Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Democratic Race for the presidential nomination

The cruelest and most vile word you can call a Democrat contains five, not four, letters: Loser. They certainly work hard to earn that word, over and over. They're working just as hard this primary cycle as they avoid the obvious warning signs attached to Barack Obama.

Friday, CBS News online featured a discussion with Doug Schoen who played it suprisingly straight. The spin came via CBS: "A lot of Obama partisans have argued that his weaknesses are exaggerated right now in the heat of a primary battle. They say that in this environment in which 80 percent of the public thinks we're on the wrong track, Bush has the highest disapproval of any President in modern history, that this is a Democratic year and Obama will do fine."

A new map! A new math! A new day! Somebody fire up Nina Simone on the boom box.

Setting aside Barack's weaknesses for a moment, let's zoom in on how his groupies insist that "this is an enverionment in which 80 percent of the public thinks we're on the wrong track," Bully Boy has high disapproval number and that somehow means "this is a Democratic year and Obama will do fine." Those are the claims. What is reality?

This time four years ago (May 24, 2004), CBS News was reporting on something similar. John Kerry was already the Democratic nominee due to the fact that others had suspended their campaigns and he'd been awarded the magic number of delegates from primaries and caucuses. And the word was Kerry couldn't lose! CBS News was pointing out the most recent polling: 65% of Americans said the United States was on the "wrong track." 65% was considered a death blow to the Bully Boy and a sure sign that the White House would change parties following the November 2004 election. For those who missed it, Kerry has never been introduced with this prefaced: "Ladies and gentelmen, the president of the United States . . ."

80% is being sold as "significant" today the same way 65% was sold as "significant" four years ago. It's a fifteen percent increase. Bully Boy's disapproval rating at this point in 2004 stood at 41%. Polling this month places dispproval at a range of 28% to 33%. Accepting the highest number of 33%, that's an 8% increase in the number of people who disapprove of the Bully Boy. When you consider his gross misconduct in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the departure of Scooter Libby from his administration over the outing of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame, the scandalous firing of attorneys across the country, the continued illegal war in Iraq and so much more, an eight percent increase in four years is not "significant," it's appalling and should make all on the left grasp that a segment of the country will never see things the way they are.

In four years, that's all that's really happened. A 15% increase in the number of Americans saying the country is on the "wrong track" and an 8% increase in Bully Boy's unfavorable ratings. Here's another fact: Bully Boy is not running for re-election. The Constitution limits presidents to two terms. The most likely candidate for the GOP's presidential nomaintion will be John McCain. Despite MoveOn and others efforts to prtend otherwise, Bully Boy is not John McCain.

Aged Socialite's Cat Littler Box sent up a stink this month as the always useless socialite declared that John McCain did not vote for Bully Boy in 2000. McCain denied that and the socialite couldn't let it go -- you'd have thought she was again being accused of assembling George Clooney quotes from various interviews and insisting he'd blogged at her site. While she just knew she had him in the crosshairs, all she did was remind everyone of the very real differences between McCain and the Bully Boy in 2000. That included smearing the adopted child of John and Cindy McCain. Way to go, socialite, you thought you were questioning his honesty and all you did was demonstrate how far from Bully Boy he was.

John McCain's last name is not "Bush" and he is his own person. Sober detractors of McCain (that would include us) are fully aware of that fact. Of all the insane "hopes" coming from the Obama campaign, the most lunatic one may be their belief that they can convince the American people that McCain is Bully Boy. There is no proof that they can do that and it seems highly unlikely. File it under "pipe dream."

That is not a planning for winning it's a tactic that might or might not work as part of a larger strategy. Its problems include that the only real basis for drawing the comparison is that both men are Republicans and that tactic could very likely backfire in terms of turning off swing voters or, for that matter, people who voted for Bully Boy in 2000 or 2004 which includes a huge number of people.

John Kerry ran a weak presidential campaign and lessons should have been learned from that but were not. If Barack thinks "catty" is the way to shore up male votes, he's doing a fine job. But "catty" is all his carping at John McCain has been thus far -- despite his groupies insisting he's delivering "knock out blows." That's as ludicrous as the claim that he's got a rapid response team when this month saw him wait an entire news cycle to respond to a charge from John McCain.

The "change" campaign seems to think, if Barack steals the nomination, the general election match up will be some sort of Neely O'Hare vs. Helen Lawson in the ladies' room exchange. Already the Barack campaign can't shut up about McCain's age. A clue to the Barack campaign, an underage teenager attempting to purchase liquor really doesn't need to point and scream at some "old' man, it only draws attention to extreme youth -- some might say "immaturity."

As Barack's insisted upon playing Alexis Carrington, John McCain's already landed one body blow the "hope" and "unity" and "change" campaign:

First, let us be clear about the nature of Senator Obama's attack today. He used the words 'losing his bearings' intentionally, a not particularly clever way of raising John McCain's age as an issue. This is typical of the Obama campaigning. We have all become familiar with Senator Obama's new brand of politics. First, you demand civility from your opponent, then you attack him, distort his record and send out surrogates to question his integrity. It is called hypocrisy, and it is the oldest kind of politics there is. It is important to focus on what Senator Obama is attempting to do here: He is trying desperately to delegitimize the discussion of issues that raise legitimate questions about his judgement and preparedness to be President of the United States. Through their actions and words, Senator Obama and his supporters have made clear that ANY criticism on ANY issue -- from his desire to raise taxes on millions of small investors to his radical plans to sit down face-to-face with Iranian President Ahmadinejad -- constitute negative, personal attacks. Senator Obama is hopeful that the media will continue to form a protective barrier around him, declaring serious limits to the questions, discussion and debate in this race. Senator Obama has good reason to think this plan will succeed, as serious journalists have written off the need for 'de-tox' to cure 'swooning' over Senator Obama, and others have admitted to losing their objectivity while with him on the campaign trail.

In PDF form, that memo can be found here. To put into the juvenile language that The Cult of Barack can understand: McCain just pantsed your candidate.

The McCain campaign has Barack's act down pat. And it's one the entire country has seen over and over. Barack can write about his use of drugs in two books, he can crack jokes about his drug use to Jay Leno on NBC's The Tonight Show, but when anyone else mentions it -- even when questioned on it repeatedly by Chris Matthews with the Obama campaign's David Axelrod present -- suddenly the whining starts, suddenly it's time for a two-year-old tantrum and, most importantly, it's time for all the ones on the floor, kicking their legs in the air, to falsely cry "racism."

That is the tactic the Obama campaign deployed non-stop in the primary season. Surprising considering that they could make racist remarks ("punjab") and they could and did practice homophobia. But they always whined "racism." The campaign did, they egged on reporters with quotes and memos. Barack pretended to stay out of it. Then, when the controversy died, Barack would issue some statement about how he didn't think the person was a racist and would win applause from the press for that -- as if his campaign hadn't pushed the issue, as if he had truly remained out of it.

Hillary's New Hampshire win freaked the Obama campaign out. At that point, African-Americans were still unsure of him and South Carolina was coming up. What better way to make the bi-racial Barack appear part of the African-American community (without offering a damn thing that would benefit the African-American community) then by painting him as the victim of racists? New Hampshire was a big scare for the Obama campaign. The exit polls demonstrated that those who broke for Hillary at the last minute cited the debate performance. As everyone has now seen repeatedly, Barack can't handle a debate. A fact that should frighten the DNC because he won't be able to pout, stamp his feet and cry "No more debates" as a general election nominee.

The usual pathetics tried to pretend otherwise at the time. Non-Democrat Matthew Rothschild was spinning hard the day after the debate claiming "Obama played it cool throughout and projected calmness" but the day after the primary, of the same debate, the same Rothschild was admitting to "Obama's lackluster debate performance Saturday night".
Yes, it was pretty bad. So the Obama campaign had to discredit Hillary's win and they dispatched Jesse Jackson Jr. to MSNBC (January 9th), after the New Hampshire primary to stumble and fumble and attack. He didn't just accuse her of winning due to her eyes moistening (the moment was overplayed by the national media and barely registered in New Hampshire), he had to attack her as racist and vain insisting she had cried (she didn't):

Not in response to voters resp-, uh, not-not in response to Katrina, not in response to uh-uh other issues that have devastated the American people, the war in Iraq, we saw tears in response to her apprearance. So her appearance brought her to tears --

Here's what he's referring to and you'll note when her eyes moisten:

Hillary Clinton: And I couldn't do if it I just didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know I have so many opportunities from this country [the eyes tear] I just don't want to see us fall backwards. You know? So. This is very personal for me. It's not just political, it's not just public. I see what's happening and we have to reverse it. And some people think elections are a game, it's like, who's up and who's down. It's about our country, it's about our kid's futures, and it's really about all of us together. You know some of us put ourselves and do this against some [sardonoic voice] difficult odds, and we do it, each one of us because we care about our country. But some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready and some of us are not. Some of us know what we will do on day one and some of us haven't really thought that through enough. And so when we look at the array of problems we have and the potential for really spinning out of control, this is one of the most important elections America has ever faced. So [smiling] as tired as I am, and I am, and as difficult as it is to keep up what I try to do on the road like occassionally exercise, and try to eat right, it's tough when the easiest food is pizza, I just believe so strongly in who we are as a nation. So I'm going to do everything I can to make my case and then the voters get to decide.

But it was necessary for Jesse Jackson Jr. to lie, to attack Hillary for alleged vanity, and to tar her as a racist. Jackson Jr. is the co-chair of Obama's national campaign. To insist Hillary was vain, he had to distort but what a charge coming from Jackson Jr. Ebony reported he had "undergone bariatric surgery in 2004 . . . He began to tell me about the procedure he went through, something called a DS or duodenal switch." Jesse Jackson Jr. went under the knife to have two-thirds of his stomach removed in order to 'lose' weight. And he got away with calling anyone else vain? Fatty couldn't put down the fork and needed a 'slimming' surgery for his own vainity and he wants to finger-point at someone else? In a real media, you would have heard howls of laughter greeting Junior's appearence.

But the campaign was just gearing up. Bill Clinton declared that Barack's stance on the Iraq War was a "fairy tale" and, apparently reading a different version of Brothers Grimm than the rest of us, numerous Barack supporters began insisting "fairy tale" was racist. (Someone wake up Sleeping Beauty with that news.)

The Chicago Tribune has the video and text online and here's what Bill Clinton said with links of support:

"But since you raised the judgment issue, let's go over this again. That is the central argument for his campaign. 'It doesn't matter that I started running for president less a year after I got to the Senate from the Illinois State Senate. I am a great speaker and a charismatic figure and I'm the only one who had the judgment to oppose this war from the beginning. Always, always, always.' " "First it is factually not true that everybody that supported that resolution supported Bush attacking Iraq before the UN inspectors were through. Chuck Hagel was one of the co-authors of that resolution. The only Republican Senator that always opposed the war. Every day from the get-go. He authored the resolution to say that Bush could go to war only if they didn't co-operate with the inspectors and he was assured personally by Condi Rice as many of the other Senators were. So, first the case is wrong that way." "Second, it is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, numerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, 'Well, how could you say, that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war and you took that speech you're now running on off your website in 2004* and there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since?' Give me a break. "This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen...So you can talk about Mark Penn all you want. What did you think about the Obama thing calling Hillary the Senator from Punjab? Did you like that?" "Or what about the Obama hand out that was covered up, the press never reported on, implying that I was a crook? Scouring me, scathing criticism, over my financial reports. Ken Starr spent $70 million and indicted innocent people to find out that I wouldn't take a nickel to see the cow jump over the moon. "So, you can take a shot at Mark Penn if you want. It wasn't his best day. He was hurt, he felt badly that we didn't do better in Iowa. But you know, the idea that one of these campaigns is positive and the other is negative when I know the reverse is true and I have seen it and I have been blistered by it for months, is a little tough to take. Just because of the sanitizing coverage that's in the media, doesn't mean the facts aren't out there. "

Non-Democrat and Panhandle Media beggar Matthew Rothschild insisted it was racism, it wasn't. It was the truth and Bill Clinton is only mistaken on one thing, it was 2003 when Barack vanished his speech in the midst of Barack's US Senate campaign.

Douglas Wilder, who left the Democratic Party a decade ago, is a big Barack supporter and can never miss the opportunity to LIE like the old fool he is. (For the record, non-Democrats should have no say in the Democratic Party's primaries.) Sounding like the idiot that he is, Wilder sobbed, "Barack Obama is not a fairy tale. He is real." It was a very "If you believe, clap your hands; don't let Tink die" moment. In January and February, that strategy appeared to work. Had the general election been held then, Barack might be able to win the White House.

The general election takes place in November. People have seen the race card played falsely and are sick of it. Barack infamously declared in San Francisco that his problem with Small Town Americans was that they clung to God, guns, anti-immigration and anti-free trade beliefs. The press allowed him to later spin that as he wasn't insulting them. He believes in God too! By refusing to hold him accountable for the last two comparisons, they spun it as no big deal. Voters, of course, felt otherwise. Which is why Hillary won Indiana, which is why she blew Barack out of the water in West Virginia and which is why she won Kentucky by over 35% of the votes.

Barack's not the nominee and he's no longer the strongest candidate. The wind went out of his sails some time ago. Big Tent Democrat (TalkLeft), who believes Barack will be the nominee, notes of three recent polls, "Forget for a moment that Clinton is beating McCain in these same polls, excuse me, is no one but me worried about needing a unified Democratic Party in November?" Forget for a moment? The coronation hasn't taken place, despite media claims. There is no reason for the Democratic Party -- other than it's desire to yet again be labeled "Loser!" -- to go with the weaker nominee. Hillary leads in the popular vote.

This lead comes as the empty slogans and other revelations take the hot air out of Barack's balloon. Hillary's leading in the popular vote and doing so after non-stop sexist attacks in the media and from the Obama campaign. She's doing so -- and here's the real untold story -- despite a two-year campaign by Panhandle Media to rip her apart and push Barack. The link goes to a KPFA 'analysis' of the Texas debate. Host Larry Benksy invited on various guests and listeners were under the impression that they were getting a fair analysis. If they really believed that the reason is the guest list was limited to Barack supporters -- people who had publicly endorsed Barack -- yet the guests weren't identified as Barack supporters. Multiple 'experts' and they all agreed Barack won the debate (polling felt otherwise). Two hours of propaganada on US public airwaves, on the US tax dollar. (KPFA is 'public' radio.) Panhandle Media loves to lecture Real Media about ethics but they don't even have the ethics to tell listeners that every guest has endorsed Barack? To point out that, of course, every 'expert' is going to insult Hillary and praise Barack, the 'experts' on air have already endorsed Barack?

Pathetic Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! (also on the public dole) pulled the same crap. As Ava and C.I. noted in January, 'reporters' and 'experts' were brought on and they were never required to disclose who they were supporting and attacks on Hillary didn't require Goodman stating, "We attempted to contact the Hillary campaign." For those not familiar, Goody's the 'journalist' who wanted to lecture Judith Miller about ethics. Wasn't it a conflict of interest for Goody to bring Melissa Harris-Lacewell on as an unbiased observer for the January 7th broadcast. Since Harris-Lacewell was already supporting Barack, had traveled around the country (including California in 2007) to campaign for him, shouldn't Goodman (who knew from Rev. Jesse Jackson's radio show that Harris-Lacewell was part of the Obama campaign) have informed her audience of that? Shouldn't Harris-Lacewell have disclosed that herself? Neither woman thought it was important. It would hurt their propaganda efforts. It would, for example, undercut 'impartial' Harris-Lacewell gushing of a Barack speech she 'just happened' to catch, "I was in Nashua at Barack Obama's really packed speech. And we got there about two hours early and stood in line. I had my five-year-old daughter with me, and she stood in line that whole time. Along with me was lots of other older people who were using canes, young people, infants. And it was an incredibly moving and powerful experience. And also, again, just sort of--it was a cross between, you know, the 'I Have a Dream' speech and a high school football pep rally. It was a bizarre, but really kind of exciting mixture." As she tossed out smaller morsels to John Edwards and Ron Paul, she had nothing kind to say about Hillary. Just by accident, just by happen-stance, you understand. (Non-journalist Harris-Lacewell would appear as part of a journalism roundtable on The Charlie Rose in February and it wouldn't be disclosed to viewers that she was part of the Barack campaign. All others were journalists, it sure was nice of Charlie -- also on the public dole -- to make room at the table for someone working for Barack's campaign while denying a place for anyone from Hillary's campaign.) Goodman, in fact, booked Barack supporters non-stop beginning in 2006. They were brought on for that reason, which is why the long conversations always got to that point. Hillary was ripped apart non-stop and Goodman never included any examples of sexism in her headlines. To discuss the Nevada caucus she brought on 'objective' journalist -- one she never told her audience was supporting Barack and had written such 'reporting' as "Hillary's hearing voices." The deck was stacked. The playing field was slanted.

Goodman's not a Democrat. She frequently bills herself as a "movement baby" and she means Communist Party movement. It sure is interesting how many non-Democrats in Panhandle Media have felt the need to get involved. Take self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders who is not a Democrat (she didn't vote for Gore in 2000 or Kerry in 2004). When Barack used homophobia in South Carolina, Flanders (who, apparently, today is only out to the gay press but when she was on air in San Francisco for years with the local NPR's Your Call, she didn't hide in a sexual closet) urged Barack to . . . break with Richard Daley. The same Daley Michelle Obama worked for, the same one Michelle's family has long ties to and, as a matter of fact, so does Barack. Intelligence isn't an asset of Flanders' nor is self-respect. She, to this day, has refused to call him out for using homophobia to scare up votes in South Carolina. She's far from the only one. The co-author of one of the few reports on that was interviewed by Amy Goodman -- when the article was in the current issue of The Progressive -- and Goodman never found time to ask him about it. But then Goodman never made time to include the fact that groups were protesting the announcement of Barack inviting four homophobes for a campaign event or that, when the event took place, it was picketed.

Panhandle Media has worked themselves into a frenzy to pimp (we'll use the term) Barack while slamming and smearing Hillary. Amy Goodman pumped John Nichols about a 'story' before a broadcast, she then let him repeat his smear on air and there was never truth to it (which is why Nichols never wrote a word about it) but when Barack was under fire from the Real Press for his campaign telling the govenrment of Canada not to worry about Barack's public remarks about NAFTA, Panhandle Media had to find some way to smear Hillary so that their candidate of choice didn't look bad.

One doesn't need to read the print edition of The Nation, just flip through the covers of the last two years and it will register how hard the magazine has worked to tear apart Hillary while lavishing Barack with (undeserved) praise. As Ruth noted in real time, The Nation's Patricia J. Williams went on KPFA February 23, 2007 determined to lie for Barack: "Ms. Williams had hopped on board the Obama train and was bound and determined to ride it all the way home. The ride meant that she cut off a caller with a 'correction' that was not a correction. The caller felt that Senator Barack Obama had not taken a strong enough stand against the current war with Iraq or the propsective war with Iran. As the caller spoke, very emotionally, Professor Williams thought she was in her classrom and in control, so she snapped, 'He did not vote for the war!' Well, no, he did not vote for the authorization because he was not in Congress in 2002. He has yet to complete his first term in Congress. But he has voted for the continued funding of it. The woman, the caller, was making some very important points and, whether it was because she could be heard as 'foreigner' or because she was not a professor, Professor Williams had no problem stepping all over her. Something, by the way, that I strongly encourage Ms.[Andrea] Lewis to do the next time, in a single answer, Ms. Williams hits her third long pause and twelth 'uh' in a row." Consider that caller the first thrown under the bus by the Obama campaign.

Panhandle Media is where Barack got the push for his presidential campaign, it's where interference has been run for him, and it is where any lie or smear can be told about Hillary (and will be told). Forget the mainstream media for a moment because this is where the hatred of Hillary bubbled up and it is the least remarked upon point of the current contest. Panhandle Media is not staffed with "Democrats." (Even Obama's 'official campaign blogger' -- hailing from Panhandle Media -- is not a Democrat.) It's apparently not staffed with liberals either judging by the attacks on liberals Peter Hart and Bill Fletcher Jr. engaged in two Fridays ago on CounterSpin. (Bill Fletcher's in the political closet these days and lamented recently to Amy Goodman about all the "red baiting" going on. When you have repeatedly and publicly praised the Communist Party, it's not "red baiting" to note what you are. If you'd known Barack would run for president ahead of time, maybe you wouldn't be on record as late as two years ago marveling over the Communist Party? That's your problem, not our problem.)

Panhandle Media likes to hide behind the label "progressive." All should be required to go on record as exactly what party they belong to. They have no business in a Democratic Party primary making endorsements and hiding behind the illusion that they are Democrats if they're not and, tip, the bulk are not. Hart and Fletcher attacking liberals should have been your first clue. Liberals and Democrats are not 'good enough' for 'radicals' (an imprecise term but one they use interchangeably with 'progressives'). Panhandle Media has poisoned the well against Hillary -- they've poisoned the wells of democracy and journalism also -- and a large number of their audience think they're hearing Democrats critiquing Hillary. They are hearing (or reading) no such thing. There is nothing with a "radical" (Communist or Socialist) critique of the Democratic Party. But that's not what they've offered. What they've offered is holding Democratic Hillary Clinton up to a radical critique and offering passes for Barack Obama. They are the ones who got the ball rolling, they are the ones who matched the Barack campaign up with Facebook (via Katrina vanden Heuvel's steering of the Roosevelt Institution). It's been done in the dark and in the shadows and it's the most under-reported dynamic of this campaign season. To be clear, some working in Panhandle Media are Democrats. There's Eric Alterman, for example. After him, however, you'd be hard pressed to name another. And if they were open about, if they were honest about it, it would be no problem. Consumers of Panhandle Media would stumble across one of their non-stop attacks on Hillary Clinton and think, for example, "Well that's the Communist Party line on Clinton." Instead, they are tricked into assuming that these critics are part of the Democratic Party when they are not.

Bill Flectcher can moan all he wants that he's being "red-baited." There's no reason why he can't be honest with people about who he is politically (he never had a problem doing so until recently). When you start endorsing in a Democratic Party, people have a right to know if you are or are not a Democrat. If a closeted Republican was supporting Hillary, you better believe Panhandle Media would be exposing the person. There's no special pass for Communists and Socialists that allow them to hide in the closet if they insist upon endorsing during a Democratic Party's primary. The primary is for Democrats. You can endorse in a general election but, if you're not a Democrat, you either butt out of the primary or you get used to the fact that people have a right to know whether you're a Democrat or not. And if you're not, "progressive" isn't the lable you can hide behind.

Trickery and deceit has been behind the attacks on Hillary and we can't close that discussion down without a special note on Betsy Reed. For those who missed it, Betsy Reed felt the need to slam Hillary at the start of the month and tell America that, in Betsy's 'radical' eyes, Hillary wasn't a feminist! Pretty big charge coming from closeted Betsy who is the executive-editor of The Nation magaine. For those not in the know, that means Besty is responsible for the magazine publishing 491 men, 149 women in 2007. Besty Reed might better spend her time in her political clost asking herself why any woman would give a damn what she has to say when she has actively used her position of executive editor to prevent women from being published? Women made up less than one-third of the bylines in 2007 and Betsy thinks she can question any other woman's feminist credentials? What world is she living in?

In the real world, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama will conclude the primary season with enough delegates awarded to them to take the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. By rules and guidelines, it's on to the convention. [As John Mashek (US News & World Reports pointed out following John Edwards endorsement, "Truth be told, it really doesn't matter at this late hour. Edwards holds a meager handful of pledged delegates, and even they can act as free agents at the convention in Denver." That's actually true of all delegates on the convention floor.] The markers are not good for Barack. The bloom is off his rose. Hillary leads in the popular vote. (For a ridiculous example of how Panhandle Media and 'non-partisans' work hard to disguise that fact, see this article by Ava and C.I. and note that the e-mail exchange from FairVote acknowledges Hillary's in the lead even if FairVote refuses to do so on air.) There's a great deal of hype, lying and trickery going on. If Barack were the nominee Real Media and Panhandle Media declared long ago, he wouldn't be losing any primaries today. But that's what's happening and it's because he is not the nominee or even the choice of Democrats. Hillary leads in the popular vote. She's carried the big states. She's carried the swing states. She is the strongest candidate. By all markers, it is her nomination unless the Democratic Party intends to allow itself to be taken over by non-Democrats in some insane desire to lose in 2008.

-- 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,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
All of the above except Jess are Democrats. Jess is a Green. See, Panhandle Media, it's not that hard to disclose your political party.

the common ills
the third estate sunday review
like maria said pazkats kornersex and politics and screeds and attitudetrinas kitchenthe daily jotcedrics big mixmikey likes itthomas friedman is a great manruths reportsickofitradlz

This was written Monday but we're putting it under Sunday so that this bonus goes with last week's edition.
Yesterday, all sites posted an article. For any wondering about 2004 links or May polling links, you can refer to C.I.'s Friday "Iraq snapshot" which covered it then. The article can be found at:
"Hillary's the only choice"

And from Womens Media Center:

Sexism Might Sell, But I'm Not Buying It!

On May 23, The Women's Media Center, along with our partners at Media Matters, launched, "Sexism Sells, But We're Not Buying It," a new video and online petition campaign illustrating the pervasive nature of sexism in the media's coverage. While Hillary Clinton's campaign has cast a spotlight on the issue of sexism, this isn't a partisan issue: it's about making sure that women's voices are present and powerful in our national dialogue. If you haven't already, please click on the image at right to watch the video. You can also read a statement about the video from WMC president Carol Jenkins. Then sign on below to join our petition campaign.

Let's send a message to the media:

Sexism Might Sell, But We're Not Buying It!

Truest statement of the week

Women have always played a role in our military going back to the founding of of our nation. However, as we all know, in today's conflicts women are playing a far different and far greater role. Women now make up 14% of our current active duty guard and reserve forces. Some units, including military police, are using an increased number of females to fill jobs that were traditionally held by male personnel. And because of the conflicts of today, we have no clear frontlines and women, like all of our service members, are always on the frontline -- riding on dangerous patrols, guarding pivotal check points and witnessing the horrors of war first hand. However, while women's numbers are rising on the battle field, up until now women have remained a small minority at the VA. According to the VA, there are more than 1.7 million women veterans but only 255,000 of those women actually use the VA health care services. For too long the reasons for this discrepancy have been elusive but today we are getting a clear picture. In fact, when I first started holding roundtables around my home state of Washington to talk to veterans about their experiences with the VA, I heard almost exclusively from men. They would sit at the table with me, they would stand up, they would tell their stories and talk about their issues. But inevitably, as I was leaving the room, a woman would come up to me and whisper to me her experiences. Some told me they had been intimidated by the VA and viewed the VA as a male only facility. Others simply told me that they couldn't find someone to watch their kids so they could attend a counseling session or find time for other care. But as some members of this committee and those who will testify today know the voices of women veterans are no longer whispers. Today they are full throated calls for equal access to care at the VA. And I believe that now, as we sit on the brink of seeing more returning veterans than ever before, it is time that we heed those calls. We simply cannot allow the attitudes of the past or the VA's lack of preparation for the influx of new women veterans to linger a moment longer. As The Independent Budget has noted [PDF format warning, here], the number of women using VA health care services will double in less than 5 years if women veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan continue to enroll at the current enrollment rate. We need to make sure now that the VA is prepared to care for the needs of these honorable veterans today. And that is exactly why Senator [Kay Baily] Hutchinson and I introduced The Women's Health Care and Improvement Act of 2008. This important legislation will increase the number of women accessing care at the VA by increasing the VA's understanding of the needs of women vets and the practices that will best help them. It will do so by requiring the VA to study the health care needs of women who are serving or who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, study the effectiveness of current services being provided to women veterans, study barriers to care for women veterans who are not accessing the VA health care system and it will also help provide child care for new born children of a woman veteran who is receiving maternity care at the VA. It will implement a program to train, educate and certify VA mental health professionals to care for women with Military Sexual Trauma [MST] and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]. It will begin a pilot program that provides child care to women veterans that seek mental health care or other intensive health care services at the VA. It will begin a pilot program that provides readjustment counseling to women veterans in group retreat settings. It will make the position of Women Veterans Program Manger at all VA medical centers a full time position. And finally, it will include women that are recently separated from service on VA advisory boards. Now I know that the VA recognizes that they need to improve services for our women veterans and the department has taken several steps to do that. But a lot more needs to be done if we're going to ensure that women get access to equal care at the VA for health care benefits and services and that the VA health care system is tailored to meet the unique needs of our women veterans. Planning for the wave of new women veterans is going to be a difficult and complex task but the effort has to start today and it has to start with this bill.

US Senator Patty Murray at the start of Wednesday's Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, as noted in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot." Murray's bill is S. 2799 Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2008.

A note to our readers

Hey --
Sunday evening. A shorter edition than usual but, to pull an Ava and C.I., I'll get to that.

Along with Dallas, here's who's responsible for 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 here's what we've got.

Truest statement of the week -- Patty Murray. Mike and Wally were probably the strongest advocates for this. It was easily the strongest of the nominated statements we had. Check out her bill.

Editorial: Paying for the silence -- When are war resisters going to matter? Not when Panhandle Media ignores them and not when 'helpers' can't get their facts right. It's past time that "there's no draft" was retired as a talking point -- by everyone along the political spectrum. And the left and 'left' should be especially ashamed because it is hurting today's war resisters.

TV: American Oh-Dull -- Ava and C.I. agreed to write long when we realized there was little time for a full edition. They weren't sure how they were going to do it and weren't pleased with the prospect. They accuse me (Jim) of applying outside pressure (such as time wasted during the edition) to force a strong commentary. That may be true. (It's certainly a nicer explanation than what I'll offer shortly.) Regardless, this is amazing piece.

The VA can't be bothered with MST -- Ava and C.I. wrote this. Or 'wrote' it. They want Dallas thanked "big time" because he not only did the links, he checked to make sure their quotes were right. They dictated this. Time had run out and they were already headed to Sunday morning's first event in Puerto Rico. They haven't read over it and they note it Dallas hadn't fact checked for them and done links, it wouldn't be up. There was no time. We had no time and we had very little. They were out the door and I asked, "One topic we planned to cover but didn't, could you write something about that." Ava, "Uh, yeah, we'll write it in the taxi and mail it to you with a stamp." They agreed to dictate it. Dona and I typed it up and Dallas then went in to verify quotes and to add links. It's one of the strongest pieces. But there's not anything weak this edition. That's the trade off, everything strong but not a lot of pieces.

Hillary and the Democratic Party -- This was the last thing we wrote this morning. We have no Ralph Nader feature, as C.I. pointed out, and our apologies. He's discussed in another feature.

Rountable -- That would be this feature. I was totally disorganized. I wasted time (as did Wally and Mike) talking about sports for 15 minutes during this (that's edited out) until Dona said, "How long is this little sidetrip going to take?" When C.I. called an end to the roundtable, "End it now, Jim, I'm not joking." It had run five hours. It was lively and I wasn't paying attention. It was suggested (and agreed to by all) that I should type up the parts we used by myself so I would grasp just how far behind this put us. I typed a good portion of it but Dona also helped (she took pity on me). I take full responsibility for it. It was out of control, it meandered, I wasn't focused and it is the nightmare that has everyone saying, "I don't want to do a roundtable next week." When C.I. said it was time to end it, Mike hollered, "Holy s**t! Do you know how long this has lasted?" No. I'm in South Dakota in a hotel room. I've got no big clock on the wall telling me the time and I didn't think to wear my watch while we were writing. I didn't pay attention to the time. No one's fault but my own, I admit it. We're also scattered to the wind which probably didn't help. Betty was at home. Everyone else? Either in South Dakota or Puerto Rico. I also, wrongly, thought we could hold off publishing. The deal, when we weren't through at eight a.m. EST, was that we would get together at night/evening (depending on the time zone) on the phone, Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava, C.I. and myself and do the note. I decided that maybe we could talk everyone into doing some more features. Dona told me, "You are so wrong and playing with fire." She was correct. When I shared my idea, Ava was the first and loudest in objecting. She noted that she and C.I. wrote long "as requested so that everyone else could work on the short features. Well where are the short features, Jim? Huh? We didn't just write long, we did a second piece. You're telling me we don't have enough pieces, that we only have seven and you're telling to a person who co-wrote two of them so find someone else to complain to or ask for more time because I'm not in a giving mood." Jess pointed out that this was their dinner and they would be hopping a plane shortly to go back and "exactly when is C.I. supposed to write at The Common Ills? It was supposed to be during this but that's already blown with the discussion of this proposal and the need to still do the note." As Dona told me when she and I were supposed to be publishing the pieces online, "You are so wrong and playing with fire." I was. (Only Ty and C.I. did not explode but they voted "no" on any more pieces.) Again, the roundtable was totally disorganized (my fault) and took way too much time. We were supposed to do short pieces but Dona gave up in disgust, announced she was taking a nap, because while Ava and C.I. were doing their TV commentary, we were all shooting the breeze on the phone. It needs to be noted that we're in South Dakota or Puerto Rico trying to get out the vote for Hillary so no one has slept since Saturday morning. As Dona warned me this morning, I was playing with fire.

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

We'll see you next week. If we all survive.

Added: Monday night, "The Democratic Race for the presidential nomination" was added to this week's edition. To keep it 'filed' with the rest (we archive by week here), we've backdated it to Sunday.

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

Editorial: Paying for the silence

Pathetic Panhandle Media is at it again, proving just how useless they can be.

Someone should tell them their reputations are sufficiently damaged, they don't need to work so hard to demonstrate that they have nothing of value to offer.

But they're trying to prove that all last week.

On Wednesday, US war resister and Iraq War veteran Corey Glass learned he had to leave Canada by June 12th or be deported. Glass made Canada his home in August of 2006 after self-checking out from the military and believing Canada still stood for what it once did.


Maybe we should stop there for a second.

See, a lot of jerks like Amy Goodman damage the cause of war resisters in Canada with their silence. Then there are the idiots who try to help and don't know reality.

Why would Corey Glass think he might be welcomed in Canada?

The popular narrative put out by 'helpers' in the US and Canada is that during Vietnam, Canada took in "draft dodgers." By repeating that and only that, the "helpers" have allowed critics of today's war resisters to dismiss their attempts for asylum by shooting back, "There was a draft then! There's not now! You get what you sign up for!"

But see, that spin, it was never true. That hasn't prevented 'helpers' from 'helpfully' repeating it, over and over.

In 1969, Canada became an official safe haven for war resisters. That's confusing to 'helpers' as well who like to say "in the sixties." A few months later and it actually would have been 1970 but, hey, what's facts when you can get a little attention gas bagging, right?

Who did they accept?

They accepted "draft dodgers," yes. That category was war resisters who had received the notice that they were being drafted and told to report for induction. So, yes, the 'helpers' are correct in that regard. But that wasn't the only category of war resisters Canada gave safe harbor to.

"Deserters." Deserters were people in the military who self-checkedout and Canada officially welcomed them as well. They didn't greet them at the border asking, "Were you drafted? You weren't, get the hell out!" In fact, it should be noted that prior to the official declaration and Pierre Trudeau's famous speech (which you will not find online in full, interesting), 4 US sailors were deported forcibly from Canada. That was the final straw that forced Canada to take action.

That wasn't the first time someone had been deported (and some were turned away at the border). But when 4 US sailors were deported, it was the final straw.

Now not everyone has access to the computer (C.I.'s brain) and history (C.I.'s real time journals) that we do. But at some point, maybe a Tom Hayden or other 'helper' might have thought to point that out?

The final incident that forced Canada to take official action was the uproar over the deportation of four males who were not "draft dodgers," they were "deserters."

On both sides of the border, that's forgotten today. On both sides of the border, the LIE that the draft was the reason for Canada's providing safe harbor is endlessly repeated.

It's a LIE and we're going to start compiling a list of all who repeat the LIE in the future. Now in 1969, Tom Hayden was busy plotting the riots in Chicago (via secret meetings with William Ayers among others) and maybe he was just so busy that it prevented him from following the news. No exceptions, repeat the LIE that is HURTING war resisters today and we will note you loudly and clearly, we ridicule you and we will ask why you're being treated as an 'expert' on anything?

That historical fact -- vanished from public memory -- is actually more pertinent today than ever because it goes straight to Corey Glass' case for asylum.

But don't hold your breath waiting for Amy Goodman to break away from her hour long programming of promoting books (Thursday) and movies (Friday) to inform her dwindling audience of that.

Instead of offering news of Corey Glass, that's what Goody offered.

The deportation of various of her friends from various countries is always news. Norman was news to her last week due to be deported from Israel. Boo-hoo. Norman can't go to Israel. How sad. Will he end up in imprisoned back in the US? No.

If Corey Glass is deported, he will most likely face prison (and could face death).

But Goody was playing movie and book club last week and couldn't even note Corey Glass in a headline.

He doesn't matter.

Goody's silence made that very clear -- her silence apparently bought for the sum of $100,000 since, after she banks that check, she loses all interest in war resisters.

Norman's an internationally known professor and critic of Israel. What 'silence' did Goody go to and noting that? None. Corey Glass has no book contract, no lecture circuit fees, no book credits.

But toss $100,000 at Amy Goodman and she'll dummy up. It really is shocking to look at the coverage before the check and after. Before the check she was doing segments on war resisters. Camilo Mejia, Aidan Delgado, Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, go down the list. Not wrap ups after there issues were 'resolved,' but providing coverage of them as they went public, as they stood up to the US military machine.

She gets her check and plays dumb non-stop ever since.

Among the war resisters she's refused to cover are: Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull . . .

Getting the idea yet?

$100,000 is the price on her ass and, if you pay it, she'll gladly ignore a topic. Someone should tell the White House.

She ignored Matthis Chiroux this month as well. Two weeks, Chiroux stated he would not be reporting for duty in June. He is an Iraq War veteran, he was discharged and placed in IRR. He recently learned that the military thinks they can call him back up and send him back to Iraq. Goody wasn't interested.

He announced that two weeks ago following Iraq Veterans Against the War testimony to Congress (another topic Goody ignored). [For coverage of that hearing you can C.I.'s snapshots here, here and here and Trina's "Contentment in the Kitchen," Rebecca's "sergio korchergin speaks to congress," Betty's "A red day," Ruth's "Sgt. Adam Kokesh speaks to Congress," Kat's "Luis Montalvan," Marcia's "Vincent Emanuele testifies to Congress," Elaine's "IVAW's Vincent Emanuele testifies to Congress," Mike's "IVAW's James Gilligan speaks to Congress" and The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: The teachable moment." For audio click here for KPFA's archived broadcast anchored by Aimee Allison and Aaron Glantz.]

Here is Iraq Veterans Against the War's Matthis Chiroux's statement (here fortext, here for video):

Good afternoon. My name is Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, and I served in the Army as a Photojournalist until being honorable discharged last summer after over four years of service in Afghanistan, Japan, Europe and the Phillipines. As an Army journalist whose job it was to collect and filter servicemember's stories, I heard many stomach-churning testimonies of the horrors and crimes taking place in Iraq. For fear of retaliation from the military, I failed to report these crimes, but never again will I allow fear to silence me. Never again will I fail to stand. In February, I received a letter from the Army ordering my return to active duty, for the purpose of mobilization for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Thanks in great part to the truths of war being fearlessly spoken by my fellow IVAW members, I stand before you today with the strength, clarity and resolve to declare to the military and the world that this Soldier will not be deploying to Iraq. This occupation is unconstitutional and illegal and I hereby lawfully refuse to participate as I will surely be a party to war crimes. Furthermore, deployment in support of illegal war violates all of my core values as a human being, but in keeping with those values, I choose to remain in the United States to defend myself from charges brought by the Army if they so wish to pursue them. I refuse to participate in the occupation of Iraq.

Goody had other things to do.

James Burmeister?

Goody never mentioned him. Not in the summer of 2007 when he went to Canada and spoke publicly of the kill teams in Iraq. Not when he returned to the US this year. Not as he awaits word on whether he will be court-martialed. At Courage to Resist, Erich Burmeister wrote about his son's bravery and encouraged people to "Drop my son a card of encouragement!" and the address is: PFC James Burmeister, HHC Bldg 298, Gold Vault Rd, Fort Knox, KY 40121." Erich Brumeister also gave a radio interview on the subject. He's obviously not 'press shy' but somehow Goody couldn't find him.

Panhandle Media is failing across the board -- print and broadcast.

They've turned themselves over to non-stop Barack fan clubs and that's allowed them little time to explore other things (although someone no longer with Democracy Now! states that the program doesn't feel they can promote Barack and war resisters -- shades of the 2004 silence on the Iraq War for the 'good' of John Kerry's campaign). Thing is though, they're paying for it.

Circulation is down for all print magazines. (The rumors are not true that C.I.'s used connections with a bookstore chain to prevent The Nation from being stocked. C.I. has, however, inquired how many issues they actually sell at each outlet and that did lead to many stores -- realizing they sold none -- reducing how many they carried or not carrying it all. Having lost Tower Records -- due to bankruptcy, print Panhandle Media really can't afford to lose many more outlets.) KPFA finished their fundraising cycle a bit short. WBAI is several hundred thousands dollars short.

To quote Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, "Ha!"

You get what you deserve. You lie to people, you slant coverage of political campaigns to favor the candidate you're supporting and you ignore the stories that actually matter while still expecting people to pay you money, to dig into their pockets so you can continue to practice propaganda and pass it off as 'news' and 'information'? Well, you get what you deserve. You reap what you sew.

And it's only going to get worse. Your hypocritical attacks on Real Media played once. But the audience listened to your criticism, agreed it was wrong. The thing you didn't expect was that the same set of standards you hold Real Media to could be applied to Panhandle Media.

Panhandle Media's been held to no set of standards. It's not 'independent.' It's a big circle-jerk where all the group stroke one another and no one ever says, "Just one damn minute."

That's why some of the worst sexism in this campaign season has come out of Panhandle Media -- the allegedly 'enlightened' media.

Your own actions told on you. Now you're suffering. You brought it on yourself.

No one will shed any tears for your 'suffering.' It's self-inflicted, for one thing. For another, the real people suffering are the ones like Corey Glass who need media attention and receive none from Panhandle Media.

For more on Corey Glass see:

"Iraq snapshot" (Wednesday)

"Iraq snapshot" (Thursday)

"Corey Glass"

"Hillary, Corey Glass, etc."

"hillary, corey glass"

"I Hate The War"

"Iraq snapshot" (Friday)

"Steamed Potatoes and Onions in the Kitchen"

"War resistance then and now"

TV: American Oh-Dull

If David wins, it means Hillary will be the nominee, but if David wins it means Barack will be the nominee. If you're confused, we were as well as, in the last few weeks -- most especially after Syesha was sent packing, a high school variety show suddenly was thought by many college students to have political implications. Ourselves, we always thought it was just an unchecked Gong Show. But we were game, we'd watch.


American Idol is the high school variety show. It is a hugely popular show on Fox. It is less popular than it once was. Like real journalists, we did our research aka working the phones. A producer explained the most ridiculous moment auditioning this year's would-be contestants came when a woman went into labor but insisted upon going through with her 15 second audition before leaving the stadium she was auditioning in.

Auditioning in? 15 seconds? We didn't know. We still can't keep it straight on whether you get a yellow flag or what. But speaking to 'judges' for the auditions and encountering two students who attempted to audition, this is what we think we know (two producers of the show say we have this right). Around the country, American Idol holds auditions in the summer.

If it comes to your city, you have a day to show up to get a wrist band. You then show up on the scheduled day to audition. People begin lining up as early as five o'clock in the morning even though the doors don't open until much later. There's no reason to do that. When the doors open, things move very slowly. The people are bunched into groups. Then bunched down further and further. Your audition will be you stepping up before two judges (they are required to wear the American Idol t-shirts -- they tend to wear shorts due to the heat) with three other people. Your group of four will sing -- one at a time -- for fifteen seconds each. During your fifteen seconds, if you blow them away, you'll be asked to continue singing. If not, you're done right there. If your next 15 seconds is strong enough, you may be moved on to a second round at that day's audition.

Now pay attention because the producers we spoke with wanted this cleared up. Apparently, in the past, you could miss out in Savannah and show up in Chicago and audition again. The rules are that you are supposed to wait a year if you don't make the cut. That rule is enforced and "if you include nothing else, even if you trash us as I know you will, could you just include that?" We're including it. But what we described in the previous paragraph? If you fail then, you can go to another city. That's because you're not signing in, they're not asking you your name. If you flop in your first 15 seconds, you can move on to any other city. It's only if you make it to later rounds that day that information is requested.

The season finale (which we watched) reached a record number of viewers and has many with the show excited that it signals a turn around in the ratings that will be evident next season. We questioned that. Next year will be the eighth season of the show and, having spoken with two who tried out, we were aware that both felt the process was unfair and had stopped watching the show as a result. What if these auditions were contributing to the decline in ratings?

We were told that was possible but they didn't think it likely. Still how many millions of people across the country have participated in those first 15 seconds of a song audition? They said that they weren't aware of any concrete figure. Each year, more and more participate which means, each year, more and more are rejected. Some compare American Idol to Ed Sullivan's show but Ed wasn't running a talent show contest.

We had a complaint that we broached with one of the two. You're allowed to bring in one bottle of water to that first audition. That's it. At a stadium, Gatorade and water were selling for three dollars a bottle and people were there from five a.m. until very late. (The person making the complaint finally did their 15 seconds after four o'clock.) It was the summer, it was hot, they were packed in and it's really not a 'fun' moment for some. Large venues are a must, we were told, due to the number of people wanting to audition and the long delays result from the large number of participants. That response was presented in a nothing-you-can-do manner but if American Idol's ratings do not improve next season, they might want to consider taking that complaint a little more seriously.

We've been immune and uninterested in the Idol 'magic' all these years so Wednesday night was the first episode we caught. It was the night a winner would be declared and we assumed people would be voting during it and we'd see a competition. We were wrong. The last competition had been the previous night and this was nothing but a pageant.

One of our happiest moments was realizing how young Valerie Curtain looked -- it's been years since Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (approximately 34). Then, to our shock, Valerie was called Jason Castro and we realized it was a young man we had been watching. Who knew? With Curtain performing "Hallelujah," we were willing to make allowances for her since she's an actress and a screenwriter but for someone wanting to be a singer . . .

Watching the two hours and approximately five minute broadcast was very strange viewing indeed but doesn't that describe 'unscripted' TV these days? Last week, we noted that FAIR's radio program CounterSpin is happy to ignore sexism and, at the top of Friday's show, they appeared bound and determined to prove us wrong.

Peter Hart: One of the most disturbing features of the media coverage of the Democratic presidential race is the way racism and sexism have been expressed. CNN viewers were treated to one pundit explanation that people might call Hillary Clinton a bitch because well isn't that just what some women are. Not everyone's so out in the open. MSNBC host Chris Matthews opened his May 18th show wondering how Barack Obama would connect with regular Democrats? Obviously code for working class Whites. This would seem to make the millions of Obama voters so far irregular. But then consider the May 14th op-ed by Washington Post Writers Group Kathleen Parker. She wrote about 'full bloodness' and the patriot divide between Obama and John McCain offering that there is "different sense of America among those who trace their bloodlines through generations of sacrifice." This makes Obama less American than his likely Republican rival and his success part of a larger threat "There is a very real sense that once upon a time America is getting lost in the dash to diversity." Well thanks to The Washington Post, Parker's rant appeared in newspapers around the country including the Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune. We're not sure what those papers used for a headline but one blogger suggest [nonsense] would do. Parker's attack wasn't even new. Before in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan wondered if Obama had ever gotten misty thinking about his country's rich heritage. John McCain by contrast "carries it in his bones." There's an appetite in corporate media for such repellent ideas as Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell recalled, Noonan's column was praised by NBC's anchor Brian Williams as Pulitzer worthy.

If you paid attention, Peter only proved us right. The first time this year CounterSpin can note any of the sexism, it's when Hillary's called a bitch and it produces a single sentence in which the 'pundit' isn't even named. We'll get back to that sentence but, like CounterSpin, let's focus on race. You'll notice the construct of Hart's opening sentence. We don't read Kathleen Parker, we don't know her, we can't even picture what she looks like. We haven't read her column and have no interest in doing so. We say all that as a preface because someone might be able to offer a defense of her and it might be valid. As Hart summarized and quoted what Parker wrote, it sure sounded like racism. But what of the other two examples? Yes, there are three examples of racism (real or imagined, we'll get to it) and only one of sexism. The sexism is clearly sexism and what Parker's credited with writing seems like racism.

Is Chris Matthews expressing racism? As noted awhile back, we're not fans of Chris Matthews. Is asking if Barack can connect with "regular people" racism? Barack Obama's support in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination (nomination, Peter, nomination) has come from African-Americans (a segment of the working class but statistically a sub-set of the working class due to demography) and from those with 'advanced education' as his surrogates love to trumpet. The latter group is the group that was the earliest and biggest supporter of Barack and remains such. (South Carolina is where Barack sews up the African-American vote.) So is Chris Matthews making a racist remark to note that "regular people" -- if defined as working class -- and Barack have a barrier? No. And everyone needs to stop being so fluttery around demographics. (And Peter Hart needs to grasp that "regular people" can also include Latinos and Latinas in the working class -- a group Barack, outside of his home state, has failed to connect with.) This is a political campaign and it needs to appeal to all. Besides, isn't the media narrative that Barack healed racism and tingling leg syndrome in all but Chris Matthews?

Based on what Hart provides, there's no proof that the statement or intent was racist. A successful campaign has to identify strengths and weaknesses. It has to figure out how to shore up the strengths and how to improve the weaknesses. That's the reason for demography in politics races. It's not as if Mary Matalin or James Carville or David Axelrod or Howard Wolfson are racists or sexists. They need to know where the votes are coming from and where they aren't. And the party, when deciding on a nominee needs to know that as well.

So that's one we can agree with Peter on and one we can't. That brings us to Peggy Noonan. We're not fans of Peggy at Noon Time or Peggy After Dark. And we avoid her writing and don't intend to locate the column nor should we have to. Peter should have made his own case. But Peggy Noons is playing the Peggy Noon card she plays every election cycle and it's not race. Patriotism. Her head was already flapping in the wind like many a flag while she was speech writing for Poppy Bush but since America loudly said "NO!" to a second term, it's gotten even more so. She questions every living Democrat's patriotism. Dead ones that speak to her from the grave encourage her in that and she loves them for it. Consider her The Patriot Whisperer and Roger Ailes will no doubt bring her to MyTV at some point. She questioned John Kerry's patriotism, she questioned every Democrat at Paul Wellstone's memorial service, that's her bit, that's what she does. It's not about racism and she'll do it in 2012 and she'll do it in 2016 and she'll probably find another 'sensitive to the spirit world' kindred soul to send vibrations to after she passes. Nothing Peter summarized or quoted suggested that Peggy Noons was doing anything different than she does almost every column (insult living Democrats, question their patriotism).

It's shocking that Peter's remarks were allowed to pass for media criticism because FAIR -- for all of its current problems -- is usually a bit more grounded than that. Repeating, Peggy Noons would be writing the same column regardless of the skin color of her Democratic target and has done so repeatedly. There is no difference in what she's writing, there is a difference in that the person she's writing about happens to be bi-racial. If FAIR's planning to scream racism every time a GOP operative works the same standard shtick that they trot out every election cycle, it's going to be a long summer.

As for Brian Williams praising Pegs column, Brian Williams is someone we've called out many times before. Perhaps had CounterSpin focused more on him and less on the ratings of the The CBS Evening News, the fact that he's a Republican mouthpiece wouldn't be a shock to so many?

We'll come back to CounterSpin but let's go to the CNN moment that Peter's talking about -- or, rather, alluding to. One sentence isn't really talking about anything, now is it? He doesn't even identify the pundit in question or the program which really underscores how little CounterSpin was interested in it, now doesn't it?

Peter is commenting on GOP operative Alex Castellanos' comments on the May 20th broadcast of The Situation Room. Gloria Borger (US World News & Reports and frequent target here) declared that Hillary Clinton's criticism of the sexism in the media was probably accurate ("And so I'm sure there is.") and Jeffrey Toobin thought she was "dead right" and noted Maureen Dowd (unnamed) retelling a 'joke' in a column where Hillary is called a "white bitch." Castellanos wanted to disagree ("you're dead wrong. She's dead wrong.") On the term, Castella declared, "And some women, by the way, are named that and it's accurate." Media Matters has transcript and audio here.

It's amazing when you think about it, Hart has one solid case of racism and one solid case of sexism. Sexism is reduced to one sentence with no direct quote and neither the program or pundit is named. However, Kathleen Parker is named and quoted and it's six sentences of commentary. Hart also includes a Chris Matthews citation that may have nothing to do with racism and a Peggy Noonan citation that is only racist if we live in a world where Peggy's forced to stop recycling her usual garbage because the person she's targeting is bi-racial. Again, Peggy hates all living Democrats equally.

This was CounterSpin's initial 'foray' into sexism. The one time they've noted it in all of 2008. How proud they must be and how, well, fair they must feel that just once, for one non-specific, fleeting sentence they realized that sexism existed. By contrast, Media Matters has 19 items listed this year. Of course, both outlets refuse to call out Keith Olbermann -- can't get rough with Katty-van-van's friends.

CounterSpin then offered Janine Jackson in a ludicrous interview with Rob Richie of the group entitled FairVote. Peter's nonsense and this interview inflamed The Common Ills community and a note was added to a Friday entry that CounterSpin would be addressed here. FairVote claims that they believe in "universal access to participation" and many of the reports they have released seem to favor the counting of all votes (such as 2007's "A Survey and Analysis of Statewide Election Recounts: 1980-2006"). They favor such things as all states allowing 17-year-olds who will have turned 18 by election day to vote. They support eliminating the electoral college which would also seem to suggest that the group favors the counting of votes and the popular vote.

So it was astounding for many community members to hear Richie wrongly express that Barack Obama was leading in the popular vote and for Jackson to not challenge that. (Well, not so surprising for Jackson who is an Obama supporter.) Realizing how appalling such a statement was, Richie was contacted on our behalf. His response, in full follows:

Thanks for writing. You can see that conclusion in various places, including Real Clear Politics. See its useful rundown here.

The only way Obama is not ahead in the popular vote is if you count Michigan like a real contest even though Clinton was the one major candidate on the ballot (saying it didn't matter) and no one campaigned there. Florida of course is controversial to include as well.

By the way, we think the schedule has done a real disservice to the Democrats. The natural way a nomination fight like this would be ending is with a series of major contests that would really determine the election. We're hoping that partisans in both the Obama and Clinton camps (and we of course have no stance on their relative merits) recognize this and work for change before 2012.

We took out the link he provided after here and made it linkable on "here" and added a period after "here," otherwise that's his full response. We were on our way to Puerto Rico and didn't have time to respond so if he'd like to respond to any of the following comments, we'll include it in next week's edition. (And we just received a call that Krist is part of the organization. So, disclosure, we know Krist Novoselic.) The "here" goes to Real Clear Politics. Hillary is ahead there and you can refer to Jeralyn (TalkLeft) explaing that here.

"The only way Obama is not ahead is if you count Michigan like a real contest". Why wouldn't you count them? That they voted is not in question. The delegates are in question. The popular vote is not. Hillary won and Barack and John Edwards urging supporters to vote "UNCOMMITTED" didn't manage to beat her. Barack took his name off the ballot and did that (a) because his own internal polling showed him coming in third in Michigan and (b) because he was using that to woo Iowa and New Hampshire. Nobody forced him to remove his name. Saying Hillary was the only "major candidate" on the ballot is either an endorsement of the media determining the race or looking back in hindsight. Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel were on the ballot. (Bill Richardson and Joe Biden, along with Edwards and Barack, pulled their names off the ballot. There was no rule that required them to do so.)

Michigan and Florida voted. The nonsense that they didn't campaign in the state so it doesn't count is nonsense. Most voters never meet people they vote for. A lot of voters, voting in their local elections, puzzle over the names listed. And that's in a general election. Anyone going to vote in a primary can make the time to figure out who they want to vote for and, in fact, national debates had already been televised featuring all the candidates. This isn't a new position for us. In terms of the popular vote this year, you can check here, here and here and you will see that we have argued that consistently, argued that the popular vote is the popular vote. Michigan and Florida's vote is certified. It is what it is. You can find that argument in pieces here (written by all) in 2007 as well as all other community sites that were around in 2007 (Marcia started her site in 2008). This is not a new position for this community. We have community members in Florida and Michigan. We called out the nonsense of disenfranchisement in 2007 repeatedly and you can especially pay attention to the 2007 work done jointly by Cedric and Wally. Why wouldn't you count the vote?

FairVote is Richie's organization and our question to him would be, "Are you arguing that FairVote is allowing someone who decides not to run in an election to decide whether or not it was a real election? Shouldn't a state's certification override the wishes of a candidate who removed his name from a ballot by his own choice?"

This is nonsense. Of course Michigan counts. For the record, we called out caucuses at this site beginning in 2005. We have called out the Iowa caucuses repeatedly each year. We have noted the corruption and how the only way anyone gets in trouble is doing what Dan Savage did and writing about it for The New York Times. For those whining, "What about the popular vote in the caucuses!" -- you're late to the party. In 2007 we were addressing how the Democratic Party in Iowa -- each presidential cycle -- refused to release their breakdowns. In 2007, that was also called out on the pages of The New York Times. This isn't a new issue to us and it's not one we've tailored to put Hillary ahead. We have been consistent with our positions on caucuses since 2005 and we have been consistent that Michigan and Florida must be counted since 2007. It's only the ones who don't value the will of the people that shift back and forth in their arguments depending upon a candidate. Can FairVote claim the same?

So, first, let's throw it back to you, Rob Richie. In your written response to our question, you state that Barack only leads if you don't include in Michigan. That's a fact that you left out in your appearance on CounterSpin where you declared, with no qualifier, as fact that Barack leads in the popular vote. Feel free to respond. (And we'll feel free to respond with what we learned from the phone call that came in while we were writing this.)

From his fantasy to reality, Florida is no longer in the no-way-ever column. We don't know if you've noticed that but even the press has had to acknowledge Florida (at least somewhat) in recent coverage. That's because the people across America are pushing back. The same needs to happen on Michigan. If you caught Washington Week on Friday, you know that Gwen's operating as if the primary is over and Barack has been declared the nominee. As we noted last week, he couldn't declare himself the nominee (and, indeed, he backed away from doing that) because to do so in a contested primary would result in the DNC having to correct him (which would make him the new Dan Quayle) or their staying silent allowing the GOP to argue that by declaring himself the nominee in a speech while the race was contested, Barack had entered the general election cycle and spending guidelines would then apply. (A friend with the Barack campaing thanked us for the "heads up." We noted it's pretty disgusting that the supposedly smart campaign required a "heads up.")

What you're seeing is a rush to declare a winner when the race is a tie in terms of delegates (super delegates vote at the convention and any pledge they make is non-binding until the final vote). (As Mario Cumo pointed out last Sunday on Face The Nation, they really aren't supposed to be endorsing in the middle of a race to begin with.) Neither Hillary or Barack will end the primary contest with the needed number of delegates awarded by states and territories. To the convention, as Mike said. Instead, the media continues to push for a coronation.

A coronation? A pageant? We're back to American Idol. If, like us, you didn't watch, you might be confused how David winning could be seen as an indicator that Hillary would win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination while David winning could also be seen as indicating Barack would win it. The answer to that is because, Welcome To The Boomtown, there are two Davids. They are David Cook and David Archuleta. Cook, we were told, was older and represented experience, so his winning would mean Hillary had the nomination (as American Idol goes, so goes the nation, apparently). While Archuleta was younger (we were told 16, but he was 17 in December) and, if he won, it meant Barack would be nominated.

Who won?

If you didn't watch, you may be asking that question. The entire two hour and five minute broadcast was supposed to lead up to that answer and it was like watching Who Shot J.R. all over again or, at least, it wanted to be.

Mike Myers did a goofy bit promoting his new film. It probably will help ticket sales. There was also, in the first minutes, a really bad performance of the Motown song (that is not aging well) "Get Ready." The two Davids sing the love song "Hero" -- we're not joking. Syesha takes the stage and watching her you understand why she was eliminated. Someone needs to teach her some basics on presentation. The dress was all wrong and had mean folds and edges. Might look great in the shop but it's not stage wear and the color made it look even worse. Her hair conveyed that the show was nothing but a pageant and she should have cut about two inches off or straightened it because even Miss America pageants dropped that look around 1988. Onstage the outfit and the hair needs to flow. It doesn't need to blunt the spotlight or look pinned back. That was Syesha's look. She then started to sing. Someone will get ahold of her and give her the look she needs but, as she demonstrated with Seal, she's already got the talent to sing. In fact, she has more talent than either of the Davids (or both combined).

Then you got Jason Castro's homage to Valerie Curtain and Jeff Buckley which is where we started. You might think things couldn't get worse but, if this decade's taught us anything, things can always get worse.

Worse was six female contestants -- now eliminated -- attempting to sing from the Donna Summer canon. "She Works Hard For The Money" was first up and singing isn't about choreography (sorry, Madonna) but if you're going to dance, do it well. Collectively, they didn't with their shoulder movements and it was off putting at best. They went into "Bad Girls" and, to really hit the bottom of the barrel, Donna Summer descended as if she was Teen Angel in a high school production of Grease (soon to be played on Broadway by American Idol winner Taylor Hicks). She had circles under her eyes and the 'hair' looked vinyl. She also had a real problem with "Stamp Your Feet." We think most people would. But her new single's shortcomings weren't the problem, the fact that she apparently wasn't ready to sing was. She went through the entire first verse hitting pretty much the same note and trying to disguise that by switching resonators and registers. Only after the first chorus had ended, did her voice open up and allow her to show a range. By then it may have been too late but she offered vocal gymnastics and that's really all American Idol can do.

That is the problem with the show, by the way, and why it has produced so few stars. Years and years ago, a similar contest resulted in Sheena Easton having a career. Easton could and can sing and we're not pretending she couldn't. We are noting that a sameness set in quickly. To Easton's credit, she was smart enough the first time to realize that and revamp her image. When that got old, she waited too late for the revamp and was driven from the airwaves.

On American Idol, nothing matters as much as vocal gymnastics. Can you sing a song? That's of no interest. George Michael would show up (the males performed his "Father Figure" and "Faith") to sing "Praying For Time." He would note he had a cold. He would perform that simple ballad (with a cold) with more artistry than anything else you'd see on the show. ("Teach Your Children Well" was a close second and one of the few celeb-contestant match ups in which both sang in the same key.) How did he do that? By bringing meaning to the song.

Meaning is completely lost on American Idol and you realized that every time Archuleta went hopping around the stage with a grin recalling not an "American idol" but Michael Damien, the one-hit wonder. Chart's gone. Ooooh, your soul. Boogie too. Chart's gone.

That's because careers aren't built on gymanstics. Careers really aren't built on singers either. Haven't been since around the time Leslie Gore fell of the charts. That was the lesson of Sheena Easton if anyone bothered to pay attention. You can notch up a few hits but that's going to be it for most. (Easton got more than a few.) The reason is: Who are you?

Singer-songwriters know who they are. They're not dependent upon outside material each album to help them find the way. And they're not recording the same corny ballad over and over (written by someone else) because they can't create their own material and statement. It goes to authenticity. You might get a few hits, but you won't get a career. Kelly Clarkson, who won the first year, attempted to mature and did it in a half-assed way with her last CD thereby alienating her fan base and being so lame she didn't pull in any new listeners. You can't grow if you're a created "idol." That conjures up Frankie Avalon, Fabian and so many more molded by others who fell apart from sameness.

If the show is remember a decade from now as anything but a source of ridicule (remember Star Search?), it'll most likely be for Fantasia, Jennifer Holiday or Carrie Underwood (who does country which is it's own world). There's a lot of hype about the 'rocker.' That will wear off shortly. Rockers don't spring from American Idol.

The 'idols' are expected to be all things to all people. On the sad songs, they tried to over emote -- all of them pretty much. On peppy songs, they skipped around with no understanding of the lyric but bound and determined to sparkle. They should have grabbed their hair brushes and headed for the mirror, it would have been more productive.

As David Archuleta repeatedly appeared on stage, we started thinking, "If this crackpot theory is true, this is good news for Hillary." That was due to the fact that his 'performances' never inspired. They actually bored -- so much so that we wondered about child labor laws and how a sixteen-year-old, non-home schooled child could miss so much school but apparently not paying contestants allows them to skirt child labor laws? He decided to enter an adult contest and made it to the finals so we're dropping our rule about not commenting on those under 18 for the now seventeneen-year-old.

His all time worst moment had to be during "Father Figure" where he underscored what he demonstrated through out -- his idea of sex is a Pepsodent commercial. We haven't mentioned race thus far in the commentary in terms of American Idol but we'll note that both of the Davids are White. We'll further note that White men trying to have popular music careers would be well advised to not dance around as much as Archuleta did or flutter the fingers. You're going for the top forty, not the lead in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. But the reality is there's no career for a male vocalist who depends on others songs these days. Name one that's emerged in the last years with a career. We'll give you a little longer. Still no one? No surprise.

You can be Rick Astley for a hit or two, that's really it. You're a temporary diversion, not a career. We couldn't believe Archuleta made it to the final two. If the format was really honest, they'd be strictly female because those are the only ones with a chance of a career while singing outside material. Whether it's Natalie Cole (seventies and again in the eighties) or Diana Ross or Whitney Houston or . . . Women can still sing outside material and have a chance of a career with it.

They can also sing sappy material and have a career with it. Guys? Hasn't proven to be the case. You're always having to prove you're tougher than the next guy and that pre-dates the rapper wars for those too young to know.

But American Idol exists in a world where you can still be Ricky Nelson or Leslie Gore or Brenda Lee or any other number of pin ups popular with "Young America." You can still be The Sound Of Young America. It seems completely unaware of how much the world has changed but the reality is they're aware, they're just selling nostalgia.

That's why they make the contestants sing a bad ballad and a bad fast song, week after week. As if most singers with careers are really associated with both. (Most aren't. Most are known for doing one better than other.) It's rooted in a time that disappeared many decades ago.

And maybe then David Archuleta would have stood a chance. He's like all the male extras in West Side Story blended together. Most of all, he's a performer who never moves you because he never lets you forget that he's performing. He's never caught up in a moment or lyric, he's just saying, "Look at me! I'm on stage! Isn't it enough!" No, it's really not.

The show paraded out Bryan Adams, Jimmy Kimmel, ZZ Top and about the time you were expecting them to pull Stacy Q. out of the mothballs, Ryan Seacrest finally showed up with the envelope and thought he was playing cute by saying the winner is . . . David . . .

It was Cook. He cried and then he cried some more. He bowed his head. He raised his chin and widened his eyes as if to stop the tears. He used his fingers on his left hand to wipe away a tear. He smiled and spoke and started crying again. His brother and mother joined him on stage and he cried some more. We kept waiting for the "you really, really like me" words or maybe "This is Mrs. Norman Maine!"

We couldn't picture Tom Jones doing that (a non-writing singer who has had a career). We couldn't really picture anyone doing that outside a few of divas. A few students watching with us told us that he wrote songs. We pointed to the one he was singing onscreen, "magic rainbow"? And doesn't your name have to be Elaine Stritch to get away with a chorus that includes: "So I'll taste every moment/ And live it out loud/ I know this is the time/ This is the time to be/ More than a name/ Or a face in the crowd"?

They explained he didn't write that (bad) song. It was written by someone who won the American Idol Songwriting Contest? The songwriting contest?

Yeah, that's the group who should be up on stage, who the show should follow. According to the theory, David Cook's win means Hillary wins the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. We'll wait for other tea leaves but will note that the focus on the show ponies as opposed to the work horses completely mirrors the media coverage in the other 'unscripted,' 'reality' shows -- you know, the ones that pass themselves off as informed and focused.
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