Sunday, September 14, 2008

Truest statement of the week

At the same time, our numbers were smaller than they need to be, than they should have been and than many of us were hoping they’d be. I want to talk bluntly and honestly about this and what we should make of this. I write for Revolution newspaper and this is something I've been writing about. I did an article recently, "The Dangerous Logic of Blocking Protests in the Name of Getting Obama Elected." This has been going on. People maybe have heard some of the groups talk about having an "inside/outside strategy." As World Can't Wait was working to help build these protests we talked to a lot of people who said, "Oh yeah, we're glad you're organizing street protests against a new war on Iran, against the war in Iraq. We'll be there too--and we'll be doing our inside strategy." That is, trying to influence the Democratic Party from within the convention and by appealing to delegates.But in reality what's been happening is that a lot of these so-called "anti-war" groups and "anti-war" leaders have been demobilizing protest. They have been working on their "inside strategy" but they have done nothing to mobilize protests out in the streets to oppose this direction that can be seen by the world.
I know Recreate '68 had to go up against this. I'm going to be really blunt because it matters. United for Peace and Justice, Leslie Cagan, she said maybe we should call off the protest today and advocated instead that we should mingle with the delegates. I'm all for going and talking to delegates…in order to get them to join us in the streets, okay? But Code Pink, Progressive Democrats of America, where were they today?

-- World Can't Wait's Sunsara Taylor, "The world could be radically different and it’s time we start talking about real change" (Revolution).

Truest statement of the Week II

This truest has been deleted by Ty 1-15-09. The man turned out to be a racist. He exposed himself as such on 1-15-09. We regret and apologize that we were not aware of that fact until now. We are deleting him.

Truest statement of the week III

I want to say something else, because this has had a real impact. We have to confront this. The Nation came out with an open letter to Barack Obama. And a lot of very courageous people who have rightfully earned the respect of the people for their stands against the war and the Bush program signed this letter and this was a mistake and it’s done harm. This letter says, among other things, that there are many, many people who gave grown alienated from politics-as-usual who have found hope again in Barack Obama, and the letter casts this as a good thing. This is not a good thing. People are right to get disaffected. The question is not how do we get people to believe and how do we use our anti-war credentials to make Barack Obama more palatable. The question is, how do we go out to people and tell them the truth about what it's really going to take to stop all the things that made them alienated in the first place.Including the fact that Obama is not going to stop this program. Sure, he's different in some flavors or varieties than McCain. I'm not contesting that. But those differences are about how to run an empire, that’s what he's auditioning to do. And it's time for people to confront this reality. We do not bridge this gap by going with the grain, appealing to the false hope that he's capturing people in. We deal with this by going against the grain, by telling people the truth that they need to hear: that Obama doesn’t represent the change you need, he represents the change that the system will allow you to believe in.

-- World Can't Wait's Sunsara Taylor ("The world could be radically different and it’s time we start talking about real change," Revolution).

A note to our readers

Hey --

The edition is finally up.

Along with Dallas, here's who worked on it:

Along with Dallas, the following worked on this edition:

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,

We thank everyone. Let's go over what we have.

Truest statement of the week -- Sunsara Taylor's remarks are from a transcript of a speech delivered. We know this one will be the big hit with readers. She references an article she wrote and we attempted to locate a link but couldn't. If anyone has the link and wants to e-mail it ( feel free.

Truest statement of the Week II -- This is Joseph Cannon and it's from a kick-ass post. You want to read what leads up to that statement.

Truest statement of the week III -- Sunsara Taylor again because when we called out that open letter to The Nation the e-mail response was "No one else will." Someone else did.

Editorial: Raw emotions (Ava and C.I.) -- Okay, here's where I (Jim) break down the edition. First, Ty told me I'd mispelled the headline on this and that reader Jamie had pointed that out. Thanks for catching that Jamie. I've corrected it. Elaine was with us this weekend and she pointed out that a large number of pieces we'd written weren't going online. Looking at them, we realized she was right and that they'd go in the print edition only because we had to get that out. So we decided to break up. Dona looked at the list we had of articles to write. She assigned Ava and C.I. one topic (this) and told Mike and the gang to go work on highlights while she, Ty, Jess and myself worked on another piece. Ava and C.I. weren't sure what was expected from them and brought this back with doubts. I got to paragraph seven (reading it out loud) and said, "This is the editorial." There was some discussion about breaking it up in to two pieces or having all of us rewrite it as an editorial but Elaine pointed out (a) it's late, (b) everyone's tired and (c) rewriting Ava and C.I. would result in the piece being weakened. We all agreed and decided to make it the editorial as is and to post immediately. Everything else could (and did) wait. We then crashed, woke up this evening and took Elaine out to eat and then onto the airport to catch her flight home.

TV: The Fringes -- This made it up before Fringe started airing on the West Coast. I point that out because Ava and C.I. were saying this morning it needed to go up then. It mentions Fringe. Already excited readers have grabbed on to the "midseason" remark. So Third will continue after the election? Ava and C.I. said they just agreed without thinking but since they did and since it's up (they agreed to a writer for Fringe's request to hold off on a full review until the mid-season) they'll committ to this site through the start of January. That's only for this site. No one (including C.I.) has made any decision regarding their own sites. Since Ava and C.I. are willing to go to January, we (Dona, Ty, Jess and myself) gladly agree to as well. Now, if readers, can get beyond that unplanned announcement, focus on this powerful piece.

The new age of privacy? -- This tackles a number of issues and, in terms of backstory, we contacted Joshua Frank and the publisher of Dissident Voice for this piece. We orginally contacted the publisher twice with no reply. At which point, C.I. said we should contact Joshua in case the publisher was out of pocket. We did and not only did Joshua bring it to the publisher's attention he wrote a very thoughtful e-mail. C.I. argued that Joshua did not have all the facts at that point and may not have wanted to have written at length if he had. For that reason, C.I. declared Joshua's e-mail off limits for quoting unless we heard from him that it was fine to quote from. The publisher also wrote a very thoughtful e-mail. There was nothing in it that said, "Quote me." We contacted DV stating we were seeking a quotation for publication. We did the same with 15 bloggers (some who were professional journalists before they ever went online, some of whom weren't). We followed up to their replies to be sure that they knew we were asking for quotes. We didn't recive a "sure quote me" or "well just quote me on ___" from anyone. If any of the above e-mails stating they wished to be quoted, we will quote them next week. We thank everyone who replied. We thank community members who agreed to be interviewed. We killed some of their quotes we wanted to include because they really required a response that we didn't have permission to quote from (though we had the response in the e-mails from the bloggers).

The UN's embarrassment in Iraq -- Ava and C.I. were still writing what became the editorial when we started this. Backstory my father called Saturday and asked if I'd seen C.I.'s "Naeema al-Gasseer: the United Nations' embarrassment in Iraq"? Yeah, I was reading that over C.I.'s shoulder as it was written. My father said that needed to be a topic here. I agreed and we put it on the list. He said everyone he works with is offended by what the UN allowed. That didn't surprise me because C.I. only wrote about it because three reporters called C.I. to complain about that press conference. So with Ava and C.I. working on the editorial, we all started work on this. It was a strong piece. However, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, C.I. and I reworked it this evening before it went up due to the fact that my father called passing on the IRIN story and with more rants. (Deserved rants. I think every reporter would find what went down offensive.)

Meet Charley Johnson 'Journalist' -- We could have rewritten this. My father is younger than Charley Johnson. We make the point that for his stated age, Johnson is using some terms that a professional reporter wouldn't. I went over the list of 16 terms we'd found at Johnson's site with my father. He's much younger than Johnson and said he didn't even know anyone his age who would be writing "bro" and "BFF" if they were a trained journalist. If you doubt that, read Danny Schechter sometime. Schechter is not my father. He's probably a little younger than Johnson. He is a professional journalist with many credits to his name. So go check out Danny Schechter News Dissector and look for Schechter tossing around "BFF" and "bro" and assorted other lingo that's a little bit current. You won't find it. Then Google Charley and pull up his site. Go to the June and July archives (when his site started) and note the terminology he repeatedly uses. We do not believe there is a Lucille. We further argue that a journalist does not make such a claim without more than one source. We also argue that a backup source is not handed to you by someone who pays their salary. It's not journalism.

Sarah Sewell & Her Cult -- This is what Ty, Jess, Dona and I worked on when Ava and C.I. went off to work on what became the editorial. Due to Gutter Trash, we're not responding to e-mails from people we don't know. Last Monday, to address a point in the e-mails that morning, Ty wrote "CounterSpin's wrong, Ava and C.I. are correct" (and posted it with last week's edition). This falls into the same category. The Cult of Sarah will not go away. Have they ever missed a week inventing a new reason why we should take down a TV commentary by Ava and C.I.? We can't remember it. And they were back last week. That's your response, Cult.

Highlights -- Mike, Kat, Betty, Wally, Marcia, Cedric, Ruth, Rebecca and Elaine wrote this and we thank them for it. They worked on this while Ava and C.I. were doing the editorial and they came back to work on the Iraq piece with us.

So that's what we got.

See you next weekend.

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

Editorial: Raw emotions (Ava and C.I.)

[Jim note: This was a feature article we asked Ava and C.I. to write. It became something much more and we've decided to make it the editorial. We're posting it early so something is up and I'll go into it more in my note to the readers this edition.]

Last week's edition featured the following articles: "Editorial: The Sour Grape Girls," "The Palin effect" and "Whose Media Center?" and we (Ava and C.I.) were assigned the update.

In terms of updates, last week Women's Media Center highlighted Republicans for Choice's Ann E. W. Stone -- a good move towards ensuring that sexism is not seen as a partisan issue. Last week also saw Feminist Wire Daily call out sexism against Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton:

Donny Deutsch recently made sexist comments about Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin and former Democratic Presidential contender Hillary Clinton. Deutsch appeared on CNBC's Squawk the Street (Watch the video here) and made several misogynistic comments including praising Palin for earning respect through her ability to make men 'want to mate with her' and calling Senator Clinton's loss in the Democratic Primaries a direct result of the fact that she 'didn't put a skirt on.'"

Before we forget, Jess asked us to highlight "Sarah Palin socks it to the prigs" which was noted in an e-mail from a reader.

Which brings us to "The Palin effect" and how, as published last week, was not what was written in full. The piece cuts off. (You'll note the computer jargon in the last paragraph published. We have no idea why that happened. It happens from time to time and, when it does, it wipes out everything typed after.) Jim's "A note to our readers" refers to a highlight sent in by Dee Dee being in that article. It was in the now lost section. The highlight was Leela's "Bullshit Feministing - Sara Palin was an Excellent GOP Choice" (Feministing).

A few comments on that. First, thank you to Dee Dee for finding that post and e-mailing to ask that it be highlighted. Second, read what Leela's saying. We don't agree with her view of Democrats. We do, however, know where's she's coming from on that view. Her view is the sort of thing that can start a conversation. It may never bring feminists into one political party's tent (we don't think that should be a goal of the feminist movement short of a feminist party being started), but conversations can illuminate and increase our understandings.

Leela is obviously upset (first hint, her title), so even though we disagree with her view of the Democratic Party (re: Socialism), we would have first registered that she was upset and then attempted to engage. That didn't really happen on the thread and we'll assume that was due to the anger/ill will her view caused others.

But here's the reality: some people do see the Democratic Party as a Socialist Party. Some people see the Republican Party as an Evangelical Party. Neither belief is accurate but to understand each other, we need to understand where we are all coming from.

If we had been posting comments to Leela's article, we would have asked her to expand on the whys of her views. We're fully aware we wouldn't have changed her mind (nor would that be our goal). We're also aware we would have understood her a little better and she would have hopefully understood where we come from across the aisle.

Leela wrote a great piece and we applaud her for it.

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't gather 'round the campfire. And, you know what, sometimes those type of pieces are the last thing the feminist movement needs.

With the exception of one comment, we thought we could gauge where the ones leaving comments were coming from and could understand them.

With the exception of one?

What does Rebecca say? Isn't it always a man?

Well isn't it?

A man posted a comment and (at least two Saturdays ago) not one of the women called him out on it. He spoke of how he'd hook up with a "welfare queen" and have a bunch of kids and then get her elected to office and blah blah blah. Now maybe everyone was operating under the Don't-Feed-The-Trolls motto, but his comments were the only thing objectionable that we saw.

We saw Leela very upset (and we can understand that) and we saw a number of women very upset with Leela (which we can also understand) but mainly we saw an attempt at an honest feminist discussion.

Regardless of whether this is true at Feministing or not (we don't go to the site), across the country there is very real anger among feminists of all ages over what has gone down in 2008. If feminism is going to make strong strides in 2009 (feminism never dies but some years it makes small strides and some years it make great strides), it's really going to require what Leela and the feminists leaving comments did. It's going to have to leave behind the notion that we're all going to agree on everything and it's going to have to leave behind the idea that, feminist-to-feminist, we can't talk openly and on our own terms (even terms that aren't 'pretty' or 'nice'). Feelings will get hurt. But, feminist-to-feminist, we're going to have to expect that and learn to hear each other out.

The mood in the country (among feminists) is too raw for the conversation to be elevated to the highest tone. All that will be gained from that is a band-aid over a gaping wound.

And guess what, all of us, at some point or another, make a very non-feminist statement. And, feminist-to-feminist, that can be pointed out. What should not happen is saying, "Oh, you said that, so you're not a feminist!" If we're smart, we'll grasp just how raw the emotions are right now and allow -- in feminist spaces -- that somethings need to be said and that when things are suppressed (as they have been for most of 2008), they don't always surface for the first time in the prettiest of language.

The power of what's known as "the second wave" of feminism (more like the 400th wave) came from "clicking," from women trying to put words to their experiences and feelings and, in doing so, talking about something supposedly 'just personal,' setting off recognition in other women that established it wasn't a personal or individual issue, it was an issue that effected many women. To get to those moments, there had to be a very real freedom in the language. It offended some (like The Ego of Us All who loathed that women discussed, for example, the clitoris) but it was needed.

And the calls for equal representation in employment and in the media (and the very real actions which included occupying magazine offices) were built on the foundation of recognition that the raw sharing provided.

Last week, Barack Obama's comments got some attention but a number of people (including some women) rushed in to declare that Barack wasn't being sexist. It was just words, it was just common expressions.

That's really not honest.

We heard that "lipstick on a pig" was just an expression. And, you'll note, we didn't hear the other comment. We rarely heard it in the coverage and women denying that Barack had used sexism certainly didn't include what followed "lipstick on a pig." The next comment was, "'You can, you can, wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change, it's still going to stink after 8 years. We've had enough of the same old thing." That's an ugly thing to say and we can understand a reluctance to go there.

But, as Trina notes (and as Ruth noted with regards to another working in 'fish' when 'discussing' Palin), we all know what it means. We've all heard the 'joke' in one variation or another.

We can all play dumb and all pretend we don't know what that was about.

But the reality is we do know what it was about.

Let's all take a deep breath and admit that, unless you've never broken a sweat in your life, at some point any and every part of your body has smelled bad, including, yes, your vagina.

And if we're all breathing deeply, and not freaking out, straight women can also admit that men's penises? They don't all smell like roses. And if we can be really honest, straight women can admit that more than once we've gone down on a man (or attempted to) when we've nearly gagged -- no, fellas, not from your size, from the intense Crackatoa order.

But there aren't a lot of Crackatoa jokes and, heaven forbid, any straight woman point out that not all penises smell the same as the rest of a man's body. All women, however, have been the butt of fish 'jokes' forever. Why did one gender become the butt of jokes and another get off with a pass? Who's been allowed to define the norm? Which gender created the 'standard'?

Now in this round of truth or dare, we're fully aware some women want to throw up goose eggs right now and insist "Not me." So let's go on record as saying, there have been days when not only have our vaginas not smelled so-fresh, they've flat out stunk. So if it helps you, you can say, "Well, it's never happened to me, but Ava and C.I. -- and I'm sure other women -- have had this problem . . ."

But pretending what happened didn't happen isn't accomplishing anything.

As we long ago noted, Barack is the uh-uh-uh king and that may have led some to believe he was just tossing out remarks off the top of his head. Now we got a heads up before the remarks and were told (by a friend on his staff) that Barack was "cutting loose" and it would be "funny" (and certainly the audience present found it funny). But for those who want to believe that Barack was just talking off the top of his head, you need to realize that, as Joseph (Cannonfire) explains, "His comments were cribbed -- word for word -- from a Washington Post cartoon. Why is Obama allowed to plagiarize when others are not?" The remarks leading up to the lipstick and fish remark were, word for word, from a cartoon. Not only were they from a cartoon, but Barack (as he always does) trips up in speaking and gets ahead of himself, at which point, he has to back it up:

Exc-and-and so I guess his whole angle is 'Watch out, George Bush. Except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy and Karl Rove style politics, we're really going to shake things up in Washington."

Catch it? He started to go to "Except for . . ." before it was time to. He caught himself and backed it up to include all of his well rehearsed lines. It was scripted and it was rehearsed. But for those of you who want to ignore that, there's also the issue of playing field.

When Sarah Palin became the v.p. nominee of the GOP, the playing field changed. Just as it did when Barack became the Democratic nominee. On that, Republicans know (or should) they cannot refer to "dark plans" or "voodoo economics" or utilize any number of phrases they might with a White candidate. Whether they intended to be racist or not, the GOP is (or should be) aware that phrases involving color, stereotypes or what have you will be judged with the context of Barack's race. By the same token, Palin being a woman means that Barack and Biden's remarks will be judged with an eye on her gender.

So for those who need to insist the remarks were unscripted and that no harm was intended, too bad. The playing field changed.

Now Barack has a long history of insulting women. To deal only with 2008 we've already had to endure his sexist comments about Hillary ("the claws come out," "periodically when she's feeling low," etc.). Since Palin was announced as John McCain's running mate, Team Obama (including Barack) has belittled her as a "mayor" when she is in fact a governor. They started that nonsense the day of the announcement.

It has continued.

Barack declared September 4th, "I think she's got a compelling story, but I assume she wants to be treated the way guys want to be treated, which mean the records are under scrutiny. I've been through this for 19 months, she's been through it for what - four days?"

He assumes she wants to be treated the way guys want to be treated? If one of Barack's opponents had said of him, "I assume he wants to be treated the way White men want to be treated, which means records are under scrutiny," you think people wouldn't have rightly called that remark racism? If you're missing his attempt to 'man up' against Palin, he followed that by declaring, "I've been called worse on the basketball court." Oh, you big, strong man!

"Barack Running Scared"

If you're not grasping what he was doing then, you might want to review the comments to Kenneth R. Baznet's New York Daily News report which include, "this crazy bit*h got some nerve," "light weight heffa" and "Can't even keep her own kid legs close. How in **** is she going to run a country." One thing that most can agree is that Barack knows the power of words and knows how to utilize them for a response. He got the response he hoped for. (Or as his team declared after deploying homophobia in South Carolina, "We got what we wanted.")

And you can ignore it or even condone it because Barack's so damn important to you, or you can admit what's happening and grasp that the fish and pig 'jokes' did not come out of nowhere.

Feminism would be better off grasping what's going on. As offensive as Barack's 'assume she wants to be treated like a man' comments were, Friday's NOW on PBS, featured Drew Westen proposing that Joe Biden open with something similar in his debate with Palin, that he point out to everyone that Palin is a woman and then say that he's going to treat her the same as he would a man. Drew Weston thinks that's 'progressive'? It's sounds like sexism to us.

[Note this coming Friday's NOW on PBS will be an hour long special broadcast and will examine women -- in the electorate and in office.]

Now maybe everyone's decided to take Katha Pollitt's stated oath which she revealed when she felt 'forced' to call out Tom Hayden's latest sexism last April: "I want to do my bit for Obama, so I vowed I would give up attacking Obama-supporting progressives for the duration of the presidential campaign." Guess what, Katha, we don't do our "bit for" feminism by staying silent.
That was in April that she broke (and announced) her vow -- one she's gone back to. So, basically, at the start of the year, Pollitt's admitting, she decided to let sexist attacks from Barack's campaign and his supporters slide until after the election. Wow.

Note that she wasn't planning to bite her tongue for just one week or even one month, she was planning to bite her tongue for nearly a year to do her "bit for Obama." Maybe Katha needs to redefine herself? She's no longer a feminist, she's an Obamist.

In the lost portion of "The Palin effect," we talked about how some women aided the sexist attacks on Hillary. They did that in two ways. First, there was the group that launched them -- thereby allowing men to join in and say, "Hey, it's not sexist. ____ said the same thing." Second, there was the group that stayed silent.

Hillary's feminist credentials were repeatedly ignored (or dismissed by the likes of Laura Flanders -- you know, the lesbian who couldn't call out Barack for using homophobia in South Carolina though she could write a 'plea' to him to stop embracing torture). To be honest, Sarah Palin's not our kind of feminist. But she does self-define as such and with the feminist movement so eager to be inclusive and so reluctant to set down basics (for those who've forgotten, feminist 'voices' treated it as a victory when Laura Bush self-described as such), Palin not only has the right to use the term, she has the right to be seen as such.

When you think of feminists online, you may think first of the site that hates feminists: The Daily Toilet Scrubber whose owner soiled his Fruit-of-the-Looms when he was called out for featuring sexist advertising and dismissed all those "women's studies" majors. A curious side of the Barack groupies in the press is their repeated insistence that people complaining about the treatment Palin's received are seeing things that just aren't there.

While we'd prefer to never speak of it at all, silence isn't doing good. So, briefly, The Daily Toilet Toilet Scrubber launched attacks on Palin (picked up and amplified elsewhere) that insisted her son Trig Palin was not her son but was her grandson and that she was lying. She'd faked the whole pregnancy! Not content with that lie, last week they started spreading rumors about who was the father-to-be of her teenage daughter's pregnancy.

They certainly are concerned with the fertility of the Palin family but sexists usually are, now aren't they?

Palin doesn't believe in abortion and states that is due to her religious beliefs. The Daily Toilet Scrubber has attacked abortion rights and his site's actions with regards to Palin indicate it has nothing to do with religion but has everything to do with control of women's bodies.

Why else put a non-adult through the crap they're putting Bristol Palin through?

Do grown adults really think it is either their right or duty to repeatedly discuss the pregnancy of a young girl they neither know nor care about?

What's really going on is someone is hissing "slut" at you as you walk down the hall in high school. Let's not kid and let's not pretend.

Barack hasn't called any of that out. He's made his weak-ass statement that families should be off-limits but when his biggest online supporter (support group?) regularly traffics in sexist attacks, he just acts like it's not happening and so do his groupies in the press.

Barack didn't discover sexism this month. His campaign was run on it. Michelle Obama was making snide remarks in November 2007 about how could Hillary (left unnamed) run the White House if she couldn't even run her own house (referring to Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky)?

The most innocent (and accurate) remarks results in Team Obama screaming racism such as when Bill Clinton rightly called 'anti-war' Barack Obama's self-presentation on the Iraq War a "fairy tale." And yet a mountain of sexism on the part of Barack, his campaign and his supporters never gets pointed out.

That's why nerves are so raw around the country.

Feminists keep waiting to see our 'leaders' take action and we're still waiting. To stick with NOW on PBS, they did cover what Hillary's run meant for women (they featured a mother and daughter with one supporting Hillary and the other supporting Barack). Ask yourself what other program even acknowledged the historic nature of Hillary's run? Bill Moyers Journal? No. Week after week, America got superficial segments on race and non-stop praise from Moyers about Barack's historic run. (It really was historic -- he is the first bi-racial person we're aware of that's run for president. It's a real shame he refused to claim that history. But it's been a slow walk away from bi-racial -- which he once claimed -- as he's advanced in elected office. It wasn't all that long ago that he was explaining to Columbia's alumni newsletter that he was "African American" as opposed to "African-American" because he was honoring both countries and both races and explaining that he "identified" with both.) But despite having an hour each week, Moyers never (not even during Women's History Month) found time to explore Hillary's historic run.

As we noted in June, frequent Moyers' guest Dr. Kathy (Kathleen Hall Jamieson) wanted to tell The New York Times that "the problem" (sexism) was confined to "cable and the blogosphere" and yet the reality was not only did Bill Moyers choose to re-broadcast one of the most offensive moments from MSNBC (Jesse Jackson Jr. calling Hillary vain and implying she was a racist and a fraud) but Dr. Kathy was present to provide 'expert analysis' when Moyers did so and she didn't say a damn thing. Moyers had already declared that he didn't know whether the moment where Hillary's eyes moistened ("moisty" he called it) was genuine or not and then decided to let the audience decide for themselves -- not by playing video of that moment but by playing Junior's attack on her. Moyers really wanted to let viewers decide? In what world is that believable? And in what world does Dr. Kathy just sit there (as she did) and not call out the attack on Hillary?

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

That's the lies of Junior's from MSNBC. Dr. Kathy didn't call out. Moyers didn't play the actual moment. (If he had, viewers would have seen Hillary's eyes moisten when she was speaking about the direction of the country.)

Yes, MSNBC is a sewer. No, it is not the only one that utilized sexism. And feminists around the country are wondering what is the point in a "feminist media" when everyone's playing Katha Pollitt and biting their tongues?

Last week saw many call out sexism. And the response was appalling. Barack gave a lousy, brief remark where he indicated that the topic was so unworthy, he shouldn't even have to address it.
From CNN (text and video), this is Barack: "We have real problems in this country right now. The American people are looking to us for answers, not distractions, not diversions, not manipulations. They want real answers to the real problems we are facing." Sexism isn't a real problem?

We guess it's just something in our heads, huh? We're imagining it. Maybe we're just moody because we're on the rag, is that it?

Barack's comments offended some people and instead of apologizing for them, he had to insist it was a "distraction." Not surprising after Katharine Q. Seelye and Julie Bosman (New York Times) reported in June that Barack defender and US House Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz was saying Barack wasn't going to address sexism, "She said Mr. Obama had no specific plans for a speech on sexism, partly because he already incorporates themes of discrimination as a societal problem into his speeches." Of course he had. If you believe that sexism doesn't warrant a discussion.

Think about PBS and all their commentaries on racism this year -- going far beyond Moyers. And think about how sexism wasn't a topic, wasn't a mini-series. There's never time to address sexism and it's just a "distraction" according to Barack. And he gets away with it.

Not only does he, but Ralph Nader showed up on Friday (and we're not participating in any Ralph feature -- if one is done -- this weekend in protest to his comments) to declare, "What was the number one issue in the Presidential horse race for the past couple of days? Answer: Lipstick."

No, Ralph, it wasn't about "lipstick," it was about sexism. And you run off supporters when you come off dismissive. (That's not to suggest that we're voting for Nader. We have not said who we will vote for. We will not vote for Barack or McCain. That is noting there has been fallout from Ralph's remark.) Not only was it dismissive, it was flat-out stupid for a campaign attempting to get media attention. Had Ralph said something, anything, to call it out, he would have gotten some media attention. You had the McCain camp swearing it was sexism and the Obama camp insisting it wasn't. When another campaign wades into the waters on something like that, it can get attention if they make strong remarks. Ralph chose instead to dismiss it.

Why is it a raw nerve around the country? For reasons like that. For reasons including Laura Flanders' idiotic appearance on KPFA last week where she insisted White women voters who had been supporting Barack or leaning towards him now supporting McCain were racists. They've never addressed the sexism in 2008 and keep going in circles crying "Racism!" over and over. And White women they attack non-stop.

You saw that take place in January. It continues. Women of color get rendered invisible which might strike some as kinder but it has pissed off Latinas and Asian-American women who supported Hillary in large numbers and had to repeatedly hear from Flanders and other crackpots at The Nation that Hillary's support was all White. (Hillary won the Latino community in every state but Barack's home state and there she just barely lost it.) They can't be honest about that because they're not usually comfortable calling Latinos and Asian-Americans "racists." (They made an exception when Hillary won Puerto Rico and Amy Goodman and others launched an attack.)

Laura Flanders could babble on about racism (the White, British Flanders) yet again and yet never say a word about sexism. No surprise, this is the woman who went on KPFA as an 'analyst' for Barack and Hillary's Texas debate and repeatedly referred to Hillary's laugh as a "cackle." (She also refused to inform listeners that she -- like all the other 'analysts' on the program -- had endorsed Barack publicly.) Now that everyone's ignoring Grit TV, Laura's showing up in any women's media that will have her to promote her bad TV show. But the reality is she's used non-stop sexism in 2008 and it's really appalling to read about her in various women's media without seeing that point made. She needs us (women) to make her show something other than a failure but it's a one-way street she's offering: Support me because I'm a woman but don't count on me to call out sexism.

Again, emotions are raw and they're raw for a reason. Sexism has been repeatedly dismissed throughout 2008 and not just by men, by women as well. It's not a worthy topic. Or at least, while doing your "bit for Barack," it's not important enough to call out. Funny, we believe feminism has changed and will change the world. And we don't go into self-imposed exiles for any candidate.

[Illustration Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barack Running Scared"]

TV: The Fringes

Fringe debuted on Fox last week and re-airs tonight. It's a roller coaster ride that, if you don't pay attention to what's actually happening, will move quick enough to keep you entertained. If you pay attention, you'll most likely be repeatedly outraged.

When we shared that judgment with a writer for the show, we were asked to wait until the mid-season to review the show (changes are promised -- don't believe it). We're more than happy to wait because the fringe was what really interested us. Not the show, not the writing, the fringe. Or, as some might call it, the lunatic fringe.


Which brings us naturally to Democracy Now! Lat week, Goody aired a segment entitled "Following Disparaging Comments at RNC, Community Organizers Respond to Republican Attacks on Their Profession" and the real question is: What was the point?

Amy Goodman explained that Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani had "undermined" and "made fun of" Barack's non-stop reference to having briefly been a failed community organizer. She brought on John Raskin who was among those offended by the remarks. Remarks?

"He said you can only go so far in organizing. You help people get some solutions, but it's never as big as wiping away problems." Golly, what an insult to community organizers from Rudy G. Thing is, that's not Rudy speaking. That's Michael Evans ("a DCP organizer") speaking of Barack for David Moberg's "Obama's Community Roots" (The Nation, April 16, 2007). So in other words, Barack stated community organizing wasn't the same as elected office?

At the age of twenty-two, Barack graduated from Columbia University. He then struggled in the corporate world (Business International Corporation being one of his failed jobs). In June 1985, he began his brief stint as a community organizer (at the age of 24 and he would continue as such until May 1988). As a community organizer, his work with Gamaliel Foundation would provide funds for him to travel to Kenya and meet his father's family finally. That's a nice scholarship/gift for someone who would leave the organization shortly after cashing in on the trip to Kenya.

Barack was a failure as a community organizer and his disenchantment with community organizing is why he quit and went to Harvard Law School (see, most recently, John B. Judas' "Creation Myth," The New Republic -- and pay attention to Barack's remarks two years after he left community organizing). His failure was so huge that even starry-eyed Kenneth T. Walsh (US News & World Reports) has to admit, "By Obama's own admission, there were few big victories."

Goodman found time to play Governor Palin explaining, "I guess a small-town mayor is sor of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities." Goodman left out the declaration that "community organizing was too localized and too small.” A clip of that does exist only it's Barack saying it, saying it on The Charlie Rose Show in November of 2007.

John Raskin would declare, "I cringe whenever I hear Sarah Palin or Rudy Giuliani say that." As usual, Barack's own remarks are left out of the picture. And, hate to break it to Raskin, a community organizer and a mayor do not have the same or similar responsibilities. One can, as Barack did, walk away whenever they like.

Goodman asked Raskin to explain community organizing and he (and she) failed. They failed because they've yet to grasp that the entire country is not NYC and doesn't want to be. They failed because they're so insulated in their own little worlds they couldn't grasp why Barack's failure might be worthy of a laugh, let alone what a mystery 'professional' community organizer Raskin strikes some people as.

And it's not just people across the country ("the unenlightened masses," as Goody might call them) that suffered from confusion. Shira Boss-Bicak notes in "Barack Obama '83" (Columbia College Today): "Upon graduating from Columbia, Obama attempted a career as a community organizer. He wrote that when classmates weren't sure what that was, he didn't have a sufficient answer for them." So not only did the 'enlightened' students of Columbia not know "what that was,' Barack wasn't able to explain it to them.

No surprise Goody and Raskin can't either.

So let's leave Snooty-ville and break down what Goody and Raskin couldn't. A community organizer is in every neighborhood of every town or city. They organize and rally for any number of things, from a stop sign or red light, to funding for a library, blocking a Wal-Mart, etc.

But the thing is, outside of the biggest of cities, these community organizers are paid in 'civic pride.' They do it because it is their civic duty and they do it without a paycheck. And thing is, most people grasp that. It's only the Goodys and Raskins who didn't.

Part of the mocking of "Barack community organizer" is that a grown man with a degree from Columbia, wants credit for doing what PTA parents and many others do all the time for free, without payment.

When you're over forty and your resume is scant, you're left to highlight whatever you can which is why Barack and his campaign have repeatedly highlighted "first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review" and "community organizer." In other words, he bloomed early and then faded. (Not unlike his performance this year.)

Palin's mocking of Barack was mocking a failed community organizer whose 'experience' is from over twenty years ago. Three brief years, two decades ago. Repeating, he got payment, he got a trip to Africa out of it. Your neighbor collecting signatures to get a red light at an intersection will most likely never see money let alone trips across the globe for his or her work.

It was a ridiculous segment from Goody and Raskin as neither grasped that people across the country knew damn well what community organizing was. It was the fact that someone would actually take money for it that surprised many in small cities and towns.

Goody being Goody, it was really important for her to interject race in it. (Amusing considering she and the guest she booked were both White. It's always a laugh to hear racism charges from those who practice racism.) She would site NY Governor David Paterson's ridiculous claim of "racial coding."

Which brings us to the other fringe artist, self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders who popped up on KPFA's The Morning Show last week to explain that White women who were going from supporting the Democratic Party to the Republican one were racists. Yes, Laura, toss that lie out because it's really all you have left. You have no credibility (and your 'facts' were laughable) but go the well one more time on "racism." As Joseph Cannon (Cannonfire) observed of those playing that little trick, "Racism, they say. It wasn't anything we said; blame racism. White women shifted to McCain because they're racist. Of course, they weren't racist earlier, when they supported Obama. A virus must have hit earth -- sort of like the one in 28 Days Later, only this virus turned white American women into slobbering bigots."

It's really the only card White Goody and Laura have to play and they've played it non-stop. Barack's support is eroding so it must be racism! But as Cannon points out, these are former supporters that Barack is now losing. Did they just realize Barack was bi-racial?

Along with Barack's repeated caving on issues (the Iraq War, the FISA vote, etc.), there's also his annoying supporters and his annoying campaign. As if US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi declaring Barack a gift from God wasn't annoying enough, US House Rep Steve Cohen surfaced last week to declare, "Barack Obama was a community organizer like Jesus, who our minister prayed about, Pontius Pilate was a governor." So Democrats in the House are now on record as seeing Barack both as a gift from God and as being like Jesus. And Laura Flanders thinks the problem is racism?

Someone get Mel Gibson on the phone and tell him to start prepping The Passion of the Barack!

ABC's Charlie Gibson got the first interview with Sarah Palin. (On PBS' Washington Week, it was stated that Sean Hannity of Fox 'News' would have the next interview.) And how did he prepare? Not very well at all. The interview was broken up so that it could be shown on multiple programs -- Good Morning America, World News Tonight, Nightline. Gibson is now the anchor of World News Tonight so you might assume he would be especially concerned about the segment that aired during that program.

If he was concerned beyond his own hair, it wasn't evident in the broadcast. [Click here for World News Tonight's official transcript, click here for the video.]

Gibson's long walk into Crazyville began with, "You said recently, in your old church, 'Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.' Are we fighting a holy war?" Palin responded, "You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote." Gibson insisted, "Exact words." No, they were not. Nor was the next quote Gibson confronted Palin with, " I take your point about Lincoln's words, but you went on and said, 'There is a plan and it is God's plan'."

Again, Gibson was wrong. Palin stated:

Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan.

She stated that in church. She did not issue that statement from the governor's office. She stated it in the privacy of her own church. In the privacy of her own church, she asked church members to pray for those serving, for the country, for the leaders, and to pray that service members are being sent out "on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is plan and that that plan is God's plan."

It's not a sentiment we agree with but we don't find it shocking. Of course, we're not non-believers dashing down to the Riverside Church every time there's a political action so maybe we're confused as to why so many of the 'left' voices find Palin's statements in her own church so damn shocking.

More confusing is how Charlie Gibson could have ended up misquoting Palin. Was it a deliberate error on his part or just sloppy journalism? (We're told it was a combination. We're told he was provided with the actual quote but was too busy to read through the research and only skimmed it.)

While ABC News couldn't get right what Palin actually said, Sonali Kolhatkar could Friday on KPFK's Uprising and in a world where facts fly out the window, it's especially important to note someone who actually practices journalism.

Goody? Last week she also offered, "Sarah Palin and the Wasilla Church of God," where Esther Kaplan and Frederick Clarkson were invited to offer their opinions on Palin's religion. Neither knew Palin, but that didn't stop them. Equally of interest is the fact that Goody never offered a segment asking what Jeremiah Wright's beliefs meant to Barack Obama. Throughout that sordid tale (after Good Morning America aired the clip of Wright, at the front of the church, damning the United States), we were repeatedly told that it didn't matter, we were repeatedly told that it had no influence on Barack, as late as the DNC convention, DN! was offering a woman saying that everyone disagrees with their pastors on some beliefs.

It was hilarious to hear Esther Kaplan work herself into a frenzy on one of Palin's many pastors over the years: "He has actually talked about it, about his beliefs specifically in relationship to electoral politics, saying in '04 that if people voted for Kerry, he questioned their salvation, saying that if they criticized George Bush, that they--that was a path straight to Hell. No question that she comes from a milieu that really understands politics, electoral politics, in biblical terms." Wow. A church leader taking to the pulpit about an election. Good thing Jeremiah Wright never did that, right? Oh wait, he did. But that went unexamined by DN!, his entire "Hillary ain't never been called a n***er!" speech, delivered from the front of his church, was no cause for alarm. It's apparently only frightening to Kaplan, Goody, et al. when the church leader is a right-winger. How does that work? "Separation of church and state for Republicans only!"? Amazingly, Clarkson has called out the way Barack speaks about religion and politics. Strangely, he's never been invited on to Goody's show to discuss that.

But when it comes to Palin, her religion is not just an okay target, it's one to fiercely pursue.

No one's supposed to notice that or question Barack getting a pass. (For those who have forgotten, with Bill Moyers, Wright likened sodomy to rape, murder, lynching and more earlier this year. Barack used homophobia in South Carolina to scare up votes. Wright's beliefs on same-sex relations and Barack's 20-year attendance of that church do warrant exploring.)

And what are the fringes without Mad TV which has had yet another cast shuffle and still has so damn little to offer. They made their season premiere last night -- which means they'll most likely be back to repeats in two weeks. They did two skits with actors portraying John McCain and Barack Obama. In both skits (one of which involved dancing -- if they can't tie it into a TV show and do a parody, Mad TV has no idea how to even attempt to write a comedy sketch), jokes abounded about McCain's physical disability (due to torture as a POW, he cannot fully raise his arms). It wasn't funny. But it was in keeping with the fringes. Barack was never made fun of. There were no jokes about him. But McCain was ridiculed and mocked.

Saturday Night Live also aired its season opener and, if you missed it, no doubt you will catch all of those sketches mixed into future 'new' broadcasts (as happened last year).

The show opened with a dreadful sketch involving Tina Fey and Amy Polar Bear. Pressure was put on Fey to come in and do the sketch (where she portrayed Sarah Palin and Amy portrayed Hillary). Fey should have said no. The sure to be repeated segment was insulting to women and, as SNL writers told us they intended to do (told us last April), the only 'joke' they have to aim at Democrats is Hillary.

The show would have provided more political 'commentary' and 'jokes' had Barack Obama not backed out at the last minute. We're told they are angry about that (they should be). And they used that last minute change to excuse their very bad show. A high school quiz show was one of the skits. That tired and stale joke has not only been repeated over and over on SNL, it was even transported over to Square Pegs. On the latter, the amazing Jamie Gertz' Muffy Tupperman managed to provide a mnemonic device for remembering the order of presidents: "Rough Tops Eat Kool Jello" -- Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson. SNL provided nothing of lasting value, certainly not laughs.

"Yes, but we had Michael Phelps," insisted one writer over the phone. Hey, SNL chooses who to book as a host and Phelps' biggest problem was not being properly miked (especially during a scene where he played a teenage cousin). Well, the writer insisted, we got some funnies in Weekend Update.

Was a wide-cam being used on Amy Polar Bear? What was up with that? She'd never looked so awful on camera. "But Seth wore a jacket that fit," the writer said in reference to a previous criticism of Meyers that we'd offered. Yes, he did. And he spent the whole Update preening to the camera. When Amy leaves the show, it's time for a completely different Weekend Update team.

"But Amy's Palin jokes were funny," he insisted. They were? We can't even remember them now but remember that one of them offended us.

The season debut was an unremarkable yawn-fest. The commercial about opening jars was clearly always going to be on tonight's schedule (it was taped ahead of time). Guess what? Not funny. It probably read funny. There was a rhythm to the narration. But it played out lifeless. If you missed it and think we're wrong, SNL's very proud of that bit, so you'll have plenty of time to catch it in 'new' episodes this year.

Among the many things that would have helped the skit was the camera zooming in tight on certain lines. The camera work was a disaster throughout the broadcast. We asked did they have new people, what was the deal?

Typical writer, he didn't want to talk about that. Just how funny we thought his lines were.

It wasn't funny. It was tired and stale and that included yet another coach pep-talk scene.

Back to the opening sketch. Not only should Tina Fey have refused the skit because (a) it wasn't funny and (b) it was anti-woman, there's also the fact that Fey has her own damn show. Last year we again noted the deploring number of women in the cast. That really hasn't changed. There's Amy and Kristen and someone as a bonus player ("featured player"). The orginal Not Ready For Prime Timers were Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtain, Dan Ackroyd, John Belushi, Garret Morris and Laraine Newman. (Bill Murray would become part of the cast when Chevy departed.) Seven cast members and almost half were women. (Only one was a person of color. The same statistic for this season.) This year's cast has three addtional members, all men. The ten member cast features only two women. When the stastics are that bad, Tina Fey has no business taking a role that could have been played by Kristen. Repeating, Tina Fey has her own damn show.

Mad TV and Saturday Night Live started off the fall season begging to be put down. If that should happen, comedy fans should lose no sleep, merely tune into the fringe programming passing itself off as 'news' and 'public affairs' and the laughs won't stop coming. Such as Friday when Gwen declared her program the longest running news program. Washington Week is not a news program. It is public affairs. It is also not the longest running. Gwen, meet 60 Minutes which actually is a news program.

In closing, a reader wrote last Monday that we were too harsh and not helpful to Amy Goodman and her arrest. He wrote back Tuesday to state, having watched Goody's RNC coverage reel broadcast that day, the previous week had been all about Goody (he noticed a few bits that were not aired previously and grasped that there wasn't time to air those and still make it all about Goody). We're not worried about being "too harsh" to Amy Goodman; however, if she wants helpful, we're advised that the sheriff's office is monitoring her statements about what went down. So, helpful hint, it probably wasn't a good idea to go on WBAI last Friday and yet again tell another version of her arrest during the pledge drive. If they do decide to put her on trial, it's not helpful to her if she continues to change details of the story as she repeatedly tells it.

[Ty adding this note to Ava and C.I.'s article on Monday 9-15. Reader Larry e-mailed to note that the right-wing Newsbusters has discovered ABC News edited Palin's interview in a way to make her come off uninformed. He wondered if it could be highlighted? Ava and C.I. said sure. Click here for the Newsbusters article.]

The new age of privacy?

The Center for Democracy & Technology maintains, "Privacy is the number one concern of Internet users; it is also the top reason why non-users still avoid the Internet. Survey after survey indicates mounting concern." And there's good reason for concern and to be offended by your information being gathered and shared.

For example, 2008 is the year Senator John Kerry can kiss any future presidential ambitions goodbye. Those who donated online to his 2004 primary campaign do not appreciate his turning over their information to others. As the primaries began, they did not appreciate being harassed with e-mails and phone calls asking them to donate to Barack Obama's campaign.

"My phone number is unlisted," says community member Lynda echoing many who wouldn't support Kerry today for anything. Kerry can forget about the McKinnons support, as Mike has long documented at his site, for exactly the same reason. His aunt reveals she sent in checks to Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and made a point of marking through her phone number for that reason explaining, "It wasn't just the asking for contributions, starting two weeks before the [February Democratic] primary, we began non-stop robo-phone calls asking us to vote for Barack. I am not only voting for Ed O'Reilly [in the primary], if Ed loses, I'll be voting for the Republican running against John Kerry. We have three lines in our home, the only one getting the robo-calls to vote for Barack was the one we input when donating online for Kerry."

Lynda agrees with Mike's aunt and adds of her own experience, "It's unlisted for a reason. I did not appreciate getting endless calls, I did not appreciate having to change the number. I was not asked, 'Is it fine for me to share your information'?


But that's what John Kerry did and it wasn't his information to share. Jim accessed an old e-mail account he rarely even checks these days and, sure enough, there was non-stop Barack crap. Non-close personal friend David Plouffe was e-mailing him Tuesday about "Lies to Nowhere." Looking through the account, the only thing unread was non-stop Barack crap. 2007 contained some John Kerry e-mails (unread) and you can go all the way back through 2004 for the seven "Thank you for your contribution" e-mails to Kerry's 2004 primary campaign. Not only was Kerry the only candidate Jim had given money to, he never signed up with any political organization or candidate using that e-mail address. Opening the last one, we find:

Thank you for your generous contribution to our campaign.

The election is in full swing now, and we're winning -- but only thanks to people like you.

Please take the next step and ask your friends to sign up for

John Kerry's success on Election Day depends on all of us and signing up will ensure your friends participate in activities that will make the difference in November.

If you want to learn more about John Kerry or his positions on the issues, please visit our website at

Thanks for your support!

Thank you,

The Team

Nowhere in that e-mail does it say, "By the way, in four years, I'll be handing over all your information during the Democratic primary to the candidate I've decided to endorse." The Kerry Team did ask you to sign up your friends and, if you did, you probably owe them an apology because Kerry repaid your support by harvesting information and passing it on to another campaign without permission. That's a funny way to say "Thanks for your support!"

Keesha knows all about the harvesting of information online from her own experiences and never, not even comments at a website, uses her real e-mail address.

"Your told your e-mail will not be made public, but you'll quickly learn otherwise," she explains. Whenever I leave a comment, I invert a letter or number in my e-mail address. If the site requires registration for comments, I don't leave a comment. I've had way too many bad experiences. At one 'Democratic' site in March 2004, I ended up with an online stalker who somehow obtained my information and harassed me repeatedly each day with e-mails. I ended up creating a new e-mail account. Now I'm very careful to only give my e-mail address to friends and to tell them not to send me something from a website because that can result in your getting spam mail. I never believe any site that says your e-mail will be kept private."

Which brings us to Dissident Voice, a website the community enjoys and the topic of discussion last week.

The online magazine allows comments after you fill in the following:

Your Name (required)
Email (will not be published!) (required)
Website (optional)

Though your e-mail is published, your e-mail hasn't been private. That point was driven home to Martha last Tuesday when she checked her account and found an e-mail from Stacie Adams that she was sent that day at 12:20 p.m. (PST). Who the hell is Stacie Adams?

Her bio says she's "an unassuming and introverted young woman with plans to take over the world and make it tolerable." She apparently feels the way to do that is to harvest private information and send e-mails to those who don't like her bad writing.

"Shrill, Baby, Shrill! Tactical Coups at the RNC and the Coming Out of Sarah Palin" is Adams' bad and offensive article. In one sentence, Adams manages to insult a wide stretch of America and to flaunt zero tolerance of many groups: "Between passing around her special needs baby for various photo ops and braying maniacally about the horror of being a community organizer, she struck that shrill conservative note beautifully."

"Passing around her special needs baby" is an offensive statement. For background, Hilda's Mix is a Common Ills community newsletter that was started to serve and highlight community members who are disabled/have special needs. Hilda had a personal reason for starting that newsletter, she's deaf. We asked her opinion of Adams' offensive remarks regarding special-needs and Hilda wrote back, "It wasn't all that long ago in this country that any disability meant you were hidden away. Adams is being not just insensitive but insulting. She is expressing distaste over the fact that Sarah Palin made her child with Down syndrome [Trig Palin] a public member of her family, someone as wanted and as deserving of sharing the moment as her other children who do not have special-needs. The language is insulting and offensive, suggesting that those of us not considered 'normal' should be hidden away. If Adams was 'grossed out' by the sight of a beautiful baby who has done nothing to harm anyone, she might take some time asking herself why that was and she might attempt to make a public apology to the special-needs community because that baby had as much reason to be included in his mother's big moment as any other of her children."

And the smarmy snark on a special-needs child was deplorable. It is not a minor issue to this community or to this site. July 30, 2006, Ava and C.I. were tackling one woman suggesting that special-needs children need to be hidden away.

There are a number of issues we deal with in various community newsletter. When Martha forwarded the e-mail from Stacie Adams, the consensus was that we would do that with this; however, C.I. made a point to read the article Tuesday evening and hit the roof on Adams' insulting and damaging remark regarding special-needs children.

"You need to go back to 2004 and the big announcement that John Edwards would be John Kerry's running mate," C.I. offers. "The young Edwards children were photographed and received nice press. Why shouldn't they? They're children. Fast forward four years later and Palin's indicted for 'passing around her special needs child'? That's is so far out of bounds. That's insulting to Trig Palin, that's insulting to all children and adults with special-needs and that's insulting to Sarah Palin and her husband. She did not 'pass around' her child. As Hilda says, she included her child in what was a big moment for her family. Adams may be uncomfortable around or with the mere fact that not everyone is as capable as she sees herself. That's her damn problem. The child was not 'passed around.' Palin held her son, her husband held their son, her children held the son and, when Palin was speaking, Cindy McCain went over to hold the child to allow Palin's husband to be able to stand. Apparently, to Stacie Adams, there was a cootie outbreak in Minnesota that she was repelled by. The family and Cindy held the baby and that was just too much information for Adams. Adams needs to confront her own prejudice. Trig Palin is a beautiful, little boy. He is not someone to be hidden away or ashamed of but Adams' offense that he was as visible as any of his siblings indicates she believes otherwise. So sorry that Adams had to leave her world of comfort for a minute and grasp that there are people who are different from her. She should relax, it's not 'catchy,' it's a chromosome issue so, to address more garbage online, Palin's birth or when her membrane began leaking in the ninth month, had nothing to do with Down syndrome. It is a condition that begins at conception, it does not suddenly appear in the birthing or after the birth. No one 'catches' it and Stacie Adams can relax, seeing Trig on her TV screen did not put her 'at risk' -- either of 'catching' the condition or of embracing humanity. "

We searched in vain for some moment where Adams decried the Obama girls appearing at the DNC convention or on Access Hollywood but found none. We'll assume she saves her vennum for special-needs children only. How very 'progressive' of her.

The National Down Syndrome Society explains that "more than 400,000 people in the U.S. have this genetic condition. One of the most frequently occurring chromosomal abnormalities, Down syndrome affects people of all ages, races and economic levels. Today, individuals with Down syndrome are active participants in the educational, vocational, social and recreational aspects of our communities. In fact, there are more opportunities than ever before for individuals with Down syndrome to develop their abilities, discover their talents and realize their dreams. For example, more teens and adults with Down syndrome each year are graduating from high school, going to college, finding employment and living independently. The opportunities currently available to individuals with Down syndrome have never been greater. However, it is only through the collective efforts of parents, professionals, and concerned citizens that acceptance is becoming even more widespread."

Acceptance is becoming even more widespread . . . except in Stacie Adams' home.

Now Martha's objection was over the sexist language. "Shrill" and "braying" were applied to Palin by Adams. Martha's call wasn't out of bounds. But it resulted in an e-mail from Adams.

Adams misses the irony of the quote she ends her e-mail with: "People come up to me and say 'What's wrong?' Nothing. 'Well it takes more energy to frown than it does to smile'. Yeah, you know it takes more energy to point that out than it does to leave me alone?" (Bill Hicks.) Does Adams believe that quote applies to Martha? It certainly "takes more energy" to e-mail Martha than it does to leave her alone.

Adams chose to post an insulting and sexist article at a site that allows comments. Seeing (yet another) woman being attacked in sexist terms ("shrill" and "braying") Martha left the following comment at Dissident Voice:

Sexism never wins your argument with me. The author lost me with her garbage including, "Between passing around her special needs baby for various photo ops and braying maniacally about the horror of being a community organizer, she struck that shrill conservative note beautifully." Shrill and braying in one sentence. Just a reminder that some of the worst sexist pigs are women.

Less than four hours after posting that comment (it was approved at some point), Stacie Adams enters Martha's inbox.

We contacted a number of people for this article and had planned to quote them. Bloggers and Dissident Voice.

Joshua Frank (of Dissident Voice) might like to be quoted but C.I. made the call that Frank's e-mail was private unless he stated otherwise because he is not the publisher of Dissident Voice. Sunil K. Sharma is the publisher and we did exchange e-mails with Sharma. Dissident Voice was unaware that this had happened and they are checking into it. Sharma responded at length and we would love to quote; however, we advised from the start that we were seeking comments for publication and we asked that this be approved. We did not get such approval.

From the e-mails (from Frank and Sharma), we believe the issue is being addressed and will not be a problem in the future. (And we do thank both men for responding and responding promptly.)

As stated, we also e-mailed bloggers. That includes people from the field of journalism who now blog and people who, as far as we know, began their public writing careers with blogs or personal websites. If any of the many people who were kind enough to reply would like to be quoted and misunderstood that we were writing for express permission to quote them, we will quote them next week.

Some shared that they had contacted someone who had left something on their own personal site which they found offensive. We tried to be clear in our e-mails (and will try to be clear here) that the issue with Adams is very different than that. Had Frank or Sharma taken offense to anything Martha or anyone else left at Dissident Voice and contacted them, that wouldn't have resulted in an article. Dissident Voice is online magazine and the ones running it can do with it as they see fit. Stacie Adams is a writer whose articles are posted to Dissident Voice. She is not on the masthead.

We would not be at all surprised by those running DV having access to the e-mail addresses of people who leave comments. We wouldn't be at all surprised for those with personal blogs or websites to have access to the e-mail addresses of people leaving comments at their own sites.

We do wonder how a writer (Adams) got access? (And if we could quote from a Sharma e-mail, we could explain how that may have happened.) But when the issue came up Tuesday evening, we made a list of community members who often e-mail (C.I.) to get something from DV highlighted. We then e-mailed those members to explain what happened to Martha and ask if anything similar had happened to them?

It had but nothing negative. Several members reported receiving e-mails from writers after they left comments at Dissident Voice. These were not e-mails like the one Stacie Adams sent to Martha. The writers were advising on their other writing and on the writing of others. [Those writers are not named here and were not named by us to Dissident Voice. There were no complaints over those e-mails and that had been taken place for several months.]

While there is a difference between that and the stunt Adams pulled, Dissident Voice was unaware that was taking place either.

Moving to the larger issue: Privacy concerns are not just an issue when it applies to the government.

The federal government now not only regularly circumvents the law to compile information on individuals, they also go to corporations where they are able to purchase the information that even they apparently fear gathering on their own.

The Patriot Act resulted in many cities and towns passing resolutions against it (see Bill of Rights Defense Committee). One thing many librarians were already doing was disposing of personal information as quickly as possible and many locales passing resolutions adopted those measures.

We were reminded of it often in 2007 and 2006 when we'd see one online blogger break from their weeks off to post a Guess-what-people-who-came-here-also-went-to post. We'd read that (usually in a copy & paste e-mail) and wonder what the point was in either gathering that information or making it public?

Google may gather site statistics here (we're sure they do since they own Blogspot/Blogger) but we do not. You will not find counters or anything that compiles your personal information at any community site including this one. There's already enough personal information gathering and compiling going on and we don't intend to add to it.

The Online Privacy Alliance has this to say on "Choice/Consent:"

Individuals must be given the opportunity to exercise choice regarding how individually identifiable information collected from them online may be used when such use is unrelated to the purpose for which the information was collected. At a minimum, individuals should be given the opportunity to opt out of such use.
Additionally, in the vast majority of circumstances, where there is third party distribution of individually identifiable information, collected online from the individual, unrelated to the purpose for which it was collected, the individual should be given the opportunity to opt out.
Consent for such use or third party distribution may also be obtained through technological tools or opt-in.

Clearly, neither John Kerry nor Stacie Adams share that belief.

Another issue we'd encourage readers to think about would be your right to privacy when you make a complaint? Should your complaint result in a response to the specifics or should be placed on a junk mail list? Feminist Majority Foundation and LeftTurn believe the latter as forwarded e-mails from readers demonstrate. Complain to either of them and get added to their junk mail list.

(For Feminist Majority Foundation, you then begin receiving their monthly calendar. For LeftTurn, you get an e-mail whenever they post something new. Please note, neither bothered to reply to complaints, they just added those complaining to their junk mail list.)

In recent years, attempts to share information gathered on the part of both FaceBook and Google led to a huge outcry. This is a new terrain and each erosion of privacy means futher erorisons -- from corporations, the government and individuals. The future doesn't start tomorrow or even today. It's already began and our lives and our right to privacy are already being determined.

The UN's embarrassment in Iraq

AP reports 4 new cholera cases in Iraq, this time in Karbala. The United Nations' IRIN has released a ridiculous article entitled "Cholera continues to spread in the south" (released today, but dated Monday, September 15th). Ridiculous?

It's a kiss ass article sucking up to the puppet government in Iraq in its first five paragraphs and in its last four paragraphs. The last four is where the World Health Organization (WHO) comes in which is a cute reworking of what happened. The first sentence announces Iraq's Ministry of Health held a press conference Saturday. It ignores Friday's press conference where a WHO representative participated in one of the most disgusting spin sessions of the year.

WHO is a part of the UN as is IRIN. Must be nice to be able to cover up for your own embarrassments. C.I. covered the Friday press conference in "Naeema al-Gasseer: the United Nations' embarrassment in Iraq" and Naeema al-Gasseer is both a doctor and someone who has confused who she works for.

Repeatedly in Friday's press conference she would say "we" and then have to back it up to explain that she meant the Iraqi government. When a UN rep can't even verbally maintain the distance she's supposed to in a press conference, there's a lot of garbage going down.

Which included al-Gasseer joining the two Iraqi government figures in slamming the media. Slamming the media is nothing new in Iraq.

Reporters Without Borders released a statement today which includes that they are "appalled and saddened by the murder of four employees of privately-owned TV station Al-Sharqiya yesterday in the northern city of Mosul. Al-Sharqiya's news director noted that the murders followed a smear campaign against the station by state TV broadcaster Al Iraqiya."

Wow, who could have guessed that the state-owned and state-controlled Al-Sharquiya would launch a verbal attack on the press? Anyone listening to the garbage coming out of al-Gasser's mouth on Friday. Friday a UN rep joined in smearing the press and, the following day, 4 journalists are murdered.


Yeah, the UN can cut off a slice of the blame pie.

Naeema al-Gasseer didn't just stand there passively as two Iraqi government officials verbally attacked the press -- which would have been bad enough considering that she's supposed to represent the United Nations. No, she joined in on the attacks.

Since the start of the illegal war, at least 217 journalists* have died in Iraq. The illegal war is also the deadliest war for journalists in the modern era.

The United Nations is supposed to be an independent body. When one of their representatives joins in verbal attacks on the press, the gloves truly have come off.

It wasn't enough for Naeema al-Gaseer to attack journalists, she also had to attack Iraqi women.

The cholera epidemic can be blamed on Iraqi women -- or, from her wording, whomever allows them to cook the way they do. Considering her constant refrain of how (fundamentalist) clergy must take control and how "cleanliness" must be enforced combined with her verbal assault on Iraqi women, we'd argue Dumb Ass al-Gaseer knowingly or not was encouraging violence towards women. She was certainly scapegoating Iraqi women.

The IRIN article has five middle paragraphs that make the article worth reading. From that section:

However, some experts have criticised some of the health authorities' hygiene recommendations.
Ismaiel Mohammed, a sociology professor at the University of Babil, said the government's recommendations to residents will add to their economic burden as they will have to pay more money for fuel to boil water or for buying bottled water.
"It [cholera] is an endemic disease and there must be real solutions that go to the roots of it and not only immediate measures whenever the disease emerges," Mohammed told IRIN. "By this we are only cutting off the octopus' arms and not killing it."

The 'health authorities' include Naeema al-Gasseer. The IRIN article does not note her but on Friday she joined the two other 'health authorities' in blaming the cholera outbreak on everything but the government.

al-Gasseer dismissed reports of an 'epidemic' and insisted that after last year's outbreak at the same time, it was perfectly normal and expected that another outbreak would take place.

What was perfectly normal was to expect that the central government in Baghdad would have addressed the problem. They have not. Not only does Nouri al-Maliki sit on billions of unspent dollars, he also hasn't cleaned up the area. Empty lots now act as overflowing trash cans. And Iraqis are expected to pay through the nose for fuel.

That would include the fuel that they would need to boil water.

al-Gasseer had plenty of time to lecture and imply that Iraqi women were stupid and just not aware that water needed boiling. She had no time to note how high the fuel costs were (or that electricity is still a joke in Iraq).

al-Gasseer has clearly confused her role within the United Nations as "I work for al-Maliki." In doing so, she has not only refused to outline the real problems of the cholera outbreak, she has not only joined in the attacks on the press and she has not only encouraged violence against Iraqi women, she's made clear to the world that the United Nations is perfectly fine with having an apologist and accomplice for a government that refuses to act. She has lowered the United Nations in the eyes of the world and it is past time for her to be assigned to another post.

* 217? We do not draw a line between journalists and media workers. In Iraq the "media worker" is often also the stringer and much more. Many of the media workers are Iraqis who have increased access and trust for that very reason. It is not uncommon for media workers to do the bulk of the work. In a war zone, anyone trying to report -- journalist or media worker -- is a journalist in our eyes.

Meet Charley Johnson 'Journalist'

Meet Charley Johnson.

Location: Toronto Canada
Why I support Barack Obama: The moment of my political awakening came as a teen was in 1960 when Kennedy was president. Not since Bobby Kennedy has a political leader inspired me the way Barack does. Seeing how he has the same impact on millions of others makes me think I can believe in America again, something this old cynic has had trouble doing for 30+ years.
Birth Date: November 3rd
Issues: equality / civil rights; civil liberties / privacy; foreign policy / security; economic fairness / security; environment / conservation; smart energy policy; public infrastructure / transportation; good government / ethics; affordable health care; education
Registered to Vote: Yes

He's a busy guy.

Making a difference


Activity Index



Events Hosted 1
Events Attended 0
Calls made 0
Doors Knocked 0
Number of blog posts 49
Donors to your personal fundraising 0
Amount raised $0.00
Groups Joined 5

All in bold are from his page at Barack Obama's campaign site.

In a perfect world, you'd never have to meet Charley Johnson but, as Denzel says in Philadelphia, we don't live in a perfect world.

Bottom feeder Charley surfaced around the web recently with an article entitled "Palin Is 'Racist, Sexist, Vindictive, And Mean'" which opens:

"So Sambo beat the bitch!"
This is how Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin described Barack Obama's win over Hillary Clinton to political colleagues in a restaurant a few days after Obama locked up the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
According to Lucille, the waitress serving her table at the time and who asked that her last name not be used, Gov. Palin was eating lunch with five or six people when the subject of the Democrat's primary battle came up. The governor, seemingly not caring that people at nearby tables would likely hear her, uttered the slur and then laughed loudly as her meal mates joined in appreciatively.
"It was kind of disgusting," Lucille, who is part Aboriginal, said in a phone interview after admitting that she is frightened of being discovered telling folks in the "lower 48" about life near the North Pole.
Then, almost with a sigh, she added, "But that's just Alaska."
Racial and ethnic slurs may be "just Alaska" and, clearly, they are common, everyday chatter for Palin.

First off, there's no reason for Lucille not to use her last name. She's identified as a waitress, as part Aboriginal and as a Lucille. If she really exists, she would have been easy to narrow down. Second off, real reporters don't base a claim on racism on one source. Real reporters ask, "Who else was present?" They get corroboration. Charley Johnson's not a real reporter. He is a Barack supporter.

Palin a racist? If he has evidence, he doesn't supply any and, get honest, "Sambo" isn't really a term a racist Palin's age would use. A racist that age might use any number of other terms if she were a racist but "Sambo" is really something that someone older, say someone who was a teen when JFK was president, would be familiar with. Which is why it's so very hard to take Charley Johnson's scribble seriously.

Another reason is, title aside, he wants to claim that he's outraged by Palin's remark. And where is the outrage? Over the name Barack was called. Setting the title aside, where is any indication that he thinks readers will be offended that Hillary was called a "bitch"?

Johnson's also written a 'follow up' where he explains his 'journalistic' methods and they may fool some people but they aren't journalistic at all.

Johnson's make a very strong charge against Palin in his opening paragraphs. You do not source a charge that huge to one person and certainly not to just one person you've never met. (Johnson reveals he's only spoken to her over the phone, once for ten minutes.) No respectable mainstream outlet would print Johnson's story.

If you're not suspicious that Johnson's putting his own words into other people's mouths, you're not reading closely. He next offers tales of Sarah Palin insulting indigenous people in Alaska yet paragraphs later he's referring "to the governor's igloo". Uh, who's making offensive comments and stereotyping, Johnson?

Despite the fact that news outlets have pulled reporters off other beats and sent them to Alaska to gather information on Palin, no major outlet's reported "racism" or, for that matter, had a conversation with a reporter claiming Palin cost them their job (he or she "now works for an oil company in Anchorage" according to Johnson).

Johnson offers in his 'explanation' that Lucille is in her fifties or sixties and that's supposed to provide something. However, he explains something else about Lucille. She's not just a waitress, she also cleans the home of his friend who hates Palin, the friend he states hooked him up with Lucille. We don't think Lucille exists. However, journalists know that a 'source' who works for a source (who hates someone) is not necessarily telling the truth. Meaning that as Lucille's employer, Johson's friend could have asked his cleaning woman to lie to Johnson for ten minutes and, needing the money, she could have. That's what makes her suspect if she exists. (Again, we don't believe she does.) And no journalist would run with such a charge on the basis of one source especially not someone dependent upon money from a Palin-hater.

We'd further note that "BFF" and "bro" (among other terms Johnson utilizes repeatedly in his writing) really aren't terms we'd associate with a professional journalist who was a teenager when JFK was president.

The story smells and, frankly, so does "Charley Johnson." Having given out Lucille's employment, race/ethnicity and general age, we'd suggest that Lucille has nothing to left to hide because, as Johnson can't stop pointing out, Alaska is such a 'small' state.

Had Charley Johnson just posted it at his own site, that would be one thing. But many outlets have amplified it. It's not only at Black Agenda Report, OpEd News and many other places, it's quoted repeatedly at the official Barack campaign website -- you know, the same one that has the "Fight The Smears" thing going.
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