Sunday, June 07, 2009

Truest statement of the Week

It's cult like behavior and it's somewhat chilling. Name the countries in the world, I've been to a few of them, where people walk around with the president's face on t-shirts? Like this is sort of unheard of in the United States. When you're walking around with the face of a man who is in control of the most powerful empire in history, with nuclear weapons deployed around the world, with hundreds of nations with its forces in one form or another deployed there, with two overt, hostile occupations going on, when people walk around with the face of the leader of that country on their shirt, it says something about how deeply hypnotized people have become in this country.

-- Jeremy Scahill, WBAI's Law & Disorder, Monday, June 1st. (At the Law & Disorder website, go to May 2005 for May 25, 2009 because the pledge drive delayed it being broadcast on WBAI.)

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday. Along with Dallas, the following worked on this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ann who's filling in for Ruth at Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

And here's what we came up with:

Truest statement of the Week -- Jeremy Scahill got it.

Editorial: Iraq takes a backseat to state propaganda -- We can't get Iraq but we can get propaganda and they wonder why people don't waste time paying for papers?

TV: Who listens, who hears? -- This is was the planned TV piece by Ava and C.I. We enjoy it but had to ask them for a second one due to the fact that we were short on time and short on material.

TV: State propaganda -- Ava and C.I. cover NBC 'News' and their 'news' special. This will probably be the one readers love best. If so I (Jim) understand why. They truly stand alone in saying "The emperor has no clothes on." Ava and C.I. carve out the space, clear the road for everyone else who travels behind later on.

Roundtable -- This is the piece that took the most time a very lengthy roundtable.

A film classic -- We did this quickly when the roundtable took forever and a piece on comic books just wasn't coming together.

The Dallas Peace Clique -- Yeah, them again.

Who's duping who? -- C.I. brought this over from The Common Ills. The issue was supposed to make it into Friday's snapshot but the snapshot was too long and this topic got pulled at the last minute.

Iraq's LGBT community -- Will the State Dept do the investigation they need to?

House testimony on veternas -- Kat really liked this testimony (prepared statement) and brought it in as a suggestion.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Wally, Betty, Stan, Kat, Cedric, Marcia and Rebecca wrote this and picked all the highlights.

And that's what we ended up with. See you next weekend.

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

Editorial: Iraq takes a backseat to state propaganda

There are seven days in a week and there were seven announced deaths in Iraq last week. Did the news media bother to impress that upon anyone?

Not at all.

Last Sunday, the US military would announce two deaths and Friday would find another two deaths announced.

This wasn't addressed. In fact, Iraq coverage was so poor last week that The New York Times decided they spent all those millions staffing in Baghdad just to get a paragraph out of the bureau that they could run in "World Briefs."

The Trade Minister was arrested and over 100 members of Parliament signed on to calling the Oil Minister before Parliament. But that's apparently not news.

Speaking of Parliament, Iraq's legislative body and Kuwait's legislative body exchanged insults last week and that didn't interest US media.

Romania pulled their soldiers out and Britain threatened to pull their Navy but worked out an agreement with Iraq at the last minute.


At one point last week, the VA sent their Chief officer of Patient Care Services, Dr. Madhulika Agarwal, to testify to Congress and she either had no idea what she was talking about (despite relying on a cheat sheet) or she was deliberately lying. The possibility that a contractor was getting payment for a job not completed or that a VA employee yet again didn't know what they were talking about wasn't of interest to the media.

What did you get instead? State propaganda over and over. Two nights worth on NBC but doled out every where over and over. And allegedly newspapers are worried about bleeding readers. Allegedly worried.

TV: Who listens, who hears?

The Listener is NBC's 'all new' summer entry that could air for 13 consecutive Thursdays if need be. That's how many episodes aired in Canada from March 3rd to May 26th. Nothing wrong with a Canadian import, CBS' Flashpoints is a Canadian import which started airing last summer to increasingly strong ratings that only further increased when aired during the spring of this year. That summer replacement has proven a winner which has been renewed for next season, what fate awaits The Listener?


In Canada, it did very well but Canada and the United States aren't the same. For example, in Canada actual listening does take place in an input-output manner between audiences and media. In the US, it's all a one-way relationship.

Take the Blood Money funded CounterSpin which has lost all credibility and played out Friday as if it were, to take Steve Rendall's pith-less critique of MSNBC (mornings, they never criticize Keith Olbermann -- never have, never will) and toss it back at them, "a paid commercial for the Obama chain which whores so often that some listeners have wondered whether it's product placement paid for by the White House or Janine Jackson's tired john George Soros."

It's all a one-way street at FAIR's CounterSpin where the audience isn't just played for fools, they're scorned. Janine, for example, makes it clear that it's all about self-amusement for her, barely able to suppress her own editorial snorts and orgasmic moans while reading brief little news commentaries at the top of the show. She so over does it that she's left gasping for breath, like Brenda Vacarro in those early eighties Playtex commercial. It's so bad that one friend swears it sounds as if she's constipated and sitting on the toilet when she's grunting throughout her Tom Tancredo item, especially at the end when she says "racism." If only SCTV were still around, maybe Andrea Martin could parody that.

Steve Rendall is own personal parody. So desperate to attack Charlie Savage and Savage's "On Sotomayor, Some Abortion Rights Backers Are Uneasy" (New York Times) is Stevie that he can't be bound by facts. Sonia Sotomayor, Barack's nominee for the Supreme Court and CounterSpin's raison d'etre for Friday, is troubling many abortion rights activists and supporters due to her lack of a record on the issue and due to Barack Obama flack Robert Gibbs declaring in a White House press briefing that Barack and Sotomayor have never discussed abortion. It's all so confusing to Stevie: "She ruled in favor of the Bush administration's global gag rule." He lists two other cases and then asks, "But who's uneasy about these? The only one cited by any major group is the one on the global gag rule. And the second case would seem to be about . . . And the third category is absurd . . ." If you listen, you'll notice how he skips over offering more than "the global gag rule" so let's go the Center for Reproductive Rights for what Stevie dismisses as not even worthy of explanation, let alone discussion:

Judge Sotomayor has not ruled on the constitutional right to abortion. However, in 2002, she authored an opinion in a case brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights (at that time the Center for Reproductive Law & Policy), challenging the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule or "Mexico City Policy," which prohibited overseas organizations that received U.S. funds from providing abortion services or engaging in speech intended to ease restrictions on abortion. The Center filed Center for Reproductive Law & Policy v. Bush on behalf of itself and its attorneys asserting that the Center's work overseas with women’s rights organizations seeking law reform to address the deaths and harmful consequences of unsafe abortion would be hampered by the Global Gag Rule. Writing for a three judge panel, Judge Sotomayor relied on previous Second Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court decisions to reject the Plaintiffs' First Amendment, Due Process and Equal Protection claims. The opinion focused on the application of legal precedent and did not express a view on or discuss the impact of the Global Gag Rule on abortion law reform efforts around the world.

That's not a minor issue even though Stevie treats it as such. He treats facts as if they're minor as well -- such as when he declares, "Savage even quotes an anti-choice activist saying as much though in a much more pejorative way, quote even the most radical feminist closed quote." Is that what The New York Times printed? Uh, no. That section of Savage's article:

Phillip Jauregui, president of the conservative Judicial Action Group, said he was not convinced by any anti-abortion overtones to such rulings because, he said, even "the most radical feminist" would object to forcing women to abort wanted pregnancies.

"Even" is Savage's term. "Even" is not part of the quote, though Stevie makes it part of it when lying to CounterSpin listeners.

"As far as one can tell from reading the article," declares Stevie winding down his bad attempt at bitchy -- but Steve Rendall, no one can tell you've read the article, no one can tell.

How can a fact checker on Real Media get it so wrong so repeatedly and expect to be believed? No time to wonder because Steve was stating "Finally" and mis-informing listeners about the May 30th New York Times article by Rod Nordland's "Lovelorn Iraqi Men Call on a Wartime Skill." The problem with the article, Stevie tells you, is that it portrays bombers as "lovelorn." That's the problem? Really? May 30th, the following critique of that article appeared at The Common Ills written by one of us (C.I.):

Also in the paper today is Rod Nordland's "Lovelorn Iraqi Men Call on a Wartime Skill" which finds Nordland exploring territory Deborah Haynes has been down before but with less explanation. The text messaging, this is an important point, takes place because due to the violence and due to the 'crackdowns,' texting took off like crazy in Iraq as a way for singles to communicate.

From that background we can now turn to Nordland's article where a texting relationship led to a marriage proposal and the father of the woman said no so the would-be groom blew up the family's home.

Nordland explains unnamed "authorities" have dubbed this "love I.E.D." -- always be skeptical of trend stories period and more so when they aren't tied down to named people -- which may have taken place six times already in Baghdad. Strangely, no one -- including police Capt Nabil Abdul Hussein can point to one time when it's actually happened. But they 'know' -- they just 'know' -- that it is happening.

Now that's the basic critique to offer when the media insists "Trend!" The basic. Susan Faludi's Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women addresses trend stories. But to move beyond the basic of trend stories in general, it's really necessary to contrast this 'trend' with another 'trend' The New York Times has repeatedly pushed. Back to TCI critique:

Nordland writes, "After six years of war, Iraq is a society with a serious anger management problem. That, along with a lot of men with a lot of experience fashioning bombs and setting ambushes, makes for a lethal mix." And that's when most readers may recall another 'trend' story. Female bombers 'raped' into becoming bombers.

If you do recall that mythical trend story, you might also remember how it was alarming and shocking and clutch the pearls time that a woman -- in a war zone -- would utilize violence. But notice that Nordland's not at all troubled that an alleged denial of marriage leads to a family's home being bombed. It's only when women resort to violence that it's a 'sickness' and we need to cluck over it. Nordland takes it as a normal product of the Iraq War that a young man would blow up a family's home.

CounterSpin has never taken on that 'trend' story, they've never questioned the pathologizing of gender. But, hey, they tired themselves out in 2008 with their intensive and exhaustive tracking of (and calling out) sexism in the media. Remember that?

We sometimes worry about going long but we think it is required that we include all, ALL, of CounterSpin's efforts to call out sexism last year. So here, in its entirety, is CounterSpin's critique of sexism in 2008:

One of the most disturbing features of the media coverage of the Democratic presidential race is the way racism and sexism have been expressed. CNN viewers were treated to one pundit explanation that people might call Hillary Clinton a bitch because well isn't that just what some women are.

We noted that back in May 2008 when CounterSpin finally found sexism on the last Friday of May. Racism was called out loudly and repeatedly as was imaginary racism as Steve, Janine and Peter Hart whored it out to work the refs. But sexism? That's it. That's all the 'media watchdog' CounterSpin, with it's weekly look at the media, could muster.

So it's not surprising that they refuse to call out the pathologizing of gender. Or that they themselves are part of our culture's sickness.

And they proves that every week. Friday Janine was going off on Jeffrey Rosenberg. We don't applaud Rosenberg, we don't even usually mention his name. (We can't recall every quoting Rosenberg online because we loathe him so and have for so long.) But Janine went into some sort of rant that lacked all coherence and began with her quoting him asking what if "a white male" was the best person for the job and "that's the standard line women and people of color" who "unlike White men" are seen as . . .

Janine was on a holy tear and we kept laughing. The Quota Queen making a case for diversity?

For those not in the know, CounterSpin has 1 African-American host, 1 woman host, 2 White hosts and 2 male hosts. Janine is the African-American host and she is the female host. As Phoebe once put it, "Hello Kettle, this is Pot. You're black."

It really was cute to listen to Janine rant and rave over Jeffery Goldberg and his inability to appreciate diversity when, in fact, Janine's entire career is about spitting on diversity.

Doubt it?

Janine was speaking on the topic of Sotomayor for the final segment. She was speaking with CounterSpin's favorite form of "Black" -- bi-racial. The age of Barack doesn't mean CounterSpin's provided more African-American guests. But they do bring on a few more bi-racials. Some day the country may get their first Black president and when that woman or man is in the Oval Office, don't expect anything to change on CounterSpin because it never does.

Sotomayor's a woman and a Latina so listeners may wonder why a self-described Black Jew (the bi-racial Adam Serwer) was brought on to discuss her. (It was as offensive racially as Amy Goodman playing Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child" for a Sotomayor segment two weeks ago). Grasp that. Barack Obama has billed Sotomayor as the first Latina to be nominated for the Supreme Court and, to CounterSpin, it's a reason to bring on yet another Jewish guest?

The lack of diversity was only more clear in the segment preceding Jackson's. That's when Steve Rendall sat down with Frederick Clarkson to discuss . . . abortion. Dr. George Tiller was assassinated for the 'crime' of providing women's health care. The best way to discuss it, CounterSpin felt, was to bring on a man. One who had nothing to offer on abortion but wanted to talk hate-tallk. To try to make Clarkson's booking more palatable, Steve stressed the man had just written a piece for Women's eNews on Tiller's assassination. Yes, he had. So did Anne Eggebroten and so did Cindy Cooper. If you're surprised that with 2 women and 1 man writing on the topic at Women's eNews that CounterSpin would book the male, you haven't been paying attention, now have you?

Had they booked Sunsara Taylor or Debra Sweet -- two other women who wrote strongly about the assassination last week -- they wouldn't have been able to have JFK's ghost hovering and it was a lot of nonsense from the title of Clarkson's piece to the details Clarkson grasped at --including claims that suggest he missed or misunderstood the report Amy Goodman did last week.

Last week started with Dr. Tiller being assassinated while attending church. The hit took place not because Tiller was a man, not because he was White, not because of any details other than what he did: provide women's health care.

And yet women were the ones repeatedly shut out of the conversation. As happens over and over. To her credit, Amy Goodman gave the hour of Monday's show to five women discussing the assassination and what it means. But two days later Democracy Now! serves up a segment allegedly on the hate involved and booked Clarkson (yes, the same one CounterSpin offered) and Chip Berlet. Two men. Because women know nothing of hate aimed at them? Because it's not a serious discussion unless you can turn it over to men? Chip Berlet's laughable 'institution' (which has succeeded only in getting rich -- not surprisingly considering whoring's all Berlet's ever been good at as he first demonstrated by stabbing the Christic Institute in the back publicly) shouldn't be invited anywhere but, for the record, Berlet has never had an abortion and we feel we can safely say he never will. Nor will Clarkson.

It really is amazing to watch these two men try to take the spotlight and reminds us of all the Whites during the Civil Rights Movement who repeatedly attempted to grab the spotlight from African-Americans. If it's not your story, you shouldn't be the guest. But vanity trumps common sense for a lot of men.

And a we-know-best attitude dominates in the US. Which is how Janine Jackson can get away with being the Quota Queen who provides cover for CounterSpin. She's only in her job to say, "We're not racist, we're not sexist, they made me a co-host!"

Yes, they did, Janine, and you provide them with the cover they need to be as sexist and, yes, racist, in their bookings and in their topics as they choose to be. The same way 'feminist' Laura Flanders existed to provide FAIR with cover. The self-loathing lesbian was able to rip apart women and do it in a 'feminist' manner. Laura was the first Quota Queen for FAIR and Janine's just another piece of window dressing for the male run, male dominated organization. (White male. Jewish, for those interested in ethnicity.)

A Latina is nominated for the Supreme Court, as Barack Obama stressed in his insulting speech where he kept referring to the Court nominee as "Sonia" and not "Judge Sotomayor," and Panhandle Media has been unable to book one Latina to discuss the nomination. Unable? Try unwilling. Michael Doyle (McClatchy Newspapers) offered "Latina pride presents challenge and opportunity for Sotomayor" last week.

At the end of the segment, Janine laughably whined that it was a shame she'd focused on this (on what?) as opposed to debating whether Sotomayor was a centrist (she is). Considering how CounterSpin and every other Pacifica outlet made bi-racial Barack's run in 2008 up through a week after the inauguration to be a Black Pride story, we damn well think that the same outlets owe it to the Latino community to offer the same celebratory (and non-probing) coverage of Sotomayor. That would be, pay attention, FAIR. But it's never about fairness, it's about them deciding what they stand for from week to week, about them determining what truths (and lies) they will tell you and expecting you to passively accept it while they urge you to rail against MSM making similar judgements about what they will cover and what they won't, how they will cover it and how they won't.

Again, the listening relationship they want is: We talk, you listen.

Any feedback is "talking back" and to be tsk-tsked. The only 'feedback' they desire is undeserved praise. White Panhandle Media composed and fueled the Cult of St. Barack so never doubt their ability to influence.

So how can Craig Olejink expect American audiences to embrace him? He probably can't. He plays Toby Logan on The Listener. He's a paramedic and Enis Esmer plays his partner Oz while Mylene Dinh-Robic plays his on-again, off-again love-interest Dr. Olivia Fawcett.

A doctor, two paramedics, must be a medical show, right?

Wrong. Toby mind reads, he can hear thoughts. And that's the focus of the show. Last week, for example, Toby and Oz rescued a woman trapped in a car that was on fire. Turned out the woman's son was kidnapped but she wasn't talking about. Toby had to find out why, find out where the child was and more. It's really more of a crime drama than a supernatural one (though NBC bills it as a "supernatural drama").

It's also interesting. That's largely due to the cast and who knows whether they would lose their freshness in a long run? But as summer programming, NBC is offering a show that actually holds the viewer's attention and is far better than the overpraised, soapy and oh-so-slow Southland.

The show has a thread running through it, Toby's family. He was raised in foster homes and has only brief flashes of his mother in his memories. Did his parents have the same gifts? What happened to them?

Toby gets to those questions but other things, such as assisting Lisa Marcos' police detective Charlie Marks solve crimes, keep this a brewing back story. And there's enough in The Listener to keep audience interest simmering all summer long.

TV: State propaganda

"You know when I was criticizing or exposing a Republican run company under a Republican administration during a Republican controlled Congress, I was all over the TV shows, I was allowed to write for magazines, the sort of establishment press on the left, all this stuff, but my phone is not ringing so much these days," Jeremy Scahill explained to Michael Smith and Michael Ratner on Law & Disorder (WBAI aired the program last Monday, other stations on May 25th). He later added, when asked what the response to his report on the ongoing torture at Guantanamo had been, "Nothing because the Democrats won't touch it and the 'Blue' State Fox you know the corporate media now they won't touch it either It's amazing. We have state media in this country. Under Bush it was sort of the Fox Murdoch stuff. Now under Obama it's the kind of the MSNBC -- I call it 'Blue' State Fox. It's like Obama state media with few exceptions there."


NBC aired two consecutive nights of propaganda last week and MSNBC graduate Brian Williams hosted. Though the network dubbed it Inside The Obama White House (DVD copies to be on sale, no doubt, Monday at 7-11s and Starbucks across the nation) we thought it should have stolen the title of Jean Fritz's The Good Giants and The Bad Pukwudgies.

We felt that way for numerous reasons including that the 'news' team produced a fable and, yes, a fairy tale. To watch it for news was to be grossly disappointed. As a humor special and/or an attempt at sociological study, it had a great deal to offer.

It was so bad that even Jon Stewart had to mock the special. Mock the special, you understand, not Barack. Stewart's still too much of a scared bunny to peal off a few jokes at Barack. That would, after all, be comedy and Comedy Central hasn't offered comedy in some time. But Jon did take pot shots at how Brian Williams repeatedly plugged NBC programming and then noted that it appeared Brian "has the hots" for Barack. It was about as hard hitting as anything Mark Russell could deliver.

We waited for someone -- anyone -- to call out NBC and Brian Williams' non-stop efforts to demonize Hillary Clinton. We waited in vain. On the second night of the broadcast, the Secretary of State was shown in the Oval Office. She was speaking casually and looking around. The desk had a report in a red cover with a notation across the front that it was for the president's eyes only. NBC deliberately edited the footage to make it appear as if Hillary was desperate to read the report. They also included Williams in a sad voice noting that she had thought, a year ago, she might be president. The segment immediately following was about Vice President Joe Biden. NBC forgot to note that Biden also wanted to be president. In fact, he's tried to be president several times now. But Hillary was sad and pathetic, according to the NBC special.

What NBC News WHORES failed to air was their request to Hillary, as she breezed through the Oval Office, if she could come over to the desk and give them a few minutes of footage to help them out, TO HELP THEM OUT? Hillary agreed to do that and didn't think anything of it. She had no idea that a news team was going to get 'creative' or that they were setting her up to make her look bad. She stood where she was asked to stand by NBC and gave them the footage she thought they needed. She was instructed to stand in front of that desk and make small talk and when you see her looking off she's looking over at the film crew for the sign from them that they've gotten enough footage.

What she didn't grasp was that, in NBC's eyes, all men are groovy and cool but only some women can be. And they couldn't build up Michelle Obama, First Lady, without tearing down a woman. Hillary got tossed on the fire.

And they needed to do that really. If you cover Michelle, just Michelle, you have to deal with a lot of unpleasant realities.

For instance, Bri-Bri was going goo-goo gah-gah about Michelle's magazine covers. What he failed to tell viewers is Michelle doesn't move magazines. (Nor does Barry anymore.) That's why each magazine tries a make over, convinced that with the right look, Michelle can be a cover girl.

It never happens and there's a lot of pathetic about a grown woman, over forty, trying to be a "cover girl."

To provide the reality that the media won't, let's be really clear about why Michelle can never be a fashion plate.

In nasty moods, Barack has been known to hiss "titless" at her. There's a reason for that which goes far beyond the fact that Barack's no saint. It is, after all, true that Michelle is the most flat chested woman to be First Lady in recent memory. (And if we had the time we'd go into what Barack says about Michelle's "patches" -- her elbows and how far the skin on them can stretch out -- we're talking almost six inches.)

Michelle lumbering around the White House for the cameras was frequently caught from the side and that gut sticking out only appeared bigger as you noticed that the gut sticks out further than the breasts do. Lumbering?

That's the other reason Michelle's never going to be a fashion plate. She walks like a truck driver and forever stands with legs splayed. She also has a very annoying habit of picking at her ass on camera.

In the hall with the dog, Bo, Brian and Michelle encounter Barack. While he and Brian make small talk, Michelle uses it as a cue to yet again dig at her ass. For the record, not a classy move.

But there's nothing classy about Michelle and the only thing she's truly accomplished is making us appreciate Laura Bush -- and who knew that was possible? But Laura, even when styled and dolled up, never gave the impression that she thought she was a big deal and efforts to portray her as such were usually called out.

No one calls out the nonsense of fashion plate and cover girl Michelle. Severely flat-chested, bow legged, a gut that hangs out dangerously, a never ending tendency to put her hands between her legs (when not picking at her ass) and a walk that's more lumber than glide. Michelle Obama is not a fashion plate and never will be. Of course, it doesn't help when your outfits resemble Peg Bundy's as Michelle's ensemble did. But nothing will ever help and the press could probably reduce a lot of their own stress load if they would just agree to face facts. (Beauty in a First Lady is neither needed nor required. Lady Bird Johnson wasn't a great beauty nor was Eleanor Roosevelt. Barbara Bush was . . . well, we won't say the word but it rhymes with "bugly.")

There is a fashionista in the White House: Barack. And the special -- both nights -- caught Barry O doing his little cat walk strut which is part peacock, part confidence and full on swish. If the loud music NBC was pumping during those segments hadn't played, we bet you would have heard cries of, "Work that runway! You go, girl!"

He provides the only glitter and glamour in the White House. He doesn't have a great deal of competition. In addition to Michelle, Valerie Jarrett was also featured. Watching the Jarrett footage, we felt the need to offer some advice: If you don't know how to exit a limo, don't ride in a limo.

Specifically, if you're a woman and you're wearing a dress, you need to know how to depart a limo. You need to know how to do so gracefully and without having the back of your dress ride up.

But Barack's never needed anyone to tell him to turn towards the opened door, place both feet on the ground and step up slowly. Barack's a celebrity and could rock the house on the WB, if it were still around, as yet another nonsexually threatening, boyish male that virgin males and females could glom onto.

Barack came off like the good giant. Michelle, despite her immense height, was lumped into the bad pukwdugies along with Valerie Jarrett and a host of others including Brian Williams. Poor Brian. Prostate cancer is very likely in his future based on a Duke study which found a relationship (further testing is needed) between men with narrow shoulders and prostate cancer. Williams' shoulders are so narrow he basically has the build of a garden snake and doesn't that comparison work on several levels?

The special had the look of Tomie de Paola's art work for The Good Giant and The Bad Pukwdugies. That would be a good thing were it not for the fact that de Paola was going for a watery look but we expect something different from NBC 'News.' Granted, June 12th, the US goes to digital so High Def is no longer a selling point, it's a requirement. Even so, we were surprised by the watery, soft-focus look of a 'news' special.

But it wasn't news, not real news, not even fake news. It was propaganda. State propaganda. And there's so much of it, it's becoming difficult to remember what news pre B.O. actually looked like? Bill Moyers embarrassed himself throughout 2008 as he turned his program over to electing Barry O. Friday, he had Jeremey Scahill on as a guest. It wasn't brilliant, it was better than anything Bill's done in a long, long time. No one bellied up to the bar more often than Bill for Kool-Aid shots so maybe it's no surprise that he'd finally awake to one hell of a hangover? May others soon follow his lead.


Jim: This is the web roundtable. We're talking online. And a word on that before we get started. Everyone is responsible for what they say. If I say "I hate site X" and no one else says that, don't attack them for my opinion. I am also -- despite the lunatic who fled the country because she didn't like the way an election turned out -- not "The Common Ills." I am Jim of The Third Estate Sunday Review. Dona is not "The Common Ills," but that lunatic has billed her that way as well and Jess who is also not "The Common Ills." Now we know that billing it as "The Common Ills" or pretending that you and C.I. have some link is a way to build interest in your own bad website but it's a lie and it's a pet peeve of mine that I want to clear up right now. The only time I have ever posted at The Common Ills was with Dona and I've done that when C.I.'s gone to the Oscars or the Grammys. That's it. And my name is prominently featured in those entries. So I am responsible for what I say. Don't go whining to Elaine, don't go blaming Betty, I'm responsible for what I say. If you don't like it, your problem is with me. That's true of all the statements in this roundtable. Now here's who's participating: 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, maybe Ann who's filling in for Ruth of Ruth's Report, surely Wally of The Daily Jot, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends. Ty's selected e-mails for topics on this "State of the web" roundtable and I know some of them but not all. Illustration is by Betty's kids.


Ty: First up is an unsigned e-mail complaining that we link "to MSM and not to blogs. You do a disservice to new media."

Jim: And who links to us? We can count on real media linking to us and that's it. Blogs don't do a damn thing for us. We're supposed to be breaking our backs for them. Now they'll steal, like Lambert of Corrente, from C.I. and then, when called on it repeatedly in e-mails, first claim they've never even heard of The Common Ills even though it's on the blog roll at Corrente. When that's pointed out, the blog roll will disappear and Lambert will claim it was accidentally pulled and will be put back up . . . some time. Go take it up with Lambykins if you don't feel new media's getting supported. They e-mailed, Corrente, asking to be added to various websites blog rolls and they were. And yet they pulled their blog roll and didn't tell the people who link to them -- who link to them because they asked to be linked to -- and you want to whine that we're not supportive?

Jess: I'll jump in to say "Support!" And I'll also add that the nature of the cover up was huge. You rip off someone's site and you're dumb enough to rip off their link including their link to a single page version of a multi-page article? You offer a weak, "What do you want? You want me to give credit?" and then go about purging your blogroll because you're trying to tidy up the scene of the crime?

Rebecca: I'm sure C.I.'s about to burst a gut right now but I do have to jump in because not only did C.I. cover it two days before at The Common Ills but I'd talked to C.I. about it because C.I. and Ava hadn't watched the debate. They were speaking to a college audience that night. I called C.I. and asked if Barack's lie was true and C.I. said it was a complete lie and couldn't believe Barack had the never to lie bigger and bigger each time he got on a stage. So point, I blogged on it at my site and noted I was holding off posting because I knew C.I. would say it better and I was going to link to C.I.'s entry as soon as it went up. When it did, I linked to and quoted from C.I.'s entry in my post. Someone say "So!"

Betty: So!!!!

Rebecca: I was one of the websites Corrente e-mailed asking to be put on the blogroll. I put them on my blogroll and they put me on their blogroll. So when those e-mails started getting forwarded to Third and Ty started passing them around to us -- those e-mail exchanges with Lambkins where he was being called out for stealing from C.I. -- and he was claiming he couldn't have stolen because he'd never heard of The Common Ills before and no one at Corrente even knew the site, well The Common Ills was on their blog roll and so was my site. C.I. covered Barack's big lie and I covered C.I. covering it. Two days later Lambykins discovers it and just happens to link to the New York Times transcript -- out of all the transcripts available -- and also links to the single page version. Lambert: The net's Christopher Columbus -- 'discovering' things already known.

Dona: I just want to go on record noting that we were very supportive to Corrente over the years and we exchanged e-mails with many of the original Corrente writers. I will never understand the hatred that Lambert expressed towards C.I. in the e-mails that were forwarded to us -- and thank you to community member Eddie who had the longest exchange with Lambert on this and forwarded it to us -- but I will note that when the theft went down, we did hear from people who left Corrente who told us his behavior was completely unsurprising. Now I want to back up to something else. I said we were very supportive to Corrente. And we were. We were very supportive to so many during the first years. We're not in the mood. If Corrente were what it is now back then, we wouldn't have supported it back then. But we did try to highlight others and link to them and we don't do that anymore. That usually has nothing to do with what happened personally. For example, check this site or The Common Ills and you'll see that Corrente and even Lambert continued to be linked to after that little theft. C.I. doesn't comment on those things and asks us to ignore them. What finally got Lambert banned was his inability to stick with facts repeatedly and that's why a lot of people don't get linked to. Opinion's fine. But you can't rewrite reality.

Ty: Next e-mail is from Reese who wants to know why we hate PUMA?

Bettty: Let me start there. I understand that a number of people's nerves are still on edge due to the 2008 events. I understand that and I don't scream "racism" over every little thing. But as a Black woman, I will call it out when I see it and there are members of PUMA that are racist. Their writing has made that very clear. There are also members of PUMA who are not racist. I forget the name of the woman at The Confluence who was accused of being a racist for her quoting one source while writing about foreclosures. I defended her, even after I was pissed at real racism and made it clear that I was not a member of PUMA at my site, I defended her and said she didn't write like a racist to me. And she doesn't. And it's a cute little charge to hang "racism" around her neck when months prior Ava and C.I. stood alone in calling out Seth on Saturday Night Live for his Weekend Update bit blaming Black people for the housing crisis. Going on about how they knew they couldn't pay the housing payments and calling them bascially welfare cheats. Now we know that Saturday Night Live is immensely popular at blogs because they were all posting clips from SNL during 2008. But only Ava and C.I. called Seth out for making those racist comments. So this sudden interest in racism by attacking the woman at The Confluence never struck me as sincere, it struck me as an attempt to make them an untouchable. I defended the woman.

Mike: You defended her several times but the reality is there's no reason to. You're honest, so you did defend that site, but that site doesn't do a damn thing for anyone online. It's as much a circle jerk as The Daily Toilet Scrubber they broke off from. Riverdaughter will kiss Alegre's ass from now until the end of time even after the public dis of The Confluence and PUMA by Alegre. But people who actually linked to her? She wasn't interested. She does this 'we are together' b.s. crap and the fact of the matter is that 'we' is a tiny group and she doesn't go outside of it and she continues to link to racists on her blogroll but she won't link outside her circle jerk.

Betty: I know the sites Mike's talking about and two of those women are outright racists. I thought it was hilarious that they had a big meltdown at The Confluence over Israel and Palestine and who would be linked to and who wouldn't be and yet they have racists on their blogroll still.

C.I.: I'm jumping in just to note that I'm not sure it was Alegre that attacked The Confluence. She may have, I don't read it, I don't know. But on campuses, it's another female blogger with an "A" in her site's name that's mentioned. Riverdaughter could be a lot more popular if she weren't so 'up with people.' I'm saying that not as someone who reads her site -- I don't have time to and let me get back to that in a moment. I'm saying that as someone on campuses across the country who listens and Riverdaughter is rated highly but she's seen as too chipper. And that may play better with older audiences and I don't know that it doesn't. But in terms of college students, there's a feeling that she's trying to uplift too much. It's the biggest criticism of her. It should be noted that she's one of the few female bloggers who is widely known on campuses these days. Oh, and my point was, I believe Alegre and Riverdaughter both bonded over The Daily Toliet Scrubber's idiotic decision to post a bad T&A commercial and then, when called on it, to attack and sneer "women's studies majors." If that is correct, if that was one of their original bonds, they go back a long ways for the online world and it's not surprising to me that Riverdaughter would continue to highlight Alegre's work.

Jim: How about you "get back to that in a moment" now because this is really going to be a free for all discussion and there may not end up being time for it elsewhere.

C.I.: Sure. To the first e-mailer, I probably do not link to enough blogs. He or she is probably correct on that. I don't have time to read blogs. During the day, during the week, Kat, Wally, Ava and I are either on a campus speaking or on our way to one or to women's group or a labor group or another group or else we're in DC at a Congressional hearing. If I'm online, I'm writing entries for The Common Ills. I'm not surfing. I read papers in hard copy. I read magazines in hard copy. Community members will e-mail to suggest links and those get worked in when they can be -- and when I know about them. I read less and less e-mails because there's just not the time for it. I dictate the snapshot Monday through Friday because there's not time for it. Along with whatever is e-mailed, I'm also calling friends at news programs and papers and NPR and asking them about Iraq and they often have things they want to linked to in the snapshot -- sometimes things from their own outlet, sometimes not. And I'm hearing from the groups we're speaking with. So I would never deny that the first e-mailer is correct about The Common Ills. I just don't have time to surf around online or even be online. If I'm online, I'm writing an entry and I've got screens open to go through the e-mails of the public account and the two private e-mail accounts for members.

Jim: Okay, back to Mike. Mike?

Mike: Well I just want to stress this because The Daily Toilet Scrubber is where Riverdaughter came from and at her site she's always talking about this 'online movement' and how they rejected this and that and blah blah blah. But they don't go outside their circle jerk and she's as closed as The Daily Toilet Scrubber. Now before someone says, she may be as busy as C.I. -- no one's as busy as C.I., Ava, Kat and Wally --

Kat: And I do much less than Ava, C.I. and Wally!

Mike: But that would be okay if it weren't for the fact that Confluence gets e-mails about links and has links in comments and if you're not part of their circle jerk, you can be praised by as many people in the comments as you want, they're never going to acknowledge you. And that's a valid complaint and I hear it all the time from my readers -- not about suggesting my stuff. But about the writing of others in this community.

Jim: Okay, Stan, you got attacked by one of the bloggers The Confluence delinked from. Do you want to say anything about that?

Stan: I do. I want to point out that Betty and C.I. have led online on the topic of Senator Roland Burris. Now Elaine, Marcia, Ruth and I have tackled it and Mike as well but it's really Betty and C.I. that have led on this repeatedly. I should add that we've written about it here. And for that nonsense by that guy -- I'm trying to think of a name for him --

Wally: Baby Huey.

Stan: Thank you, Baby Huey. Baby Huey doesn't know what he's talking about and I didn't write a nasty comment at his blog. I wrote about Roland Burris and the facts and he starts screaming at me in the comments? He's start attacking me? And that's the sort of person that The Confluence was linking to. There are a world of websites that could be linked to but instead it's that little pig Baby Huey. And I honestly get very angry when I think back to that. This White man screaming to me that I'm a racist. He's attacked Roland Burris with lies -- which is what so many in PUMA did and why Betty finally felt the need to say "I'm not a member of PUMA" -- and he loathes affirmative-action. Roland Burris is the only Black senator. One person out of a hundred but Baby Huey doesn't think affirmative-action is needed. And he wants to scream at me that I'm a racist. Yeah, I'm the racist, Baby Huey. Not you the man trying to destroy Senator Burris with lies.

Betty: I'm sorry but I have to jump in here. I lost all respect for PUMA when they started their lies that Senator Burris had Barack's support. Barack denounced Senator Burris as soon as he was appointed. The same Barack who stated he couldn't comment on Israel's attack on Palestine -- ongoing attack -- because he hadn't been sworn in yet issued an attack on Senator Burris -- attacked Senator Burris from Hawaii because Barack was vacationing in Hawaii at the time. So when PUMA sites started putting that nonsense up and when MakeThemAccountable started her non-stop attack on Senator Burris, I had no respect for PUMA. They can all can kiss my Black ass.

Marcia: Well it's really funny what they choose to write about and what they don't. They're all over attacking a Black man, aren't they? And if they didn't offer that attack would they ever even mention a Black person? It doesn't appear they would. And it's that sort of thing that stands out to us, to people of color, when we visit a website. And let's be honest, a lot of these PUMAs, their writing is the equivalent of a lawn jockey on the front yards.

Ty: From racism to sexism. Three readers, including Damica, e-mailed on a post at Liberal Rapture. They wanted Ava and C.I. to weigh in. I've passed it on to them

Ava: This post is why we don't link to a lot of blogs here. James, J-Som, writes that Ms. magazine has published something -- he then offers his evalution of the something -- but right away there's a problem. The article is The Daily Beast and not Ms. magazine. And the comments are even worse as people go out of their way to attack the writer of The Daily Beast piece, Elaine Lafferty, for not saying anything in real time. For not defending Governor Sarah Palin against sexist attacks n real time. And it's that sort of thing that makes us not link to blogs. Lafferty defended Palin in real time and was attacked for doing so. C.I.?

C.I.: We had to go through, not at Liberal Rapture, all the lies that Kim Gandy didn't support Hillary. That NOW PAC didn't. When both endorsed and campaigned for Hillary. And that was bad. But Elaine defended Sarah Palin in real time. And the response to her defending Palin? She was attacked for it. Most infamously, Robin Morgan referred to her but did not name her in a bad column where Robin inferred that Elaine was fired from Ms. magazine for stealing. That was a lie and I'm surprised Elaine didn't turn around and sue Robin. Elaine's crime was in making the magazine successful. Ellie didn't like it. Gloria did her usual "let's get along everyone" and Robin sided with Ellie Smeal because Robin's entire life has been about being as little read as possible. So they asked for her resignation and Ellie took over and that's when Ms. lost its online presence. They fired Christine who blogged for them. Ellie was going to do it all. She's going to run things, she's going to be hands on, and she's going to blog! But she didn't. She did like three blog posts and then lost interest and Ms. lost their online audience. Now Robin Morgan needs to watch her ass and that little stunt she pulled offends me more each day. The only thing Robin Morgan cares about is Gloria so let me be really clear right now if Robin ever lies about another woman who left Ms., I will go public with actual theft. It won't be pretty for Gloria. Gloria hasn't stolen a cent from the magazine -- although her raiding of co-workers desk for food over the years did tick many off -- but time and again when someone did steal from Ms. Gloria looked the other way and argued for others to as well. When the response should have been prosecution, Gloria would ask that it just be forgotten. Now all of those times? They add up and the dollar figure I have on that is HUGE. So if Robin Morgan wants to start another smear campaign against any woman left Ms. magazine, she better be prepared for me to shoot her in the knee caps which, for Robin, means going after Gloria. And I will do it. There was no excuse for what Robin did and there was no excuse for Women's Media Center to run that crap. It went beyond catty and bitchy to really damaging. It never needs to happen again and if it requires taking Gloria down to stop Robin in her tracks, so be it. I'm not going to let Robin, in her old age, destroy a movement just because everyone's scared of her. I've never been scared of Robin. Until the middle of 2008, I had a lot of respect for Robin. I have no respect for her now. And while I've known Robin for years, I know Elaine Lafferty only from functions for Ms. I've never spoken to her outside of a fundraiser or gala. I'm not defending Elaine because she's my best friend, or a good friend or because we're close. We're not. I'm defending her because Robin smeared her by accusing her of stealing money from the magazine and that smear has stuck online. Robin owes the women's movement an apology for that little stunt. Elaine Lafferty didn't deserve that lie, no woman deserved that lie.

Jim: Can I just add that you have a lot of love for Gloria or is that had now?

C.I.: If Gloria died right now, I would write the most blistering entry online. I made it through 2008 without doing so mainly because I told myself I'd wait and look at her actions with detachment. I have the detachment now and I find her actions only more appalling. Gloria knew better. As a woman who has been wrongly attacked for years and decades, Gloria knew better than to do the same with another woman. As a woman over seventy-years-old, Gloria damn well knew better. She really needs to write a mea culpa and she needs to acknowledge the strong divisions that her actions and those of her partners did because we talk to women's groups and Gloria is not beloved. Gloria is no longer admired. There is very real anger with Gloria Steinem from the women's movement.

Kat: I have to jump in on that. When this really started to register, the ways in which Gloria and Robin attacked, for example, Sarah Palin and ignored the ticket of Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente, C.I. would find a way to make a response giving Gloria the benefit of the doubt. Those days are long over. And this is the single biggest issue after abortion in the feminist groups we speak to, the way leadership whored themselves out for a man and for a man who doesn't even believe in what they do. For a man who does an "Office of Faith Based Programs" and appoints an anti-abortion rights freak to head it. That's what feminism looks like? Bulls**t.

Ava: If I could just add one more thing on this topic before we close it, I really hate the chicken s**ts at Ms. who have written here, to this site --


Ava: -- and begged us to cover this or that and we have and they e-mail that they're forwarding it. I'm sick of the "I wish I could publicly say how much your work means to us." You can say it publicly, you choose not to. And to build on a point Dona was making, we praised a lot of people in our early years online. And what I'm talking about, these cowardly e-mails from Ms., they were coming in long before we were holding Robin accountable, they were coming in when all we did was offer praise for Ms. And even back then, we were just too controversial for them to be able to "publicly say" they read us. What does that even mean? We don't have "As read by . . ." credits on this site. We don't do those kind of plugs. So what that apparently meant was that while, for example, C.I. and I were putting it on the line every week fighting against sexsim, our 'brave' sisters at Ms. magazine could whisper our praise from the stalls of a ladies' room but, after washing their hands and returning to their tables, couldn't publicly acknowledge us?

Elaine: I'll jump in. Ms. exists to prop up men. That's the reality of it. Ms. has no reason to exist anymore. It fights no battles, it holds no one accountable. It's usually a bad read on top of everything else. It will not call out sexism, it won't do a damn thing. And when Elaine Lafferty was overseeing the magazine, it was readable. And I could take unreadable if it was because the magazine was brimming with passion but that's not the case. It's watered down writing and it's bad writing. If women take a stand on any issue, Ms.' policy these days is to wait and see how the stand is greeted before weighing in. They are no longer leaders, they are no longer analysts. You can't even bill them as "club secretary" because they ignore so much. It's a magazine that's an embarrassment and needs to die if it can't improve really quickly. I'm focusing on Ms. and weighing in here because I really don't read blogs. I've got a practice, I've got sessions -- private and group, and I'm trying to have a private life. I'm ready to stop blogging as soon as everyone agrees it's time and when I go online to read I'm reading newspapers and World Can't Wait more than anything else.

Stan: I'll jump in re: Liberal Rapture and take it to The Confluence. A woman named Little Isis did a post there where she said there were no women directors of films. And that's just not true. This summer alone, Katharine Bigelow and Nora Eprhon will have films released. But I read stuff like that and wonder why it even made it up? That's another reason I don't read a lot of blogs. It's a lot of feelings. And a view that "because it's my feelings I don't have to be accurate or do any work." It's also true that the overriding issue to me is the Iraq War and I'm not going to find that online at most sites to begin with.

Ty: The piglet who runs Feminist Law Professors got nasty when it was pointed out that she didn't cover the War Crimes trial into the gang-rape and murder of Abeer. Her response was, "Start your own site!" A few are wondering about that response and reactions on it?

Cedric: I think her reaction was crap. She does a blog with "feminist" and "law" in the title. Of course she should be covering it. Of course she should. She doesn't want to take accountability.

Ann: I would agree with Cedric.

Jim: That's Cedric's wife Ann. She's filling in for Ruth. She did it two weeks ago, last week and plans to do it all next week. Ruth is on vacation in Japan. Ann was invited to participate and she's been listening but didn't think she'd participate. We're glad to have you Ann. You agree with your husband on this one?

Ann: Yes, I do. And I'm coming at it as a reader of blogs and as a new writer. I've written nine things filling in for Ruth. So I'm not an expert on that side but I do have insight into it and I do have insight as a reader. Like Cedric just pointed out, the 14-year-old Abeer being gang-raped and murdered fell right into the range of topics Feminst Law Professors would cover. The woman couldn't deal with being called out so she responds with, "Start your own blog!" Really? I mean, am I the only one wondering about that response?

Wally: Would we take it if The New York Times offered it? Hell no. In fact, 'watch dogs' exist to tell you to pressure them to cover topics.

Ann: Exactly and I think that was Cedric's point and I think I stepped on his comments.

Cedric: No, you didn't. And jump in now or later or whenever you want. But like you and Wally are pointing out, we don't take that kind of response from The New York Times. If, as the illegal war was gearing up, Adam Nagourney had responded to a complaint with "Start your own paper!" he would have been ripped apart online. Now the difference is scope. If someone were asking that woman to write about some plant found half way around the world, well that's not her scope. But gang-rape and the murder of a teenage girl does fall into her scope. And people have a right to say, "You should be covering this." And to call her out for not covering it.

Wally: That's reality. And there's a real desire to push away ownership. I liked what C.I. did earlier with the thing about 'The e-mailer's probably right, I don't link to enough blogs.' And I like what Dona did which was to point out that things were different for this site in the old days. But a lot of times the response to anything online is "No! No! Start your own blog!" and I don't get that. It turns me off when I read that crap. I mean, Marcia has rules at her site. They are simple. You can't use a word in the comments that she can't use. And the second rule is if you insult a community member who has left a comment, your comment gets deleted. But I am so sick of these sites where the bloggers have turned into bullies and delete this comment and that comment. Generally comments holding them accountable.

Ann: Well I'm looking at the e-mails and at what's in the news when I blog for Ruth right now. And I try to give more weight to e-mails than the news. I think you can write a gas bag post on something in the news that everyone's already writing about already. And I see that a lot and it's why I read so few blogs. But I also liked the comments Cedric and Wally were making about scope. Now C.I.'s scope is Iraq so if it's not Iraq and you're asking for it to be covered it may or may not get covered. The scope is Iraq. But I know Mike for example, who has a more open scope, will cover many topics just because he's asked to in e-mails.

Mike: Yeah. And I will put things off if an e-mail comes in asking me to write about something else. I'm fine with that and never offended by it. I used to e-mail C.I. all the time, before I started my site, saying, "Hey write about this! No one's writing about this!" And C.I. would. And now the scope has narrowed to keep the focus on Iraq -- the community voted for that -- and so when an e-mail comes in I realize that I used to make requests like that and I also realize that C.I. can't cover some stuff so I carry my weight in the community by picking up some of those things.

Ty: C.I. made clear a week or two ago that Afghanistan wasn't the focus and we've had e-mails about this. I'm going to pitch to C.I. directly and then let's open it up to anyone else who wants to weigh in. Melvin e-mailed wanting to know why you, C.I., won't cover Afghanistan?

C.I.: Our focus is Iraq. We are the only site that I'm aware of in the US whose focus is Iraq. There are other sites that touch on it. But each day, we're about Iraq. That's a responsibility and it's one the community wanted. If I were to cover Afghanistan as well, it would send a message, especially in the current climate where the US networks have closed up shop in Iraq and moved on to Afghanistan -- although I honestly don't see any indication that they have people on the ground in Afghanistan when I watch the evening news. But because of our focus, if we were to expand it to include Afghanistan, it wouldn't be seen as "expansion." It would be seen as "throwing in the towel" and "Oh, see, there's no story from Iraq anymore. Even The Common Ills has given up on it."

Jim: C.I.'s done with the topic so we can open this up but I'll note that we're all against the Afghanistan War and that Cedric, back in 2006, tried to cover it for about two weeks. This was in 2006, long before he and Wally teamed up to do joint-posts. Cedric, you want to start?

Cedric: The thing with Afghanistan is that you have to be C.I. online. It requires so much work. It's like on chapter fifty-seven when you pick the topic up and you may not realize that until the e-mails come in or the comments are left on your posts. I was honestly surprised by how many didn't even know basic facts. I'm not an expert and I was feeling my way through those posts -- and noting it -- but I was surprised to (a) see such a huge lack of information and (b) to be elevated which frightened me, honestly. There was such a silence on Afghanistan that it was as though people were welcoming me as some sort of an expert and I am no kind of an expert and that was one of the reason that I walked away. The other was that I couldn't do it. I would write something and someone would mistake it for pro-war or pro that war. C.I. is established online and people know where she stands. She can cover the fallen, for example, and their funerals and no one's going to be upset or e-mail, "Hey, I'm pro-war like you!" But when I tried to do that, I got e-mails assuming I was. And it was just a frustrating two weeks where I felt like there were people thinking I was an expert and there were some people thinking I was pro-war and it was just this huge misunderstanding.

Jim: That really makes sense and I'm going back to C.I. for something. Last week, one of the fallen was quoted at The Common Ills and it was a message that you clearly disagree with but you didn't note that in the entry. I was wondering if there was any misunderstandings on that?

C.I.: I didn't hear of any and I didn't read of any but I don't read most of the e-mails. You read more than I do.

Jim: Yeah. I talked to Jess and Dona about this the day it ran and we watched for it and so did Martha, Shirely and Eli. None of us found any. The thrust --

C.I.: If you're going to talk about it, don't mention the name of the dead.

Jim: Okay. The thrust of the fallen's argument was that he was protecting our freedoms.

C.I.: And I had some comment in there that I had only censored his curse words. Which may have been why no one was confused that I might be endorsing his argument but our stance is known and I doubt there would be too much confusion at this point. No, I don't agree with his argument. Iraq was not a threat to the US. Iraq was not attacking our free speech or any other right. If the person who wrote that was living, I might have registered my thoughts on the subject in that entry but he wasn't and my opinions are known so why not let him have his say? He was dead. He died believing those things. I felt they needed to be noted. Not because I agreed with them and not because he was right, but because that is what he believed.

Jim: Okay. Afghanistan. Kat, Dona says you're not talking enough in a note she passed me. She notes Jess as well.

Kat: I am the lazy blogger and I'm not going to work up a post on a war I don't support and one that I feel is getting limited attention but more than Iraq where the US has about five times as many troops on the ground. I'm not interested in covering Afghanistan. Sorry. Monday through Friday, I'm hitting the speaking gigs with Ava, C.I. and Wally. I usually bail on them around six or seven p.m. and get something to eat and then I'm at the hotel and trying to figure out what I'm going to write after I've made several calls. I usually check in with family and friends for about an hour. I also speak to the people participating in this roundtable and Trina on the phone. My strongest posts these days are generally when we've been in a Congressional hearing and I offer my impressionistic take on those.

Jim: And that's reporting and we appreciate when you and C.I. do it. There was an e-mail that suggested we praised C.I. for that reporting at The Common Ills but forgot to give you your credit.

Kat: C.I. wrote that e-mail! I'm joking. But C.I.'s apologized three times about Friday's snapshot because huge sections had to be pulled because it was too long after it was dictated. IVAW got pulled and so did I and I think Marcia. I'll be in Monday's snapshot, I was assured. I don't need to be in Monday's snapshot and C.I.'s praised me work -- praise I have not earned -- and it's been praised here. I appreciate that I have an advocate but I'm not doing any great work and most of the time I'm going through the notes C.I. took during the hearing and grabbing stuff C.I. didn't use in the snapshot. Jess?

Jess: Afghanistan and Afghanistan War Resisters are topics that are worthy of coverage but they're not topics for The Common Ills and they aren't topics for this site. Third's focus has always been on Iraq and not Afghanistan. We bonded -- Dona, Jim, Ty and Ava -- over all being against the Iraq War as well as being journalism majors. We started because Jim caught C.I. speaking on our campus against the Iraq War. Iraq's our issue. I really have nothing else to say on that. If someone thinks there's an Iraq issue we should cover, please e-mail -- -- because we do miss some. Also true is that we plan some and they don't work out. If that's the case, it doesn't go up here. But we can note it and we can say, "Yes, that's an important issue and we attempted to cover it but it fell apart and here's why."

Rebecca: Kat and I are not part of Third. Like everyone else, we help out. But we've helped out for a long time and I want to add this to the discussion. In 2005, when this site started, there was a faux movement, still around today, of "Save Darfur" which argued pull the troops out of Iraq . . . and send them to Darfur. Because of that, we are all senstitive to any other conflict that there's a push on, a push of 'cover this and not Iraq!' So any e-mails coming in on Afghanistan would be seen, on some level, as "What are they really up to?" We didn't fall for the p.r. movement that was and is Save Darfur. But we would be suspicious. And blow it off the same way we did during 2008 when we all got the Barry O e-mails.

Dona: That's a very good point that Rebecca's making. There was a push to take the focus from Iraq to Darfur and that push including astro-turfing this site in 2005. So attempts to get us to leave the topic of Iraq while the illegal war continues to drag on will always be viewed suspiciously. That is very much true.

Ty: Okay, now a complaint from reader Neil who states that at this site, Ava and C.I. are usually the only ones regularly providing audio links and that we should be working to offer more than text links. Neil expands that to say that all sites except The Common Ills need to be working on that.

Ava: I agree with him. The reason it's not an issue for The Common Ills is because C.I. will regularly do a check during dictation of -- "Do I have an audio in this so far?" Meaning is there a link to audio or video audio. Because C.I.'s aware that there are couples, especially elderly ones in the community, where one partner is reading the snapshot and whatever else to the other partner who has poor or no eye sight. C.I. is aware that a link with audio and text means that couple clicks on that link and they get to listen together. It's not a minor point. But I would disagree with Neil in one regard. I don't know when he wrote that e-mail but Ruth also does a very strong job of providing links that are text or audio. Ruth works very hard at that. He may have forgotten her or left her out due to her being on vacation. But she works very hard at that.

Mike: I agree with Ava -- on everything she said. And it is something, Neil, that we are aware of. And it is something that we're trying to address. I go to World Can't Wait. That's what I highlight the most, it's what speaks to me. And that's one reason I don't do a lot of audio or video and audio links. I do need to work on the issue more and what I will promise is that I will do one link a week. I will try for more than that but I will promise right now that I will have at least one link a week. It is a problem, I know that, and I will try to address it.

Stan: What I would add to Mike's comments is that we're also working on different posts. For example, we do see our posts as pieces of a puzzle some nights. That may not be readily evident. But we do work on that. We're also working on simplifying. So we're working on a lot of things. I will go along with Mike in saying I promise one link minimum a week. Hopefully, I will have more but I will do at least one. But I do want to stress that we're not really interested in a lot of places. Dona was talking about how this site used to offer a lot of praise. Well this site reflects the community and we reflect this site. By that I mean, the feelings Dona's speaking of are feelings in the community as well. Who are we going to link to? There's a world of people we will not link to.

Ty: Good point and it's the question in an e-mail from a woman who didn't want her name used. She wanted to know why some Kool Aid Drinkers are noted and others aren't?

Jess: We never declared war on Barack supporters. We all have a friend or two who voted for Barack. We didn't declare war on everyone who endorsed Barack. But thsoe who lied we did declare war on. Marjorie Cohn's little lies about Hillary, where she rushed out her piece as requested, requires she apologize publicly for what she wrote or we never want to hear from her again. She's not going to be noted otherwise. And it was really dumb for her to have done that to begin with. She's the president of an organization and she spoke appearing to speak for the organization. She pissed off a lot of members of the organization with her lies and they were lies. She was obsessed with Barry O and she loathed Hillary so she wrote those vicious lies and earned herself the name Crazy Ass Cohen. I'm not interested in highlighting Matty Rothschild who was an idiot and a liar -- a deadly combination. For me, it goes to how far you broke the rules. The Progressive NEVER links to The Weekly Standard. That's a given. It never does and it never should. But Matty wanted to call Hillary the c-word and the rag had an article that allowed him to do so therefore The Progressive Recommends The Weekly Standard. That's dropping every standard you have and it's shameful. I'm not interested in the liars. I'm not interested in the cowards who did not call out sexism. I'm not interested. And I'm the Green, remember. I'm not some Clinton lover. I'm not a Republican. I'm the Green. And I found what was done to Hillary and then Sarah Palin disgusting. I think a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves.

Betty: As a Black woman, I tackled this repeatedly here and at my site and Marcia covered it at her site as well but 2008 was all about White 'liberals' telling us that race mattered and gender didn't. They did that and they shamed a lot of White women who wouldn't stand up for themselves. But as a Black woman, I knew Whitey wasn't trying to do me any favors. I've seen it over and over and I damn well knew that Barack Obama got to where Barita wouldn't have. A Black woman would not have been cheere don and we've seen over and over in this country. We saw it when Anita Hill was subjected to attacks and Clarence Thomas was given a pass. We saw it in 2008 when Cynthia McKinney, a Black woman, was ignored while White 'liberals' got on board with bi-racial Barack and called him "Black."

Ty: I've got two things on that. First off, "All Blacks are bi-racial!" That's what Jerry, who is White, insists. I wrote him back to ask him how he self-identified. He writes, "All Blacks in the US are bi-racial because they have White ancestors."

Betty: I don't believe that and Jerry's an idiot.

Cedric: I agree with Betty. A rape does not have to mean a pregnancy. Slave owners regularly raped, I don't doubt it. And I don't doubt that some Black slaves gave birth to mixed children but not every child born to a slave was the product of a White man. In fact, that's kind of disgusting when you think about it. What is Jerry saying about Black men? That we can't get it up? And is he unaware that White owners picked slaves for breeding? I'm talking about pairing up male and female slaves? Like Betty, I don't believe that crap about "All Blacks have White in them." No, we don't all.

Ann: Can I jump in? Okay, bi-racial means half and half. You're half one thing and half another. Mixed can be multi-racial. But bi-racial goes to your parents. Black people cannot all be bi-racial. And even if Jerry was right -- he's wrong -- and all Black children born before the end of the Civil War were half-White, those children partnered with other former slave children and then it remained within what was the Negro community. My point is that I find what he said insulting and I find it insulting for the reason Cedric sighted but also because it seems to imply some greater weight to being White. Let me use my aunt Wendy as an example. Wendy's forty-three. She was born when her mother was 20. Do you realize how many generations we have to go back to get to slavery? But let's say that all that way back, an ancestor was the product of a Black slave and a White male. Do you realize how far back that is? Wow, I guess Jerry thinks White's all mighty or something.

Marcia: I have to get in on this. Sorry. I do find that insulting and, for Jerry to be correct, every freed slave had to be the child of a White father. What is that? What's he saying? That not only was my race trapped into slavery but, while enslaved, had no thoughts or desires? That's kind of reducing us to such a state that tends to argue slavery wasn't that bad? Or am I the only one getting that? It's saying that we're so simple as a people and have no desires or thoughts of our own and only reproduced when a White man came along. So we're docile and pets and not really people? Am I the only one getting that?

Betty: No, you're not. I agree with your Marcia. It's insulting.

Ty: Okay. Second e-mail on a related topic and this takes us back to online world. Black Agenda Report. No one, wrote Maverick89, highlighted BAR last week or the week before and there was a Cynthia McKinney event and we ignored it. Completely.

C.I.: Betty highlighted Black Agenda Report this past week.

Betty: And C.I. included it in a snapshot the week before. But we didn't highlight that event and we wouldn't. Barack Obama is bi-racial. We've been clear on that here for some time. If Black Agenda Report wants to do an event on the "first Black president," that's there business but we're not going to promote a lie. We're not interested. And Marcia's already explained that we nearly walked away from BAR not all that long ago. Explained at her site. But I'll recap, community member Martha posted a comment at Dissident Voice when another Whitey praised Jeremiah Wright. Now last week on WBAI's Law & Disorder, Chris Hedges and Michaels Smith and Ratner -- all White -- were asserting that Jeremiah Wright was wonderful and thrown under the bus. Jeremiah Wright preached at a Black church -- a, not the. If he was wonderful and represenative, there would have been an outcry from the Black community when he was tossed under the bus by Barack. I don't deny that he was tossed under the bus. But there was no outcry. And that's because a lot of us were flat out offended by his simulating sex from the pulpit and by his cursing from the pulpit and by his damning anything in the Lord's name. He's geared to a trashy crowd and they eat up his garbage. But don't mistake that for the Black church. We take our kids to church and we would not stand for that nonsense. If a preacher is cursing, you better believe our kids are going to try and they are going to argue that the preacher said it so why can't they? He was crude, he was vulgar and he disgraced the Church. That view was not uncommon and it is why Barack was able to toss Jeremiah Wright under the bus without facing a huge outcry from the Black community. Now when he tried to go after Roland Burris back in December, the Black community rose up. Black radio covered it and he got the point he better back the hell off. The difference was that Roland Burris wasn't disgracing himself or shaming the community. So we did come to Senator Burris' defense. But the Black community wasn't interested in Jeremiah Wright. And we were shut out from the discussion until Barack dropped Wright and then, briefly, the networks could find us. We're not conservatives. But we do have a respect for our church and when someone's thrusting his hips and simulating the sex act from the pulpit, he's demonstrating no respect for the church. And when White people can't get that, it really pisses us off. It is as insulting as Jerry's e-mail. In this one, we're such a vulgar people and so base and controlled by basic desires that we're grabbing ourselves in church and doing everything but fornicating on the cross. It's insulting. Jeremiah Wright may be a left hero but there was no outcry from the Black community -- as a whole -- over his being tossed under the bus because he didn't represent us and, in fact, he embarrassed us. He has his fan base. And when Martha left her comment, one of them Esu or whatever his stupid ass name is, who sometimes writes for Black Agenda Report, comes along to provide cover for Whitey writing about what a great man Wright is. Whitey, shut the hell up. Truly. Just let it go. The Black community's not outraged. Stop, over a year later, trying to outrage us. We're not idiots. We saw what went down. We know how to speak out. We did so when Barack attacked Roland Burris and Barack had to back off immediately. He had to back off and had to issue what was a retraction even though it wasn't billed as such.

Stan: I'm remembering Robert Blake doing a TV show called Hell Town or something where he played a priest. A lot of Catholics found that offensive. I'm sure that some Blacks appreciate Jeremiah Wright but I'm also aware that a larger number found him offensive and "Why won't Barack drop him" was an immediate question in my own church when the news of his sermons first broke. He would not have been allowed to do and say what he said at Trinity in my church. He would have been told it was vulgar, that it made a mockery of the church and the Lord, and that no one needed to see it. He wouldn't have finished a sermon where he thrust his hips and pretended to have sex. He would have been stopped in the middle and asked to leave the podium. As Betty pointed out, we have children in our congregations. There's no way in the world we're letting some man simulate sex to get some cheap laughs and then spending the rest of the day explaining to our kids what he was doing. Now in the poverty section of Chicago, that apparently plays. Big surprise, it's an uneducated group, it's a group that has never been lifted up but has been encouraged to roll in the gutter. Jeremiah Wright was always able to take them to the gutter and they applauded him for that. They have to answer for that, not me. We all know what's acceptable in church and what isn't. Jeremiah Wright's actions were unacceptable.

Cedric: So, point, when Esu or whatever his name was pulled his stunt over at Dissident Voice, we lost interest in him and we did get a lot more discriminating about what we would highlight from BAR and what we wouldn't. And we've shot down statements here for Truest that were good statements except they included the line that Barack was Black. He's not. He's bi-racial. Other sites have to lie. We never lied here and won't. And there's nothing wrong with being bi-racial. There is something wrong with a grown man who presented himself as that repeatedly and then decided "Black" was more electable and ran with that lie.

Jim: We're going to have to wind down so the next from Ty will be the last.

Ty: I'm summarizing three e-mails then. Basically, there's a book by Eric Bohlert and why aren't we promoting it and what about Digby saying she was too chicken s**t during the primaries?

Betty: Digby wasn't chicken s**t about borrowing other people's stories to pass off as her own. She was brazen about that.

Mike: I didn't read the book. I probably won't. I'm not interested in it. I've read some interviews with him. He's more honest than some might expect but it seems like every time he's asked a question he falls back on he had limited space. Well limited space or not, sexism was the story of 2008 and you can't cover the primaries and the general election without covering sexism. He skirts the issue.

Rebecca: I'm with Betty on Digby. I never did like women who grabbed someone else's personal anecdote and attempted to pass it off as their own. As for being c.s. well who's surprised. She's curried male approval and turned her back on women for so long did anyone really expect that she'd lead the way in calling out sexism?

Jim: And that's it. This is a rush transcript. Every one is responsible for what they said and only for what they said.

A film classic

Oh, tell us where, where is it written what a classic film must be . . .


"For instance," Barbra Streisand explains on disc two of the Director's Extended Edition of Yentl, "the St. Charles Bridge in Prague has never been closed in centuries and the government allowed us to film on this bridge with our extras and we had 500 extras in period costumes. And it was Yentl's coming into the big city -- light bulbs, seeing so many people, carriages, fancy dresses. Imagine this day was raining. And I couldn't bear it. It was like, 'This can't be happening.' And I, as the director, was up on a high building just trying to get a picture of the carriage coming out with my understudy sitting in there. From above -- I was filming from above. And I prayed to God and to my father with every bit of might I had in my being that he or she stop this rain and all of the sudden -- and this is, I swear to God, true -- the sky opened up, the clouds disappeared and the sun came out."

25 years after the film was released, Barbra's put together a deluxe edition of the film which takes you into the rehearsal process, takes you into the director's head, offers you more than you'd ever expect. To promote the film, the first film she directed, Barbra was everywhere back in 1983 from Life magazine (invited into her home with cameras) to a sit down with Barbara Walters. The film premiered in Los Angeles November 16, 1983.

It had a long journey to the screen and Barbra explains some of that in the early minutes of the running commentary throughout the film, "It was very interesting to have a dream of making a movie since 1968 when I first read the short story we started filming in 1982 so it took fourteen years for it to come to the screen to become a reality."

She recalls how in 1968 David Begelman said she couldn't follow Funny Girl "with another Jewish girl . . . That can't be your next film." That was only the first of many, many hurdles Barbra faced. She became a partner in a founder in First Artists (along with Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier) back in 1969 thinking this would allow her to make Yentl. At that point the film wasn't a musical. As the seventies progressed, interest would float in and out on Yentl especially with regards to it being a musical. She had a deal set up with United Artist and then came the big bomb Heaven's Gate and UA was in retreat mode and put Yentl in turnaround.

It took a lot of strength and a lot of belief to steer Yentl to the screen. That's before you add directing into the mix. Jane Fonda, for example, steered The Dollmaker over nearly a decade (originally planned for the movies, it became a telefilm after she won her second Academy Award -- for Coming Home and Fonda would still have to steer it through multiple writers). Actresses doing production work was nothing new and they usually received no credit for it. Katharine Hepburn was the producer steering Woman of the Year and she received no screen credit for it. Jane Fonda would steer Coming Home for her own film company (IPC, later Fonda Films), On Golden Pond, Nine to Five, Rollover and, with Michael Douglas, The China Syndrome. She didn't take a production credit on any of those films.

Yentl would find Barbra earning a script writing credit (written with Jack Rosenthal). But the credit that made many leery was the directing credit. In 1966, Ida Lupino directed The Trouble With Angels. No woman would direct a full length feature film again for a studio until Elaine May. She would be the only woman directing for the studios in the 70s (A New Leaf, The Heartbreak Kid and Mikey and Nicky). Elaine did a wonderful job, ended up with two commercial hits and three critically acclaimed films.

A lot of little guttersnipe males like to claim Elaine 'set back the cause' which is a lie and only demonstrates how much a woman with any power is feared. If Elaine 'set back the cause' other women wouldn't have been offered the opportunity to direct -- after Elaine's three films and during.

Ellen Burstyn steered Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. She made that film happen and she didn't take a production credit. She should have, as she herself admits, because she did the work and it would have meant residuals on the TV show Alice (based on her film). She didn't just not take a production credit, she turned down the opportunity to direct the film. That 1974 film won Ellen the Academy Award for Best Actress. It's an incredible performance and that's a testament to her and to Martin Scorsese who ended up directing the film. But there will always be a "what might have been different" lingering over the film.

No one offered Barbra the chance to direct. She had to believe in herself and fight for herself and the studio held her over a barrel with an insulting contract and insulting demands and always, even after the filming was completed and Barbra was editing, threatening to take the film away from her.

If Yentl ended up a bad film or even just an okay one, the story of its genesis would still be one worthy of several books because it is the story of an artists passion and a woman's refusal to give in to studios, friends or lovers who told her to forget it, who told her she couldn't do it, that she shouldn't do it.

She did it.

And, as Stan observed Friday, it truly is a classic film.

Yentl is the story of a young woman with a thirst for learning. She wants to study the Talmud but it's forbidden for women to study it. Her father would teach her but, when he dies, Yentl's path appears to be a hastily arranged marriage or working for a woman who has always scorned her and her hunger for knowledge. Yentl finds a third option: Cutting her hair and posing as a man.

The songs exist as interior monologues and can be dramatic or comic. The same can be said of the film and handling those kinds of transitions, keeping the tone even so that neither element appears forced, requires a very steady hand and the director, on her first film, was more than up to the challenge.

Two songs dropped from the film are included in the bonus features: "The Moon and I" (a ballad) and "Several Sins A Day" (an uptempo number). On both, you have Barbra's singing with a simple piano arrangement. In other words, what many fans of the singer would consider manna can be found in the Director's Extended Edition.

Deleted scenes are included as are outtakes. On the outtakes, the one most helped by them is Ian Sears who is memorable in his brief part at the beginning of the movie and watching various takes of his scene, you realize how much care was taken in shaping even the most minor characters in the film.

The film co-stars Amy Irving and Mandy Patinkin, both of whom give their strongest performances on film (Irving would earn a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for her performance). Barbra's performance is steady and sure and if it's less noted that's due to the fact that who can stop bragging over that directing.

"Even though this film is a fairy tale, there's a reality to the fairy tale quality," she states in the commentary and that really is true. The natural lighting she favored for the film helps there, the colors used onscreen does as well. The way the film is shot in these fluid takes (which are, as Barbra notes, melodic) adds in as do the visuals -- including the motif of bodies of water.

Yentl's a film directed by an artist and it is involving and touching and gripping and uplifting and, yes, it is a film classic.
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