Sunday, February 01, 2009

Truest statement of the week

Closer scrutiny of President Obama's first Executive Orders reveals that they were designed less to transform illegal US military intelligence practices, than to allow them to continue in secret without legal obstruction, by redefining their character (while retaining their substance).

-- Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, "Obama: Regime Rotation" (Information Clearing House).

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday. And we are dragging. First let's give credits. Along with Dallas, the following helped 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,
and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

We thank everyone for their help. And what did we come up with?

Truest statement of the week -- This was the clear winner.

Editorial: The fear paralysis -- The last thing we wrote. This was supposed to be epic. As Jess said, "Let's just make our points and be done already." Agreed. It was a long, long process.

TV: Fate laughs at 2006's handicappers -- Ava and C.I. weigh in on the program people have waited nearly three years for. It was worth the wait. By the way, they want it noted that a Sunday in April (probably the first Sunday) will be think piece -- pulling strands on a theme -- and not a review of a week's program or programs. They're noting that now for a reason that will make sense later. I love the title but was worried. (I write the headlines.) Would people get it? "You're talking horse racing, right?" And if you don't get the flatness of the voice, you needed to see their faces. But, in case anyone doesn't get it, "handicappers" refers to horse racing guessers -- and here to those who said Katie Couric couldn't do the job of anchoring before she'd ever anchored.

Military sexual assault -- This could have been longer but we edited this down and hopefully made it tighter. If not, we weakened it. (We is Ty, Jess, Dona and myself.) Ava and C.I. volunteered to start typing features if it meant avoiding editing this. (They didn't want anything to do with that task.)

Congrats America, you elected a Jewish mother -- a short feature. Dona loves them and so do a number of you. (I personally enjoy this one.)

Mailbag -- We hadn't done the editorial (which we planned to be epic) and we hadn't done the MSA article. Dona pointed out that the appearance of the edition would be pretty blah and we could break it up with a transcript piece. Ty was going to do a "Ty's Corner" but volunteered some of the e-mails he'd pulled for that. Dallas participates. When I mentioned that after, he said, "Yeah, and probably the only time this year." Only Wally or C.I. can get him to speak up in the transcript pieces. Seriously.

And that's why you don't let Republicans in the do... -- In the door. Ava and C.I. hated my headline and they now say, "In the do? What's the 'do,' Jim?" Point is, they wanted "some" in the headline. I said tht would be too many words and it would also prevent us from having the full title display. They point to "in the do" and laugh.

The Shirley goes to . . . -- New feature suggested by reader Lurlisa. Thank you!

The backstory on the White House press briefings -- While Ava and C.I. wrote their TV commentary, the rest of us worked on this. When we told them our topic, they said, "We're not even reading it."

Hypocrisy Corrente Style -- So dropping people from a blogroll is bad form? What about dropping your entire blogroll?

ETAN says drop charges against Jose Belo -- Reposting of ETAN announcement that was sent here to late to be noted last week. (Kat and Elaine noted it and C.I. included it in the snapshot last week.)

Roundtable -- And a repost of the roundtable Rebecca did Friday night.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Stan, Marcia, Wally, Cedric, Betty, Kat, Ruth and Rebecca wrote this and picked highlights. We thank them for it. We hoped to use the first groupings linked for an article here this week but time ran out.

That's how it goes some times.

See you next week.

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

Editorial: The fear paralysis

President Barack Obama stabbed women in the back by catering to Republicans and ditching family planning from his proposed stimulus package. Before the knife wounds had healed, House Republicans made clear they weren't interested in bi-partisanship or even in bonding over sexist attacks.

And at the time that Barack should have been loudly called out (or at least suffered a lot of nah-nah-nah-nah taunting), what happened instead were attempts to 'understand' Barack.

He's just caught in the bi-partisan model.

He's just trying to get along.

He wants the press to like him.

It was hilarious to hear all the excuses for Barack.

None of them made a great deal of sense.

Take the "wants the press to like him." Barack's always acted with a sense of entitlement when it comes to the press. They finally try to ask him tough questions about Tony Rezko? He scolds them and disappears to the other end of the plane. He shows up at the White House press room and they try to ask him questions? He scolds them and slinks away. He has no respect for the press and no fear of the press. He has no fear of it because he's been built by the press. He'll transition from diapers to pull-ups shortly but he's still not learned that the press buildeth and the press teareth down.

A best-guess on why he did what he did would have to be based on past actions.

The most likely reason for Barack to reach out to the Republicans?

Barack doesn't make difficult decision. Barack has no record. It's why he voted present so many times in the Illinois legislature and why he skipped out on the tough votes during his brief stint as a US Senator.

You can't repeatedly cite your fabled judgment -- you'd have thought he predicted 9-11 the way he went on -- and build your campaign on that and then start taking responsibility. Better to spread it around. For example, had any Republicans crossed over, if the stimulus turns out to be a failure, it's not Barack's fault, it was a bi-partisan measure! Even Republicans came to the table on that!

And besides, to get them to the table, Barack had to show 'maturity' and cut some things out. And so the bill was flawed due to the process and, therefore, it's failure is not Barack's fault.

What you most likely saw last week was a kid who bragged about himself one time to many suddenly being expected to deliver and wanting to be sure that, if he failed, everyone took the fall on it.

TV: Fate laughs at 2006's handicappers

Back in April of 2006, we wrote "TV: Katie Was a Cheerleader" and, as a result, a group of people (regular readers) have regularly asked that we take a look at The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. A smaller group has written that we can never examine the broadcast because we know and like Katie and can't be impartial.


We're not sure whether we supposedly can't be impartial because we know someone or if that's specific to Katie Couric. That confusion derives in part from a minor media 'watchdoggie' who loathes Couric, makes no secret of loathing her, being among the ones e-mailing to say we'd offer "nothing but valentines" to Couric. E-mailing multiple times. Never say we don't love a challenge.

"Good evening everyone and welcome to network television's first ever evening newscast in prime time," declared Couric broadcasting in the slot usually reserved for The New Adventures of Old Christine last Wednesday. And with such a broadcast, how could we afford not to comment?

CBS Evening News with Katie Couric

Yes, we know Katie. Yes, we like Katie. We've made no attempt to hide that fact. And that means we'll pull punches? Oh, silly goose, you don't know us at all.

Two complaints on Wednesday's broadcast.

First up, dangling earrings. No. No. And no. Like many anchors -- and normal people -- Couric has a tendency to move her head. No one needs the shaking earrings. It was distracting and another pair should have been chosen prior to air but, once on air, someone should have caught that every time Katie moved and the earrings started swaying, there was a distraction.

Second, who passes legislation? In the US, the legislative branch (Congress) passes legislation. The White House signs it into law. (If the White House vetoes it, Congress can override the veto with a two-thirds majority vote.) Are we all up on the basics?

"President Obama got his first big legislative victory this evening," Katie declared at the top of the broadcast, "when the White House passed his economic stimulus package, the most expensive piece of legislation in executive history."

Really? The White House passed legislation? Wow. Was it a roll call vote?

It was a flub. And it required an on air correction. From Katie. She's the one who said it and probably had no idea she'd said that. (She presumably meant the House of Representatives.) That's why you have people in a control booth. That's why, during commercial breaks, it's pandemonium during a news broadcast. Someone should have caught it and should have pointed it out. Had they, a correction probably would've been included in the broadcast.


We called a CBS News exec friend. We said we were going to write about the Wednesday broadcast and had a question about the first segment.

"You think we were carrying water for Barack too?"

That was the immediate response.

No, actually, we didn't think that. The story -- and the discussion that followed it -- were pretty straight forward. If we'd seen Barack bias, believe us, we'd call it out.

He seemed to calm down and explained that Newsbusters, a right wing outlet, was all over them about supposed bias in that segment. They even did a transcript and . . .

Newsbusters did a transcript?

Well then we can just link to them and note that they called out the error --


We were informed they accused CBS of bias but didn't catch any error.

So we explained the error and were told it should have been corrected but asked if they got it right in the voice over? Yes, the voice over at the top of the show, over the theme music, got it right. It was thought that if it was caught, the thinking was most likely, 'It was set up already, so anyone who caught the flub would most likely grasp that it was a flub.'

We actually had more complaints about that attitude than over the flub.

But those are our two complaints about the broadcast. No more dangling earrings and there was a flub that went uncorrected.

Otherwise a very strong half-hour that demonstrated why Katie Couric was the right choice for CBS and why the network's evening news is a better and still improving show.

What do we mean?

Couric was ridiculed months before she ever began anchoring the show in the fall of 2006. The ridicule did not let up for the longest -- and in some quarters, never has. When she moved from the shock of the attacks, she especially began to stress that she wasn't a news reader.

For whatever reasons, we really didn't grasp what she was saying, the point she was making, until we watched the Wednesday night broadcast. (Actually both the Wednesday broadcasts -- first the regular evening news and then the prime time special.)

Ann Curry, whom we also know and like and that's never prevented us from disagreeing with her either, is the news reader on Today. She was in that role when Katie Couric left NBC's Today to move over to the evening news on CBS. Ann is very talented at her job. If you've never watched Today, the two hosts come on, after the theme music and voice over, and might banter (depending on which hour of the broadcast it is) or be solemn, but they do it for a few minutes and then someone tosses to Ann. Ann then has around five minutes to offer up a series of headlines. In a very compact period of time, she has to touch on several different issues and touch on them enough so that if you've never heard of the development before, you can still follow it.

There's an art to what Ann does (and Ann can do a lot more than that and frequently does on Today) and, once upon a time, a network newscast in the evening was pretty much that, with a few reports from the field and a commentary at the end of the program in some cases. The evening anchor as news reader really doesn't exist on ABC or NBC and both Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams were doing their anchoring before Katie's first broadcast. It's really strange that the expectation for Katie was news reader -- expectation among the chattering set -- and it wasn't that for Brian or Charlie.

Pinning it off on Katie goes to gender fears. If she's not tightly controlled, she'll fall apart! Or the audience will!

Reality, the only ones falling apart are the ones demanding she be a news reader. And don't bore us with the crap about, "She was expected to be a news reader because she was coming to the network news from a morning entertainment program." Uh, no, she wasn't. Today was under NBC news. Good Morning America, where Charlie hailed from, has long been -- proclamations in the network commercials notwithstanding -- a division of ABC entertainment. If anyone should have had something to prove, it was Charlie Gibson who chose to move over to entertainment from news when he left news for GMA. But it was about gender fears so it was glom on Katie and pretend that if she didn't have that 'structure,' the whole news industry would crumble.

She's best when she's allowed to follow her own instincts. Which includes the discussion she and Chip Reid had following his report on the House passing the stimulus proposal. That was also true of the conversation with David Price following his report on the ice storms that had left many without power across the United States.

Among the things that stood out the most were the smooth transitions and how quickly and fluidly the broadcast moved. They are hitting their stride and that includes finding the rhythm for the broadcast. Rhythm is set by pace, by alternating types of segments and by camera changes. The latter was especially impressive Wednesday night for all live segments.

All live segments? Couric filed a pre-recorded report.

She introduced it by explaining, "The army is cracking down on sexual abuse in the ranks. A third of service women and six percent of service men say they have been victims. This week the Army said it will hire more prosecutors to bring perpetrators to justice. Meanwhile critics say the military needs to do more about another crime, women being assaulted, beaten, even raped by their military husbands or boyfriends. A CBS News investigation finds more than 25,000 spouses and domestic partners have been attacked over the past decade. Nearly ninety spouses have died."

The segment featured Couric's interviews with survivor Jessacia Patton and the Army Director of Family Affairs Lynn McCollum.

Patton explained how her husband, who had done two tours in Iraq with the Army Rangers, beat her and their daughter Bella. Despite that and, Couric informed, despite pleading "guilty to child abuse after beating three-month-old Bella and then, a few months later, in a drunken rage, threatening [Jessacia] with a gun, he attacked and raped his wife" but saw no punishment (one night in jail) until he "threatened his fellow soldiers and went AWOL" -- at which point, the military decided to prosecute and he was sentenced to seven years.

Jessacia Patton opened up during the interview and that's part of Couric's skills. She does listen when you're speaking, she does appear interested (she's yet to fall asleep on camera, that would be ABC). And that interest is part of her image. It allows someone like Patton to share a very difficult story, to relive it for the cameras. ("I think I laid there for about an hour and just cried. I had given up. I didn't even care if he came in and he killed me. I was broken.")

It's that same skill that draws out the moments that are making people appreciate Couric all the more. We are not Sarah Palin haters. We did not vote for her but we have defended her from sexist attacks. We have especially defended her with regards to Saturday Night Live's attacks on her (those were attacks, when you sexualize Palin by having Tina Fey play her lifting up her skirt, you're attacking the woman, you're not offering a parody of her). Couric did with Palin what she did with Barack. With Barack, there were whines about how mean she was to him. The same people applauded the same treatment of Palin.

In both cases, Couric wasn't mean. Katie was doing her job. Her job is to ask the questions. Her job is to get memorable footage -- which hopefully illuminates some aspect of a politician -- for broadcast. That is her job. She does it very, very well.

And she demonstrated it again during one exchange of her report:

Katie Couric: According to a number of conversations with victims advocates, the army usually rallies around the soldier and leaves the victim to fend for herself and then when she finally does get help, the complaint is the system is entirely stacked against her.

Lynn McCollum: It's disturbing to hear those kinds of comments. Over the last couple of years, we've really put into place, um, and increased the number of victim advocates. One of our biggest challenges because we're a larger bureaucracy is getting information out.

Couric Voice Over: It's not only the victims that aren't getting help it's also the soldiers. CBS news has learned that in case after case soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan have raised red flags regarding their mental health problems but they're often ignored with devastating consequences. In this post-deployment health assessment obtained by CBS News, this soldier clearly indicates concerns for potential conflicts with his spouse or family members and that he "might hurt or lose control with someone" but nothing was done. A year later he murdered his wife.

Katie Couric: He put it right here on a questionnaire and nobody did anything about it. How can that happen? If you have all these systems and services in place.

McCollum looks into the camera and makes a face, sort of a grimace, then she declares, "I need a break, guys." The camera shows her off to the side, speaking with at least three people -- two men (one in military uniform) and one woman. Couric is shown looking over her notes while the four employees of the Army confer. McCollum finally returns, sits back down and offers, "Obviously, I think, in this situation, a mistake probably was made."


It's a powerful moment and the sort that Mike Wallace would be praised for. It's also Couric's job. It was her job to ask the questions that made Palin uncomfortable and it was her job to ask the questions that made Barack uncomfortable. On the latter, she wouldn't have had to ask him about the 'surge' four times if he had answered even once. It's her job to ask the question that makes Lynn McCollum uncomfortable.

If people don't like their own responses, it falls back on them. Michelle Pfeiffer, seated across from Barbara Walters in the 90s, explained it very well, "I realized that you can ask me any question but I don't have to answer." And you don't.

But a skillful journalist can motivate (or, yes, even trick) you into answering and Katie Couric has that skill.

That allowed Americans Wednesday night to see just how in denial the military was about the abuse going on. A soldier completed an assessment before rejoining his family in which he expressed that he might harm his family and he received no help or assistance despite that answer. He went on to kill his wife. Confronted with that by Katie, McCollum suddenly needs a break. She needs to confer at length. When she returns the best she can offer is "a mistake was probably made." Probably.

If you watch the segment more than once (click here to view the video), you may notice not only the appalling response by McCollum, but also how Katie pushes the question. She has this semi- smiling, semi-puzzled expression. And it draws McCollum in. Katie Couric is a very skillful journalist.

That doesn't get noted or recognized as often as it should nor does she receives the same level of praise she would if she were a man doing the exact same job.

Doubt it?

We noted her style was uniquely her own and that Mike Wallace would be praised for doing something similar. Some of you might have even thought, "Mike Wallace used to do that." You might have gone further and thought, "Mike Wallace invented that."

No, he didn't.

Jaqueline Susann was always vocal about feeling Wallace ripped her style off -- an interview style she had already pioneered long before the two of them were paired up for Night Beat. How weak must be Mike Wallace's reputation that even allowing for a possible debt to the author of Valley of the Dolls is seen as such a grave threat?

And how the weak the ego and great the fear that led to the relentless attacks on evening news anchor Katie Couric long before she ever sat down at the anchor desk.

It anchors!

That really is what the attacks were -- attacking the 'other'. This decade Katie, Brian and Charlie became network evening news anchors. Only one was ridiculed and treated as a novelty and curiosity. It wasn't the one who fell asleep on air, the one who ticked off guests (such as Gore Vidal) by cutting interviews in the middle and claiming the feed was lost (when it wasn't). That would be Charlie Gibson.

There was never a question of whether or not Charlie Gibson could anchor the network news. Go back and search the coverage following the announcement that he was taking (stealing) the job from an injured journalist and a pregnant one. No one ever questioned it. Despite his record of falling asleep on live TV.

Of the three, Charlie would have been the one to question. For those who care about news, some of the remarks Brian made in the lead up to Tom Brokaw's retirement should have been troubling.

But it was Katie who was ridiculed. It was Katie who was ripped apart. It was Katie, and only Katie, who was expected to stick to the news reading format -- one abandoned long ago.

Or, to note one media 'watchdoggie,' it was "Katey." Despite repeatedly ridiculing her, years after she's the anchor, he finds time to attack her last year and she's "Katey." That's cute. Male or female, that's the sniping of the failed ego of a failure at work.

Katie has a talent for the news and its her talent. She's not Walter Cronkite in a dress, she's not a carbon copy of Diane Sawyer. She's Katie Couric and, now that she's allowed to run the show, she's able to utilize her talents and provide a half-hour of network news that does inform, that does hold the interest. That's not just because she's a journalist in a landscape of personalities, it's because she's a gifted journalist. And that's why CBS Evening News with Katie Couric is the only network newscast that is improving and still growing. Translation, Aged In Wood was intended to be a one-off joke in All About Eve, not a description of the evening news offerings from ABC and NBC.


Added 2-2-09: "The Hidden Casualties Of War" and "When War's Violence Comes Home" and "Resources: Domestic Abuse And The Military" are three features the CBS Evening News offered last week.

Military sexual assault

"It's not threats," explained US House Rep Loretta Sanchez last Wednesday. "It's sort of like this is important to us for you to be graded on. I mean when you go to a class in college, you, if you're a smart student, you understand what the professor wants and what they're going to grade you on. And you tend to work on those issues that are going to get you the A if you care about the grade."

Sanchez was speaking to Sgt 1st Class Michael Horwath during last week's House Armored Services Committee's Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing on military sexual assaults. She was floating an idea before the first panel: "It's been my contention that the only way we're going to make the command understand how important this issue is is that it's actually a section on every promotion that they receive. That in order for them to be promoted, they have to deal with, 'What did you do about this? How much of this has happened under you? How come you were ineffective about this?' And that they don't get promoted if they don't take this seriously."

Horwarth saw it as a threat. Capt Daniel Katka fretted and came close to a meltdown declaring that he wasn't sure such a move would cause change in the ranks -- real change. Why, what if it only resulted in "disingenuous culture change"?

Last Wednesday's special prime time broadcast of The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric included Couric offering this statistic on military sexual assaults, "A third of service women and six percent of service men say they have been victims." One-third. And Katka wants to fret that an alteration in performance evaluations for commanders might lead them to do their job but for "disingenuous" reasons?

The fact that a proposed alteration to a performance evaluation results in counter-charges of "threats" goes a long way towards explaining just how deep in denial the military is about sexual assault.

In 2001, Laura Watterson was sexual assaulted while serving in the Air Force. She offered testimony to the panel which included the following:

I reported it as I was supposed to -- to my supervisor, as well as his. They said it would be taken care of and I trusted that. Two weeks later, I was at work and everyone was asked to stand up because there was going to be a pinning-on ceremony. That pinning-on ceremony was for the man who assaulted me to now outrank me and become a supervisor. He was rewarded. This was when I got very angry. [. . .] I was told by my commander that I needed to understand that, "Different people have different personal bubbles. For example, when you go to England, sometimes when you meet people over there and you shake their hand, they like to hold on to your hand while they're speaking and, as Americans, because we don't do that, it's uncomfortable for us." And that is how he told me that I needed to get over what had happened.

In various ways throughout the first panel and the second, Watterson and other survivors like her were more or less told to "get over it" by the other six witnesses. Five of the six work for the US military, the remainder frequently works with the US military.

If you think they may have made time for some serious self-critiques you (a) are very optimistic and (b) missed the hearing. The response to Representative Sanchez' suggestion -- the dismay over it -- was only one indication that they're not really interested in changing much in the institution that pays their bills.

As bad as the nonsense frequently got, the first panel always had Watterson who owed no debt to anyone and could speak frankly. The second panel had nothing but the indebted. Subcommittee Chair Susan Davis introduced the trio, "For our second panel, we're pleased to have two witnesses from the Department of Defense's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office and one from the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Dr. Kaye Whitley is the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office -- what we all have been say SAPRO -- she holds a doctorate in counseling and human development. I also believe that this is her first appearance before our subcommittee. Welcome. and also from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office is Teresa Scalzo. Ms Scalzo is the senior policy advisor for the Office and is a former director of the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women. Her purpose here today is to provide her subject matter expertise on the Department of Defense's policy of restrictive reporting. [. . .] But we're very fortunate to have Robert Coombs who did manage to arrive before the bad weather. Mr. Combs is the public affairs director for the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault." Davis disclosed that the Coalition frequently works with the Department of Defense and that should have indicated to all but the last die-hards that there would be little of value emerging in the second panel.

US House Rep Niki Tsongas attempted to explore the US military's 'novel' policy of "restricted reporting." Unrestricted reporting is what happens when someone tells authorities that they have been raped. An investigation follows and (if the charges appear to have merit) a trial follows that. It is how the legal justice system exists in the United States.

The trio of losers represent the push for "restricted reporting." This 'works' by allowing a victim to self-disclose an assault to a SARC and it ends there unless the victim wants to move to unrestricted.

This allegedly has benefits for the victim.


Whitley would offer that nearly 2,000 victims had used this option since 2005. Some, she would say, had moved to undisclosed status after the fact. She had no number for that which seems rather strange when she knew the exact number of victims who had used 'restricted reporting.' 1,896 isn't a number most of us would readily commit to memory. It's not 1,234. But for some reason, Whitley was able to reel that number off from memory.

Here's reality. The military has covered up sexual assaults for a long, long time. There is a culture of denial within the military. Anyone wanting to ensure that no trial or headlines resulted from a sexual assault could very easily 'counsel' a victim to go with (and stay with) 'restricted reporting.' Where's the check to ensure that's not happening?

Oh, but it wouldn't happen! These are trained professionals!

The military has always had 'professionals' and that didn't prevent the cover ups of multiple incidents of sexual assaults.

As for trained . . .

Katka explained that the way he does things, and he's even made himself a nice little notebook binder, is he finds out which people are coming to the base, asks around about them, and then calls them up and offers them the position. Katka could tell you about his binder, but he didn't volunteer (and wasn't asked) to explain what criteria he uses to compose his list.


The position is a volunteer position. It's not a paid position. A paid position would apparently allow prestige and move it from 'candy striper' to 'real worker.' A paid position might mean that one's duties in the position could be included on (and evaluated) one of those dreaded performance reviews. A paid position might mean that the person could really devote time to the serious problem.

What better way to indicate how little the military still cares about sexual assault than for the Air Force to make the position a volunteer one?

When you grasp that Katka's hiring -- apparently with no supervision -- is based on his 'gut' and that he's hiring someone to do their regular daily duties and turn around and volunteer time to deal with sexual assault, you grasp that there's a problem.

You also begin to see how a victim could easily be steered into restricted reporting which would certainly be less time consuming for a volunteer and less messy for the military.

Tsongas pointed out to Whitley that 1,896 'restricted reports' "means a significant number of people who committed these assaults are not accountable. [. . .] The question I have, and I think that's a worthy goal for the victim, on the other hand, we do have new women coming into the military who have no real understanding of the threat that might exist [ . . .] at the same time, we have many young people coming into the services who we want to protect."

That is a serious issue and we need to grasp that (a) sexual assault is a crime, (b) sexual assailants statistically assault again and (c) crimes are supposed to be punished.

It as though the military has decided the way to deal with sexual assault is to create a group of volunteer-workers who function as priests in that they hear the victim's 'confession' -- but the only one being absolved is the assailant who continues to roam freely.

It's appalling and telling that there were three people allegedly trained in assisting victims of abuse on that second panel and not one of them brought up the fact that for most victims of assault, confronting the assailant is one step of the recovery. There are even therapeutic models to allow victims to confront assailants who are now dead.

But somehow they forgot to inform Congress of that Wednesday. Possibly because it didn't jibe with the 'restricted reporting' they kept pushing?

'Restricted reporting' isn't worth it and needs to ended right away. It puts others at risk -- while pretending to 'deal' with the issue -- and it doesn't help most victims. Nor is there any check currently on its usage.

Here's the big fear about 'restricted reporting' from military victims advocates, in ten years we learn that 'restricted reporting' actually resulted in more cover ups but, ten years from now, it's now an accepted part of the process and, instead of immediately ditching it, the cry is to reform it. It's time to get rid of it. There is no check on it and considering how easily it could be abused, it needs to be ditched.

In fact, the move should be for these victims rights advocates to be civilian jobs funded by the federal government. There should be no chance of anyone pulling rank on or intimidating an advocate. The advocate should be under no obligation to anyone but the victim.

Laura Watterson's problem with getting help wasn't that she wanted a 'restricted report,' it was that she didn't get help. It was that she utilized the chain of command, followed the rules and regulations and still didn't get help. That's not back during the Colonial War, that's at the start of this decade and it was appalling to watch the second panel attempt to minimize Watterson's experience and insist that changes, changes, changes have addressed those issues.

"Sexual assault is a complex problem where most, if not all, aspects are interrelated. Such a topic does not lend itself to a single hearing. As a result, we have chosen to hold multiple hearings on discrete topics so that members and witnesses can have in-depth discussions about various issues to build towards a comprehensive understanding of the problem. This will guide our deliberations on what can and should be done next," Susan Davis explained as she brought the hearing to order.

While that's wonderful that there will be multiple hearings to address the issue, we should all grasp that the issue is not going to be addressed by asking the military to report on the military. For example, the next hearing's topic is "current and planned Department of Defense programs to prevent sexual assault." Those programs are already in writing. Before that hearing, get victims rights advocates who do not work with the Defense Department to go over the manuals and materials. Bring those people into the hearings and let them offer evaluations. Until moves like that are made, expect the same frustration Loretta Sanchez voiced (twelve years in Congress, multiple laws passed and still the assaults continue) to mount and multiply.


VETWOW is among the resources for victims of military sexual assault.

Congrats America, you elected a Jewish mother

Barack's Jewish? Who knew?

In Friday's White House press briefing, spokesperson Robert Gibbs declared of President Obama, "I think many of you have covered him. I have seen him upset at times. He doesn't really get fired up upset. He is more like that disappointed parent, you know, that doesn't embarrass you in the mall, but you feel like you've let somebody down."

Ah, the guilt trip!


Congratulations, America, you just elected your first Jewish mother!


Nancy Walker played Ida Morgenstern, Rhoda's mother, on The Mary Tyler Show.



Ty: We're doing another mailbag and I've tried to pull e-mails on a number of topics. First off, I wrote a "Ty's Corner" awhile back and mentioned links and said just e-mail us and we'll try to work in a link somewhere and then added, "We don't link to pornography. We're a site for the left so keep that in mind as well." That seems pretty clear to me. I would assume someone e-mailing us about "adult toys" could grasp that, no, we're not linking. It would have seemed to be just spam mail were it not for the fact that it was a personal e-mail and mentions another site we link to. But let me repeat, we're not linking to porn and that includes "adult toys." Now, staying with the issue of porn but dropping to something that appeared at all sites except this one and Mikes -- "Roundtable," "Talking," "the roundtable," "Roundtable and snapshot," "The roundtable," "Iraq, sexual assault, feminism and more," "Discussion and Iraq snapshot," "Movies, Iraq, sexual assault and more" "A roundtable," "Roundtable time" and "Roundtable" -- an e-mail came in from a woman who asked that her name not be used but wanted Marcia to know, "You are referring to erotica, not porn." Marcia?

Marcia: No, I'm referring to porn. In the roundtable, we're talking about a woman in her underwear for a photo -- not porn. And I'm noting that I do have porn. I'm a lesbian, I have videos of lesbians making out. It's porn. I'm not going to call it "erotica." I know that's supposed to be the 'thing to do.' That 'thing to do' has been going on since before I was born. I don't see any changes. Except an increase in the smear that feminists don't like sex. I like sex. I made the personal decision, and did so a few years ago, to stop using the term "erotica." I've outlined the reasons for that. I'm glad she didn't use her name because I'd be calling her out by name noting that we're tackling how many issues in that roundtable -- including military sexual assault -- and her big concern is that I used "porn" when she thinks I should have used "erotica"?

Ty: Same roundtable, Ericzzz e-mails to ask Elaine what she means by, "She posed in her underwear -- in designer underwear, it was a fashion shoot, it's not her personal underwear. Do people know anything about photo shoots? I know C.I. will say, 'No.' I've heard her say it plenty of times. But, the photo you see in the magazine or wherever, that's not necessarily the one the model or photographer planned. It's the one that turned out best. The one that sells."

Elaine: That's clear to me, I'm sorry if it wasn't for Ericzzz and I don't mean that sarcastically. At photo shoots, C.I. will say "no." I've heard her say "no" plenty of times. What is absolutely not clear is where I should have then gone from that. In a photo shoot, many photographers will tell a woman to try this or try that. The sort of thing C.I. says a firm "no" to. But a lot of woman do get tricked. "Okay, but let's try one without the blouse, just to see how it looks." That's where I was heading. The subject in a photo shoot is attempting to be agreeable, is attempting to do their part to make a photo arresting. Your only feedback is the photographer until the prints are developed. You're putting all your trust in them and it can be difficult to say "no." The nature of the relationship is one of dependency because you're the one whom everyone is going to see in the picture and you're depending on the photographer to present you in a flattering light. So it can be very difficult to say "no" for a variety of reasons. Thanks to Ericzzz for e-mailing because I had meant to go into that but didn't.

Ty: We'll come back to that roundtable but there's an e-mail for Dona that arrived Saturday afternoon. Julianne writes that Dona "seems level-headed and organized and I'm guessing she has features in mind for future editions on any given week. When things are going badly during a writing edition, why not just pop out one of those features?"

Dona: That's a good question. We've got, for example, Dolly Parton and Mel Brooks on a list of planned features. With Parton, we're thinking a look at some of her singles, with Brooks his films. When a writing edition is falling apart -- as this one appears to be, honestly -- it's generally too late to start on one of those features. It is 5:30 on the East Coast. Ty was going to do a "Ty's Corner" to cover a number of topics and we put that on hold to do "Mailbag" due to the fact that a transcript piece would really break things up -- one of the reasons I'm arguing that since Ava and C.I. participated in the roundtable Friday, Third should repost it here. Ava and C.I. being part of the six of us that are The Third Estate Sunday Review. And Jim's response? I think Ty has a question on that.

Ty: I do. I'll go to it now. It's joked in the roundtable that Ann, Cedric's wife, is brought into that roundtable just because they know it will kill Jim. Meaning that Rebecca's roundtable got Ann as a participant and Third didn't. It's joked. But some are taking the joke very seriously and e-mailing about it.

Jim: Am I ticked? Yeah. Raging, screaming ticked? No. But of course I would have preferred to have had Ann here participating. And that's why the joke's funny. They're not being mean spirited. It's as if I was inclined to blush -- I'm not -- and they joked, "That'll make Jim blush." It's not an insult to me and I didn't take the joke that way. And, yeah, I would have preferred that we had Ann talk here at Third. I'm famous for staking things out in the roundtables for the gina & krista round-robin --

Wally: And did that just last Thursday night.

Jim: Yes, I did. That's going to be our editorial. But I'm known for that, I'm known for asking C.I. not to write about a topic or not to write about it again that week because I want to use the topic at Third. That's just who I am. I wasn't offended by the joke. I was laughing when I read it.

Ty: Alan e-mails about last month's "1 Book, 5 Minutes," a book discussion on Janis Ian's Society's Child: My Autobiography. Alan wants to know why more book discussions can't be done? For the record, we've answered this question before. We'll include this question in one mailbag this year and that's it. Alan adds, "Reading is important and everyone is cutting back on book sections." Jess, you want to tackle this?

Jess: Hello, Alan. Did you understand that? Good, you are reading. That's what you are doing right now. Regardless of whether we talk about books or not, you are reading. Reading is important and we used to include book discussions all the time. In part, we don't do it now because it's much more difficult to have a discussion when you've got over 15 people participating. You don't see that number around a table on TV. In part, we don't see a great deal of books worth recommending. Janis Ian's book was picked as the best book for the year by the TCI community and it was our responsibility to have discussed it if for no other reason than that. But it also happens that we all loved the book and recommend it highly. If there's another book we feel is worth a discussion, we'll discuss it. I know there's one we're seriously considering.

Ty: On Janis Ian's book, Janice e-mails that she loved the book and checked it out at her library after she read the book discussion. Janis writes, "I was especially curious about the woman who sells the house because it was clearly something that a lot of you were offended by. I saw why it was offensive and one thing I would add is that what the woman did really fell under kicking someone when they're already down. I felt very sorry for Janis Ian during that because she really had nothing. She was trying to rebuild her career, the IRS was taking all of her checks and all she had was the house she co-owned and this woman sells it out from under her. It was low and it was dirty." I don't know if we mentioned it in the book discussion or not but back when we started doing those in 2005, we always pointed out that you could check bookstores and your libraries and that we are big supporters of public libraries. And that's pertinent to the next e-mail from community member Diane who writes of a development that she finds troubling. At her library system --

C.I.: Diane lives in Dallas, Texas and she won't mind that being noted. She's noted it before in comments she's wanted shared at The Common Ills.

Ty: Okay, thank you for adding that because it does allow us to pin it down. At their library system, there's a new policy. All the libraries have a cart by the check out desks and the cart has the latest DVDs and books. And to check out any of those, you pay five dollars. That's a one week check out and, after one week, you are fined. Diane finds this troubling because a public library is supposed to be a public library. It is not supposed to offer two levels of service, it is supposed to treat all patrons equally.

Betty: Can I jump in? I agree with Diane. As you're describing it, there is not one level, there is two. If I want -- I'm having a hard time thinking of a book that's just come out.

C.I.: Let me offer Dallas the chance to come in on this. If he wants to.

Dallas: Sure. Okay, Betty, an example could be Mark Wahlberg's The Happening. That's one I saw last month, a DVD, on the cart at my branch. They emphasize the DVDs and any book that they think would be a bestseller. John Grisham's got a new book out and you've got copies on the cart of it. Does that help?

Betty: Yes, it does, thanks. Okay, so I want The Happening. Or better yet, because I do have kids, one of my kids wants it. I've got pay five dollars? We're checking out, we've got our books and whatever else, and we're checking out and my son sees The Happening and he starts saying, "Mommy, I need that." I mean, first off, that offends me because, as a parent, I'm used to that in the grocery store, I shouldn't have to put up with it in a public library. This, "Let's put some pricey items by the register" being what I shouldn't have to put up wiht. Second, it offends me because I may not have five dollars and does this mean I'm less of a patron? Yeah, it does because there are things that I do not have access too in this alleged public library.

Mike: I think --

C.I.: Mike, can we come back to you in a second? Is that okay?

Mike: Sure.

C.I.: Okay, Dallas, help me out because community members in your area have written suggesting a feature on Red Box. Do I have that right, Red Box?

Dallas: Red Box is a new thing in the city. It's been in a few places for maybe a year or so and now it's pretty much spread all over the city. How it works is that you've got, for example, a Wal Greens drug store and Red Box puts its machine outside by the entrance. You go up with your credit card and you can rent a DVD for a buck and tax. For one day, that's the cost. You can rent more than one at a time. But it's a self-serve machine. You press the screen for the DVD choices, you swipe your card, you type in your info, the machine spits out your DVD. You return it to the machine as well.

C.I.: Okay, the reason I'm asking you this is The Happening, not a new movie, why is anyone going to pay five dollars to borrow that DVD from the library when they get it for a dollar out of Red Box. Forget the other video rentals for a moment.

Dallas: That's a good point and when I saw someone pick up The Happening, someone in line ahead of me, and they were told it was five dollars, they said no thank you. That was at my library. Thursday I was downtown and a woman picked up The Rocker at the main branch. She walked over to the man saying, "Next in line" and, while I was still waiting in line, came back over to put The Rocker back. She said to me, "They want you to pay for this." I don't know how it's working out but I know it's upsetting people.

C.I.: Mike's waiting and I'm sorry to make him wait but Dallas lives there, he knows this story. So I just want a few more details. This is a cart of items, items new to the library, and the cart is right next to the check out desk?

Dallas: Right. It's called street something. Like "street date" or something. "Street Smart Express"! That's what it's called. Okay. So what I see, and I go to my branch and downtown, what I see is a lot of items on the cart that never get checked out. I don't know how much of a money maker it is but when you're charging for things you should be providing for free, I guess any amount qualifies for a 'money maker.' I go to the library at least once a week, at least. I have never seen anyone check out an item from that cart. I have twice seen people pick up items, learn that there was a cost and put them back.

C.I.: Mike, you can speak in a second but I'm going to be really brutal here. They're a public library. If they're making a profit off the rental -- and it is a rental if people are paying money for the items -- there may be liability issues. CDs? I believe the US Copyright Act of 1984 made it very clear that sound recordings could not be rented. Parts of the act have been repealed or modified but, unless I'm mistaken, that section still stands. In addition, the book publishing business is having dire problems. If public libraries are profiting from books via rental fees you better believe the publishers are going to want a stake of that money. It's stupid and it's idiotic to push that program. The only thing that may make them reconsider is whether or not it is also illegal? If they continue the program, someone may decide to put the matter before a judge. I'm going to toss to Mike now because I'm pretty sure he's going to the money issue and thanks for letting me jump in, Mike.

Mike: No problem. Yeah, I was going to the money. If I go in to a library and see that, my attitude is going to be, "They're charging? Why the hell am I paying taxes?" And I say that, please note, with a mother who goes to every meeting when there's talk of cutting the budget for our local libraries. She goes to protest those cuts. I firmly believe public libraries need more money not less. But if they're charging, my attitude's going to change.

Stan: I'd agree with Mike. They're charging five dollars for a rental. Blockbuster doesn't get away with that. My attitude would be, well, you're on your own. We don't give tax money to Blockbuster to stay in business. I find that really offensive and agree with Betty and Diane that it's creating two levels of customers.

Rebecca: Can I use my sole time any way I want? I haven't spoken yet and I would gladly toss my time to C.I. who stopped quickly but I think might have more to say re: legal.

Ty: C.I.?

C.I.: Well, I did stop quickly. That's because I was sitting there building the case in my head. Let's use the Jonas Brothers as an example, okay? Let's say their latest CD comes out Tuesday and the Dallas public library system decides they're going to put it on their Street Smart Express cart and charge people five dollars a pop. Again, I think it's debatable whether they have that right or not. But here's what I do know. Just sticking with sound recordings, they are opening up a can of worms because, as Betty and Diane are saying, charging money means that it's not available to all. There are two levels -- Stan made the point as well. This matters, and bear with me a second, because if we're suing because we want money, we're going to build the case. And one of the things we'll use is all of our power. For example, currently libraries can make a copy -- a single copy -- of a sound recording and allow that to go out for distribution to protect their original. But that right is built around -- this in writing, this in the Copyright Act of 1984 -- the premise that they have an archive that's open to the public. Define archive. Define whether or not the Jonas Brothers' new CD is in that archive. That's how the case would be played out in court. It wouldn't just be, "Five dollars!" It would go to the heart of the system, it would go to every existing law. When the Jonas Brothers CD is entered into the library system, it is part of the archive immediately. Is it available for all? "Open to the public"? The library may say, "Yes, after X number of days, it moves off our Street Smart Express Cart into the general system." The copyright holder may argue, "Then it's not available. Then it's not open to the public." That's when a judge has to decide or Congress finds itself being asked to revist the law. Or both. That's it except to ask if we can get some sort of link to this program because I know an e-mail or two will come in saying it was made up. We've got an idiot insisting I'm wrong about who wrote Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop." It was Christine McVie, not Lindsey Buckingham, I don't care what Danny Goldberg's stupid book says. And we'll do a short entry on that next week. But can we get a link in here when this is published going to something at the Dallas library system's website on this program?

Dallas: Yeah.

Ruth: I will jump in quickly just to say I have not heard of such a thing before. The whole point of a public library system is that its items are available to the public. The idea that if you have five dollars to toss around for every book, movie and CD you want to check out means you can get a better level of service goes against the entire concept that a public libary was built around. I really find that concept of charging to be distasteful.

Ty: Just tossing it out there, is anyone supporting the decision to charge five dollars for new, presumably popular, items?

Cedric: I don't know if it comes off in the reading, but Ruth's entire response was said in a shocked voice and I share her shock. I'm just kind of thrown by the whole idea that a library would charge money to borrow items. Or, for that matter, display such items at the check out counter. I find that offensive. My father died when I was a kid. My grandparents pretty much raised me. They still had kids at home. When we went to the library, which we did all the time, it was because we could get books and I think cassettes and records, and get them without having to pay. That was a very big deal. And the idea that someone who is in the same situation I was, someone whose grandparents really do not have the money to raise another kid, some kid like me is going to be at the library and see all the pretty new items on that cart and know that he or she can't have them because, even though this a public library, only the people who pay can pick them up off that cart and walk out with them. That just really ticks me off. I want

Wally to speak to this because he lost his father when he was a little kid and his mother and grandfather raised him. I want to see if it's just me?

Wally: No. You know that a lot of our experiences were similar. And if it was the weekend, my grandfather took me to the library. During the summer, he took me several times a week to the library. And I mean, it was exciting. It was fun. And I remember this one librarian I hated who would tell me I was in the adult section. I wasn't playing, I was talking. I was looking at books. I don't remember how old I was but we went to the library all the time and I started reading fiction -- not children's fiction or young adult -- early because of that. So I remember my grandfather coming up during this woman's little tirade against me and my grandfather saying, "Any book in this libary he intends to read, he can check out. This is a public library." And that was great because who doesn't like their grandfather sticking up for them but it was also great because I'd never really thought about it like that but it was true, everything in that public library that could be taken out, I could check out. That card, and I had my own card, made me a library member and I was the same as any other library member. We couldn't have afforded the new stuff, growing up, if they'd done a cart and charged five dollars for the items. That's just reality. And, no, the library wouldn't have felt like my library.

Ty: Okay, Dona's giving me a signal to wind down. I'm going to go to another e-mail, our last, and I'm choosing it because Kat hasn't spoken. She's the only one who hasn't. Kat, Mallory wants to know why there aren't more CD reviews from you at The Common Ills and why there are not more music pieces here?

Kat: My reviews? Didn't I already write two for January? I only agreed to 12 pieces a year and one of those is the year-in-review. So I think I'm ahead of the schedule currently. In terms of here, Dona mentioned we'd long been planning a Dolly Parton piece. It goes to what we have time for and what we manage to get to on any given week. We've actually done a great deal of music pieces in the last three months here. I don't believe that we have anything planned for this week but we've don't have time for it this week.

Ty: Tossing to Ava who I just realized didn't speak.

Ava: Questions or comments or complaints can be e-mailed to us at When possible, we will include them in a mailbag or work them into another feature such as a roundtable. We're not a blog, we're an online magazine. "Mailbag" is a feature created to try to address questions, comments and complaints. It appears regularly. You're writing an e-mail does not require us to respond in any form including in a "Mailbag" feature. For example, anyone asking about a book discussion again this year will be blown off because we have addressed it and addressed and addressed it. If your question or comment or complaint is for one person in particular, name them. Third Estate is Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, C.I. and myself. All others participating -- except for Dallas -- have their own websites. The roundtable Rebecca ran resulted in questions here because so many of us participated in it. Point, most of the time, your issues with what went on at some other site -- positive or negative -- are not going to be included in a "Mailbag."

And that's why you don't let Republicans in the door

People choose political identifications for a reason. Most human beings will progress from point A to B or C in their lifetimes. They will not run the gamut of A to Z. Transformational experiences of the sort needed to cause that sort of change really don't happen as often as they do in the movies.

Working from that premise, all these 'New' Democrats and 'New' 'Progressives' should always be viewed skeptically. Whether it's Arianna Huffington or John Aravosis, the fact that they managed to step out of the gutter shouldn't let you forget what's on the bottom of their shoes. They'll never call themselves "liberals" because they spent the bulk of their lives deriding liberals and attacking them. To call themselves liberals would suggest that they truly had experienced some transformational conversion.

So what they do is burn out all their friends on the right, sense a change in the current and rush over to the other side. Why is that a problem?

It's not if you watch them with a detached amusement.

Don't expect ethics from them and you won't be surprised when Aging Socialite's Cat Litter Box is offering up 'blog posts' by George Clooney that Clooney never wrote. Don't expect a left sensibility and you won't be surprised when Arianna thinks the thing-to-do is to make 'jokes' about special-needs children. Or when she declares Hugo Chavez a "Marxist dictator."

They may have stepped out of the gutter but, never forget, they bring the gutter along with them. Not having had any real conversion, they utilize the same tactics they did as conservative Republicans and launch the same sort of attacks.

Case in point, John Aravosis who was Ted Steven's go-to-legal-boy for years and years (1989-1994). Ted Stevens who was found guilty of failing to disclose 'gifts' (bribes) in a federal court last fall. So you might think Aravosis would know a bit about what qualifies for crooked senator -- but you'd be wrong.

Friday, John Aravosis was reminding the world that Republicans and racism are frequently go together like gin and tonic. Having little else to do with his time, he decided to issue an edict, that US Senator Roland Burris should resign his Senate seat.

Maybe John had tossed and turned all night dreaming of Keith Olbermann and wanted to embrace his own warm nutty?

Who knows, who gives a damn?

What is known is that Senator Burris hadn't broken any laws and wasn't accused of breaking any.

But some Republican males see an African-American and it makes them go limp in head and crotch as they tremble in fear. The fear manifests itself in hate. And hate allows Aravosis to hiss that it's time for Burris to step down.

Because? The Illinois State Senate impeached Governor Rod Blagojevich last week.


If you're asking that, you're not thinking like a racist Republican trying to play 'progressive'.

Here's reality on Blajojevich, he was impeached and removed from office. He wasn't sent to jail or prison. That's because he hasn't been found guilty of anything. (And we remember an impeachment motion for a mayor that stumbled for just that reason. The mayor did resign . . . after he was found guilty of breaking the law.) Blagojevich may be guilty of taking bribes or paying bribes or knowing of bribes or fixing the state lotto.

Or he may be completely innocent.

Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor who has made political hay of his indictments against Blagojevich, doesn't exactly have a track record that comforts. This is the man who refused to take Plamegate any highter than Scotter Lewis Libby.

Maybe Fitzgerald has a case, maybe he doesn't.

Maybe Blagojevich ends up convicted, maybe he doesn't.

If he doesn't end up convicted, a number of people will be condemning the impeachment. So if you're a state senator in Illinois (all voted to impeach), you are probably praying night and day that Blagojevich gets convicted.

Regardless of whether he is convicted or not, he was within the duties of his office to appoint someone to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat. He chose Roland Burris. The Senate accepted Burris' appointment and he was sworn in. (Burris is pictured below with Illionis' other US Senator Dick Durbin and with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.)

Durbin, Burris and Reid

John Aravosis writes that the senator "will always be judged by his original sin." "Original sin"? Oh goodness. Leave it to a gay Republican to toss around "sin" when he's got no point. Truly, Republicans do not convert, they just remarket themselves.

"He put ego, and loyalty to a now fallen governor, ahead of his state and his country." That's Burris' 'sin,' according to Aravosis.

First off, Burris is over seventy-years-old so if that's his first so-called 'sin' in life, good for him! Truly, good for him. Second, it's just the sort of pompous, bulls**t Keith Olbermann (another 'conversion' story) would spew so, of course, it's not rooted in reality or anything verifiable.

What is verifiable is that Republican 'progressive' Aravosis has a history of bigotry and not all in the distant pass.

"That's because far too often the Democrats don't give a damn about anybody who isn't a minority or starving to death," hissed Aravosis. While working for Ted Stevens (and still in the closet)? No, in January of 2008.

Yeah, LGBT is a minority but White Republicans -- especially those who spent years in the closet -- tend to forget that and scream and hiss about those 'damn minorities'.

That is the mindset that allows a John Aravosis to hiss at Roland Burris, a man whose character was judged by his Senate colleagues (for those who have forgotten the hoops Burris was forced to jump through to be seated) and found to be strong. No recent senator (and we're having trouble remembering any senator -- though Gore Vidal might be able to think of someone) has had to go to the lengths Burris did after becoming a senator just to be seated. He did all that was asked of him and he did it with dignity.

That last part ("he did it with dignity") may be what most upset John Aravosis.

Regardless, consider last week a gift from 'progressive' John Aravosis -- a lesson that few people ever truly have a political conversion. People may become less liberal or less conservative. Few have a truly transformative experience. Revisionary history likes to pretend otherwise -- the same revisionary history that likes to turn John Dean into a hero instead of the convicted Watergate crook he is.

The Shirley goes to . . .

We have the Bronze Boobies (thanks, Barack) and the Katrinas to 'honor' extreme examples of stupidity (receiving a Bronze Booby means you were far more stupid than a Katrina winner -- some may find comfort in that). But what do we have for those who did something that's worth applauding?

Lurlisa e-mailed us this week to ask that question? She noted that Ava and C.I. had given praise to Norman Solomon who "they call out when he needs it, and, boy, does he need it most of the time. But I've never seen an award for doing something great except for 'Truest statement' each week. Am I missing it?"

Shirley Chisholm

No, she wasn't. So this week we start the Shirleys. Named after the late, great Shirley Chisholm. So ahead of her time, she's still ripped off today by pasty-faced White-boy dee jays who think they can steal her campaign slogan ("Unbought and Unbossed") and pass it off as their 'clever' idea. Feminist, activist, politician. The first Black woman elected to the US Congress. A pioneer, a trail blazer.

When we hand out a Shirley, it'll go to someone who somehow managed to demonstrate Chisholm's fighting spirit.

The first Shirley we're handing out goes to Feminist Wire Daily for this item:

A provision in the proposed economic stimulus package that would expand family planning coverage under Medicaid has drawn harsh criticism from Republicans and may be removed from the proposed stimulus package as early as today. President Barack Obama has reportedly told congressional Democrats to remove the provision and may offer this move as a concession to congressional Republicans in meetings today.

The current version of the stimulus package (see PDF) would no longer require states to obtain federal permission to offer family planning services and contraceptives under Medicaid.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi defended the inclusion of the family planning provision this weekend (see video) and said that, ultimately, "the family planning services reduce cost." Democrats argue that the provision is an investment that would save money long term and that it could create health care jobs and bolster state programs, according to .

Most feminist and woman based organizations, such as NARAL and NOW, gladly played silent on the cave or, worse, rushed to excuse it. No one, it appeared, would treat it as a serious cave and something that will harm women. That Feminist Wire Daily did treat it like news in such a climate of silence warrants a Shirley. Shirley Chisholm was never afraid to call it like it was and she refused to be silenced.

The backstory on the White House press briefings

[Note that Ava and C.I. did not participate in the writing of this feature in any form.]

The day of the inauguration, Kat, Wally, Ava and C.I. (and Kat's niece and nephew) were among those taking a tour of the White House and one of the things the incoming administration was especially proud of was not just the physical White House but the virtual White House.

White House emblem

Online, they'd made major alterations that went beyond using the shades of blue and white from the campaign website. "We're going to have a blog, see here's our first post . . .," Wally and Kat remember being told in a series of fast mouse clicks. C.I. and a friend (reporter) asked, "Where's the press briefing?"


Click. Click. Click.

"Here it is," they were told, "there's not been a press briefing yet but here's where they will go."

Uh, no, C.I. and the reporter pointed out, they won't go there.

That folder is labeled "pool report."

A pool report is not a press briefing. One can write up a pool report on a press briefing. But the standard is that the White House provides a transcript of the press briefing. Not only that, but the previous administration provided both a transcript and a video.

"Oh. We'll be doing that. I promise you."


"As soon as we hold the first press briefing."

That didn't happen.

Despite the fact that the press briefings had been eliminated online, Danny Schechter (News "Dissector") would write a rave review the week of the inauguration on the White House website's makeover. Uh, Dan, how'd you miss the fact that there were no press briefings?

A reporter friend of C.I.'s missed the January 27th White House press briefing due to having to double up on assignments and having an interview scheduled at the same time. Fine, no, problem. The reporter would read over the transcript and question some reporters attending. Couldn't do that.

Despite the claim that there would be web folder for press briefings, despite the claim that as soon as a press briefing was held it would be posted, it didn't happen.

January 28th, the White House realized they had a problem on their hands and finally added the press briefing folder and all the press briefings going back to January 22nd.

January 27th, C.I. addressed the issue in the snapshot.

The following afternoon, Wally and Kat heard (paraphrase) C.I. say into the cell phone, "Call off the dogs? What are you talking about? [. . .] If you're getting s**t for not posting the press briefings, that's on you. They should be posted. Reporters need those. They need them when they check their notes, they need them if they're unable to attend. That's not even counting -- Read that one back. No, no TCI community member would have written that, we didn't support Barack. But yeah, it does make Barack look back and it would appear his 'staff' are undermining him and making him look 'politics as usual'."

At the end of the conversation, C.I. agreed to post a link to the White House press briefings on the permalinks but, "I've got a hearing to cover in the snapshot. I don't have time to update. What do you want me to say? 'Congrats, we shamed the White House into doing their damn job'? I'll mention it in a snapshot later in the week or next week."

The press was complaining on Tuesday to the White House (some were friends of C.I.'s) and the snapshot caught some attention leading to complaints (and some obviously non TCI community members must have noticed on their own because the complaints increased -- prior to Tuesday, the White House had already logged at least 30 complaints from citizens -- non-press -- about the removal of the press briefings). After Barack's infamous first appearance in the press room ('You are asking me questions! How dare you ask me questions!'), the White House was worried about having another press problem on their hands so quickly. Don't worry, they'll have plenty of problems. That's what happens when you try to govern in secret. (Click here for the most recent example.)

Our belief is that the White House was not planning to offer a transcript. They were planning to offer a pool report. That is also the suspicion of some in the press. Why?

Because Barack doesn't like a public record.

It's easy to say, "The White House never said that!" . . . if there's no record. A pool report? The press writes a pool report. Therefore the White House could say, "We were misquoted." A transcript released by the White House is on the White House. They are responsible.

Until January 28th, the White House got away without posting their press briefings (the first one took place January 22nd) and you might ask yourself why your watchdogs failed to catch that? Most of all, you might ask why Barack Obama's White House wanted to get away with more secrecy than George W. Bush's -- why and how they actually thought they could?

Hypocrisy Corrente Style

Chicago Dyke decided last week to post "On the Evolution of 'Blogroll Amnesty Day'." In it, she asks for 'linky goodness' among the online world -- play nice and be kind.

For those just getting in and still taking off their coats, in brief, the great purge was called "Blogroll Amnesty." It's when the authoritarians who saw themselves as leaders (you know who they are) decided that others might be getting too popular and wanted to ditch them from their blogrolls. So the small and petty ditched numerous blogs in the so-called Blogroll Amnesty.

Chicago Dyke links to Jon Swift and Blue Gal for more details and then closes with these thoughts, "It's better to be right, than popular. FWIW, Corrente stayed on many people's blogrolls after the Great Culling. I chalk that up to the quality of our content, which no matter how much it may annoy, is still valuable."

Now to be clear, the purge was purging sites from blogrolls. To be clear, Chicago Dyke thinks it's wonderful that "Corrente stayed on many people's blogrolls".

To be clear, Lambert read the post and left comments on it. So did other people. Here's part of a comment lizpolaris leaves: "Apparently, he decided that not only was his blog way too cool for certain ordinary mortals to be listed there, his blog was SO cool that he could redefine English!"

Atrios did that? Atrios decided his site was "way too cool for certain ordinary mortals to be listed there"?

Oh, did he?

And Corrente?

Chicago Dyke probably didn't know but Lambert does know.

Corrente has no blogroll.

It had one.

For years, it had one. It had one at Blogspot and it had one when it switched over to it's new site and it's had one through all the upgrades until the one this summer. Since then, for months, Correnet has had no blogroll.

An oversight?

A glitch that just happened?

Since at least January 9th, Lambert's been aware there's no blogroll. Since at least then. He admits that in an e-mail ("Woopsie") entitled "Re: Where is Corrente's blogroll." [E-mail correspondence was forwarded to Third.]

It's January 31st. Chicago Dyke did her post January 30th.

The whole point of the post is, "It was so awful for Atrios and the others to eliminate bloggers from their blogrolls."

Which finger points back at Corrente because weeks before that post went up, Lambert knew that there was no blogroll at Corrente "Whoopise!"

Chicago Dyke wants to decry what Atrois did which is the same thing Lambert's done.

January 9th was twenty-two days ago.

It's not as if he's sent out an e-mail to all the websites asked to link to Corrente (disclosure, C.I. was asked to link to Corrent when it was on Blogspot and again when it switched to its new site) apologizing or even acknowledging what he'd done. If it was an accident (and it may have been), he's been in no hurry to correct it.

And maybe he should explain what happened because Chicago Dyke's post makes her come off like a moron as she goes on about the evil world outside Corrente and how, ha, ha, at least we managed to keep our links -- "without giving out to others!" is supplied by the readers. (Repeating, we don't believe Chicago Dyke is aware that Corrente's blogroll is no more. Were she aware of that, she'd have to really be trying to invite ridicule to have written the post she did.)

ETAN says drop charges against Jose Belo

This is ETAN:

January 26, 2009 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) today called on Timor-Leste's (East Timor) prosecutor-general to drop criminal defamation charges against the local weekly Tempo Semanal and its editor, Jose Belo.

"Tempo Semanal and Jose Belo should not have to face charges under this obsolete and repressive law," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN. "We urge the prosecutor-general to immediately drop any charges."

In October 2008, Tempo Semanal published an article alleging that Timor-Leste's Justice Minister Lucia Lobato had improperly awarded government contracts to friends and business contacts. The report cited leaked mobile phone text messages. Lobato filed the defamation charges in November, accusing the paper of breaching her privacy and violating the ethical code of journalists.

Belo argues that his publication wrote only about Lobato's performance in her role as a public official, not her private activities. "

"Information about government activities should not be subject to defamation laws. Rather than attack the messenger, Timor-Leste's leadership should support freedom of expression and encourage a dynamic, investigative media," said Miller.


The government of Timor-Leste has proposed decriminalizing defamation under a new penal code. Although drafted several years ago, it has not yet been enacted.Timor-Leste's criminal defamation statutes are a leftover from Indonesia's criminal code. Journalists and activists in Indonesia are still charged with criminal defamation, although the 1999 Press Law created a body to adjudicate disputes involving the press.

Belo was notified of the defamation charges in mid-December. On January 19, he was questioned for 3 hours by the prosecutor's office.

Tempo Semanal was told by the Office of the Prosecutor-General that they would not be given copies of relevant documents because they are confidential.

In an interview with ABC Radio Australia, Jose Belo, Tempo Semanal's founder, said "we don't have any money or any resources. So we can't fight a person who has influence [and] who has money. So I presume it is very, very difficult to win this case in the court."

If convicted, Belo could face fines or prison. During Indonesia's brutal, illegal 24-year occupation of Timor-Leste, Belo was imprisoned or arbitrarily detained many times for passing information about human rights violations to foreign journalists and human rights groups, for a total of about three years. It is ironic that in democratic, independent Timor-Leste he could face double that time for exposing government corruption.

The Office of the Prosecutor General, Longuinhos Monteiro, has reportedly told Belo that the truth of what he published in his newspaper is not relevant to the charges against him and will not be admissible in court. This contradicts legal precedent set in April 2006, when the same prosecutor, charged Yayasan HAK (a human rights NGO) with defamation. accusing him of abuse of power by interfering with the justice process in a case where HAK served as the defense attorney. In that case, a judge ruled that the defamation charges could not be adjudicated until the original case was resolved. That case was brought to trial. Under that precedent, the allegations of corruption against the Minister of Justice should be tried before the defamation case, but the prosecutor has not begun a legal case against her.

ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East Timor and Indonesia. For more information, see [ETAN]

In April 2006, ETAN urged then-President Xanana Gusmao to veto the criminal defamation provisions of the proposed penal code.


Repost of roundtable Ava and C.I. represented Third Estate in Friday.

Rebecca: I am Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude and we're doing another roundtable -- another outside of Third Estate Sunday Review roundtable. With us for the roundtable are Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review; 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); Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; Ruth of Ruth's Report; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Trina of Trina's Kitchen and Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix will be joining us but first we have Ann and why don't you introduce yourself.

Ann: Hello. I'm Ann Wil -- let me start over. I'm married to Cedric Wilson, I'm Ann Wilson.

Kat: I'm laughing because I get it.

Ann: Exactly, I didn't want people to think I'm the rock star Ann Wilson and then be let down as they read on. But I can sing a pretty good "Crazy On You."

Rebecca: "Crazy On You" is a song recorded by the rock group Heart whose lead singer is Ann Wilson. But that's a different Ann Wilson.

Ann: Very different. I'm African-American, no one would mistake us for twins. But I do know a lot of Heart songs and have their best of and live album -- got 'em both in college when I signed up with BMG Music Club.

Kat: I know we need to be serious but I'll ask the question on the minds of everyone who has ever signed up with BMG and/or Columbia House: Did you leave owing a fee?

Ann: Absolutely! This was college. You move pretty much every other semester. You take your middle name and your last name and your a new person signing up for the free CDs all over again. I'm more financially responsible now. But, yes, I left owing BMG money and I never bought the CDs from Columbia House I was supposed to either.

Rebecca: Outside of the newsletters, this is your online introduction. Cedric and you got married at the end of the year and did you want to add anything to that?

Ann: We didn't plan it. I felt really awful because we didn't invite a lot of people. What happened was that both of my grandparents had come up for Christmas as had my great grandmother who is, well, old. We had planned, Cedric and I, a June wedding which is what everyone wants, I know. But my parents were telling me that the trip up for Christmas was a lot on one set of grandparents -- the other lives in the next city over -- and it was really rough on my great grandmother. So I mentioned that to Cedric and he asked if I wanted to go ahead and move the wedding up? I honestly wasn't thinking or hinting about that. But when he said it, it made perfect sense. Our big wedding flew out the door and I wore a nice white formal dress but it wasn't a wedding gown. I couldn't find -- in that short a time -- a wedding dress I liked so my mother reminded me about a really nice white dress I liked. We'd seen it together and I honestly wanted to buy it for a party but then we looked at the price and I said, "There's no way I'm spending that on a party dress."

Betty: But for the dress on your big day, the price was just right.

Ann: Absolutely! And it's a beautiful dress, it's silk and I do plan on wearing it to parties. Everybody knows the story, I should say that for anyone who doesn't read the newsletters. I've bored everyone with wedding talk and wedding pictures in Polly's Brew.

Ruth: We were not bored reading and seeing the photos and we are not bored now. Explain how quickly you and Cedric pulled this off.

Ann: It was the night before when I mentioned to him about my great-grandmother's health and he asked if I wanted to move it up. We got married in his church. There was something planned at my church. It was a very small wedding pulled together quickly. And we had gorgeous flowers -- thank you to Rebecca, Elaine, Ava and C.I. who apparently bought out every florist in our city. Rebecca, Ruth, Trina, Marcia, Stan, Wally, Ty, Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava, Kat and C.I. were there. Betty, Elaine and Mike couldn't make it and they weren't the only ones. On my side, two of my best friends couldn't make it because they were with their families for the Christmas vacation. I hope it's okay to point this out, Wally was going to be a groom's men but ended up being Cedric's best man.

Wally: But there was no time to throw him a proper bachelors party.

Ava: So Wally took him out for wings and who knows what at dinner. I mean this really was rush, rush. And that was okay because I really did just want to get married in front of both sets of my grandparents and my great-grandmother. There was a rehearsal at the church, actually, and our ceremony started at nine. It was rush rush and it ended up so wonderful. I love our photos. And there again, thank you, Kat. We didn't plan it. So Kat's there and she sees we don't have a photographer -- there wasn't time -- so she ends up doing all the photos and they are wonderful. I'm probably babbling. But it really ended up so beautiful and Cedric and I didn't think that. We thought we'd hae a simple ceremony and it ended up being so nice. Again, thank you to Kat for the photos, thank you to Rebecca, Elaine, Ava and C.I. for the flowers. I don't mean a few flowers. I mean they flooded the church with flowers. White roses, white carnations -- Elaine had called to congratulate Cedric and me and she asked him what our color scheme was going to be. He hands me his cell and I'm explaining to her that we're just tossing this together. I said my dress was white so I guessed that was our scheme. We had flowers in baskets, we had flowers in vases, we had flowers around windows and up and down the aisle. And Kat's taking my photo in the entry hall right before I'm about to walk down the aisle and she says, "No music?" That's really what it was like, we didn't have time to plan. We were just going to exchange our vows -- that was our plan -- in front of family. So Kat yells for C.I. who comes running over and Kat says, "They don't have an organist." C.I. says, "Okay, you got it now. Just the wedding march or anything else." And I said, "Well, it's probably corny and you probably don't know it but Luther Vandross did this song called 'Close To You' and it's an old song that a lot of other --" and C.I. nods and says, "No problem." So we finish up the photos while C.I.'s playing "Close To You."

Trina: It was a very lovely ceremony and you were a beautiful bride. Tell about your great-grandmother.

Ann: She doesn't believe that it wasn't planned all along. She thinks we were trying to save her money on a new dress, trying to make sure she didn't go about and buy something new just for the wedding. She kept saying, "Annie, I know you had this planned." Everything just came together. With a lot of hard work, I know. I mean all the guests I named at the wedding from this community were making sure that the flowers were here and there, that the candles were this and it was just wonderful. And Cedric's pastor did a wonderful job with the vows. I mentioned Wally was a grooms men so let me note Ruth was a brides maid. Poor Ruth. I'd found a sub for my matron of honor but two of my best friends had to cancel because they just couldn't get a flight -- I don't know how you managed it -- but Ruth was the first person walking up to me and I was starting to freak, wedding day jitters and she comes up and congratulates me and wishes me well and I grab her hands while she's doing it -- in a death grip, I'm sure -- and I'm nodding to her and saying, "Yes, yes, yes, I need another bride's maid!" Ruth says, "We'll find you one." I said, "I need one right now!" I was freaking. Ruth said, "Then I'm her." And I hugged her and thanked her and, if I didn't mention it, this is when I met Ruth.

Marcia: We made it out because C.I., Elaine, Rebecca and Ava charted flights. My concern right now is that we do know the story. And because we know the story we know to fill in any details that are missing. We'll do that automatically. So I'm just wondering if everything got covered?

Ann: Good question. My dad did the wedding video. My aunty goes to Cedric church and I had been there once a year, every year for over 20 years.

Ruth: And you had never met Cedric.

Ann: No. I'd seen him but we had never spoken. It's not a mega church, but it is a large congregation. I'm sure he had smiled and nodded at me because he does that with any visitor. But we had never spoken. Now my aunty just goes to church on Sunday morning, she skips Sunday school, so if we'd come earlier for that, Cedric and I might have spoken.

Betty: That is just so strange because there are other periods and places where your paths crossed.

Ann: High school. He was two years ahead of me. But my parents were strict and I didn't date until senior year so there was no point in paying attention to older guys prior to that. It was all I could do to convince them that the boys my age were study partners.

Betty: And were they?
Ann: Noooo. They were my early dates, they were my practice dates. So I'm going to hand off to Cedric now.

Rebecca: Okay, thank you, Ann. Jim will have a fit that I got her for this roundtable instead of Third.

Ava: Which is probably why Cedric arranged it that way.

Rebecca: I'm sure.

Cedric: And I'm not telling.

Rebecca: So Cedric is with us now. You heard what your wife was saying? Did you want to add anything?

Cedric: I heard some of it. But I don't have anything to add. That's her story. It was her big day. Actually I will add a thank you to everyone who was able to make it. And to everyone for making it look so wonderful.

Rebecca: Ann's sweet and she was so beautiful in her wedding dress. Okay, we wanted to give her a chance to speak and, if she wants, she can come back on. Our topics are Iraq, feminism and who knows what else. Oh, rush transcript. There will be typos, deal with it. One other topic, actually, movies. Stan does a Friday post on movies each week and since he's participating in the roundtable, that won't happen. So Stan, tell us a movie to see or skip?
Stan: I'm trying to think. There's a film I didn't care for but I think we're considering doing that as a feature, looking at a director, at Third in the near future. I know, I'll do What A Way To Go. That films stars Shirley MacLaine and a host of other people. Robert Mitchum, Dick Van Dyke, Dean Martin and Paul Newman. The story is that Shirley MacLaine falls in love with a guy, marries him and he dies. She ends up very wealthy. At the beginning, Dean Martin is the wealthy guy in town who wants to marry her but she's not interested in him. She picks Dick Van Dyke who has no business ambition but ends up insulted for her and himself when Dean Martin makes fun of their house. He becomes a huge success after that. It's a comedy and during part of each section, she pictures the marriage as a movie. She and Dick are a silent comedy, she and Newman are a French film, she and Mitchum are a technicolor, big Hollywood movie, and she and Gene Kelly -- who I forgot to mention -- are a movie musical. Shirley was really great in that, by the way. The sequence with Gene Kelly. They are dancing on a ship and, if you see it, you'll really be amazed. I don't mean because she can dance because I think most people know she sings and dances. But that she danced so well. I think she was the best dancing partner Gene Kelly had.

Betty: I'm interested in seeing it just based on the movie musical -- spoof? Is it a spoof?

Stan: Yeah.

Betty: Does it hold up?

Stan: In places. The Paris bit is the weakest. It's filmed and lit well and Shirley looks really great in flowing wig and this dress for the bulk of it that's really just existing to show off her legs. But Paul Newman never really plays a character. He's too showy. There's this scene where he meets her and they're in his cab and he's eating a banana. That scene's supposed to be about them, setting them up, and he's trying to Method it all with the banana and it just makes him look self-obsessed and you think, "Shirley, you should get out of the cab and run." But the Robert Mitchum stuff is great and Gene Kelly really is good. Dick Van Dyke actually has the hardest male role -- I think -- because he's got to play a young kid -- he's the first husband and Shirley's right out of school and he went to school with her so he's got to be young. And he has no business ambition and could seem lazy -- the way Dean Martin thinks he is -- but Dick Van Dyke really makes the role come alive. And Dean Martin is just perfect for the role he plays. If they'd had anyone other than Paul Newman for the Paris section -- even the monkey in Paris is a character you care about more than Newman -- it would have worked better. And it's got a really great look. Shirley's great in all the sequences.

Elaine: If you're seeing Shirley MacLaine films -- I know you recently saw Sweet Charity -- I would recommend The Yellow Rolls Royce which is probably not on DVD but was always one of my favorite Shirley MacLaine films.

Stan: I'll make a point to look for that -- on DVD and videotape. I really am enjoying her films.

Rebecca: Woman Times Seven is another one of her films to check out. We're at the half-way mark. I agreed to a time limit. And so we're going to move into -- let's go into feminism. There's a big to do that a number of us have received e-mails on. Are we doing links?

Betty: No. And I'd prefer no names. I'm not in the mood to advance anyone who can't do a damn thing for any member of this community.

Rebecca: Okay -- and I don't disgaree with you, Betty -- the Groper, Barack's speech writer is dating a woman who did some cheese cake photos for a men's magazine. The way it was handled online has led to a debate over whether she was being shamed, whether she was being called out unfairly, whether she was being held to a different standard, etc. A man wrote about it most famously or infamously and he got yelled at online and it was a lot of messy.

Betty: Which happens a lot -- and I'm not referring to him but where he posted -- it happens a lot there. I'll stay quiet for now.

Ava: I'm looking at C.I. who is shrugging. Kat?

Kat: I don't know this story.

Ava: Kat, C.I., Wally and I are on the road talking about Iraq. We don't know about this. We haven't read any of it. I'm assuming the groper is the PIG Jon Favreau. Not the actor-director-writer, but the Favreau who writes Barack's speeches.

Marcia: Well, first off, the guy. I know this story. He sets himself up for a lot of his problems by the way he writes. In this case, it wasn't the way he wrote in the post that was inviting -- though he outraged some with just the post -- it was his comments in reply to comments. Which really seemed to come from the fact that he was genuinely hurt. And it's true that he rejected the move to engage in the comments but maybe he didn't want to engage? If I disagree with someone, I'm not going to want to engage. So I can see that.

Cedric: I understand what Marcia's saying and can see her points and agree with them. But I would draw one line of difference. For me that would be when he went to Violet Socks' site -- I think Betty's fine with my mentioning her --

Betty: Yes and with her getting a link.

Cedric: Okay, so when he went there, you know, you do have to engage. She's got her own following and when you're coming over there, you need to engage or you don't need to be hanging out there. Now I can see how he'd feel piled on but, honestly, his non-responses invited it.

Wally: Just to be clear on what Cedric's talking about because I do know about this -- Cedric and I discussed it on the phone repeatedly this week. But we wondered if he didn't feel -- and he had reason to feel that way from some comments -- that his right to be a feminist was being questioned. And questioned beyond the flare up but for all time.

Ruth: I understand that and I agree he might have been thinking that. There was a woman who wanted to know if he looked at or bought pornography and she just would not let that go. To her, it was her personal litmus test. And that can be her personal litmus test, but it is not going to be everyone's. I just felt like -- my opinion -- he was being asked to jump through a hoop to prove something and it was not one hoop, it was a thousand and one.

Marcia: And like Ruth said, that was one woman's personal litmus test. I didn't see a problem with the photos of the girlfriend in her underwear. They were meant to be sexy photos and they were marketed to a men's magazine but, I'm a lesbian, I found the photos attractive. The woman wasn't naked and, if she had been, I did wonder if we were getting into prude territory with some of the remarks.

C.I.: Okay I'm looking at the photos right now. It's one photo. Is that right? I don't have time to read whatever's been written about the woman and I'm not in the mood to. I've posed nude. I'm not going to judge this woman and I'm not understanding why we are judging her to begin with? Because of who she's dating? What am I missing here? Did she make some sexist statement or excuse homophobia?

Wally: No, it's just that she's dating the Groper.

C.I.: The Groper refers to Jon Favreau who acted like a pig with a cardboard of Hillary Clinton in what was, at best, boorish behavior and, at worst, simulated gang-rape. I don't care for Favreau, I will never defend him. But I'm not understanding what this has to do with the woman? It's not even as if they're in a longterm relationship because I know for a fact Favreau was seeing several women as late as this fall. So I mean, I don't get it. Lynn Cheney is open season for some because she's married to Dick and has been for many years. She has her own problems to make her open season but most people don't know anything about her other than she's Dick's wife. So they go after her for that reason alone. And that may or may not be fair but the two are life partners with a long history of being that. This woman in her underwear, she's dating a guy. Apparently . Who knows? Gossip doesn't make it true. But he might be one of several guys she's dating, she might be one of many women he's seeing. I'm not understanding where she is responsible for his actions -- good or bad -- or where she's a reflection on his actions. Now people can write whatever they want and express themselves however they want. But unless I'm missing something I don't even want her name mentioned in this because I don't see how she's an issue or at all pertinent at this time to a discussion. Others can and should do what they want but I'm just not interested.

Elaine: I'm going to agree with C.I. here. This isn't anything to do with this woman. She posed in her underwear -- in designer underwear, it was a fashion shoot, it's not her personal underwear. Do people know anything about photo shoots? I know C.I. will say, "No." I've heard her say it plenty of times. But, the photo you see in the magazine or wherever, that's not necessarily the one the model or photographer planned. It's the one that turned out best. The one that sells. I mean, Carly Simon's infamous Playing Possum cover, she didn't plan for that to be the shot. The photographer didn't. It ended up being the best photo on the roll. It was shocking to some people and even got the album banned in some stores -- I believe all the Sears stores. If she were crawling on the floor or sucking on pearls or something, maybe I'd see someone's point. But, as I understand, she was doing TV then or about to be, and this is nothing more than the cheesecake photos Hollywood's always turned out. And though Katharine Hepburn always lied about it, even she had to do some early on. Are we ashamed of our bodies now? I don't get it. I don't think you can make the woman in the photo -- that image, I don't want to pretend that an image is a person -- into a portrait of weakness. She's got an adult expression. She's not exhibiting fear.

Wally: One of the points people raised in comments all over the net was where the photo appeared: a men's magazine.

Elaine: I'm sure the magazine has a lot of photos that run it. Are we holding all the photos to the same standard? I'm sure the men in the magazine are fully clothed. Or we running blog posts questioning whether they are hiding their bodies and if so why? You say a men's magzine and not "a nudie magazine"? If you told me the photo ran in Playboy, I wouldn't care. It wouldn't make a difference. Some outlets? Yeah, it would make a difference. Outlets that promote violence against women would outrage me.

C.I.: What it reminds me of is a photo Sherry Lansing posed for years and years ago when she was attempting to have an acting career. She ended up being an incredible producer and running the studio -- the one Summer Redstone has now ruined. That photo -- from years before -- surfaced or resurfaced. And there was an attempt on the part of some to shame her for the photo. My attitude was, "Sherry, you look incredible in that photo from forty years ago. Don't let it get to you." And some people wanted it to get to her -- and Sherry is well loved and was loved then -- but some people had nothing better to do than turn some photo into reason to cluck or snark. It wasn't an issue. Except for, "You look really good in that photo. You should be really proud." I am fully aware of objectifying and the male gaze. I'm also aware that any woman attempting to work in the entertainment industry is going to be expected to look her best and is going to be expected to pose for photos that someone will find sexy. Now Cheryl Ladd put it so well in the 70s and I'm going to paraphrase her here, "If someone finds me sexy, I'm flattered. If someone thinks of me as a sex object, that's a different thing." Cheryl Ladd was never a sex object and that had to do with how she carried herself as well as her use of a warm humor. And I see something similar in this photo. I see an attractive woman with what appears to be a healthy sense of humor, I'm judging by her facial expression. She's not a heroin waif or a woman in danger. It's a good picture. And I want to make another point: What are we saying she's deserved or had coming? That's a really important question to ask.

Elaine: I agree with that. If, heaven forbid, Favreau hits her, are we going to say, "Well, hey, she posed for that photo." It's a photo. She was attempting to get attention for an entertainment career. Betty Grable, Lana Turner, do the people so outraged by these photos, the ones clucking, have any idea of the photos that have come before? I'm not talking about pornography. I'm talking about studio photos of actresses.

Cedric: Well, where Wally and I went in terms of the photos was is she supposed to be ashamed? She works in some minor function in the White House. What should be -- at best -- something she laughs at for a day with co-workers -- in a, 'Yeah, I posed for that." -- is it suddenly supposed to require her to walk through the White House with a scarlet letter on? And I was asking Wally, "Do you see it as really sexual? Because I don't."
Wally: And I really didn't either. She's an attractive woman. But -- Marcia, how about you?

Marcia: I went with attractive and "nice photos." But, no. And, I mean, I've seen Kim Basinger in some much more explicit photos -- and I don't mean stills from 9 1/2 Weeks. And I went to -- I'm sure C.I.'s thinking this too and Betty as well but I'll say it -- I went to Vanessa Williams. I thought, "This is like when Vanessa was supposed to be shamed." For the nude photos. And now there are non-nude photos and a woman's supposed to be shamed? Geez, what's next. A woman in a two piece suit but with a glint in her eye?

Cedric: But you can understand the guy writing the post?

Marcia: I can. Ruth and I didn't agree with it but we could understand why he wrote it and could see it as a way to start a conversation. But that would require engagment. We didn't think that because we didn't agree with him he wasn't a feminist.

Ruth: And we were careful, when we discussed it, to ask, "If a woman had written it, would we ask, 'Is she really a feminist?'" There seemed to be a desire to say, "Ha! You are not a feminist!" And with few exceptions -- I am thinking of some of his phrases -- I have always found him to be foward thinking and never felt the need to ask, "Do you look at pornography?"

Marcia: That question really bothered me because I do have lesbian videos. Porn. Videos made for women featuring women. Am I not a feminist? And I am attracted women. I'm not going to hold that against a man that they are also attracted to women. There was a prude element. I mean, right now in Oregon, there's a sex scandal with a mayor, male, who had a consentual affair with a male. The mayor was in his 40s, the male was 18 or over. It was legal. And there's this prudish movement a foot that reminds me of the whole "Monica Lewinsky was a child!" nonsense. Monica Lewinsky was an adult, a grown woman.

Ruth: Marcia and I came to the decision that while we disagreed with him, he was offering a feminist view. Not the. To steal from Ava and C.I., "a feminist view."

Ava: And I think that's the consensus. C.I. has stated anyone can say whatever but explained why she doesn't have a problem with the photos. And by the way, I am firmly in Elaine and C.I.'s camp.

Rebecca: Okay. We're going to move to Iraq and I need people to speak quickly because we've got a limited amount of time. I'm not going to say, "___ needs to speak more," because I think everyone's speaking and I know Iraq is the big topic to everyone so some of you were waiting for this. Wait on Iraq. Trina had some stuff.

Trina: Yeah, there was a hearing on sexual assault in the military this week. You can see C.I.'s Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot," Kat's "When I tried to smoke a banana," C.I.'s Thursday's "Iraq snapshot," Ruth's "Laura Watterson's testimony and its meaning," Kat's "Laura Watterson's testimony," C.I.'s "What gets covered, what doesn't" and C.I.'s Friday "Iraq snapshot." I actually had many topics on this but I'll try to boil it down to a statement, I guess. I just am appalled that the press didn't cover the hearing. I'm outraged that they ignored it and then, come Friday morning, wanted to go on and on about military suicides. One was judged important, one was ignored. It wasn't based on numbers since there are more sexual assaults than suicides. And, to be really honest, I'm kind of offended that so much time was spent on some photos. I don't see any problem with the photos that woman posed for in the previous topic but I do see a problem with that having taken up our 'feminist' bloggers this week when they did not have time to write about military sexual assault.

Rebecca: That's a valid point. I'm resetting the timer so that this topic gets as much attention. If anyone needs to bail, feel free. And I'm going to toss to Ava and Wally on this for set up. Ava,, C.I., Kat and Wally attended Wednesday's hearing. Kat and C.I. have their sites where they can -- and have -- written about it. We haven't heard from Wally and Ava on this so I'm going to toss to them on the set up.

Wally: Ava's pointing at me to start. It was early morning Wednesday. It's the US House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Military Personnel. Susan Davis of California chairs the hearing. The first panel had more members of Congress present. They had to vote. They actually had to leave shortly after opening statements of the first panel, they came back, then they had to leave again and then the second panel started. The first panel was Laura Watterson who was a surivor. She was sexually assaulted in 2001. There were three members of the military who work with victims on the first panel. The second panel was two Dept of Defense people and someone who is bascially a contract employee of DoD from time to time. Laura Watterson's testimony and responses to questions made the hearing. I'll toss to Ava.

Ava: C.I.'s captured the best exchanges in the snapshot. So Davis has gotten credit, as has Loretta Sanchez and Niki Tsongas. Republican males went out of their way to be cozy with what I would call the compromised witnesses. Let's kick it off, let's kick this disccusion off with Tsongas' issue regarding the unreported assaults. The restricted reporting option. C.I. addressed that at length today but to give a brief overview, the military created that category when forced to address sexual assaults. This category allows victims to speak but there is no prosecution or notification for law enforcement or commanders.

Betty: I'll go first. Niki Tsongas made the point that when there is no follow up -- beyond alleged therapy -- then a rapist is left loose in the community and that's putting an entire community at risk. I agree with that completely. If I'm raped and we're all on a base and I do the restricted option, that means my rapist can move on to Ava or Kat or Marcia or Ruth or Wally or Cedric. I thought C.I.'s comments were dead on in today's snapshot.

C.I.: Just to be clear, I had multiple input from victims advocates and sexual assault workers. I have built upon everything they've offered. So credit them and not me.

Cedric: On the restricted, one thing that rang true to me in the snapshot today is C.I. saying, 'Okay, I've been raped and I don't want to use the unrestricted option where my assailant gets charged. I want to do restricted.' As C.I. points out, if that's her attitude, she's more likely to go off base to ensure her privacy. What that option really seems is a way to surpress cases, legal complaints, criminal complaints. And I saw nothing -- correct me Ava or Wally if something happened at the hearing and didn't get included by C.I., Kat or Ruth -- but I saw nothing that indicated there was a check on this 'novel' policy.

Wally: No, there was no check. That was the point today in the snapshot regarding Walter Reed. If you'd asked the ones running Walter Reed if there were problems with the care, they would have said "No." So why is Congress asking the people running the program if there are problems?

Trina: That's what really bothered me about the hearing. There were 7 witnesses. Only 1 was not working for the DoD. Everyone else fell under the Pentagon including the guy from California whose organization collaborates with the Pentagon frequently. Everyone answering was self-reporting and it was in their interest to present their own selves as qualified and working. I was very disappointed and bothered by that. Checks and balances is not Pauline runs the program so our check on her is having her tell us how the program is doing. There was no independent measure and the thing wasn't just weighted in favor of the DoD, it tilted over to it. Does anyone want to say anything on that before I move over to another aspect?

Betty: The Walter Reed example was the perfect illustration -- and I loved C.I.'s line about do we need to hope Dana Priest and Anne Hull start investigating? Because the investigating, the verifying, that's Congress' job. And what Congress did on Wednesday was say, "We'll take your word for it." Who is verifying that the women and men chosing restricted feel they are being treated appropriately and are not being encouraged to choose that option by their 'helpers'? Where is the check on that? Again, Walter Reed supervisors would have told you, "We're doing a great job."

Stan: I was really bothered by that as well. How do we know something's being done? Because the people getting the money and administering the programs say so? Oh, okay, let's give 'em some more money. Anybody going to check on them or are we just going to keep taking their word for it. And what Laura Watterson, okay? She was sexually assaulted in 2001. Does Congress really think that if they'd asked her commanders in 2001, "So is there an assault you didn't address?" that the commanders would have said, "Yes, there is. Let's talk about that."? I don't see it happening.

Kat: There was a moment involving Maria Lauterbach during the second panel. Some man asked about her. Maybe a Republican. And the Mary Kay lookalike --

Ava: Whitley.

Kat: "Doctor" Whitley. Doctor Whitley revealed that the Marines weren't doing anything on the case, weren't going to, because they allegedly felt that they might compromise the civilian case. I don't buy that but for any thinking, "Look, right there. The Congress man couldn't get an answer from the Pentagon and there was Whitley offering information," she didn't offer it that way. She realized, after she started speaking, that he hadn't been told anything she was talking about. The remarks she made were things she thought he had already been told. If he'd made it clear at the start that he had been told nothing -- not just that he was having trouble getting answers -- what would she have told him? We don't know. But she herself, once she realizes it, starts saying she thought he knew this already. So the one time she was at all useful, it was only because she was telling him what she though he had already been told.

Marcia: Before Trina moves on, I want to go back to -- I'm going to blow off what Kat just said completely, sorry, Kat -- I want to go back to the issue Tsongas was raising one more time. It is important that victims get treatment. But the safety of the community is important as well. Now let's say Cedric has the mumps. And Elaine's a doctor, so let's say Elaine treats him. And that's it. Elaine doesn't do anything else. Then I get the mumps and Ruth gets them and Betty gets them. And I'm furious and I'm saying, "How did I get the mumps?" I find out that Cedric had them. "Why wasn't I told?" A rapist is not going to just rape once. And same story, I find out Cedric was raped or Ruth or Betty by the guy who later rapes me, I will be all in their face about how their silence put me at risk.
Now if Elaine had said, "We got mumps" early on, I wouldn't have had mumps. But Cedric wanted 'restricted reporting' and now the entire community's at risk. I don't know if people can follow that.

Trina: I follow you completely. Okay, here's my thing. I don't want that hearing to happen again. I never again want to see that many people 'testifying' who, if they tell some bad truths, might hurt their own income versus only one person who is not connected to DoD. I never want to see that kind of 'balance' again. It's inexcusable. Do we have another second?

Rebecca: We do. I extended this portion.

Trina: Well I'd like for us to discuss Loretta Sanchez' suggestion and questioning.

Ruth: Now I enjoyed reading about that. US House Rep Loretta Sanchez asked the first panel some questions. She spoke of how commanders could be evalauted -- in their performance reviews -- on how they handled sexual assaults. They could be graded on it and it would include input from the victim of the sexual assault. If you didn't pass, you didn't get promoted.

Stan: And Laura Watterson was all for the idea.

Ava: That's in the snapshots but I'll add that if you'd heard her voice when she was asked, you would know she was really pleased with the idea.

Wally: But she was one of four witnesses. The other three worked for the Air Force, the Navy and the Army. They weren't so thrilled. Air Force was up first and he was just an idiot. You would be punishing people, he insisted.

Cedric: Like it's not part of the commander's job? They're responsible for everything. They're responsible for seeing that things are addressed. So, yeah, it should be on their job performance review. And, Rebecca and everybody, I do have to go. I'm sorry.

Rebecca: That's cool. We extended. Don't worry about it.

Wally: I"ll post this at your site when we get done.

Cedric: Thanks, Wally. Night everybody.

Rebecca: And there was the click. By the way, Betty's participating from California, she's on the West Coast, at C.I.'s in fact. The rest of us are all at Trina's. Cedric was participating by phone as well. Okay, the point Cedric was making was that it is the commander's job to see that sexual assaults are addressed. We're speaking of it being included in the performance reviews -- which was Loretta Sanchez' suggestion.

Trina: Well the Air Force person --

C.I.: Capt Daniel Katka.

Trina: Thank you, Katka also said that if it was included in the performance review it might force changes but it wouldnt' be for the right reason and the commanders wouldn't geniunely care about military sexual assault. Was anyone else gagging on that?

Elaine: First off, he came across as completely unfit to treat sexual assault. He came across as someone who's probably been told he's a good listener many times in his life but there was nothing in his testimony that ever indicated he was fit to be a SARC -- a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. But, as Trina's pointing out, who the hell cares why a commander changes? You want him or her to change. Now maybe Katka thinks the military can take forty or more years -- and that's a generous estimate -- to work on changing the culture that exists, but that's not helping anyone today.

Betty: I would agree with you. Who cares why you're doing your job all the sudden? In this case, the fact that you're doing it matters more than why. So you're only doing it because you know you won't get promoted if you don't? I believe there are many job duties that people perform only because they want to be promoted. And change comes from the top in the military. It's chain of command. So make the higher ups nervous about sexual assault, nervous enough that they start taking it seriously, and the attitude of taking it seriously will drift downward.

Trina: If anyone else had a point they needed to make, that's great but those were all the points I had that I wanted addressed.

Rebecca: Okay. Kat, how about you close it out for us since you have been writing about it -- as have Ruth and C.I.

Kat: Like Trina said, we don't need another hearing where we have to take the word of the Defense Dept. We need some supervision and Congress sitting there and listenign to the Pentagon self-report doesn't cut it as supervision. The culture needs to be confronted. Until it is, there will be no changes. It was amazing to see the panic when Sanchez raised the issue of the performance review. I think -- I'm basing this on what I saw during the hearing and the answer given -- I think the man with the Army would have supported it -- as he did -- regardless. But I did think the woman from the Navy went along with Sanchez' suggestion only because she saw what a jerk the Air Force guy had come off as. I could be wrong but that's my opinion. In terms of the way Congress conducted themselves in the hearing, I give high marks. We'd gone to two hearings the day before and one of them, the Senate Armed Services Committee, was a nightmare as everyone rushed to joke and have 'fun' discussing Iraq and Afghanistan. It was disgusting. I would also note that Susan Davis started her hearing on Wednesday by introducing the members of the subcommittee who were present. She always runs a better hearing than many of her colleagues. We've sat in on hearings she's chaired before.

Rebecca: So now we're on Iraq and how fitting that Kat mentioned the Senate Armed Services Committee because its chair, Carl Levin, is in the snaphsot today. Levin declared Friday that there is "wiggle room" in Barack's 16-month withdrawal of combat forces. They would only, Levin argues, need to do 80% by 16 months. Who wants to grab?

Wally: Let me start off and then I'll probably shut up after. People think, and Marcia and I were on the road during this talking to people, explaining why we were supporting Hillary, people think Barack promised to pull all US troops out of Iraq in 16 months of being elected. That's not what he 'promised.' What he said was "combat troops." And that's "wiggle room," to use Levin's phrase, too because it allows him to reclassify people. Now C.I.'s been told repeatedly by people at the White House that the number of troops that would stay behind if the 16-month option was put through would be 70,000 US troops. I want to be sure we're clear on that because a lot of people voted for Barack thinking he was saying all US troops out. That's not what he was saying. And he may not live up to it anyway. Samantha Power said he wasn't bound by it if he got elected, that it was just campaign talk. Now I'll shut up.

Stan: I think Wally did a great job setting that up. 16 months is pathetic. All US troops could be out of Iraq in Barack's first 100 days. The idea that we have to wait 16 months and then only half of them would be out is ridiculous. The fact that we're hearing from Carl Levin -- who has already pissed me off this month -- that 16 months isn't 16 months just demonstrates how unserious the Democrats in Congress and the White House are about Iraq.

Betty: When I read that, I thought, "And where will the pressure come?" Where? I mean the bulk of the left long ago forgot how to stand up to anyone. They refuse to stand up to Barack. He'll get away with this. And they'll have a million excuses for why he 'had to' do it.

Ruth: In 2004 and 2005, the peace movement was telling us that we had to stop the illegal war. They stopped telling us that once the Democrats got control of both houses of Congress in the November 2006 elections. Since that day, CODESTINK, MoveOn, and all the rest of the liars have made one excuse after another as to why we need to be 'patient.'

Trina: Has anyone checked out the Socialist Worker -- US one? My father did when he saw the snapshot. Instead of calling Barack out, there's this cheesy write-up, this feel good bulls**t about John Nichols and Matthew Rothschild and others talking about the 'new day dawning' and John Nichols insisting we're all Socialists now and it's just such garbage and so offensive. It's not Socialism, it's satellite Communism, beamed in from somewhere else to give us all our marching orders. I am so sick of these liars. I am so sick of these cowards. And I'll include Coward Zinn on that list.

Elaine: I am so with you, Trina, big, huge disgrace.

Trina: Howard's the big talker from my town. And we're all supposed to worship his strong voice and how he stands up and blah, blah, f**king blah. Howard Zinn is either in the early stages of senility or he's just a damn fool coward. Regardless, I don't have time for him and strongly urge him to seek a more private profile because he obviously has nothing of value to offer. Even Noam Chomsky is now calling Barack out on a regular basis. But Coward's silent. To watch a hometown hero self-destruct in public is very embarrassing.

Ruth: To steal from Marcia's site title, I am sick of it. I am so sick of the stupid. People today do not realize that Barack is not JFK nor do they realize the very real work we had to do in order to get the US out of Vietnam. They do not realize anything. Ron Jacobs, whom I usually enjoy reading, had a revisonary tale about George McGovern.

C.I.: I have to speak now. Ruth showed me that today and, Ron, you're wonderful but you don't know what you're talking about. I haven't read that book by Lance -- Lance Selfa -- and maybe you got that wrong impressionf rom Lance's book. But no one -- other than the right-wing -- would praise McGovern on abortion. That was one of the many issues that left battle scars in Miami. McGovern sent out Shirley MacLaine -- among others -- to sell that to women, to sell his cave on that issue. Gloria Steinem was so angry she was in tears. The women who were in Miami have the scars, am I right, Elaine?

Elaine: Yeah, we have scars. I haven't read Lance Selfa's book either. But Ron Jacobs is way off and it may be the book or it may be him. But McGovern said anything to get the nomination and, as feminist saw in Miami, he rushed to move away from his promises before accepting the nomination. Don't claim outside pressure. McGovern did what he wanted to do. And he was always a sexist little pig. I had to wear a jacket around him because he couldn't stop staring at my damn breasts. I was far from the only woman who had that experience. And I'll be damned if that loser is turned into a hero. He couldn't beat Nixon. He was a loser. He ran a lousy general election campaign. Instead of Watergate making so many argue, "You could have had McGovern," which did happen in the post-Watergate period, it should have made us furious with McGovern for the lousy campaign he ran that allowed that crook to remain in the White House.

Rebecca: That crook is Tricky Dick. And, yes, McGovern was obsessed with boobies. I have very large breasts, as I love to point out. Unlike Elaine, I never wore a jacket and I didn't wear a bra either and McGovern's eyes were about to glaze over. Okay, Ava, Iraq?

Ava: Well we're still doing what we were doing. We're going around and speaking to groups about it, we're keeping our focus on it. And there are people in every group who are surprised for various reasons. One example true in some groups is that they honestly -- and I'm not making fun of them, this is what the media leads you to believe -- thought US forces immediately out of Iraq was a done deal to the presidential election. When they grasp that, their anger quickly turns to supposed 'leaders' who they feel are not doing their jobs. And there's a general disgust with Barack over his silence throughout the slaughter in Gaza --

Betty: He couldn't speak because he wasn't president! Though, as Rebecca pointed out, that didn't stop him from meeting with the president of Mexico.

Ava: Exactly. And people notice that or the stimulus or how he would do any presidential thing -- before taking the oath -- that he wanted to. He just used that lie to get out of calling out the slaughter. And his refusal to do that has put his image into question. His image was never reality but it is now seriously in question. And that happened before he was sworn in.

Stan: Here's who I blame. Or here's some of who, because it's a long list. I blame Amy Goodman and Norman Solomon and all the others who are supposed to be journalists and sold out their ethics and hooked their wagons to Barack. You own it, you're responsible. You could have supported a real candidate for peace, you didn't want that. He's your boyfriend, dance with him. You put him into power, you are responsible. Before the election, I was calling the illegal war out, during the election I was, and after it I am. I have been consistent. Our so-called professional and alternative journalists cannot make the same claim.

Rebecca: So if you were to predict --

C.I.: Wait. I'm going to pull a Trina here. To me that's a waste of time. We've had a serious discussion and now we're going to be gas bags offering predictions? No. I think it ends with Stan and Ava's comments. It's not pretty? Oh well, as Cedric would say. The illegal war's not pretty. It's ongoing. There's no bow to tie around it.

Rebecca: Fair enough. On that note we'll end and we thank Ann for joining us. You'll see this up at the sites of all who participated.
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