Sunday, May 23, 2010

Truest statement of the week

Someone should have explained to Barack Obama that he'd make a lovely male model but he didn't have what it takes to be a world leader.

-- Trina on the Gulf Disaster, "Trapped under a male model" (Trina's Kitchen).

Truest statement of the week II

Who reads an article blandly called "Cass Sunstein Wants to Nudge Us?" And, really, does he want to "nudge" us? Or does he want to give us a good hard shove? It would seem that having a person with such neo-Nixonian views in an important position and exerting influence on the president of the United States might warrant some additional inquiry.


A note to our readers

Hey --

Along with Dallas, the following helped on this edition:

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

For us, this is pretty quick. We're done around 11:00 a.m. EST and since we're PST, it's around 9:00 a.m. Yea us! And thanks to C.I. for the hour on Saturday talking to Dona and myself (Jim) about this edition and next week's which really allowed us to stay focused and complete this edition in a semi-timely manner.

This is Trina and we all loved her observation so, against her objections, she got a truest.
Russ Baker's website is one we're not sure we've noted in any form. He's pro-Barack which either demonstrates he's nutty or has a perverse sense of humor. But if you can get past that, there's much to be found there.

Elaine and C.I. proposed this topic for two weeks straight. Week three they get their wish. Amazingly, I didn't think it would work as an editorial. I thought it was an article. But I was wrong and I'm glad to be. Thank you to Isaiah for allowing us to use his illustration.

Ava and C.I. went with a historical piece this week. If you didn't get the message, FlashFoward resulted in angry calls from friends with that show so they weren't planning to do another review until all the fall schedules were announced. This was a piece they've been writing for years now. I'm not joking. If you go through the archives, you'll find that the CBS observations are ones they've made. The attempt to kill off The New Adventures of Old Christine? They were noting that two years ago when CBS was moving the show to Wednesdays. This is a great piece that pulls together various strands.

"Do it early, if you do it." C.I.'s advice to Dona and I when we both urged another roundtable. Roundtables take great amounts of time -- this one did.

Our Iraq feature.

I honestly thought this was an editorial piece. Due to it being written so late in the process, it barely made a short article.

When a witness from the VA is talking about cutting veterans benefits maybe a US senator should shut his mouth listen? Instead, Scott Brown decided to interrupt and change the subject.

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

And that's what we came up with.


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

Editorial: Where's the leadership?

"We're going to do everything in our power to protect our natural resources, compensate those who have been harmed, rebuild what has been damaged and help this region persevere like it has done so many times before," US President Barack Obama declared. And you may think we're referring to his weekly address yesterday; however, he made that statement May 2nd while he was visiting Louisiana. And the "Gulf Coast Drilling Disaster 2010" (Isaiah's illustration below) began polluting the oceans April 20th.

Gulf Coast Drilling Disaster 2010

33 days later and Barack's done nothing. Of course, prior to April 20th, he was making comments such as, "It turns out the oil rigs today generally don't cause oil spills" -- thereby proving that there's more than one Bush in the sea.

As the week drew to a close, NPR was filing "Anger Simmers Over Spreading Gulf Oil Slick" about "Gulf Coast residents [. . .] expressing increasing anger and frustration over BP's inability to plug an undersea leak that has sent an oily slick washing shore, threatening ecosystems and livelihoods from Louisiana to Florida." And right away, even if you never paid attention to the problem before, you should notice something: For 33 days and counting, Barack's allowed British Petroleum, the corporation responsible for the oil spill, to manage the 'rescue.'

That's a bit like asking Osama bin Laden if he has any extra pilots who'd like to provide fly over protection to Ground Zero while the fires were being put out. A bit like? BP is a terrorist. They are terrorizing ocean life, the eco system, the economic system and much more in their pursuit of cheap oil. They are the terrorists and the Gulf is the crime scene.

So somebody explain to us exactly why Barack's continued to allow BP to control the crime scene?

Saturday, in his weekly address, the president declared, "One month ago this week, BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded off Louisiana's coast, killing 11 people and rupturing an underwater pipe. The resulting oil spill has not only dealth an economic blow to Americans across the Gulf Coast, it also represents an environmental disaster." At which point, he announced a new plan. The only one that made sense was announcing BP was no longer in charge of the disaster.

Naturally, Barack went another way.

He issued an executive order to establish a National Commission. Instead of taking over from BP, the commission (already lampooned in "THIS JUST IN! DEATH BY INDEPENDENT PANEL!" and "Bury the problem in committee") would do a study and report back six months from now.

Six months from now and, at this rate, the report may be released before the oil spill is stopped. This panel has nothing to do with stopping the ongoing disaster.

Last week Melissa Block (NPR's All Things Considered) reported on the disaster and quoted Lousiana's Parsih Coastal Zone Management director P.J. Hahn explaining, "It's so sad when you look around here and you just think of what was here, what's happening to it now and what's gonna happen to it. Unless we stop that oil out there, it's just going to continue to keep coming in here and wipe out everything we have. . . . I think we're just starting to see the first wave of what's really coming -- and what's really coming I think is going to be devastating." And nothing to do with Barack's commission is going to address that.

It was NPR, specifically Richard Harris for Morning Edition, that first reported on the fact that BP was lying to the public about how much oil was flooding into the ocean. And as Elaine noted two weeks ago, "Chief among my outrage points is the fact that NPR is releasing that information. I am not griping at NPR for doing that, I am appalled that the information did not already emerge from the US government. Is the US government doing anything?" Nope.

And if you're puzzled by Barack's inaction maybe you missed the recent report by Alan Fram and Sharon Theimer (AP) which declared that "the top recipient of BP employees' money in the 2008 election" was Barack Obama. For over a month now, BP has been allowed to pollute the ocean and, coincidence, they just happen to have been a big donor to the Obama presidential campaign.

The president apparently finds BP trust worthy. He may be the only one who feels that way. Last week, US House Rep. Edward Markey declared, "When the accident initially happened, they [BP] said it was manageable. And last week, when we first had BP and the other companies before this committee, they said they never thought the rig could sink. They said that in the worst case scenario, the spill could increase to as much as 60,000 barrels of oil per day. Right now, by their own admission, BP is largely making it up as they go. They are engaging in a series of elaborate and risky science experiments. After the failure of the containment dome, we are now hearing of plans to stuff the blowout preveter full of a mixture of golf balls, old tires and other junk. When we heard the best minds were on the case, we expected MIT, not the PGA. We already have one hole in the ground, and now their solution is to shoot a hole in one?"

And yet, repeating, BP remains in charge of the crime scene. Real leadership would have been Barack putting scientists in charge. The 'best' he could do? Send in the military . . . to take orders from BP.

Markey chairs the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and it's there (despite BP's objection) that you can now see live streaming of the disaster.

On a recent broadcast of PBS' The Charlie Rose Show (click here to currently watch it on Hulu), oceanographer Syliva Earler explained that the asset and value is not the oil, it is the ocean itself and that this asset has real value that needs to be calculated when people are calculating the costs of extraction of anything from the ocean. "Cheap oil" comes at a cost and a country which many point out could become the Saudi Arabia of wind energy should not only be addressing the continued oil spill, it should be moving beyond oil to renewable resources.

TV: Killing Off The First Wife

Last week, it appeared idiocy reigned supreme. Not just in the network upfronts but also at the Water Cooler where gas bags revealed many things, primarily how much (even when they themselves are women) they hate women.


Take, for example, Gary Susman (TV Squad) who wanted to weigh in on CBS canceling The New Adventures of Old Christine and why ABC didn't 'need' it with the following:

Also, ABC's new fall slate includes a couple new 'Christine'-like comedies: 'Happy Endings' (about a couple that splits up but remains in each other's lives) and 'Better Together' (about two women and their very different romantic relationships). Not a lot of room for a third such show, especially given the network's popular Wednesday comedy block -- which contains sophomore series 'Cougar Town,' another 'Christine'-like show.


How are Cougar Town and Christine alike?

Oh, because they each star a woman who plays a divorced woman. Wow. Two divorced women on television. It's like a plague.

And goodness knows that there's only one divorced woman in the entire US so why do we need two on television?

In addition, Cougar Town is a one-camera show while Christine is a sitcom in the live audience I Love Lucy tradition. Courtney Cox plays a woman who finds calm in controlling the situation whereas Julia Louis-Dreyfus is playing a character who has no control which would include self control. They are both funny shows but they are two different kinds of shows.

Of course, there's another difference as well. As Betty's "Oh, No, CBS Didn't!" and Marcia's "CBS: Caucasian Bull S**t" pointed out, Christine featured the only African-American woman in a sitcom: Wanda Sykes as Christine business partner and best friend Barb. Faux diversity has resulted in the offensive Modern Family being praised but we see no diversity. We see a let's-laugh-at-the-stupid-Latina and two-gay-men-who-don't-kiss.

Hard to believe, considering today's sitcom landscape, that once upon a time Marla Gibbs, Nell Carter, Jackee, Telma Hopkins, Jasmine Guy, Isabel Sanford, LaWanda Page, Diahann Carroll, Ja'Net Dubois, Kim Fields, Queen Latifah, Marsha Warfield, Shirley Hemphill, Danielle Spencer, Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Hattie Winston, Lisa Bonet, Holly Robinson Peete and others were sitcom stars. It's pretty much been Wanda Sykes only for the last years and "CBS Cares" little about diversity which is why a New York City sitcom (How I Met Your Mother) is all-White in its regular cast.

"CBS Cares" little about ratings either and, proving that the networks control the Water Cooler Set, few bothered to mention ratings. The network controls them because the Water Cooler Set wants to come off in-the-know and part of the deciding class when they are nothing of the sort. The New Adventures of Old Christine won its Wednesday night time slot. It did so despite the fact that CBS moved the show to Wednesdays (two seasons ago) to bury it. It won its time slot despite the fact that CBS began pulling it from the schedule repeatedly. That's another trick CBS has long used to destroy ratings for a show that stars a woman. Unlike Love & War, Cybil, and countless other CBS programs including Murder She Wrote and Touched By An Angel, the trick didn't hurt Christine. New episodes would win their time slot even if the show had been off for two or three weeks.

Unable to destroy it, CBS finally canceled it and didn't even bother to come up with an excuse. And certainly the Water Cooler Set never pressed them on the cancellation. Now the News noted, "In a genuinely surprising move, the network did not renew orders for new episodes of The New Adventures of Old Christine. Arguably one of the best-written and best-acted comedies in prime time, Christine has showcased the unrivalled talents of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Wanda Sykes." That's exactly right and if others were less concerned about pretending to be players and actually doing journalism, CBS would be under pressure to explain the cancellation. There's no explanation for it.

Once upon a time, CBS valued diversity or could be shamed into putting it on the air at least. Norman Lear brought The Jeffersons and Good Times to CBS. Those were powerhouse hits for the network in the seventies. In the eighties, they'd have shows with a touch of diversity in the casts (such as Designing Women) but would falter with shows revolving around African-American families (such as a Gladys Knight starring sitcom called Charlie & Co.). In the late 90s, Cosby would briefly indicate CBS still valued diversity. Or rather that it briefly valued diversity. (Cosby is among the shows killed off intentionally by repeatedly changing its air date -- the Monday night success was transplanted to Wednesday and then Friday in its fourth season.)

Why does CBS decide to kill off a show?

Homosexual panic.

Truly. The suits start worrying they're coming off too soft if it's not Anglo, Straight Male dominance on the TV schedule. The Nanny especially worried them because it was championed by gay men at the network. (Hence the dance they made that show do on the prime time schedule.) They start pretending they're straighter than they are (truth be told, most of them aren't having any sex -- ask their wives and their attempted mistresses), that they're younger than they are and that they can capture the young males' attention.

And that's when they look at their lineup and see women they know far too well, women the rest of the country loves and cheers. But the CBS suits are ready to move on to another trophy wife, convinced that a newer model will make their tiny johnsons -- if not stand up -- then as least wiggle.

They'll justify it (as two did to us last week) by stating that they get more advertising dollars for shows that are hits with young male audiences. We snorted into the phones and asked how CBS would ever know about having shows that are hits with young males?

Then we pointed out that they chase after young males while failing to grasp that young males include all races and that many young males are not threatened by women. It doesn't matter to the CBS suits because 30 years ago it was a White, White world for them and they just knew what they wanted to watch and the world couldn't have changed in thirty years, could it?

If you really believe the world could change in thirty years (let alone has changed), you don't usually end up working for CBS which remains the most backward looking network of the Big Three. If you doubt us on that, take a good hard look at their fall 2010 line up and you'll see that the nostalgia for a world long ago lost goes far beyond their attempt to revamp Hawaii Five-0. It's a schedule only a fool or limp-dicked Docker Boys could hail as 'daring.'


Jim: Roundtable time. We have a number of issues and a number of participants had intended to take the edition off but the topics we came up with to address were such that everyone wanted to participate. So here's who's taking part: The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude -- back with us and fresh from London; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Next week, a number of people will be taking off. Who is confirmed to be working next week? Ava, C.I., Jess, Betty, Kat and Ann. Wally will be off and spending the holiday at home in Florida. We'll talk more about that throughout the roundtable but first up Dona and C.I. wanted a radio program noted. Dona?


Dona: Mondays at 10:00 a.m. EST on WBAI, In Other News airs. We're not sure for how long and honestly thought it had already finished its six week cycle when a friend asked C.I. and I if we could note it. Right now you can hear two broadcasts in the WBAI archives -- both will be gone in approximately 70 days. In Other News is a one-hour program hosted by Geoff Brady who is the man who makes sure you hear Law & Disorder each week, he's that program's engineer and producer. In Other News is one of WBAI's temporary shows -- a shocker when you consider how much nonsense stays on, but actual shows you would actually listen to are just aired temporarily. So we're both recommending that you check this show out at least once.

Jim: Let's stay with radio for a moment because there are a number of things on that. First up, Ruth -- and I know the answer to this already -- you are scolded by an e-mailer who insists you should have summarized Taking Aim last week and you didn't.

Ruth: I cannot summarize that which does not air. WBAI was in pledge mode, is in pledge mode, and last Tuesday did not air Taking Aim. That said, if I had realized -- I received e-mails on this too -- how many people were reading me for that, I would have included a note on it. I had dial up for awhile and never had a problem streaming but I forgot that so many do have a problem -- due to older computers or to connection issues. I did note, in my Hilda's Mix column, that the program did not air. But I did not note it at my blog and I apologize for that. Again, I was unaware how many people read just for that.

Jim: Can you talk a little about the program?

Ruth: Sure. It is a one hour program, airing on Tuesdays at five p.m. EST. The hosts are Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone. Ralph Poynter, who is married to political prisoner Lynne Stewart, is a regular guest and he provides updates on her imprisonment and her case. If anyone would like to mail Lynne a letter, the address is

Lynne Stewart, #53504-054
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007

Ruth (Con't): He says that she enjoys receiving letters.

C.I.: If I can jump in, and correct me if I'm wrong on this Ruth because I haven't heard Ralph discuss the issue recently with the hosts, but as I understand it from non-radio, Lynne only gets ten minutes a day on the phone. If that's correct, could you speak about that and the mail and also the embargo recently?

Ruth: Sure. Yes, that is what her husband has explained, that she only has ten minutes a day for the phone. And she did not have that for weeks, she was being punished because she was sick and her cell mate phoned Ralph to let him know his wife was sick and Lynne and her cell mate were banned from the phone for a period of a time as a result. As C.I. just pointed out, Lynne's mail was also stopped during part of that time. So she did not have the ability to communicate via phone or mail. In terms of the mail, the authorities simply claimed she was not receiving any mail. Which was a lie. They were holding back her mail to punish her. What was the other, oh. She has ten minutes a day for the phone. That is nothing. In that time she has to call her attorneys, she has to call her loved ones and ten minutes a day, fifty minutes a week, that really does not cut it.

Jim: As noted, Lynne Stewart is a political prisoner. I know C.I. can speak on that at length but I think Jess can as well so I'll toss to Jess and ask C.I. to grab anything that's still needed.

Jess: Lynne Stewart is an attorney. A defense attorney. Her job was to defend her clients and to give them the best defense possible. Among her clients was Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman and she conveyed a message from him to the media which led to her conviction for terrorism. It's really ridiculous. She broke no law. I'm blanking on what she broke, C.I.?

C.I.: SAMs, a Special Administrative Measure.

Jess: Thank you. It's not even a law. She was convicted for breaking a guideline. If you can believe that. And she's the only one convicted for such a thing. They didn't go after Ramsey Clark for the same thing nor did they go after the Guantanamo JAG attorneys who broke SAMs. They only went after Lynne Stewart and they did so because she's a controversial figure who defends controversial clients. By attacking Lynne, they attack the defense system and make attorneys wary of taking on certain clients despite the fact that, in the United States, every one accused is guilty until proven innocent and supposed to be guaranteed the right of defense.

Jim: C.I., anything to add?

C.I.: I would argue it's important to realize these activities she was convicted for took place in 2000 and the Justice Department was well aware of them but then-Attorney General Janet Reno, fully briefied on what had taken place, saw no reason for Lynne to be charged. As the world knows, the Supreme Court installed Bully Boy Bush at the end of that year and he went on to occupy the White House for eight years. It was under him, and under the subsequent Attorney General John Ashcroft, that a Get Lynne conspiracy was formed and executed. To repeat, in 2000, when the actions took place, the Justice Department was fully aware of them and saw no reason to prosecute. And, Ruth, there's another address. Do you have that handy?

Ruth: I just looked it up. July 15th, Judge John Koeltl rules on whether or not Lynne's sentence should be extended. To show your support for Lynne, you can write to Judge Koeltl care of :

The Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
350 Broadway,
Suite 700
New York, NY 10013212-625-9696

Ruth (Con't): And I will assume everyone knows that when asking a judge for leniancy, you should always be polite. However, in case they do not know that, Judge Koeltl sentenced Lynne to 28 months -- a long period of time for a woman who is over 70 years old -- and yet there was huge objection from a small number that the sentence was too light. So this July 15th hearing is to determine whether or not the sentence was too light. And, who knows, Judge Koeltl might reduce the sentence. He could do that. He could be so ticked off that his judgment was being questioned that he reduced the sentence. So please be polite in your letters and the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee will deliver the letters to the judge.

Jim: Okay. Thank you Ruth, Jess and C.I. Now I noted radio was an issue and we still have questions regarding it. Ann's "Oh, Terry, gross" went up Friday night and before it did we had three e-mails asking about The Morning Show on KPFA, whether or not any of us would be covering it again and specifically about Ann.

Ann: Well I cover Fresh Air now. That's my beat. And Ava, C.I. and I will be updating our study next Sunday to show that things did not get better for women re: Fresh Air. I explained Friday that I was done with The Morning Show. I'm not going over it again and, I'm sorry, but the whole point of Friday's post was "One more time . . ." So I've said what I intend to say and I'm done with that topic.

Kat: The earlier article Ann's referring to is "Terry Gross Hates Women (Ava, C.I. and Ann)." And I'll grab The Morning Show topic right here. Aimee Allison is a whore. She tops so many others because while others ignored and/or were silent about Barack's use of drones to kill civilians, Aimee went and taped a video justifying it and then posted it to YouTube. We covered this in February in "Aimee Allison says Pakistani lives don't matter." I'm sorry that's so confusing for some people. You can't write what she did and stand for peace. Enough time has elapsed that she could have issued an apology. She's elected not to. Thereby establishing the fact that she wants to end wars and killings when Republicans are in the White House but she's okay with it when her hero and Facebook friend Barack does the killing. KPFA needs to fire her, there is no recovery for her and this issue has not gone away in the Bay Area, nor will it.

Jim: Okay. Thanks for that, Ann and Kat. Next on radio, Mike, are you walking away from KPFT's Queer Voices? Sanderson e-mailed to ask that.

Mike: No, but that attitude is exactly why so few will cover radio. "OMG, Mike didn't cover it until Thursday! He's walked away from the program!" I've praised the program. I don't live in Texas. I live in the Eastern time zone. Meaning that 9:00 to 11:00 pm. local time program airs in my area an hour later. Ten to midnight. And it's Monday night. I'm tired and I'm not in the mood for homework. And this attitude that we either note something every week or we're just not doing our job is why so many of us don't note stuff. I did not want to listen to it last Monday because I did not want to listen to anything. Instead of respecting that, I got e-mails about it and finally went to the archives and listened. But I don't need homework assignments, thank you very much. There are times when I don't even want to blog these days. And the idea that I've got write something every week about something? No.

Wally: When it was in new episodes, Rebecca covered Heroes at her website. I filled in for her while she was in London helping with the Labour campaign. And I couldn't do that. I could do it temporary. But to write about Heroes every week? Most of the time when it aired on NBC, I'd be with Ava, C.I. and Kat speaking to a group of people about the Iraq War. We were on the road so I'd have to then catch it at NBC [online] or Hulu. Which meant making time for it. And it really became a chore. I told Rebecca that I would end up hating a show if I had to write about it every week for a full year even if it was a show I started out liking. Just because it would seem like an assignment.

Rebecca: Exactly. When it becomes a chore or an assignment, it's too much. That's what Mike and Wally are talking about. Now C.I. covers things regularly and she can do that and there are times when, I know, she's thinking, "I can't believe I have to cover ___ again." But she'll do it, that's the way she is. But for the rest of us? Uh-huh. We're just not going to do that. Ruth and Ann are exceptions but I know, in terms of Ann, that she loathes blogging some nights due to following Terry Gross.

Ann: Exactly. There are nights when I do the ultimate in short posts just because I have to cover Fresh Air. I could write about something else and do a lengthy post. But because I have to do my homework, I'm ticked off some nights. It really does become a chore. Betty, Stan and Mike found a way around that with TV programs.

Stan: Right. Mike writes about Monday programs on Wednesday -- Chuck and 24 -- and I write about Tuesday programs on Wednesday -- V and The Good Wife. Betty was blogging about The New Adventures of Old Christine on Thursdays or Fridays. And just not doing it the night of provided a little bit of a safety valve. Made it less like homework.

Betty: But they canceled The New Adventures of Old Christine. I still can't believe it.

Rebecca: And, with no outrage at all, I will note NBC canceled Heroes and that, as Wally and I both pointed out at my site months ago, the show needed to be canceled. That show sucked. It got worse with each episode.

Jim: And I can relate to that. We were doing a weekly piece on Iraq that always included the violence. But then it became a chore and nobody wanted to work on it. There would be groans and usually it would be Mike, Ava and C.I. that would roll up their sleeves and get that piece started and then the rest of us would write a little besides the deaths and wounded. But it really became a chore and when it's like that, you end up looking for other things to do. So I do understand what you are talking about. Now in Thursday's --

Elaine: Jim, I'm going to stop you for just a second. Betty covers NPR's The Story at her site. She doesn't do it daily. She'll do at length or in brief, but she does cover that program at her site and if you're talking about radio coverage in the community, that needs to be noted.

Jim: Thank you, I'd forgotten that. Betty, you've said in roundtables here that it was your favorite radio program. Do you want to talk about it for a moment?

Betty: Sure. And thank you to Elaine for noting that. NPR's The Story is out of North Caroline. It's an hour long program which airs and streams Monday through Friday. It's every day people sharing their stories. Usually it's two stories a night. If one of the stories is a couple, then you may have two people for that first story. Or there was a story that was about Iraq War veterans who were now in their own band and so you had all four of them. The stories can be about loss or anything to do with life. I really enjoy the program and think it puts the spotlight on the people as opposed to, for example, Terry Gross' celebrity journalism. Last week, by the way, they provided two stories on the Arizona law. One was a man, whose father was an immigrant from Mexico, who was in favor of it, the other was a woman who was against it. The host, Dick Gordon, treated both with respect and allowed them to tell their stories.

Jim: Alright, thank you for that, Betty. And next up, Thursday's "Iraq snapshot" mentioned the nonsense Ryan Harvey wrote about the SOFA and led to one angry e-mail explaining that IVAW "should not be picked upon." C.I.?

C.I.: I don't pledge allegiance to anyone, no one owns me, I'm not for sale. I will call out anything and anyone I want. Ryan Harvey is not a member of IVAW. He is not a veteran. There was no reason for IVAW to feature his writing online. That's before we get into the fact that Harvey's an uninformed idiot who doesn't know what the hell he's writing about. If, like Ryan Harvey, you're an idiot who's never read the actual Status Of Forces Agreement, you can click here and I recommend that you do so before 'analyzing' it. No where in the SOFA does it say that combat forces will leave by the end of August. That's not in the SOFA. Ryan Harvey's an idiot. He's never read it, he doesn't understand it, he needs to sit down.

Jim: Well --

Trina: And he's offensive, I'm sorry Jim, I'm jumping in.

Jim: That's fine.

Trina: And he's offensive. And IVAW shouldn't be posting him to begin with. They're supposed to be non-partisan. Ryan Havery's most well known for his non-stop attacks on all conservatives via badly written songs including one on the Tea Party. That would the same Tea Party that Adam Kokesh supports. I am getting really tired of IVAW bringing in people who are not veterans and who exist solely on the extreme play-left. I'm getting really tired of it. I feel it's disrespectful to Adam Kokesh and the other members who thought they were joining a group opposed to the Iraq War but apparently is becoming just another megaphone for a bunch of weak-willed 'progressives' who refuse to call out Barack but love and live to savage their fellow citizens.

Jim: I was actually going to bring up the Adam Kokesh aspect as well. Adam's running for Congress and people should check out his website on that.

Trina: Well, the issue is, to me, that Harvey's (a) not a veteran, (b) not a voice of inclusion and (c) not anyone who knows the SOFA -- the thing he's supposedly expert enough to write about. As C.I. points out, if you've read the SOFA, you know there's no August 2010 drawdown in it. So when Harvey's writing about that, he's just revealing he doesn't know a damn thing about the SOFA. He lacks the smarts to justify posting his crap, he's not a veteran so that's not justify ing posting his crap and he's someone forever drawing lines so there's no reason to include his crap. And, like C.I., I'll praise IVAW or I'll call it out based on my judgment. I owe nothing to anyone but to offer my truth.

Jim: Okay. Dona's handed me a note that says Isaiah, Ty, Cedric and Marcia have not spoken.

Marcia: Let me go first. A little while ago, radio programs were being discussed. And the homework aspect of it. That's how I feel sometimes on the LGBT 'issues.' I don't have a problem talking about real issues, but I do have a problem with being assigned a topic. Some country singer I've neve heard of came out this month. Good for her. But I'd never heard of her, why would I write about her? There are days when I want to scream, "I'm not your gay blogger!" Meaning, I will touch on issues and if someone I like comes out, I'll note that as well. But I really don't think I need to track the coming out of every celebrity especially if it's someone I've never heard of. The day she came out and the days after, I probably got fifty e-mails insisting I had to cover it, I had to cover this coming out. Well, no, I didn't have to. And, to drop back to radio, I still can't believe that WBAI's Out-FM aired a program attacking San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for his stance on marriage equality. That was beyond low and I will never, ever promote that show. How dare they? How dare WBAI ever attack anyone for promoting equal rights? That was offensive and I have no use for that show. Also on radio, I'd point out that a number of us do note NPR during the week. Especially with regards to the Gulf Disaster but not limited to that. We'll usually note a story on Morning Edition or All Things Considered or, for Trina, Talk Of The Nation.

Ty: Okay, I've got an e-mail question. Often during the week, frequently on Wednesdays, evening bloggers will do a theme topic. Some time it's a TV show or your favorite TV show, or a radio program, or favorite song or favorite poem. But reader Joanna wondered how that happens. So --

Jim: Bad question.

Ty: Yeah, I just realized that. Isaiah and Cedric are the two left to speak and they never participate in that. Okay, Cedric, why don't you talk about it and why you don't.

Cedric: Wally and I do a humor post so we don't get into that. Usually, Mike or Marcia or Ruth has an idea -- sometimes Betty or Rebecca -- and they'll pitch it as a theme post. I know Ann loves it when there's a theme post, she doesn't even care what the theme is.

Ann: I'm just thrilled to be able to write about something other than Terry Gross.

Cedric: And it lets the evening bloggers have a little fun with a topic and shows some insight into them. Elaine's always pointed out how revealing those posts actually are and I agree with her on that. The only time I'm aware of theme posts being done by Wally and me were when IVAW staged Winter Soldier and everyone on that Friday was doing a Winter Soldier post to try to draw attention to the event and Wally and I ended up having a humor post where Bush is catching the hearings in the Oval Office and confused by them which allowed us to quote from the testimony of one IVAW member. But that's the only time we've ever participated in the theme posts. It was a really important issue and we wanted to be sure, Wally and I, that we did our part to get the word out that Winter Soldier was taking place and could be streamed online.

Ty: Isaiah, do you know what comic you'll be drawing Sunday night?

Isaiah: No idea. Why?

Ty: Lynda e-mailed to say she bet you waited until the last minute since you spent the bulk of the weekend drawing comics for Polly's Brew and El Spirito and, in reference to last week's "Roundtable," she wanted it known that she agreed it was better that you didn't use "Gulf Coast Drilling Disaster 2010" here but instead made it your weekly comic at The Common Ills. She did wonder what, if anything, you had added to it to make it the comic for the week.

Isaiah: Sure. It was a pen and ink sketch and Barack was the whole thing. When I made it a comic, I added the oil rig, the spill, the pelican and the ocean. But we were talking about how the disaster exposed how ineffectual Barack was, we were talking last week while working on the edition, and it was thought that we might make that topic an editorial so I just did a quick sketch of Barack naked, covering his crotch with a flag, for the editorial. C.I. saw it and said, "That's your comic for The Common Ills." And that's what it ended up being. I also added the dialogue to it and "The World Today Just Nuts" banner. It was nice to go to sleep and know when I woke up later I wouldn't have to rush to think of a comic idea.

Jim: Thank you, Ty and Isaiah. That's going to be it for this week's roundtable except to note that Dona, Ty and I will be off next week, anyone else? Okay. Read the note to the readers and I'll try to list who'll be working and won't be. This is a rush transcript and our e-mail address is


Two weeks ago, the woefully underinformed Amitabh Pal (The Progressive) weighed in on yet another topic he knew nothing about: The UK elections. The Not So Formidable Pal declared that "it wasn't the Iraq War that did the Labour Party in, since the British people, like their American counterparts, are keen to forget that fiasco." Uh, who told you that, Amitabh? A muse from a wet dream?

In the real world, the Iraq War had a huge impact on the UK elections earlier this month. Nick Clegg became something of a media star as a result of using the Iraq War in the second debate. And of course there was the polling by Labour which showed how much the Iraq War had hurt and was hurting the Labour Party. (In England, Labour was in charge when the Iraq War started. The Prime Minister was Tony Blair. When he would step down, he'd be replaced with Labour's Gordon Brown.) Rebecca would call Pal out. But so did reality and recent history.

Two weeks later, Pal continues to get fresh egg on his face. From Friday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Iraq had an impact on the UK elections this month. If you still don't get that, take a look what's going on currently. Labour is no longer the majority party in Parliament and there is huge competition to lead the party. Ed Balls is among those vying for the leadership slot. Mary Riddell and Andrew Porter (Telegraph of London) interviewed Balls:

His greatest criticism is reserved for the Iraq war, which still saps Labour support. Mr Balls today becomes the first former Cabinet minister unequivocally to condemn the invasion, claiming the public were misled by "devices and tactics".
"People always felt as if the decision had been made and they were being informed after the fact." Though not yet elected as an MP, Mr Balls -- as Mr Brown's adviser -- was party to top level discussions after attempts to get a second UN Security Council resolution failed.
"I was in the room when a decision was taken that we would say it was that dastardly Frenchman, Jacques Chirac, who had scuppered it. It wasn't really true, you know. I said to Gordon: 'i know why you're doing this, but you'll regret it'. France is a very important relationship for us."
Although Mr Balls concedes that, had he been an MP at the time, he would have voted for the war on the basis of the facts provided, he now concedes that not only was the information wrong but the war unjustified.
"It was a mistake. On the information we had, we shouldn't have prosecuted the war. We shouldn't have changed our argument from international law to regime change in a non-transparent way. It was an error for which we as a country paid a heavy price, and for which many people paid with their lives. Saddam Hussein was a horrible man, and I am pleased he is no longer running Iraq. But the war was wrong."

Ed Balls is only one vying for the position and talking Iraq. Patrick Wintour and Allegra Stratton (Guardian) report, "Labour's divisions over Iraq broke out into the open tonight as Ed Miliband became the first contender for the leadership to make it an issue during the campaign. He said UN weapons inspectors were not given enough time in 2003 before coalition troops invaded the country, and asserted that the way in which Britain decided to go to war led to 'a catastrophic loss of trust in Labour'." Miliband's position is much weaker than Balls and that may be intentional (right now no one seriously believes Ed Miliband would challenge his brother David Miliband for the leadership post -- everyone could be wrong, but no one believes it's happening). If it is intentionally weak, he's there to siphon off potential support for Balls while not making such a strong statement against the illegal war that it might potentially force his brother to make a comment/rebuttal.

Elaine and C.I. know the Milibands and Elaine asks that when C.I. tells you what's-what with the Miliband brothers that you pay attention.

Today Ekklesia observes, "The Iraq war has become a central issue in the Labour Party's leadership contest, with candidates who previously supported it seeking to distance themselves from the decision to invade the country." Whereas Brian Brady and Richard Osley (Independent of London) reported, "David Miliband attempted to shift the focus of the Labour leadership debate away from the Iraq conflict yesterday, after two of his main rivals criticised the decision to go to war in 2003." And Vincent Moss (Mirror) notes, "David Miliband clashed yesterday with his brother Ed over the decision to invade Iraq - as they fought it out for the Labour leadership."

It would appear that the person 'moving on' from Iraq was Amitabh Pal who, for the record, hasn't written a column on Iraq in years.

In the real world, the Iraq War continues to drag on and yesterday "US military announced 2 deaths." To Pal, it's all too much to address, all too much to cover. It's all so yesterday for Pal.

March 7th, Iraq held Parliamentary elections. Ayad Allawi's political slate won the most seats (91). Nipping at Iraqiya's heels was Nouri al-Maliki's State Of Law (89 seats). In the weeks that followed, Nouri lodged one objection after another to discredit Iraqiya's win while working behind the scenes to form a power-sharing coalition with the Iraqi National Alliance which, like Nouri's, is a secular Shi'ite slate.

Since forming the alliance, Nouri's served up one suspect after another offering one tortured confession after another in an attempt to prove that he (Nouri) is the law and order man. He didn't bring peace to Iraq in the four years that he's already been prime minister, but he's taken to making statements about how he can do it now. And in case that doesn't work, he's now painting himself as the diplomat.

The Iraq War continues . . . despite the fact that according to then-candidate Barack Obama promised that, if elected, US forces would be out of Iraq by May 21, 2010.

Shame of the week: US Congress

Last week, Mexican President Felipe Calderon addressed the US Congress.

He could have used the time to speak to needs and higher goals. Instead he attacked Arizona. So a foreign president showed bad manners? If it had ended there, that would have been that. Instead, many members of the US Congress elected to not only applaud him but to stand and applaud him.


That photo is after the attack on Arizona, not at the end of the speech. They stood up in the middle of the speech to applaud a foreign leader attacking one of the fifty states. That's disgusting.

Meanwhile Sid Salter (Clarion-Ledger) reports:

What a hypocrite. Mexico's immigration laws, just like Arizona's recently adopted new law, requires that law enforcement officers must "demand foreigners prove their legal presence in the country before attending to any (other) issues."

Of course, what Calderon didn't want to talk about is why the Mexican government and the Mexican economy wants so desperately for unfettered access to the U.S. by illegal Mexican immigrants to continue - remittances.

Remittances - money sent home by Mexicans working abroad - are Mexico's No. 2 source of foreign income after oil exports. Remittances totaled $21.2 billion in 2009, compared with $25.1 billion in 2008, according to the Bank of Mexico, the central bank.

Scott Brown's so pretty

Joey: Remember when you were a kid and your Mom would drop you off at the movies with a jar of jam and a little spoon?
Rachel: You're so pretty.

-- Friends, "The One With The Jam," written by Wil Calhoun.

Since that episode aired, "You're so pretty" has become the response to really absurd moments. Such as last week when the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held an open hearing and the need for possible cuts in veterans benefits was briefly floated. Didn't read about it? C.I. and Wally attended the hearing and reported on it.

Senator Scott Brown: I'm wondering if you could just tell me what benefits might be at risk at this point and time? Any specific issues that we need to focus on that we're missing or falling through the cracks?

Thomas Pamperin: Benefits that are currently being delivered that might be taken away?

Senator Scott Brown: Right. Things that we -- that you're saying, "You know what? We got to keep our eye on this."

Thomas Pamperin: Uh - uh, we'd be glad to - to give you a more extensive response in - in the future. Uh . . . My - my concern is that the nation clearly --

Senator Scott Brown: Can I interrupt just for a second?
I may have kind of thrown that out there. I guess what I'm concerned with is making better use of current law, the things that we have in place that we may not be exhausting properly, we may not be getting the full benefit of.

So what happened, Scotty? You weren't listening and didn't realize what the VA witness Thomas Pamperin was testifying to? Or you were listening and decided that it wasn't an issue that needed to be discussed publicly at this time?

"My - my concern is that the nation clearly . . ." What? What was Pamperin's concern? Because Scott Brown shut down the discussion, we don't know.

Scott Brown.

Scott Brown, you're so pretty.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"I Hate The War" -- Most requested highlight. (And C.I. almost didn't do a talking entry.)

"Iraq snapshot" and "Senate Veterans Affairs Committee" and "Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. and Wally provide reporting on Congressional hearings.

"Chili Cheese Tots in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers the easiest kid-friendly recipe she can think of.

"Thoughts on Michael Caine" and "A Dirty Shame" -- Betty and Stan go to the movies.

"Fringe," "fringe, morning edition," "Vote and vote often," "A curse on CBS," "CBS: Caucasian Bull S**t," "The Good Wife, V," "Chuck, 24" and "Oh, No, CBS Didn't!" -- Mike, Rebecca, Betty, Ruth, Marcia and Stan cover TV.

"Why Amazon downloads suck" and "Amazon and their stupid customer service" -- Kat offering consumer reporting.

"Politics, Robbie Williams" and "Carly, Joni" -- Elaine and Kat on music.

"His own personal Michael Lohan" & "THIS JUST IN! HE HAS A STALKER!" -- That wacky celebrity in chief.

"James Pietrangelo is right" -- Marcia says of this post (see Roundtable if you're lost), "See, this is the sort of LGBT post I like to do. This is about an issue not a People magazine cover. "

"Trapped under a male model" -- Trina's most excellent post.

"Mission Fear" -- And still it continues.

"Who owns who?" -- Elaine says looks who he's nominating now.

And for radio coverage, see:

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