Sunday, May 03, 2009

Truest statement of the week

No one knew what the new brand actually stood for. So accomplished was the advertising (a record $75m was spent on television commercials alone) that many Americans actually believed Obama shared their opposition to Bush's wars. In fact, he had repeatedly backed Bush's warmongering and its congressional funding. Many Americans also believed he was the heir to Martin Luther King's legacy of anti-colonialism. Yet if Obama had a theme at all, apart from the vacuous "Change you can believe in", it was the renewal of America as a dominant, avaricious bully. "We will be the most powerful," he often declared.

Perhaps the Obama brand's most effective advertising was supplied free of charge by those journalists who, as courtiers of a rapacious system, promote shining knights. They depoliticised him, spinning his platitudinous speeches as "adroit literary creations, rich, like those Doric columns, with allusion..." (Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian). The San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford wrote: "Many spiritually advanced people I know... identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who... can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet."

In his first 100 days, Obama has excused torture, opposed habeas corpus and demanded more secret government. He has kept Bush's gulag intact and at least 17,000 prisoners beyond the reach of justice. On 24 April, his lawyers won an appeal that ruled Guantanamo Bay prisoners were not "persons", and therefore had no right not to be tortured. His national intelligence director, Admiral Dennis Blair, says he believes torture works. One of his senior US intelligence officials in Latin America is accused of covering up the torture of an American nun in Guatemala in 1989; another is a Pinochet apologist. As Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, the US experienced a military coup under Bush, whose secretary of "defence", Robert Gates, along with the same warmaking officials, has been retained by Obama.

-- John Pilger, "Obama's 100 days - the mad men did well" (The New Statesman via

Truest statement of the week II

I am committed to doing everything I can to put our community and our nation on the path to economic stability. I led opposition to the bank bailout program TARP, I worked vigorously in favor of the stimulus package, and I have worked to save the automotive, steel and aerospace industries in America.
I will not vote for a budget that ties war funding to the operational budget of our government. This year, the budget includes $130 billion for war funding. We are ramping up the war in Afghanistan, and have yet to find an end to the war in Iraq. Recent media reports indicate that we may double our troop levels in Afghanistan by 2010. This budget helps to authorize that expansion, and I will not endorse a budget that sends more of our brave men and women to a war without an end in sight.

-- US House Rep Dennis Kucinich, April 29, 2009.

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday. Ay-yi-yi!

But we're now done. The truest just posted.

Let's note who worked on the edition. Along with Dallas who is a link locator, a soundboard and so much more, the following put in time 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.

And what did we come up with?

Truest statement of the week -- John Pilger. The one and only. If they ever expect John Pilger to drink the Kool-Aid they better plan on forcing it down his throat and even that may not work.

Truest statement of the week II -- Dennis Kuccinich ended up with a truest for speaking out against the bloated funding for the unneeded wars.

Editorial: Who do you think you're fooling? -- We wanted to call this, "Who in the world do you think that you are fooling?" That's from a Stevie Nicks' song. Everyone's so tired that no one will tell me (Jim) which one. But it's become a catch phrase. Ava and C.I. will sing it, Dona, Jess and Ty will just say it. (Dona will say it very slowly.) But it was too long for a headline, sadly. We flooded the zone on Abeer as much as we could this edition. She's covered here, in a feature article and Ava and C.I. worked in a mention in the TV commentary at the last minute when we asked them to. And Keesha's column is on the topic as well.

TV: Don't Lie To Me -- Fringe was planned for this week. For those who forgot, Fringe is the reason this site didn't go dark. Ava and C.I. had some serious problems with the show. They expressed those problems to friends with the show and were told that it was being fixed and, if that was the only problem, could they hold off on the review? They agreed to hold off. This was when we were due to go dark in November of last year. They'd wait, they said, to review it until sometime in 2009. And they didn't realize what they'd agreed to. They write their next commentary and note, "When we shared that judgment with a writer for the show, we were asked to wait until the mid-season to review the show (changes are promised -- don't believe it). We're more than happy to wait because the fringe was what really interested us. Not the show, not the writing, the fringe. Or, as some might call it, the lunatic fringe." They finish that piece and don't even realize what they wrote or, more importantly, what they'd already agreed to. As I explained in that September 2008 note, "Ava and C.I. said they just agreed without thinking but since they did and since it's up (they agreed to a writer for Fringe's request to hold off on a full review until the mid-season) they'll committ to this site through the start of January. That's only for this site. No one (including C.I.) has made any decision regarding their own sites. Since Ava and C.I. are willing to go to January, we (Dona, Ty, Jess and myself) gladly agree to as well. Now, if readers, can get beyond that unplanned announcement, focus on this powerful piece." Now Stan wanted to start a website but everyone was going to be closing down in January? Forget it. So C.I. extended until April. C.I., Ava and Elaine are the only ones ready to quit (and then some!). The rest of us are fine with continuing. But this was the week when Fringe finally got its review. What happened? Swine Flu. They didn't want to tackle Fringe this week because of that and switched over to Lie To Me. This is a pretty comprehensive review of last week. And funny.

Evan Bright Puts Big Media To Shame -- Evan Bright is covering the Steven D. Green trial. He kindly consented to an e-mail interview with us. We thank him for it and urge you to read the reports on the trial at Evan Bright's website.

Iraq War stories -- We wanted to note Cliff Cornell and Adam Kokesh and made it a short feature.

TV roundtable -- Ty and Dona both felt this was most likely going to be a 'heavy' edition and they recommended we do a follow up to last week's TV roundtable in order to have something lighter for the mix. Illustration is by Kat, Betty's kids and Wally.

Congress moves to weaken their own powers -- We wrote out this long article that never worked. We almost junked the whole idea and then Jess said, "Keep the intro but let's scrap everything else and just use Russ Feingold's comments and questions."

Valerie Jarrett's latest ethical problem -- ValJar is already shaping up to be the ethical scandal for the administration. Only those not paying attention are surprised.

Bitch Pleeze (Keesha) -- Community member Keesha wrote this contribution. She can write one anytime she wants. We believe this is the second time she's written here. We're always glad to have her input. (And she's right that I need to figure out a way with regards to the snapshot. We are the only community site that doesn't repost it and I am the hold up on that.) This is Keesha's and the only thing we added was added at her request, she wanted to know if the SNL video could be put in? We told her no problem and to write her column as she wanted, we'd add the video and we certainly wouldnt' change anything in her column. Ann Bartow's a piece of work, isn't she?

15th Annual Bike To Work Day -- PSA.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Kat, Betty, Ruth, Stan, Marcia, Wally, Cedric and Rebecca wrote this. We thank them for it. They're testing another illustration this week, by the way. The one that I picked last week did not go over well with them or with readers.

So that's what we got. Hopefully somewhere in that is something that makes you think, makes you laugh, makes you angry, makes you feel alive.

See you next Sunday.

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

Editorial: Who do you think you're fooling?

"Here are the words I want to hear from our new commander in chief: 'Our servicewomen deserve dignity and respect, and that's an order!'" That's the increasingly useless Kim Gandy of the even more useless NOW in an April 6th mailing. April 9th, NOW was asking that you join their 'action' (put your name to their standardized e-mail -- you can hear Kim crying, "We'll storm the inboxes!"):

Countless military women and military spouses are victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. It is estimated that rates of marital abuse in the military are two to five times higher than civilian rates of domestic violence. Moreover, one in three women in the military will be sexually assaulted during their tour of duty. Ending sexual violence against women in the military must start now!

Golly. Rape. Sexual assault in the military. Kim Gandy and the gals of NOW must really care, right?

Hell no.

The did two e-mails last week. May 1st, they were asking you to demand a female Supreme Court judge and, April 30th, they were asking you to go to their next do-nothing conference this spring.

You've probably already figured out what they missed. CODESTINK missed it too and, yes, they sent out e-mails last week as well. Mainly the press missed it.

Friday Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, was weighing in on World Press Freedom Day, "The United States is proud to join the international community in celebrating World Press Freedom Day and the contributions that journalists make to advancing human dignity, liberty, and prosperity. We live in a world where the free flow of information and ideas is a powerful force for progress. Independent print, broadcast, and online media outlets are more than sources of news and opinion. They also expose abuses of power, fight corruption, challenge assumptions, and provide constructive outlets for new ideas and dissent."

And those lofty statements might actually mean something if the press did a damn thing but the reality is they really don't.

"Investigative journalism will be lost!" Norman Solomon's taken to screeching in his new guise as Chicken Little. Investigative journalism, according to Norman Solomon (for big laughs catch him on KPFK's National Lawyers Guild show last week), will be lost if daily papers go under. Really? News broadcasts won't do them anymore? We're remembering the amazing work CBS News did last year on the military suicides. They didn't partner with any paper. That was their work.

Reality is that few do investigative journalism any way. Check out tomorrow's New York Times. You'll have bad columns with gas baggery. You'll have the 'report' on the chat & chews seen. We doubt seriously you'll see investigative journalism. Or that you see it that often.

But what we know is that the paper which worked overtime to minimize the March 12, 2006 gang-rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, the murders of her parents and sister, is still at it.

You'd think after the propaganda they ran with Carolyn Marshall and Robert F. Worth's names attached to it, they'd feel obligated to cover the Steven D. Green trial taking place currently in Kentucky. You'd think that, if only to get the blood off their hands, they'd cover it.

But they're not covering it. And they're getting away with it.

They've gotten away with never mentioning Abeer's name in print. The New York Times never mentioned her by name. They rendered her invisible and because a lot of Mud Flap Girls think The Little Mermaid is the height of feminism, the paper got away with it.

Calling out one of the three largest paper's in the country for the refusal to identify the (dead) victim was too much work. Just like it's too much work to call out The Times and all the other outlets ignoring the Kentucky trial.

Toe nails won't pay themselves! Going through 100 Webshots of kitties and cats takes time! And McDreamy and McSteamy make them so McCreamy, they just have to blog on that.

They have time for everything but for what needs to be done.

If, in 1978, you'd gone to, for example, a NOW conference and stood at the podium and informed those gathered, "There will come a day when we'll all look the other way when the press renders a rape victim invisible," you would have been laughed off the stage. If you'd managed to hold the floor for a few minutes more, you might tell them, "This isn't just any rape victim, mind you, it's a fourteen-year-old girl, raped by adults. Raped by US soldiers. US soldiers stationed in her neighborhood to provide protection. US soldiers who cut a whole in her home's fence, break into the home, force the parents and the younger daughter into another room, murder the three of them and gang-rape the 14-year-old Abeer before murdering her as well." If you'd gotten that information out, people would be wondering what you'd been smoking and if you were holding it currently and intended to share?

But that's the point we arrived at today.

Silence from the 'feminist' blogs, silence from the feminist organizations, silence from the feminist movement. We rightly gave Robin Morgan credit in 2006 for writing about Abeer when many in the media were playing no-big-deal. Guess what Robin? 2006 is three years ago. You can't sit on your ass and all day and get praise.

(Democratic) Women's Media Center (part of the "Media Alliance" -- a group that further destroys independent media) did note Abeer in March.

They've had no interest in covering the trial. Not with reporting, not with opinion pieces. Robin's a part of WMC. So is Jane Fonda. Jane Fonda gave a wonderful speech about Abeer . . . in 2007.

The trial's going on right now. The trial just finished its first week.

And where was the press?

Not only could WMC not cover it, neither could Feminist Wire Daily.

Pacifica apparently not only couldn't afford to send anyone to Kentucky, they don't know anyone in the state. That must be why they've failed to provide reports.

Some don't bother to offer excuses. Some do and only embarrass themselves. [See Keesha's takedown of Ann Bartow this edition, "Bitch Pleeze (Keesha)."] Maybe they should all pull a Condi and just pray no one notices them.


Yeah, Condi, you blend.

And, yeah, no one's noticing the silence. No one's caught on yet that a young girl who was gang-raped and killed by US soldiers is being ingored in the United States.

People have caught on. The only thing being exposed right now is the hypocrisy of so many as they maintain the silence.

Somehow a high school student, Evan Bright, shows more bravery than so-called 'leaders,' organizations and our 'free' press.

[See this edition's "Evan Bright Puts Big Media To Shame" for more on Bright.]

TV: Don't Lie To Me

Lie To Me isn't just a television program, for the Cult of St. Barack, it's a way of life.

While the Fox network's Wednesday night show beat Barry O!'s big show in the overnight ratings, Barry was everywhere with that prime time press conference: PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC and, of course cable. Lie To Me. It's what Barry does and it's what his followers do.

Take KPFA which, despite having a tax status and an FCC license that is supposed to prevent it from catering propaganda to one side, can't play it straight. But they can fluff. And they fluff repeatedly.

It was so bad that Philip Maldari should be all Pride of the Yankees right about now, insisting, "I'm the luckiest man in the world!" Why should KPFA's The Morning Show co-host Maldari be so thrilled? Because he wasn't on last week. Instead Aimee Allison teamed up with Brian Edwards-Tiekert. It was not a lively show.

It was, however, repeated days of spending the opening half-hour on swine flu.

To recap, no one knows how it suddenly (re)surfaced, there is no vaccine for it, there is no real treatment for it and, if you get it, you're encouraged to see a doctor but forego public interaction. That is all that's known about the swine flu itself.

You could note only 160 people have it in the US thus far. 160 out of a population of over 304,000,000. (Less than 700 worldwide have it.) You could toss in that projections say approximately 1,700 Americans will catch it in the next four weeks. KPFA broadcasts from the Bay Area in California and the state has only 17 confirmed cases.

We could serve all that up in thirty seconds and you could as well. Instead, it was the first half-hour repeated days of The Morning Show. (The entire first hour on Wednesday.) In fact, Aimee and Brian appeared to be anchoring, "Swine Flu America." It was worthless, it was a waste of time, it had no information at all (though a lot of the conspiracy theories that KPFA supposedly doesn't enjoy) but it did repeatedly attempt to alarm the public.

It was far from alone. And that's how the Cult of Barack works. It alarms. It is one huge echo chamber hitting the same alarmist note over and over. And it encouraged scaring the public last week in an effort to get the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services confirmed. Lie to me, that's all they can offer at this point.

If you don't get it, this was Pacifica's entire coverage of a War Crimes trial which took place last week: "The trial of a former soldier accused in the 2006 rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager and the killing of her family has begun. Steven Green is accused of being the ringleader in raping and killing fourteen-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and killing her parents and five-year-old sister. Green is being tried in a Kentucky civilian court. Three soldiers have already been sentenced to life in prison in the case." That was a headline from Democracy Now! on Thursday. We're more than happy to call out Amy Goodman and to hold her accountable. We'll also offer praise when she earned it. Compared to what other Pacifica outlets (or Big Media) offered, Goodman stood like a giant. Praise to Goodman for not taking part in the silence. That was actually news, so you didn't get information on the trial from the bulk of Pacifica Radio.

Maybe you thought The Morning Show, with ten hours a week, would get to it? You were wrong? Flashpoints? Still wrong. The KPFA Evening News? Is that even on anymore? We thought that was The Six O'Clock Suck My Sausage Report -- or are we the only ones noting how women have been pushed off the anchor desk? Maybe you thought KPFK's Feminist Magazine would cover it? Wrong. Maybe you thought Lila Garrett would get to it on Connect The Dots? Margret Prescod on Sojourner Truth? WBAI's Joy of Resistance or maybe WBAI's Rape Decleration Forum?

Forget it.

And as you notice all the women who turned their backs on the issue, you may, like us, decide maybe the old Palmolive commercial needs a parody: "Stupidity? Vag, you're soaking in it." Certainly the bulk of the women on Pacifica are.

Kris Welch. Reality is that KPFA has a horrible, horrible history of rendering women invisible. Women had to take over the station in the early seventies, seize the station, to get on the air, to get a women's training program created and much more. Kris knows that because she's one of the women who benefited from those actions. She went through the program, she became an on air. She hosts the hourly Living Room on Thursday and Friday afternoon and the Saturday Talkies on Saturday. Three hours of time most weeks, two last week (May Day special pre-empted Friday's Living Room). You might have thought, especially considering the debt she owes to all women, that Kris could have found little time for Abeer. You'd think wrong.

We've refrained from criticizing Kris. A few years back, she aired PURE PROPAGANDA on Iraq without questioning it. Judith Miller couldn't have put more propaganda out there in one hour than Kris allowed her show to promote. Callers were much smarter than she was and they let her propaganda guests have it. Kris, never quick to grasp reality, then began attacking the callers on air. And insisting that she'd aired a fine program. If she ever really believed that, she should go back and listen to the crap she allowed to be broadcast. If only for that "the war is over and we have peace in Iraq" garbage, Kris owes it to Abeer to cover the realities of what's taking place.

But she can't. She's too caught up in the Lie Cycle.

The Lie Cycle catches many.

It's why so many ignore John Pilger. He hasn't retired or given up writing. But while he used to show up everywhere, he now 'plays a more limited engagement' due to the fact that the Cult of St. Barack is troubled by him.

We found one 'independent' website showed over 100 mentions of John in this decade. We show them falling off when John Pilger refuses to drink the Kool-Aid in the summer of 2008. We see one November link to a criticism of Barack and one February link to a criticism of Barack. Apparently that's all the website could stomach because, while they couldn't stop gas bagging and spit polishing Barack's 100 Days, they didn't have the 'time' to link to Pilger's very wise "OBAMA'S 100 DAYS - THE MAD MEN DID WELL." Teeny boppers rarely like to hear the truth and, if you doubt us, try pointing out to a Nick Lachey fan that their hero can't act.

Here's reality. There was a witch hunt against Bill Clinton in the nineties. Hillary Clinton referred, on NBC's Today Show, to the "vast right-wing conspiracy" and she was correct. The witch hunt -- and this is an important detail, so pay attention -- wasn't based in fact.

The witch hunt was never about, "We actually know something evil about Bill Clinton and we're going to get it out to the public!" It was based on slurs and character assassinations and rumors and gossip and a lot of lies. David Brock was part of that machine. He documented it in Blinded By The Right. It was a network, which is still intact, that echoed one another and amplified one another and insisted that the mainstream media report these non-facts as facts (some MSM outlets needed no insistence).

We don't want to pin this on David Brock and have gone to great pains to avoid doing so. But he appears to have missed the lesson and so do others like The Nation, The Progressive, the bulk of Pacifica Radio and so many others.

With a lot of money from George Soros (Blood Money) and others, the left spent this decade building not a truth machine, but a left-wing echo chamber.

This does not build a movement. It buries one.

The left-wing echo chamber they built is not about issues. It's about Barack Obama. Each day is spent with propaganda of how wonderful Barack is, how brave he is, how he does this and that.

It's pure bulls**t and we saw it during the nineties on a smaller scale with Bill Clinton as it's saint. The end result there is that far too much time was spent defending Bill Clinton's policies. (We're not referring to defending Bill from attacks that he needed to be defended against because they were false). Many of those policies need to be called out. But the issue became "Republicans don't want it! We've got to stand with Bill!" After eight years, the left had very little to show for it. (We're not insulting Bill's presidency -- he accomplished many things and did so with a Republican controlled Congress for the bulk of his presidency but we are pointing out that it was not a left paradise or just outside the gates of one).

The Nation does that with every Democratic president, gets all giddy and foolish. Then, as he nears the end of his time in office, they begin ripping him apart (it's always a "he" thanks to outlets like The Nation magazine) and trashing the American public. Blaming the American people for the actions of some president -- one the magazine refused to call out for the bulk of his presidency.

When they're in that phase, they're all, "Why didn't the people know!" The people didn't know because the outlets they counted on, such as The Nation, refused to inform. And you see that today with such embarrassments as Katrina vanden Heuvel's recent "The Next 900 Days!" There is no honesty at all.

For the left, there is no victory at all. 100 days came and went and the left doesn't have anything to be proud of. The center and the right are being served. The left's not even smart enough to try and flag down a waiter.

To ensure that real issues are not addressed and America's real needs will never be met, the left-wing echo chamber is personality focused to the extreme. It's a Cult of St. Barack, to be sure. But it also has time to hiss at Republicans. Now there are enough silly Republicans (and we're sure Republicans can find many silly Dems) that no one needs to lie about reality in order to discuss them. But that's what the echo chamber does.

And no one is served by that. As Bob Somerby observed last week over one MSNBC 'news' item:

But Prejean's stance has nothing to do with her "boobs," or with Olbermann's undying need to denigrate women's intelligence and joke about women's bodies. The fact that this keeps occurring on a "progressive" TV show is a truly amazing fact about an amazing corporate era. Even more amazing: The fact that a screaming mess like this would then be thrown to a woman host. The fact that few progressives on the "liberal web" will ever say boo about this.

Certainly not The Nation which sent out an April 6th self-stroking e-mail entitled "Nation Night on MSNBC!" So you get the MSNBC goons, Aimee Allison (an alleged Green), Kris Welch, and hundreds of others wasting all of our time on fan clubs when there's real work to be done and there's no hero sitting in the White House. But for them, that is the work, building Barack into a hero.

And people wonder why this country doesn't have universal health care?

Universal health care is not an idea that emerged in this election cycle or this decade. FDR was proposing it decades ago. But we don't get that and we don't get other things we need because we can't cover issues or news that matters.

Can't? Not when you spend hour upon hour in text, audio or video cheerleading a president. Propagandizing for a White House.

Barack will be out of the White House in four or eight years and how very sad that the left will have accomplished nothing in all of that time because they saw their mission not as fighting for the American people but as becoming a p.r. machine for a public servant.

Barack's feet have still not been held to the fire. This non-stop focus by so-called 'independent' media on Barack might have been worth it if it was about calling him out, demanding that he push a left agenda.

But that's not what it's been about. Barack's sold out the 'anti-war' movement, he's sold out the Constitution, he's sold out any notions of accountability. But instead of demanding prosecution of Bully Boy Bush, the left strokes and excuses Barack.

When pressed to prove their 'independence,' they'll make like Kris Welch and go after Joe Biden or maybe Hillary Clinton. "I'm not in the tank! See, I criticize the administration!"

A Green or whatever -- a fool -- took to writing one of us and insisting that calling Barack "Barry" was disrespectful and we should cease and desist.


A) You don't want to know the names we have for Bully Boy or to hear us talk of Ronald Reagan, Nixon or any others. B) In the US, American citizens don't pledge loyalty to 'the crown.' The left-wing echo chamber forgets that.

The same ones who refused to go along with Bully Boy Bush now insist that the country must go along with Bully Boy Barack for the 'good of the country'. Bull-f**king-s**t.

'Good of the country'? We could see Bully Boy Bush trying that one and remember his echo chamber did try it. Including when the Iraq War started. The echo chamber repeatedly told us that once the war started we were no longer allowed to criticize. For the 'good of the country.'

War or no war, American citizens always have the right to dissent. We reject the notion of hero worship under any president. We don't whore ourselves out for the Democrats or the Republicans.

But we do laugh at the useless. We laugh as we hear Barry lie that he had no idea he was inheriting a financial mess. We laugh as he blames it all on Bush. Even before Democrats got control of both houses of Congress (the 2006 elections), they could have filibustered to have prevented any program or tax cut they wanted. They didn't do so.

We laugh because it's like Bush in the early days before he moved on to his lie of the 'trifecta.' Maybe these are Barack's baby steps as well?

And we laugh when we hear Barack blame Bush over and over each day. Like Bush blamed Bill Clinton every day.

There is no difference between George Bush and Barack Obama. They're both Corporatist War Hawks who can't speak worth s**t. Bully Boy Bush was rumored to depend upon an ear piece to speak in public, Barack requires a teleprompter.

They're both fools and the only thing more foolish are the Cults. The right didn't get what they wanted. Despite the fact that they had the White House and both houses of Congress at one point. Why didn't they get it?

Why didn't they get a flat-based tax or any of the other things they cherish?

Because they wasted all their time whoring for Bully Boy Bush. They wasted all that time insisting he was smart, well spoken and a hero.

Does that sound familiar?

It should. The reflection the left is seeing is in the mirror, not from their TV screens.

Tim Roth, of far too many films to mention, makes his debut as a TV series lead in Fox's Lie To Me and the hour long drama finds his character, Dr. Cal Lightman, and those working with him, attempting to figure out who is lying and who is telling the truth. It's an interesting premise. By speech patterns, facial cues, body language and more, Cal and the rest decipher when some thing is being hidden.

Sometimes the premise works for a full episode and sometimes it doesn't.

Take two recent episodes. Jennifer Beals did a guest shot as Cal's ex-wife in "Better Half." She was wonderful and the show would be smart to bring her back on. The episode revolved around a house fire with a subplot about a dead assistant. It zipped along at an enjoyable rate and had enough twists and turns to offer a few surprises.

The same cannot be said for "Undercover." Here the show tried to go 'weighty' and lost its footing. Two White police officers shoot a teenage African-American suspect on a roof when he may be pulling a gun on them. It quickly becomes a racial incident prompting the mayor to hire Cal's company. The head of the police is White and the mayor is African-American.

If there's any insight beyond that, we missed it. We also missed why the hell the end of the case was shot the way it was.

It turns out the teenager was innocent (he did have a gun). The cop who shot him tells the mayor to tell the teenager he's sorry and the mayor glares at the cop.

That makes sense if you missed the episode and only read the above.

What we left out, what the mayor appeared to miss, was the issue of 'suspect.' How did the teenager become a suspect? The government and al Qaeda. We kid you not. We'll simplify the convoluted story by merely noting that the teenager was basically a fall guy for elements of the federal government that photo shopped him in order to turn him into a deadly, dangerous and wanted person.

That's the federal government.

That's got nothing to do with the police officer that's been assigned to the case. The federal government basically framed the teenager. That's got nothing to do with the police officer. (We're focused on the one cop, the one who did the shooting, because the other cop was part of the conspiracy and all the high drama.)

The issue of race was treated in the most cartoonish manner and the horror of abuse on the part of the federal government was never examined or, for that matter, even alluded to. It was accepted as normal.

Lie To Me should probably stick with their cheating spouses (as with the house fire story) and leave the 'weighty' issues alone. al Qaeda? It was ridiculous.

What gets you through even the so-so episodes is that actors like Roth rarely do TV shows. By the time someone of his talent agrees to a TV show, the talent's usually drank or drugged out. Instead, Roth's firing on all cylinders and making you like the pain in the ass Cal. (Even Jennifer Beal's ex-wife couldn't deny the likability.)

The cast also includes Kelli Williams who used to be a lawyer on The Practice but is a doctor on this show, Dr. Gillian Foster, Brendan Hines as Eli Locker and, rounding out the team, Monica Raymund as Ria Torres. They all do amazing work and, by episode three, already had a team feel. You believed these characters worked together and saw each other daily.

Kelli Williams reminds how many strong actresses could be found on TV dramas a decade ago. Where are they now? Where's the woman leading any of the CSIs? Or are we never supposed to notice that? Monica Raymund reminds of how many strong actresses aren't working because there are so few opportunites for women. Raymund's grabbed a big opportunity and, exhibiting so much talent in each episode, it doesn't really matter that she's actually too young for the role.

The miscast youth may, in fact, work because Ria is approaching the truth detecting business from a more instinctual and less scientific manner than Cal and Gillian. The obvious route is that Ria learns their way is correct. The route that produces more interesting developments is Ria becoming more comfortable with her own gifts and insisting that her co-workers respect them a little more.

Cal has no respect. He knows no boundaries. (He's currently attempting to respect one with regards to Gillian.) And this was established best when Beals was brought on.

It is the best written episode of the series this year. But that still doesn't explain the work done by Roth and Beals. They were married. They had a daughter. They broke up.

And that break up is as important to who Cal is as is his mother's suicide. The suicide's been addressed. Cal blames himself for not picking up on the cues and preventing his mother's death. That might explain his line of work. It does not explain him.

Roth didn't just show lust for Beals, he showed longing. And she reciprocated. It is very rare that actors in any medium can do that. Storylines call for it all the time and quick edits and some well chosen music can make you think it's taking place. But Roth and Beals played out their scenes in static camera shots with no background music. It was as bare as a TV production can be and yet they oozed longing.

So Cal loves her and he longs for. And in the moment where she spoke of how she grew tired of having him analyze her facial movements when she was standing in front of him in just a g-string, in the moments where she explained the pain of always being under the microscope, always being doubted, you found who Cal was.

Early on, Kelli was given some throw away lines that set the audience up for there-may-be-something-between-these-two. The writing didn't prepare you for the naked longing and never healed bruises Roth and Beals brought to the screen. Together. She needs to be brought back for more episodes because Cal doesn't have that relationship with anyone else and he can come off a little too glib (that's the writing) from time to time. Those scenes proved that not only does he remain one of the most talented actors today but he is at the top of his game. Forget Gary Oldman, this was the real Romeo is bleeding.

The left is bleeding. It's been bleeding for years. It's in better health when Republicans are in the White House because then it has something real to rally against. It doesn't have to create monsters, it doesn't have to resort to scare tactics. But when a Democrat is in the White House, the left makes like Mike Damone in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, trying to trick others (and themselves) into believing that this is the perfect time and the perfect place. And they settle for a few items from the previous Republican administration being turned back to where they were (not turned to the left, just back to the center). And that's perfect for them because their 'man' did that and the lefty boys of beggar media are shooting in their shorts and the lefty gals are misting in their panties. Those orgasms are all they'll have to remember from a Democratic president. Doesn't matter if they were good orgasms or not because, remember, they know how to lie to themselves.

Evan Bright Puts Big Media To Shame

March 12, 2006, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi's parents (Fakhriya Taha Muhasen and Qassim Hamza Raheem) and five-year-old sister (Hadeel Qassim Hamza) were taken into the parents' bedroom by a US soldier ('allegedly' Steven D. Green) where they were murdered. Abeer was in the living room with Paul Cortez and James Barker who were gang-raping her. It is one of the most explosive of the War Crimes from the Iraq War.

James Barker entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 90 years, Paul Cortez also copped a guilty plea and was sentenced to 100 years, Jesse V. Spielman was convicted (no plea) and sentenced to 110 years and Bryan Howard had a plea agreement which resulted in 27 months of imprisonment. The only one accused and not tried was Steven Dale Green.


He had already been discharged from the US military and left Iraq when the War Crimes came to light. He is being tried in a Kentucky federal court. In the other trials (which took place in military courts), all fingered Green as the ring-leader, those in the house stated he took part in the gang-rape and that he killed all four Iraqis. On Monday, Green's trial began at the United States District Court Western District of Kentucky .

Next were pictures that the former Sgt. Took of the crime scene upon his arrival. Skipping over the menial details… Exhibit 7D, a picture of Qassim Hamza Rasheed dead, laying face down on the floor with brain matter scattered in.. multiple places around him… caused several visible and audible grimaces within the crowd, with Green looking down but eyeing the jury. After pictures of all bodies were shown, Green was seen rubbing his eyes/forehead.

You might assume that this resulted in massive press coverage. You would be wrong. As always, Brett Barrouquere of The Associated Press could be counted on. (He has covered the cases for nearly three years now.) And? That really was about it.

The Washington Post? Nope. The New York Times? No. The CBS Evening News? The NewsHour? NPR? Newsweek? CNN? Pacifica? No. Seriously, no. Even Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) who seems to live to cover every court-martial and trial involving the military wasn't covering this trial.

One of the few people covering the trial is Evan Bright and the excerpt above is from his reporting as are all excerpts in this feature article.

Evan Bright

Bright is an eighteen-year-old high school student. You read that correctly. What Big Media can't do, Bright's managed to. And, get this, he's not even planning on becoming a journalist. We interviewed Bright by e-mail to find out about the young man who does the oversight role the press is supposed to.

Jim: As the first week of the trial draws to a close, what stands out most to you?

Evan Bright: Hmmm. A few things really: An unknown someone once called this whole situation "a total lapse of humanity," and thus far, that is absolutely the best way to describe it, hence the title of my first blog post. Next would be how much the military/militaristic style is ingrained in all of these people. "all rise" and these guys stand at. ATTENTION. I'm almost expecting them to salute. The last thing would be how great the defense is doing, all things considered. That's objective, I'm not picking a side or rooting for the defense, I'm just saying, for what they have, they're doing a damn good job.

Ava and C.I.: How many reporters are at the hearing covering the case?

Evan Bright: 3-4. On Monday, opening statements day, there were 6-8. I'm here with Brett Barrouquere of the AP and Jim Frederick of Time Magazine who's writing a book on Bravo company. The people who only came for opening statements are Andy Wolfson from the Courier Journal, someone from Reuters, Mira Oberman the midwest correspondent from the "Agence France-Press"... the French press.

Evan Bright reporting on Day Four of the trial: According to Barker, "Cortez took a little convincing to get him to come along. He said if we were gonna have sex with the girl, he wanted to go first." He testified to ushering the 5-year-old girl and father into the house, and then separating 14-year-old Abeer from her family. He said that he held Abeer's hands down while Cortez raped her in mere seconds, while Green shot the remaining three family members. When Cortez was finished, they switched places, with Abeer screaming and crying the entire time. Afterwards, Green raped her, and then shot her.

Jim: Are you in the court's media room during the trial? If so, what work items do you have with you? Laptop, etc.

Evan Bright: Nope, I'm front and center in the court room, right behind the jury. I can diagram that out if you wish. I'm in the media room right now with my laptop, cell phone, and lunch!

Jim: [. . .] how do you rate the courthouse's wireless connection?

Evan Bright: Good enough. I wouldn't be trying to download anything though. According to [Federal Defender Scott Thomas] Wendelsdorf (D) it's "shady" in the courtroom itself.

Proceedings began today. Defendant Steven Green entered the courtroom appearing in a champagne sweater vest, seeming jaunty and aware in light of his situation.

Today began with the cross-examination of Colonel Todd Ebel. Although Green chose the darker grey sweater vest, he appeared to be in a lighter mood, at times smiling and conversing with his lawyers.

The cross of Colonel Kunk got a little more exciting today. Green opted out of the sweater vest and in with a light blue button down(why am I writing about court fashion style?). During the cross, Darren Wolff once again had conflicts with Kunk. Questioned over the burning of the soldier's FOB(forward operating base), Kunk testified that the soldiers "lost some of their personal property," with Wolff trying to assert the morale downturn the soldiers would have had after losing their "homely" items.

Ava and C.I.: You frequently comment on what someone's wearing, such as the orange jump suits when the person testifying is a prisoner. You've also noted Green's wearing, for example, sweater vests. Do you have any thoughts on whether or not the defense is attempting to use fashion to create an image for Green in the court room?

Evan Bright: I'm just trying to tell x random reader what they aren't going to read in the morning paper. They're just getting him to dress nice...hehe.

Ava and C.I.: Regarding commenting on physical details, you say you're just attempting to provide some things that wouldn't be noted in other coverage. Do you think you might be drawing on your photography background in providing those details?

Evan Bright: In a way. When I first really got into it, I noticed that I would see the 'random-est' of things in everyday life and think "Man that would be a badass picture." The same thing happens here, especially with the attorneys holding up weapons for examination by the witnesses or using the to-scale model of the Al-Janabi house. Sometimes, pictures can tell a story that can't be told in writing.

Ty: Are the diagrams and the models being used in court easy to follow?

Evan Bright: Very. Both questioning lawyer and witness have a touch screen that they can draw on when pictures are put up on screen, etc. Every juror has a screen in front of them too.

Ty: Has any observation about the judicial system or process stood out? Has any observation about the media stood out?

Evan Bright: [Assistant Federal Defender] Pat Bouldin stated in his opening that "this isn't Law & Order...JAG....CSI...." Both true and false. It isn't super-dramatic like TV, but this is the real deal. Sure I could get a citation and I'd find out how the legal system works. I could go sit in county court for a day and see things in action, but not like this. This is the real thing. Nothing about the media....the U.S. Marshalls aren't big fans of us.

Dona: What sort of stories do you cover for The Tilghman Bell? Are you covering the Green case for your high school paper?

Evan Bright: My main gig is photography and always has been. Find me on facebook and you'll see that I have more albums than almost anyone else, 40-50 I believe. Anyway, I mostly take care of photos at The Bell. When I'm given the chance, or I give myself the chance, I try to do an album or movie review each month. Music is, whether I want to believe it or not, my life. I tell people I listen to a lot of music and they say "okay," without understanding that I have around 35,000 songs in my collection. So when I write, it's usually related to music. I did a big thing on teen sleep deprivation earlier this year and how stupid it is to make teenagers come to school at 7 in the morning.

After the lunch recess, Spielman described entering the house and keeping watch while Barker and Cortez separated 14-year-old Abeer from her family. He agreed to hearing three gunshots and that, after asking Green if everything was okay, Green replied "everything's fine", before letting him see the bodies of Qasim, Fakrhiya, and Hadeel. He said he knew they were dead because there was "blood scattered on the wall & part of the father's cranium was missing." Accordingly, Spielman walked out of that room and witnessed the rape of Abeer.

Jess: When did you first learn of the Green case?

Evan Bright: Not too sure on this one. I want to say back around the end of December.

Dona: You write for your school's newspaper and are also reporting on the trial. Is this the start of your journalism career?

Evan Bright: Journalism and photography is a hobby, not a passion. At this juncture I can't see myself waking up everyday to do this kind of thing...I've been told my entire life "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life," and because of that, I refuse to ever have wake up and say "aghhhhh gotta go to work again." I could see this working as a backup plan I suppose. I know that isn't what "the world" want's to hear but...oh well.

Jim: Have you had media inquiries? Would you do radio or TV interviews or reports on the trial if asked?

Evan Bright: A few. posts my blogs....MANY more people are reading my blog than I thought would. The defense lawyers joke with me about what I write in them. I'd be glad to do interviews if asked.

Dona: What interests you about journalism the most?

Evan Bright: The simple fact that journalism is how the world reads the news and with that, how terrifyingly easy the public can be swayed or made to believe what they see. Too often do people take what they see on the news as fact without doing their own research.

He testified to seeing Green unbuttoning his pants and getting down between Abeer's legs and raping her, after which he took a pillow and put it over Abeer's head and fired an AK47 into the pillow, killing her. At this, the defendant was spotted looking down. He then watched Barker pour a liquid onto her body. While her body was burning, he added clothes and blankets to fuel the flames, "to destroy evidence," he said. He continued, describing Cortez & Barker washing their chests and genitalia back at TCP2, and how he himself threw the AK47 into the canal. When asked why he didn't turn his squad members in, he "didn't feel right, telling on people [he] served with."

Dona: In your down time, which journalists do you enjoy reading? Any thoughts on the state of journalism in 2009?

Evan Bright: Matt Taibbi, Anna Quindlen, Joshua Kors. [written] Journalism as we know it is on it's way out. Until we find a new venue or new way to do what we've been doing, we'll continue to see more and more newspapers close down and more and more people get their news from the internet and things like Twitter.


Jess: It's the weekend. During the week, you've been covering the trial. Someone hangs out with you this weekend, what are they going to find you doing?

Evan Bright: I've had one hell of a week actually. I'm at the courthouse from 8 until 5pm, then I was at my highschool's play from 6 until 11pm running the lighting for that, then running home at 1130 and staying up til 1AM finishing the blog for the day....even though the blogs would say otherwise ;). Then I would wake up at 630 or 7, rinse wash and repeat" as the say. On this particular weekend? Doing the lights for the play, taking candid pictures at derby parties for a little $. Other than that, you might find me hanging out with friends, mixing something on my turntables, playing guitar [. . .]

Jess: You mention 35,000 tracks downloaded -- tracks right? -- so you must have some pretty strong music tastes. If you had to pick an all time favorite -- even three -- what would you list? And, second question, if you had the power to turn the world on to someone who really hasn't received the recognition he or she deserves, who would you send them off to download?

Evan Bright: My Morning Jacket, Radiohead, and The Notorious B.I.G. As for someone unknown-ish who needs recognition, J Dilla, Animal Collective, Q-Tip, and N.E.R.D. [. . .] Radiohead is one of my favorite artists. I agree with how they released their album In Rainbows.

Ty: In listing your articles for the school paper, you mention one regarding a seven a.m. start time for school. Did I understand you right? Is that a new policy and if school starts at seven, what time does it end?

Evan Bright: 5-School starts at 7:28 and ends at 2:20. It's always been that way for as long as I can remember, even 10 years ago.

Dona: You wrote that article about the seven a.m. start time, you said what you wanted to say, but apparently nothing changed which you probably suspected would be the case. Do you see that as one of the biggest limitations of journalism?

Evan Bright: Yep. I don't want to say that it's hard to initiate or engage people in change in America (not to sound like Obama), but really, too often it is. People would rather experience minor discomfort with option A, than exert a little effort and change it to option B so that they can do without the discomfort. Writing hardly ever inspires people to sprint out the door to go...petition to have school starting times changed, or whatever issue is at hand.

Iraq War stories

The Iraq War has not ended. The 'surge' hasn't even ended yet as Congress was told last month by General Peter Chiarelli, "The surge for the United States Army is not over. We don't get our last combat brigade off of a 15 month deployment until June of this year and I won't get my last combat service support or combat support unit back off a 15 month deployment until September." But people want to pretend otherwise. Two Iraq War stories that don't need to fall through the cracks from last week involve a court-martial and a Congressional run.

Cliff Cornell

In an update to last week's "Cliff Cornell faces court-martial on Tuesday," Iraq War resister Cliff Cornell faced a court-martial Tuesday afternoon at Fort Stewart in Georgia where he entered a guilty plea to desertion. Swiping from C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

UPI notes that Cliff has been sentenced to one year imprisonment and quotes Cliff's civilian attorney, James Branum, stating, "Cliff is being punished for what he believes, for his comments to the press. Because he spoke out against the Iraq war, Cliff's sentence is harsher than the punishment given to 94 percent of deserters who are not penalized but administratively discharged." Nanaimo Daily News reports Cliff "tearfully read a prepared statement to the judge apologizing for leaving his unit." Across Georgia quotes him stating, "It was wrong for me to leave my unit and go to Canada. I was very anxious about whether I might be asked to do things that might violate my conscience. I felt trapped. I didn't know what to do." Cliff went to Canada in 2005. He sought asylum there repeatedly and was rejected. He was to be deported when he left Canada in February and turned himself in. (Some say he was deported. Due to the order, we won't split hairs on either interpretation.) Travis Lupick (The Straight) gives the background story here. Frenchi Jones (Coastal Courier) explains, "Cornell was stationed at Fort Stewart at the time of his desertion. He was a soldier with the 1st Battalion, 39th Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, and 3rd Infantry Division." Courage to Resist notes that in addition to the year in prison, "The military judge, Col. Tara Olson, also ordered Cliff's rank be reduced to private and for him to receive a bad conduct discharge."

That's the court-martial. The Congressional run?


Iraq Veterans Against the War co-chair Adam Kokesh announced he's running for Congress:

Since I was first politically active, people have been encouraging me to run for Congress, including a recent effort to "draft" me to run ( We need rallying points to keep our movement invigorated and growing, and if a run for Congress from my home town of Santa Fe can serve as one, I will gladly step up. In that spirit, I am excited to announce the formation of the Kokesh for Congress Exploratory Committee.

While I am asking for your financial support in this effort, I want to make it clear that I am willing to make the personal sacrifices necessary to raise the standard of our national leadership. If elected, I will not accept the Congressional salary of approximately $170,000, but only the national average income. It is unbearable in these difficult times, for Congress to tell the American people what is best for us economically while they vote themselves another pay raise and burden our children with impossible debt. Enough is enough!

There is a temporary website up now at Please sign up and donate there as we prepare for the launch of a complete site on June 1st.

It is time once again to draw the line between patriots and loyalists. I am a patriot because I am committed to the ideals of liberty and equality this country is destined to achieve, loyal to no false authority. I know that much more than political resistance is required to achieve a paradigm shift, but we can do no wrong standing up for what we know to be morally right. Regardless of my decision, I remain eternally committed to the cause of liberty.

TV roundtable

Jim: Last week, we offered "TV roundtable" about NBC's Monday line up which was offering up two season cliffhangers. Because this will most likely be a 'heavy' edition, we thought we could do a follow up on that for a lighter feature. NBC's Monday night line up is Chuck, Heroes and Medium and Chuck and Heroes completed their season runs. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava 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, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends. This is a rush transcript. Illustration by Betty's three kids, Kat and Wally. We're starting off with Chuck and Mike covered it in "Debra Sweet, Chuck." Mike, give us three quick highlights of the cliffhanger.

NBC Mondays

Mike: 1) Bryce, Chuck's rival for Sarah, is dead. 2) Ellie and Devin's chuch wedding was ruined but they got married on the beach. 3) Chuck has the intersect back in him and 'powers' as a result.

Jim: And, still Mike, biggest mistake of the cliffhanger?

Mike: It was Ellie's wedding. Ellie and Devin's, you can argue, but it was Ellie's. And Ellie had so very little to do. She had less to do than Devin. And less air time.

Jim: Okay. Additional comments? I know Dona's got some and, those who watched, jump in.

Dona: I will. Mike's exactly correct. This was supposed to be Ellie's big day. And Ellie, not Ellie and Devin. Captain Awesom, aka Devin, has parents who love him -- played by Morgan Fairchild and I forget his name. But Ellie and Chuck's mother left and then their father. All they had was each other. This was supposed to be her big day and, for those who forgot, we already saw Devin's "big day" when he had his bachelor's party. We saw no bridal shower for Ellie. Now it's her wedding and every character's getting solo time in the church except her? It was really disappointing. We didn't even get a long enough reaction shot of her when, all made up and wearing her dress, the fire sprinklers came on ruining not just her dress but all the decorations.

Wally: I would agree with that and call it the really big mistake of the season finale. The other thing I would point out is that Ana was lost in the episode as well. She had something like one line. There were way too many guest stars and we also did not need all of Jeff and Lester performing that we saw. They could have, for example, given a scene to Ana and Ellie together. Instead, there were these women in the room with Ellie when Sarah and Chuck were in there and we'd never seen these supposed friends before. But you've got Scott Bakula, who is apparently on the show for good now, you had Chevy Chase, you had Morgan Fairchild and you had Devin's father. And if I can be really frank here, the only guests that really worked were Chevy Chase as the villian and Morgan Fairchild.

Ava: Bruce Boxleitner, from Scarecrow & Mrs. King, is playing Devin's father.

Wally: Thanks. Chevy and Morgan were really good. I don't know that their scenes were well written. I'd guess that they weren't well written. But when the camera found them, every time they were already feeling something. Bruce and Scott, for example, seemed to be caught easing into a feeling. Chevy was the bad guy so he tended to be mad. Morgan was trying to keep the wedding on track so she had a no-nonsense attitude every time she was in a scene, she had that as the scene started. She didn't search around and find it.

Mike: And that's a really good point because you already had Morgan's character finding what he was feeling. That was what his brief moments were about on the show. He was finding out how he felt. Did he really want to leave? Did he really want to go to Hawaii with Ana? So the other characters who did not have storylines where they were finding themselves needed to have some real snap from the moment their scenes started. They needed to have that snap to help the show move more quickly since this was the season finale. I agree with Wally that Chevy Chase and Morgan Fairchild were on top of their game. And they really added a sense of urgency and some real energy to the episode. It needed it because there was about 20 soggy minutes at the start with Chuck quitting his CIA job and quitting his Buy More job and then Sarah tells him she's leaving after the wedding and it's like "Mopey, Mopey, Mopey!" We really needed Chevy Chase and Morgan Fairchild every chance we got in those first 20 minutes.

Betty: I don't know what's happening or not next year. But if Chevy's still around, I recommend hooking Morgan's character up with him. In fact, I'd love it if they made Morgan an evil spy. And maybe she has something to do with Chuck's mother disappearing all those years ago? She's too good to just play "Mom of." Although, if they just want to have her coming back for no real reason, they could slide over to her, "There's something odd about that Chuck." You know, like the Gladys Kravitz role on Bewitched. But I'd prefer they made her an evil spy.

Jim: Betty watched Chuck for the first time Monday.

Betty: Yes. My parents were visiting and I didn't know that they were fans of the show. I knew Dona was and I'd told her before I'd try to watch with her. She, my kids and Jess usually catch it every Monday. Ty and Jim often do. But I'd finished setting out the kids clothes for the next day and was wandering around looking for my parents and found them watching the show. I missed the first five minutes but did enjoy it and could see getting caught up in it each week.

Mike: I want to make a point here, if we have time. Betty, you're not going to go out and rent or buy season one, are you?

Betty: No. I don't have the time to sit down and watch multiple discs of anything.

Mike: Same with season two? That's the one that just ended.

Betty: Right. I'll watch it if it repeats this summer. I'll watch an episode a week. As a mother of three young children, I can probably manage that. I can't sit down and watch 20 or so episodes. I don't have that kind of time.

Mike: I brought that up because Chuck built ratings throughout season one, then the season finale aired and NBC didn't repeat it. It didn't start airing again until season two started and it found itself with less of an audience than the year before. I think that will happen again at the start of season three if they don't air repeats this summer. And Ava and C.I. pointed that out, not me.

Stan: Exactly and I agree with them and Mike. Ava and C.I.'s point about how that Mark Harmon show becomes comfort food because CBS always keeps it on the air is true. You can walk in on a Tuesday night and turn on the TV and there it is. It's always there. And Chuck could be that for NBC if they'd bother to keep it on. They need to repeat it and it's a show that repeats well. It would increase the audience for the show when the third season started. My only real frustration with the cliff hanger was that Chuck's again misunderstood Sarah and thinks she's not interested in him. In fact, I'm pissed at the Scott Bakula character for butting in when Sarah was about to tell him -- if Chuck would have shut up -- that she loved him and was staying with him. She didn't get to tell him that and then Chuck overreacted to her reaction to seeing Bryce dead. But if season three starts like season two, it doesn't matter what happened because the premiere will be all about a guest star and ignore everything that happened last season.

Wally: Season two had the worst debut. The worst.

Jim: Stan spoke of Chuck in the last roundtable and deleted the remarks because he felt he was too negative about the show. That's why his entire comment in the roundtable that went up last week was "Daphne." Dona has no idea what anyone's going to pull. When she's tracking what's being said, she's tracking what's being said. Afterwards, if anyone wants to pull anything, they can. Since Stan barely made an appearance --

Wally: He had a walk on.

Stan: I like that, I had a walk on.

Jim: Since Stan just had a walk on, I'll toss this to him: What would you like to see in season three?

Stan: I like Betty's point about Morgan Fairchild turning out to be an evil spy. One thing we didn't talk about was that the bad guys for seasons one and two were Fulcrum. The cliffhanger informed us that there are others including what appears to be a group that's infilitrated the NSA. So she could be a spy or a leader of that. That would be interesting and they really need to beef up the women's roles in season three. They've got the General who is a woman and sort of their Charlie on Charlie's Angles, giving them their instructions each week and showing up for a tele-conference after the mission. Then there's Sarah who gets the most to do of any woman and should because she's a CIA agent and Chuck's love interest. But Ellie and Ana need to be doing a lot more. And maybe it's time someone sues Buy More which appears to have only one female employee, Ana. I also think they can keep Sarah and Chuck apart for season three but if they keep that up in season four it will go too far. We can take it for one more season and only one more.

Jim: Thank you, Stan. Again, Mike covers Chuck at his website. So I'm going to give him the last word and then we'll move on. Mike?

Mike: Dona, Stan, Betty and Wally made strong points. Ana is hilarious and she makes you laugh even in her sad scenes. Jeff and Lester's whole bit it writing while the actors play blank. Ana, the actress playing her, is actually acting. She's adding to her scenes and I can't figure out why she is repeatedly given so little to do. I figured Ellie was going to take a back seat the minute Chuck's dad showed up. That's really sad because the family bond between Chuck and Ellie was one of the best things on the show. Then Daddy shows up and Chuck and Ellie hardly ever get scenes together. Along with Jeff and Lester, we've got Mike who was the boss at Buy More and now the guy who's repelaced him and it's just too many male characters. If Buy More comes back next season -- Chuck and Casey quit since they didn't need it as a cover anymore -- we need a lot less males. It's a sausage fest on the show. And it wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the show that follows it.

Jim: Which is Heroes. Rebecca covers it at her site and she wrote about it last week. The title tells it all, "heroes jumps the shark!" Briefly, it jumped the shark how?

Rebecca: This was the show's third season. Nathan is one of the key characters. His super power is he can fly. He's a US Senator. He is the brother of Peter, the son of Angela. He's the father of Claire. He's slept with the now dead Jessica/Nikki and fell in love with Tracy. And this season, he turned on the heroes and initaited a witch hunt, think McCarthyism, which found them rounded up. He is a major character and one that Matt Parkman had a vision of becoming president. But Nathan's now dead. Sylar, the bad hero, killed him.

Jim: Rebecca's not done but I'm jumping in for a minute. Last week, Ruth pointed out, "On Heroes, I will note that they appear to have written themselves into a corner. The next season, if there is one, either has everyone working to destroy Sylar or there is not much point because, at this point, Sylar has pretty much every power anyone could have. He has killed off how many people now to steal their powers?" And that's what Sylar does. He has all these powers because he steals them. His shape shifter power is one that he had for the last several episodes. Rebecca?

Rebecca: Right. So Angela and Matt find Nathan after he's bled to death from Sylar slashing his throat. Peter captures Sylar. Angela wants Matt to use his powers to turn Sylar into Nathan. She's saying she can't lose her son. Sylar was pretending to be Nathan for the last three episodes. He'd touched Nathan's things and that's how he gets the ability to become someone and he also picks up their memories when he does that. So Sylar could physically change into Nathan and, Angelea's point, he already had Nathan's memories. So Matt and Angela know but no one else does. It's jumped the shark, the storyline's offensive.

Marcia: I agree. Nathan, until this year, was supposed to be chief among heroes. The typical idea of the male hero. And they've just killed off the character. That's bad enough but the show could survive. However, to have Nathan kept on via the show's evil character thinking he's Nathan? Sylar's really popular, so is Nathan. Right away you've got a problem that until Sylar finds out the truth, the actor's not on the show. I supposed they can use him in 'Nathan' nightmares. Or maybe 'Nathan' looks in the mirror and sees Sylar. But at some point, Sylar's back and at a point after that, Adrian Pasdar is off the show. One has to leave. And Sylar tried to kill Clair before. And was being, I felt, sexual towards her, in the cliff hanger so to now have her thinking she's interacting with her father and having it really be Sylar, that's just creepy. Ruth was right, they'd written themselves into a corner with Sylar. Instead of finding a way out, they burrowed further into the corner. It jumped the shark.

Jim: Ruth?

Ruth: I agree. And it jumped the shark that last episode in another way that hasn't been dealt with.

Jim: We're waitng.

Ruth: I believe it was three episodes ago that Angela, Clair, Peter, Nathan and Noah in a diner at the end of the episode, when, on the diner's TV, Nathan was shown holding a press conference calling out the president. Nathan was really Sylar. And the heroes in the diner realized that Sylar was posing as Nathan to meet the president so that he could touch him and shape shift into him, thereby having the ability to pose as the president. The next episode was a bunch of sitting around and pretending something was happening. But finally Nathan and Sylar came face to face. They had not been face to face in some time. In fact, the shape shifting power was a new power for Sylar since he last saw Nathan. So Nathan gets knocked out and Sylar transforms again into Nathan. He ends up going to a speech of the presidents. He bumps into one of Nathan's old friends who now works for the White House. After he battles Nathan, Peter and Clair, he transforms into Nathan's old friend and gets in the limo with the president. He reaches out to shake the president's hand and instead it's Peter. While fighting with Sylar, Peter absorbed Sylar's power which is Peter's power -- absorbing powers. So that's how Sylar was captured. Anyone see a problem?

Cedric: In how Sylar was captured?

Ruth: No, in his shape shifting. To shape shift into Nathan, he just needed to touch things belonging to Nathan. He hasn't been face to face with Nathan since he got his shape shifting power. That didn't prevent him from being able to assume Nathan's items. He just went to Nathan's office, picked up some of Nathan's items and was able to become him. So why wasn't he posing as someone -- the Homeland Security Agent he often poses as, for instance -- to get into the White House? All he had to do was touch some things of the president. He didn't have to touch the president. This was a huge flaw and no one seemed to notice it. If he could become Nathan without touching Nathan, then he could have become the president merely by going to the White House and touching some items on the president's desk.

Cedric: I did not catch that while I was watching. That's a pretty huge flaw in the storyline. And Sylar's entire storyline has been about breaking into people's homes. He's always done that. Characters were always arriving home -- this season and the others -- and finding Sylar. That's a huge flaw in the storyline. So Tracy's back. The last scenes were 'Nathan' -- really Sylar -- acting strange while Angela tried to get him to out with her and get Chinese food. He's staring at a clock that's gaining time and Tracy -- or maybe Barbara, the third sister -- with the ability to become liquid. Tracy was last seen frozen and then shot. After she shattered, she had a tear. So it may be Tracy or it maybe when Ali Larter debuts her third role, Nikki/Jessica and Tracy's sister Barbra. Who knows? I agreed with Rebecca's point that they screwed up big. Monday's show could have and should have been promoted with Ali. Last weekend, the movie she's the second or third lead in, Beyonce's film, was number one at the box office. And NBC had her but wasn't able to promote the cliffhanger by noting it since Tracy supposedly died several episodes ago.

Jim: I'm going to bring Elaine and Jess in this because we're really not going to be discussing Medium at length since it didn't have a cliffhanger. Kat, you as well.

Elaine: We watched, Mike and I, NBC straight through Monday. I don't think I've watched that many consecutive hours of TV since The Winds of War. It's a joke. Heroes is a joke. Let's just list the male characters in the episode and I'll leave out the president, the White House friend and anyone else who isn't a major and regular charcter. You had Danko, Nathan, Peter, Noah, Sylar, Matt, Hiro, Ando and Mohinder. I hope that I didn't forget anyone. But that's nine major male characters. And all of them, even Mohinder, have active powers that allow them to fight. Matt can see the future and read minds, yes, but his active power -- in battle -- is being able to make people do things. Mohinder's got super strength as a result of his experiments. Danko's a government agent who packs a gun. Now women? We had Clair and Angela and, until the very last minutes, that was it. Then Tracy showed up. Angela has prophetic dreams. That's not an active power and she has no power in battle. Clair? She can't die. Kill her and a few seconds later she's back to life. You'd think by season two, she would have had martial arts training. Instead, she's never garnered an active power but it's always, "Wow, Clair died for us! And came back!" It's a highly passive power. The final two scenes, one of them, shows who I'll call Tracy. A male government agent who imprisoned the heroes comes home to find his home flooded. He goes to the sink where water's pouring out and he drowns because the water is Tracy. So she's got that power and can freeze people. But she's not in the big battle, she's not even on the show for more than 30 seconds, if we're talking about the actual actress. And it's at the end. Why the hell have people run from this show? Because women have repeatedly been killed off, written off the show and reduced to little nothings. It gets really old.

Kat: Let me jump in ahead of Jess. I know Jess agrees with Elaine but I want to make a comment that Elaine will agree with and either didn't list or didn't notice. Ando has powers. He has powers because they were implanted in him. What can he do? Basically, his power is electricity. For those paying attention, that was Elle's power. But it wasn't good for Elle. That power didn't keep her on the show. Elle got killed off -- by Sylar who took her power. Suddenly her power's so amazing . . . now that Ando has it. Compare what she was allowed to do -- and she was supposed to be evil and a threat -- with what Ando's been allowed to do.

Elaine: Kat's right and, no, I didn't think of that.

Jess: And that's a great example by Kat and Elaine's sketched it out. I'm real sorry that Tim Kring and everyone never got that women are superheroes. That while Aquaman couldn't keep a comic alive. In terms of the heavy hitters at DC comics who've had their own comic books for decades, it's Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. So Heroes' refusal to offer strong, active female super heroes has been appalling and ignorant. They weren't on the last episode so Elaine didn't mention them but we also have the passive wives. There's Nathan's wife that no one ever notices or mentions but was injured in a car accident at the same time he discovered he could fly. She's a dutiful DC wife. There's Noah's wife who had a little more spunk, thank goodness, this season. Then there's Janis Parkman, Matt's good little wife. Tim Kring gives the female super heros nothing to do and then creates these insulting female characters that are so weak and exist to shop and cook dinner and he can't understand why he's driven viewers away? Get real, no one wants to see that s**t.

Rebecca: If I could add something, if you look at the X-Men in comic books, Wolverine was always immensely popular. But, back during Jean Grey's return from the dead, we were working on a p.r. project involving comic book heroes and Marvel couldn't pull it together so none of their characters were even considered for the project at the end. But before that, in the research, it was obvious that Jean Grey was off the charts. She'd been popular when she was killed but becoming Phoenix, then Dark Phoenix, etc., is what drove the X-Men at that time. There was huge excitement about the character. And Tim Kring ensures there is no huge excitement about Heroes by refusing to develop strong, active female heroes.

Elaine: Well every woman with a power is seen as sick, if you think about it, except Clair who needs to move beyond My Two Daddys' Little Girl. I'm referring to the writing, not the performance. The actress does a wonderful job. But Elle, for example? Ended up dead in a large part because she couldn't handle her power. What male struggled like that? And when did he die? The woman from Mexico who could go nuclear with heat? She was sick because of her power. Nikki/Jessica? As Ava and C.I. pointed out, that was insulting. She had the split personality because of what was done to her as a child. It was a coping mechanism. But the writing turned it into a problem and something evil that she had to escape from. They were right, Ava and C.I., the proper approach would have been to integrate the two personalities but instead we got "Nikki should be afraid of Jessica!" No. Jessica was what protected Nikki. Clair's biological mother. Just go down the list and grasp how many women on this show with powers are seen as sick. Peter? No. Hiro? No. But women, over and over, are given weak powers and then are considered sick for having them. Always in need of a cure. It's disgusting.

Jess: It really is. I don't know if Tim Kring has issues or what but not evey man is afraid of strong women.

C.I.: Actually, filmed characters who were strong women have tended to be popular with men in both movies and films. Men were much less interested in the poor-pitiful-me female characters so not only does the strategy alienate women, it also drives away men. You can check ratings or box office. So-called sob-sisters have never been hugely popular with male audiences.

Ava: Correct. The Greer Garson Mrs. Whatever roles may be popular with some women but men never went for them in large numbers. They like active characters. And that's not even a straight v. gay male issue.

Ty: I was just going to say that. Bette Davis' character in Dark Victory is certainly popular with some gay men but Margot Channing, who is active, in All About Eve is the role gay men overwhelming love if they enjoy Bette Davis. And it's also her most popular role among straight men. There's not a big divide on that issue.

Jim: Why do you suppose that is?

Ty: Nobody likes a pushover. Go back to one of the most famous films of the thirties, Gone With The Wind. Are most viewers, regardless of race, going to be more interested in Scarlet or the push over Melanie? Door mats aren't all that interesting.

Jim: Okay. Well we're going to wind down here. Stan wrote about Medium in "Medium" last week and we're going to let him make a few comments.

Stan: As C.I. pointed out last time, Medium will run through Conan O'Brian taking over The Tonight Show, run through that with new episodes so he's not replacing Jay Leno with no prime time lead in. So there are several more episodes to come and this Monday the show starts an hour early because it's a two-hour broadcast. Tracy Pollan will be guest starring Monday.

Jim: And on that note, we'll end the roundtable. Rush transcript. Ava and C.I. took notes but did not type. If I ended up tying, all typos were intentional.

Congress moves to weaken their own powers

Who declares war? The Constitution says the Congress. In 1973, with Vietnam having lasted years as an undeclared war, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution. The Act notes:

SEC. 2. (a) It is the purpose of this joint resolution to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgement of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and to the continued use of such forces in hostilities or in such situations.
(b) Under article I, section 8, of the Constitution, it is specifically provided that the Congress shall have the power to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution, not only its own powers but also all other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
(c) The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

Why does it matter?

Did you know there's an effort to overturn the War Powers Resolution?

Did you know that those pushing this include James Baker, Lee Hamilton and Warren Christopher?

Are you scared yet?

Russ Feingold

Tuesday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (full committee, not subcommittee) held a hearing on this and took testimony from Baker, Hamilton and Christopher. C.I. reported on it in the Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot." You can see the snapshot for details of the hearing but we want to emphasize the key exchange from C.I.'s snapshot. As usual, the strongest voice on the committee was Senator Russ Feingold:

Senator Russ Feingold: I'd like to use some of my time to make a statement and then ask a couple of questions. As we continue to grapple with the profound costs of rushing into a misguided war, it is essential that we review how Congress' War Powers have been weakened over the last few decades and how they can be restored. The war in Iraq has led to the deaths of thousands of Americans and the wounding of tens of thousands and will likely end up costing us a trillion dollars. What if we had had more open and honest debate before going to war? What if all the questions about the administration's assertions had been fully and, to the extent appropriate, been publicly aired? So clearly any reforms of the War Powers Resolution must incorporate these lessons and foster more deliberations and more open and honest public dialogue before any decision to go to war.
I appreciate that attention is being drawn to this critically important issue which, of course, goes to the core of our Constitutional structure, its' a conversation that we need to continue to have. But I am concerned that the proposals made by the Baker - Christopher commission cede too much authority to the executive branch in the decision to go to war. Under the Constitution, Congress has the power "to declare war." It is not ambiguous in any way. The 1973 War Powers Resolution is an imperfect solution; however, it does retain Congress' critical role in this decision making process. The commission's proposal on the other hand would require Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval by a veto proof margin if it were unhappy with the president's decision to send our troops into hostilities. That means in effect that the president would need only one-third of the members plus one additional member of either house to continue a war that was started unilaterally by the president. Now that cannot be what the framers intended when they gave the Congress the power to declare war. Since the War Powers Resolution was enacted, several presidents have introduced troops into battle without obtaining the prior approval of the Congress. Campaigns in Grenada and Panama are a few examples. None of these cases involved eminent threats to the United States that justified the use of military force without the prior approval of Congress. A simple solution to this problem would be for the president to honor the Constitution and seek the prior approval of Congress in such scenarios in the future. And while the consultation required by the War Powers Resolution is far from perfect, I think it is preferable to the commission's proposal to establish a consultation committee. If this bill had been in place before the war in Iraq, President Bush could have begun the war after consulting with a gang of 12 members of Congress thereby depriving most of the senators in this room of the ability to participate in those consultations as we did in the run up to the Iraq War. The decision to go to war is perhaps the most profound ever made by our government. Our Constitutional system rightly places this decision in the branch of government that most closely reflects the will of the people. History teaches that we must have the support of the American people if we are to successfully prosecute our military operations. The requirement of prior Congressional authorization helps to ensure that such public debate occurs and tempers the potential for rash judgment. Congress failed to live up to its responsibility with respect to the decision to go to war in Iraq. And we should be taking steps to ensure it does not make this mistake again. We should be restoring this Constitutional system not further undermining it. Mr Baker, part of the premise of the commission's finding, is that several presidents have refused to acknowledge the Constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution, I know that of course in practice, most do honor the Resolution. In your view, does the president's commander-in-chief authority give him the authority to ignore duly enacted statutes?

James Baker: Duly enacted statues? Not in -- not in my view. On the other hand, there have been -- you said most presidents, Senator Feingold, all presidents have refused to acknowledge the -- all presidents have questioned the Constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution.

Russ Feingold: Right.

James Baker: Both Democrat and Republican.

Russ Feingold: Right. I simply said several presidents.

James Baker: Right.

Russ Feingold: But most have honored the resolution in practice.

James Baker: Well that's really not quite accurate, sir. They send -- they file reports "in keeping with," the language is "in keeping with," but never has one president filed a report "pursuant to" the War Powers Resolution.

Russ Feingold: Well, nonetheless, I appreciate your answer to the basic question. It seems to me that much of the ambiguity you attribute to the War Powers Resolution would be resolved if future presidents simply abided by the Resolution -- that would help solve the ambiguity. Mr. Hamilton, before the Iraq War, every senator had the opportunity to at least review the intelligence assessments on Iraq -- particularly the October 2002 NIE. I concluded that there was insufficient evidence to justify the decision to go to war Under your bill, wouldn't the full Congress have even less access to the intelligence supporting the decision to go to war ? Wouldn't that intelligence be limited to the gang of members on the consultation committee?

Lee Hamilton: With the consultative committee, I think you expand the number of members that would be brought into the discussions involving the highest level of intelligence. In other words, you'd have more members involved under our proposal than you do now. Because you --

Russ Feingold: I was a relatively middle - junior member of the Foreign Relations Committee. I was not at that time a member of the Intelligence Committee. At some point I was afforded the opportunity to go down to a secure room and to hear directly from the CIA people whether they felt the same thing we were hearing publicly. And I got to tell you, their tone when they were trying to express these arguments the president was making was rather tepid and it gave me a feeling that something was wrong here. And I would apparently, under this scenario, not have been a part of that process. I'm not saying my role was critical but I did end up being one of the people who went to the floor immediately and said 'I'm not buying this al Qaeda connection, I'm not buying the notion that Saddam Hussein is likely or ready to attack the United States.' It appears that somehow somebody in my situation would not necessarily be able to be a part of that pre-military operation process. Mr. Hamilton?

Lee Hamilton: Well I think under the law today the president doesn't even have to consult with members of Congress before he takes you into war because the provisions in the War Powers Resolution are very vague with regard to consultation. We expand greatly the number of members who would be involved in that consultative process here.

Russ Feingold: It appeared though in this circumstance of Iraq that this was part of the consultative process. That our access to the people from the president's CIA was pursuant to a discussion that led to a vote of the full Senate --

Lee Hamilton: Well the ---

Russ Fiengold: how the process worked. All members -- well perhaps not all. But at least members of the Foreign Relations Committee were given the opportunity to participate in that kind of a set up --

Lee Hamilton: And the proposal that we're putting before you, members of Congress are required to vote on it.

John Kerry: Senator --

Lee Hamilton:You don't have that requirement under present law.

John Kerry: There is no requirement. under present law. What happened is we did it under the prerogatives of each of the committees because the committee chairs and ranking members understood that this was part of the responsibilities Nothing in here -- and we discussed this before you [Feingold] came here -- about this consultative component in fulfillment of the requirement that the president let us know what he's thinking about doing so that those Committees, that's why they're part of it. The Intelligence Committee, the Armed Services Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, would then go about their normal business involving all of their members. I mean, but there's no statute that required that for you either.

Russ Feingold: I'd like to believe that, Mr Chairman, but it strikes me that this provides an opportunity, that the president doesn't currently have, to say, "Look. I went through this consultative process that's provided by this new statute so I have even less a need to go through a formal vote which, as we just talked about, most presidents have decided -- President [George H.W.] Bush on the first Gulf War, even though he may not have taken the view that he had to do it, he went ahead and did it. I think this creates a process that could end run the feeling on the part of a president that he needs to go through a process that would actually involve participation but I'm not saying that this doesn't literally require it --

James Baker: Senator --

Russ Feingold: Yes, Mr. Baker?

James Baker: We require a vote within 30 days so the president is going to be facing a vote of the Congress. If the vote is a resolution disapproval, that is going to very adverse impacts on the president's ability to

Russ Feingold: But in the case of Iraq of course [shrugs, throws up hands]

James Baker: Well that of course -- I mean

Russ Feingold: 30 days after wouldn't have been not too helpful.

James Baker: That's -- that's true. But the president -- both presidents went to the Congress to get approval and actually obtained approval. Back to . Back to the point you made about the c-- about the observance a statute duly enacted and whether a president can question it's Constitutionality. There's all -- there's always been the ability of presidents to question Constitutionality and in this area it has consistently been questioned by both Democratic and Republican presidents. Presidents have sent troops abroad, Mr. Feingold, 264 times -- during which period the Congress has declared war 5 times. So faced with the situation, we expressly -- I think before you arrived, we made it -- we had a dialogue here about the fact that we have expressly preserved the rights of Congress to make the argument that I think you are making and the right of the president to make the argument presidents have made since the War Powers Resolution was passed that the Constitution gives either (A) the Congress or (B) the president the authority. Expressly reserve those Constitutional arguments, put them to the side, they are not going to be solved in the absence of a Constitutional amendment or a Supreme Court opinion. So we don't prejudice either branch. What we're trying to do is find a workable solution here that will improve the relationship and the consultation that takes place between the president and Congress when the nation's going to war.

Russ Feingold: I respect the effort and I respect the intent and it may well work that way. My concern -- and I know my time's up, Mr. Chairman

John Kerry: No, take [more] time, no problem.

Russ Feingold: Is that I witnessed as a non-senator the excellent debate that was held on the floor of the United States Senate prior to the first Gulf War, I also was involved in the truncated and unfortunately weak debate prior to the Iraq War. But any process that could make a president feel that he somehow did not need to go through that process prior to such a major action would trouble me. So that's how I need to review this. Could this lead to that practical effect as opposed to the literal effort you have made to avoid such a consequence. These are my concerns.

For more coverage of Congressional hearings, see C.I.'s Friday "Iraq snapshot" and Thursday "Iraq snapshot" and Wednesday "Iraq snapshot" as well as Kat's "Senate Armed Services Committee hearing."
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