Sunday, August 24, 2008

Truest statement of the Week

And I decided in around November of 2005, that, you know, this is just -- this is just ridiculous. I -- I -- I cannot morally, I cannot do what they are asking me to do. If I were to deploy to Iraq I would basically -- I felt like I would be a liability because there's no way I could shoot somebody who was simply trying to defend their own home from a foreign invader. They did all this mock training exercises in which we were in full battle gear and we were raiding mock houses -- mock houses with, you know, actors yelling out Arabic and that sort of thing. I had like my rifles and everything. And during the exercise, I shot two unarmed civilians with the blanks of my rifle and I -- and no one said anything to me about it. I don't know if anyone even saw me. But I realized at that time, you know, that if this was Iraq, those people would be dead. All they were doing was trying to defend their home. So I almost just threw away my rifle and just ran right there but, you know, I sort of needed a plan so I decided that I'd wait a few days. And on November 23, 2005, the date my original contract was set to expire, that's when I went AWOL.

US war resister Tim Richard speaking to Courage to Resist about his decision to self-checkout after being stop-lossed through 2031.

Truest statement of the week

One of the dumbest things I've seen was a panel with that chick from the Nation, Kristen van Whatever, at Emily’s List. It was the day that Dean finally -- FINALLY -- said something about the sexist media coverage, after Hillary had conceded of course and when she referenced it as if this was some great thing, Dean's name got booed. She seemed surprised by it and asked if it was about Florida and Michigan. It clearly was not. Finally, someone explained to her that it was because Dean had sat silent until the primary was over and then acted like he suddenly discovered the sexism. To her credit, Salon's Rebecca Traister knew exactly why women were angry with Dean and the party and said that one of the things that needed to be discussed was how not all of the misogyny came from the media and the right and why it was only after Hillary conceded that the sexism could be discussed at all.

BDBlue noting Katrina vanden Heuvel in "A New Agenda" (Corrente Wire)

A note to our readers

Hey --
8:00 a.m. our time? For us this is finishing an edition early!

First, let's note who helped:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
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 Dallas who locates links, offers advice and does more than we can ever thank him for. (I am tired -- "I" is Jim -- I pulled a C.I. and typed "thank for him" -- we need to wrap this note up quickly.)

Let's move to what we have.

Truest statement of the Week -- Tim Richard is an Iraq War Resister in Canada. Check out the interview Courage to Resist did with him.

Truest statement of the week -- We do so love noting all the 'raves' Katrina vanden Heuvel gets. We should print them all up and paste them in a scrapbook.

Editorial: Support War Resisters -- This wasn't the planned editorial. This isn't the planned edition. What happened was Dona pointed out at 5:30 this morning that we were running out of time. When that happened, this article became the editorial. It may or may not work as such (we're too tired to know) but being dubbed the 'editorial' does allow Robin's story to be the first article to show up.

TV: Cyborgs or gasbags, which is worse? -- Ava and C.I. wrote this and when they came back with it, we were already on fumes with several floating the idea that we bail. That's because two different features we had worked on tanked completely. (So, of course, we put them in our print edition.) I asked Ava and C.I. how good this was? I knew they were tired and didn't want to go straight to reading this out loud if it wasn't great. Their call was "It sucks" which is how I knew it would be incredible. (They are always the worst judges of their own work.) Reading this out loud rallied everyone's spirit and gave us a good four hours of motivation. Knowing how hard they'd worked (covering all the issues we didn't think we could get to elsewhere) in the past weeks, I made no last minute requests that they include a topic or two (or "Four!" Ava yells). And I had no idea what they were going to write about. As I started reading it out loud, I thought it was going to be one thing and then they flip it. And then they flip it again. The last sentence, by the way, is a modification of Linda Hamilton's last line in the voice over at the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Denver Super Rally: Putting the issues on the table -- As we were trashing various ideas for features because time was gone, we were looking for a short feature. I'd seen (but not read) the latest Spin and knew Patti Smith was interviewed in it. I suggested it thinking we could maybe have something from that. In line with Dona ("short features!"), Ava and C.I. agreed thinking it might contain a "truest" or maybe we could just plug a documentary. I was reading this out loud (so those participating by phone could hear) and at first thought Ava and C.I. were laughing at me. Then we all realized they were laughing about Patti. When I got to her comments on the 2008 election . . . It wasn't pretty. As that went on, Ty and Jess pointed out that we had to do a Ralph article of some kind. (We'd forgotten to include it on our list.) Dona had been recording the whole thing because everyone was too tired to take notes. She suggested we make it a Ralph thing and open with Patti's ridiculous statements and then go to the response Ava and C.I. offered. They agreed if the 1978 quotes by Patti that they referenced could be pulled. Longterm Patti watchers will know what the quotes were about. Others can research on their own.

Stephanie Tubbs Jones (1949 - 2008) -- It was 8:00 p.m. here Saturday when Jess decided to help out by downloading a photo from Stephanie Tubbs Jones' Congressional website. Problem was, it's gone. The whole website. You're redirected to a new website. Ava and C.I. got on the phone to friends to find out exactly what was going on. Nancy Pelosi was going on. C.I. wants it noted that while Amy Goodman couldn't mention Stephanie Tubbs Jones' support for Hillary, Aileen Alfandary did on KPFA Thursday morning.

vanden Heuvel doesn't do corrections -- Katrina, Katrina, have you no shame? Katrina gets caught out being wrong at least twice in one article and she can't offer a legitimate "clarification," let alone a "correction." Pay attention to what amounts to research for The Peace Resister.

Barack's Running Bud -- We were somewhat limited in what we could say here. We could have addressed it in a roundtable. When Dona noted how late it was (at five this morning), we crossed off doing a roundtable. Maybe next weekend.

Barack, the little s**t -- We had to cross off a lot of things that would take more time than we had. While we were writing the Tubbs Jones article, Dallas was asked to see if Barack issued any statement on the passing? It's there somewhere on the site but he found a release of Barack speaking about the Family Medical Leave Act that he wanted to tell us about. Dona and Betty compete each week to see who can quote the soap opera producer in Tootsie first: "It's okay. The girls saved it." They usually say that over Ava and C.I. And Betty was the first out of the gate with it this week. How did Ava and C.I. save it? This wasn't even a planned feature. Ava and C.I. explained to us who signed the act into law (a detail not in Barack's press release) and how Poppy Bush had refused to sign it. C.I. dispatched Jess to the bookcases with instructions on what books to pull while we quickly started this piece. Jess returned with the books just as we were finishing it. It went faster than anything else this edition. And it was completely unplanned ahead of time.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Betty, Kat, Cedric, Rebecca, Ruth, Marcia and Wally wrote this and picked all highlights unless noted otherwise. We thank them for this.

And that's what we have. We'll see you next week.

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

Editorial: Support War Resisters

Friday US war resister Robin Long was court-martialed in Colorado. Karen Linne, Fort Carson Public Affairs Office, explained Friday afternoon that he was sentenced to 15 months behind bars, reduced in rank (to E1) and given a dishonorable discharge. Robin was held at the Criminal Justice Center in El Paso Country while awaiting the court-martial and he will receive credit for the time he has served ("about 40 days").

Robin enlisted in July 2003 and was told he wouldn't be going to Iraq. His US civilian attorney for the court-martial, James Branum, explained that and explained the basics of contracts (at

First, Robin was promised by his recruiter that he would never see combat in Iraq. Robin was a fool for believing his recruiter, but I would say that it is understandable that he would believe his recruiter and understand that his recruiter is an agent of the US military and is tellilng the truth. And in basic contract law (outside of the military context), such statements could very well be interpreted as part of the contract itself, even if those statements aren't in writing.
Second, a basic tenant of contract law is that a contract isn't binding if it forces a party to engage in an immoral, unethical or illegal action. I would argue (as would Robin and millions of other people) that the Iraq war is all three of those things, and as such an enlistment contract should be invalid if it purports to force a party to participate in such a war. (of course, the enlistment "contract" isn't really a "contract," but that's another discussion. It would be fairer to say that it is an agreement to voluntarily become a slave of the state.)
Third, Robin Long left his unit and went to Canada in large part due to his conscience. Throughout history, we as a people (and I'm speaking of all North Americans and really all people of the world), have respected the idea that sometimes one must break the law if it conflicts with conscience. Dr. King, Gandhi, Thoreau, Jesus Christ, they all lived out this ideal. Contemporaries of the civilly disobedient often attack the character of those who refuse to submit to unjust laws, but the history books paint a different story.

In March 2005, Robin was informed he would deploy to Iraq and ordered to report to Fort Carlson in April of 2005. Instead, he self-checked out. Long remained underground for two months and went to Canada only for a wedding (June, 2005). He made that decision, as he told the CBC in October 2007:

Because I feel the war in Iraq is an illegal war of aggression and its an indiscriminate killing of the Arab people and I believe it's all for lies and the wrong reasons so I couldn't with good conscience take part in that conflict. . . . When I joined the army, I thought the war in Iraq was a good thing. I was lied to by my president. I -- The reasons that were given, I thought were valid but just because I joined the army didn't mean I abdicated my ability to evolve intellectually and morally and what I saw in the independent media and even in mainstream media changed my view of what was going on over there. And based on what I learned, I made a decision to desert.

He was speaking to the CBC after being released from jail for the 'crime' of movement. Robin was a new father and a day laborer. He did not move, he traveled to where the work was while keeping his residence. In Nelson (we'll get to that), he was busted for 'movement.' He'd changed residences! And not told the authorities! He hadn't changed residence.

But that set it all that followed in motion as the Stephen Harper government began insisting upon a "a pre-removal risk assestment." At the time, Courage to Resist made it clear: "He still faces a pre-removal risk assessment which could lead to deportation at a later time so the fight is not over yet." He told the CBC, "It feels good to be out. The fresh air feels really good. . . . When I got arrested and was sitting in the detention cell in Nelson, I was pretty sure I was going home right away. I was pretty sure I would be deported. The way that the immigration officer made it sound, I would be deported Friday. That's not quite what happened and I'm very thankful for that."

He wasn't deported while in jail in October 2007 because organizations such as the War Resisters Support Campaign and the Canadian Peace Alliance, the New Democratic Party of Canada political party (click here for release in English, here for release in French) and individuals worked very hard and worked very quickly, raising awareness, getting the word out and ensuring that whatever happened would not happen in silence or shielded from the public.

That was October and Robin stated he was hopefully that the following month, when the Supreme Court of Canada decided whether or not to hear the cases of U.S. war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, there would be good news for all the war resisters in Canada.

Nelson? Rod Mickleburgh (Globe and Mail) was left to point out, "His detention on Monday follows the bizarre apprehension earlier this year of Kyle Snyder, another war resister staying in Nelson, who was taken off to jail in the middle of a winter's night, wearing just a toque, a robe and his boxers. Nelson police have refused to say on whose request they detained Mr. Snyder, or why they knocked on his door at 4 a.m. They released him three hours later, after learning that he was legally in Canada as a visitor."

Kyle Snyder's arrest came on the orders of the US and -- though Nelson police seem to have trouble grasping this -- the US cannot order around the police of Canada. After Snyder was arrested, the department and its head, Dan Maluta, repeatedly altered their story on what happened and happened. The whole thing was a lot like the visit to Winnie Ng's home and the ever-changing story on that by Canadian authorities. Following the publication of Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale, the US military decided to enter Canada. Accompanied by a Canadian police officer, two members of the US military began searching for Key. The trio went to Winnie Ng's home (she had housed Joshua and Brandi Key along with their children early on when they moved to Canada) and presented themselves -- all three -- as Canadian police as they began questioning her. Ng told her story and was dismissed. She was ridiculed by the police and the US military denied it. But the story didn't go away and finally -- bit by bit -- it was learned that a Canadian police officer did escort two members of the US military around in their search for Key. Everything Winnie Ng said happened, happened. She stuck to her story and her story -- subsquently -- was proven accurate. Which is why the latest sop tossed out by Dan Maluta is greeted with skepticsm and why Manluta was under investigation for his actions in Snyder's arrest. The stories were ignored in the US media even by our trusted 'alternative' voices, only Gregory Levey (Salon) covered these earlier instances.

Robin continued on in Canada. He and his partner Renee had a son. He continued working. And then he was ordered imprisoned. He was judged a 'flight risk.' A flight risk? You're considering deporting someone and you want to imprison to make sure they don't leave the country?

No, it never made sense. Until you grasped that Judge Anne Mactavish's July 14th deportation order was, in fact, an extradition.

Mactavish avoided doing what she did up front because she knew extradition was a different process, she knew that if she ordered extradition (and not deportation), her actions would be reviewed by higher bodies before anything took place. Extradition is a legal process which requires many steps. By pretending she was merely overseeing a deporation, Mactavish skipped those steps. If Robin was being deported, he would be taken to the border or to a bus depot or airport where he would board something departing Canada. Instead he was extradited. After the ruling was made public, he remained imprisoned, kept from his peers and the press and he was physically taken to the border by Canadian authorities who did not expell him, they released him into the custody of American authorities under the arrangement that had already (and illegally) taken place.

As Susan Bourette (Christian Science Monitor) observed, "In a country that provided refuge to an estimated 90 percent of some 100,000 deserters and draft dodgers who went into exile during the Vietnam War, it's an unprecedented decision -- though perhaps not unexpected, given the political temper of the times in Canada."

That temper would be coming from Stephen Harper's side of the government. The Prime Minister and his party do not reflect the mood in the government or the mood in the country. June 3rd, the House of Commons passed a motion calling for safe harbor for war resisters by a vote of 137 for and 110 against. As the New Democratic Party noted in "NDP motion to let war resisters stay passes:"

Iraq War Resisters residing in Canada received overwhelming support from the House of Commons following today’s passage of an NDP motion to let them stay in the country.

NDP Citizenship and Immigration critic, Olivia Chow's (Trinity-Spadina) motion reflected ordinary Canadians' belief that George Bush’s war in Iraq is wrong and that resisters should not be deported to jail. The motion calls on the Harper Conservatives to allow American war resisters who have refused or left military service related to the illegal invasion of Iraq and their immediate family members to stay in Canada and be able to become permanent residents. Furthermore, the motion would force the government to immediately withdraw any removal or deportation orders against War Resisters.

NDP MP Bill Siksay (Burnaby Douglas), moved a similar motion a year ago on May 8, 2007 at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. His motion was rejected by the Conservatives, Liberals and Bloc. Through ongoing campaigns and mobilizations, supporters have finally been able to sway the Liberal and Bloc vote in support of the war resisters.

"Ordinary people want the Iraq war resisters to stay," said Chow. "The Harper Conservatives must respect this and immediately implement this motion."

That was the will of the House of Commons and it reflected the will of the Canadian people who have consistently voiced their support for US war resisters in poll after poll. Despite that vote, despite the people's belief, despite objections from MPs, Robin was extradited. The NDP issued a call to stop the expulsion:

NDP MP Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas) is calling on the Conservative government to stop the deportation of American Iraq war resister Robin Long, scheduled for today.
"Stockwell Day, Diane Finley and Stephen Harper should respect the will of Parliament and the Canadian people and stop this deportation immediately," said Siksay. "The House of Commons has passed a motion supporting a special programme that would allow conscientious objectors who refuse to serve in the war in Iraq to remain in Canada. The government must respect this action by the House and stop deportation action against Robin Long and other Iraq war resisters."
The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration reported to the House of Commons about the need for such a programme, and on a motion moved by MPs Olivia Chow and Siksay, the House concurred in that report.
"The Canadian government and the Canadian people do not support George Bush's illegal war in Iraq. We must have the courage of those convictions and back them up by ensuring that Americans who take a stand against that war receive a welcome in Canada," noted Siksay.
"Robin Long must be allowed to stay," Siksay concluded.

But Robin was extradited.

Friday he was court-martialed. Nick Kyonka (Toronto Star) points out, "The sentence was the longest any convicted army deserter had received since the beginning of the 2003 Iraq war, said retired U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright, a former diplomat who resigned from her post out of protest at the war's outset. Wright testified against the legality of the Iraq war on Long's behalf.Of the thousands of soldiers sentenced for desertion or going AWOL – and the estimated two dozen tried for protesting the war – only former army sergeant Kevin Benderman received an equal sentence in 2005." ABC's KRDO reported:

Long's suporters felt the sentence is too harsh. "He's a young man who is a very good man," said retired Col. Mary Ann Wright, a former Army diplomat. "He's got principles, honor and courage. Four or five months is pretty common among all the ones who have gone AWOL and been public about it."

Sgt. Matthis Chiroux of New York can relate to Long. Chiroux also refused a deployment, but says the Army decided against court-martialing him--partly because he testified about war objections before Congress and had support from some lawmakers. "Robin Long, to me, is a hero. I'm going to be writing him lots of letters."

And they quoted Branum explaining of Robin, "He felt good that he got to speak his mind about why he did what he did. He knows that he did the legally wrong thing, but the morally right thing."

That's right, Robin didn't back down. He didn't show up at his court-martial and say, "I must have been drunk! I was wrong! The Iraq War is a gift from heaven!" He called it out. Courage to Resist adds:

The trial was packed with Long’s supporters, including members from Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, and the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission. The courtroom was so full that many of his supporters had to wait outside. When Long stepped out of the courtroom, he was met with throngs of people who cheered him on loudly, despite being pushed across the street by military police. Long’s supporters have spent months rallying on his behalf, and Courage to Resist raised funds for his civilian lawyer, James Branum.

Retired Army Col. Ann Wright (and retired US State Dept) tells Courage to Resist that the show of support helped Robin and that "It sets a very chilling precedent that someone who is brought back gets the book thrown at them. I hope the Canadian government recognizes that."

Courage to Resist notes three ways you can help Robin now:

1. Donate to Robin's legal expenses

2. Send Robin letters of support, more

3. Leaflet: Support Robin Long! (PDF)

We're not sure whether they're still promoting the third option but hope they are. Robin's sentence will be shortened by 40 days due to his imprisonment prior to the court-martial. Other war resisters have had their sentences reduced for a variety of reasons that often boiled down to the fact that the public did not forget about them.

Remember too that Jeremy Hinzman has been told he has until September 23rd to leave Canada, after that he will be deported. He has taped a video, available at the War Resisters Support Campaign, where he speaks directly to Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada:

Jeremy Hinzman: Hello, Mr. Harper. This is my family Nga, Liam and Meghan. We've been in Canada for the last four and a 1/2 years. I was a specialist in the 82nd Air borne division of the United States Army and served honorably in Afghanistan. In 2004, my family and I came to Canada because we would not participate in the Iraqi War, a war which Canada also refused to participate in because it was condemned by the international community. One of your predecessors, Pierre Trudeau, once said that Canada should be have from militarism and we took him at this word. On June 3, 2008, the Canadian Parliament passed a motion saying that United States war resisters should be able to remain in Canada. We're asking you to abide by this motion and allow us to stay in Canada. Thank you.

Title Card: On September 23rd, the Harper government plans to deport the Hinzman family back to the United States.

Title Card: Hinzman faces a court martial and up to 5 years in military prison for opposing the Iraq war and coming to Canada.

Title Card: War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada):

Courage to Resist alerts, "Supporters are calling on Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to intervene. Phone 613.996.4974 or email,"Iraq Veterans Against the War also encourages people to take action, "To support Jeremy, call or email Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and ask her to intervene in this case. Phone: 613.996.4974 email:"

TV: Cyborgs or gasbags, which is worse?

To prove how pathetic the year has been and how pathetic so many were, you only have to drop back to the 2008 Winter issue of Ms. magazine, where they elected to reproduce an ad they found objectionable to women. The ad depicted "Cameron" and the same magazine that never found time (in print or online) to call out the repeated sexist attacks on Hillary felt it was their job to defend "Cameron." In the spring 2008 issue of Ms., Simone C. Williams wrote in to object to the ad being included in Ms.' long-running "No Comment" feature.

Williams made solid points so, of course, the current incarnation of Ms. magazine, had to reject it with an "Editors' note" -- the sort that increasingly shows just how useless the magazine has become: "We love Sarah Connor; we just think women, even Terminators, deserve to be shown with arms and legs." If you haven't sussed it out yet, "Cameron" is a character on Fox' Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Cameron is, in fact, a terminator.


You read that correctly. Ms. couldn't make any time for a flesh and blood woman under attack (Hillary) but they had all the time in the world to defend the rights of . . . cyborgs.

And if that doesn't tell you how inept are 'leaders' and 'protectors' are, nothing does.

Summer Glau plays Cameron and she's sent back in time to save John (Thomas Dekker) and Sarah Connor (Lena Headey). She does that (initially) by transporting them to the future of 2007. Glau is giving a strong performance and probably has a hell of a lot more to deal with than carping from Ms. that a robot was shown in an ad without "arms and legs." In other words, Glau lives in the real world.

That would be the world where Julianna Margulies starred in Fox' most promising series of 2008, Canterbury's Law, and gave an incredible performance. She did all of that without any of our 'leaders' rushing to support her or the show. But Ms. did make time to go after the only other show on Fox providing strong performances by actresses.

Along with Glau, Headey gives a strong performance which isn't easy for either woman. Both are playing characters that have changed since the first episode. Cameron was capable of blending in during the first episode. She now has been turned into a more robotic character learning human emotions (which really doesn't fit with her having been sent from the future where she presumably observed the adult John Connor at length before he sent her back in time). Headey's playing the role that Linda Hamilton owns.

Hamilton played the determined but inexperienced (in the ways of death and destruction as well as self-protection) in the first Terminator film and made her vivid transformation to a force of fury and strength in Terminatior 2: Judgment Day. It would be great to see that Sarah Connor on weekly television but that's apparently too strong for a woman on TV judging by the currently written character.

In fact, from script to script, the show can't seem to decide what is the right amount of strength and how much vulnerability to heap on. Rather strange since the series is supposed to take place after T2. But there's Sarah on your TV screen acting strong one moment and like a sap at other times. That's not Headey, it's the way the scenes are written. And your first clue should have been that Cameron is seen, by the creator of the show, as a way to 'wean' John off his mother.

The fierceness is largely written out and there are scenes where Sarah comes off more like Lorelai Gilmore than the woman who (in T2) rained bullets down on the home of Miles Dyson, shot him and only decided at the last minute she couldn't kill him.

Despite the (male) creator's uneasiness over how much strength to allow Sarah, Headey makes the character work overall. That "despite" should also include despite the wardrobe which, for a fugitive on the run and short on cash, is both dowdy and over priced. (That's especially noticeable in episode five when someone appears to have thought they were dressing Katharine Hepburn.) The series debuted to high ratings, then dipped much lower, then see-sawed until the final episode which came out with less than half the audience for the debut. A large reason for that, and one that's never commented on at length, is the way Sarah is written.

Brian Austin Green plays Derek Reese and Green does a solid job. That's not the issue. The issue is his lines, his view point is T2's Sarah's viewpoint and it's pretty sad that the show that frets constantly over how strong their female character can be is more than comfortable writing her scenes for Green.

We mentioned Miles Dyson earlier and, for those who haven't seen T2, Dyson was working on Skynet -- the microprocessor that allows the machines to take over in the near future. In the film, Dyson destroys all of his research and dies in an explosion. The series has Sarah living a fugitive life because she's wrongly blamed for Dyson's death. And she, John and Cameron are trying to prevent the development of Skynet and the impending war on humans.

It's too bad they time lept to 2007. Had they gone straight to 2008, they might wonder why bother?

Or, maybe, like us, they'd wonder why TV "characters" like Gwen Ifill can't be chased down onscreen by Terminators? The host of PBS' Washington Weak may, in fact, be a cyborg and, if so, that would certainly explain her war on the truth.

"So, Jackie, we don't engage in Washington Week much on pure speculation," said Gwen lying through her teeth and doing so semi-convincingly. If it weren't for speculation, what would Gwen and the gas bags have to offer?

Bad comedy was the answer on Friday when they hit the road and went to Denver.

As feminists, we'd love to say something supportive about the women; however, we actually watched the show.

Time magazine's Karen Tumulty requires no "maybe." She is obviously a cyborg who has killed off the real Karen and is now impersonating the human she replaced. We previously noted the heavy dramatics Karen attempted on the program in May which included her mugging before a live audience. She offered so much more (and so much worse) this broadcast that you sort of picture her spending her final days at a petting zoo. If anything nice can be said of what The New York Times' Jackie Calmes did with her stand-up bits, it's that the audience laughed at them and applauded her. After the silence that greeted Karen's attempts at laughter, Jackie can score that as a "win" -- if journalism is just her day job while she preps her act for the Laugh Factory.

Dan Balz (Washington Post) and James Barnes (National Journal) stuck to offering facts and opinions and not attempting to reduce the audience to titters. Which may make them 'iffy' for future road shows since spectacle and -- yes, Gwen -- speculation is what the show's become, so why not just laugh?

Doubt it? Note this exchange which takes place long after the John McCain's campaign commercial on Barack Obama and Tony Rezko was shown.

Gwen: By the way Rezko is the guy who was involved in some financial dealing with the Senator that allowed him to get his house.

Jackie: Right.

Gwen: And all cleared and not found guilty.

Jackie: Yeah was on trial and there was no -- the senator was not implicated in that trial.


Antoin "Big Tony" Rezko was "not found guilty"? May 13th the jury found him guilty -- in fact they convicted him on two counts of money laundering, two counts of corrupt solicitation, six counts of wire fraud and six counts of mail fraud. That's "not found guilty"? In what damn world? It was right up there with Gwen's hilarious moment earlier this decade when she attempted to explain the First Amendment and bungled it badly leading her to declare "whatever it says." A 'journalist' who doesn't know what the First Amendment says isn't much of a journalist. So comedy may indeed be the way for Gwen to steer the show.

Jackie spoke at one point of how Barack was "trying to show he can relate to the average person." The show provided a clip of Barack surrounded by presumably "average" people and it went right to the problems the campaign has. There was Barack speaking in an overly loud voice (those present clapping or laughing were distant murmurs over Barack's thundering). Word to Barack, you're not in a classroom. There is a time to be loud and there is a time to turn down the volume. The meet-and-greet was staged to look less formal than the mass adulation rallies he became so notorious for (and revived in Germany this summer). But there was Barack over gesturing and over-volumed. It seemed dangerously close to Howard Dean's 'scream.'

People don't enjoy being yelled at. He had a microphone, there was no reason for the yelling and the volume. The way he spoke sounded arrogant -- as if he could only 'convince' people by yelling. It's amazing that he's on the verge of his convention speech and his staff hasn't yet learned to craft speeches so that he appears to be speaking to people and not speaking down to them. (The convention speech will be played to the camera which will eat up his gestures; however, his handlers would be well advised to work with him on modulation.)

Jackie declared Rezko a dead issue and one had to wonder how someone with such close ties to Barack (offered him his first job, gave $2000 to Barack's first run for political office, helped fuel $250,000 into Barack's campaigns -- according to Barack himself) who is now a convicted felon is a "dead issue"? Barack wouldn't have his mansion without Big Tony. Since the issue "died" (in Jackie's mind), we've learned the mansion deal had more details than Barack let on. Turns out, he took Big Tony on a tour of the property. The Rezkos buying the land (which had been split from the mansion) wasn't just Big Tony having some sort of Jungian synchronistic moment with Barack. Barack wouldn't have his mansion if it weren't for convicted felon Big Tony.

Though in Denver and though making that the prime topic (sole topic?), none of the gas bags took a moment to note that Ralph Nader is staging a Super Rally in Denver this Wednesday. Possibly exploring that would have prevented Gwen's gushing about her love of "pageantry"?

Maybe the war on humans starts with a war on the truth? If so, check the cast of FAIR's CounterSpin for a pulse because their battles with the truth are becoming legendary. Friday's show started out, as always, with a look at "recent news." Recent news? Try recent gas bagging. Not one of their items truly passed the fact check test but let's zoom in on the first one.

Steve Rendall: Conservative pundit Bill Kristol whose spectacularly wrong predictions about the Iraq War didn't keep him from landing a prime slot at The New York Times this year continued his long tradition of error in an August 17th column about about the evangelical Rev. Rick Warren's recent interviews with John McCain and Barack Obama. Kristol wrote that McCain who was interviewed second with exactly the same questions posed to Obama before him stole the show with his "crisp answers and colorful anecdotes." The columnist glibly dismissed the Obama campaign's claim that McCain was not sequestered in a Cone of silence during his opponents interview as he was announced to be citing NBC's Andrea Mitchell who reported that the Obama camp was claiming that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions to Obama Kristol sneered "That's pretty astonishing since there seems to be no basis for the charge." But there was one little problem. There was evidence right in the Times own news section that day which published an article entitled "Despite assurances, McCain wasn't in a cone of silence."

Stevie then goes off to Tom Tomorrow ("as cartoonist Tom Tomorrow") blah, blah, blah. F-ing blah. With that item, Steve Rendall continues his own long tradition of error or, as he might word it, "glaring sins of omission." (Kinder tongues would say Steve was again flaunting his "idiosyncratic understanding of accuracy.")

The New York Times article was written by Katharine Q. Seelye. McCain never claimed he was in a cone of silence, a fact that Stevie decided wasn't worth mentioning. Leaving it out, leaving out that Warren was the one who told people McCain was in a "cone of silence," played so much better for Stevie, truth be damned. Where was McCain? Seeyle reported:

Members of the McCain campaign staff, who flew here Sunday from California, said Mr. McCain was in his motorcade on the way to the church as Mr. Obama was being interviewed by the Rev. Rick Warren, the author of the best-selling book "The Purpose Driven Life."

McCain was in the motorcade and never made any effort to hide that. It's important that fact be left out by Steve because he's not interested in the truth, he's interested in furthering Team Obama's talking point. (The first response from Team Obama -- to Barack's horrendous performance -- was to claim he was under the weather. Cone of silence came about after many began commenting on the whining nature of Team Barack whenever the Christ-child falters.)

Equally true is that Seelye reported. Did Andrea Mitchell? No. Steve apparently knows very little about journalism. Andrea Mitchell is a journalist but she didn't "report" anything. She made her remarks as a guest on NBC's Meet The Press. No, Steve, she wasn't "reporting." And, by the way, Kristol's columns appear under the name "William Kristol."

Steve's hilarity was just beginning and he teamed up with the Scowling Janine Jackson for an "extended interview." In FAIR talk, that translates as "male gas bag" because there's nothing FAIR about CounterSpin's male to female ratio of guests and lighting might strike the gas bags dead if the program ever decided a woman was worthy of an "extended" interview. The Dull Duo teamed up with quack-pot Thomas Frank for what can only be described as "a kind of softening of the brain" -- so much so that we listened closely in hopes that someone would declare, "I think that expression sounds so nice. It always makes me think of cherry-coloured velvet curtains -- something that is soft to stroke." But that would have made art -- Ibsen's Ghosts, in fact -- and this was just Bad Liars Lying Badly.

As if to prove how far they'd go to lie, Steve Rendall deliberately distorted Michiko Kakutani's "The Business of Politics, the Politics of Business" (New York Times, Augst 18, 2008), declaring, "You were criticized by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times book review of The Wrecking Crew for dwelling on the past . . ." Thomas Frank couldn't stop chuckling, coming up for air to pant and stammer a response which included, "I have a Ph. D in history. Of course, I dwell on the past -- that's ridiculous!" No, ridiculous is that Frank and Rendall thought they could get away lying.

Kakutani did not criticize him for "dwelling on the past," she critized him for failing to address the present:

Instead of using the Jack Abramoff scandal to examine the problems of a political system that empowers lobbyists, special-interest groups and big money players, Mr. Frank tries to turn the scandal into a case study in what he sees as the evils of free-market principles. . . .

Mr. Frank does not help himself by relying on fuzzy -- and poorly documented -- illustrations of his theories. He writes, for instance, that in 2004 "a group of the country's biggest companies reportedly paid some unnamed K Street firm $1.6 million to secure a tiny modification in the tax code, once the law was rewritten in accordance with their wishes -- and with almost no public notice -- they saved $100 billion in taxes, an amount which you and I will eventually have to replace in the public treasury." He adds that if you do the math, "you will find that the rate of return these companies made on their lobbying investment was some six million percent," and concludes that "these are the wages of conservatism." He does not say, however, which companies paid which lobbying firm the money nor does he describe which modifications of the tax code was involved.

Finally there is something curiously dated about this book. Mr. Frank spends a lot of time reviewing conservatives' attitudes toward South Africa when apartheid was still the official policy of that nation, and while he says little about how the Internet has affected politics and policy making, he spends a lot of energy talking about the right's use of direct mail, as pioneered by Richard Viguerie in the 1960s and '70s.

If the above doesn't make it clear to you, Frank not only asks that the reader check his math without providing the specifics to do so, he repeatedly drops back to some point from the past instead of detailing the "wrecking crew" and its actions in the last eight years.

That tends to happen when weak minds are allowed to operate a keyboard without supervision. The same weak minds who will embarrass themselves publicly anytime they speak. Our personal favorite from the interview was when Thomas Frank yammered on about "one of my all time favorite conservative quotes" and the quack-pot went on to tell a story -- one that never included a quote. Yes, he really is that stupid. He confuses a quote (which he could have provided) with an anecdote -- one badly told.

Sarah Connor wants to save humanity from the machines. Judging by what we witnessed last week, some may have good reason to fear the machines are already here -- and controlling our public discourse. Hope would be Gwen grasping that the truth does matter and making it her mission to impart it. Because if one gas bag can learn the value of human life, maybe others can too.

Denver Super Rally: Putting the issues on the table

I feel about politics the same way I do about religion: I find the best I can from different things. I like Hillary. I support Ralph Nader's decision to run. But Obama's the candidate and we need to support him.

Thus spoke Patti, page 108 of David Marchese's "The Spin Interview: Patti Smith" by David Marchese.

Ava and C.I.: "Uh, no, Patti, we don't. When Jim mentioned your interview in Spin -- which he hadn't read -- we glommed on it -- wrongly thinking there would be a statement that we could use for 'Truest statement of the week' or at least give your documentary a plug. You'll note we do neither. There's enough stupidity in the world without amplifying your own. Sound harsh? The feature starts on page 103 and we were laughing off our asses off long before 108. Everyone was asking, 'What? What?' Uh, that would be your lies. Now you can reinvent your married life however you want and we'll leave it to James Wolcott to call you out on that. But how stupid do you think America is? You like Debbie Harry? You. Like. Debbie. Harry. Since when? You've slagged her non-stop for years and what little you've said that's surfaced publicly is nothing compared to what you've said about her privately. If there's any reason to note the article at all it's for the 'Extra! Extra! Patti finally finds a kind word to say about Debbie!' nature of the interview. But as that section was read, we merely laughed and exchanged looks while biting our tongues to questions of 'What? What? What's so funny about Patti praising Debbie?' Then Jim got to the little bit quoted above. We do not all 'need' to do anything.

"That you, of all people, would declare Barack deserves all of our support is not only laughable, it's incredibly ignorant. Remember Horses? Your seminal album? Last time we checked ,that album still hadn't gotten platinum. Translation, not a lot of people bought it. Goodness Patti, what if people had said, 'The Captain & Tenille are popular so we have to support Love Will Keep Us Together? Or the Bee Gee's Main Course? Or maybe Elton John's Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy? Fleetwood Mac had their monster self-titled album released that year, it would take weeks to go number one. Maybe people should have been saying, 'Ignore Horses, no one's going to buy it anyway. Show your support for something that really matters, really makes a difference like Fleetwood Mac!'? Your album didn't sell very well in 1975. Or since. But everyone who bought a copy -- we both have copies -- helped you leave a mark. So for you, of all people, to suggest that 'we' 'need to support Barack' is not only laughable, it's insulting. Your support in 1975 also came from the press which gave you much more coverage than many others who were actually selling albums. Heart Like A Wheel [Linda Ronstadt] actually sold. It spawned four huge hits -- two were million sellers. Do you really think when Linda Ronstadt was so clearly the choice of the people that you deserved any press attention at all in 1975? By your logic, you don't. By your logic, you don't deserve the Spin interview today. We'd expect that sort of stupidity from Toni Tennille. We're offended when it comes from you. But thanks for making us laugh by pretending you liked Debbie Harry. You say elsewhere, 'The point was that I was never interested in compromise.' We note that the statement is past tense. We grasp why. We're being really kind and not noting your "sumpthin" statements to Charles Young in 1978. In 1978! We're biting our tongues."

Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate. He is a candidate not afraid to put issues on the table. What was Barack's big issue last week? Ah, yes, John McCain owns seven houses. Not only was it weak as an issue it was also insulting and sexist. John McCain has no house. John and Cindy McCain have seven houses. It takes a real pig to strip a woman of her home or homes. Barack is just such a pig.

While Barack was crying oink-oink all week long, Ralph Nader was raising the issues that actually matter. Housing? He addressed it as the very real issue that it is. From Ralph's Daily Audio, "Forestalling More of the Same:"

This is Ralph Nader. This year two and a half to three million Americans will lose their homes to foreclosures. Next year another two and a half to three million Americans will probably lose their homes. Instead of helping these Americans keep their homes, both the Democrats and the Republicans are bailing out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Wall St. banks and their high paid executives -- the same executives who got us into this mess by betting the house on sub-prime mortgages. I call this "Socialism for Spectators."

Senator McCain takes a hands-off approach to the mortgage meltdown. Senator Obama talks about helping the home owners but is surrounding himself with the culprits: Wall St. bankers. Obama's economic director? Robert Rubin protege Jason Furman.

Rubin was the Clintons' Treasury Secretary. He engineered the disastrous deregulation of Wall St. including the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act. This Depression-era law separated investment banks from commercial banking. Had it been in effect, the current mortgage crisis would have been limited.

Rubin went on to be an overpaid executive at Citigroup which he helped tank. Rubin is now advising Senator Obama. Nader-Gonzalez would bring back Glass Steagall.

Nader-Gonzalez would re-instate the usury laws that cap interest rates and we would regulate Wall St. instead of bailing it out on the backs of American tax payers.

This would include forcing mortgage companies to re-negotiate the mortgages of millions of home owners who are currently faced with being thrown out onto the street as a result of foreclosure.

Instead of punishing the home owners, Nader-Gonzalez would bring justice to the predatory lenders on Wall St. who deceived them and who got us into this mess in the first place.

Sounds like a plan. Let's move on to another one. "Debates Declaration:"

This is Ralph Nader. The two major parties -- Republican and Democratic Parties -- and their candidates seem to want to ration debates in this country. Why do we allow presidential debates to be rationed?

We don't allow weather reports to be rationed, entertainment to be rationed, sporting events to be rationed. But when it comes to the future of our country and it's place in the world, when it comes to the livelihoods and the necessities of the American people, we're left with three debates, so-called, in the fall with only Barack Obama and John McCain on the stage. Their own debate commission/corporation ensures that no one else on the stage and they're really not debates, they're like parallel interviews.

So we want people to open up the debates and to support the following declaration:

"We call for opening up the debates. The scope of discussion must be as broad and deep as the serious challenges we face as a nation. We agree that vibrant debate is the heart beat of our democracy and our First Amendment especially during an election year. We recognize that smaller third parties and independents have traditionally played a vital role in our democracy including leading the charge for the abolition of slavery, the women's right to vote and economic justice for workers and farmers. We support opening up the debates beyond the two parties and the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates -- which is a private corporation, co-chaired by former chairman of the Republican and Democratic Parties -- it's time for our presidential debates to once again be hosted by truly non-partisan, civic minded associations."

If you support this declaration, let's hear from you.

It's too bad there's not same way some people can get together and issue the call for the debates to be opened. While we try to think of some way that could happen, here's Ralph's "Join Our Super Rallies for Open Debates:"

Good morning, this is Ralph Nader. As you know, Nader/Gonzalez is being blocked from the presidential debates.

The corporate controlled so-called Commission on Presidential Debates will not let any independent candidate in unless they show 15% in a series of polls in September. That's no surprise. What is surprising is the failure of other debates to fill the vacuum. Part of this is due to Senator Obama's reluctance to engage his opponents.

On May 4th, Obama told Tim Russert on Meet The Press that he was willing to debate with "any of my opponents about what this country means, what makes it great." But earlier this month, Obama's campaign manager backed off, saying that Obama would debate only Senator McCain and only in the three rigged debates that's sponsored by the two parties and paid for by corporations.

Senator Obama's also refused to participate in a number of other debates including the Google debate in New Orleans, the Texas Ft. Hood debate that is being organized by veterans groups and the series of ten townhall meetings proposed by Senator McCain.

Senator Obama's refusal to participate is a mistake and is costing him in the polls. Just yesterday, the Gallup tracking polls put McCain and Obama tied at 44% each. If Obama doesn't agree to more debates he could end up at the end of a sentence that starts out "Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry.

With only McCain and Obama on the stage , there will be no debate of key issues and redirections important to the American people . Just go down the partial list. Single-payer Medicare for all health care, supported by the majority of the American people, the majority of doctors and nurses, and just recently, unanimously, by the US conference of mayors? Obama says "no," McCain says "no." Reversing US policy in the Middle East? Obama says "no," McCain says "no." Cut the bloated, wasteful, redundant military budget? Obama says "no," McCain says "no." They want a bigger military budget. Empty the prisons of drug possessors and fill 'em up with corporate criminals?

Obama says "no," McCain says "no."

Nader-Gonzalez says "yes" to each.

The only way to change this systemic exclusion is for millions of Americans to become engaged now. If you can, please join with us at our two Super Rallies-- on August 27th in Denver at the University of Denver Magness Arena or September 4th in Minneapolis at Orchestra Hall. And help us raise the banner for all to see: "OPEN THE DEBATES."

If you are not able to attend, please go to and donate now whatever you can up to the legal maximum of $4,600 to help fund our Open The Debates Campaign. Our goal is to raise $50,000 by Wednesday night. Last night, we were close to $14,000 in less than three days, but we have a ways to go. So join with us in Denver and Minneapolis if you can. We're planning to have some prominent activists and musicians with us. Stay tuned for more information on that. And we have some surprise, giant, inflatable visuals that should be a lot of fun, that will travel with us as we move from Denver to Minneapolis and then, hopefully, will bring attention to our Super Rallies from the press.

Thank you for your ongoing and considered support to our campaign. Together we are making a difference. Onward to November. I'm Ralph Nader.

Well, what do you know, that's already been worked out. And the first Super Rally is this Wednesday.


Along with Ralph and his running mate Matt Gonzalez, also announced as appearing are Cindy Sheehan, Val Kilmer, Tom Morello, Jello Biafra and Sean Penn. Tickets can be reserved here.
And those not in the Denver area Wednesday can tune into Free Speech TV starting at 9:00 p.m. EST, or click here to watch online (it will also be broadcast on public access channels).

We doubt Ralph will be dressing up gossip and passing it off as an "issue" at the Super Rally. We'll assume he'll address more important things, as he does in "The Difference Between The Two Parties:"

This is Ralph Nader. Just how different are the two major parties? Well I've often said that the towering similarities between the two parties are far greater than the dwindling differences they're really willing to fight over. It's clear that the Democrats are better than Republicans on Social Security, civil justice, the right to go to court if you're wrongfully injured, civil rights and a number of other issues. But consider the similarities. As I've said when it comes to the overriding issue of the corporate takeover of our federal government department by department, agency by agency, the two parties differ in the velocity with which their knees hit the floor when corporations pound on their door.
The two parties are pretty similar on foreign and military policy. In recent weeks the leading foreign affairs reporters for the Washington Post and the New York Times said that Obama would be similar in his foreign and military policy to the second term of George W. Bush. They're both pushing for more military budget. They haven't singled out a single weapons system that they think is obsolete, redundant or not needed.
They both are not doing anything about cracking down on corporate crimes commensurate with the violations of health and safety laws by the corporations in the looting and draining of trillions of dollars of mutual fund savings and pension funds they both are furthering the perforation of the tax code corporate loopholes and offshore havens. They both have put the regulatory agencies under anesthesia. They both are in a race to get more and more private special interest money into elections corrupting our election process. You ever hear them mention in any specifics what they're going to do about consumer protection or what they're going to do about repealing anti-worker, anti-union laws like Taft-Hartley?

No way.

Similarly silent.
The Democrats took over the Congress in January 2007, they haven't rolled back any of the legislation or even made a major college try to roll back the bad legislation that Bush and his Congressional Republicans have passed So we can go and on but just think about it, how necessary it is to have somewhere else on the ballot line to cast your vote. Nader-Gonzalez. Thank you.

And he'll be the candidate taking on the military industrial complex, as he did last week in

"The Bloated Defense Budget:"

This is Ralph Nader. Remember reading or hearing the farewell address of President Dwight Eisenhower? 1960, when he warned Americans about what he called "the military industrial complex." Well, just a few words about where we are in the military budget. It's now 1/2 of the entire federal government's operating expenditures. It's way over $700 billion and that's not counting the money for helping our veterans. Both Obama and McCain want to increase the military budget. The Government Accountability Office yearly describes the gigantic Pentagon contracting budget unauditable. Just imagine, half of what the federal government spends in operating expenditures can't even be audited. For example, people inside the Defense Department think that the F-22 should never have been contract for, built wasn't necessary. The Osprey helicopter -- defective, killed quite a few marines in test flights, shouldn't have been built in their judgment. Hundreds of billions of dollars are in the pipeline for weapons systems that were designed for the Soviet Union-era of hostility. They no longer have any strategic value and many of them are redundant. We've got to cut the waste out of the huge military budget and put that money back into repairing America's public works and cities, towns and rural areas all over the country. If we cut out the expenditures of keeping our soldiers out of Japan and Western Europe -- 60-plus years after WWII -- a portion of that money could give free education to all students in public universities in the United States. Think about it. Think about who stands for a lean defense -- not a wasteful defense; who stands for respecting your tax payer dollar and returning it to you to improve the public facilities, schools and clinics, libraries, drinking water systems, sewage stream and plant upgrades among some of the deferred maintenance that's reducing the facilities that are necessary for a thriving community.

These issues won't be covered by Barack. And Patti Smith may think we have to support Barack but Patti Smith doesn't rule our lives, now does she? The woman who shocked the nation with "People Have The Power" (Rebecca: "Trust me, I saw the MTV debut of that 120 Minutes and they were very luke warm to the black & white video mainly because the song was considered too 'hippy' like and not 'punk' enough.") now wants to say that people have the power to cheerlead the corporate candidate. It's very, very sad. But Patti's far from alone in blocking out the Ralph Nader campaign. This is "Bob Herbert's World:"

This is Ralph Nader. The New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has a problem. He's written numerous columns complaining about presidential candidates and their campaigns ignoring serious policy issues. It's as if no one else is running for president in Bob Herbert's world other than Barack Obama and John McCain.

In a recent article that he wrote in the New York Times, he complains about how the two major candidates and their campaigns are ignoring the problems of the cities: the poverty, the transportation problems, the lack of repair and expansion of public works and facilities, the crime. He complains that the mayors have been complaining that they have been abandoned by Washington, citing a recent gathering of city mayors that he attended.

In one of these gatherings he cites the mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, John Robert Smith saying that he believes the nation should devote the same level of commitment to developing a first-rate passenger rail system as was marshalled for the interstate highway system in the Eisenhower era.

Well, the Nader-Gonzalez campaign has taken a strong stand for the expansion and modernization of passenger rail as a way to save energy, to reduce casualties on the highway and to provide more immediate evacuation of the cities in case of a calamity or a natural disaster.

But to Bob Herbert, the Nader Gonzalez campaign which supports almost one-for-one so many of the issues that he advances and champions doesn't exist.

To him, the Nader-Gonzalez campaign or any progressive third party campaign doesn't exist in his column so I say to Bob Herbert, "At least level with your readers, Mr. Herbert, tell them that you think the two major parties, Republican and Democrat, own all the voters and there's no one else on the ballot. At least level with them."

This is Ralph Nader.

In Bob Herbert's world, you only have the choice between McCain or Obama. In the real world, you have many more choices. In the real world, people actually have the power -- the power Patti Smith sings about if not embraces.

Ralph's Daily Audio is audio commentary the campaign posts Monday through Friday at the Nader-Gonzalez website.

Stephanie Tubbs Jones (1949 - 2008)

"I, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a representative from Ohio, and Ms. Boxer, a Senator from California, object to the counting of the electoral votes of the State of Ohio on the ground that they were not, under all of the known circumstances, regularly given," declared US House Rep Stephanie Tubbs Jones on January 6, 2005. "I, thank God, that I have a Senator joining me in this objection. I appreciate Senator Boxer's willingness to listen to the plight of hundreds and even thousands of Ohio voters that for a variety of reasons were denied the right to vote. Unfortunately objecting to the electoral votes from Ohio is the only immediate avenue to bring these issues to light. While some have called our cause foolish I can assure you that my parents, Mary and Andrew Tubbs did not raise any fools and as a lawyer, former judge and prosecutor, I am duty bound to follow the law and apply the law to the facts as I find them. It is on behalf of those millions of Americans who believe in and value our democratic process and the right to vote that I put forth this objection today. If they are willing stand at the polls for countless hours in the rain as many did in Ohio, then I can surely stand up for them here in the halls of Congress."

With that declaration, with two women standing together, what should have happened in 2001 happened in 2005. You'll note it was Stephanie Tubbs Jones who stood up in 2005 and not Nancy Pelosi (we'll get back to her) just as it was women like US House Rep Maxine Waters standing up in 2001 and not Nancy Pelosi.

Tubbs Jones was born September 10, 1949 and died last Wednesday at the age of 58. First elected in the November 1998 elections, she had become the chair of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct almost two years ago. Five times she was elected to represent Ohio's eleventh district and the lowest percentage of the vote she ever garnered was 76%.

Most of us writing this were fortunate enough to meet Rep Tubbs Jones and we knew we'd have to do something to note her passing. We planned to run a photo and Senator Hillary Clinton's comments and leave it at that.

But it's never that easy.

And people like Speaker of the House Pelosi ensure that it never will be.


The photo you see is from Tubbs Jones' Congressional website. Or was.

It was posted at The Common Ills Thursday morning and we figured we'd download it and switch it over to Flickr on Saturday.

We couldn't.

We couldn't because Stephanie Tubbs Jones' website has been scrubbed.

The woman died Wednesday night. Mid-day Thursday, the notoriously back-stabbing Pelosi gave the order that the website would be taken down. Stephanie Tubbs Jones has not even been buried but Pelosi was already bound and determined to erase her.

Pelosi has a widely known 'issue' with African-American members of the House. For example, she conducted a lengthy war on then US House Rep Cynthia McKinney (now running for president). When McKinney won back her seat in 2004 (after losing in 2002), Pelosi refused to allow her to have the seniority that's always granted to members who return to Congress. Instead the six-term McKinney was 'awarded' (by Pelosi) the stature of a freshman. Currently, though he could stand up to her, Pelosi has brow-beat Rep John Conyers to the point that he seems a far cry from the representative he was even two years ago.

Pelosi's a vindictive, mean-spirited person. (But no one's ever supposed to note that or the opposition research done to secure her post as then-Minority House Leader.) She wasn't thrilled that the photo with Hillary got attention and she wasn't about to let it garner any more attention. She is said to have defended her decision by stating it was bad for Barack for the website to remain. (That comes from a House member who always knows what's what in Congress as well as two staffers -- one working for Pelosi.)

That's why those currently attempting to visit Stephanie Tubbs Jones' website find instead a "CURRENT VACANCIES" page.

That's why a cursory press release ("OFFICES OF THE ELEVENTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF OHIO TO REMAIN OPEN TO SERVE AND ASSIST CONSTITUENTS") notes Tubbs Jones died ("The Washington, D.C. office and the district offices of the Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones will continue to serve the people of the Eleventh Congressional District of Ohio under the supervision of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Representative Tubbs Jones died August 20, 2008.") and quickly moves on (for five paragraphs) to Clerk of the House with no mention of how long Tubbs Jones served or even a "she will be missed."

There's a word for Nancy Pelosi and, as Barabra Bush might say, it rhymes with rich.

Stephanie Tubbs Jones supported Hillary Clinton's run for the presidency and that really pissed off Pelosi. It appears to have pissed a number of people.

Take The Progressive. In 2005, Matthew Rothschild ("A Historic Day") could insincerely scribble, "But praise to Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Representative John Conyers for leading this battle." What follows is Rothschild praising John Conyers for two paragraphs and never getting around to noting Stephanie Tubbs Jones who, unlike Conyers, sponsored the resolution. Kind of an interesting way to note a 'historic day' -- throwing a one sentence shout-out to the person in the House responsible.

Maybe that's why it's not at all surprising that Matthew Rothschild managed to write an online piece the day after her death that didn't mention her ("Why Obama Is Slipping") as well as one the next day on the very pressing issue of t-shirts ("Bush Lied T-Shirt") but never got around to noting Stephanie Tubbs Jones' passing.

The Nation wasn't any better. John Nichols contributed "Stephanie Tubbs Jones: Champion of Electoral Justice" and . . . That was it. Three pieces posted to the magazine's blog The Notion after she died, but not one could 'note' that. (There was time to note a Jamaican track star -- maybe The Nation is published in Jamaica!) Katrinket vanden Heuvel, who really needs to shore up her thread-bare pro-woman credentials, elected to instead write nothing about Stephanie Tubbs Jones, not even a single sentence. [Click here for what Katty did do.]

And what of this century's Charlotte Rae, so eager to play den mother to the push-up bra set? Not a word from Katha Pollitt who apparently tired herself out imaging she was Elizabeth Edwards and going to town (August 9th) on Rielle Hunter for everything from her name to the choices Rielle, a single woman, made in partners. While spewing at Rielle in what only a demented mind could think was 'sisterly' love, she went soft on John Edwards. (She went soft -- again -- on Gail Collins but catty, ugly girls stick together.) Yes, our so-called leading 'feminist' had not a damn word to say about Tubbs Jones.

Why all the silence? Why did Pelosi think she could kill Tubbs Jones website before the woman was even buried? Because she was a woman.

Forget her race, race only matters when it's a man. Haven't you been paying attention to all of Amy Goodman's stories? Give Goody an African-American man and she's got a week's worth of breathless panting. An African-American woman? Eh, she'll get to it if she feels like it. (And she rarely feels like it.)

For those paying attention, Stephanie Tubbs Jones' life mattered because she fought for what she believed in. For those paying attention, she didn't matter to a number of 'left' 'voices' because (a) she was a woman, (b) she was an African-American woman (the first elected to the US Congress from Ohio) and (c) because she supported Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. By contrast, a little while ago, you would have thought the Pope had come to DC to read Teddy Kennedy's last rites the way they all couldn't shut up about him. But he is (a) a man, (b) a White man and (c) a Barack supporter.

We'll close with the "Statement of Former President William J. Clinton, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton on the Passing of Chairwoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones:"

There are few words to express the shock we feel at this time. Our deepest condolences are with Stephanie's son, Mervyn, her family, and her many loved ones, friends, and supporters.
Stephanie's friendship meant the world to us, a friendship that deepened through every trial and challenge. We could always count on her to be a shoulder on which to lean, an ear to bend, a voice to reassure. Over the course of many years, with many ups and many downs, Stephanie was right by our side-unwavering, indefatigable.
It was that fighting spirit-safely stowed behind her disarming smile, backed by so much integrity and fiery intelligence-that allowed Stephanie to rise from modest beginnings, to succeed in public service, to become a one-woman force for progress in our country.
All of us who were lucky to know her and love her can only hope now to live like her-to be as passionate, loyal, hard charging, and joyful in life's pursuits.
Stephanie was one of a kind. We will miss our friend always.

vanden Heuvel doesn't do corrections

As we were saying, Katrinket vanden Heuvel, who really needs to shore up her thread-bare pro-woman credentials, elected to instead write nothing about Stephanie Tubbs Jones, not even a single sentence.

The editor and publisher of The Nation may, however, have been too busy quickly composing a post ("A People's Convention") that rambled on forever (14 paragraphs) before getting to the point of why she was blogging at all: To issue a 'correction.'

She'd wrongly written that Diane Benson "was the only candidate to immediately release a tough statement criticizing [the FISA bill's] approval." Benson's opponent Ethan Berkowitz also did.

But far be it from Katty-van-van to ever use the words "I was wrong" or "to correct my past writing."

Instead, she 'allows,' "They have a point there. Berkowtiz released a statement on July 9 that was published in the Alaska Report. "

Katty never explains in her dithering post that the FISA vote took place July 9, 2008.

In other words, the day of the vote Berkowitz had issued a statement calling out the vote.

In other words, Katty-van-van was wrong-wrong and forgets to include that or to write anything that resembles a correction of record.

She does go on (and on) about how it wasn't really her fault she "based my description on the interview with Ms. Benson and reports" and, of course, whined that "Berkowtiz's statement had been difficult to locate on his website at the time of the vote." At the time of the vote?

That would be July 9th (pay attention).

She goes on to justify being wrong about the polling on the Berkowitz and Benson race by excusing herself with "at the time of publication on August 4 these polls were not avaialbe either through a Google News search or Berkowitz's own website." August 4th? Wasn't she just whining about her other error and implying July 9th? Regardless . . .

How proud The Nation must be that their editor and publisher thinks doing a Google News search and looking for polling results on a candidate's website qualifies as "researching" the polling numbers before writing about them.

Barack's Running Bud

At 12:32 a.m. Saturday morning (all times given are EST), Aging Socialite's Cat Mix sent out the following mailing:

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware is Barack Obama's pick as vice presidential running mate, The Associated Press has learned.

Biden, 65, is a veteran of more than three decades in the Senate, and one of his party's leading experts on foreign policy, an area in which polls indicate Obama needs help in his race against Republican rival John McCain.

By approximately six p.m. Saturday, The Los Angeles Times posted: "In case you're one of the thousands of people interested in the Barack Obama Democratic presidential campaign who signed up to be the first to learn his vice presidential pick via high-tech e-mail and text message, ours finally arrived." As Jose Antonio Vargas explained in "Obama's Text: Message Received, With a Few Garbles" (Washington Post):

For more than a year, Obama's online operations has aggressively marketed their text program -- which comes with its own ringtones and wallpapers, standard fare in the mobile commercial industry -- to collect names, e-mail addresses and Zip codes. Scott Goodstein, who overlooks the program, spent three weeks in South Carolina before the Palmetto State's primary to test the new medium's use in campaigning. Nearly two weeks ago, Obama sent a message saying he would notify supporters of his vice presidential choice via text, promising supporters that they'd be "the first to know."
That promise was undercut when news organizations confirmed around 1 a.m. today that Obama had settled on Biden. The announcement was sent about two hours later -- apparently with no glitches, said Kevin Bertman of Distributive Networks, the District-based mobile company hired by the campaign to send its texts.

So they couldn't even get the texts to their supporters before the press got wind of the news.

Slogans you can believe . . . are meaningless.

Biden is 65-years-old. John McCain, presumed GOP presidential nominee, is 71-years-old. That might harm the Barack campaign to constantly whisper that McCain is too old.

Speaking to a crowd on Saturday (endlessly played on cable news channel), Biden's age was readily apparent. As was the fact that he looked a lot like John Sharpe. Sharpe was part of a "Dream Ticket" in Texas. He was running for Lt. Governor, Ron Kirk was running for the US Senate. If you never heard about that, click here for the BBC story but note the BBC gets it wrong. Ron Kirk was never "man of the people." As mayor of Dallas he was bought and paid for Big Money. The most populated area in Texas is the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Kirk didn't even run commercials there. He also campaigned when he felt like it.

The ticket flopped. Democratic 'leadership' heard of it and that's why Bill Richardson was never going to be on the ticket. Tony Sanchez -- whom Texas community members say is the only one who had guts -- was also part of that 2002 Dream Ticket. True or false, the perception of 'leadership' is that Latino Sanchez and African-American Kirk cancelled each other in terms of support (with Latinos supporting Sanchez and African-Americans supporting Kirk but neither group stronly supporting the other candidate). True or false, 'leadership' states that is proof of the so-called Black-Brown divide.

The idea of a Latino serving under Obama, we were told, would strike some not as progressive, but as repression. If that theory is true (we don't buy it), one has to wonder how Biden being on the ticket under Barack will strike some groups?

So focused on the so-called Brown-Black divide was 'leadership,' they never questioned that.

Also worth noting, in the much played clips of the two with their wives, Michelle Obama again demonstrated she does not know how to dress wearing some fussy floral pattern when a solid would have been more effective and certainly looked as if it hadn't been made from a slip cover. Clothes are an issue when you wear something that bleeds on camera.

In other news, 34 years after Time magazine declared the newly elected Senator Biden a 'face for the future,' he's presumably on a presidential ticket. Remember that when you think you're about ready to stop laughing at Biden echoing Barack's slogan of, "This is our time!"

Barack, the little s**t

Barack Obama's a little s**t.

It's a point Paul Krugman makes a lot more delicately as he regularly notes that Barack refuses to give Bill Clinton credit for anything in speech after speech. No where is that more evident than in his "15th Anniversy of FMLA" going into effect comments. Four paragraphs that never once mention Bill Clinton. "Fifteen years ago today," Barack's statement begins, "working families everywhere achieved a victory when the Family and Medical Leave Act went into effect." But not such a victory ("groundbreaking law, he later says) that it's important to note who signed into law apparently.

In 1992, Bill Clinton campaigned on the Family Medical Leave Act. Not only was it stressed in campaign stops, Putting People First (by "Gov. Bill Clinton & Sen. Al Gore") promised (page 101), "Sign into law the Family and Medical Leave Act, which George Bush vetoed in 1990, so that no worker is forced to choose between keeping his or her job and caring for a newborn child or sick family member." In his June 2nd Democratic Party primary victory speech, he spoke of women "who worry about how they can balance the demands of motherhood and work, how they can do right by their children. Well, I'll tell you one thing, if we had a President who would sign instead of veto the Family and Medical Leave Act, they'd be better off. And I'm going to give that to them." He returned to the topic in his DNC acceptance speech, noting of the first Bush, "He won't give mothers and fathers the timple chance to take some time off from work when a baby is born or a parent is sick, but I will." And Bill Clinton kept that promise and deserves credit for the Family Medical Leave Act.

Bill Clinton writes of it frequently in his book My Life such as on page 273, when he includes this while writing about the birth of his daughter Chelsea:

The Rose firm gave Hillary four months of paternal leave to get Chelsea off to a good start. Because I was the boss, I could control when I went to the office, so I arranged my work to be home a lot in those first few months. Hillary and I talked often about how fortunate we were to have that critical time to bond with Chelsea. Hillary told me that most other advanced countries provided paid paternal leave to all citizens, and we believed that other parents should have the same priceless opportunity we'd had. I thought about those first months with Chelsea in February 1993, when I signed my first bill into law as President, the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows most American workers three months off when a baby is born or a family member is ill. By the time I left office, more than thirty-five million Americans had taken advantage of the law. People still come up to me, tell me their stories, and thank me for it.

Hillary Clinton also notes it frequently in her book Living History and we'll zoom in on this from page 383:

The first piece of legislation Bill signed into law in 1993 was the Family and Medical Leave Act, sponsored by Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, which allowed millions of working people to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for family emergencies or to care for a family member who was sick, without fear of losing their jobs. Millions of Americans took advantage of the protections of the law and discovered the profound difference it made in their lives. A woman in Colorado wrote me that her husband had recently died of congestive heart failure after several years of illness. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, she had been able to take time off from work to transport him to doctor appointments and hospital visits, and to comfort him at the end. She did not have to spend the critical last months of her husband's life worrying that she would not have a job after he died.

No credit to Bill for it from Barack. Yeah, Barack's a real little s**t.


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

"I Hate The War" -- C.I.'s Thursday entry, the most requested highlight by readers of this site. If we could speak freely we'd explain (at length) what Katrina did to get so much focus in a piece by C.I.

"Pesto in the Kitchen" -- Trina had one promise to herself after last week, no crying at the keyboard. We loved her post before this. But we understand why she did not want to go into that again.

"Nader Rally and Cathy Pollit sums herself up" -- Betinna tries so hard to get the word out on Ralph and all the thanks she ever gets is weirdos from The Nation showing up at her door.

"ralph and barack's guessing game" -- Rebecca explains how Barack blew it with the v.p. announcement and floats some speculation.

"Ain't I an American Woman? (prose poem)" -- Marcia lets it rip. Marcia, "Consider this my early Richard Pryor post. I thank Kat who cheered the idea on when I mentioned it to her. I thank C.I. who encouraged me to write whatever I felt. I also say thank you for an e-mail. I thank Rebecca, Elaine, Ruth, Trina, Mike and Wally who listened to me read the thing out loud as I was working on it." The e-mail? C.I. sent it Thursday after we spoke and asked me not to open it until I did the post. It was a very encouraging e-mail and also noted that in two weeks I might want to do a new post where I take this post and smooth it out. Which I will most likely do."

"NoBama Now and Forever" -- Kat explaining the sentiment community wide.

"corey hart's 'never surrender'," "Stevie Nicks' 'Edge of Seventeen'," "Tracey Chapman's 'Fast Car'," "Ashford & Simpson 'High Rise'," "Cyndi Lauper" and "Tina Turner, Bangles, R.E.M." -- Rebecca, Ruth, Kat, Marcia, Elaine and Mike explore 80s music in their Wednesday night theme posts.

"No, it's not news" & "THIS JUST IN! IT'S NEWS BECAUSE THEY SAY IT IS!" -- Cedric and Wally corner Amy Goodman to ask her to explain how something qualifies as "news" when other things don't.

"Open the debates" -- Ruth reviews why the debates need to be opened.

"Kiss my Black ass, Alice Walker" -- Marcia explains why Alice Walker is off her reading list.

"Nader and the self-destructing Dems" -- Elaine explains how Nader doesn't hurt the Democrats, the Dems hurt themselves. (And seem to enjoy it.)

"Nader, Third" -- Mike breaks down last week's edition.

"Biddy-baby whines again" & "THIS JUST IN! BIG WHINY BABY BARACK!" -- Cedric and Wally suffer through another interview with Sister Baracka.

"John McCain and campaign threatened" -- Kat's common sense post that we all enjoyed.
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