Sunday, September 20, 2009

Truest statement of the week

Can we share a little secret? Some of us liberals are in love with racism. LinkWe wouldn’t know what to do without it. Tomorrow, we’ll consider some of the ways we strive to keep it alive.
-- Bob Somerby, "IS YOUR NATION ABLE TO REASON! Kristof discussed 'the central issue' in T. R. Reid’s new book" (The Daily Howler).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Sunday, Sunday.

Let's start with who helped. Dallas and 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),

Trina of Trina's Kitchen,

Ruth of Ruth's Report,

Wally of The Daily Jot,


Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends

and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And now what we got.

Truest statement of the week -- Bob Somerby got a truest.

Editorial: The walk-away from Iraq wasn't Pamplona... -- The photo works with the editorial which I'm not sure we grasped. I (Jim) didn't. Others might have but, right now, no one can remember who even selected that one for the editorial.

TV: Republicans should boycott SNL -- Ava and C.I. with another hard hitting commentary. This really is strong. Every one e-mailing last week seemed to think they'd be taking on Jay Leno this week. They wanted to give him a series of shows to get his feet with before weighing in.

Roundtable -- One topic Ava and C.I. were going to address was raised by Marcia in this and they turned it over to Marcia. Trina participates in this roundtable and we're glad to have her. She also worked on the editorial but that was it for this edition. E-mail address here is

Iraq -- Our Iraq review.

The never-ending fashion disaster -- A photo essay. A short entry. Wally, Cedric, Rebecca, Dona, Jess, Ty, Mike, Marcia, Ruth, Betty, Stan and I worked on this. (That should be everyone but Ava, C.I., Kat, Trina and Elaine.)

Raed Jarrar tries to 'correct' Ava and C.I. (Dona)... -- Dona's piece last week ("Pet Peeve (Dona)") was hugely popular. This article is her addressing Raed Jarrar when he attempts to mislead her that Ava and C.I. have it all wrong. Ava and C.I. have it right and Raed Jarrar needs to check out his own website.

US had prior knowledge of assault -- Check out the photo.

We applaud Joe Wilson -- We almost did this last week. We had the topic and tried it repeatedly. It was one of the many pieces we couldn't get to work. This week we managed.

Winter Soldier coverage -- Self-explantory.

CCR announces Free Speech Victory -- CCR release.

ETAN demands justice for mass atrocities -- ETAN announcement.

An evening with Janis Ian, October 22nd -- Promoting an upcoming Janis Ian concert.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Betty, Kat, Ruth, Marcia, Stan, Wally, Cedric, Rebecca and Ann wrote this and we thank them for it.

And that's what we managed.

See you next week. Same Bat Channel, Same Bat Station.

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

Editorial: The walk-away from Iraq wasn't Pamplona

Last week, Cindy Sheehan, on Cindy's Soapbox, spoke with Dahr Jamail. There were statements by Dahr worth highlighting but they were rendered useless when he declared of Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier in March 2008, "It was a really shocking conference to be a part of and be there and was a very, very difficult weekend but a very necessary one and so it was all over the alternative media of course -- Pacifica outlets, some satellite stations, Democracy Now!, etc., Laura Flanders, but of course no big shocker corporate media in large part basically censored it."

All over alternative media?

Tell that lie to someone else. We were calling out the silence in real time.

On the morning of the last day of Winter Soldier, we observed in our editorial:

Before we get to the coverage, where's the attention to the action? CODEPINK does not promote it on their front page, nor Gold Star Families For Peace, nor A.N.S.W.E.R., nor the CCCO . . . Getting the idea of how hard the 'peace' movement's been working or, in this case, not? Speaking to Aimee Allison and Aaron Glantz on Friday (Allison and Glantz are anchoring the radio coverage of the event), the Center For Media and Democracy's John Stauber (who wrote about the action last week) noted that "the big Democratic Party alligned so-called anti-war groups like MoveOn and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, groups that have budgets in the tens of millions of dollars have been completely silent. These groups could have led the way in publicizing Winter Soldier, but they're not." No they aren't.

And Dahr wants to rewrite history?

Not on our watch.

Sell that s**t to someone else. First of all, it's dishonest. Second of all, you've knocked on the wrong door.

In real time, Ava and C.I. were working on Panhandle Media to get coverage. They were extracting promises of coverage. Those promises got blown off. In addition, Pacifica Radio outlets didn't all carry the coverage. WBAI only aired Friday's hearings. Some day we'll tell the full story about the network pitch meeting on Saturday that ended when the news producer turned on WBAI to see if the hearings had any merit . . . only to hear music programming because WBAI, broadcasting from the US' media center of NYC, elected to skip Winter Soldier.

Some day we'll tell all the stories including who promised to cover Winter Soldier and then 'forgot.' It's a long list.

But we called it out. Reader Susan e-mailed Thursday to say it was "really time for a 'I Told You So' editorial." Susan shared that at Common Dreams in 2008, she left a comment on an article ("a badly written one but the topic was worthy") noting that the news (Iraq related) should be on Democracy Now! and a host of other outlets but that it wasn't. Though some agreed with Susan, the bad writer of the article posted a comment insisting that Common Dreams was all that was needed. (One outlet is, apparently, all you need.) Susan was addressing the silence on Iraq from beggar media in 2008 (as were we) and an author of an article wanted to argue with her that coverage wasn't important and didn't need to be widespread.

Why was that? The Iraq War was a private conversation?

We called out the silence and we've done that from the start. We've done that because we knew where this was heading. And it's where we are now where people treat the Iraq War as if it ended. It didn't end. Barack didn't end it. He didn't even propose a new plan for it, he simply adopted George W. Bush's plan.

And you can't hear that today and people wrongly grade him high on the Iraq War (his highest score) because they don't know the truth.

Why don't they know the truth?

Because they aren't told it.

The silence on Iraq was already noticeable in March of 2008. Those who refused to call it out then? They're responsible for the even larger silence today. Those who want to rewrite history? We're not in the damn mood.

We've focused on Iraq every week. We've never gone on 'holiday' from it. We, for instance, didn't drop Iraq in August 2006 to become "Lebanon Dispatches." Others did. CODESTINK did. And, in the process, ensured that a 14-year-old girl who was gang-raped and murdered never got the attention her case needed. The Article 32 hearing for the soliders still in the military took place in August 2006. But CODESTINK, the "women"'s group, was too concerned with Lebanon to even issue an action alert on Abeer.

People like Dahr Jamail seem to think the distancing from the Iraq War was like the running of the bulls in Pamplona and it happened instantly and immediately. The reality is that, if you paid attention, you saw a slow walk away from the Iraq War.

TV: Republicans should boycott SNL

Republicans should boycott Saturday Night Live. Any thinking person should, actually, despite their political persuasion, but Republicans especially.

The SNL season proper -- you know where they air two new episodes and then repeat those for four weeks, then air two more new ones? -- hasn't yet started on Saturdays but NBC's hideous fall schedule is so thread-bare that they have to turn over thirty minutes for the first few Thursdays to SNL.

Or rather, to Weekend Update. If there's anything worse than those SNL in 'prime time' specials, it's the idea that the sketch of Weekend Update can be expanded to fill a half-hour slot. That's what they did, Weekend Update plus a make-fun-of-Republicans skit. What viewers most likely noticed on the Thursday debut was that Seth was yet again wearing an ill-fitting jacket. And maybe they noticed that the show just wasn't funny.

If they really paid attention, they grasped why.

Amy Poehler (who needs to spend more time trying to salvage her sitcom) and Seth decided to do an insulting bit on Joe Wilson. Insulting to Joe Wilson? Yeah but pretty much insulting to everyone. US House Rep Joe Wilson hollered, "You lie!" And did so in the midst of a speech Barack was giving.

It's all too much for the Cult of St. Barack (led by weasel and limp noodle Seth).

"No one is impressed," scolded Amy, "when you go after 19-year-old girls, tiny Asian ladies, or the first Black president," Really?


"Tiny Asian ladies"? That's a reference to a Williams sister (we don't follow tennis) who was angry at a call made by a referee. It's really funny that 'bad boy' John Mac got away with screaming and tantrums but let a woman be offended by a call and it's time to tell her that she's 'threatening' to "tiny Asian ladies"? She called out a referee. It wasn't the end of the world and it was nothing compared to what McEnroe used to do when he was playing tennis.

The 19-year-old "girls"? That's Taylor Swift who was giving her acceptance speech at the MTV Video Awards when Kanye West walked out on stage, interrupted her and said Beyonce should have won. For the record, Taylor Swift's a woman, not a "girl." Your first clue? That's she's 19-years-old.

But note the grouping before we move further. According to Seth and Amy, Barack is the same as a 19-year-old "girl" and a "tiny Asian" woman. Poor defenseless little Barack. Poor little fella. Well don't worry, Barry, some day you could grow up to be president.

What's that?

He already is president?

Yeah, and it's insulting as hell that Saturday Night Live's crap-fest can't call out Barack.

In April of 2008, we were (again) noting that SNL was blowing it from a comedy perspective by pulling the punch:

Weekend Update works best with anchors who are either news junkies off screen or flat out funny. Occasionally, they'll get lucky and find a performer who is both. What they have currently is neither in Amy or Seth. Add in a lack of perspective that leads to the Clemens 'bit' and you start to notice how many punches are being pulled.

Not just in Weekend Update, but throughout the show. Seth is a Bambi Groupie so Bambi skits aren't going to be written by him. That explains how ripe for parody Jeremiah Wright has still not been featured. That explains why so many skits about Obama have not been written. Fred Armisen has demonstrated he can do a dead-on parody of Barack. It's a pity that he will apparently never be provided with the material to go further.

Or do they think that viewers don't grasp that? Do they think viewers aren't noticing that Barack's manner of speaking has been captured by Fred but not notice that the Barack character exists in a vacuum? Do they think that viewers don't notice that Saturday Night Live is pulling punches? Is this how they intend to be 'cutting-edge' (something Lorne still thinks is possible, don't wake him)? By lampooning every rumor about Hillary, by including that into what Amy really wants you to believe is a character she's created (don't wake her either) while creating a 'safety zone' that must never be violated for Obama? That's not how you do comedy.

That is how you do weak sitcoms. But weak is all SNL has to offer. It's why they repeated the menstrual medication skit last night. It's why Amy thought she was 'pithy' in Weekend Update offering a joke about -- pay attention -- how tired Madonna is. No question, Madonna is tired. But what does that say about SNL? Weekend Update is doing a joke about someone they consider yesterday's news. Who is more pathetic? Madonna or Weekend Update?

Did we repeat ourselves?

Well so did SNL Thursday. Weekend Update featured a Madonna "joke" yet again. In this one, 'Madonna' walks on to remember an elderly woman who died but makes it all about herself. Did we miss something? In the last two years, did Madonna suddenly become news worthy? No. But the writing's tired and the writers ignorant.

Since their April 2008 Madonna 'joke,' Madonna has released three singles. One ("Miles Away") failed to chart on the Hot 100. Another ("Celebration") only made it to number 71. The 'hit' ("Give It 2 Me") made it to 57.

If there's any thing more tired than Madonna's career, it's SNL's attempt to do 'jokes' about her.

But that passes for 'bravery' on a show that refuses to send up Barack.

Barack's like a 19-year-old 'girl,' you understand. Or a 'tiny Asian' woman. He's weak. He must not be called out.

For those who've forgotten, SNL sucked as bad as it does currently once before: After 9-11.

Now you maybe wrongly assuming that they suddenly declared George W. Bush off limits after the September 11th attacks. You would be assuming wrong. What they did, instead, was deify Republican Rudy Giuliani. Rudy G did nothing worthy of praise, but damned if Tina Fey didn't work overtime to write him as a mythical creature. That lasted for a couple of months. Saturday Night Live's deification of St. Barack began in 2007 and has never let up.

It's what's ruined Saturday Night Live.

"Is SNL the class clown mocking everyone or the little suck-up trying to brown nose the teacher?" If you'd asked Bill Murray, John Belushi, Jane Curtain, Gilda Radner, Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris and Dan Ackroyd that back in 1977, every single one of them would have said class clown.

But Seth's intent on brown nosing. He's the little class kiss up praising Miss Barack on her new dress and offering her an apple.

This is how Lorne Michaels intends to play out a season of SNL?

Is he serious?

When SNL ended its run last spring, the Cult of St. Barack was thriving like an infection. We were really feeling like Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman's character in The Invasion). But, over the summer, America started emerging from the virus. Republicans no longer felt the need to sing Barack's praises and most on the left began grasping that Barack wasn't Jesus. Or at least not the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost combined.

And the polls bear that out.

But Seth's not an educated person. You grasp that when you read a 'joke' he writes. You grasp that really quick. And what you're left with is a minority of the country still claims membership in the Cult of St. Barack and NBC's going to allow SNL to cater their show to that niche crowd. NBC's going to allow SNL to be one-sided and not funny. You can't pull the punch and be funny.

The virus that infected so many Americans was spread by the media and it's a media that refuses to let go and face reality. (At least the MSM can claim they did the same thing under Bush.) Friday on CounterSpin, Peter Hart declared of the Van Jones' resignation, the September 12th Tea Parties and the ACORN scandals, "These stories are of minor importance and have actually received major attention in the media."

We don't necessarily disagree that these are not major stories but we haven't spent the last two weeks obsessing over them. Take pretend journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! In two weeks, she's broadcast nine hours of programming (we're ignoring the canned Labor Day repeat). Over an hour of that has been devoted to Van Jones and ACORN. Apparently we need to instruct Peter Hart on some finger exercise because his pointing digit is must be too weak to draw attention to his own crowd.

Peter Hart naturally had us thinking of Friday's Bill Moyers Journal. If you don't get it, we'll get to it. But let's note the first segment. 'Journalist' Bill wanted to explore the state of the Republican Party so he sat down with? Republicans? No. No.

He sat down with Sam Tanenhaus and some might know his New York Times credentials and wrongly think he's just a mainstream, objective reporter. Wrong. Objective reporters don't write articles entitled "Ann Coulter, treasonous blonde." That article was published by Slate in July of 2003. Let's not pretend that Tanenhaus was going to be objective, fair or informed. He was going to do what he always does which is serve up conventional wisdoms of the left as facts.

Speaking of leaving out the facts . . .

Where is organized labor? Why are unions so impotent when workers are so exploited? That's what I want to know from my next two guests. Bill Fletcher is a long-time labor and community organizer who was once an official of the AFL-CIO He now works for the American Federation of Government Employees, although he is here speaking for himself and not his organization. He is also the co-author of this new book SOLIDARITY DIVIDED: THE CRISIS IN ORGANIZED LABOR AND A NEW PATH TOWARD SOCIAL JUSTICE. Michael Zweig has been at this table before. He is active in his own union, the United University Professions. He teaches at the state University of New York at Stony Brook, where he also runs the center for study of working class life. His most recent book is this one, WHAT'S CLASS GOT TO DO WITH IT: AMERICAN SOCIETY IN THE 21ST CENTURY. Welcome to both of you.

That's Bill Moyers at the start of the show's main (and longest) segment. Bill talking it up with labor 'experts' Bill Fletcher and Michael Zweig.

Now were this Crossfire or even Firing Line, viewers would know who they were hearing from. Guests would have a little word on the screen below their necks when on camera and the audience would know this person is this or that.

Bill Moyers doesn't worry about that. So he invites on two Socialists to discuss labor issues. Now that's not a problem in and of itself. Some might rightly point out that it tilts the so-called discussion. But the real problem is this failure to disclose.

It's a problem for Socialists (or Communists) because they're pretty much rendered invisible and it makes it difficult for their movements to get off the ground if the average American doesn't know they're out there. It's a problem largely due to the fact that so many Socialists (and Communists) of a certain age hide in political closets.

It's a problem for the viewers as well. If we're watching a critique of a new Jane Campion film and the guest discussing it is Hugh Hefner, we've got a right to know that he's a sexist. We've got a right to know that he publishes skin magazines. And if someone hates capitalism and they're discussing it's evils (or 'evils' depending upon your view), we have a right to know that they're Socialist (or Communist).

Though Bill Fletcher couldn't come out of the political closet on Moyers' program, he couldn't shut up about McCarthyism and we're not in the mood. We're not in the mood to pretend (as he does) that it was good Democrats standing up to bad Republicans back then.

It is not McCarthyism today for viewers to be informed of who the 'expert' is and what they believe. It's the basic background that needs to be provided and, if it can't be provided, the 'expert' doesn't need to be on air.

We talked about how the political closet hurts the Socialist (and Communist) movement and how it hurts the audience by attempting to trick them but let's talk about another group that's hurt.

Barack is a Corporatist War Hawk. He is not a Socialist and he is not a Communist. We have said that since 2007. Yet the rumors persist. One reason they do is because of stunts like the one Moyers pulled on Friday. Viewers watching that segment heard two guests offer a critique. It's a valid critique, but it's a Socialist critique. Neither the critique nor the guests were labeled as Socialist. So to the average viewer, the guests must have been Democrats. That's how the right ends up so confused as to what is a Democrat, what is a Socialist and what is a Communist. Only the Democrats get labeled and the inference is that the unlabeled are Democrats as well.

Now Michael Zweig publishes regularly in the Socialist journal Monthly Review. So, on some level, he's out of the political closet. It's just when he's dealing with the MSM that he hops back in. Similarly, Bill Fletcher Jr.

Remember we used Peter Hart as a transition? It was only last year that Bill Fletcher and Peter Hart were ridiculing Democrats on CounterSpin and now Fletch wants to pretend he's a Democrat? He's a Socialist and he was publicly a Socialist for many, many years. He's one of the many who ducked back into the political closet in order to endorse Barack in the Democratic Party primary. It wouldn't look good for Barack if his Communist and Socialist supporters were endorsing him publicly, so a large number of 'names' hopped into the political closet (nearly stepping on poor Francie Fox Piven's shoes in the process!).

Bill Moyers should have told his audience that both of his guests were Socialists. He owed it to the audience. He didn't tell and, this is what worries PBS friends, in refusing to do so, he proves Kenneth Tomlinson right.

Remember Tomlinson? The right-winger whom Bush appointed Corporation for Public Broadcasting chair. He launched an investigation into various programs (including Moyers and Diane Rehm's NPR program) to check their balance. He was horribly misguided and became a laughing stock.

But, as PBS friends point out, more and more Moyers is pulling little stunts that are going to allow for a reconsideration of Tomlinson. They cite Friday's segment as a good example of that. If Moyers can't tell the audience that the guests criticizing capitalism are Socialists, why are the guests brought on? It's this kind of trickery (trickery of the audience) that will outrage enough people to the point that they'll begin to think that Kenneth Tomlinson was right about Moyers and everything else.

Moyers isn't just f**king up his own image, he's f**king up PBS' as well and it's pissing a lot of people off. (Let us note, Friday's program featured three guests: All male.) A number of PBS stations decided not to air Bill's program on Friday. We're aware of only one station that pulled it because of Bill's inability to identify his two Socialist guests as such. We spoke with the station manager who told us they'd instead air a British import of some kind. It's not just the CPB people that are upset with Bill (and not that pleased with the ombudsperson whom they feel is sleeping on the job), it's also the people running PBS stations who decide what their station airs and what their station doesn't air. Bill Moyers is becoming a liability. And most station managers expected that. We spoke to another who pulled Friday's program for a series of reasons and he told us that everyone knows Bill goes soft when a Democrat is in office, everyone knows Bill's fiery talk about the Constitution and freedoms only gets served up during a Republican presidency. But even he couldn't believe what Bill's pulled in the last months.

"We are supposed to be serving the American public, hence 'public television.' It's amazing that he [Bill Moyers] is being allowed to pull the network so far to the left and to present himself as a newsman when all he's offering is opinion journalism."

We agree it's amazing. But, and we offered this as comfort to friends on the CPB, it's not like Bill Moyers is alone in deciding that he should ignore a broad-based audience and tailor his program to be an echo chamber for a small segment of the left. That's what Saturday Night Live does as well.

And as we said at the top, Republicans should boycott SNL. And so should any thinking person. They've chopped the legs off one side of the coffee table but want to insist that they're balanced and are trying to appeal to all viewers. Bill Moyers tries to pull the same trick as well. Is it really comedy when one group of people is consistently picked upon? Is it really 'journalism' when one group of people are consistently slammed? To us, that seems a lot like bullying and we don't find any entertainment value in that.


Jim: This is a roundtable on current events and e-mails. We've got a lot of each. 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); Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Ruth of Ruth's Report; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. The illustration is done by Betty's kids. Our e-mail address is and the big topic in the e-mails last week was the edition itself, see 09/13 - 09/20. As expected, most readers were thrilled to have not one but three TV articles written by Ava and C.I. [see " TV: The Suckers," "TV: The Fall Season" and "TV: Specials"] but a number of e-mails wondered about the problems with the edition and, specifically, how often that happens?


Dona: I think we've had that problem twice in the nearly five years of weekly editions. You can say three times if you count one of the summer reads where we really did feel like we were phoning it in. I don't remember it ever being as bad as it was last week. Along with those of us who are part of Third -- Jim, Ty, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself -- there's also Rebecca, Betty and Kat that can make long claims to working on these editions. That's not to take away anything from Ann or Stan who started working more recently, but in terms of 'has there ever,' they've been a part of it -- Kat, Betty and Rebecca -- about as much as we have. And, of course, Ava and C.I. are the only ones who can claim to have worked on every week's edition. All the rest of us have missed at least once a week. And for the problems last week, in addition to Jim's "A note to our readers" here, you can also see Mike's "Isaiah, Third, Music" and Elaine's "Isaiah, Shamus Cooke, Ava and C.I." for more on the problems.

Rebecca: Well I'll say, and I've been around here since late January of 2005, every weekend is a scramble. A huge scramble. And there are things that never make it up here that may make it into the print and e-mail edition.

Ty: I agree with Rebecca. And the two or three other times have just been extreme examples of that process, when it all just falls apart. That said, we've never depended on Ava and C.I. to the degree that we did last week. It wasn't just us asking them to write another piece -- or, in this case, two -- to round out the edition, it was asking them to do so to save the edition. Now Dona had a piece last week, "Pet Peeve (Dona)," that was popular and apprecited and if she'd written that earlier -- she wrote it after the editorial was done and Ava and C.I. were writing their third piece -- we might have felt less desperate but it was the most unproductive session I can remember. The e-mail response was huge in support of Ava and C.I.'s writing, as we knew it would be. Regular readers and new readers couldn't stop commenting about Ava and C.I.'s piece. We knew that would be the case. But a few did notice that the rest of us bascially dropped the ball and we did. Not from lack of trying. But it just wasn't working and I don't remember the other times being as bad as this one.

Jess: To a degree, I think we have that problem when we try to grab too much. And I think we did last week. We did a roundtable at one point, where Ava and C.I. were off working on one of their articles, and it was on Dahr Jamail's book. My attitude was, skip the book. I didn't find it interesting. Some other people did. I didn't. I'll speak only for me. But we were trying to do a roundtable on it and it failed miserably. We care about the topic, the book just didn't speak to me. Betty was able to take things from the book and relate them to other issues which is why her remarks worked -- and I really think Betty shined in that roundtable -- but part of the problem was we were attempting to do a lot of topics and, in some cases, like the book, some of us just didn't care for it. We liked the topic, we just weren't jazzed on the book. And C.I.'s snapshot on Thursday made it clear, my opinion, why a lot of us weren't jazzed on the book and it also said we don't have to worry about the book anymore.

Jim: I'm going to confine this issue to Jess only because, as C.I. wrote in that snapshot, the topic will be addressed here and that will be in an article. But Jess did bring it up in the roundtable so I'm going to ask Jess to explain what he's talking about briefly and then we'll move on to a different issue.

Jess: C.I. wasn't in the mood for the dishonesty, read the snapshot, on a topic and called it out and then said, basically, "Good luck with your book but we're not interested." And that really sums it up. If you're going to write about a topic, you need to be honest. If you can't be honest, you don't need to write about it. I'm not real pleased with Dahr Jamail to begin with. I think he's stolen credit he doesn't deserve. I think he's repeatedly been wrong, factually wrong, and refused to correct errors. He also went out of his way to destroy Hillary and clear the field for Barack so his claim not to be a Kool-Aid drinker, he claimed that on Cindy Sheehan's show, is f**king bulls**t. He lied about Hillary, one example, he stated she'd only been to Iraq once. He's a liar who doesn't correct his errors. I'm a Green Party member, he can play that crap of "I didn't cheerlead Barack" with Democrats who might not know better, but I wasn't for John McCain and I wasn't for Barack Obama and I know what I saw which was Dahr being a little whore. My opinion. Everyone speaking is responsible only for their own remarks, don't go whining to other people. Don't e-mail Rebecca or C.I. because your little feelings are hurt by what I said.

Jim: Okay and, for the record, I agree with Jess. Rebecca and Mike covered a topic last week, see their "dennis bernstein's a whore" and "Max Blumenthal practices McCarthyism as does KPFA." That really was a shocking moment of radio. Mike, fill in those late to the party.

Mike: The Nation's Max Blumenthal appeared on KPFA's Flashpoints and it was disgraceful. It was shameful from Blumenthal and it was shameful from Dennis Bernstein. It was outrageous. Allegedly, Glenn Beck, a right-winger, was being fact-checked or addressed. We heard 'boo-hoo, Van Jones was the victim of a witch hunt' when he wasn't but no sooner did Maxipad and Dennis boo-hoo over that than it was time for Maxipad to tell us that Beck had been a cocaine user years ago. And just get all crazed and panting over that detail. Then when you thought they'd finally moved on, Dennis was bringing it back up. They want to accuse others of a witch hunt while they're doing just that with someone's past drug use? I couldn't believe it. I called Rebecca and told her to listen to it and see if I was the only one outraged.

Rebecca: Which I did and I went to the archives at KPFA and listened and I was appalled. What does past drug use on the part of Glenn Beck have to do with anything?

C.I.: I'm going to weigh in here, if it's okay?

Jim: Sure.

C.I.: Dennis Bernstein worrying or fretting on air that someone else was a former recreational drug user is hypocritical and there's no one familiar with KPFA that won't agree with me on that point. I'll leave it at that. In terms of Max Blumenthal, I know Sidney Blumenthal, I like Sidney. But there's no excuse for what Max did. What Max did was, in fact, exactly what Christopher Hitchens did to Max's father, smear someone with innuendo. In terms of Sidney, he was accused, by Hitchens, of beating his wife. That was not true. Instead of sticking to the issue, they were in dispute over the Lewinsky scandal, Hitchens made a baseless and false charge about Sidney. It was very damaging. Now Hitchens was friends with the Blumenthals and, in fact, closer to Sidney than I ever was. And Hitchens would say to this day that he didn't lie and give hints of things he supposedly knows. I will call it a lie. But there are many people who, to this day, believe Hitchens on that. So for Max, for Sidney's son, to resort to that kind of crap and call it reporting is shameful and disgusting. He justifies the lies that Hitchens told about his father when he pursues that style of 'reporting.' Mike wrote about it from the perspective, as he just summed up. Rebecca wrote about it in terms of context and what I've just gone into is what's probably missing from her post. So now I want to toss back to Rebecca.

Rebecca: C.I.'s correct and I didn't even think of that. I was writing Thursday night about it and assuming everyone knew the whole history that C.I. just summed up. I talk about -- well let me just offer my complaint. As Mike said, it's not an issue. Someone's a former drug user? Are they making drug policy? No, they're not. What's the issue? Why are you digging through their trash and presenting it to the people? Now for my post, what I was focusing on was the fact that, prior to the Iraq War, you could find Christopher Hitchens on Flashpoints. He was Dennis' type of guest for the bulk of the 90s as Dennis went into one conspiracy theory on the Clintons after another. He ran with "Vince Foster was murdered!" He ran with all that crap including "Bill Clinton runs drugs out of Mena!" This was a crackpot show for Clinton conspiracies. And their attacks included attacks on Sidney Blumenthal. So it was especially disgusting to hear Sidney's son engage in attacks on someone else's alleged past. It was appalling.

Marcia: I just find it strange that Glenn Beck's drug use is considered 'news' by The Nation -- the same outlet that took part in the "We must not discuss Barack's drug use, talking about that is racism" meme.

Jim: Good point and Ty's got an e-mail about you Marcia.

Marcia: Me? Oh goody.

Ty: Robert C. e-mails and identifies himself as "a Democrat and leftist." He says he's read our site "for years" -- strange he never thought to write before -- and only now is he "disappointed" in us. Oh, Robert, we live to disappoint. He writes, "You need to be behind Barack on everything. That helps the Democratic Party. It may mean our country suffers for four years but it will get fixed with the next president. You need to learn to trust that Barack knows what he's doing." First off, it's not our job to "help" the Democratic Party. We're not giving our weekends because we're trying to help a corporate party with billions in their coffers. Second, I'll just laugh at the rest of that quoted statement. But he goes on to rant against Marcia and Ann about how they have refused to call out racism.

Marcia: Let me say I need a minute to breathe before I respond to those lies. Ann?

Ann: I've written about racism. I've written about real racism. I don't know what he's going by, this Robert. I spent a month filling in for Ruth and almost two weeks filling in for Mike and then I started my own site. Now when I was filling in for Ruth and Mike, because of how their sites are, I was a lot more in depth than I am at my site. I spoke to a lot of people here, in the roundtable, before starting my site and Elaine in particular. Elaine said there was nothing wrong with having an online journal and that's what I do at my site. I also try to have a visual. Each post is about a visual. I have written about racism at my site, and did last week, in fact. But I'm not a 'news' site. Last week, I wrote about racism and about Iraq and some other heavy topics but normally that's not what I do. I write about music, I write about my childhood. It is very much a journal. So Robert's problem -- besides trouble with reading -- may include the fact that he's confusing my site with someone else's. Like Elaine, I'm doing a journal. I'm not trying to be a news outlet. I'm perfeclty happy writing about things that happened in my childhood. Each post of mine contains hard news when I repost C.I.'s snapshot.

Marcia: Ann makes a good point. Now in terms of my site, I'm accused of focusing on nothing but race and sexuality -- I'm an African-American lesbian -- by those who e-mail to complain. And I need to give a shout out to Ruth because we do speak before we do our posts, we're on the phone, and a lot of times I'll have two or three topics I'm considering and she'll say, "Oh, I'll grab that" on a topic about sexuality and, since her grandson is gay and this is a pressing issue to her, I won't feel like, "Oh, no, you don't have to just because your my friend." I know Ruth's grabbing the topic because it really does matter to her. So I'm more than happy to let her run with and grab another topic for myself which, in the last weeks, has pretty much been race non-stop. I don't know what site Robert's reading. He may be mad that I've defended Glenn Beck from some attacks which I felt were unfair. I've noted I don't watch Beck's show, that I'm not interested in Fox "News." But I am interested in fairness and some of the attacks on Beck were unacceptable or ill founded. There are a group of about five African-American Republicans that read my site. There may be more, but I know of five. And they e-mailed sometime ago, like July of last year. And we've had many arguments in e-mails and we've had many times when we could agree on something. And I am open to them, I do not close off from them. They know they can raise any topic in an e-mail with me and I will respond honestly. They also know that if they have an issue of unfairness and want it to present it to me as a topic to be blogged on, if I agree with them, I'm happy to put it on my blog. That's why I do highlight Fox "News" at my site. They e-mail stories and transcripts all the time and I'll look at it and read over it and decide if I'm comfortable with it or not. But what I'm not comfortable with is this spitting on African-Americans. And there's a lot of that going on. As a lesbian, in the Black community, believe me, I know about prejudice. I will gladly disagree with my Republican brothers and sisters on politics but I will not spit on them just because I'm a Democrat. I know what it's like to be demonized. And I see a lot of demonization of, for example, Michael Steele. I'll shut up and let someone else talk.

Ava: C.I.

C.I.: Okay, Ava's jotting down Marcia's remarks and I'm speaking slow to get my own in. The thing is, we were considering tackling what Marcia's raising in a piece this week. I'm assuming Ava's hollered to me because she wants Marcia to continue on that topic.

Ava: Correct.

Marcia: Okay. Well, we keep hearing that Barack's the victim of racist media portrayals. F**king lie. Michael Steele is. Michael Steele, the 'joke' is, is not authentically Black. They really go to town, Saturday Night Live and all the others, portraying Michael Steele as the uppity N-word. And they need to stop pretending that they're doing anything else. They're portrayls of him are racist. Flat out racist.

Betty: Michael Steele is chair of the RNC.

Marcia: Thank you, Betty, I should have said that. Just because he's a right winger does not allow you to disrespect him with racist portrayals. The message Saturday Night Live really sends is: "This is what we really think of Black people. Dance for us on our side and we'll be kind to you but be for the other side and we'll make clear that you uppity N-words need to shut up and sit down."

Cedric: I would agree with that. The portrayal by fat ass on Saturday Night Live of Michael Steel was so insulting. The joke, in these skits, is "he's Black!" How is that not racist? It is very racist and it's very offensive. The whole 'parody' is based on ridiculing him for being African-American. Someone needs to tell Saturday Night Live that the basis makes the skit racist.

Jim: Okay, I'm going to lump together about seven different e-mails to bring up a related topic: Racism. We had about seven e-mails noting posts by Marcia, for example, and Betty and Ann and Stan on the topic of racism and wondering about it and about distaste with White people calling "racism" on behalf of African-Americans.

Stan: I'll jump in. We have no respect for Tim Wise. We have no respect for him at all. That's not just because he's White. He's a liar and he invents his own 'facts.' But it is because he's White. Tim Wise presents himself as the expert on the Black experience. Tim Wise is White. Tim Wise is a joke. He's like that old joke about the White man in the late sixties and early seventies majoring in African-American studies. Only he's worse. There is a very limited amount of space in the national dialogue and when there's a spot that could go to a person of color -- in this case, an 'expert' on being Black -- that space should not be going to a White man. It's offensive.

Betty: It really is. Not only is he hogging a spot that should go to a Black person, he's also sending a racist message which is that we, Black people, aren't smart enough to speak for ourselves and need the Great Protector to speak for us. We're apparently savages, noble ones, perhaps, but savages, and we need the White man to speak for us. Tim Wise isn't Black, he needs to stop trying to make a name for himself as an expert ont he Black community. It's offensive. It would be like George Will attempting to become the voice of feminism.

Ty: I agree, it's two-fold. It's the issue Stan pointed out that this is a topic, the African-American experience, that we might finally get an African-American guest in the media for. And instead we've got White Tim Wise. Second, as Betty pointed out, that we need a White man to speak for us sends a message that we are savages and idiots and, thank God, Massah for the White man Tim Wise cuza we'd all be-a lost right now without Massah Tim.

Cedric: I agree with everything that's been said and I'll move the topic further down the line now. When White people call racism on behalf of Barack -- who is bi-racial -- it really drives home how silent they are the rest of the time. It's racism, Saturday Night Live never tires of insisting, that this or that is said about Barack. But what's more racist than the way they portray Michael Steele? He's portrayed in ridicule, he's portrayed as a shucking and jiving fool. He's portrayed as Amos & Andy. By the same writers of Saturday Night Live that want to express 'outrage' over what they see as racism to Barack. And the writers of SNL are White. And it's just so typical. Any criticism of their pin up Barack is labeled as racism by them but they're more than happy to resort to racism when portraying any Black person.

Marcia: Exactly. And that's why a large number of White people need to shut the hell up about racism. They want to be 'experts' on the subject . . . if it involves Barack. If it involves Barack, anything is suddenly racism. But real incidents of racism, incidents that result in injuries and deaths of African-Americans? They're never interested in that racism and they're never interested in calling out racism against Michael Steele or Condi Rice or anyone else. People like Laura Flanders were more than happy to make racist remarks -- and laugh at their own remarks on air -- about Condi. Critizing Barack or Condi isn't racism. Referring to them as plantation workers or slaves, I think we can say those are racist remarks.

Jim: I don't want to stop this discussion but I did have a question for Marcia. You spoke of five readers who are Republican. I know Mike also has some Republican readers and this site has some Republican and some conservative readers. For this site, if I find an e-mail from a conservative, I'm always up for a discussion on the issue -- even an argument. Mike's grandfather's a Socialist who suffered because of his political beliefs during an actual witch hunt. As a result, Mike's interested in a big tent approach and tries to avoid demonizing any political party. I'm just wondering if you'd talk about your relationship with those five readers because Mike and I've discussed here, many times, are own relationships.

Marcia: Sure. The five started as three who used to write to argue with everything I said. This was in early 2008. And sometimes I wrote back and sometimes I didn't. And sometimes I'd comment at my site in a post. But one of them is gay and wrote an e-mail one time disagreeing with something I'd said and wrote about how being African-American, gay and a Republican meant suffering a lot of stereotypes and a lot of flack. Well I'm a Democrat, but leave out the political party and I can relate completely. Include the political party and I can still relate. So I do think about that and I did make a real effort for a reach out with that person who was friends with the other two and then it became five. All five are not gay, by the way. But that e-mail came at a time when I was seeing some very ugly things from people I had once respected and it was one of those moments where you either try to take a look at yourself or you say, "I'll just be a hypocrite and ignore it." Mike and I have talked about this and we have a similar attitude, you're welcome at our site. And you're welcome to disagree in an e-mail or lobby us on a topic. We're not going to become conservatives but we do want to be fair and if you present us with a case where we're unfair to right wingers or an issue where right wingers are being distorted, we will do our part to call it out if we can see your point. There are times when we won't and then you're pretty much on your own. But there are times when we will see your point and we will agree with you and we'll gladly write about it at our sites.

Jim: Okay, thank you, Marcia. Let's talk about ACORN.

Marcia: I've covered that at my site repeatedly. The only other person in the community who has is C.I. who did an excellent job of it. But I'm going to sit this out because I'll feel like I dominated the roundtable otherwise.

Ava: Okay, then let me speak first. I am not from El Salvador, I am a Latina. I find it offensive that so many on the left are defending ACORN --

Jim: I'm stopping you to back us up. We need to give a background on it. Kat hasn't spoken. Kat, can you give us a summary of the issue and then I'll toss back to Ava.

Kat: Sure. ACORN is a community group. It supposedly helps low income people and supposedly registers voters. I'm saying "supposedly" because I avoid ACORN, I don't see that they've done much of anything worth applauding. They're now in hot water -- the US Census people will not be using them for the Census, reversing an earlier stance, two weeks ago the Senate voted to cut off funding to ACORN and last week the House also voted for that. The hot water stands from three people, presumably conservative activsts, who made a point over the summer to visit various ACORN offices. One person had the hidden camera. The other two, a man and a woman, pretended to be something else. The woman was always pretending to be a prostitute. The man was either her pimp or some friend of her's who was running for Congress. They would ask ACORN workers for help in hiding their income on taxes and in getting a home to turn into a brothel that they would then staff with underage girls from El Salvador, girls they were bringing over for prostitution. There are supposed to be many other tapes but so far we've seen four released. Baltimore, Washington, California and I forget the fourth. Ava?

Ava: The workers are taped and they don't bat an eye over the girls from El Salvador. Instead, they offer 'advice' such as, 'Make sure you enroll them in school. If you don't, they'll catch you that way.' That is so offensive and ACORN has a very bad reputation among Latinos. It's had that reputation for years. And those tapes of that White Anglo couple speaking to the African-American workers of ACORN just confirm every fear and rumor in the Latino community about ACORN. Right or wrong, they confirm it. This is a very big issue in the Latino community and it's been pushed aside by the left to yet again defend ACORN. Which is becoming an issue in the Latino community, how our interests are always buried and denied so that Anglo Whites can prop up African-Americans of questionable character. We're fully aware, in the Latino community, that when the Black-Brown divide is discussed, it's always our problem. It's always Latinos that are in the wrong. And it must be racism on our part. The hatred expressed so often by African-Americans at Latinos is never addressed. People like Amy Goodman took a serious hit in Latino communities last week as they sidestepped the larger issue of ACORN workers rushing to help, they thought, enslave Latino girls into prostitution.

Betty: I need to agree with Ava here. I have written at my site repeatedly about what is said about Latinos by my community. Especially when it's just us, when the only ones present are Blacks. I had a co-worker a few years ago who seemed sweet as can be. And she was. Except she was very prejudiced. I didn't find that out until the third time we went to lunch together. This time she wanted to drive. Fine. Except suddenly I Archie Bunker was behind the wheel. Every five seconds, she was on the horn. And she'd point to some car way ahead and say, "Damn Mexicans! They'll hit you. None of them have inusrance. They'll hit you and they'll run off." And that's the remark I can repeat. I was sitting there with my mouth just hanging open and I wasn't even in the mood to eat when we finally got to the Olive Garden or where ever we had been headed. But Amy Goodman and left media repeatedly take the stance that no Black person is ever racist and that in any conflict with a Black person -- or a liberal Black person -- the other person must be fault. Automatically. Whether it's Latinos, Aisan-Americans, Arab-Americans or whatever group. I completely support what Ava just said and I know she rarely goes to this topic for a number of reasons so I really, really need to support her on this.

Wally: Kat, Ava, C.I. and I are on the road every week. And last week, one of the biggest issues among Latinos in any group we spoke to about the illegal war was ACORN. Ava's not pulling something out of thin air. Those tapes have enraged a large number of Latinos who notice how it's not a problem to ACORN that Latinos are being enslaved into prostitution, underage Latinos. It's outrageous. And we heard about it over. Not on Pacifca Radio programs, mind you, no one wanted to acknowledge it there. But in real life, we heard it. And Latinos are getting damn sick of it.

Cedric: And they should be. The position you're talking about is strongest among the closeted Socialists and then the closeted Communists. And it's their natural fall back position. They ridicule and scorn people who blindly defend Israel -- and they should -- but they never grasp that they're like Zionists when it comes to the Black race. And it's racism. It's this notion that I or any other African-American is too simple minded to ever be guilty. I mean that's what Danny Schechter's doing. He's serving up Barack as victim. Poor Barack! Danny's got conspiracy theories where some secret from Barack's past is being used to blackmail him and force him to do things he doesn't believe in. There's this simplistic view of my race which includes the notion that we're never guilty of anything. And let's be really clear that if that White woman on the tape had said she was going to put a group of 15-year-old Black girls to work in a brothel, the ACORN workers would have immediately objected.

Trina: I heard about this issue from Latina friends at my church. It is a big issue to them. These women were so offended by the tapes -- I haven't seen the tapes, I'm speaking only of the offense which I've repeatedly heard about -- and that someone getting government funds would offer counsel on how to turn young Latinas into prostitutes. And my best friend tied the silence on this from the likes of Amy Goodman -- no outrage expressed -- to the 2008 efforts to ignore the Latino support of Hillary. They repeatedly lied, people like Amy Goodman, that Barack had greater support among Latinos and he never did. State after state, Hillary had more Latino support. And sticking with that, Texas Latino community members are still outraged that one person-one vote did not exist in their state's Democratic Party primary. Though their communities were more densely populated, their communites had less 'delegates' than did other communities. For those who don't know, Texas has a -- I'm blanking.

C.I.: Two-step.

Trina: Thank you. Their Democratic Party presidential primary is a two-step. They vote on a ballot in a primary setting. Then, after the primary ends, they have a caucus. Hillary won the primary. More Democrats voted for her in the primary than Barack. But Barack won the caucus and did so, in part, due to the fact that densely populated Latino communities were awarded less delegates than sparsely populated communities -- be they Anglo White communities or African-American ones. The Democratic Party systematically supresses the Latino vote in Texas. The same vote they depend upon in a general election. And where is the outcry over that. These things are noted and they're noted in my state by Latinas.

Jim: Ava, do you think there's a Black-Brown divide?

Ava: I think there's a divide for all races. I think there's miscommunication and that a real dialogue is needed. But such a dialogue in 2009 needs to start with the premise that it's 2009. I don't want a competition of the most wronged. We're all adults, we need to act like it and not play like any one group is immune from criticism. I think there is an Anglo Latino and Anglo White divide. I think that honest discussions could allow the divides to ease. I think media like Democracy Now! which pushes repeatedly that Latino issues only matter when contrasted with Anglo White issues do a lot to strengthen the Brown-Black divide. It gets real old when the repeated discrimination against Latinos by African-Americans is erased and not explored. It makes people angry and it doesn't increase a we're-all-in-this-together feeling. Instead, it makes people begin to think, "I better protect my own because no one else will."

Jim: Okay --

Ava: Sorry, I need to add something. I just realized how e-mails come in here worried that someone's mad at someone else. So let me add quickly that I have no problem with Betty or any one else here. But at Third, we are a mixture of races and ethnicities and religions and ages and we can and do speak honestly to one another. It's a real shocker to me that we can do this and not ask for a dime but Democracy Now!'s always sticking its hand in your pocket and never can do an honest discussion. There's no divide here because we do communicate. My whole point is that honest discussions would eliminate divides but what Amy Goodman and others serve up only fuel a divide.

Jim: Okay. Thank you for addressing the topic. Dona passed me a note and she has Ruth not speaking once and believes Stan spoke of the least of everyone who has spoken. So I'll toss out to you for the two biggest Iraq stories of last week?

Ruth: The biggest news? The biggest news was not covered by the outlets. Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Iraq was news and it was barely covered. But, for me, the biggest news on Iraq last week emerged Friday morning when C.I. revealed the RAND report advising the US government how to renegotiate the SOFA, and cautioning that you could not wait until 2011 to do so, was a report commissioned by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. To me, that is huge, that remains huge and it really amazes me that we had to wait for C.I. to learn that. I have a few questions but I will wait and let Stan speak first.

Stan: Good because I think I have a similar question. I agree with Ruth that C.I. broke big news last week and I would say the second big Iraq news was also broken by C.I. and it is in Friday's snapshot. Brief background, until the start of this year, the US military protected the Iranian refugees at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. They were given assurances that Nouri would not attack them. On July 28th, he did just that. Friday, C.I. broke the news that Chris Hill, US Ambassador to Iraq, told Congress, in open session, that the US had advance knowledge of the July assault. We already knew the US military did nothing, they were ordered to do nothing, and some were present outside the camp watching as the assault took place -- in which 11 were killed and hundreds wounded -- but Chris Hill told the Congress that we had advance knowledge. And did nothing. My question, like Ruth's I think, is, to C.I., why did you wait on those two?

C.I.: Is that your question, Ruth?

Ruth: Yes.

C.I.: In terms of the SOFA, the report was released in July, near the end. I didn't read it then. You can purchase it in book form which is what I have. You can also find it for free online -- PDF format warning, click here for report. I read it in August and it's a lot to unpack including the allegations or fears regarding Turkey. Briefly, the report argues that Turkey would most likely invade Iraq when the US leaves. I read the report in August. It's one of those things that waited. There were other things to cover. And each week the Turkish media was covering it in some form and it would almost get included but something else came along. When a friend pointed out the editorial in Hurriyet Daily News to me it was Thursday night. That morning, a US outlet was covering another aspect of the report so I could finally pull it all together and to add something so it wasn't just me saying: "___ reports and ___ reports . . .," I added what no one was telling you. The report advises the US Secretary of Defense, who requested the report, on not just what may happen but also on the need to start planning how to renegotiate the treaty now. In terms of Stan's Camp Ashraf issue. We -- Wally, Kat, Ava and I -- attended the hearings Chris Hill testified at. That was the House Foreign Relations Committe and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Jim asked for an issue to be saved for here. So I didn't go over the refugee issue in either Iraq snapshot from that week covering the hearings and the topic was saved for "Iraq" which ran here last week. The Senate hearing was in the afternoon and more reporters attended the morning hearing in the House. That was among the reasons I emphasized the Senate hearing in the snapshots. It's also true that the Senate allowed more time for each question and response session. 15 minutes per senator versus five minutes per representative in the House. Camp Ashraf supporters issued a press release following the House hearing. I didn't read all of that press release but assumed they'd covered it there. And I assumed someone had covered it somewhere. I was on the phone with a friend, an editor at a paper, Friday morning over a story he was assigning. And we were discussing Camp Ashraf and I mentioned Chris Hill's testifying that the US had advance knowledge and he told me he hadn't heard that. He had assigned a reporter to cover the House hearing and he hadn't heard about that. So I pulled out my notes and told him what was said. And because he follows all news coverage, the fact that he said it wasn't covered meant I'd have to work it into the snapshot somehow. But Thursday, before I'd dictated the snapshot, this is two Thursdays ago, there were two reporters that I know who covered the morning hearing, who were present for it anyway, and after that hearing ended, I did stop and say hello and we did talk about how shocking it was that Hill had just admitted to prior knowledge so I thought -- wrongly, I'm often wrong -- that this was going to be the lead item on the morning hearing and I thought I could focus on the afternoon hearing instead. It's also true that sometimes I bundle things for later snapshots, topics. Such as PTSD which will pop up in a snapshot shortly but I just haven't been in the mood to unpack that in limited time that I've had due to other developments in Iraq. And on that note, I'll toss to Elaine who has not spoken once during this roundtable.

Elaine: I almost got away with it. PTSD. One thing that worried me the most last week on that was a journal abstract which C.I. discovered. It's a journal for management and it seemed to be presenting a very limited view -- limited and limiting -- of PTSD veterans. We need to talk about PTSD and we need to do so honestly. But the fear is always that somehow your remarks will be used to say: "Oh, they're crazy! And they're dangerous!" They aren't "crazy." It's a war wound like any other war wound. But I know one article in particular, last week, a news report, read like "PTSD Veterans Are Nuts!" I may be too sensitive on the topic since that's what I primarily address in my practice now. But I saw the article and asked C.I., "Am I alone on this?" No. But I'm also aware that a news report has a limited amount of space. C.I., when covering crimes of veterans who may or may not suffer from PTSD, always tries to make space to include a disclaimer in terms of "Not every veteran suffering from PTSD engages in this kind of conduct" or something similar. I realize that newspapers may not have the space for that or it might get pulled out by editors sensitive to space concerns. I know it's a difficult topic to cover. I do hope that people following coverage grasp, whether it's siad or not, that PTSD comes in varying degrees and effects veterans in various ways as well as the fact that lack of treatment often leads to the most alarming cases that are more likely to be covered.

Jim: Okay. That's the roundtable. This is a rush transcript. Ava and C.I. took notes, someone else will type it up. Our e-mail address is


Last week, US Vice President Joe Biden went to Iraq. Only one US TV outlet had a reporter on the trip (CNN, Chris Lawrence). There was very little coverage of the trip. Little coverage of the joint statements.


C.I. reported what was going on (and what concerned the White House) on Friday, "Yesterday's news, unremarked upon in US outlets, would be the political jockeying of Ibrahim Al Jaafari and Nouri al-Maliki as both worked overtime to prove they could be the most insulting to a visiting foreign official. Both made pointed remarks to outlets about issues such as Iraq's elections being Iraq -- and only Iraq's -- business. For those late to the party, Jaafari was the prime minster before Nouri. He was also the first choice of Iraqi MPs to be prime minister in the spring of 2006 but the US nixed that and demanded Nouri. Jaafari is part of the new Shi'ite alliance (Iraqi National Alliance) and it's thought that Jaafari's presence was what had Nouri insisting he wouldn't join the alliance unless he was promised that they'd re-nominate him for prime minister following January's scheduled elections. They refused to meet that demand and Nouri has not joined the alliance so far."

It's worth noting that the KRG didn't feel the need to trash the White House as soon as Biden wasn't standing next to them.

Violence continued in Iraq, as Diane Rehm noted Friday -- her first Friday back since a fall sidelined her for a few weeks.

Sunday saw 23 people reported dead and 24 wounded, Monday saw 9 reported dead and 19 reported injured, Tuesday saw 5 reported dead and 11 reported wounded, Wednesday saw 1 person reported dead and 4 reported injured, Thursday saw 10 reported dead and 31 reported injured, Friday saw 7 reported dead and 23 reported wounded and Saturday saw 6 people reported dead and 2 reported injured. That's a total of 61 reported deaths and 114 reported wounded.

No, violence hasn't vanished from Iraq. And most violence goes unreported. Not only do reporters remain largely confined to Baghdad, there are less and less US outlets reporting from Iraq.

Tuesday the Defense Department announced Duane A. Thornsbury, on his third deployment to Iraq, died in Baghdad the previous Saturday from "injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over." Multi-National Forces 'forgot' to announce that death. Thornsbury's death brought the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4344.

Tensions continued between Syria and Iraq and an Istanbul meet-up Thursday and Friday which included Ahmed Davutoglu (Turkey's Foreign Minister), Hoshyar Zebari (Iraq's Foreign Minister), Walid Mualem (Syria's Foreign Minister) and Amr Moussa (Arab League Secretary General) did nothing to ease the tensions.

Shoe thrower Muntadhar al-Zeidi was released on Tuesday and announced he'd been tortured while in prison. The Iraqi journalist then left the country, was feted in Syria, and went on to Greece for medical treatment.

As Ruth notes in our roundtable, C.I. broke news on Friday, revealing that a report by RAND argued in the preface that the US needed to begin renegotiation efforts on the Status Of Forces Agreement and not wait until 2011 to start those efforts.

As Ava and C.I. explained here last week, the SOFA does not end the Iraq War.

The never-ending fashion disaster

As Cedric and Wally noted ("Heavyweight?" and "THIS JUST IN! BIG BONED!"), Barack Obama's decided to deploy Michelle Obama in the hopes that she can influence the public.

Can she influence anyone?

Despite repeated efforts by the press to portray her as a fashion maven, it hasn't taken.

And judging by a never-ending string of tacky outfits in recent days, that's a good thing.


Above, is Michelle from the end of last week, shopping at an organic market. An organic market not in Hawaii.


Also from last week, that's Michelle on the White House lawn dressed as a fashion disaster. She seems to think wearing a wide belt -- so wide it looks like a turban -- around her thickening middle will slim her. It doesn't work that way, Michelle.

Not only that but belts aren't usually worn outside a shirt and outside a jacket.

If Nancy Walker were still alive, we could see her wearing that outfit. But she's dead and we honestly can't think of anyone else with so little taste that she'd be caught dead in it.

If we wore that outfit in public, we'd be scowling too.


Raed Jarrar tries to 'correct' Ava and C.I. (Dona)


Week after week, Ava and C.I.'s TV commentaries get the most e-mail responses and from the most interesting of people. Take last week's "TV: The Suckers" which included these paragraphs on the Status Of Forces Agreement (a treaty the White House negotiated with Nouri al-Maliki):

If the contract means the US leaves (that's not what it means) then why even talk about the possibility that increasing violence might result in the US remaining in Iraq? If the contract means the US leaves, that's what the contract means. But that's not what it means and the public has been repeatedly lied to about this.
And liars and fools like Tom Hayden are the problem. Barack's been hailed as a man of peace. Really? His Iraq 'plan' is not what he promised in those crowd pleasing campaign speeches. Ten months, he said in Houston, Texas in February 2008, ten months after being sworn in, US troops would be out of Iraq! It's nine months after he was sworn in. Over 130,000 US troops remain on the ground in Iraq.
And his 'plan' that Nancy and Bill and so many others discuss? That's Bush's plan.
Now what the treaty (Status Of Forces Agreement) does is what it was meant to, ease heat in the US over the illegal war. It's done that. It's led to so many fools and liars proclaiming the Iraq War over or almost over: Tom Hayden, CODESTINK, Raed Jarrar, throw a dart at the fringe radical and you'll draw blood from a fool swearing the Iraq War is over or about to be.

Fairly straight forward.

Among the many e-mails that article resulted in was the following:

From: Raed Jarrar
Subject: US Iraqi agreement
Date: Sunday, September 13, 2009, 6:31 PM

I think you've misunderstood my position on the security agreement. I
don't think the war is over, and I'm working full time to push for
congressional oversight/ratification of the agreement.

Ava and C.I. misunderstood Raed Jarrar's position? Oh, it's so very cute when those who whored it for Barack try to now pretend otherwise. On Tuesday, I saw the e-mail and replied as follows:

Ava and C.I.'s fan mail is far too great for them to reply to or even read.
I will pass on to Ava and C.I. that you read them. They always write our most popular features and Ty and I make a point to summarize the e-mails to them. The
Joni & Cass feature is neck and neck with the Vampire Diaries article that you're writing of. Most of the fan mail on the latter has emphasized the Grant Goodeve section. If you're writing to inquire of that, they didn't make up Rose McGowan's line -- Kevin Williamson actually wrote that and a full scene where Tatum goes into discussing his possible eight inches.

If your writing because you feel your position is misunderstood, it might have something to do with the counter you have on your site giving the impression the Iraq War is ending.

And, strangely, Raed never wrote to dispute the point. Of course he didn't. The illustration at the top of this article and below is Raed Jarrar's site. That "839 days to go"? That's his countdown for the 'end' of the Iraq War which, he has repeatedly lied, will take place at the end of 2011. He makes that call based on . . . the Status Of Forces Agreement. Ava and C.I. were correct.


US had prior knowledge of assault

Camp Ashraf is a camp in Iraq in which Iranian dissidents live. They have lived in Iraq for decades. They are the MEK and it was considered a terrorist organization by many countries and organizations such as: Iran, the United States, England, the European Union, etc. When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, they began protecting Camp Ashraf. The US government would declare them protected persons under the Geneva Conventions. The US never took them off the terrorist list but the European Union and England removed the terrorist designation.

In 2009, the US turned over control of Camp Ashraf to Nouri al-Maliki's government after getting assurances from him that he would not assault the camp or ship the dissidents back to Iran. July 28th Nouri proved what a liar he was by launching an assulat that resulted in at least 11 deaths, hundreds injured and thirty-six residents hauled away.

British MPs have gone public about warning the US prior to July 28th that Nouri was planning an assault.

It turns out, the US needed no warnings. They had prior knowledge of the assault. C.I. reported Friday on an exchange between US House Rep. Ted Poe (pictured below with actress Christina Ricci at a RAINN benefit) and US Ambasador to Iraq Chris Hill.

Ted Poe and Christina Ricci

The following exchange took place September 11th during the US House Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

US House Rep Ted Poe: Excuse me, just to clarify the question -- or the answer -- was this before or after the security forces came into Camp Ashraf that we got this assurance?

Chris Hill: This uh, was before, because our -- The UN mandate for the -- for us to run -- to be responsible for uh this camp ended at the end of 2008 -- after 2008 -- that is, starting January 1, this year -- it is the sovereign and sole responsibility of the Iraqi government and because of that, we sought from them written assurances that they would treat them humanely and that they would not forcibly repatriate them where they would be -- they could be -- tortured or persecuted based on their religious or political beliefs.

US House Rep Ted Poe: It doesn't appear that they have been treated humanely if eleven of them were murdered and thirty-six others were arrested.

Chris Hill: Well on July 28th, Iraqi forces went in to try to set up a uh police station. They regarded that as uh an exercise of their sovereignty because Ashraf is in Iraq.

US House Rep Ted Poe: Did we know about that before it happened?

Chris Hill: We -- I understand that -- They told us that -- Yes, they were going to do this.

Chris Hill testified the US had prior knowledge of the assault. That the United States government was informed of the assault before it took place. It should have been big news. (C.I. thought it had been due to the number of reporters at the hearing and two that she spoke with after the hearing concluded.) Instead, it just got ignored.

We applaud Joe Wilson

Joe Wilson David Petraeus

The photo above is of US House Rep. Joe Wilson in Iraq with the then-top US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus. Wilson, a Republican, has now been in the news cycle for nearly two weeks straight.

But before we get to that, let's stick around in Iraq for a second.

Tuesday Muntadhar al-Zeidi, Iraqi journalist, was released from prison. He had been sentenced to prison for his actions on December 14th. That's when Bully Boy Bush and Nouri al-Maliki met up. signed the Status Of Forces Agreement and the Strategic Framework Agreement and held a press conference. It was at the press conference that Muntadhar threw two shoes at Bush.

"This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss you dog!" Muntadhar cried as he hurled the first shoe. "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!" he yelled as he threw the second one.

Now we, like most people in the world, found it amusing. We didn't post the video here but most websites on the left did. We saw it as a check on authority, as recognition that no leader was above criticism.

What others saw it as, you'd have to ask them.

But it was all over the net.

And in the last week and a half, Joe Wilson has been all over the net.

During Barack Obama's bad speech on making insurance mandatory to enrich the insurance companies, Joe Wilson stood and exclaimed, "You lie!"

You'd think people would applaud that regardless of whether they believed Barack was in fact lying.

You'd think the fact that someone -- anyone -- would yell "lie" at the president of the United States would be seen as a good thing.

You'd be wrong.

Even those who knew they should be applauding it turned coward like Kenny-boy Silverstein at Harper's -- too gutless to stand strong.

At a time when Congress still can't pass a health care plan, Nancy Pelosi and company spent a day last week debating and then deciding to pass 'rules' for the House. The 'rules' now bar any representative from calling Barack a liar. Just Barack, mind you. The Democrats in the House weren't interested in barring any president from being called a liar, just Barack.

It's disgraceful and it's disgusting.

And apparently it requires people screaming "Racism!" falsely in order to justify their attacks on Wilson. The same people, repeating, who applauded or enjoyed the shoes tossed at Bush.

We enjoyed the shoes. We applauded it.

We also applaud Joe Wilson.

Because in the United States, we don't have a king.

Because in the United States, we're supposed to have free speech.

In Iraq, free speech (and a possible threat -- some might have seen shoes tossed as a threat -- we didn't) resulted in the despotic system imprisoning Muntadhar. The US could have sent a message about freedom following Wilson's cry of "You lie!" Instead, the House decided to 'outlaw' the conduct.

Winter Soldier coverage

In Thursday's "Iraq snapshot," C.I. noted the community's coverage of Winter Soldier in March 2008. Which raised two issues.


First, we intended to note all the coverage the weekend after Winter Soldier. We never did so let's note it now:

"I Hate The War," "Iraq snapshot," "Jason Hurd (IVAW's Winter Soldiers Investigation),"
"IVAW's Clifton Hicks," "Kelly Dougherty at Winter Soldiers Investigation," "Corporal Eric Estenzo testifies at Winter Soldiers...," "Steve Mortillo at Winter Soldiers Investigation,"
"adrienne kinne reveals the v.a. system," "Nachos in the Kitchen (and Adam Kokesh),"
"Tantrum in the Oval Office" & " THIS JUST IN! INTERVIEW IN THE OVAL OFFICE!" (joint-post), "Katrina vanden Heuvel avoids Winter Soldier," "Saturday's Winter Soldier Investigation," "Truest Statement of the Week," "Editorial: Are you ready to listen," "TV: Nothing-ness," "Veterans Healthcare," "Roundtable," "Negative Critisicm of Winter Soldiers Investigation," "And the war drags on . . .," "Iraq snapshot," "Dahlai Wasfi: Rock Star," "Garret Reppenhagen at Winter Soldier," "Jesse Hamilton Winter Soldier," "IVAW, silence, Hillary," "CounterPunch never heard of IVAW?," "Common Dreams doesn't include Winter Soldier," "Iraq snapshot," "Jesse Hamilton Winter Soldier Investigation," "Iraq snapshot," "The Peter Pans of Panhandle Media refused to cover Winter Soldiers," "Jesse Hamilton, Hillary, Barack," "Video, Hillary's Iraq speech," "Jesse Hamilton Winter Soldier," "Iraq snapshot" and "Ron Cantu at Winter Soldier."

That's an impressive and lengthy lists and there are probably some things that got missed.

We covered Winter Soldier community wide.

At this site, our plan was to cover it the weekend of Winter Soldier (which we did) and also make it the emphasis of the following weekend.

We didn't do the second part.

And we didn't do it for a reason.

Look at the list of all of that coverage.

In all of that coverage you will find only one article that's negative about Winter Soldier.

There seems to be some confusion for some women in IVAW. They seem to think that we owe them something. That we're some sort of community cheerleader or bulletin board and we can never offer anything but positive feedback.

As a result of our negative criticism in an article whose headline noted that it was negative criticism, a woman with IVAW had a hissy fit. She started e-mailing Mike -- about an article that ran here. She e-mailed C.I. She e-mailed everyone and anyone and seemed to think that some of us would turn against the others to stand with her.

The sexual assault panel was a joke. A man asking a woman to dance is not sexual assault. If you don't grasp that, you have serious problems. Those aren't our problems.

We do not exist to glorify you. We practice journalism and we call it the way we see it.

A few months back, we had another probably with a pscyho woman in IVAW. She e-mailed about an article on the ones leaving IVAW, the ones spreading false rumors about IVAW. She hated the article. Fine. That's her right. She can't make demands on us however.

She seemed to think that we owed it to her to supply her with the names of the people quoted in the piece. She wanted to confront them. Ty was stuck answering the psycho. As the e-mails streamed in non-stop (crazy's on duty during this time but apparently the military allows her to do personal e-mails her entire shift), Ty finally called C.I. who explained that woman was a joke and a nut case. We have a history actually with that woman. She came out as against the Iraq War publicly. And a member of IVAW wrote about that online. And C.I. quoted that in a snapshot. The "Iraq snapshot" is posted at every community site that posts that day. So it went up every site that posts on Friday. And then the woman's in a tizzy. She didn't mean to come out, she didn't mean to be public. That 'dumb ass' (Trina received the e-mail and believes that's the term used for the IVAW member who wrote about it) used her name without permission. Trina told C.I. and the two of them went through every community account to pull the woman's name from the snapshot.

Since then, we've tried to avoid that crazy woman.

We didn't mention in the article but, it turns out, she is among the ones trashing Camilo Mejia and trashing IVAW and trashing the decision by the organization to make opposition to the Afghanistan War their official position.

She generally trashes IVAW on right-wing websites where she cozies up to people by insulting IVAW and people on the left. At her own site, she's written some real garbage that was so offensive that she's had to take it down.

And this woman, who knows nothing about journalism and, honestly, nothing about anything, wants to screech and yell at Ty in one e-mail after another, wants to bully thinking she can get her way.

Sorry, that's not how it works.

You don't make demands on us. We never have to supply you with anything.

In both cases, the women should be ashamed of themselves. In one instance, she couldn't deal with the fact that out of all the coverage this community did on IVAW, one article offered negative coverage. It was just too damn much for her. So she thought she could stomp her feet and we would change our article. F**k you. In the other instance, a woman who's made it her life's purpose to out macho any man thought she could lay down the bully line. She can go f**k herself but she has no control and no say at this site. She's an idiot.

But to make it really clear to everyone (our regular readers seem to grasp this), we are independent. We're not faux independent like Amy Goodman or FAIR. We're really independent. If you screw up, we'll call you out if your big media, we'll call you out if your little media. That's our job, that's our role. We're not part of the left circle-jerk which uses their one free hand to point at MSM while ignoring it when the beggar media does the exact same thing.

Our relationship with our readers has always demanded that we call it as we see it. We don't fake it, we don't phone it in. We feel it even on our worst written pieces. We used to say every week that we hope something made you happy, sad, mad, moved you in some way and the reason is because we're not trying to be an echo chamber or a cheerleader. We're trying to address what's going on around us and that's what our readers count on and expect from us after all these years.

Cause through the years

We've been happy

Through the years

We've been sad

And sometimes feeling lucky

Was the only luck we had

But we always found some laughter in the tears

Through the years

-- written by Janis Ian, "Through The Years," appears most recently on Best of Janis Ian: The Autobiography Collection.
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