go specific. They're buying, both campaigns, a lot of airtime. What's really weird is when they air one after another. Both are buying on news programming. Both are buying on primetime. Barack Obama seems to be going for the youth vote by buying a lot of ad time during animated shows, syndicated ones, like The Simpsons and Family Guy as well as Two and a Half Man. The latter seems unable to air without an ad from him according to Dallas member Diane and we saw it air during that late night when we were in Dallas. I would say that in the areas we've visited so far, and Smith County has its own TV stations, Barack Obama appears to be buying more ad time. Largely during the syndicated shows, both in the evenings and late night. We were at a party Friday night with Barack supporters and Hillary supporters and, contrary to the media myths, they can get along or maybe Texas is just a little more laid back. We were talking to political consultants about the ads and the feeling was that it was risky for Obama to be advertising late night because the audience is smaller than primetime and, also, someone watching Two and A Half Men at ten-thirty at night may not be someone who's going to vote. The feeling was -- this was from Obama and Hillary people -- that it was smarter to concentrate on news programming for the ads because that audience would be more likely to vote and they can't figure out why Obama's spending so much money advertising during syndicated programming.

Wally: The Simpons is on at either five or six o'clock and the feeling is that you've got a lot of under-18s watching that show so why is it being advertised on every day? Is it a smart money buy? And, like Cedric was saying, political consultants with both parties are saying it isn't. One joked that he wouldn't be surprised to turn on his TV and see Obama advertising next on Horace McQueen's Farm and Ranch Report. That's an early, early morning show. In terms of the commercials themselves, there are three commercials. I'll start with Hillary's. She's running two commercials. In one of them, she's speaking to a crowd about the work that needs to be done. What's interesting in that commercial is her pointing because right after that airs, you usually get Obama's commerical and he's pointing as well but with his fingers meshed together and his thumb flat on his hand. It's an effective commercial and, by our 'polling,' most effective with men and women in their 30s and 40s and elderly African-American women who especially love that commercial. The other commercial is a male announcer talking and this one just reviews her record and it's popular with men over 50 and with a number of young people and I'm calling anyone under 30 'young people.' So those are her two commercials. One thing that I realized with Obama's commercial and the reaction to it was how lucky the candidates are that they've managed to escape Saturday Night Live parodies due to the writers strike. Maybe because he's only got one commerical and it runs all the time, Barack Obama is being parodied. There were students for him and for Hillary on Thursday who entertained us with their parodies. I couldn't figure out what the problem with his commerical was until the college students were parodying him. He jerks his head around as he's speaking and, seeing the parodies, I realized it was like he was trying to toss his hair over and over while speaking, like he was doing a shampoo commercial. Everyone's talking about how he's looking down at them and that's because the camera is at a low angle. He puts forth the false claim that he's for universal health care and that really hurts his credibility because everyone knows that's not true. If he had another commercial airing, he'd probably be better off. But it's just that one so there are jokes on his head movement -- and I'm talking from supporters as well as people planning to vote for Hillary -- and everyone's talking about the lie that he's got a plan for "universal health care," which he doesn't.

Cedric: They're also talking about how snide he is in the commercial. He's trying to go after Hillary and her efforts for universal health care in the 90s but he's vague about it and using "DC" instead which is offending people who feel like he's putting down their own representatives. The feeling seems to be that if you're lucky enough to have a Democrat in Congress representing you, you don't want some outsider -- and that's how he's seen -- on your TV insulting them.

Jim: That's how he's seen?

Cedric: Hillary, due to Arkansas, is seen as part of the south. Barack probably would have been better off using that phony southern accent he did in South Carolina. He sounds way too Eastern in the commercials and you're never as aware of that as when, for instance, you're in someone's home in Canton, Texas when that commercial's playing. He's "up north" is what African-Americans say, that he's from there. He's too polished in his commercial while Hillary appears human and like anyone you might bump into at the doctor's office or post office.

Wally: His commercial is mainly him sitting in front of a wall facing the camera and speaking directly into it. It starts with a photograph of him and his mother and that's gotten comments from African-Americans as well. There are remarks about how he chose the photo -- which isn't a clearly lit one -- to make his mother appear African-American. I don't know that's why he chose the photo but I do know that's a common perception. He opens with that and how she was dying of breast cancer and worried about her bills at the time. An elderly African-American woman said Phil Gramm spoke of his mother with more sincerity and it probably has to do with the fact that what should be an emotional pitch is something he's just ticking off.

Cedric: Yeah, it's bad. If you're talking about your mother dying, your voice should sound a little different than when you're going on about your plan for 'universal' health care. That's really all he talks about in the commercial by the way. There's none of that "I am the only one in the world who was against the war before it started" inflations. Probably figured that it wouldn't play well in Texas in terms of him pulling in Republican voters.

Jim: What about that?

Wally: We're not really encountering Republicans except when we're on campuses. Based on that, and it could be different in the general population, but based on that, this isn't a state where he's going to pull huge number of independents. On campuses, there is a big and loud split between John McCain and Mike Huckabee supporters and the students who are Republicans feel that it's very important they be at the Republican primaries. For some, they see this primary as the last chance Huckabee will have and for others they see it the same way but see it as time to run Huckabee out of the campaign.

Marcia: Kat Swift was mentioned earlier in the roundtable and she's a candidate for the Green Party presidential nomination and she's from Texas. Are you seeing many Greens?

Cedric: Like Wally was saying, we'd have to go by college students because outside of campuses, we're mainly interacting with strictly Democrats. So, having said that, we've seen one student who said he was Green. We've seen a large number who said they weren't voting at all. We head to Austin next week and C.I.'s told us it might be different there. But in terms of where we've been so far, that's how it's been. Can I do a thank you real quick?

Jim: Sure.

Cedric: Thursday, we got so lost. We were on an interstate highway and there was nothing, we went for miles, no gas station, no anything. We couldn't get a hold of anyone and finally Wally says, "Call Ruth!" Which we did. Her college friend Treva has an RV and drives all over the country. Ruth called Treva and Treva called us right back, asked us the mile marker, told us we were headed the wrong direction, just mapped the whole thing out for us. So thanks to Ruth and Treva.

Ruth: Your welcome and it made Treva's day to be able to help. You were speaking about the war and how Obama doesn't mention it in his commercials. Is he just talking about health care?

Wally: Yeah, that's it. And that's another concern. Even with Democrats, you've got some who hear "universal health care" and start thinking "socialized medicine" in a non-flattering way. You've got Republicans who think that period. We've heard some of the local AM disc jockeys and between slamming John McCain, these are right-winger hosts, Air America Radio doesn't really exist in Texas despite claims otherwise, and that's their main focus. When they leave it, they're usually commenting on Obama's commercial which callers are bringing up. They don't correct his lie that he's for "universal" health care, they just run with it and start saying you won't get the doctor of your choice and that you'll end up needing an operation and be told that you're too old for it, that it's not 'cost effective' considering your age. Those are lies, by the way, I assume anyone reading would now that, but just in case.

Ruth: Are the hosts and callers mainly men?

Cedric: There's a mix in the callers with most of them -- and again, we're talking about right-wing radio -- being male but a larger number than you might expect being women. More shocking is that they aren't all White. In terms of the few urban radio stations that we've found, they're actually doing double ad time and I'd file a complaint if I were another candidate. They play the Latino rip-off "Yes We Can" song as a song pretty much every hour and they're usually running Obama's commercial every hour. We haven't heard any radio station playing Hillary's commercial. But the strongest signals tend to be AM in terms of when we're driving and that's all right-wing. Wally's point about Air America Radio is that they have a weak Dallas station that you can't even hear in all parts of the city of Dallas let alone in Dallas county.

Ruth: What about the Dallas NPR station?

Wally: That's KERA and that's their TV name too. In East Texas, they carry KERA on TV. But in terms of listening to it, I think you're about twenty or thirty miles out of Dallas on I-20 when you start having trouble picking up the radio station. In spots you'll get it, in spots you won't.

Ruth: This is something that comes up a lot in my e-mails from Texas community members, how they stream NPR online or miss it. C.I., do you know anything about this?

C.I.: Somewhere in East Texas, you have a college, I forget which one, that provides, or used to, NPR along with big band and other music. It's primarily a music station and if you're not into big band and football games, it's really not your station. Wally was talking about leaving Dallas and, just to be clear, Smith County is to the east of Dallas County but it's not right next to Dallas. You have a long, long stretch with other cities and towns. I'm making that point because it's important to grasp that towns like Canton, which they mentioned, or Athens or Van, if they can't pick up KERA, they really can't get an NPR station on regular radio. On satellite, yes, but I don't think you're going to find a majority of cars in that largely rural area with satellite radio. What you do have, in East Texas, is a lot of Clear Channel, Citadel and other big corporations. Worse, you have "community radio" stations -- stations billed that way and receiving their charter that way -- that are nothing but spinning tunes, whether it's country, top 40 or gospel. Texas community members outside of central urban areas do bring it up, like Ruth's saying, how they end up using their computers for radio, even something as basic as NPR. Pacifica has a Houston station, KPFB. But we're talking about East Texas and NPR is something a lot of people take for granted and assume everyone can just turn on their radio and -- for good or bad -- listen to. But that's not the case. And East Texas, just to make one more point there, if you split it off and made it a state all by itself would be as large as many other states in this country. So not having a real NPR station in that area is shocking. A real NPR station, by my standards, is one that offers more than NPR headlines between big band tunes.

Ruth: Thank you, that explains why so many do complain about their radio choices. I have written about that in a report before but this really did clarify it and why they say that you either pack your own cassettes or CDs or you have nothing.

Cedric: That's really true. We went to Best Buy because we didn't pack CDs. We weren't expecting this. And it's why we ended up stuck with AM radio because that was sometimes all we could get. So when we got to Tyler and filled the rental up, we asked is there was any place to buy music and were told just to head south on Broadway and we'd find Best Buy to our right.

Wally: Yeah, we bought five each. We hit the road Sunday evening and we're not sure we got enough. But the radio choices are pretty slim and then you've got some stations in the area, in East Texas, with a weak signal that overlap with a nearby station out of Dallas or something and you can't hear that because they're blocking each other. One more thing, Ruth noted this in her report she did awhile back, if you're in Texas, you're probably in a car. There's no real public transporation in most areas of East Texas and a lot of them between Tyler and Dallas work in either of those big cities so they're spending an hour driving to work and an hour driving from work. So the radio situation really is a big deal. If you were spending a minimum of two hours every work day in your car, it would be a big thing to you.

Jim: And Texas community members will be thrilled that their state was included in the roundtable. That's not sarcasm. Okay, Ty last e-mail we're going to have time for.

Ty: Okay, we'll go with impeachment which was a topic of several e-mails. Three think it's not happening and wonder how long, I'm paraphrasing the three, we have to waste time pretending it may. One thinks it could come about after Bully Boy leaves office and one thinks the fact that it has not happened is an indictment of the two-part system.

Jim: And Dona's handed me a note saying Marcia and Ruth need to start this off because they've spoken the least.

Marcia: Let Ruth go first, she'll be nicer than I will.

Ruth: You may be proven wrong. In my lifetime, a lot of years, I cannot remember anyone being in the White House that some segment of the country did not think should be impeached. There is a funny joke in Annie Hall where Woody Allen and Diane Keaton are dividing up their property because they're splitting up and she is looking through all these "IMPEACH" buttons. With Richard Nixon, who was not impeached, sadly, there was actually a vocal segment calling for impeachment in his first term. George McGovern was even noting things that needed to be investigated when Senator McGovern was running against Tricky Dick in the 1972 election. When it finally started with Tricky Dick, it was a long time coming. When it finally started, it moved very quickly. So we could be seeing the long delay like before. But another aspect is that the impeachment activists do not always act like outside agitators. Last week, I saw several posts saying Congress did a good thing by issuing contempt citations to Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton. Impeachment activists' attitude, my opinion, should not have been to applaud but to point out how long that took and demand that Congress act on impeachment. Instead, they basically gave Congress a mixed report card allowing Congress to feel good about the reaction of "Yes!" and ignored the rest. Marcia?

Marica: See, I wouldn't have offered the historical perspective. But Ruth's exactly right. What was that applause for. Do you applaud someone for doing their job? Is that how low our expectations are now? They waited months to issue those citations, which should have been issued in 2007. That's ridiculous. You have Democratic leadership that is not listening and offering them praise for finally doing something they should have done months ago strikes me as being a little kiss-ass. It was pointed out here at the start of the month that there was a window of opportunity remaining for impeachment. However likely you think it is or isn't, there's a small window of time. I've seen nothing that indicates the activists are pressuring Congress to act. A call-in day? And what happens after that? It's blown off, it's been blown off repeatedly. And the reaction when it is blown off? That's where the follow through falls apart. If you have a call-in and Congress doesn't listen, if impeachment's your issue, you don't follow that up -- when there's a tiny window to act in -- by then moving on to something else. You focus on immediately occupying offices. Some are really serious about, some impeachment activists, but some just talk a good game.

Ava: If impeachment hasn't happened by May -- and I think Bully Boy should be impeached -- if the House hasn't voted on charges, I would hope that those who have made that their calling could find a way to put some of that energy into ending the illegal war. I would hope that they would grasp that they've been blown off and not continue on lighting candles to Saint Jude, patron saint of lost causes. But it's a bit like that ridiculous article Common Dreams posted last week, how 'we' stopped the Iran war. I guess if you've wasted all your time on that non-action, it is important to you to lie and pretend you accomplished something. The establishment does not want that war and that's the only reason it hasn't started. There are a few who think it will start, I'm speaking of in the press, and that it will start in October. That Bully Boy will use it to promote the Republican candidate and figure that Joe Biden's threat to support impeachment if Bully Boy attempts war with Iran will be dropped due to the elections. And lastly, any impeachment 'activist' who has endorsed Obama is an idiot. If you want to endorse him, you first get him to agree that Sibel Edmonds formerly unclassified information will be de-classified, you push him to agree that there will be a full and public investigation into her charges. Someone who supposedly gives a damn about impeachment has no business endorsing -- though a few of them have -- Obama for president when they've made no demands of him on their issues.

Ty: Dona just pointed at me and mouthed "Speak." So I better. This isn't a focus of ours in our own time. I have spoken about it with C.I. in terms of the White House's 'missing' e-mails and that gap seems to be a likely avenue. If I were an impeachment activist I'd probably be pursuing that tactic. Both in terms of how it breaks the law and in terms of what it hides then build on the cover-up angle because why bother to hide something unless you need to? I'd argue the outing of Valerie Plame is something that the administration has hidden and that the lost communications would prove that. But I realize that's a hard case for a number of 'activists' to make since they've endorsed Obama and Joe Wilson's endorsement was of Hillary Clinton leading them to vanish him and his wife Valerie Plame. Jim, we really need to do one more e-mail because it came up repeatedly. It can be limited to Elaine and C.I., but we need to do it.

Jim: Okay, go ahead. Due to time we'll allow Mike and/or Rebecca to come in as well but that's it.

Ty: A number of e-mails have come in about something that Larry Johnson has written regarding Bill Ayers who was a member of the Weather Underground. Ayers served on a committee with Barack Obama and donated money to one of Obama's campaigns at the start of this century. Johnson calls Ayers a terrorist and the ones e-mailing are offended.

Elaine: Well I don't really know much about Larry Johnson. I don't mean that as an insult. I know he's been in the snapshots but I don't know that I've ever linked to him myself. I've heard about his website from Mike but I've never visited it. That's not meant as an insult, by the way. I go to CounterPunch, Common Dreams and that is often it. I also go there these days and usually quickly leave because of the snarky Hillary commentaries that I find offensive. So that's my preface to my reply. In terms of Ayers being a terrorist, he has self-described as that before. I don't know that I consider him a terrorist. I know that's shocking and offensive to some. In terms of the bombings that Weather Underground did -- I'm not referring to the townhouse that was an accident -- unless I'm forgetting something, no one died from them. I don't consider environmental activists who take action against corporations "terrorists" either. Even if they spray paint or whatever. But, in terms of the Weather Undergound, which really exists only when the war in Vietnam was going on, the bombings were in a context. For myself, I don't see that as anything I'm going to have a fit over. Again, no one was killed -- LBJ and Tricky Dick can't make the same claims regarding their actions as presidents -- and there was a context for it. I don't know how old Larry Johnson is so I'm not sure how much he knows of the context. Even if he did know, he might dismiss it and that is certainly his right. No offense to Bill but if Bernardine [Dohrn] gave a donation, I might think about Bambi positively for a few seconds before coming back down to earth but I'm not going to do that as a result of Bill's donation. C.I.?

C.I.: Well let's get a link in to Johnson's post. There were some e-mails on this to The Common Ills that I had to address. What I said then is what I'll say now, Johnson is a "law and order" type. I don't know how old he is either but my guess is that the context wouldn't matter to him one way or the other. That's his opinion and it's his right to have that opinion and to express it. Within the opinion he holds, I didn't see anything he wrote that was inflamatory towards Bill Ayers. By that I mean he didn't 'invent' claims against Bill. A number of people do. The first time I saw it, people copied and pasted the post into their e-mails, I was taken aback. Then I re-read it and thought it was sad -- it, not Johnson -- that so many would read it without the context. We've covered it before here but just briefly, we had the 'peace' candidate Nixon swear he had a 'secret plan' for peace and there was no plan. The dying was getting worse, lessened a bit for US service members due to the increased bombings, the government wasn't listening -- and people need to be thinking about this because this could happen again, if there's time I'll come back to that -- the war was not ending and it was as obvious that that was the case as it was that the government was not listening. Weather Underground was one form of protest. It was violent protest. It was illegal and criminal protest. But you had a violent and criminal adminstration. That's the context briefly. I do not slag Weather Underground and never have. I also don't put forward the lie that they prolonged the war with their actions or 'turned' people off. They were not a part of a peace movement. They were a part of the anti-war movement and, in a smarter age, people knew the difference between the two. But Johnson is a centrist, I don't mean that as an insult and believe he's self-described that way in posts, and we dealt with The Nation's distortions of Weather Underground. If The Nation's smearing it, the 'leading' magazine of the left, we can hardly expect Johnson to take up an argument that not only isn't in keeping with who he is but also isn't being made on the left. So I was surprised when I first read it -- not about the contribution, we -- Elaine and I -- were aware of it some time ago. And, on that, it's been used as a recruting tool to drum up support for Bambi. Just not publicly. But it has been used as an endorsement from the 'ultra left.' So it's not a surprise that it would strike others as something alarming. I like Bill Ayers, I think he's a very sensitive soul and of course Bernardine and he have done a lot with their lives. But, no offense, the only endorsements that have ever mattered to me were ones family members made and that was when I was very young. I don't look to others for endorsements these days and 'these days' is probably the last 20 if not 30 or more of my life.

Mike: I link to Larry Johnson. I think Susan UnPac does some really strong work there, at No Quarter, and I think he's worth reading. I didn't see that post so I'll read it later. If I have anything to add that Elaine and C.I. haven't covered, I'll blog about it at my site next week.

Rebecca: I will gladly yield my time for C.I. because we have this conversation and I think it's worth noting here.

C.I.: Please watch the time Dona and give me a signal when to stop. For most Americans, Vietnam starts with Johnson. It began under JFK but it wasn't a concern for most Americans at that time. It's Johnson's term-plus that Vietnam becomes a real concern for many. Nixon was never going to end that illegal war but he ran on lies that he would. Weather Underground and other actions came about as a result of having two administrations lie to the people, two administrations ignore the will of the people. It was very obvious how little the government was being run for or by the people. That took two administrations. I sometimes, Rebecca does as well, wonder if some of the radical support for Obama -- I'm not referring to Bill Ayers -- comes out of some hope or longing for a return to that time period? Let me restate that I'm not referring to Bill Ayers. Bill Ayers is who he is privately and publicly, there's nothing hidden about him -- or about Bernardine. I'm not speaking of them. But there's a reason that Elaine and I have addressed the issue of 'the hidden' making endorsements. That's not an attack on Communists or Socialists. That is noting that, first off, there's nothing illegal about either, they're both valid political theories that should compete in open market of ideas. We also delibarated at length over and over before we ever raised the issue. Let me toss to Elaine on that and I'll write down her remarks so Ava can have a break.

Elaine: Communists and Socialists -- which are two different groups -- were forced into the closet during the McCarthy era. We did not come of age during that era, we came of age after. Due to the red-baiting, when we were in college we would never answer the question: "Are you a Communist?" We felt it was a show of solidarity with those who had been scapegoated. We feel that way still about that time period. But McCarthy forced people into the closet and McCarthy is dead. You have people who came of age after who have rightly refused the closet. You have others who will make the claim that you're "red baiting." That you're doing that today. If you're in the closet today, you're doing more harm than anyone else -- on the left or the right -- because you're sending a message to those in the know -- always a larger circle than you think -- that there's a reason to hide who you are. We discussed that over and over, C.I. and I, before we ever said a word because we know this is a charged issue but that, the fact that it is charged still, in the end was why we took up the issue. It shouldn't be charged and we're not going to 'protect' or 'hide' or 'refrain' because 40 or so years ago there was a closet. I'll toss back to C.I.

C.I.: And what we were discussing in those calls that we didn't have time for was the fact that a lot of closet cases -- political closet cases -- were endorsing Obama. An endorsement from a closet case isn't a help to any political campaign. And the bulk of those that have made endorsements have been laughed at by members of the press. They're laughing right now, it's only a matter of time before they begin writing. But in terms of today, Bully Boy started the illegal war. It goes on under him. There is a huge hope that the next occupant of the Oval Office, I've never used the "p" word to describe Bully Boy and hope to make it through the remainder of his term without doing so, will end it. Neither Hillary or Barack pledges to end the illegal war by bringing all troops home -- "combat" troops is a loophole. Neither would pledge that if elected to the office they would end the illegal war by 2013. So you would assume that a large number of left types would refrain from endorsing. Some would endorse for other reasons and you can probably find a few reasons -- setting aside the illegal war -- to feel comfortable with either centrist candidate. But if the illegal war is an important issue, you really shouldn't be making endorsements. But a number of the left are doing just that. And I'm not talking center-left or liberal which is slightly to the left of center-left on the political spectrum. I'm speaking of people further to the left than that who are not out in the open about their beliefs but regularly make comments about how the system needs to be dismantled. There's nothing "wrong" about that statement and, again, it's an argument that should be made in the public square where it can compete with other arguements. Elaine and I know a number of these people and why are they endorsing Obama when they should know their history and grasp that the the outrage over the Iraq War really sets in when the next person takes office? If it's Hillary -- and it could end up being John McCain or some other candidate -- the mood at present would appear to indicate that she's immediately held accountable. With Obama? The radical set likes to hide behind the "movement" that he's creating -- supposedly. That's the "movement" they did their part in creating -- in intentionally creating. And as more and more cite the "movement," and as more and more of them come forward to endorse them, it's worth considering what happens if he gets in. First up, he's been hyped so high that there are huge expectations. Those huge expecations cannot be met by anyone. We're talking one person and he or she only heads the executive branch. There are two other branches of the federal government. And anyone with even a tiny bit of history knows that Democrats in Congress make tremendous strides to prove they are 'independent' of Democratic presidents. They argue they have to do that for the people back home. It's not a convincing argument and power plays and a sense of ranking seem more honest explanations. So this 'movement' built on 'hope' enters the real world within the first 100 days of an Obama presidency and then what happens? As the 'young' that the radical set cites over and over grasp that they've been hyped and deluded a number will feel disenfranchised and drop out of the system. It's very likely, using Vietnam as context, that another group is so outraged that we see a repeat of actions like those taken by Weather Underground. I mean, let's put this in perspective of a concert. I'll use Jess as an example because he plays guitar. We spend two months hyping Jess at all of sites and saying you've got to see him perform at the Hollywood Bowl, that it will be a life changing concert, that there's never been anything like it before. Jess goes onstage and plays badly -- we'll say he was sick that night because he's a very good guitar player in reality. What's the reaction of the audience? They boo. They're disgusted. Some of them get up and leaves. The walk outs would be the ones who would drop out of the system if Obama didn't live up to the hype. Another element of the concert goers begin throwing things at the stage. They may even attempt to rip out some seats or storm the stage. That's a concert. Amplify that to a presidency. Add in that no end of the illegal war means Bully Boy is no longer the focus of anger for the illegal war. He started it, no question, but he's out of office. He's gone. Obama's president and what's he doing? Nothing. He's not pledged to end it. He's not pledged to pull all troops out. But a number of his 'young' supporters believe he has. When the disconnect that currently exists is corrected, if he becomes president, you have created a situation that is equivalent to what was going on during Nixon's presidency. Then you had two presidents, Johnson and Nixon committed to the war. They weren't ending it. You had Americans who wanted it over. Though the bulk of the 'youth vote' went elsewhere both times Nixon was elected, some young people did vote for him and some people -- of all ages -- did believe his lies of a 'secret plan' to end the war. Imagine if McGovern had been elected in 1972 and he had then announced -- which granted, he wouldn't have done -- that the war was going to continue? If you thought you saw splintering and violence under Nixon, that's nothing compared to what would have happened under McGovern. To be clear, McGovern would have ended the war. I'm not trying to cast any doubts on him. I'm just saying that there was an actual youth movement behind McGovern that was based on issues and McGovern took actual stands. To get anything accomplished in DC will require tremedous arm twisting, favors and backdoor deals. It's going to be very difficult for anyone who gets into the Oval Office, regardless of their party. Those realities are not being offered to the 'youth' 'movement' of Obama so what happens when they crash into reality? And knowing that a number of the ones now making public endorsements for Obama also favor a dismantling of the system or a revolution in private is why Elaine and I wonder about those endorsements. If George Will endorses Obama tomorrow everyone knows Will is a conservative Republican. But a lot of people whose politics really aren't publicly known are endorsing Obama. They're often presenting as Democrats and they aren't. Or they hide behind "independent." That's a falsehood. When the endorsement is coming from what Elaine and I term "hardline Communists," it is worth wondering why they're making those endorsements of a Democrat, of any Democrat?

Elaine: Dona, I'm sorry and cut me off if you need to, but that is a very important point. These are people not vested with the system. They're not wanting to change the system, they're wanting to do away with it. So why are they endorsing a candidate who is part of the system? We're not saying, "Barack Obama is a Communist!" He's not. He's a centrist, corporatist Democrat. So what's in it for hardline Communists to endorse him? And when they do endorse, they tend to cite that "movement." If these young people are so hopeful and they see that as important, why aren't they attempting to educate those young people about the realities of DC? Why are they instead hyping Obama threw the roof? It seems very likely that they're endorsing him for the disappointment factor, for the reaction that would take hold if he got into office and all this hype was revealed as hype. C.I.'s correct, 'reaching across the aisle' isn't how things get done in DC. You strong arm -- LBJ was very good at that, Nixon tried to but he was heavy-handed -- and you make trades. And that's within your own party, before you're even thinking about 'reaching across the aisle.' I heard ___ on the radio last week hyping Bambi again and ____ is a smart person and knows that's not happening. ____'s written piece also refused to reveal the realities. Including the fact that ____ is a Communist. So what's really going on here? Why the need to inflate and hype? Why the need to avoid reality?

Dona: I waited until Elaine finished because I didn't want to cut her off. We actually received a ton of e-mails about this topic last week with Communists especially wanting it addressed again and these were young people who found it embarrassing that, as one put it, "an old codger can't be honest about who they are." We really need to close and I'll let C.I. have the last word on this.

C.I.: Give it to Mike. He's made some comments on the 'movement' in a different regard.

Mike: Thank you. Well my big point is that we're seeing older people, I'm in college, endorse Bambi on the basis of this uninformed 'movement' and as my mother and Rebecca have noted, it doesn't matter who a candidate is married to, they aren't elected into office, is. By the same token, a 'movement' won't be taking office. But basing your argument for Bambi on a movement is nothing but hopping on a bandwagon. It's embarrassing and like your father's friend trying to act your age. And I want to add another thing. I'm a Socialist. The issue is not about someone being a Socialist. The issue is about their hiding of it. Talk to my grandfather, who suffered real fallout for being politically honest back in the day, and he'll tell you there's no reason for anyone to hide, that it's dishonest and disgusting. Anthony Arnove, to name but one Socialist, is someone we all read, all enjoy and he's not hiding who he is. If anyone doesn't get the difference, get that what Elaine, C.I. and I are talking about is people in the closet posing as something they're not, you need to read more carefully.

Jim: On that note, we'll end it.
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