Sunday, March 02, 2008

Truest statement of the week

It is incomprehensible that The Nation magazine endorsed Obama after making the following statement. "This magazine has been critical of the senator from Illinois for his closeness to Wall Street; his unwillingness to lay out an ambitious progressive agenda on healthcare, housing and other domestic policy issues; and for post-partisan rhetoric that seems to ignore the manifest failure of conservatism over these past seven years."

If The Nation has so many qualms about Obama, why endorse him at all? The editors could have simply made a statement of non-support for Obama or Clinton. The sad plight of progressives is all too obvious. "While his rhetoric about ‘unity' can be troubling, it also embodies a savvy strategy to redefine the center of American politics and build a coalition by reaching out to independent and Republican voters disgruntled and disgusted with what the Bush era has wrought." The Nation should explain to readers why Democrats ought to "redefine the center" with independents and Republicans instead of having their own agenda and fighting to make it a reality.

If even The Nation bows down in thrall of the over hyped "center," then all hope for true change is gone. In other words, capitulation is the order of the day, and Obama makes it more palatable than Hillary Clinton does.

-- Margaret Kimberley's "Progressives Cave to Obama" (Black Agenda Report).

Truest statement of the week II

About this issue of the Iraq war, as I know there's been much discussion about it and certainly on this show, we early on raised many of the questions in terms of the justifications for the war. But it does seem to me that it's a little bit different being a state legislator in Illinois from a district that's probably very much antiwar and having him being in the US Senate. If he had been in the US Senate and taken the same position at the time, I think that would have been a much firmer stand, that he could say, 'I was against the war from the beginning.' But when you're in a district in Illinois, you're along with about one-third to 40 percent of the American people who at that time were questioning of the war to a large degree, and I think that it was a tougher situation for those who were in the Senate. It still doesn't mean that Hillary Clinton was right in her judgment, but I find it hard to equate the two positions because of the relative differences in where they were at the time.

-- Juan Gonzalez, continuing to tell the truth even when face to face with Our Modern Day Carrie Nation, on Democracy Now! last Monday.

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Sunday night now. Everything's up except the note I (Jim) am writing now.

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,
and Marcia

We thank all of them and we thank Dallas. Here's what we've got:

Truest statement of the week -- Margaret Kimberely calling like it is. If you don't yet grasp the importance of Black Agenda Report, ask yourself who else had the guts to take on that editorial?

Truest statement of the week II -- Juan Gonzalez, like Kimberley, remains a truth-teller and a land of go-alongs. We may revist Gonzalez' comments next week.

A mini-note to the readers -- This is out of order. It's supposed to be further down. But while C.I. fixes that on another computer, this is where I explain that Ava and C.I. were sick. They were prepared to go on but they didn't have the flu and were sick from exhaustion. Dona wisely suggested we all get some sleep. Ava and C.I. hit the road every week to speak out against the illegal war (usually with Kat) and they end up flying home Saturday morning. They have a ton of personal things to catch up on, they have to help out with the all night writing edition which falls into Sunday and then, they're back out on the road again. C.I.'s just moved this down to right after highlights. It was just a mini-note saying we would be posting today and we posted two things that were complete and needed nothing else that we knew of.

Editorial: While You Were Distracted -- A lot of news happens. A lot of it doesn't get reported. Allegedly Panhandle Media is supposed to grab what falls between the cracks but that didn't happen here despite the fact that contractors remain the only Iraq issue Panhanlde Media can report on these days -- they certainly can't report on war resisters.

TV: Recyling the tired and the damaging -- Ava and C.I.'s commentary that has already had complaints from readers that if we were going to take a sleep break, couldn't we have at least posted this -- one missing paragraph (see mini-note) or not? Ty was attempting to help out Ava and C.I. They write this piece, they type it up, they do their own links. They were throwing at this point and Ty went into this to add a link for Johnny Test -- what they'd said still needed to be done. When he did, the paragraph the link went into was lost. They said they'd fix it later. They open with the Academy Awards and note that they were texting everyone about an opening monologue ripping off a seven-year-old episode of a sitcom. Among the people they texted were Elaine and Mike who note that in this joint-entry Sunday night where they filled in for C.I.

Roundtable -- This went the two hours planned even with the last topic coming up. We're still working on the kinks to figure out how to do a roundtable in a reasonable amount of time. Among the problems (as I see it) this week is that Betty didn't talk. Everything you see by Betty is everything she said. She was afraid she'd make us go over the limit. So that's something I still need to address. We're covering a number of topics and thanks to reader Duncan, Ty for picking the e-mail and C.I. for addressing Duncan's topic or we might not have Iraq in the roundtable. Stealing from Friday's snapshot: " Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) in a video produced by Terry Morrone (a typo yesterday, it is "Terry Morrone")." We've added that to the roundtable. We were going to note the Wilder interview in a separate feature dealing with Cynthia and Matt Gonzalez but time ran out so we've added it into the transcript of this piece and now into the note as well.

Why Marcia started her own blog -- This is generally a Q & A. When a member starts their own site, we do an interview with them. But, due to the fact that we had the lengthy roundtable, we didn't want two major transcript pieces. If you hate it in this format, let us know. We'll be happy to interview Marcia again. Be sure to check out her site.

Fool On The Hill -- Barack Obama breathes oxygen. Due to the touchy nature of the candidate and the campaign, will that be considered a smear as well? Or will it just be something we're not supposed to talk about? I have no idea but it's amazing how much is being tossed under the bus for the candidate supposedly bringing us all 'together.' Maybe he's just bringing together the last ones left standing? The Cockburn family is becoming an embarrassment.

Dumb Ass of the Week -- It's a tie! -- How do you tell Air Berman and Air Mebler apart? The world may never know. We're trying to figure out which one is the Heddy (Single White Female) of the pair but we're left the impression that they're both Heddy.

It's still called The Progressive, right? -- Thank you, Matt Rothschild, for seeing that more voices were needed in independent media and specificially in your magazine. It was so very wonderful of you to add two new columnists. And it was no surprise that you went with the most under-represented category, the voices least heard: Two White males. Thanks, Matty.

Highlights -- Kat, Mike, Rebecca, Betty, Wally, Cedric and Elaine wrote this and picked the highlights unless otherwise noted. We thank them for this. Dona, C.I. and I made an addition to this with one final highlight.

That's what we've got. Hopefully something that made you laugh, pissed you off or got you active.

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

Editorial: While You Were Distracted

"What law applied when you were commanding troops over there?"

That's the question Senator Jim Webb asked of General George Casey last Tuesday in the Senate Armed Service Committee meeting.

Casey is now the Amy Chief of Staff. From June 2004 through the start of February 2007, Cased was the Commanding General of Multi-National Forces -- the top US commander in Iraq.

The question Webb was asking applied to contractors.

The exchange that followed should have made the news, should have been the focus of editorials but that didn't happen.

Uniform Code of Military Justice is the code and regulations that US service members are prosecuted under and Casey declared that UCMJ was being used for contractors.

The reply was so shocking that Webb got him to repeat that he was telling the committee that "UCMJ applied to contractors?" Casey agreed that he was, that this is what happened when he was the commander in Iraq and then added that it was just for the contractors working for the Department of Defense. [Blackwater, not noted, has operated through the US State Department.]

This assertion by Casey flies in the face of everything the American people have been told and Webb pursued the topic during his allotted time for questioning. He wanted to know how many contractors UCMJ was applied to and Casey declared it was probably 20,000. When Webb pressed him to repeat the 20,000 number, Casey lowered the estimate ("I don't recall the number . . . I want to say the number was around 7,000 - 8,000.") and when pressed as to how many would have been "discharged under UCMJ" during Casey's command, the general replied, "I have vague recollections of a couple of cases, but I can't say for certain."

Repeating, UCMJ is the military code of justice. In September the mercenaries of Blackwater enacted another slaughter on Iraqi civilians. This time they were in Baghdad and this time it actually made the news. Yes, The New York Times waffled and undercounted the dead for over a full week after, but it made the news and there were eye witnesses. Blackwater attempted to lie and state that they came under fire. No witnesses saw that and, strangely we're sure, Blackwater had the cars 'touched up' so that they couldn't be use to back up Blackwater's laughable claim that they were under attack. What happened is Blackwater barrelled through Baghdad like they owned it, giving no warnings to anyone and expecting all Iraqis to immediately yield to their sudden appearance. Entering a busy section, they immediately began firing on civilians.

The fall out from that slaughter resulted in a for-show appearance by CEO Eric Prince before Congress but Congress idiotically agreed not to ask any questions about the slaughter while it was "under investigation." What they were told by US government witnesses was that no laws applied to contractors. The Iraqi government couldn't prosecute them. They were lawless mercenaries allowed to do whatever they wanted and one thing that came out during this period was that a drunken mercenary had shot-dead a bodyguard for one of Iraq's two vice-presidents and then been assisted out of the country with no charges filed by either the Iraqi or US government.

The excuse repeatedly given was that the laws -- US laws -- such as they were, didn't cover contractors. Last week, Casey maintained to a Senate committee that UCMJ had been applied when he was the top commander in Iraq (for Defense Department contractors) and this was the first Congress had ever heard of that claim.

Webb expressed some disbelief at the claim by Casey and noted that he was confused over "how you could have a proper court" for civilians "unde the UCMJ," that the Senate Armed Service Committee had been told in 2007 that there was a proposal the UCMJ might be extended to contractors but here was General Casey telling the Senate "that is was being used?"

This was news. Rather Casey was telling the truth or lying it was news. If he was lying to Congress is was especially news worthy because Casey (and Pete Geren, Secretary of the Army) were making the rounds to tell various committees how things were going in Iraq, how much money was needed to continue the illegal war, how much money was needed for military equipment to carry the US military into the 21st century (we're eight years into the 21st century) and much more. If Casey was lying on something so basic, something so easily disproven, it went to whether or not anything he was telling the House or Senate last week could be believed.

It was news.

But you probably didn't hear about it or read about. The factoids from the hearing, the talking points the press ran with, were simplistic and we'll note them at the end. But this exchange went to Casey's reliability and his honesty. If he was telling the truth, it meant that the White House selected witnesses late last year had not been honest with Congress.

Webb noted all the crimes contractors had committed that were known of and found it hard to believe that if UCMJ had been applied, no one had ever heard of any court-martial or hearing and that if any ("a few," Casey had maintained) were convicted, that no one ever heard of that either.

Realizing how momumental his statements were (which puts him one up on the press), Casey attempted to walk it back from the line with, "I am not 100% certain."

That didn't fly with Webb who noted he could remember, very well, his own time serving in Iraq and "I would think, quite frankly, if you were commanding you would know that" number because "it's not a difficult concept."

Casey hemmed and hawwed and back pedaled and Webb concluded by pointing out, "This came up in the personell subcomittee last year -- as a proposal. And I'm not aware of anyone, any civilian who was subject to UCMJ."

So was Casey lying. Were Department of Defense contractors prosecuted under UCMJ? If so, were they informed ahead of time, prior to going to Iraq, that this would be the case? Whether they were found guilty or innocent, if even "a couple" were prosecuted under UCMJ, there would be records of that? If they were subject to UCMJ, they should have been informed of that before arriving in Iraq and there should be a record of that. There should be a lot of records the government has on this . . . if it happened.

If it didn't happen, that casts a different light on everything Casey told committees and subcommittees last week. He was testifying and he was supposed to be truthful. We the People don't get to ask these questions. We count on our elected represenatives who are supposed to serve us. Webb took that obligation very seriously last week and the breakdown came from the alleged indepentent press which refused to cover the exchange.

Two points came out of that hearing (and others since the points were repeated by Casey and Geren throughout the week) in the news. The main point was that tours of duty would drop from 15 months to 12. Left out of the news cycle was that you couldn't pin Casey or Geren down on that and, on Thursday, when the duo appeared at the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Fiscal Year 2009 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Deptartment of the Army, when US House Rep Patrick Murphy wondered if, to ensure that reduction in deployment tours, Congress should enact an law ("mandate that if you deploy for 15 months, you're home for 15 months, if you deploy for 12 months, you're home for 12 months"), Casey insisted that wasn't necessary and a law would tie the military's hands.

The second point in that drifted out from Tuesday's Senate Armed Services Committee revolved around the backdoor draft and, to read or hear press accounts, stop-loss was being moved away from and would drop from its current application to 8,000 service members -- drop down to 7,000. Stop-loss is referred to as a backdoor draft because what happens is that US service members who have completed their service contracts or are nearing the end of their service contracts are then informed that their contracts have been extended. It is most likely illegal. It is certainly unethical. And it is "drafting" people already serving in the US military. (If it extends a contract beyond seven years, it is illegal, courts have already decided that in contract law. It is also illegal if the person signed before they were of legal age -- even if their parents also signed. Again, that's contract law.)

So Casey and Geren just delivered the happy news to Congress that there would be a reduction (drawdown?) in stop-loss. That's how the press told it. The reality is that it was announced that there was a significant reduction planned for stop-loss and it took the committee chair, Carl Levin, pinning Geren down to obtain the admission that this significant reduction was only a reduction of 1,000.

Again, it is most likely illegal in all cases. It hasn't been tested in a US court of law but if it were to be tested, it should be found to be an illegal practice. You didn't read that or hear that from the press. You just heard the happy talking point that stop-loss was being reduced. And you heard that happy talking point that tours would be reduced (though Congress shouldn't mandate that!). Most of all, you didn't hear what appears to be an absurd claim by Casey -- once the top commander in Iraq for three years -- that UCMJ had been applied to contractors.

TV: Recyling the tired and the damaging

It was a week of surprises, most of them bad. It started with our attending the Academy Awards Sunday evening and being required to grab our cell phones and text everyone we knew that host Jon Stewart was ripping off a sitcom in his opening monologue.

Jon Stewart: I don't know if you know this but if you want to find out our your stripper name at home all you have to do is take your pet's name and the street you grew up on. So that makes my stripper name Olympia Dukakis. Hope I’m not stealing that from anyone.

Oh, but you were Jon, oh, but you were.

October 1998, season one of Will & Grace. On Halloween, Karen and Jack go out and dressed as Body & Soul (David Soul). They encounter some drag queens.

Karen: Oh. Oh, that's cute. Is that a drag name? Oh, I want a drag name. Give me a drag name!

Draq Queen: Ok, sugar, here's how you do it. Take the name of your first pet and the first street you lived on.

Karen: Shu-Shu Fontana! Oh, it's cute. Honey, I -- Honey, come here. What would your name be.

Jack: Glen 125th.

The writers strike was over, right? So why was Jon Stewart reduced to raiding a 1998 episode of a sitcom for material? It was all so very sad. Just like seeing every major award go outside the country. We thought we were at that Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, but somehow we'd been transported to the Cannes International Film Festival. Apparently, in 2007, the United States produced no Best Actor, no Best Actress, no Best Supporting Actor and no Best Supporting Actress. Maybe the studios should all shut down?

A friend who should have had an acting nom, but didn't get one and so skipped attending, told us the next day he'd gone grocery shopping instead, in East LA, during the middle of the broadcast and thought he could run in and run out without being recognized. He'd assumed, wrongly, that everyone was watching. He said he ended up signing autographs for a half-hour. That didn't surprise us. Tired monologues and all the awards going overseas doesn't build interest in a broadcast.

Tired monologues?

Oh, yeah, he still dominated the news. Mr. Pretty Speeches. In Tuesday's debate, Mr. Pretty Speeches flat out lied and despite 'journalists' supposedly covering it, no one caught it. Barack Obama was not in the midst of a US Senate campaign when he gave his 2002 speech. He lied. It sounded better to say it and Pretty Words is all he has to offer so he went with it. Where was the press?

Sound asleep on PBS. Friday's NOW on PBS offered up Joe Trippi to critique the campaigns of Barack and Hillary Clinton. We found that about as useful as if they'd grab a non-semi finalist from the Miss America contest as she was eliminated and asked her to critique the finalists. About as useful and about as fair. Even less fair was a "web promotion" of a January report the program did. "Obama Smear?" They asked on their home page noting that "Barack Obama is once againt he target of a smear campaign circulating on the Internet. This week, a photo of Obama dressed in the traditional attire of northeastern Kenya while travelin there surfaced on the gossip and news website The Drudge Report. The alleged source of the photo is the Clinton campaign, though campaign officials vehemently deny providing the photo to Drudge. In January, NOW reported on earlier efforts to smear Obama and other candidates in the 2008 race for president."

We think it's really sad that PBS has sunk so low as to cite Drudge as a 'news source.' We think it's pathetic that a photo is being referred to as a "smear." Once upon a time, in a smarter America, the only way a photo was a smear was if it was 'doctored' or taken without the subject's knowledge. Barack knew the photographer was there, Barack consented to the photo being taken. Now that it's out in public, suddenly it's a "smear." Used to a smear had to be a lie. Saying John F. Kennedy was Catholic wasn't seen as a smear. These days, noting that Barack Obama's middle name is Hussein leads the touchy-feely set to cry "FOUL!" A question for them: Who smeared? Was it someone noting his middle names or his parents for chosing to name him after his father? (He's a Junior.)

Don't expect to get any answers on that from PBS. Friday also saw Dr. Kathy return to Bill Moyers Journal and we again got interpretation. We honestly think this segment should be entitled: For Those Who Have Seen It But Are Unsure. Anyone paying attention was fully aware that Mr. Pretty Speeches dominated the segment, that John McCain and Hillary Clinton combined didn't equal the number of commercials of Obama's that were aired. Free advertising. And no critique. Thanks Dr. Kathy and Bill. What they couldn't show -- Obama's radio spots and, yes, "spots" because it was plural -- they yammered on about. Hopefully the Moyers program was reimbursed for the ad time they provided.

The week ended with Hillary Clinton making an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Apparently the last place where truth can be told. The show lampooned the soft questions and fawning Tim Russert and Brian Williams took part in as 'moderators' of last Tuesday's debate and Hillary walked on stage to joke about Amy Poehler's impersonation (with Poehler) and to open the show with the "Live from New York . . ." cry. Another moment of humorous truth involved a cartoon where Barack attempted to keep supporters Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton under wraps (Jackson himself has publicly noted this response). Remember that this is the second of four consecutive live and all new Saturday Night Lives in a row.

As the week ended, they provided the high points via sketch comedy and animation. Animation?

Kids WB. We're back to the lows. Teen Titans, in fact. We had no idea that the program was old. It's cancelled in fact. It ran primarily on the Cartoon Network and recently Kids WB decided to add it to the lineup. Watching this weekend's broadcast we had to wonder why?

We had wanted to review it for two reasons, at various times, we actually enjoyed the comic books and also because, in January, Geena Davis presented findings [click here for Sara Voorhees' "WMC Exclusive: Geena Davis Forum—Searching the Cels for Girl Mice and Ninjas" (Womens Media Center)] from Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Children in the Media:

Gender imbalance reigns across the media.
System wide, when females are presented they are shown in a hypersexualized way.
The highest concentration of this imbalance is in animated films and G-rated programming, where parents might assume their children are safest.

Those are serious issues and ones we've addressed before. The response to our February 2007 feature was a lot of parents e-mailing to say they hadn't noticed -- either because they weren't monitoring the TV when their children watched Saturday morning cartoons or because they didn't bother to register it when they watched with their children. A number of parents wrote in to say that they were outraged and had been for some time but didn't know what to do about. All agreed that it was ridiculous this late in the game that this was still a problem and all wondered what message was being sent to the children? For those who felt at a loss of how to effect change, we'd recommend you (a) continue addressing this problem in conversations with friends to raise awareness (as well as with children) and (b) visit Davis' institute.

Teen Titans is the big "add" to Kids WB (or, as we like to think of it, Boys WB) and there was no reason to add it. The series ceased production sometime ago. All the episodes had aired on cable but now they'll apparently all be unveiled week after week on broadcast TV. And it's not needed.

For those who remember Wonder Girl as a Teen Titan, forget it. The show focuses on a very late version of the comic book and, in addition, takes the Titans from late teenhood and early adulthood to the cusp of puberty. Which is why we wondered mainly about the panties?

Raven and Starfire, the two female leads, do not wear "panties." Their costumes have briefs. To emphasize their legs. Try to find briefs on the male leads and you're searching in vain even though Robin came to fame for many decades as Batman's brief clad sidekick. So why, especially when the characters are supposed to be so young (and aimed at seven-years-old and under) the need to sexualize the young girls by exposing their legs? That was especially a problem with the character of Raven and we'll get to that.

But let's offer up the basics. Teen Titans is a super hero team. They live in a big T shaped building with each other. The three male leads are Robin, Cyborg and Beast Boy. Those who know the comic book version where Starfire shows up are aware she's a mentor/leader. Not in the animated series. In the series, Robin is the leader. Robin is always the leader. And you really need to wonder why that is?

Second banana to Batman offered him some super power we missed? Or is it due to the fact that he's White? Cyborg is African-American, Raven is part human -- apparently White -- and part demon, Starfire could be termed White (she's 'voiced' blond) and from another planet Beast Boy is White and has his power due to being injected with monkey serum. So the 'pure' White born in the US is the natural leader? In terms of super powers, he's got the least of any of the five. Maybe we're missing something but that's how it played to us: Robin is White and male and therefore in charge.

Robin's also a bit of a smug prick in the series and that's when we started noticing that all the series really did was grab the five characters from The Breakfast Club and put them in costumes. Robin is Judd Nelson's character, Starfire is the pretty and chipper character played by Molly Ringwald, Beast Boy is the joking and self-esteem challenged Anthony Michael Hall character, Cyborg is the jock Emilio Estevez character and Raven's the dark Ally Sheedy character.

Which brings us back to her costume. When Raven's 'active,' you see her briefs. The rest of the time, like the Ally Sheedy character, she's basically covered. She wears what could be termed a shroud or cape with cowl. In Saturday's episode, she will be very upset that her privacy was invaded and cry of the villians, "They went into my room! No one should ever go into my room!" Yet, when she's 'active,' this same character's shroud parts to reveal her long legs and brief clad body. Apparently none of the males responsible for this series (Sam Register and Glen Murakami) saw it as problem.

They also didn't see it as a problem that the female characters do nothing active in the foreground but are mainly glorified extras shown from time to time during battle scenes.

Starfire will declare at one point that, "We must mend by the sharing of unhealthy junk food. I shall fetch them." That is probably the most action the character took part in the entire episode. Some who saw it may want to argue. In a battle with a trio of villians, Cyborg's sent hurtling into the air with a rocket strapped to his back and Starfire rushes after to rescue him. We've seen that before on Legion of Super Heroes -- also airing on WB -- where it's usually Lightening Lad or Superboy rushing off to the rescue. The big difference there is that the rescue is shown.

If what Starfire was doing was so damn important, maybe viewers should have seen it? Instead, they show up after the battle and Cyborg states, "I was half-way to Gotham City before Starfire zapped that thing off my back." Again, when the males do the rescuing, it is shown. Sending Starfire off to do the rescuing appeared to be about nothing other than getting her out of the battle scene.

During that battle, Robin will disappear into a hole in the ground. What's the message of that moment supposed to be as Starfire turns on the only other female, Raven, yelling, "He's got to be somewhere! So go there and look!" Really, what was the point in having one female turn on another. And what was the point of having Beast Boy smooth things over? Beast Boy was present when Robin disappeared so why isn't Starfire yelling at him as well?

There's a message that's being sent repeatedly and it's not a minor thing.

It's not a minor thing that, week after week, primetime's Family Guy on Fox makes a joke out of Meg who, if you believe all the characters on the show (including her own mother) is the most butt-ugly thing to ever grace the planet. (In one episode she will get a makeover and become a pop star. In all the rest she is ugly and fat despite the fact that no viewer should see her as either.) She will be asked if she plans to lick up puke, she will be laughed at by her father and mother. It will happen over and over and the point is never, "These people are damn rude to Meg." The point is ha-ha. Stewie, Brian the talking dog and her overweight brother Chris will all engage in Meg bashing in episode after episode. One ha-ha will include a boy in need of an excuse not to go out with her rushing off to shoot his own kid brother and coming back to explain that he can't make it because he has to attend a funeral.

Chris is grossly overweight and that's a hinderance in only one episode (apparently he gets one where he's uncomfortable for Meg's one where everyone finds her desirable). He doesn't want to take his shirt off at the swimming pool. That's the only time his obesity is ever seen as a problem. When he's beginning a relationship with his teacher (voiced by Drew Barrymore), it's not a problem. His father's (male) friends don't refer to him as a dog or make jokes about his looks the way they do Meg. You have to wonder where the idea that this was a message to send out came from? But you can certainly see it play out in what passes for coverage of the presidential campaigns, can't you?

When we were on this topic last year one (thankfully only one) e-mail came in complaining that, basically, "These are cartoons! It doesn't matter!" Cartoons -- even when allegedly aimed at adults -- are children's viewing and that's who they attract in large numbers. What message are young children being indoctrinated with -- boys and girls -- when they see this sort of thing over and over? We'd also wonder what effects it has on the supposed adults but, again, we think we've more seen the effect in the current actions of our modern day press.

Cartoons, where characters are not bound by gravity or any other mortal constraints, seem to be very happy transmitting stereotypes. The Simpons took live action stereotypes fromt he fifties TV shows and has been on so long (too long) that it's now the pattern for all the animated primetime cartoons except King of the Hill. In terms of daytime and primetime, count up the number of (male) talking dogs and then count up the number of active females -- humans -- and tell us that there isn't a problem.

Now it's too late for 'improvements' for Teen Titans -- the show ceased production in 2006. But it turns out that it's also too late for Kids WB. Fall 2008, it will be no more.

Variety reported last fall that CBS and Warner Bros (owners of the CW) had decided to drop the lineup and will instead farm the time out to animated product to 4Kids Entertainment:

Kids' WB! repped the last inhouse Saturday morning network block to air original kids' fare. Once a staple of the broadcast nets alongside daytime and latenight, the webs mostly eliminated the timeslot by the turn of the decade. ABC now runs repeats from the Disney Channel, while NBC, CBS and Fox have already farmed out the timeslot to outside licensees.

Our thoughts immediately went to Johnny Test, the only show on the lineup we enjoyed (we loved it) in 2007 or this year. It's competing, in Canada where it is produced, for a Shaw Rocket Prize as "best Canadian television programming for kids under thirteen" and is one of three nominees and the only one that's animated.

We thought our reaction perfectly captured the sorry state of animated, broadcast television today. Hours of programming are about to disappear and the thought of that didn't bother us in the least. Our only thought was, "Not Johnny!" There's a reason for that. The show is funny, it offers action and plots. The characters are engaging (and well drawn and voiced) and the females don't wait to be rescued. (Johnny's sisters are scientists.)

It's a sign of how awful animated programming on Saturdays has become (what little there is) that only one show would produce a panic. 4Kids Entertainment is currently responsible for what airs on Fox Saturday mornings so you can check out those cheap looking shows to get an idea of what the CW will be offering this fall. Kids WB premieres The Spiderman next Saturday in a hour long special and, parents, if you watch with your kids, they'll probably stand a better chance of being among the 500 who will win the free toys offered. It's a contest that requires you to identify things from the broadcast -- we believe it's the villains but aren't sure. When we called an aquaintence working for Kids WB he told us "I don't work there anymore. They laid all of us off. There are probably six people working for" Kids WB "right now and that's it."

We asked his opinion of the change and he said it makes any kind of pressure that much harder because parents would have to pressure the CW which would then have to pressure 4Kids Entertainment. "It's basically starting from zero," he explained, "if pressure doesn't come quick." CW will be leasing the time to 4Kids Entertainment and sharing the ad revenue. If this were a typical animated cartoon, right about now all the females would vanish. If we do that, you can kiss good-bye any chance of the fall 2008 - spring 2009 cartoon programming on CW. Window of time, that's all we're saying. And that the fallout from the damage will continue for years. If you doubt it look at the attacks on women today.


Jim: This is a roundtable. It is not the one where we fix all the bugs. We were planning to hold off on roundtables until I could get feedback from all participating as well as from regular readers and figure out a way that these could be reduced a manageable length. The last one had a duration of over six hours and the bulk of it was x-ed out in Ava and C.I.'s note before it was time to begin typing. Many of us, myself included, were called out by Dona for topics such as sports that we talked about at length that were never planned to go into the final draft. This feature's illustration is by Betty's son. If it's not included when you read this, come back later. The illustrations are usually added after everything is up due to the problems with Flickr. This is a "rush transcript" you're reading, typos and all. We're doing a roundtable primarily due to Ralph Nader declaring his run. Were it not for that, we would not be attempting one. 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 SICKOFITRDLZ. We will also be working in some e-mails Ty had already selected for a mailbag feature since we're not going to do a mailbag and a roundtable -- those are both transcript pieces. We'll start with one e-mail and then move on to the topic of Nader. Ty?


Ty: stvsms e-mails, "re:, You referred to her in the Bill Moyers piece. Can you expound or give me some links or references for more information as to how you formed your opinion about her?" "You," stvsms, is Ava and C.I. They write the TV pieces. Considering you didn't sign your e-mail, "stvsms" is from the e-mail address, you sure want to get personal. Ava and C.I., where did you form your opinion on Jessica Savitch?

Ava: Jessica Savitch?

Ty: That's who "her" is, sorry. stvsms puts "jessica savitch" in his or her e-mail heading.

C.I.: On the streets, like most people, as young kids, we formed our opinions of Jessica on the streets.

Ava: I'm laughing. C.I.'s being sarcastic. I didn't know Savitch, she died before I was born, I believe. My father worked with her, my family knew her and C.I. knew Savitch. My opinion of her reflects my family's opinion, C.I.'s is based on first-hand observation and knowledge.

C.I.: Jessica's mentioned in the piece referred to, we've written of her at greater length in "TV: Fumble Line." A basic google search would provide you with anything about her at this site. Rebecca knew Jessica pretty well, Elaine knew her less well. If stvsms is interested in knowing of her career, there are a number of books to refer to.

Ty: As C.I. pointed out, if you want to know what has been said -- by any of us -- at this site, you can do a "google" search. You can also go to the top of the page and utilize the "SEARCH BLOG" function. I included that e-mail because it's representative of a great many e-mails that come in including some that state, "I hear you have a great review of ___" whatever TV show, "Can you provide me a link?" Though we don't get as many e-mails as the public account of The Common Ills does, we get a large number and we don't have time to do the work for you. If someone tells you this site has a review of a TV show, you can google or use "SEARCH BLOG" and it should show up. Regular readers who've been with us for some time will often write about things before 2007. Our archives were messed up when Dona, Jim and I flipped templates. Prior to that, you could click on any week from when we started. When we flipped, it wiped that out and if you're looking for something not in the current year, you have to download the entire thing and go page by page. So for older readers, I am happy to do that when they e-mail about an article they remember but can't find. For drive-bys, I'm not going to.

Dona: Jim, Ty and I flipped the template in order to post videos. It never worked, the video function. We did that in 2007 and lost the week-by-week archives. Knowing we would lose 2007 when 2008 rolled around, we created "Third Estate 2007 archives by week" as an entry and link to it on our permalinks. Prior to 2007, we have the same problem anyone else has when they attempt to find something. We generally fall back on Jess or C.I. ourselves. They can narrow it down to find specifically what we are looking for. But it's not our job to hunt down something you've heard about for you. It's also not our responsibility to reply to your question in an e-mail. It's answered here. If it mattered enough to you, you'll come across this response. If not, in the immortal words of Cedric, "Oh well . . ."

Jim: Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader and the Green Party are the topics for this section. Marcia has not planned on voting for either candidate, she's voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary and hopes to be able to vote for Hillary in the general election. So I've picked her to summarize last week's developments. After she does, the discussion will primarily be Jess, Kat and Rebecca who voted in the Green pary primary and C.I. who will be offering a different take. Marcia?

Marcia: Last Sunday, on NBC's Meet The Press, Ralph Nader announced he was running for president. During the interview, which some want to argue was not the announcement and I'm not getting into that junk, he did not mention the Green Party. This has led to some Green sites stating they are not going to cover him at least for now. It's led to a press release from the Green Party expressing disappointment. At the end of last week, Ralph Nader selected his running mate, Green Matt Gonzalez. Cynthia McKinney is running for the Green party presidential nomination.

Jess: Marcia handled that very even handedly. I'll start by noting that Ralph Nader FINALLY announced last Sunday. He had promised to announce by the end of December and never did. He then went on to endorse John Edwards for the Democratic primary or at least the Iowa caucus. When he did that, many saw the endorsement as a statement, coming in January as it did, that he wasn't running since he had never announced he would run. He had a back and forth with Alexander Cockburn of CounterPunch over whether his endorsement of John Edwards was the indication that he wasn't running with Nader stating that it did not reflect such an announcement and Cockburn referring to exchanges between himself and Nader on the subject that indicated it was. The Green party presidential candidates held one debate where all the contenders for the party's nomination showed up and that was in San Francisco in January. Nader had not announced he was running so he did not participate in the debate but instead was given the choice spot of speaking all by himself at the end with no prospect for an exchange with those who had declared they were running.

Kat: I voted for Cynthia McKinney. Cynthia McKinney declared her intent to run. Cynthia McKinney also flipped her membership from the Democratic party to the Green party. One thing that really bothers me is that when the prospects of a potential Nader run seemed likely as 2007 was drawing to a close, some of the same forces that were praising McKinney and urging her to run suddenly were coming off like Nader-ites and Cynthia was, in my opinion, pushed aside.

Rebecca: Absolutely. And I believe you saw that in the Green party turnout. I'm still waiting on my state. But in other states, the turnout indicates that people voting in the Green party primary went with Nader over McKinney. I found that offensive. Those primaries took place in February and Nader hadn't declared. I consider that a real slap at Cynthia and a sign of how hostile so many have been to women period -- look at what Hillary's gone through. I think, as we noted in the last roundtable, he has hurt her campaign and he has the Green party.

Jess: And I agree with everything you're saying. I think it was pull for Cynthia, ask her to run, beg her to run and then when there was the prospect that Ralph Nader would run, suddenly it was forget Cynthia. I'm offended by it and, obviously, with Matt Gonzalez already selected as his running mate, it's not as if we can expect a Nader-McKinney ticket. This will be the excerpt in the audio version of Hilda's Mix and those listening will hear the anger and frustration in Kat, Rebecca and my voices. C.I., do you want to jump in?

C.I.: My take is very different than three of you on several issues so I'll wait until everyone's said what they wanted to say.

Rebecca: I think we said what we thought in the last roundtable.

C.I.: Okay. There is anger, those listening will hear it, in this discussion of Ralph Nader. I'm going to take a different approach. Ralph Nader's job or role as candidate is not to help Cynthia McKinney, Kat Swift or anyone else running for the Green party nomination. That's not his role and I think it's important to state that at a time when you've got Nervous Nells wringing their hands over Hillary Clinton's latest ad and screaming, "Foul!" Hillary's job is not to run commercials or a campaign that's pleasing to Barack Obama. Her job is her campaign. I think we can all agree on that. By the same token, Ralph Nader's job is not to figure out how does he best help other candidates. If he's running for president, he's running for president and that means he needs to pull off the best race he can for himself.

Jess: I see what you're saying but the fact remains, or, let me say, I believe he's hurt the Green party.

C.I.: The Green party has been hurt and I won't disagree with you on that. But how has it been hurt?

Rebecca: If they pick Cynthia now, the perception is she was the second choice. That's no way to be taken seriously by real media.

C.I.: I agree with you, Rebecca, but what does that have to do with Ralph Nader? I'm not being sarcastic. I'm saying Ralph Nader worked the existing system to his best interests. That's what a candidate is supposed to do. The problem isn't Ralph Nader, the problem is the system. Jess rightly stated, in the last roundtable, that Ralph shouldn't have been allowed to have "place holders" on the ballot. He shouldn't have been. But Ralph didn't create the rule. What I'm saying is that the problem created for the Green party, and I agree it now exists in terms of the damage to Cynthia's campaign, wasn't created by him. It was created by the party.

Jess: But if he wasn't going to seek the party's nomination, he shouldn't have been on the ballot and he shouldn't have appeared at the San Francisco debate.

C.I.: As a candidate, especially a third party or independent one, it's the job of the candidate to generate as much insterest as possible. The problems you are pointing out -- and I agree that they are serious problems -- don't go to Nader, they go to the Green party. This is going back to Kat's point that Cynthia was asked to run, she even announced she wasn't running and then a campaign sprung up to ask her to reconsider. She did. And, as Kat noted, she even changed her party membership. Something that Ralph's never done. He's never been a member of the Green party. But all that happened, that goes to the Green party. It's not very hard to tell someone, "This is an event for declared candidates." For that matter, it's not very hard to tell someone, "This is an event for the Green party." That stand was never taken and so the Green party leadership has no one to blame but themselves. They need to change their rules and by-laws immediately so that this never happens again. But, by their own rules and invitations, Ralph was afforded opportunities. He broke no laws by using those opportunities.

Rebecca: I hear what you're saying and, in a way, I'm surprised but, in another way, I'm not. What I can't get over is the harm, and I'm talking public relations, that was done to Cynthia McKinney.

C.I.: And I agree with you that very real harm has been done to her campaign. But that could have been Kat Smith or Kent Mesplay or anyone else. If Cynthia's removed from the equation, who's the candidate? We don't know so we're left with Candidate X. Let's use that to depersonalize this. Candidate X was harmed because she or he is now seen as the second choice to Nader that the party can't have. When it's Candidate X and not Cynthia, I think it's a lot more obvious who hurt the Green party this go round and I say it was the Green party not Ralph Nader.

Jess: Yeah, okay, I see your point and that's built on what I was saying two weeks ago so I can't exactly argue with it. I could toss out that I don't think it was very nice of Ralph but I'm sure that will be shot down as well.

C.I.: By me? Yes. Because a candidate isn't running a campaign to be declared the Nicest Person in America. They're running a campaign to win an office. Ralph Nader's first obligation is to his campaign. Hillary's first obligation is to her campaign. Barack's is to his. Cynthia's is to her campaign. That's the way it works and that's why John Edwards, who had some wonderful stands, wasn't winning. No one was voting for "Mr. Nice Guy." If you're standing up in the debates, as he did over and over, praising Barack, there's no reason for most people to vote for you. The fact was that while John was in those debates, Barack wasn't "sharing" the love, he wasn't reciprocating. So John just looked like a suck up, like a fan onstage next to a candidate. That hurt him. That's what Mike and Wally were getting at week after week here, how he looked weak by doing that. Elizabeth Edwards was a better campaigner for her husband's campaign than he was. When she spoke, she made it very clear why he was the best choice. When John Edwards spoke, he didn't make it so clear. The Bambi Love-Fest should have ceased immediately. It made men uncomfortable with John which did real harm because the fight at that point was over male votes. And, if you're watching and trying to figure out who to vote for, if John's up on stage praising Barack and you're thinking John seems nice, you're not then saying, "I should vote for John Edwards!" You're telling yourself, "Well the nice guy seems to think Barack's a good candidate, so I guess that's who I'll support." Whether you want to pin it to the system or the Green party itself, Cynthia got screwed. But it's not Ralph's job to campaign for president by giving shout-outs to Cynthia or worrying how his own campaign might hurt her. It didn't work for John Edwards and it wouldn't work for anyone outside the two major parties either.

Rebecca: So Ralph did what was best for Ralph, how is that different from Dennis Kucinich?

C.I.: Dennis talks big and then caves. Ralph doesn't cave. He may not win this run, but he's not going to cave. He's not going to forget an illegal war is going on, the way Dennis did beginning with the 2004 DNC convention, for instance. Ralph did what was best for his campaign and I want to be clear that, despite the nonsense Katrina vanden Heuvel spewed out last week, this is not a vanity run. Does anyone get off on being hated? Ralph's going to be hated for running. As embarrassing as Katrina's nonsense was, you had Matthew Rothschild, offering his Nader bonafides, telling everyone it wouldn't hurt Obama. That's where Matty went first, to his boyfriend. He can't stop yammering on about Barack. He's like a ninth grade freshman obsessed with the quarterback. Who's making the case for Ralph to run? I'm looking around and not seeing many making that case. They're either saying don't run or rushing in to tell you how unimportant Ralph's run is.

Jess: I voted for Ralph in 2004. That was the first presidential election cycle I was old enough to vote in. C.I. didn't vote for Ralph in 2004 or 2000, just to be clear on that.

C.I.: No, I didn't. I voted for Kerry in 2004 and Gore in 2000. I did not take part in the "Ralph Don't Run!" nonsense of 2004 and I did not take part in the "Ralph Cost Gore" in 2000 on up until today. I did believe it for the first two years and that goes to the echo chamber on the left that exists. But Ralph didn't cost Gore the election. We're all agreed on that. We're all agreed that in 2000, 2004 or today, he's got a right to run if he wants to. Where the difference comes down is on the issue of Cynthia's campaign and I agree with everyone, he has hurt Cynthia's chances with his actions. But, here's the difference, that goes to the Green party and not to Ralph Nader. My opinion.

Kat: But we're talking about --

Rebecca: What?

Kat: I stopped myself. I was going to say he was hurting his own party but he's not a Green.

C.I.: Bingo. And that's the real issue here from his perspective. The Greens ran against him in 2004. He didn't have the endorsement of the national party. He is not a member of the party. There's no debt he has to the party. I don't mean to dominate the discussion but I think we need to remember 2004. Due to Nader's 2000 run, the Green party saw more ballot access in more states and the criticism of Nader -- who, as Jess pointed out, I didn't vote for in 2000 or 2004 -- is that he didn't build anything behind him. That's not a Ralph issue. He created opportunities. The Green party could have built upon them. I'm not a Green. I'm a Democrat so if anyone reading this -- non-community member -- is offended by my statements, blow it off as I'm not a Green. If you're a community member, I will listen to your comments and reply. In 2004, and Jess has noted this repeatedly in various features here for the last three years, the Green party didn't run a real campaign. They ran a "safe state strategy." That's not how you build a party. The Greens do not owe it to the Democratic Party not to compete with them. They owe it to their membership to run real races. Ralph Nader didn't do a safe state strategy in 2004. If you're one of the gas bags whining that Ralph didn't create something, he's one person. He created the opportunities that the Green party could have used and could have built upon. They chose not to in 2004. That's a huge mistake. No political party's best insterest is ever, "How do I do ___ without hurting" some other political party. It's not a competetion for "Good Guy" or "Good Gal," it's about running for public office and electing people.

Jess: You're right. Okay, I'm not angry at Ralph Nader anymore. I'm not being sarcastic. C.I.'s argument is built upon things I've said here before so there's no way I can turn around and yell "Wrong!" It's exactly right. And after 2004, why would Ralph want to mention the national Green party? Have they given any indication that they plan to run a real race this year? And they have their own problems in terms of leadership as anyone who has read any of Joshua Frank's reporting knows.

Kat: I can't see Rebecca's face, she's participating by telephone, so I don't know her reaction. I'd like her reaction before I speak.

Rebecca: Well . . . I'm torn. I am furious about the way Cynthia was treated but it does go back to what you were pointing out, Kat, the whole "Please run!" and then Ralph comes along and suddenly Cynthia's not good enough for them. And I could personalize it, continue to personalize it, and make Ralph the bad guy but, I don't know. I've heard what C.I.'s saying and I've got Elaine next to me giving me looks to emphasize certain points C.I.'s making so I do get the point.

Kat: Okay. I wasn't going to weigh in if I was going to go against Rebecca because she and I feel very strongly about the way Cynthia has been treated. Like Rebecca, listening to the argument C.I.'s made, arguments Jess has made in the past in many cases, it's really not a Ralph issue. It's a Green party issue. I would love to make Ralph the bad guy here but there's no point in that. He grabbed the breaks that were out there and there never should have been "place holders" in a primary. The Green party needs to address that immediately. It never needs to happen again. If you're campaigning for the Green party nomination, you declare. If you haven't declared by the time a debate's taking place, the Green party needs to make it clear that you're not on the slate of candidates. I believe a California law may have come into play with regards to Ralph --

C.I.: Just to clarify, the law meant that Ralph had to speak alone. The original plan was that Ralph would sit on the panel like everyone else. Due to California's campaign laws, that wasn't possible and he had to speak solo.

Kat: Thank you. So why was he there? I don't mean for him, C.I.'s correct that any non-two-party candidate has to grab every opportunity possible. But I do mean why the Green party had him there, why they promoted him in press releases, etc. Like Rebecca said, I would love to make him the villian in all of this but that's not the reality.

[Added: Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) interviews Cynthia McKinney in a video produced by Terry Morrone.]

Jess: This roundtable is not going the way any of us thought -- and Kat, Rebecca and I had talked about this before hand. So let's take it to where the problem is: the Green party. Whether they end up supporting Ralph or Cynthia -- the national party -- they need to get real and realize no third-party is built around safe state strategies. They need to grasp that Greens are sick of it. If our only concern was whether a Democrat or a Republican got into office, then we'd be voting Democratic or Republican. From my Green party persepctive, there's not a great deal of difference in either party. Eric AlterPunk can go screw himself. He's a Democrat, he's chosen the party he likes and that speaks to him. He can give his advice to the Dems all he wants but he's not a Green and we don't need to worry about what he or Toad Gitlin or any of the other Democrats say. We need to be a real party. When we're not, it doesn't just mean that we're not taken seriously, it means that we're not taking ourselves seriously. No Green I know wants a for-show run for president. We want to see a real fight, a real battle. Do we think we'll win? Probably not. But we want to see a real run.

Rebecca: I had all this plan to talk about perceptions, using my public relations background, and since I'm shelving all of that, let me take it to terms of the media. Greens are shut out of the presidential debates. Their candidate were shut out the same way Ralph Nader was in 2004. You're always going to be shut out and have no excuse for whining about it if you're doing a "safe state strategy." If you're not running to win, you really don't need to be wasting -- and that's how the networks will see it -- America's time with your vanity. That's saying, "I'm not running to win! But I deserve stage time for my play time!" No, you don't. That's in reference to the Green party in 2004, by the way, not in reference to Ralph Nader who was also shut out and wasn't playing the, "I'll only run in states where I don't have to worry about hurting Democrats." Using that strategy again will not only piss off Green party members, it will make it hard for all parties to get air time for the near future because the Green party is probably, nationally, the best known third party. So to non-members, the safe state strategy doesn't just reflect on the Green party, it is how they may see all third parties.

Ruth: I do not know if this is supposed to be opened up or not --

Jim: Go ahead.

Ruth: But I agree with what Rebecca's saying. I agree with Jess' point as well that the Democratic party, of which I am a member, should not be the deciding factor for any other party. The Green party's concern shouldn't be about whether they help or hurt the Democrats. Mr. Nader has wrongly been called a "spoiler." If you have paid attention to any of the coverage of the Republican party primaries, you have probably heard Mike Huckabee called that as well. After the 2000 election, Ralph Nader, as a third party candidate, was called a "spoiler." Now we have seen that language creep into a Republican primary race. What comes next? In 2012 is the mainstream media dubbing one of the Republican or Democratic candidates a "spoiler" just for being in the presidential race?

Mike: If this is opened up --

Jim: It is.

Mike: Okay, well Ruth's right about Huckabee. I've heard it applied to Ron Paul as well. And I just want to say that elections are not coronations. People need to fight for votes. They don't need to expect that they have a right to them. I'm quoting from C.I. here but "We need more choices, not less. We need more voices, not less." I was going to vote for Cynthia McKinney but didn't realize in my state we needed to switch over our party membership. By the time I found out, it was too late. So I'm still a registered Democrat and, to be clear here, if the Greens run a safe state strategy for president in 2008, I have no reason to switch over now. C.I. brought up John Edwards and, I mean, ask Wally, that pissed off his support among every guy we knew. "That" meaning everytime he got up on stage and sang Bambi's praises. He looked weak, it was like he was gushing the way John Nichols does. He didn't look like an adult, let alone a candidate. If he had stayed in the race in February, I think he would have seen real support because he'd stopped playing like he was running for the position of Barack's wing-man and was actually his own candidate. There was a huge shift taking place on campus when he started hitting back every time Barack punched him. Prior to that, he was just taking it, just grinning and complimenting Bambi and it made him look really weak. It'll make the Green party look weak if they don't try to run a real race. It'll make them look like they're about getting into office only if it means they don't hurt the Democrats. It'll make them look like an auxirally branch of the Democratic party.

Jim: Wally and Cedric are in Texas campaigning for Hillary and that will be another section of this roundtable. Some people may be holding their comments to participate more in that -- we're trying to get this roundtable done in two hours -- but I do want to toss to Elaine because of some things Dona passed on. Dona shared with me that Elaine assumed C.I. would play the "in fairness" role, which was a guess we all would have made, in the discussion on Nader and stated, if needed, she'd back up C.I. It doesn't appear to be needed but I wanted to toss to Elaine to see if she had anything to say on the topic or maybe an analysis of C.I.?

Elaine: Well, an observation, not an analysis. I've never had C.I. on the couch so don't get me in trouble with my licensing. But in some clases we had experiments and sometimes C.I. would be kind enough to participate and the results would show we're not talking about someone who is left brain or right brain but who navigates both. I don't know how much detail's needed on that, I'll assume none and move on quickly. How I have assumed, from observations from our long friendship, that plays out is that C.I. doesn't get caught up in the lynch mob. We're having this roundtable now for that reason, to hash that out. Certainly true is that C.I. and Ava were the first to notice that no standards were being applied to Bambi and we've all adjusted at our sites accordingly which goes to fairness. Which you will not find in Panhandle Media. I don't mean to open up the discussion further and go beyond our basic topics, but there is a mood right now, check many other sites, that Ralph Nader's done something bordering on criminal by declaring his run. It's nonsense.

Ty: Which brings up another e-mail. Jordy is a reader of a few months who does know how to search on his own and he's been looking at older pieces as well as what we publish on Sunday. He e-mails to state he sees this site "as a tonic to what's going on elsewhere. I get the feeling that the last thing in the world any of you would like to talk about is elections but that you end up forced into it."

Dona: I would agree with Jordy 100% speaking for myself. There are many other things I would rather cover and focus on but, call it a 'tonic' or a 'corrective,' we end up having to deal with this.

Jim: I think that's probably true of everyone participating except possibly Cedric, Wally and myself. We do enjoy and suggest that topic, the three of us.

Cedric: Well, I mean, I don't think, for example, we'd be covering Ralph Nader in a roundtable were it not for what else was out there. I think C.I. spoke very well to the main points and I agree 100%. I'd be talking about Hillary regardless but it is true that the lack of standards and the media's willingness to get on board the Obama campaign means that topic always gets included. I think Jordy's right. There was a piece we did last summer that really brought that home to me. The military was going after Adam Kokesh, after he'd been discharged and claiming that the discharge didn't matter because he was in the IRR still -- as everyone is when they're discharged. And we were writing that piece and C.I. basically had to scream to stop the writing and point out we were writing a generic feature that anyone could write. C.I. and Elaine went off on their own to figure out what court case applied, because there was a Supreme Court precedent to Kokesh's actions. They came back with that case after they'd remembered what it was and phoned a number of lawyers -- including Jess' mother -- to make sure they were understanding the basics correctly. And, what I'm getting at, we could have just done the generic, "This isn't fair to Adam." It wasn't fair to him. Instead, we offered up how it wasn't fair and it was already decided during Vietnam. So I really think Jordy's correct.

Ty: Dallas is me that the feature Cedric's referring to is "US military goes after veterans."

Betty: I'll talk about anything, it's a break from having to be in character at my own site where my topics are limited to what Betinna could observe. So I'll gladly go for any topic here.

Marcia: Well, my site's new and would it have started if Panhandle Media had done their job and held both Hillary and Bambi to the same standard? No. Would it have started if Panhandle Media was covering Iraq? No. So as a "tonic," yeah, I can see that.

Jim: Elaine's site started as a result of a draft campaign to get her to start a campaign. I think we can move on to Wally and Cedric and what they're seeing in Texas. First up, you planned to return Sunday night and now that's changed.

Wally: Right. Voting is Tuesday so we'll be flying out Tuesday night. We'd thought we'd come here and work through Sunday but now that we're here, we both figure, let's see this out.

Cedric: And what we're seeing, this is something C.I. talked about in Friday's gina & krista round-robin, is that older voters especially are waiting until the last minute to decide and that's even more true of African-American older voters. We spent Saturday block walking and got a consistent message. Wally?

Wally: Obama's calling too much. We heard that over and over. It's turning people off. We heard from some who were his supporters but are saying they may not vote, we heard that from some who don't know how they'll vote yet and we heard it from Hillary supporters. One woman, who is not saying how she'll vote because she says that is her personal business, went on for 15 minutes about the call she got Thursday night from the Obama campaign and how angry she still was about it. It wasn't their first call but it was the one that pushed her limits. It opened with the caller giving her name and immediately asking, "Can Obama count on your support?" And the woman gave us a long list of questions she wanted to know if she could count on Obama for. She also gave those questions to the woman on the phone who told her she could -- you know this is coming -- check Obama's website for his positions. That pissed the woman off. Cedric?

Cedric: She told us she exploded at the caller saying basically, "How dare you call my house at 8:40 p.m. and ask me if I'm going to support your candidate and when I ask you a basic question about where the candidate stands on the issues, you tell me, 'Check the website.' Young lady, I did not call you, you called me. At my home. At night." She hung up on her. That's one woman but we heard that a lot. How Obama's camp was calling too much and when asked a question they refused to answer. Like the woman I just quoted said, they're the ones calling. They should have these answers.

Ruth: There's a big article on Senator Obama in a Houston alternative weekly. Is that having any play?

Wally: Yes, it is because it's not just in the Houston weekly. It's in a number of weeklies down here. The only difference is the photos being run with it. For instance, The Dallas Observer doesn't have the photo of Bambi with the cigarette hanging out of his mouth where he looks hung over. They're using photos from his appearance at Reunion Arena in Dallas instead. But the text is the same.

Cedric: The article is having an impact. The weeklies it is appearing in are free and they have a potentially large audience. Where there are newstands for papers, you will find a newstand for one of the freebies. The article is by Todd Spivak and what may be most damaging judging by the comments that we're hearing is the revelation that he was mentored in the Illinois legislature because his mentor saw to it that Obama's name appeared on legislation he did not draft or sponsor because he was attempting to notch up a strong record for Obama. Obama's record is weak and that doesn't help. Wally?

Wally: People are connecting the story with the "present" votes, over 400, that Obama made in the Illinois legislature because the defense was always some poor excuse and the accusation was always that he avoided the hard votes -- such as on abortion -- because he was preparing a record to run for president on. The article's assertion or revelation that Obama was taking credit for the work others were doing in an attempt to amass what they hoped would be an impressive record that he could run for president with has people focusing on the present votes. That's coming from people who were undecided and who were strong Obama supporters.

Betty: In terms of Hillary supporters, how's the article playing?

Cedric: Well . . . I don't think they grasp it. I think the feeling is that Hillary's campaign covered this. They did cover it. But the difference is that now you have Spivak who has covered Obama for years offering up an article that underscores how planned this run was and how efforts in the Illinois legislature were shaped for this run. It's resulting in a stronger hit for the undecided and Obama supporters than I think Hillary supporters realize. And of course, Wally and I are both supporting Hillary. I'm not trying to act like we aren't but I'm trying to give an easy to grasp category for each grouping we're talking about.

Betty: What about Rezko or the issue of -- hold on. What about Rezko? I have a feeling Marcia or Rebecca will bring up the other issue.

Wally: The press, big media, is in the tank for Obama and they're lying full blast. You had, for instance, The Dallas Morning News put out this idiotic letter from an editor where they were responding to charges that they weren't fair to Hillary and were in the tank for Obama. If you didn't know anything about Obama and read that piece, you'd think, "Well, see there." But if you knew stories -- stories that Texas media apparently isn't covering -- you'd know there was a huge problem. C.I. who broke the Rezko tour?

C.I.: Bloomberg News.

Wally: The Dallas Morning News has apparently never heard of Bloomberg News. The letter did a 'summary' of Obama and Rezko that failed to mention that Obama took Rezko on a tour of the property. Their slanted 'response' was to make it seem as if Tony Rezko's wife just happened to purchase the adjoining property next to the mansion that the Obamas bought. The fact of the matter is that it didn't just happen and that Obama took Tony on a tour which would indicate that Barack Obama was inviting Tony to buy the land.

Cedric: And they, Texas media, isn't addressing the land and the mansion issue in terms of the same owner owned both pieces and they were one piece. It took the Chicago Landmark Commission to agree to split them which happened only after the Obamas couldn't afford them as a package deal and happened while Michelle Obama served on the Landmark Commission. Betty asked about Rezko so that's what we're focusing on and, like Wally said, The Dallas Morning News' letter from the editor left out a lot of details so you could read it and think, if you didn't know about the story, "Well, nothing here." But if you know the details, you're left wondering whether the editor of The Dallas Morning News is a moron -- this was the male, by the way, not the woman with the name "Kevin" or "Kyle" -- or whether he's in the bag for Bambi.

Wally: What's really sad is that in the same letter, an online feature, he says that the comment option will be coming soon to the paper's website. It's needed right now so that people can point out everything he overlooked. But, to give another example from the same source, he declares that Barack Obama did not refuse to put his hand over his heart during the pledge of allegiance and then moves on. He doesn't, when he says he's correcting rumors, explain that it was during the singing of the national anthem that Barack refused to put his hand over his heart -- while everyone around him was. So I don't think it's a "moron" issue, I think it's someone trying to shade the truth and he does that repeatedly in his column.

Jess: Elaine wrote Wednesday and Naomi Klein on Friday about how Barack's response to the Muslim issue is insulting and sends the message that there's something wrong with being a Muslim. Barack's not a Muslim, we've covered that here before, but his reaction and his supporters' reaction is this outsized outrage that implies there's something shameful about being a Muslim. A photo landed on the cesspool of the internet and was probably leaked from the Free Republic where it first appeared. How is that photo playing out in Texas?

Cedric: It's not. We see it online or on national broadcasts on TV but the Texas media isn't really running with it. The little reaction we have received on it hasn't been about anything Muslim.

Wally: Yeah, we've heard from college age males, and they were African-American, that he looks ridiculous in the photo like someone had t.p.-ed him. We didn't bring up the photo and when it was brought up, we just asked questions and didn't offer opinions or anything like that because, at that point, we hadn't seen the photo and were just hearing of it for the first time.

Cedric: So that night when we were able to look at it, we weren't thinking "Muslim!" We were thinking, "Yeah, the guys were right, he does look like he's been t.p.ed." It's considered more of a laugh for the way he looks than anything else among the small number that have seen it. I've not heard one person refer to it in any way as having to do with Muslims. I also get a lot of African-Americans pulling me to the side away from Wally -- Wally's White and I'm African-American -- to talk about religion. Their concern isn't whether he's Muslim or not. That really isn't taking root down here. Their concern is was he baptized. And I have to reply that there is no record that's been made public that he was ever baptized. Religion does play into this state but I think the media's missing the point -- and of course Bambi wants them to miss it -- because the biggest concern about religion among African-Americans -- and we've been down here two weeks -- is he baptized or not? Betty brought that up before Super Duper Tuesday because it was becoming a concern in Atlanta right before that election. It was a concern in my state as well. It's a huge concern right now in Texas and Bambi's crying "I'm a Christian" every five minutes only seems to make it a bigger concern. The Muslim thing isn't taking root, to repeat, among the African-Americans I'm speaking to in Texas. But his insisting he's a Christian is raising the issue of baptism and there are a lot of Baptists here. Not just "Southern Baptists." There are "Missionary Baptists" and all these other groupings. And it is becoming an issue to African-Americans because the perception is if you're an African-American and you are saying you are a Christian, you have been baptized. I would guess that for African-Americans in Texas, some form of the Baptist faith is the most popular religion. A close second would be Methodists. There are, down significantly in percentages, Church of Christ and others. But the dominant view is that if you are a Christian, then you were baptized. Which translates as, if you're saying you are a Christian and you weren't baptized or christened, then you are lying.

Wally: Cedric and I were talking about how no one ever asks that about Hillary so I thought I'd toss that out there, was she baptized?

C.I.: She was christened. At the Court Street Methodist Church in Scranton.

Cedric: I didn't know she was raised a Methodist. That must be why I like her so much. I'm joking but I am a Methodist.

Jim: A big issue in last Tuesday's debate was NAFTA and I believe Rebecca or Marcia wanted to ask about that?

Cedric: Let Rebecca grab it because I've got a question for Marcia.

Rebecca: Okay. NAFTA came up in the debate, as Jim noted, Hillary spoke at length about what she would do -- she believes it needs to be altered -- and then Obama answered repeating everything she'd said, as Ruth pointed out. It turns out that prior to the debate, Obama's campaign was in contact with the Canadian government and apparently sending them a message to ignore what he was going to say in the debate about NAFTA because he apparently was just trying to trick American voters. How is that playing out?

Wally: It's being discussed but mainly due to the release from Hillary's campaign. The state-wide and local media seems very unconcerned and uninterested in the story. People are hearing about it and we encountered more of them Saturday. Even there, though, the thing was more along the lines of, "I'm hearing about a call to Canada, what's that about?" Texas media is in the bag for Bambi. If they're questioned they fall back -- like they're Bambi's campaign -- on "check a website" only they refer you to the Chicago newspapers' websites as if it's not their job to cover a candidate for president campaigning in their state. I really am not impressed with Texas media. Remember that my state's primary may not count. My state's Florida and we went for Hillary. Even without them touring the state and greeting people, my state's media had some serious coverage. There's no excuse for the nonsense that the press in Texas is offering. They should be probing and they're not. They are honestly treating it like a pageant and if you call them on the phone to ask, "What about . . .?" or if you ask a reporter covering a rally that or if they answer it in their own columns, it's always "Check the Chicago papers' websites." Why? The primary takes place in your state, both candidates have repeatedly been there. Why can't you do your damn job? That's the question Texas media needs to answer.

Dona: You said pageantry and I know what you mean but I just want you to clarify it.

Wally: They cover rallies. If Hillary or Barack has a rally, that's in the paper and they offer a summary of it and that's about as deep as they ever go. It's generally a crowd report.

Cedric: Marcia, my question for you, the gay vote. The big talking point in Texas right now is that, having not been able to secure the Latino vote, Bambi will now be swept into office on the gay vote. I know you're not in Texas, but how realistic does that seem to you.

Marcia: I would assume it would be impossible. Barack Obama's used homophobia in South Carolina and the gay community is aware of that. It was an issue that some attempted to brush aside but it has refused to go away. Now I'm sure some self-hating gays like Laura Flanders will gladly vote for him but I don't see him pulling off the gay vote in Texas. The Advocate did their story this month that is being picked up by all gay sites and newspapers, about Barack snubbing Gavin Newsome -- who is straight -- over Newsome's support for same-sex marriage. Willie Brown supports the story and Newsome was talking about it in 2007 without naming the candidate. That he would go so far -- again Newsome is straight -- to avoid, that he would distance himself so much from us is not playing out in Obama's favor. He does not have the community, I would be surprised if he did.

Cedric: I didn't think so either. We're campaigning in Dallas today though because the rumor is taken as gospel. C.I.'s hooked us up with a number of friends throughout Texas and when we have a question, we call them. A woman whose a political consultant laughed at the idea of the LGBT community going for Barack. She said setting aside the use of homophobia, he's made no gestures to the LGBT community and that gestures aren't just valued, they are needed. She made a few calls and lined up several things for us in Dallas. So we'll find out later today whether this is another rumor that they're trying to use to build momentum -- like with the false claim that Latinos were going for Bambi -- or if there's any truth in it. I was hoping Marcia could speak to gestures. Or Ty if he wants to.

Marcia: I don't want to step on Ty's toes.

Ty: No, you take it.

Marica: I'm a lesbian, Ty's a gay man. If Ty disagrees or wants to add something, I hope he will. Gestures matter because, let's be honest, no real gifts are coming. No one's promising the LGBT community anything in this election and why would they when sell-outs like Laura Flanders are happy to endorse Barack even though he uses homophobia? With nothing real offered, you're left with gestures and you're also left with history. Obama has no history with the gay community. He's offered homophobia. That doesn't demonstrate he was with us. As awful as we now all agree Don't Ask, Don't Tell is there is no denying that it was a step up and that came from Bill Clinton. Hillary is his wife, their White House was open to open gays. That is not in question. Ellen and her then partner Anne Heche were invited the same as any straight couple. If a straw poll was taken nation-wide among lesbians, I would say that Hillary would win it. I do think there's a difference in terms of gay males and I'll toss to Ty on that but note that I think it is for gay males and have no idea how the transgendered would go.

Ty: I agree with what Marcia said. I do know what Marcia's talking about in terms of gay males. I do encounter a number who seem to think they've voting to pick a sexual partner and they and the self-hating gay men tend to be for Barack Obama. But the bulk of the gay men I encounter are for Hillary and it goes to the things Marcia was listing. I would also agree with her that there is little to no debate among lesbians of all races, they tend to be more aware that Barack used homophobia in South Carolina and that's the deal breaker for them. It's one of the reasons Laura Flanders is now a joke in the gay community.

Dona: She's worse than that. We need to wrap up but I have to insert something here. A classmate of Jim and mine, in grad school, called me very upset about something here that we'd written on Laura Flanders. She wanted to know how we could endorse Laura Flanders. I explained to her, and I'm stating it right now, we supported Laura Flanders strongly once upon a time. That was before she became the self-hating nut job who couldn't call out homophobia. She'd, my friend had, found something we'd written very favorable about Laura Flanders in 2007. We always wrote favorably about Flanders. Until she decided homophobia wasn't an issue to call out. When that happened, things changed. We do not endorse her. We do not support her. We do not like her. She has hurt a lot of people in the gay community with her silence and we do not support that. We do not tolerate it. Laura Flanders is not someone we endorse. She is someone we delinked from. The fall out against her is intense and immense and there are people who have e-mailed recently voicing that and there are people who have e-mailed about something they just found from a year ago or more. Again, we do not support Laura Flanders. Those days are long gone.

Jess: On support, we also withdraw our endorsement of Cindy Sheehan. That doesn't mean we won't vote for her or we will vote for her. That does mean we're sick of her crapping on Hillary Clinton while giving a pass to Barack Obama. Allegedly Cindy endorsed Cynthia McKinney, a candidate running to be my party's presidential nominee. Cindy's repeated refusal to call out Obama isn't doing my nominee any good. It's not helping to end the war. When she decided to post comments to a Common Dreams article, Rebecca and C.I. announced for themselves that they were withdrawing their nominations. Had Elaine posted that night, Thursday, you would have seen Elaine making the same announcements. They have been bothered by the fact that Cindy was presenting Hillary as a War Hawk and staying silent on Barack. As long as it was confined to her own columns, we'd decided whatever and given her the benefit of the doubt that she didn't grasp what was happening. The comments on that Common Dreams garbage before Cindy showed up were sexist and vile. They were made by Barack supporters claiming Bambi was for ending the illegal war. Cindy chose to participate in that thread. She didn't correct realities about Obama. She instead went into Hillary bashing. She did not promote Cynthia McKinney's campaign or mention it. She jsut engaged in Hillary's bashing. It's something her twerp friend David Swanson likes to practice at his crap-ass website as well. We're sick of it and we're not standing for it. The Peace Mom should never present a false veneer for a candidate to hide behind but she did just that by choosing to take part in a thread bashing Hillary and praising Obama. It would have taken two seconds for her to point out that there was no difference between Barack and Hillary on the illegal war -- except that Hillary may be more honest on the topic. She didn't do that. Considering the way she was wounded when she was bashed -- by some of the same people bashing Hillary today -- she damn well should have known better. The fact that she didn't means we have all withdrawn our endorsement. We have not endorsed anyone else in the race. We have not stated we will not vote her. We are not interested in promoting her because it is LYING to take part in a thread that calls Hillary out for the Iraq War but gives a pass to Bambi. We do NOT endorse liars. Her silence on Cynthia McKinney -- who she allegedly endorsed -- offended me as a Green party member and struck me as Cindy trying to get back into the big Democratic clubhouse, as "Look at me, I'll bash Hillary too! Let me play too! Let me back in!" If you endorse Cynthia McKinney you do her campaign no help by refusing to correct the lie that Bambi is anti-war. And to be clear, we're not linking to trash, this wasn't one comment by Cindy Sheehan, this was repeated comments. She was actively posting in that thread.

Kat: It would have taken two seconds to type, "Cynthia McKinney is actually the candidate who is for ending the war. Barack Obama supports counter-insurgency and mercenaries. He is not a peace candidate."

Jim: Ty, time for one more e-mail.

Ty: Duncan e-mailed wanting to know what people thought of Dan J. Black's post at Iraq Veterans Against the War?

C.I.: No one's speaking so, unless someone jumps in, I'll assume I'm the only one who read it. Let me start with where I feel differently. Redacted is not war porn. That charge was already leveled at it by Slate. I called that out last year and a lot of people reading this will know that and if it's not noted by me, they'll e-mail asking, "Did you see what he said about Redacted?" or "Did you change your opinion about Redacted?" I didn't. It's a great film. I know DePalma, I know he poured his heart into that film. I know sexualization when I see it -- look at the rape scene in The Accused for one example of a crime being sexed up. Brian made an amazing film and I will not pretend otherwise. It may be the finest thing he's ever done and it's certainly up there at the top. Black notes a voyeristic quality to the film. It may be there, it's a matter of opinion. Films are, by the very nature, voyeristic experiences -- they are recorded by a camera -- and voyerism has long been a criticism of DePalma; however, voyerism does not have to mean titalation -- think of Jimmy Stewart's character in Rear Window or for that matter in Vertigo or any film that revolves around someone being trailed. Black had a very angry response to the film and that's great. It's valid from where he's coming from and he told it as he sees it. There's nothing wrong with that. I thought it was a fiery, passionate piece and agreed with all but the issue of Redacted. Someone wants to disagree, that's fine, and they can easily say, "You're friends with Brian! Of course you'd stick up for him!" I would. But I think the film is amazing and I've seen the many who've kept their mouths shut and the many who've made the 'softer side' of the illegal war refuse to step up to the plate. Alone among the giants of his generation, Brian stood up. I'll be kind and not list all the cowards -- I'm not kind to their faces -- but I'm sure the list can easily be compiled by people on their own. Black goes on to call out the audience saying they wanted tittilation. I wasn't at the showing, I don't know what the audience wanted or didn't want. I can't imagine that at a peace festival, people were going to see a film about the war crimes -- similar to Abeer's story -- to get hot and bothered and geared up for sex that night. But, again, I wasn't there. I've probably seen the film four times, maybe five. I didn't see it with a paying audience -- I did buy tickets online but knew I wouldn't be able to go, I just wanted to do my part to help the box office for a strong film with no release pattern -- so I have no idea how the average audience would react to the film. A film has to tell a story, it has to attempt to involve the audience -- unless we're talking about Margarite Duras' films and, yeah, I said it -- the page formula has resulted in cookie-cutter films -- Redacted is not a cookie-cutter film and is not written by the page numbers like a Sy Field disciple -- but it does have acts, whether it's three, four or five, it has acts, it has a central character -- which, as Robert Altman proved with Nashville doesn't have to be a person -- and various conventions. Within those contexts and other elements, it fails or succeeds. Brian knows how to trigger emotions very well, a hallmark of a great director, and he doesn't fall back on the 'ooooh, how sweet' emotion the way same do -- some use it the same way sitcoms use laugh tracks. It's a challenging film and it's a great one. That's my opinion. I hope I've been clear. Black feels a lot of anger and he can direct that at Redacted if he wants. That's fine and I'm not being sarcastic or putting him down. I'm not even saying, "Find another target to rally against!" He needs to rail against whatever he wants to. He's right to be angry in general and in specific I can support him on every other point he's making. But that was a strong film, an amazing one, and Brian put a lot on the line to make that film and he continued fighting for its release. We didn't highlight Black's column at The Common Ills because I would've made these points and done so at greater length. Due to time limits, I'm talking as fast as I can and making points quickly, but if we'd highlighted it, I would have had to have gone into even more detail on the film. I'm already on record loving that film and thankful that Brian had the courage to do what no one else would. Black's very angry, be sure there's a link included, and I applaud that. I think we've had too much complacency. I think we've had too much pick-up-and-then-drop-the-war attention. He can and should rail against whatever he wants and any target he feels is justified. His column should be read. I was talking to a friend with IVAW who said the biggest problem is prettying it up for the media. I understand that. I understand the fear that if you so any emotion other than regret, there is the fear that the media will stop listening. I applaud Black for his entire column -- even the one small part I disagree with. I think he wrote with courage and honesty and I think we need more of that. A lot more. I really worry about some of the coverage of the veterans which -- I'm speaking at large, not of IVAW -- tends to reduce them to "Here's a story that will pull at your heart strings." And we read it and keyed in to pity. They are victims, absolutely, sent into a worthless war, an illegal war, that never should have started. But they are also survivors and I don't always get the sense of that -- especially in PTSD stories. I haven't read it yet, we'll highlight it at The Common Ills tonight, but speaking on campuses last week, two students brought up a thing Adam Kokesh had written. Dona, how much time?

Dona: If you slow down so Ava can be sure to get this down -- I'm joking but everything C.I.'s said was in about 2 minutes and 15 seconds. But seriously, take a breath, this will be the last thing, the last topic.

C.I.: Okay, thank you. Adam Kokesh has a piece that we'll highlight at The Common Ills tonight. I haven't read it. As it was conveyed by two students on two different campuses, he's writing about a reporter who asked him about PTSD and wanted to know about drinking and other things. I don't believe he drinks. But the students felt he was playing 'tough.' They felt he wasn't being real. I stated I hadn't read his piece on that but let's all think about our reactions to the PTSD stories when we hear them or read them in the media or the veterans' health care scandals. And we discussed that in both talks and came to an agreement that sadness and pity were the most common reactions. A survivor doesn't want your pity. A survivor going public is attempting to raise awareness and get some action rolling. So we talked about how the stories could be better structured, the reports, to get at that. And I'm not insulting any reporter and will freely admit that in most stories on health care or PTSD, I will tear up if not cry directly. I cried just listening to one hearing last week. But the issue is what do we do after we cry? Do we forget about it? Do we feel sorry for "them"? Myself, I prefer the anger Black's expressing. It's very much related to what he went through -- I believe he writes that he was always the way he is and likens it to Hyde -- in that it amplified who he is. I think his voice is sorely needed and we need other voices not afriad to get loud, not afraid to say, "I don't want you pity, I want your help." Black makes the point that, like it or not, we're all a part of the Iraq War and that is very true. We're all effected by it -- even if you're living in denial you're effected by how much you work to maintain that denial. At the very core, what veterans were put through any citizen of the United States could have been put through. It shouldn't be a case of "feel sorry for them," it should be a case -- my opinion -- of be outraged that this was done to an American citizen. If they did it to him or her, they could have done it to you. You are no different and no better than they are, but timing and fate sent them over. If pity's your key emotion, pity yourself because "they" are "we." And my own observations of pity would lead me to conclude it's a fleeting feeling for most and having felt it for a moment, they're purged and no longer required to do anything because wasn't pity enough? "Wasn't it enough that I felt pity for a moment? What's next on the agenda!" It's the escape clause. And that can work in a film which is a piece of art that has a beginning, middle and an end but that's not going to work in life and it's not going to result in better health care for veterans, let alone result in an end to the illegal war. I don't know Black -- and let me be clear on that because I was speaking rapidly and may have made some assumptions not based on the text of what he wrote, if so my apologies. But I do know similar anger among some veterans and I do know that when everyone's trying to keep it nice and friendly, there's often someone hurting themselves very badly by trying to ape that behavior. A long with the good his writing does for the country at large, it's equally true that for a veteran who is really trying to keep that anger bottled up, Black's piece is saying, "You don't have to bottle it up, you don't have to deny it, you can talk about it." Some problems some veterans have with the peace movement -- especially true of those not in IVAW, if you read their writing -- can be boiled down to feeling a happy face has to be stamped on everything. I've said before, I think it's long past time to take the training wheels off the peace movement. It's time to stop acting as if everyone's in first grade. That may have been possible in the early months of the illegal war but it's no longer possible now. There are too many veterans who have returned, too many families who have lost loved ones. Everyone can't play the 'I'm not angry, just a little sad' card. It's not what they're feeling and it's hurting them -- as much as it is the peace movement -- to try to put them into those cookie cutter roles. Whenever a friend tells me about a veteran taking their own life, my first thought is usually, "Could they not handle the role they were forced into?" Mike's talked about this -- I'm sorry, I know I've gone on too long.

Jim: No, go on, it's the only thing about Iraq in the roundtable and we may try to pull your points out for an editorial if we don't think of one soon.

C.I.: Okay. Mike's talked about the veterans he sees on Thursday night before they go into Elaine's session and after. And one of the stories he shared, one he was asked to share, was a veteran feeling tempted to just play "Great war. We did great things." card because there was no support -- he may have said little, I'll say no -- from our supposed left media. You're coming back from a war zone, this is me speaking, and landing in a country that doesn't seem to be aware that an illegal war is going on. The ones who seem most aware of it, the ones who cover it, that's really the right wing outlets today. You've got other veterans, yes, if you're lucky enough to live in area with a number of them. But let's remember who's being recruited. Rural areas of this country have resulted in a number of recruits. I can list three suicides without searching my brain where the veteran lived in a rural area. They were all male and, yes, there were veterans from other wars in the area, the immediate area. But not all veterans -- even just of this war -- see it the same way and for a veteran who served in Iraq, the need to talk can be hampered by honest misunderstandings as well by "I don't want to hear that kind of talk!" And on that last point, what is left media's silence but "I don't want to hear that kind of talk!" Because of brave people like Camilo Mejia and Kelly Dougherty and Adam Kokesh and others, a space has been carved out but it is still a limited space. I applaud Black for knocking down the walls and increasing the space and I believe he isn't just helping one veteran by doing so, I believe he's helping many. And -- and, if it's bottled up, if the anger or rage is bottled up, either because there's no one to talk to one on one or because society's not accepting anything but the most limited and limiting range of discussion, that anger's going to be released at some point. We've heard about the abuse of spouses but it's more common for most people to turn the anger back on themselves. I'd be really interested in a study that went around and examined the life after a return, before the suicide to see what the circumstances were in terms of that for a cross-section. I think the military, the health care aspect of it, needs to be sending out questionaires to find out how many veterans feel they have emotional support. How many feel they have it at certain times -- such as in meetings with other veterans -- and how many feel that they don't or that they have it from this hour to that hour. Lastly, and I'm so sorry to go on so long, Black's piece also helps families and friends of veterans. A veteran last week was telling me about a film and I'm blanking on the title. Born on the Forth of July. He couldn't talk to his wife about what he was feeling for the longest. She was supportive but he just couldn't talk about it. He finally thought about the movie and the rage Ron Kovic expresses in it. He rented it and told her that's what he was feeling and if she wanted to know after she watched it and saw how it was going be -- loud and angry -- talking about it, to ask. Which she did and he was loud and angry. But, I mean, we're still not at a place, forget the country, just in left media, where we can all call it an illegal war. You've still got some in left media playing the pity card and using terms like "misguided" and other pretty words providing cover to the administration. So when we can't even get honest, in left media, about what's going on, how can we expect that everyone returning feels they can speak freely about it -- forget details of incidents, I'm just talking something as basic as emotions? So Dan Black did a very powerful, very important thing by being so honest in his piece. He may not feel the same the next time he writes. He may feel he got it out. He may feel he has more to get out. But his expressing what he's going through doesn't just help him, it helps many others and should be applauded.

Jim: Okay. I haven't read the piece yet, I will now make a point to. Thank you to Duncan for e-mailing on it and to Ty for selecting it as an e-mail to include as well as to C.I. who brought Iraq into the roundtable where it belongs. On that note, we're going to have to wind down.
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