Sunday, March 22, 2009

Truest statement of the week

The guy just doesn’t know what to say. He can't connect. Emotions are here, he's over there. He can't get the words to match the situation.
This began, I'd argue, from the first moment. He punted on the inaugural. Everybody ran around like crazy trying to praise it because if Barack Obama couldn't give a speech then what?
But now, at week 11, we're face-to-face with the reality, the man can't talk worth a damn.

-- Michael Wolff, "Barack Obama Is a Terrible Bore" (Newser)

A note to our readers

Hey --
One more Sunday. We're in DC and we're exhausted.

We thank everyone who helped on this edition. That would include Dallas and the following:

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,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

Thank you. Now let's move to content.

Truest statement of the week -- Did we miss it or was this really all that was worth noting? Maybe there was some amazing piece of writing we blanked on but Michael Wolff was our first choice and when we then tried to come up with other choices -- even noting that we generally do two truests a week, we couldn't. Maybe we were that tired. Or maybe that's just the kind of a week last week was.

Editorial: Barack's too immature to apologize -- Our editorial and it probably seemed obvious for us to choose a topic having to do with Iraq. Any other week, we would have. But we are very aware of how the disabled community is rendered invisible and silent by the media. We're also aware that including it elsewhere would make it an 'additional' topic. It is the main topic. It is a real issue and that's why it's our editorial.

TV: The War Goes Ignored -- The Iraq War? Ava and C.I. cover it here. At length. First, a big thank you to Ava and C.I. We have 13 features this week and they worked on 12, 3 of which they wrote by themselves. We thank them for that. I may go into that more in a bit. But this is the big Iraq piece and we knew we could farm it out to (push it off on) them. They handled it beautifully.

Roundtable -- All worked on the roundtable and Betty's kids and Kat (that's pretty much all) did the illustration. We thank them for the illustration. We had planned to include more topics but, in the end, stuck with Iraq.

The Katrina goes to . . . -- This is Ava and C.I.'s second feature. They wrote this. They did not want to do three TV commentaries. But Kim Gandy made an idiot of herself on TV. So they figured they could cover it as a Katrina. We think this will be enjoyed by so many readers who long ago had it with Kim Gandy.

Stevie Nicks, rocking it her way -- Kat could have written about this topic at her site. Instead she brought it over to Third hoping that since it was a digital single, we could do a short article on it. We thank her for the topic and we thank her and everyone else for helping on this.

Stand up -- Prior to this, you have two Iraq features. Here's a third. This is about Kristoffer Walker.

How to raise two ungrateful brats -- Did we want to do this or not? Ava and C.I.'s were the ones who caught it because they had to watch Barack's appearence in full. They showed it to the rest of us. We all agreed it wasn't a story we believe (consider the source) but it was an appalling story and we'll call it out.

TV: Explaining Moyers -- This could have gone up higher on the list but Ava and C.I. begged for it to be lower. They wrote this and said there's probably a sameness about all three of their pieces. (There's not. They're all great articles.) Betty asked that we noted this was her favorite of the three. We'll also note that Ava and C.I. helped out by coming back here and starting work Saturday night while the rest of us were still having fun. They agreed to knock out three articles so we could be done at a semi-decent hour. We thank them for that.

Who's that hiding in the hangers? -- A section that was not working in Ava and C.I.'s commentary got pulled (by them) and was going to be discarded. We liked the topic so we (all) wrote this.

The dog (still not picked out) ate his homework -- Dona's idea for a short feature. And sad but true.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Marcia, Stan, Cedric, Wally, Ruth, Rebecca, Kat and Betty wrote this and picked out all highlights unless otherwise noted.

And that's it. We'll see you next week. If we're not still sleeping.

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

Editorial: Barack's too immature to apologize

August 11, 2006, George Allen campaigning for re-election to the Senate uttered a word that was a racial slur. There was no talk of 'teachable moments' nor was there any benefit of the doubt given for Allen. In fact, they continued to call out George Allen as the idiots at Think Progress' thread demonstrate -- going so far as to suggest that "yellow shirt" might also have been racist because the idiots -- none of whom, including the writer of the Think Progress blog, can be bothered with mentioning the name of the man who was insulted by Allen (it was S.R. Sidarth) -- are unaware that "yellow shirt" referred to the, yes, yellow shirt that S.R. Sidarth was wearing.

The term (which we're not using) was not in US usage. Some speculated Allen must have learned it from his mother raised in Tunisia. If so, "monkey" (a translation of the term we're not using) -- even used negatively by his mother -- might have been picked up by Allen without him knowing its roots. But no latitude was given to Allen then or since. In fact, in 2008 at Think Progress, a commenter would insist, "Allen knew EXACLY what" [censored word] "meant when he used the term. He just expected that the rest of us wouldn't." Because that's what politicians do? They appear at campaign events using terms that they hope people don't know? That's how you campaign?

We never wrote about the issue in real time because (a) we don't know where George Allen picked it up and (b) if it was from his mother, he might have learned the term and not the history. Meaning, he may have been called that by his mother when he did something wrong or upset her and never known the racial history. We don't know. We've never been in his head.

We still don't know and we only bring the incident up now to underscore the differences in how some people get treated. To believe George Allen was attempting to grievously insult Sidarth, as opposed to just mock him for his video 'stalking,' most Americans had to (a) learn a new term, (b) forget that they just learned a new term and pretend that they always knew it because if they admitted otherwise, they couldn't be so sure that Allen didn't know the meaning and (c) scream and holler non-stop.

We're happy to call out racism (and to have discussions about race). Don Imus made racist remarks and we called them out. We called him out. We have no problem out racism, sexism or homophobia. We do try to be clear (increasingly after the lessons of 2008 from The Cult of Barack -- lessons they didn't mean to teach but were very telling) about opinion and fact. As a general rule, the stronger case results in a piece of group writing and things that might be open to various interpretations will be roundtabled so that everyone can weigh in individually.

So that details George Allen and it details our process. Which leads us to Barack Obama and his insulting remarks on The Tonight Show last Thursday. Appearing on the longest running celebrity chat show, Barack wanted to be loved and what better way to be loved by a crowd than to pick on a group of people?

So Barack decided to make an insulting crack about those who participate in Special Olympics in order to yuck it up. Barack Obama was born in 1961. He is not 14-years-old. His remark would have been offensive at 14, but being a child might have mitigated some of the offense (as in, "He's not old enough to know better"). He was not cornered by the press, he was not confronted. He was being thrown soft balls, puff questions and comments, by Jay Leno who is not known for indepth or probing exchanges. Leno is the man who (finally) came to national fame schilling for Cool Ranch Doritos. He is not a journalist nor a noted thinker. He and his guests engage in silly patter that doesn't even rise to the level of banter.

After he made his offensive statement, Barack didn't apologize. He never said, "Jay, I want to apologize for that joke . . ." He never said a word, he just kept grinning and funnin'. It was all a big joke to him.

According to Tim Shriver, appearing on Friday's Good Morning America (ABC), before The Tonight Show aired Thursday night, after the taping, Barack called him and said he'd made an ill-chosen comment about Special Olympics and he regretted it. On the basis of that, many idiots began running with "Barack apologized!"


More Chicken Sop for the Soul. He did not apologize.

Special Olympics, as C.I. pointed out Friday morning, has no personhood and Tim Shriver is not challenged/disabled/handicapped. That group of people, over 40 million Americans, were the ones insulted by Barack's remark. An apology would have to go to them and not Tim Shriver.

Pretend for a moment that Barack had made a racist remark. (We won't use sexist because Barack was always given a pass on sexism.) Pretend he'd yet again attacked African-American fathers and, this time, real offense took hold in the MSM. Who would Barack an apology to? The people he insulted. And if he made this insult on TV, he would be expected to make a televised apology.

Barack's made no apology. His friend Tim Shriver has rushed around to the press saying, "It's cool, he apologized to me." No, it's not 'cool,' and, no, it's not fine.

He goes on national television and he insults over 40 million Americans, mocks them. He is the president of the United States and he's damn old enough to know that his actions require an apology in his own words, not something Tim Shriver or any other Barack apologist wants to relay to the American people.

Are we adults living in a democracy or are we little kids in study hall? "Barack wanted me to tell you . . ." He's a grown man, if he's got something to say, he can say it to the American people.

He certainly didn't hesitate when insulting a huge segment of them on The Tonight Show. But somehow an apology is too much for Barack to manage. An apology admits wrong doing. An apology is made by an individual, not made on behalf of one.

That is among the most troubling and telling points of this entire story: Barack's refusal to apologize.

Friday's White House press conference ended with this exchange:

Q And is the President going to take the advice, after understanding the gravity of what he said about the issue of Special Olympics, is he going to take the advice to hire someone from the Special Olympics, to bring them here to work here?

MR. GIBBS: I have not seen that. I know that the President believes that the Special Olympics are a triumph of the human spirit, and I think he understands that they deserve a lot better than -- than the thoughtless joke that he made last night, and he apologizes for that. Thanks, guys.

When did Barack apologize? When did Americans hear their president say "I'm sorry" or "I apologize"? They never did. He has refused to apologize. He can go on Jay Leno and yuck it up, but he can't apologize?

So the American people are being told that he apologized to his friend Tim Shriver and Tim Shriver's relaying the apology, and that's good enough, right?

The president of the United States of America is too much of a little wimp to apologize for his words. The president of the United States of America has to hide behind Tim's pants legs and peep out at America between them because he is not adult enough to apologize publicly. That's the message being sent.

Another message being sent is noted by Kate Riley (Seattle Times):

The most startling thing on that video is that everybody laughed -- President Obama, Jay Leno, the studio audience. Two generations ago, you could maybe see the same thing happening if somebody made fun of African Americans, Catholics, Jews, or Native Americans.
But that wouldn't happen today.
People with disabilities remain an easy target. Just last year, some of today's best comedic actors starred in a move that makes fun of egotistical actors. In the movie, "Tropic Thunder," characters razz actor Ben Stiller's character for his effort to win acclaim by playing a character with developmental disabilities. Repeatedly, the movie uses the word, "r[****]d."
I wrote then on this blog: "As the mother of a child with disabilities, I can't help but wonder why the R-word still does not have the same stigma as the N-word. Can you imagine a movie that uses the N-word in a similar way and the producers defend is use as 'satire?' No. Such a movie would not be made."

With Barack's appalling comment you have another Don Imus moment. There's no need to decipher, it's just wrong. It's a real shame so many are rushing to rescue Barack and minimize his actions. It makes you wonder about the parenting in this country.

Ourselves? As children we were taught how to make an apology and it was never you tell someone to tell someone that you apologize. Barack insulted over 40 million Americans and did so on national television. He's yet to make an apology. What he's offered as an 'apology' (someone says he apologized!) wouldn't cut it with any parental figure. It's a shame so many Americans want to play dumb and insist, "He's apologized!"

TV: The War Goes Ignored

March 19th was the sixth anniversary of the start of the illegal war. On that day, a day that saw the death of the 4260th US service member in Iraq, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, went on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to yuck it up.


He had time to babble on like the bitterest of starlets. Everyone is Simon Cowell! (Does that make him William Hung?) He had time to waste on college basketball. He had time to tell a very unflattering story about his daughters which made them sound like ungrateful little brats. (He told the story or we wouldn't comment -- we haven't, for example, riffed on how much the youngest daughter looks like Wanda Sykes.) He laughed a lot, tried to yuck it up (insulting over 40 million Americans -- that's an editorial for this edition). But he never mentioned the Iraq War.

The sixth anniversary of the illegal war and he couldn't mention Iraq? He could go on TV, on a trashy entertainment program, and try to yuck it up. And he's the president of the United States. This is presidential behavior? We felt we were the only ones offended by that but a caller to The Diane Rehm Show (who disclosed she voted for Cynthia McKinney and not Barack) Friday raised the issue as well. And as we spoke about Iraq to various groups Friday, we would point this out and they would agree it was in poor taste and offensive.

Approximately 146,000 US troops are stationed in Iraq, on the battlefield (the Pentagon's the one who determined that all of Iraq is a battlefield and that's why they issued the firing orders they did) and the sixth anniversary rolls around and the president of the United States can be found acting like a celebrity, sitting down on the couch across from Jay Leno, trying to yuck it up but he can't address the Iraq War?

It was disgusting and the only thing more disgusting was watching TV and waiting all last week for coverage.

Let's go to Pravda on the Hudson. Amy Goodman had five hours to fill last week and this apparently qualified for her entire sixth anniversary 'coverage':

And protests are underway in this country and around the world to mark the sixth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. On Thursday, more than two dozen protesters were arrested at parallel events in San Francisco. Five of the arrested said they were Iraq veterans. Here in New York, hundreds gathered at Union Square and later outside the military recruiting station in Times Square. In Washington, D.C., a US Army veteran was arrested hanging up a sign near the White House that read, "Veterans say NO to War and Occupation." Protests are expected to continue in several major cities through the weekend.

That's all Amy could serve up (much to Leslie Cagan's pleasure -- what a treat Amy must be in the closet). Five hours to fill. And that's the garbage she offers? (We're far from the only ones Amy offended last week. For example, take a friend whose family was mentioned on air last week but apparently the Oscar winning father didn't exist because somehow he was erased from Amy's easy-breezy Blunder Girl make over).

No time for Iraq, so what did she have time for. She gave segments (not headlines) to Rachel Corrie (sixth anniversary of her death -- apparently F**K YOU Iraqis, Amy doesn't think you matter at all), she had time for another segment on Israel, one on the elections in El Salvador, 'arrest Bush in Canada!' (yeah, more nonsense, only the loons thought it was going to happen), Juan Cole talking about multiple countries (including Iraq getting only slightly more time than Saudi Arabia and a hell of a lot less than Afghanistan, Israel and Pakistan), blather about AIG (wasted time on a wasted topic -- you have to wonder if Goody intends to serve her corporate masters intentionally or if she's just that stupid), Mark Danner telling us (what we already knew), tired, saggy-assed Robert Scheer praising Barry Obama while angry about stuff the administration's doing (remember, it's never Barry's fault), Tariq Ali on Socialism (it's not coming to the US), Tariq Ali on Pakistan, and (Friday) Israel, Palistinians and Haitians.

Again, that's a big F**K YOU to Iraqis from Amy Goodman. The Queen of Beggar Media. Let's stay with Panhandle Media because, as a friend at The New York Times likes to say, "Those who can do, those who can't teach and those who can't teach or do go to Pacifica Radio." (Yes, it is a riff on a joke Woody Allen tells in Annie Hall.)

Sonali Kolhatkar worked overtime to prove that last week. Kolhatkar hosts Uprising which airs weekly for an hour Monday through Friday on KPFK (and other stations) and which has a weekend repacking/best-of. Somehow Sonali had no time for Iraq. (We'll ignore Aaron Glantz' national report which built another wall between the listener and the war as Aaron explained, yet again, that only veterans and he could understand the Iraq War. If true that Pacifica listeners can't understand it, that would be a damning judgment made of Aaron's work thus far.) Sonali's indifference would have shocked us once upon a time. But that was before we saw Sonali -- 'friend' to Afghan women -- refuse to use her program to call out Barack's proposal that the US government get cozy with the Taliban. That was before we saw her, under extreme pressure in the Bay Area, turn up last Monday on KFPA's The Morning Show where she offered a weak opposition to Barack's plan and she strongly insisted it wasn't Barack, it was the people around him. Psychic Sonali, you do grasp that your efforts to defend Barack are not only a betrayal to Afghan women, they are also highly racist -- you are saying that a bi-racial man is not able to think for himself. Sonali's the author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence and we should note that she is not part of the Propagand of Silence. (Want to grow the hell up, Sonali? It's not hard, you just say "NO!" and you say it loudly.)

KPFA offered the factually challenged Aimee Allison chatting it up with War Hawk Tony Tarantino (part of Mommy's Pantyhose's latest group) about stop-loss on Friday's The Morning Show. Let's listen in on one exchange:

Aimee Allison: I read that 13,000 soldiers were effected over the last years.

Tommy Tarantino: Yes, yes. Absolutely. And I-I mean, I knew several of them before I went to Iraq.

You read that, Aimme? Where? In EasyTopix4Dummies? Absolutely, Tommy?

A host, a guest and neither knew a damn thing.

In April of last year, Tom Vanden Brook (USA Today) reported, "In all, 58,300 soldiers have been affected by stop loss since 2002, according to the Army." Where did the uninformed 'expert' guest and the host get the 13,000 figure? Wednesday, at the Pentagon, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (again) announced he would 'minimize' the use of stop-loss (that's the backdoor draft -- you're contract is up but you're not allowed to leave). During his comments, he stated, "As of the end of January, there were 13,200 soldiers in stop-loss." He was talking, pay attention Tommy and Aimee, about the number of solders currently being stop-lossed. So to say "13,000 were effected over the years"? Dead wrong. In a real world you'd issue a correction. When approximately 60,000 soldiers are reduced to 13,000, a real media outlet issues a correction. Pacifica isn't a real media outlet.

There was a high point for The Morning Show last week. Tuesday Philip Maldari interviewed Thomas E. Ricks, author of the new bestseller The Gamble. In a wide ranging interview, the two explored the "Awakening" Councils, the success or failure of the 'surge,' Moqtada al-Sadr, the ethnic tensions and much more. (A small portion of the interview is excerpted in Tuesday's snapshot.) Maybe Aimee had to take truth and reality to the alter on Friday and sacrifice them in order for us to have had Tuesday's indepth coverage?

If so, who or what do we need to sacrifice at NBC Nightly News. Spokesmodel Brian Williams spent more time doing on air promos for Barack's Tonight Show appearance last week than he did covering Iraq. What a proud moment for NBC News!

The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric went Iraq-adjacent on Monday serving up Lara Logan interviewing (link has text and video) Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen who was on to discuss Afghanistan and reconstruction there. Thursday, Logan reported (link has text and video) on dangers still in Iraq, noting that US service members had to do rebuilding at night due to the dangers and that Iraqi soldiers do not even want to be caught on news cameras so afraid are they of potential threats to their lives. Those were strong reports and Katie Couric also did two reports on sexual assualts in the military (here and here -- both have text and video).

Over at ABC, World News Tonight was supposed to be heavy hitter. They were supposed to report on Iraq all week. They did not. (So to those upset that we asked Jim to include that in the note last week and not in our commentary, we didn't think it was going to be worth watching). Terry McCarthy had been to Iraq. You understand, he'd been there. He wasn't there now. But he'd been to Iraq with three bodyguards. And he showed his vacation footage and made stupid remarks that never passed a factcheck. Monday was annoying, Tuesday was laughable and . . . We'll get to it. But let's note that Terry claimed Baghdad's National Museum had reopened. And it did. For one day. But Terry hailed it as "restored and reopened." It is not open today and even on it's one day of being open (for dignataries and the press only), it was not restored.

Translation, Terry LIED. (Refer to the Feb.24th "The for-show, one-day opening" if you're as uninformed as Terry.) It was so awful that ABC brought Martha Raddatz on Wednesday to do actual reporting (World News Tonight videos are here, there is no text so we'll provide it):

Martha Raddatz: The improvements across Iraq are remarkable but US soldiers in the northern city of Mosul know that they are still at war.

Col Gary Volesky: Yesterday we had three VB IEDs. Keep your head in the game.

Martha Raddatz: VB IED. Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Devices. The car bomb, rocket attacks and fire fights have made Mosul one of the most dangerous places in Iraq and made the job of Col Gary Volesky and his 5,000 soldiers all the more difficult.

Col Gary Volesky: Is security good here or is it not so good?

Martha Raddatz: It's not that good says the shop keeper. Only 9% of Mosul residents polled say they feel "very safe" in their neighborhood. The national figure is 59% and Col Vuleski thinks he knows why.

Col Gary Volesky: The unemployment is anywhere from 60 to 80% and if the only option you have to feed your family is to go put in an IED or go throw a hand grenade, that's what you're going to do, whether you like it or not.

Martha Raddatz: Volesky has seen this before.

Col Gary Volesky: A lot of it looks really familiar.

Martha Raddatz: So has Capt Shane Aguero.

Martha Raddatz: [Speaking with Volesky and Aguero] The two of you together again?

Col Gary Volesky: Can you believe it?

Martha Raddatz: I first met Aguero and Volesky five years ago, after an ambush in Baghdad's Sadr City.

Col Gary Volesky [2004]: We're receiving fire from rooftops, second floors and then out of the alley ways.

Cpt Shane Aguero: I realized I was obviously wounded -- calf, foot, thigh. I was bleeding a lot.

Martha Raddatz: Before the night was over, 8 of Volesky's soldiers were dead, sixty wounded. Today Volesky and Aguero are on their third deployment to Iraq. Aguero has been to Afghanistan twice as well.

Martha Raddatz [to Aguero]: Tell me how many significant events you've missed at home? Christmases . . .

Cpt Shane Aguero: (laughing) Well pretty much all of them for the last four years -- almost five.

Martha Raddatz: And five years later, Volesky is saying goodbye to his soldiers again.

Col Gary Volesky [Speaking at a memorial service]: She's no longer with us. Mission complete.

Martha Raddatz: 22-year-old Private 1st Class Jessica Y. Sarandrea was struck by a rocket on March 3rd.

Col Gary Volesky: It doesn't matter how many memorial services you go to, there as bad as the first one I ever sat in.

Martha Raddatz: But the death of Volesky's battalion commander Garnet [R.] Derby last month was as bad as it gets.

Col Gary Volesky: He was the first real personal friend I'd lost in combat, his family's right across the street from me. I mean, uh, you know, his son and Alex play on the same soccer team.

Martha Raddatz: At such moments, Gary Volesky tries to remember what's been achieved here.

Col Gary Volesky: What is relevant to me is tomorrow I'll have one less day than I did today to make a difference.

Martha Raddatz: Volesky and his soldiers are determined for all the hardship to build on that progress. Martha Raddatz, ABC News, Mosul.

That was ABC's finest moment all last week and the only moment that really covered Iraq. [For ABC News' worst moment, see Wally's "THIS JUST IN! ABC NEWS TAPS OUT!" and Cedric's "PaulTap taps out" and, note, Jake Tapper's not the problem. ABC using him on stories like 'bromances' is. Once upon a time, ABC thought Geraldo could get physical with John Travolta. ABC News may have forgotten but we remember how that story ends.] As for Terry McCarthy? He ended up taking a lame report to Nightline (the one bumped for Raddatz' report).

That sorry ass report was actually good for Nightline because it allowed them to tear away from the 'pressing' news of bottle feeding apes and cock-knocking celebs and Ripley's Believe It Or Not citizens. Yes, folks, once upon a time Ted Koppel hosted this show.

When Ted hosted it, Nightline refused to ignore the Iraq War. Many can (and we would) put some of the media blame on the illegal war at Ted's doorstep but we can say with certainty that if Ted still was still the Nightline anchor, the Iraq War would have been addressed all last week. Bill Moyers is not Ted Koppel. Bill Moyers was never Ted. He was at CBS for how many years and has so very little to show for it. Bill's not a journalist. But as he lumbers through his twilight years, he'd like to be seen as such. No chance at all of that happening when the Iraq War hits the six year mark and he can't be bothered with even noting it. Nothing. Zilch. Moyers didn't offer a damn thing. What an embarrassment.

Charlie Rose did. He served up Condi Rice. Rice showed up Wednesday (video here) to insist that she and Bully Boy Bush didn't mislead the American people, that they never, ever drew a link between Saddam Hussein and 9-11. As Condi herself might word it, "No one could have guessed that six years later Condi would be an even bigger liar. No one could have guessed." (Those in need of a refresher on the false linkage by Condi and Bully Boy Bush can click here.) PBS' The NewsHour offered a lengthy roundtable moderated by Ray Suarez on the topic of Iraq(link has text and audio).

That was pretty much it.

We can't figure out whether the message was life is an ever moving dance led by Anita Ekberg in a flowing black dress ("Bravo, bravo, Frankie!") or just a non-stop conga. But life certainly, according to public affairs and news programming last week, isn't an ongoing war or stopping for a minute to truly acknowledge its existence.

It wasn't always this way. In fact, drop back to a year ago, March 21, 2008:

Five years ago this week, President Bush invaded Iraq because, we were told, Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was plotting with Al Quaeda terrorists to attack America. We were told the war would be quick and tidy -- and that grateful Iraqis would welcome their liberators with flowers in the streets.
Well, now the war is into its sixth year. We're spending over ten billion dollars a month, with the long-range cost reckoned in trillions. For Iraqis and for American soldiers and their families, the human toll is even harder to calculate -- numbers alone don't do it: 4,000 soldiers dead, nearly 30,000 wounded.

Have the dead come back to life? Have the wounds been magically erased? Has the financial cost of the illegal war dropped? The answer to all three questions is no. So maybe it's time America joined Trina in asking, "Was it all just opposition to GWB?"

Was it? It certainly seems that way to judge by the coverage. The excerpt above, from March 21, 2008? That's Bill Moyers speaking at the start of that week's Journal, speaking at the start of what would be an hour long broadcast on the topic of the Iraq War. What changed? The fiancial costs didn't go down or cease. The dying didn't stop. The illegal war drags on -- despite the lack of coverage.


Jim: We're in DC. We'll be discussing a number of topics in this roundtable including Iraq. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and, and me, Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Wally of The Daily Jot, Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Marcia SICKOFITRDLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends and Isaiah of
The World Today Just Nuts. Isaiah says he may pulled a Dallas and just listen along. Dallas hunts down links and is a sounding board each week. He's here as well and he and Isaiah are welcome to jump in at any point. We all are in one place for a change. We're in DC and participated in the March on the Pentagon on Saturday. On that, I'm tossing to Ty. And illustration for this worked on by Betty's kid with Kat primarily.

DC protest 2

Ty: This is from Donna St. George's (Washington Post), "Thousands of demonstrators marked the sixth anniversary of the war in Iraq with an impassioned protest of the nation's military policies yesterday, demanding that President Obama bring U.S. troops home. The demonstration was the first in Washington of the Obama presidency, replete with many of the same messages of protests during the Bush era. Placards read 'War Is Not the Answer,' 'Troops Out Now' and 'We Need Jobs and Schools, Not War'." And I'm going to yield to Dona for some housekeeping notes before we get into the protests and Iraq further.

Dona: In the past we have covered these protests here and at the gina & krista round-robin. Gina and Krista are here in DC with us, they are doing their special editions and Monday's will contain a long article by us with quotes from various participants in the demonstration. We're not in the mood to do it here. Blogger/Blogspot does not allow it to be very long without freezing up and going lengthy pauses -- in terms of being able to read what's been written. The spell check function doesn't work and the fact of the matter is we end up debating too long on which quotes get included and why. It's become too much for what we do here. We will continue to cover it in the gina & krista round-robin. We've split it up into two stories, one that runs today with 100 quotes and one that runs tomorrow. To write the one that is in today's round-robin, we had to each agree to toss out enough quotes and not raise any objections or have any discussions. We'll be doing that for the second piece. So the second piece will be more representative and it will run Monday morning. Stan and Marcia are among those joining us in DC for the first time. We wanted to be sure that they and everyone else had a good visit. Ava and C.I. kindly agreed to assist with this edition -- to pull more than their fare share -- by writing three articles. They made an appearance at a party, came back here Saturday night and began working on three articles. Two of which they've finished and the third of which they're almost done with. This is the house keeping Ty was talking about. We do have an edition, we'll cover a multitude of topics and no one wants to leave DC later today feeling so exhausted they can't get out of bed Monday morning. Those interested in a background look at this edition can read Brady's article that will run in Monday's gina & krista round-robin. He's planning to stay up as long as it takes to observe the full writing process. As soon as possible, we will dismiss everyone to get sleep except for the core six of Third which is Jim, Ty, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself. I believe that's all the housekeeping.

Jim: Thank you, Dona, thank you, Ty. One comment we heard repeatedly was that the number of people participating in Saturday's demonstration was "smaller" and "not as big." In our interviews with participants, that came up over and over. Jess and Elaine, what do you say?

Jess: Well this wasn't publicized. Amy Goodman couldn't bother to mention this event all last week, when she briefly noted that protests would take place on Saturday, she refused to note where or to list any organization that was participating, in other words, if you heard her mention it, you had no idea where to go to get information. Most were as pathetic as Amy Goodman and avoided getting the word out on the march. Leslie Cagan and the other closeted Communists of United For Piss and Moaning did their usual slurs against A.N.S.W.E.R., whispering, "It's Communits!" in an attempt to scare people from participating. There are Communists in A.N.S.W.E.R., there are Democrats, there are anarchists, there are libeterians, there are Greens, there are people belonging to no party, there are Socialists, there might even be a Republican or two. It is a diverse group. However, the key difference if you're a member of A.N.S.W.E.R. is, unlike with United For Piss and Moaning, you don't have to pretend you're something you're not. If you're a Communist, you can say that. You don't have to say, "I'm an independent" -- or "I'm a Democrat." United For Piss and Moaning told two print publications last week that A.N.S.W.E.R. was a Communist organization. Leslie Cagan, you're a Communist, you just hide in a political closet. We don't think there's anything wrong with anyone being a Communist. We do think there is something grossly wrong with adults who hide in political closets. We will do our best to publicize your political party membership and that of Judith LeBlanc and so many others in leadership of United For Piss and Moaning as your non-event comes up in a few weeks. Since UFPJ has again decided to launch a whisper campaign to the press against A.N.S.W.E.R., we think the record needs to be correct. But for those reasons and many more, the turnout was huge.

Elaine: I would agree with Jess completely. I would also note that January 2007 was the last national DC action that most turned out for. It was the last one that UPFJ decided to get on board with other groups for. They've insisted on undercutting every action since. We were all worried going into Saturday and, for example, Ava, C.I., Kat and Wally spent the week here, going around to surrounding areas and speaking to high schoolers, college students, various groups, about the protest. We really were thinking 200 to 500 people. We're not Hopium Addicts. We'll expect the worst and be happily surprised if something better takes place. And we were happily surprised on Saturday. It was a huge crowd. Over 50,000 easily but how much over, I don't know. Is there an estimate anywhere?

Mike: I'm looking at press reports now and not seeing any official crowd estimate. I'll keep looking.

Trina: While Mike does that, A.N.S.W.E.R. was just mentioned by Jess and to make it easy in terms of links, I'll just note right here that participating organizations included The National Assembly to End the Wars, the A.N.S.W.E.R., World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War. I'll agree with Jess and Elaine, especially Elain's point about how we were not expecting a huge crowd. In fact, Ty, Dona, Jess or Jim may want to grab the location aspect.

Ty: Jim and Dona are pointing to me. We live in C.I.'s home in the Bay Area. We is Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava, Betty, Wally and myself. Kat has her own place there as well. And we were considering, as late as February 10th, participating locally. But we really were worried about the size in DC. Turning out a crowd against the war in the Bay Area is not hard work. So we made the decision that we would come to DC. At which point, Rebecca made the same decision.

Rebecca: Right. And what Trina, Mike, Elaine, Ruth, Stan, Marcia and I did was fly to DC in my husband's plane. I was surprised that the West Coast contingent of the Avengers -- that's a joke for one of my own readers -- weren't staying in the Bay Area for this. I knew, for example, that Ava, C.I. and Kat really wanted the weekend home and by being in the Bay Area, they could justify staying there that week to get the word out. So it would mean a week off the road. Now Dona does the bookings for their speaking events and she told them she had to have a decision quickly and that's when the decision was finally made. When that decision was made, it was obvious to me -- who hadn't been paying that much attention -- that there was concern about the DC turnout. At which point, we decided we'd participate here. Isaiah and Dallas may want to speak now. They may not.

Isaiah: Dallas is shaking his head. I'll just note that if everyone's participating in a DC based protest, I'll come out. Dallas is shaking his head in agreement now so he agrees. Like Rebecca said, we were all surprised that the Third gang wasn't doing the Bay Area protest because we did know that Kat and Ava and C.I. were really wanting that week at home. They're on the road every week talking about Iraq. If they'd participated in yesterday's demonstration in the Bay Area, they could have had a week in their own beds, a week of no hotels and a lot easier schedule. I always said, "If we're doing DC, I'll do it." Otherwise I was planning to take part in a demonstration in my own area. And like Rebecca, it was obvious that there was concern about the turnout if the gang was doing DC.

Jim: Thank you. Ruth, what do you think about the turnout? You've participated with us in other DC actions.

Ruth: Well, I brought more grandchildren than on previous visits and did so because I wanted to be sure we did have a strong turnout. Two of my children and their wives and children drove in -- they couldn't leave until Friday night -- and they did so because I had spent the entire week fretting over the turnout. I was impressed with the turnout. I did not believe it would be a crowd of any considerable size so to see the thousands and thousands was really wonderful. My own estimate would be 72,000. That is non scientific. It is larger than Elaine's but Elaine was in the crowd throughout and I was frequently on the edges and had to step out at one point for my youngest grandson Ely. Just eye balling, I would say 70,000. Am I wrong? Maybe so. Mike, have you found an estimate?

Mike: No. And Dallas and I are both looking right now.

Jim: Stan, first time in DC, what did you think?

Stan: If I can drop back a bit, I want to take a minute to note something. I am a member of the community and was before I had my own site. If I didn't have my own site, there's a compliment I'd be making in the gina & krista round-robin or another community newsletter. I want to instead make it here. We were worried about the size of the turnout. We were very worried. And I am really blown away by the fact that we didn't hide that. Go back and you'll find articles here -- including one two or three weeks ago -- in which we're very direct about being worried about the turnout. There is an impulse never to talk about that and I'm really glad we did.

Cedric: I am too. I don't mean to jump in over Stan but I was thinking about that as well. It would have been really easy not to have addressed that. Instead we talked about it and we noted how a small turnout would declare the peace movement was over. We didn't try to cover that fact and we were all prepared to do our RIP on the peace movement article tonight if that had been the case. Like Stan, I really do appreciate that we didn't try to hide our concerns or fears and that we were upfront about them. Sorry, Stan, didn't mean to talk over you.

Stan: No problem. So Cedric and I are in agreement on that and it needs to be noted and, like he said, we would be writing the Rest In Peace Peace Movement piece if that was what was required. I'm sure, between Jim and C.I. alone, we could get a passionate editorial from that topic. But, fortunately, we don't need to write that piece because it was a healthy and dynamic crowd.

Jim: I want to stay with Stan a second. Dynamic? Explain.

Stan: Well the stereotype is an all White crowd. The stereotype further is a bunch of Yuppies mixed in with a few living Hippies. That wasn't the crowd at all. I'm sure they were present and should be, but you had a real cross-section, a real group of people who represented the diversity in the country -- in terms of age, ethnicity, race, class, you name it. It was a dynamic crowd.

Jim: Okay, Marcia, Stan is your cousin. So I know you'll want to disagree! I'm joking. Do you want to expand on Stan's topic or bring up another one?

Marcia: Yeah, I do agree with Stan. It was a dynamic crowd. It was an important crowd as well. By that I mean, it really felt like something. I didn't feel like just one person in a march, for example. And that was echoed in the comments of two people I spoke with who were attending a protest against the Iraq War for the first time.

Jim: Was this your first protest against the war?

Marcia: No, but I've only done local actions until now. And not to insult my area but we all know each other, we are the same group each protest.

Jim: Okay --

Marcia: Can I add one more thing? A difference locally is the police in my area know us. We've been out each time for years. And they're local cops and generally fine. The riot gear the DC cops were in and even their posture was something I found threatening.

Trina: Talk about that.

Marcia: Well it's just like something out of a Bruce Willis film or something. I can understand precautions but the gear they were in? Peaceful protestors who have announced a demonstration in DC gather and the police response is to prepare for terrorists or something? I was very insulted by that. This is my country's capitol and I'm a visitor here expressing and using my freedom of speech guaranteed to me in the Constitution. Futhermore, though the Constitution does not require a permit for me to use my free speech, local laws require one for a march and the permit was obtained. Everything was perfectly legal. So it was just really offensive to me to see these cops decked out like Robocop or something.

Trina: I think that's a really good observation and I think it's one that the rest of us wouldn't have made because we have gotten so used to seeing this police state every time we are in DC. I agree with Marcia, the police anticipation of violence? They're lucky it didn't cause violence. It is insulting. There is being prepared and there is going overboard.

Jim: And you think they went overboard?

Trina: Absolutely.

Jim: Others are nodding as well. Dona's handed me a note stating that Betty, Wally, Kat, Ava and C.I. have not yet spoken. I will read that note as, "Good job bringing in Stan and Ruth, Jim." Stan Ruth, and Kat probably say the least every roundtable. We are trying to make sure everyone speaks and, as usual, Ava and C.I. are the ones taking the notes. I'm also trying to set a calmer pace than usual, emulating the style I've observed Rebecca utilizing for her highly effective roundtables in recent weeks. Okay, Kat, thoughts?

Kat: I don't know if people will get this reference or not but at the end of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, when Sophia Loren's character is praying, the camera goes out on the roofs and then over to the street and there's a number of people mingling. I expected that to be the size of the turnout Saturday -- I almost said today, we haven't been to sleep yet and I've very tired. But that's what I epxected, maybe 490 or so people. Maybe less. So I really see the turnout as a victory and think it bodes well for the future. For the immediate future.

Wally: I agree with Kat. We both -- this is true of all of us actually, but Kat and I spoke about this before the roundtable -- encountered Barack supporters at the demonstration. And some were so intense they were deluding themselves. But there were a lot of people who had been Barack supporters and now grasped he was lying -- and that was a large number in terms of the people I encountered, I think I had the most encounters with people stating they had voted for Barack and they now did not support him because of his refusal to remove one brigade a month as promised -- and there were a lot of people who refused to ever drink the Kool-Aid to begin with. And from that, Kat and I believe, a movement is built. A real one, not a faux movement that Leslie Cagan thinks she can use to get in good with the Democratic Party.

Betty: I think one of the reasons Wally got so many was because I didn't get any. I got instead, if while getting someone's impresssions and I made a comment, I got, "You don't support Barack?" Because I'm Black, I have to support Barack?

Cedric: I got that attitude from two people as well.

Jim: Marcia? Ty? Stan?

Stan: I didn't get that. But I was doing my interviews with Ruth and Mike. I'm not sure if that made a difference or not?

Ruth: Thank you to Mike and Stan. Ely is in a wandering off stage and I did not want to mingle without some assistance as a result and I did not want my teenage grandchildren to feel like that had to stay with Grandma the whole time.

Stan: Well I was glad to hang out with you because I wasn't sure how to do it and might have, honestly, been a little shy about approaching people on my own. It was easier with the three of us. Marcia was on her own.

Marcia: Yeah. I love to mix it up. It reminds me of when Wally and I were speaking out for Hillary last year. I was probably very forceful in my opening remarks, in terms of being opposed to the illegal war. I also probably would have responded to any surprise with a joke and not really grasped, unless they said, "I'm surprised," that anyone was surprised.

Ty: My button was Barack and Bush with the heading "Separated At Birth." It got some looks and some comments similar to what Betty's talking about.

Jim: Back to you, Betty.

Betty: I agree with Wally that what we saw Saturday -- and probably true of all the protests nationwide yesterday -- was the skelton of the real peace movement. The ones participating yesterday were the ones who are building and will continue building the real peace movement. I know in April, what did Jess call it, United For Piss and Moaning?, plans their faux action where they hide behind Black people -- thanks UFPJ, glad to know my people's bodies are your shields even if you never let us into leadership -- and I have no interest in promoting that event. These are the apologists and the appeasers. They don't stand for anything. They're corwards and liars.

Rebecca: Amen.

Jim: Rebecca, you started up the Friday Iraq roundtable. Over a period of six weeks, you moderted five roundtables on Iraq with various people participating here also participating with you. I was wondering what the reaction was from your readers to that? And, for those who don't know, of the readers who e-mail, Rebecca's audience is largely high school students.

Rebecca: Right. That's where I had some really strong readers and they've passed it on to their friends and siblings over the last few years. So I do have a younger audience than some and there's just been a lot of surprises. For them, there have been a lot of surprises. One thing I try to do in those roundtables, if no one does it before me, is ask someone, usually C.I., to go into more detail. That's because a lot of the topics are new for my readers even with the snapshot. With reposting C.I.'s snapshot every day. That can be because we grab a topic that either emerged after the Friday snapshot or was minor in the Friday snapshot. Or it can be because we're going back further and it's further than some of my readers have been paying attention -- due to their age -- to the Iraq War. Trina's really had a chance to shine in these, by the way. Yeah, everyone loves C.I., we all do. But Trina's really made an impression on my readers.

Trina: Thank you and thank you to your readers who had a kind word for me but that may be in part due to the fact that a normal weekend post at my site is a recipe and some political talk. So that may run off some young people because I generally start with a recipe. If it runs off anyone, I'm okay with that, by the way.

Elaine: It's also true that Trina does well in exchange pieces. She will jump in with a question or comment. She will ask for a clarification or provide one of her own. Because we're usually doing a Friday night post side-by-side, I know that like me, she's mainly just trying to get it written and posted.

Trina: That is very true. And in terms of the topic, the Iraq War is now six-years-old and it's a topic that there are so many issues to discuss, so many issues that never get discussed, so many that were discussed at one point but then got dropped, that it's just a wonderful topic for a roundtable.

Jim: One story, one example, of something that receives very little attention.

Trina: Me? Oh, well the plight of Iraqi women. We've had some studies come out recently and some reporters reported on those studies; however, why does it take a study for Iraqi women to become a topic for the press? Why aren't they a topic all the time. Why are we surprised by what was done to Abeer? We should be appalled by it, but the gang-rape and murder of Abeer is surprising because? This happens in every war. How does this story go uncovered and where does the press get off acting like this is some new development?

C.I.: Kat mentioned Sophia Loren a second ago. I'm thinking of another Sophia move, Two Women. She won the Academy Award, for Best Actress, for that. Stephen D. Green, accused of participating in the gang-rape of Abeer, of murdering Abeer, her parents and her sister and of plotting the entire thing, once stopped Abeer, at the US military checkpoint he manned in her area, and ran his fingers down her face. Does anyone not remember the scene in Two Women, which is set during WWII, where the soldiers stop Sophia and her 13-year-old daughter and one of them runs his hands on the daughter's face? Sophia snaps at the soldier something like, "Keep that for your sister!" And she grabs a rock and tells him to stay away from her daughter. Like Trina's pointing out, these are stories of every war and why aren't they covered?

Trina: I'm grabbing notes so Ava can speak.

Ava: Thank you, Trina. Yeah, why isn't this covered. Do we really want to pretend, in the face of overwhelming evidence --historical evidence -- to the contrary that what's happened to Iraqi women is somehow an exception to war and that this has not been repeated over and over in war after war? There are certain developments particular to this war, no question. But the rape and targeting of women -- though more intense and out in the open in Iraq which has become a very sexist society thanks to the illegal war -- is not something that just developed in 2003. And, on Two Women, I had actually forgotten that scene C.I.'s speaking of. I saw that when I was probably 12 and it was a dubbed version, dubbed into English. I remember being scared and frightened for the daughter and -- honestly -- for myself when that man grabbed her face. There are something like two or three other soldiers with him and they're all grinning and all in approval of their actions, of the abuse. For those who haven't seen the film, Sophia and her daughter will be both be raped in war torn Italy. But, as Trina was saying, Iraqi women remain out of the coverage. An organization puts out a study and it may or may not get a write up. For a brief moment, because of the work an organization has done, Iraqi women may get a tiny glimmer of attention. Then it's back to one Iraqi man after another and a press that works overtime to ignore the plight of Iraqi women.

Jim: Okay, Mike's spoken several times but usually a sentence each so I want to give him a chance to speak more and anyone who wants to can also jump in. We're going to be winding down in a moment. And we will have just made this an Iraq roundtable, which is fine. We had planned to tackle other topics but that's fine.

Mike: I liked the yellow A.N.S.W.E.R. signs that read "WE NEED JOBS AND SCHOOLS NOT WAR." I don't think we've talked about signs too much. There were some signs that didn't speak to me but I was cool with and I was flat out offended with one sign I saw that reduced the Iraq War to "and Iraq," after Palestine and Afghanistan -- in that order. It also looked like "and Iraq" was smaller than the other two. I found that disrespectful on the anniversary of the illegal war. I'm not opposed to the issues of all three being raised but I am opposed to those who seem to have their own agendas and hop on the Iraq War to work out issues they might be better off seeking therapy for.

Rebecca: I'm laughing and in agreement. The Palestinian issue is one I got involved with in college and carved out as my own. It's also one I'm no longer planning to blog on. I'll read up on it offline and continue my offline work on the issue but it's in part because of the signs like Mike's talking about and in part because of the media response every time. We get round the clock Pacifica radio coverage, non-stop whenever Israel invades or attacks Gaza openly -- they're always attacking Gaza, but the open attacks get non-stop coverage. This year it's become even more noticeable that the beggars of Panhandle Media drop everything for Gaza. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of them. And I don't want to be associated or seen as like them. The US needs to stop supplying and funding Israel. But let's not confuse that with the direct involvement of the US in Iraq. In terms of Gaza, the US backs thugs who do the dirty work. In terms of Iraq, the US is doing the dirty work. I've yet to see any of the beggar media who grasp the difference. And as the coverage of Iraq has become non-existant, I'm not interested in being confused with an Amy Goodman or any of the freaks at Pacifica.

Betty: I agree with Rebecca and what's going on in Israel is what went on in South Africa. And the US is doing the same thing, backing -- for their own self-interests -- an apartheid regime that attacks the people. That's wrong. And the US isn't the only Western nation providing cover or arms to the Israeli government. But South African was backed during the war on Vietnam and, of the two examples, the US was more culpable and more guilty of the crimes in Vietnam because they were the ones committing them. They were culpable in South Africa, don't get me wrong, but more so in Vietnam. I would further add that the Palestinian people have their 'celebrities' and no one speaks for the Iraqis, no one advocates for them. There are no celebrity trips to Iraq to help the Iraqi people. And, like Mike, I have no problem with the plight of the Palestinians being a part of or a focus of the march. I do have a problem with it outweighing other issues. And I agree with him about the signs. It was insulting and demonstrated a real hatred -- knowingly or not -- of Iraqis to reduce their suffering to third place on the sixth anniversary of the US assault on and occupation of Iraq.

Cedric: Mike wrote about some issues some of the Iraq War veterans in Elaine's Thursday night group therapy wanted him to discuss. I know Elaine can't comment on that and I'm not asking her to. There have been some e-mails to Mike so I want to be clear on that. They were speaking to Mike and they wanted to be noted at Mike's site. But he was talking about how one veteran was really bothered by Amy Goodman -- and should have been -- because she had no segment focusing on Iraq last week but did do a sixth anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie -- by an Israeli bulldozer. I'm not sure what to make of that and wanted us to comment.

Elaine: I will actually comment on one part. Mike started getting a steady stream of nasty e-mails about two weeks ago accusing him of violating some ethic. When he wrote Thursday night, he made it clear he was not in the group, he was not sitting in on sessions and these were comments being made to him by participants who knew he had a blog and wanted him to write about it. That has always been clear to me from Mike's post but two weeks ago it suddenly became an issue.

Mike: For some wack jobs e-mailing me. But, yes, the Rachel Corrie segment was offensive. And that was Thursday night when I heard about it. Friday? Still no segment on Iraq.

Ruth: I think it is important to grasp that Amy Goodman did -- and does -- no segment on Palestinians. Rachel Corrie was an American citizen. It is another case -- as was the activist from the Bay Area that she also covered last week -- of 'these people matter because they are Americans.' No offense to Rachel Corrie who was a brave woman but what happened to her happens to countless Palestinians and no one does a segment honoring their deaths.

Marcia: That's a really good point, Ruth. What happened to Rachel was tragic but it has happened and continues to happen to many other Palestinians. Deaths only have a face when they have an American face, apparently. Amy Goodman's never done a story on 14-year-old Abeer, not when the gang-rape and murder were reported and never on the anniversary. But she did cover the American citizen, from the Bay Area, who died in Iraq. For a supposed internationalist, she really is obsessed with American deaths only.

Wally: These are all good points but to the issue of the Iraq War, there is no excuse for any so-called news or public affairs program refusing to address the Iraq War; however, we saw Amy Goodman and others do just that. Whatever happened to 'going where the silences are'? Wasn't that trashy Amy Goodman's so-called slogan, supposed slogan? The silence is on Iraq and she's part of that silence. She's just a fraud. And to be honest, I don't need to hear from any other parent about their loss when other losses aren't covered. That's Rachel's parents or anyone else. Boo-hoo. I'm tired of it. Six years later and you're devoting another segment to Rachel Corrie? Over a million and a half Iraqis have died in the illegal war and they get no segment but we're going to all boo-hoo over the American Blonde one more time? I'm not denying the tragedy of her death but I'm saying "I don't give a damn" becomes my response when it's always about Rachel or some other American and the real victims, the ongoing victims are never covered and never named. I'm tired of it. It was the sixth anniversary of the Iraq War and the sixth anniversary of one woman's death. Amy Goodman made time to do an entire segment on what? The sixth anniversary of one woman's death.

Ty: I agree with Wally and I want to be really clear that when this kind of silence surrounds Iraq it makes those of us who pay attention to news and coverage not give a damn about your other pet issues. What is the take away from these on-the-anniversary-of-Rachel's-death pieces? That we can click our heels and wish her back to life? There's an ongoing illegal war. It needs to be ended. I'm talking about Iraq but you could make the some point about the occupied territories. Regardless, obsessing over one person's death isn't going to end a war. And making a people's suffering into "American killed!" isn't telling their stories. It's like the White activists who get on Pacifica and talk about Katrina and how they went down and helped the African-Americans. And you listen to them and you think, "It's not your story. Shut the hell up. The people who need to be interviewed are the victims but instead we've got to hear how great and wonderful you are for all your selfless help." It's not selfless when you keep bowing, when you keep expecting applause. And it's not the story of Katrina when the people that keep doing the talking aren't the victims.

Ava: Well, I mean, the suffering in Oaxaca became, "Brad Will murdered!" I find that offensive anytime it happens. Katrina vanden Heuvel, to use another example, turns suffering of people into, "My Russian journalist friend was murdered!" Journalist shouldn't be murdered or attacked. It happens all the time. However, they are not the stories they cover. And any abuse -- or murder -- that happens is part of a larger story. But that's too much for the beggars to realize so they make it all about one person. The problems in Oaxaca did not end with Brad Will's murder -- though the interested peaked and then faded with his murder, Panhandle Media's interest. Was that all it was? Is the plight of the Palestinians really supposed to take back seat to Rachel Corrie's death? I'm a Latina, I find it very offensive when we constantly need a gringo or gringa face paraded through the media to deal with a foreign topic. And let me be clear that the need for that comes from the ones doing the coverage. The people, the news consumers, don't need it to care about a story. But let's be honest, to care about a story requires work on the part of a journalist and it's so much easier not to do the work required and, for example, instead just show Rachel in all her blondness and cluck-cluck over the tragedy. It tells you know about the Palestinians, it puts them in the back of the bus, but it's easy and it's cheap coverage and that's why Amy Goodman does it. Heaven forbid she had to do any actual work. And, yes, veterans of the Iraq War -- left, right, what have you -- have a right to complain about all of the media silence last week on Iraq. Their country sent them there. Their country said this was important. And last week the media telegraphed no, it wasn't. The media didn't say that the war was wrong. They just said it wasn't important.

C.I.: To back up Ava real quick -- Trina, thanks for grabbing the notes -- the media could have said the illegal war was wrong. They didn't, as Ava pointed out, but they could have used that or anything else to drive the coverage. And, whether you agreed or not, if you were a veteran, you knew it was being dealt with, being covered. Instead you have men and women in the US who have returned from Iraq and have seen their fellow service members die in Iraq or return wounded and/or they themselves returned wounded. And last week the press made very clear that they didn't matter, that the mission didn't matter. Not that the mission was wrong -- that's a dialogue we could have as nation. But that it didn't matter and it was so meaningless that despite it being an ongoing and illegal war with more US service members than any other current war, it didn't require recognition of any sort -- good or bad, positive or negative. And that sent a message. It was offensive.

Betty: It really was offensive and the news is a competition for focus. That's why Project Censored regularly notes junk news stories eating up the time. Rachel Corrie's death was a tragedy. And it was six years ago. At some point, when it becomes wall to wall Rachel every year at this time, we're looking at Octomom for Panhandle Media. I've really gotten sick of Amy Goodman's set pieces each year where she devotes this day to this death and that day to another. Life has gone on and we need to as well. Meaning, Rachel's death can be noted in a headline on her anniversary. It can be discussed at anytime. But this idea that her death means other stories are not going to be discussed because it's the sixth anniversary or the seventh or the twelth, I'm not buying that. Take it to a history class. I need to know what's going on now. Look, we've already got Amy blocking off MLK's assasination and birth and we've got her blocking off Malcom X's assassination and now, apparently, each year she'll have to do a segment on the anniversary of Rachel Corrie's death. And at some point you wonder how we're ever supposed to know what is happening today when Amy's so obsessed and caught up with her Remberances of the Past. Mexico, as Ava pointed out, is not even a story anymore. They don't even bother with the coverage. And Rachel Corrie's parents are becoming like the Goldmans to me, I am so sorry for their loss but I am so tired of seeing them because it always plays like exploitation.

Jim: The Goldmans?

Betty: Ron Goldman's parents. He and Nicole Brown Simpson were murdered -- I believe by OJ -- and his parents seem like wonderful people and have my sympathy, as do the Corries. Ava's right that it's a cheap little segement done cheaply. Amy plays like Sally Jesse and it's "Oh, the tragedy of these parents" and it's all heart strings and Queen for a Day. It's embarrassing and it is not informative. Want to honor Rachel Corrie's death, report on what's happening in Palestine right now. Don't take us back down memory lane with sobs and sniffles. I find Amy's interviewing of the parents to be manipulative and offensive. She really is a trash TV host who couldn't get a syndication deal if you ask me.

Jim: And on that note, we'll wrap up the roundtable.

The Katrina goes to . . .

"A fifteen-year-old saw the movie Juno and saw a TV show about [a girl having a baby] and it all looks so glamours," huffed Kim Gandy on last week's To The Contrary looking like a bigger idiot than usual and that's really saying something at a time when all of Kim's stress-eating has finally caught up with her.

All of Bonnie Erbe's guests won the Katrina this week: Kim, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Sophia Nelson and Genevieve Wood. They did so because an increase in rates of pregnancy led them to trash women -- all women. The teenagers, the twenty and thirty year-old women.

The US is involved in two wars and in the midst of an economic crisis. Historically, wars and poor economies impact reproduction rates (they tend to increase) but the women couldn't discuss that. Discuss? They couldn't even raise the issue.

They were too busy trashing women -- all women -- who got pregnant in 2007. And they were all so busy raving like lunatics.

Here are some basic facts. Sharon Jayson (USA Today) reported last week, "Birth rates are up for women in their 20s, 30s and early 40s as well as for teens 15-19, according to a government report based on 2007 birth certificates." Erik Eckholm (New York Times) offered, "The 4,317,000 births in 2007 just edged out the figure for 1957, at the height of the baby boom. The increase reflected a slight rise in childbearing by women of all ages, including those in their 30s and 40s, and a record share of births to unmarried women." Based on little more than that, the panelists launched into an attack on women.

Now we weren't surprised by conservatives such as Wood and Nelson launching the attacks. We expect that from them due to their beliefs. But it was shocking to see Kim and Eleanor Holmes Norton join in.

The feminist position was supposed to be "every child a wanted child" but you couldn't tell that from the remarks from Kim and Eleanor. Instead they appeared to advocate every child must be born to two parents -- and they made no effort to include same-sex parents in that equation.

It was the most reactionary nonsense that managed to insult pretty much every liberal position.

Eleanor, trying to see a silver lining near the end, offered that it might, if nothing else, help 'save' Social Security. Eleanor apparently was in such a rush to make the taping she packed nothing but right-wing talking points. Social Security is not in danger -- except from foolish politicians like Eleanor eager to slash it to pieces.

Watching Kim huff and puff, we suddenly grasped why she was attacking movies: Her immense weight gain means she can't sit in a theater, she's too large for the standard sized seats.

So we got Kim vexed as she snarled, "If you watch TV it looks like it's" normal. Normal? Pregnancy normal? Heaven forbid!

Gee, Kim Gandy, you really are working to trash your image in your last days as president of NOW, aren't you?

Pregnancy is normal. It isn't an illness. But Kim was still furious about having to stand in the lobby with her jumbo Coke, bucket of buttered pop corn and nachos, so we all had to suffer.

"A 15-year-old saw the movie Juno and saw a TV show about [a girl having a baby] and it all looks so glamorous!"

Uh, Kim, what TV show? Help us out there. What TV show is focusing on unwed mothers -- of any age? Help us out. And Juno?

We believe all the extra cellulite Kim's packing has invaded her brain cells. That's the only explanation for her insisting that teenagers are having babies and becoming single mothers to be like Juno. Kim, Juno gives her child up for adoption. Did you not hear the ending from the lobby?

We remember when Phyllis Schlafly attacked Juno, insisting it was "the triumph of feminist ideology". So to hear Kim attack it as well went a long way towards explaining how NOW (and Kim herself) became such an embarrassment in 2008.

Kim may want to try to pull in Knocked Up or some other films after the fact. To that we say, she specifically named Juno and only Juno. Had she named Knocked Up we would have had to take a pass because, unlike Kim, we don't generally weigh in on films we haven't watched.

Eleanor wanted to talk about how birth rates go down with education. Uh, Eleanor, did you just call all the women who gave birth in 2007 stupid?

Birth rates go down. Yes. They are not eliminated. No study has found, "Women with X-years-of graduate school have zero babies."

To the women of America who gave birth in 2007, we (Ava and C.I.) say congratulations. If you kept your baby, we're sure you'll try very hard to be the best mother you can be. We don't know you, so we have no reason to create motives for you or your decision.

Pregnancy is not "unnatural." It's a normal part of life. Not everyone wants children and those women who chose not to have them earn our applause as much as those women who choose to give birth. And what of those women who adopt?

We really felt sorry for those women because they were largely left out of the discussion. If you're a single adult woman who can meet the qualifications for adoption, you're apparently still not allowed to adopt in Kim and Eleanor's books since they gave the impression that only a man and a woman together could raise a child. (Again, no same-sex couples were acknowledged.) Sophia Nelson was frequently offering the most advanced (or what passed for it) points during this discussion and she raised the issue that she might adopt as a single parent. If you think Eleanor or Kim rushed to support her on that, think again.

The women earned their Katrinas because they didn't know what the hell they were talking about.

Kim was rushing to blame the entertainment industry (try a lack of honest sex education in this country, Kim) and Eleanor was apparently auditioning to fill in for Judge Judy when Judy goes on vacation.

Here's reality. The study found a 1% increase in the number of births to teenage females. One- percent. Kim's attacking the entertainment industry and Eleanor's getting all prudish over one-percent.

The four panelists apparently never heard of demography. (At one point, host Bonnie Erbe attempted to raise the issue of population explosion but the four guests weren't interested in that either.) Teenagers today would have been born when? The 1990s. 1990 itself was a boom year for pregnancy (6.78 million births). It would slowly taper off throughout that decade but pregnancies were on the rise. So possibly when discussing today's increase in teenage pregnancies, we might need to consider the increase in the number of teenagers?

To make this as simple as possible for the non-scientific, 50 teenage pregnancies in 2007 may seem huge compared to 30 teenage pregnancies in 1992. However, if you find out that there were twice as many teenagers in 2007 than in 1992, the rate of teen pregnancy would have fallen.

As basic as we think the above created example is, we still fear it flew over Kim and Eleanor's heads.

"We know best," that was the attitude Eleanor and Kim sported. To single mothers everywhere in the US, especially single teen mothers, we say, "Look no further than the White House." Barack Obama's mother was a single mother, a single teenage mother. Will your son or daughter become president? Maybe. Someone has to fill the office unless it's abolished.

It's one thing to caution (all) mothers and mothers-to-be about how hard it will be, it's another to push some lie that you must be in a relationship (with a man) in order to raise a child. If that were true, when a spouse died, government authorities would show up and remove children from the homes of widows and widowers.

Things are tough and raising a child is tough. That's regardless of if you have a partner or not, regardless of whether you're a teenager or not, regardless of whether you're economically struggling or not. There are huge responsibilities to being a parent. It would be very easy if all the problems that come with parenting could be solved by age. If there was a 'magic age,' the Congress could just pass legislation outlawing pregnancies until a woman reaches a certain age. There is no magic age and a woman of 16 may turn out to be a better mother than a woman of 34. It's the luck of the draw. That's the reality of parenting.

There are things that can better prepare people. We don't see marriage as one of them. We see mandatory parenting classes in high school as something needed. We also see daycare facilities set up in high schools as something needed. For the young mothers to put their children in while in school? Sure, that's fine. But that's not why we support it. We think every high school should provide low cost daycare (a) because it's needed and (b) because high schoolers need to be around children. Not their brothers and sisters that they can ignore as they may want to or not. But children whose care they're being graded on. Want someone to discover they're not up to be a parent before pregnancy? Putting them in a room with a demanding two-year-old for an hour or two Monday through Friday will go a long way towards making that point.

That's a concrete example so none of the four gas bags offered it or any other. They didn't feel the need to use this topic to address the need for daycare, the need for increased funding of public programs or the need for the creation of new programs.

If you think, "Well they just weren't interested in real life women," stop yourself. They were. There was time to rag on real life woman Angelina Jolie. We know Angelina and we're not really in the mood to watch Kim and Eleanor act like stereotypical harpies at a koffee klatch but that's what happened. It was kluck-kluck-kluck.

In doing so, they not only demonstrated how shallow they are (apparently the only pregnant woman they know is one they know of), they also demonstrated yet again how limited their knowledge was.

As they snarled and hissed about single mother Angelina, we wondered if we should pick up the phone, dial up the Jolie and tell her how sorry we were that she and Brad had broken up.

Brad Pitt. Remember him?

He's been Angelina's significant other since for about four-years-now. They live together. Why is Angelina being brought into this discussion?

Do Kim and Eleanor not get how offensive that is?

They're now not just insulting women who choose to raise a child on their own or with a female partner, they're now also insulting women who raise a child with a partner but do not marry.

Let's sum up the Gospel According To Big Kim Gandy: The only way to raise a child is with a ring on your finger.

And people wonder why NOW is in so much trouble these days?

Repeating, Angelina has lived with Brad since 2005. That's longer than some marriages last. (And longer than her first or second marriage lasted.)

We don't believe you need to be married in order to be a good parent. We don't believe you need to live with a partner in order to be a good parent. We believe in free will and self-determination. We further believe that Kim Gandy needs to get to a fat farm. If she hadn't ballooned up so and wasn't filled with so much self-hatred over that, maybe she wouldn't direct it out at the world around her?

Congratulations to Eleanor, Genevieve, Sophia and especially Kim. They earned their Katrina.


Stevie Nicks, rocking it her way

Stevie Nicks is on the road in the US with Fleetwood Mac. She's also got a new album and DVD due out at the end of this month. The DVD is Live In Chicago and from it comes The Soundstage Sessions album -- ten tracks from the concert which have had additional arrangements and vocals added in Nashville. Both are released March 31st.

Ten tracks on the album proper. Amazon will offer one bonus track ("Enchanted") and iTunes will offer two bonus tracks ("Gold Dust Woman" and "Edge of Seventeen").

Stevie's released only one solo studio album this decade (Trouble in Shangri-La). She's also released a studio album with Fleetwood Mac (Say You Will). So for Nicks fans (and we are), this new live release is of huge interest.

Stevie Nicks Crash * Landslide

And if it interests you, you may want to check out the single Amazon is offering as a download currently, Stevie performing her "Landslide" and Dave Matthews' "Crash Into Me." You can purchase either for ninety-nine cents or both for $1.89.

"Crash Into Me" is a five minute and thirty-three seconds live track that Stevie owns from the moment she tosses "You've got your ball, you've got your chains" up and to the back of her throat. She could have sang the entire song that way and we (and many others would have loved it) but she brings it down lower and manages to honor the original while owning her cover.

The music in her version makes clear the debt Dave Matthews owes to Tom Petty ("Free Falling"). Three minutes the backup vocals come in and that's a Stevie hallmark. It's been a hallmark of many a great singer, interplay with backup vocalists, but you clink and they're on tour and on album with nothing but their own multi-tracked vocals.

Stevie was a Mamas and Papas fan as a young girl and her love of vocals (plural) and the elements they can create in harmony and counter-point has led to some of her finest work ("Nightbird," for example). Between her lead vocals, the backing vocals, the guitar playing and some amazing drum work, "Crash Into Me" is a must-have for any Stevie fan.

And "Landslide?"

This Stevie Nicks song first appears on Fleetwood Mac's 1975 self-titled album. Along with "Rhiannon" (also written and sung by Nicks) and "Say You Love Me" (written and sung by Christine McVie), it would become a big hit for the group and enter their canon. 1980's Fleetwood Mac Live and 1997's The Dance feature the song. (As do various best-ofs, anthologies and greatest hits put out by the Mac.)

She's reconfigured this song. It's nothing like the intense revitalization she gave "Rhiannon" for her three-disc, boxed set Enchanted but it's still fairly amazing. You'll enjoy the song throughout, she's doing a softer vocal on the verses and there's a wonderful backing joining her for the chorus. But it's at 2 minutes and fifty-three seconds that you especially want to start paying attention. From that moment on to the end, you'll be cursing your bad luck that you didn't see this performed live. (But you can purchase the DVD.)

Stevie Nicks is a one of a kind original. As such, she was relentlessly attacked by male rock critics at the start of her career. Why didn't she do it that way, why didn't she record something more like . . . She rocked it on her own terms and, in doing so, became one of rock's most distinctive and memorable artists. The bulk of male rock critics faves and raves from 1975 to 1979 are forgotten today -- and for good reason. Stevie's a living testament to the strength needed to be a real artist and, listening to her, you never forget it. She rocked it on her own terms and she had the last laugh. Listening to her, you never forget that either. (March 31st, you do not want to miss the live version of "Sara.")

Stand up

Stand up,

Stand up for Jesus,

Ye soldiers of the cross . . .

That's from George Duffield's "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus," a hymnal written in 1858. The concept of standing up being a brave thing, being a needed thing and being a good thing is a concept that transcends political parties and, in fact, politics.

In America, we applaud Patrick Henry for declaring "Give me liberty or give me death," thereby persuading the Virginia Convention to enter into the Revolutionary War which made the United States a sovereign nation. Many who followed Patrick Henry over the centuries has been enshrined in the American canon for standing up for some principle. (Though, no surprise, men are far more likely to be canonized and White ones even more so.) Films and novels, short stories and songs, plays and poems all celebrate various people (real and fictional) who stood up.

In terms of right and left factions, the right has their own set of names they celebrate as stand-up people. That's their business and the left has the right to have their groupings.

But where is the left?

Kristoffer Walker returned from Iraq last month on a two week pass. While on his pass, he made a decision that led him to announce that the Iraq War was immoral, illegal and that he could no longer participate in it.


Translation, he stood up.

Last week, we got the news that Kristoffer had started a website and then the sad news that he had decided to return to Iraq. (A friend of his e-mailed both times.) With just the first news, we were planning on mentioning him again. With the news that he was returning to Iraq, we had a different article on our hands.

Kristoffer's returning to Iraq, returning to a war he doesn't believe in and feels is illegal. He has not retracted his statements and does not plan to. But the military has made a number of threats and he's concerned about his future. All of which is perfectly understandable in the best of times.

But Kristoffer didn't get the best of times. Kristoffer got nothing. He received coverage from the Associated Press and from Wisconsin (his home state) news outlets. That was really it. On the blogosphere, the right-wing covered him like crazy and, as is to be expected from across the aisle, they didn't care for him.

But even with the hate and bile they heaped on him, their statements and actions acknowledged that his stand was news. It was a stand that they (no surprise) disagreed with, but they covered it.

And on the left?

The Nation had no time for Kristoffer Walker. Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! could not even devote a headline to him. The Progressive, whose editor and CEO is based in Madison, Wisconsin, refused to cover him. In These Times never uttered his name. Go down the list. It's a long, long list. Even Courage to Resist -- a US organization congratulating service members who have the courage to resist -- never found the time to note Kristoffer or his brave stand.

Kristoffer Walker is a 28-year-old who stood up publicly. The reaction in Wisconsin media included some support (from one weekly and from those who wrote letters to the editor) and condemnation from one editorial board after another. We can only imagine what daily life must have been like.

When you take a stand -- any stand -- you know it's going to cost you. If it didn't come with a cost, it wouldn't be taking a stand. If it didn't come with a cost, it would just be "shooting the breeze." But while you expect that those who disagree with your stand will attack, you really don't anticipate that those who supposedly agree with you will ignore you.

But that's what happened with Kristoffer who resisted publicly for four weeks and never saw any of our brave left outlets rush to his side or rush to applaud him or, for that matter, even acknowledge him.

In a culture that values brave stands, we're left puzzled by the refusal of the left to support Kristoffer Walker. It shouldn't have required attacks from the right for the left to have supported Kristoffer; however, once those attacks started there was a duty for the left to step up. Our brave 'leaders' and 'outlets' never did.

From time to time, an e-mail comes in asking us: "Are you aware Ralph Nader is still alive?" A number of people are bothered by the fact that this site endorsed Ralph for president (everyone except Ava and C.I. endorsed him -- Ava and C.I. made no endorsement) and now we never highlight any of his writing! Why would we?

Have you read his writing? Have you read that chicken s**t nonsense?

We don't expect Ralph to write like Daniel Ellsberg speaks (though we'd love it if he did), but we do expect that, for example, on the sixth anniversary of the illegal war, a brave person like Ralph Nader can comment on it.

But we didn't get that. He wrote a column about Bully Boy Bush and, somehow, managed to ignore the Iraq War even when reviewing Bully Boy's eight years in the White House. That takes a lot of denial, Ralph.

Like the bulk of this country, we applaud brave stands. We just haven't seen any from Ralph since the election. We've seen a refusal to confront Barack Obama, a refusal to call him out and we've seen a lot of EZ Bake columns on EZ bake topics that every other gas bag in the universe writes about.

And that gas bag echo chamber? It's what prevented Kristoffer's stand from receiving the time and attention it deserved. While a nation debases itself in supplication, Kristoffer stood up. The fact that he received no support from the left media goes not to any faults of his but the very real lack of independence in independent media.
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