Sunday, June 06, 2010

Truest statement of the week

We shouldn't be so ready to just make the Gulf of Mexico a big experiment and then afterwards say, well, I wonder how that - what the effect was?

-- Dr. Sylvia Earle, "Oil Spill: Can Science Clean Up This Mess?" (Talk of the Nation, NPR).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday and 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.

And what did we come up with?

Elaine, thank you. We had no truest for the week and were planning on not doing one despite Dona noting it was our most popular short feature. Then Elaine suggested this one and we all quickly agreed.

We made the Gulf the editorial again. We hadn't planned on that and had another topic planned (one that's not even covered this edition) but then we got the input. For example, Tuesday, pretty much the entire community wrote about the Gulf Disaster and did so because certain wackjobs were running from the story in order to scratch their I-Hate-Israel itch. You know 'em. You know who we mean.

Ava and C.I. caught this on public access. Ava, "We kept saying we'd watch just a few more seconds. Then we'd get even further appalled. She truly has become a train wreck."

Ann, Ava and C.I. teamed up to take on a fool who wastes everyone's time.
"Not a roundtable," was C.I.'s response when I (Jim) suggested it. I suggested it mainly because we had a lot of people participating and most of the stuff they'd worked on wasn't going to make the edition. This did take forever. I'll leave it at that.

Ava and C.I. wrote this piece as well. And where the hell does the White House get off issuing an announcement of "Sir" Paul McCartney? Did we win our independence from the crown or not?

Short item. Only one that ended up usable.

Ava and C.I.'s third feature (and they also wrote a piece with Ann). Last week, with so many of us off, Ava and C.I. were reading the e-mails here and this piece is largely in reply to the e-mails on the TV commentaries they write.

Our Iraq piece for this edition.

A repost of C.I. on hunger strikes -- at Marcia's suggestion.

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

And that's what we've got. We'll see you next time.


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

Editorial: The Never Ending Gulf Disaster

Gulf Disaster

If it sometimes seems difficult to tell whether BP or Adm. Thad Allen is the bigger liar, that's generally because Thad tends to repeat all of BP's talking points -- a strange habit for a supposed government employee and Coast Guard commander. The tag-team can't even keep their lies straight.

Nicholas Jonston and John McCormick (Bloomberg News) reported Friday
, "Recovery of oil aboard the drillship began about midnight and may have reached a rate of 1,000 barrels a day, based on a BP estimate, Allen said during a conference call with reporters." Quick question: Why doesn't the government -- supposedly utilizing scientists -- have their own estimate or is Thad just such a whore that he didn't think it was necessary? By Saturday Whore Thad was insisting it was even more than that. Dave Gustafson (PBS' NewsHour) reports Thad was claiming 6,000 barrels. And we all know That was speaking with BP's hand up his ass. So it was no surprise to read AP's report that BP's Tony Hayward was insisting today on the BBC that it was "capturing 10,000 barrels of oil per day." That's how it works, they lie, get away with it and come back and lie some more.

Of course, if you want to talk lies, remember when BP was insisting (and many in the press were echoing) that the Gulf Disaster could be no more than 5,000 barrels a day leaking into the ocean?

If you still doubt how serious the disaster is, you obviously gave no money to Democrats in 2008. That's the only way they could have missed you when, on Saturday, they sent out "The Gulf Coast," an e-mail that opened with your first name and then a 'message' from US President Barack Obama:

Yesterday, I visited Caminada Bay in Grand Isle, Louisiana -- one of the first places to feel the devastation wrought by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While I was here, at Camerdelle's Live Bait shop, I met with a group of local residents and small business owners.

His heavy on the "I" statements weren't surprising, nor was his switch to "we" when it was time to take responsibility. (You really didn't think he'd say "I" there, did you?) Joel Achenbach and David Brown (Washington Post) report this morning:

Some of the immediate effects of a spill are obvious -- witness the gut-wrenching images of soaked and suffocating seabirds in the gulf. But some types of ecological damage are hard to measure and can take years to document. Many of the creatures that die will sink to the bottom, making mortality estimates difficult. Damage to the reproduction rate of sea turtles may take years to play out.
The Exxon Valdez spill of 11 million gallons killed as many as 700,000 sea birds and 5,000 sea otters initially, but even 21 years later, populations of sea otters in areas of Prince William Sound haven't recovered. The Pacific herring population collapsed after the spill for reasons that remain in dispute among scientists. Two intensely studied pods of killer whales in the sound suffered heavy losses in the spill and have struggled since. One of the two pods has no more reproductive females. It is doomed to extinction.

Carolyn Cole (Los Angeles Times) adds:

The number of birds found alive and coated in oil throughout in five Gulf Coast states has nearly doubled to 177, with 156 of them picked up in Louisiana. But 547 birds have been found dead, 73 of them oil-soaked. It is not known whether the others died as a result of the oil, but experts said that's possible.
Wildlife experts fear that the population of Louisiana's brown pelicans, which only recently bounced back from near extinction, could once again be destabilized. "It made me sick seeing those two oiled birds,” Dantzker said. “I was incredibly sad.” The group called a bird hot-line to report the two dying pelicans. In less than an hour, a boat arrived.

Equally disturbing is the report from John Solomon and Aaron Mahta (The Center For Public Integrity) revealing the damage was known -- by the Coast Guard and the White House -- long, long before it was revealed to the country:

The logs, obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, provide the most detailed account of the early days of the BP disaster, and identify key events and notifications that were omitted from the White House’s official timeline of the crisis.

The estimate of the potential leak on April 21, the day after the rig exploded, reveals that first responders almost immediately understood the environmental threat to the Gulf of Mexico when Coast Guard officials detected the first signs of oil appearing on the Gulf waters.

Gulf Disaster

Imagine that, the White House lying to the American people. We're sure the usual netwits will emerge to insist, "Everybody does it!" And we're sure that rationalization will go over about as well as Barack's inaction. You're not supposed to notice the plumes, you're not supposed to notice Barack's inaction, you're not supposed to notice that it's day 47 of the Gulf Disaster with no end in sight.

TV: Grime and Whora Flanders

For those late to the party, Whora Flanders' outlandish 2008 behavior included fueling and endorsing sexism by using it to attack Hillary Clinton repeatedly (see "Panhandle Media" for more on that) which demonstrated that the in-and-out-and-back-in-the-closet lesbian had no connection to feminism, she was just another 'radical' who dog paddled over from England and, needing a niche and wanting to keep with her family's long tradition of denial and subterfuge, she decided she'd play feminist.


Our loss and our embarrassment because no one needs Whora on their side. For those unfamiliar with Whora's biggest 'feminist' contribution, it was promoting a false 'study' that imploded (spousal abuse and the Superbowl). For much of the 90s, any true feminist study, any true study on gender differences in pay, in advancement, etc. was mocked and ignored thanks to Whora's 'help.'

Were we conspiracy theorists like Whora's nutty uncle Alexander Cockburn (or like Whora herself who used one Saturday of RadioNation with Laura Flanders one Saturday to 'explain' that the destruction in New Orleans was not from Hurricane Katrina but from hidden explosives set off by the government), we'd insist that Whora's pose of feminist is nothing but an attempt to derail and defocus feminism. Instead, we'll just note that 'helper' Laura's never really helped women. We'll further note that even Whora seems to grasp how nutty she's become. In the recent weekly GRIMEtv, Whora's clip-job effort at a weekly best-of, she not only invited the audience to "call me crazy," she also wondered "am I losing it?"

Admitting the problem, Whora, is the first step to recovery.

And there are so many problems with Whora. At the end of her interview with the over-exposed Dean Baker, she boasted, "You can see more interviews with Dean Baker and get links to his work at our website." That's really nothing to brag about, Whora.

We make the world we want. Whora's in NYC. She's surrounded by colleges and investment analysts. She can't find a woman of any color to bring on as her economic guest? That's alleged 'feminist' Whora for you, always re-enforcing the system that rewards the White, straight male and shoves everyone else into a niche. "He's our economist here," bragged Whora. You get what you settle for.

Which is why she brought on fellow-political closet case Bill Fletcher to discuss the passing of two people. Which two people? Let's see, Bill Fletcher is African-American so your first guess shouldn't be Dennis Hopper and Rue McClanahan. That's right, in Whora's mind, African-Americans can only speak to the deaths of other African-Americans. White Anglos -- watch her show, you'll see it -- can weigh in on the death of anyone of any color but African-Americans, in Whora's mind, must be restricted to speaking only of their own race. Dorothy Height and Benjamin Hooks passed away and Bill Fletcher was brought on to comment.

Uh, Farai Chideya?

Whora insisted in the intro taped for this clip-job that Fletcher and Chideya ("TV host Farai Chideya") would be featured. Instead, the clip of the segment on Height and Hooks featured only Fletcher indicating Whora is highly comfortable rendering women invisible -- especially women of color. (Chideya showed up for the final segment which was an embarrassment as Whora and Chideya likened the Tea Party to the KKK. As if political rallies, that was the danger from the KKK?)

Rendering invisible?

How about LGBT? Though mentioned third on the intro, they weren't the third segment. The Height and Hooks tribute was. They weren't even the fourth segment.

The Height and Hooks segment was followed with crap about gun rallies that quickly morphed into "gay priests" with "boyfriends." From 'expert' John Fugelsang. Who? A bit player in Coyote Ugly or, as Whora billed him, a comedian and "a many time graduate of Bill Maher." A many time graduate of Bill Maher? That would explain the homophobic stereotypes (at this late date, no one should be equating pedophillia with same-sex attraction between adults). Noted sexist Bill Maher hates women and that's why we got Fugelsang -- on 'feminist' Whora's show -- 'explaining' that the Republican Party will never take abortion rights away. Really?


That's interesting. We wonder what Whora's sometime-guest Katha Pollitt would have said had she been present for that assertion.

It's interesting who is present. When the show was winding down, the LGBT story finally aired. Where were the six? Those people (male and female -- "service men and women" insisted one guest) were not aired, were not present. Instead, Queers For Economic Justice' Kenyon Farrow and Voice of Broadway Joel Silberman. Who? Exactly. And his 'radio voice' was laughable. It was hammy, it was theatrical, it was embarrassing.

Neither Farrow nor Silberman were among the six arrested at the White House. Why were they on? At one point, Whora played a clip of the Barbara Boxer rally Barack spoke at in April where Kip Williams (GetEQUAL) called him out. That was the closest the show got to the voices of the activists involved.

Which brought to mind the second segment, the one where Whora 'explained' that Earth Day was having it's 30th anniversary only to be corrected that it was "actually the 40th anniversary of Earth Day." The correction was offered by faux journalist (when you're a kept-whore on George Soros' dime, don't expect anyone to take you seriously) Mark Hertsgaard and "Kit" (Katherine) Kennedy of the weak-ass NRDC. At one point, offering some (weak) criticism of Barack Obama, Whora tossed to Kennedy who sniffed that she wasn't present to mind read or criticize Barack. Hertsgaard also demurred.

That was embarrassing. But shameful?

Whora insisting "but people outside of Washington, let's talk about the movements that exist." The same Whora who claims her show is "putting the public back in the public debate."


For an environmental segment, she has no activist present. She has an alleged journalist and a professional lobbyist. For the segment on the LGBT protests, the one she promised would allow you to hear from "six" LGBT members who were arrested demanding the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, she featured a blogger and the head of an LGBT organization. They weren't the six arrested. She wondered why the sea of change, the difference between GetEQUAL and the laughable HRC? But she wasn't asking the people involved.

For all her people-power talk and all her pretense to democracy, Whora's not interested and has never been. Her appalling 2008 behavior is finally explained: She sees no future. She can't reshape the world because she can't see a new one. She's unable to do anything but mimic the world around her with all its imbalance while pretending to rally against it.

NPR's Blow Up Doll (Ava, C.I. and Ann)

Last week ["Terry Gross Still Hates Women (Ava, C.I. and Ann)"], "Next week, we'll tell you about the real gender imbalance on a show Alicia Shepard supposedly already weighed in on. She deliberately avoided the issue so you know we won't." A number of you e-mailed on various All Things Considered segments which only demonstrates how much work needs to be done at NPR. We were referring to Morning Edition.

Specifically to the "Song Of The Day" feature and specifically to the four installments done by Maura Johnston and Jay Smooth. Johnston's an overly praised, underinformed writer who infamously parted from Idolator in 2009 and the whining from her friends insisted that the website was replacing her with 'mindless blather.' Possibly that explained the Maura Makeover?

Vending machine

Very few women get to take part in "Song Of The Day." For example, you're far more likely to hear Chris Porter offering his thoughts on LoneLady than to hear a woman weighing in. Which is why we desperately wanted Maura Johnston to be worth listening to.

But she wasn't. As one friend, NYC music critic for print, put it, "It's as if she's putting her breasts up against [Jay] Smooth's back and purring." It was actually worse than that as she played Valley Girl ("Totally!") and cheerleader whenever Smooth came up for air mid-pontification.

Smooth was a problem himself. Forget that he's too old to be the average hip-hop listener's older brother and will, in a few short years, be old enough to be their grandfather, the overly praised mental midget is not adept at music criticism. At one point, in the midst of a long ramble, he mentioned Sex In The City and you might have thought that he'd made, for him, a 'historical' reference. But then you quickly remembered the film was coming out and he most likely thought of it for that reason. Point, you can't do music criticism if you don't know music history. You can hype, you can gossip column, but you can't critique. Smooth poured out a deluge of words but he never said anything and he never convinced you that he knew anything.

Still there was Maura giggling and encouraging him and sounding like a living and breathing "blonde joke" (no, she doesn't look like one).

It was embarrassing and the uninformed blather they offered was never even on a 50/50 basis as Smooth repeatedly over talked (and talked over) her.

How bad were the 'conversations'? Here's a fairly typical user comment left at NPR on the 'critiques' Maura and Jay offered: "That's a very restrained or uninspired analysis. Perhaps this is a dull progression or a compromise or.... what not much direct comment about the song more generalizations for a wider audience, which though useful for people who would usually dismiss any rap/hip hop/etc music should go on to say something penetrative. 50,000 pundits could have made these surface observation".

How bad were the 'conversations'? NPR won't publish the bulk of them. But if, out of some masochistic desire, you need to hear the two weigh in on Usher, Eminem, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj, click on the links.

For those who can't stream or whom streaming audio will not help, NPR has made the ''critique' of Usher's "OMG" available in transcript form and here's a typical exchange:

Mr. SMOOTH: Right. So why do you think Usher is going this route?

Ms. JOHNSTON: Usher, you know, he's trying to make a comeback. His last record was sort of a flop, and it's basically a way to sort of capitalize on the Black Eyed Peas' success last year. The Black Eyed Peas had the number one song in the country for 26 weeks of calendar year 2009.

Mr. SMOOTH: Right. It reminds me of the movie "Pulp Fiction," where the guys are really in trouble and they go call in the cleaner.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SMOOTH: And it seems like is the cleaner of pop hits.


Mr. SMOOTH: You call him in, and no matter what's going on, he'll have the perfect formula. He's like an evil scientist...

Ms. JOHNSTON: He really is.

Mr. SMOOTH: ...of session pop music. And even just the title of the song, when I saw it was "OMG," I assumed that meant oh, my God. But only would think to change that to oh, my gosh - just to make sure you don't alienate the two percent that might be put off by actually saying oh, my God.

"Yeah." "He really is." "I had never thought of that." Those are the 'critical' observations (cheer leading of Smooth) that Johnston contributes. And you can notice how little she contributes overall -- even in total time spent. Jay Smooth gets 295 words and Maura Johnston gets 157. Possibly if giggling counted as words, Johnston would have come out ahead.

But the listener never does and it was amazing to read the praise of Alicia Shepherd's weak-ass critique of NPR (Shepherd is NPR's ombudsperson) and know that she was specifically referred to Morning Edition's "Song Of The Day" feature but chose to ignore it.

How can you take on sexism at Morning Edition and not note the appalling statistics for "Song Of The Day" or that, when a woman is featured, she's little more than a giggling blow up doll who rarely speaks and who uses what little time she's given to praise her male counterpart?


Jim: This is an e-mail roundtable where we attempt to address a number of issues you're raising in e-mails. Our e-mail address is Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; 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. Betty's kids did the illustration.


Dona: A number of us were off last week and it appears a number of us are off this week. By that I mean, Ava and C.I. have written three features for this edition and, for a fourth, they wrote with Ann. There's no point in the rest of us adding input to those four features because they are complete and fully realized already. That took place as we worked on articles that never worked and that wouldn't work. We did do at least one short feature that will run and hopefully that's actually two. But if Ty and Jim were to each do their semi-regular features, this really would be Abby Road in that we're all working on our own thing apparently. And by no means is that an insult to Ava and C.I. or to Ava and C.I. and Ann. We're thrilled there's something useable. For this roundtable, anything to do with the Gulf Disaster is off-limits. That's because we're hoping to make that the editorial. Other than that, we're relying on your e-mails. Ty?

Ty: And congrats and thanks to everyone who worked on last week's edition and to Ava, C.I. and Jess who represented and steered while Dona, Jim and I took the weekend off. Last week, Ava moderated "Roundtable" and, I thought and so did all but one e-mail, did a wonderful job of it. The whiner who writes for US Socialist Worker -- and who did not respond to an e-mail from me asking whether or not he or she wanted to be quoted -- felt that Ava was the one being unhelpful and that US Socialist Worker's coverage was not the problem.

Ava: Here's my reply. Thanks for taking time out of your lazy day to write. I'm sure you had nothing better to do. You're not in Arizona, you're not Latino. All your screaming of "racism!" from the comforts of Chicago does is heat up the situation for Latinos in Arizona. I'm not in the mood for it. We are tired of all the Anglos using us as their social experiment. You need to learn to shut up and stop trying to lead us. Despite our percentage in the US already and the predictions for it in the near future, we aren't on staff at Socialist Worker, are we? Just a lot of Anglos and a few token African-Americans. So maybe you should look in the mirror the next time you want to scream racism? Repeating, Latinos in Arizona are the ones who will be hurt by all your theatrics. You make the environment unsettling and potentially dangerous -- when it won't be your ass on the line. My concern is for my Latino brothers and my Latina sisters. You are not my concern, you will never be my concern. I have faith and pride in my Arizona brothers and sisters and know that they will work this out, they will handle it. They do not need a bunch of uppity northern Anglos trying to do leadership by computer.

Jim: And I want to add something to this. We're being nice by not quoting directly. We have no policy that any letter to the editor -- which is what an e-mail to us is -- is private. We can name you if you want, we can quote you if we want. This time, we felt the writing was so obvious in terms of who it was and we decided to make an exception. We received no reply. I was of the belief that we should quote directly from the e-mail. I was outvoted on that but that is our policy.

Ty: Correct. Ginger e-mailed to say, "I feel like Iraq has just faded from everyone's attention. I'm glad you have a weekly feature but I wish you would do more. And it seems like it would be so easy since C.I. is helping out. She covers Iraq repeatedly each day. I hope you will consider upping your output on Iraq."

Jess: For Ginger, we'll do an Iraq feature this week and we really weren't going to. We had an idea and worked for about 90 minutes on it. It's one of the many pieces in the scrap heap now. A few of us were saying that we should just do a week without Iraq but Mike, Ava and C.I. groaned that they'd write the piece themselves if it came to it. But because of this e-mail, we'll all work on it. However, it needs to be noted that this idea that C.I. helping out here -- she's a part of Third Estate -- does not mean we could have more Iraq coverage. As Ginger pointed out, C.I.'s covering it repeatedly each day. That's 19 pieces a week at The Common Ills. The idea that she wants to come over here and find a way to write about it again? You're asking a whole lot with that.

Betty: And a whole lot more than people realize. She does cover Iraq repeatedly each day which requires a lot of work -- much more than any of us do at our sites -- and she's got her own life to live on top of that. I'm just going to throw this out. She is tired, she is to the limit and, for the second Sunday in a row, we've had to pause writing twice so she could go throw up.

C.I.: Thank you, Betty, for your support. And before anyone panics and rushes to e-mail, I'm just really tired from my offline life.

Ty: Well, if you don't mind, I'm going to an e-mail about the Thursday "Iraq snapshot" and C.I.'s comments re: fasts and eating disorders. Henry e-mailed to say he's suffered from bulimia and he appreciated C.I.'s "well reasoned argument about why she won't be able to support hunger fasts." That was one of 17 e-mails on the topic, all stating they were glad it was raised.

C.I.: Me? Okay, well, this was raised multiple times here. By both Ava and myself and usually in roundtables. I also believed Dona spoke about the issue in one roundtable. If it spoke to someone, that's wonderful and I'm glad Henry and others appreciated it but I just want to be clear that it was discussed here many times.

Ty: Henry and others wondered, based on your comments, if you suffered from an eating disorder or had?

C.I.: I really don't like to talk about this because it can quickly degenerate into war stories which glorify something. I also don't like to overplay reality. Elaine can talk about it if she wants from an outside viewpoint and objectively.

Elaine: Sure. C.I. is focused on many, many things at any given time and always has been. It's very easy for her not to eat. Did she have an eating disorder? I don't know. I doubt it from a clinical viewpoint but, just as she can go days without sleep -- and sometimes does -- she has also gone without food many times. And at one point she realized how dangerous that was and now makes a point not to let that happen anymore. She's very good with bulimic and anorexic teens and young adults, in terms of speaking and she'll go into detail with them about these and other issues. She's done that for me with groups I've had and she's done that for others.

C.I.: Okay and to get back to the issue specifically, I'm wary of speaking of it in an environment like this -- or any environment not focused on this issue -- because I'm worried about the takeaway in the same manner that I'm worried about the takeaway on a hunger fast for political reasons. Someone with a really screwed up body image -- which is a large number of Americans -- can read specifics on something like this that are meant to share the horror but instead think, "At last, a way for me to lose weight!" I'm really wary about speaking on this topic outside of an environment where people are actively attempting to be helped with it.

Ann: I've talked about being raped at my site and maybe here. And I hope it doesn't make anyone uncomfortable, but in addition to one on one therapy, I also did group therapy. And I was surprised that a number of women in my group, two, a small number, had developed eating disorders since their rapes. As sorted through in group, it was because rape was an awful crime that took away their feeling of self-determination and power and that, for those two women, the eating disorders were about, on some level, a sense of control. "I will control my body." I bring that up, and ramble, to get to my point which is, I remember Ava and C.I. talking about this issue before I started participating and I agreed then, just reading along. But I do think, I agree with Henry, something really stood out in the writing of Thursday's snapshot on this issue.

Marcia: Agreed. I loved that snapshot and I've talked to Ann about that. I loved that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was treated seriously, treated as the bulk of the e-mail, not as an aside, not as an additional issue, but as a major issue all by itself which is not how I see the issue treated anywhere outside of LGBT blogs. But that one just reached somehow in a way you can't figure out. I think, I know you were sick all last week, as you are today, and I think that exhaustion might have been part of it. But I was glad and I really think we should put that part, on the hunger strikes, up here as it's own little entry. Just that excerpt. I think it's needed.

Ty: I agree with you. And on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Eljean e-mails to ask why we don't do more on that issue?

Marcia: Do they mean here or do they mean community wide? If we can focus first on community wide, C.I. has dealt with this topic over and over. I write about it at my site, Ruth does at her site. Betty and Stan do. Mike does. I'm sure Elaine's done it before but I'm not remembering anything recent but Rebecca has. So that's everyone except Elaine, Trina and Isaiah that immediately come to mind and I know Elaine and Trina have covered it before but not recently. So my point is, community wide, it's covered. In terms of this site, it's hard for me. I'd have to see a list of articles in the last few months. And that's because we often work on this topic but it doesn't result in a publishable article.

Cedric: If it's okay, I'm jumping in for a second. First, we need to establish something in this roundtable, C.I. was explaining that she can't support the hunger strikes because there are too many Americans with poor body image and eating disorders and she can't in good faith encourage or applaud anyone starving to garner attention or to supposedly show strength. She has serious doubts about the messages being sent. And we all agree with that. Lt Dan Choi was on a six day hunger strike. We really didn't cover it community wide. We like Dan Choi, we don't support hunger strikes. Marcia noted that last week and C.I. commented when the hunger strike ended. But we all agree that we are not going to support hunger strikes. Many years ago, 2006, CODEPINK suddenly declared a hunger strike. You were supposed to fast to end the war. Due to the issue, we didn't call it out. Some participated. Most doing it grabbed one day a week and discussed that at their sites. As soon as the strike was over and distant enough not to seem like "immediate response," Ava and C.I. outlined in a roundtable why that was the one and only time this community would ever support a hunger strike. I think Mike wants to say something here.

Mike: Yeah, I do. Thursday, C.I. referenced that CODEPINK action and noted she wasn't talking about Diane Wilson or Cindy Sheehan. I'm not either, but I'd point out that a lot of others who really didn't fast, who cheated it, a lot of them said they were fasting until the end of the Iraq War. Uh, what happened there? Cause if they kept their word, the world wouldn't have Medea Benjamin, among others, today. They didn't keep their word. And that needs to be stressed. They said this fast would go on until the war ended. They promised. Then they got a meeting with some Iraqi exiles in Jordan and called off the strike. Pretended like it was a victory. I bring that up because I now hate CODESTINK and I think they're frauds and that was the first proof of that.

Wally: I loathe them as well and I'm looking at their homepage with Kat right now and we're trying not to laugh too loud. They're the most pathetic organization in the world and really seem to exist only to pimp I-Need-Attention Benjamin as an 'activist.'

Kat: They've got a War Criminals List and they're so damn pathetic. Except for Henry Kissinger, from Tricky Dick's administration, they're all from Bully Boy Bush's. They've got no one from Obama's. Certainly not Crazy Ass Samantha Power who's always screaming for war -- and screamed for the Iraq War though she pretends otherwise today. They don't even have Obama. How many people have to die in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, how many people have to die in Pakistan from his drone attacks, before CODESTINK finds the courage to call him a War Criminal?

Stan: And that's what has destroyed them and other groups. I mean, take me. I'm a Democrat. I loathed George W. Bush. I called him out. But I did that because of what he was doing. I wasn't faking my criticism because I was a Democrat. I sincerely objected to what he did. Barack's continued all of that. How can I not continue to object? And how can I respect any of these people and groups who told me the Iraq War needed to end NOW, not tomorrow, but NOW, who have decided that Barack in the White House means it's all okay? I have no respect for CODESTINK at all.

Mike: Danny Schechter's closed shop for now, so let's talk about him. I'll try to stay high road. But come on, I'm tired of it. He's a journalist. He's been around the block 100 times. There was no excuse for his silence on the sexism in the Democratic Party's primary and his trying to blame his silence off on Hillary Clinton? No. He's the self-named "News Dissector."

Marcia: And [comment stricken per C.I. who states no rumors are going to be allowed in this discussions].

Mike: Right. So he blew it in 2008 and we're watching that unfold in the early months and wondering, "What the heck?" And then it's nothing but PRObama nonstop. He can't call him out, he can savage Republicans every day, he can insult them, he can trash them and he can write really bad screeds.

C.I.: Marcia, no offense, but I don't want that in the roundtable. In terms of his writing, it should be noted that during that period his helper comes along and we end up with some of the most confusing writing in the world since Danny's not a woman. I'm really uncomfortable with this discussion period but if it's going to continue, express your opinions, but stick to the work or I walk out on this roundtable which probably means Ava does as well and someone else will have to take over taking notes.

Jim: Instantly everyone screams "No No! Don't go." Okay, this isn't rumor. We get tons of e-mails complaining about him. I wrote him an e-mail a couple of months back explaining the complaints we get and asking what the heck was going on? Now he can -- and did -- complain that Ava and C.I. rightly noted that Tina Turner doesn't 'have to' forgive Ike Turner for terrorizing her and they rightly noted that he minimized what Ike did to Tina. When it's time for that, he can e-mail back and forth and over and over with one complaint after another. But he wouldn't reply to my e-mail. Then he wants to write, in his last column, that "There were the inevitable cynics who sniped at us from their angry caves of self-righteous anonymity." What a whiny little bitch.

Dona: I'm with Jim. I read those e-mails from him and there was another topic he was on fire about and whining. And I'm reminded of Mike's attitude re: Dave Zirin. Mike -- and Wally -- praised Dave, praised his book. Mike offers one criticism of him -- a valid one because he was pimping Barack on Democracy Now! -- and all the sudden the little bitch starts writing Mike threatening e-mails. It's like grow the hell up already. Nobody did more at any site to get the word out on Dave Zirin than Mike. Mike repeatedly and regularly noted him and the first contact from Dave ever is for Dave to throw a hissy fit. I mean, come on. And here's another thing on Danny, his trashy 'helper' who wrote the nasty e-mail to Ruth? Danny's got a picture of her and here's my advice to her: Don't dress like a whore. Seriously, that's your professional picture? A sweater with holes every few inches showing off your blue bra? That's professional? No, it's whorish. You set all women back when that's what you choose to highlight. It's such a cheese cake photo, I felt like vomiting as soon as I saw it. A number of us had to work really hard to be taken seriously. We don't need a big-butted fat ass woman desperate to be seen as sexy taking away from our own efforts.

Ruth: Dona, thank you so much for saying that. I so wanted to but I thought, considering that e-mail from the little girl, that if I commented it would be seen as merely sour grapes.

Dona: No problem, Ruth. Getting back to what Mike was touching on, Danny became a mouth piece for the Democratic Party. Especially for the White House. We don't applaud echo chambers. In his fare-the-well, he's claiming he's his worst critic. No, he's not. He repeatedly excused himself from criticism. He refused to meet his readers complaints and attacked them in e-mails -- which were forwarded to this site -- and then wanted to whine that MediaChannel was going under. Here's the tough criticism he avoided: His efforts killed MediaChannel. It damaged the left as well, but in terms of his own survival, they killed MediaChannel. No one needed that crap. He became such a Kool Aid Drinker that he was unable to think anymore.

Wally: Well maybe he did or maybe he just pretended. I mean, look at David Swanson. He posts a piece saying Barack's not ending the Iraq War at The Daily Toilet Scrubber and then gets called out so he posts an apology stating that he used an attention getting headline but he's a Barack supporter and blah, blah, blah. Then he's e-mailing C.I., hours after that apology went online, insisting that Barack should be in prison.

Kat: I want to talk about that too. And first, David's e-mail was published by C.I. Long before David wrote that e-mail, he had passed along Rebecca's e-mails. He'd written her about how he loved her site and how he was a big fan and he had a few questions and blah blah. Rebecca replies and he's sending her replies all over the place. Now Rebecca confronted him and he knows how badly he hurt her. C.I.'s never shied from bringing that up at The Common Ills. So David Swanson was an idiot for thinking his e-mails were 'protected.' Not after what he did to Rebecca and his refusal to apologize for it. There are many other people who've written the public account at The Common Ills and they're not being outed here or at that site. But David was an exception because of how he tried to ridicule Rebecca by pretending to be her friend and then passing around her e-mails. So with that explanation, that was really revealing and I'm so glad we're talking about this.

Jim: I wanted to do it in real time.

Kat: As did I. From time to time we get an angry e-mail about how we hate Communists or we hate this or we hate that. People don't know what they're talking about when they write those e-mails. We have no problem with Communists. We have no problem with Socialists. We have a problem with tricksters and liars and it's not our fault that in the American political system, a large number of those are closet Communists and closet Socialists. They want to trick people and lie to people instead of being honest. David Swanson got exposed as a trickster. He was over at Daily Kos and other sites claiming to be a Barack supporter and then he's e-mailing C.I. that Barack's a criminal who belongs in prison? That's what we hate. That's what we call out. This attempt to deceive.

Betty: Exactly. He wants to pose like he's Barack's best friend with Barack supporters and then with others he'll say Barack belongs in prison. You know what, you two-faced bastard, why don't you speak what you believe and quit lying all the damn time. Clearly, you couldn't believe what you posted and what you e-mailed because they are in direct contrast and conflict with one another. I'm so sick of these liars. We say what we mean, unlike, yes, unlike Danny Schechter. And Jim was making a point earlier that I want to get back to, we all like Schechter's work and praised it. We covered his movies and his books and his columns. But those weren't partisan pieces. What happened? Barack gets in the White House and suddenly Danny's feeling free to be who he really is? Was everything just a pose? I have no idea but I have no interest in seeing Plunder. And the only reason that got reviewed here was because Ava and C.I. did the review. Everyone else was of the opinion: Life is too short.

Ruth: Mr. Schechter repeatedly wrote that he was non-partisan. He repeatedly stressed problems resulted from Democratic and Republican administrations. Then he became a Barack groupie. It was not only embarrassing, it was disgusting and a rejection of his previously outstanding work. My greatest regret is that he signed off before he confronted what he had become. If he had confronted it, there might have been some closure and a sense of self-knowledge. But that is why people left, the site became no different than a hundred echo chambers online. It was not worth reading. His helper was forever inserting insults and jibes at people. Why? Often solely because they were Republican. It became a bitchy and snide blog.

Dona: Ruth, I-I'm not sure how to put this. So I'm going to speak it and if it needs to be stricken, it can be. But you and Danny Schechter exchanged e-mails, is that not correct?

Ruth: Absolutely. He wrote me. And I replied. But then, as the exchange continued, I felt like I was being written to to shut up my criticism of his sexism. At which point, I stopped the exchange. If he wants to publish my e-mails to him and his to me, he's free to do so. And that might be productive. But I was not going to continue a private conversation that was taking away from a topic I was writing on at my site.

Dona: And this was before the helper wrote you.

Ruth: Long before.

Dona: I just wanted to get that on the record. Jim and I have wasted enormous time replying to people who pulled that little dance. My advice to any blogger reading us, don't waste your time on it. We learned it after it happened repeatedly. "Hey, love your site, but just one thing . . ." And it's not one thing. You thank them for the e-mail and refuse to grovel and beg for forgiveness, write something like, "We'll just have to agree to disagree on this issue," and the next e-mail comes in screaming and hissing about how awful you are and la la la. It's just not worth it.

Marcia: I want to get back to what Jim was saying because the sentence Danny Boy wrote was, "There were the inevitable cynics who sniped at us from their angry caves of self-righteous anonymity." Caves of anonymity? Golly, Dans, you called me out at your site but refused to link to me, refused to name my site. I'm sick of that chicken s**t. I won't repeat the rumor -- and I know why that bothered C.I. and I respect that -- but I will also note that he's the biggest piece of s**t in the world. He was a self-righteous blowhard who repeatedly defended men who savaged women -- Ike Turner was only one example -- and he regularly ignored women. I have no fond memories of him, I have no respect for him. He was just another echo chamber. Why? Because, like David Swanson, he wanted access. He refused to tell the truth. He didn't sniff the Kool Aid and get drunk. He knew what was what and he thought he could ride the Bambi craze to greater riches. Instead it brought down MediaChannel. Good. With the exception of the piece Ava and C.I. wrote, there was never anything remotely pro-woman or written by strong women at that site in all of its years. That's really saying something when you think about how that website was around for over ten years.

Jess: To be clear, Ava and C.I.'s piece was written for and published at this site. They were not asked, we were not asked, if it could be reposted. When it was reposted, it led to a rumor that never goes away to this day that we received George Soros funds because Danny Schechter has taken Soros money. Ava and C.I. received no money, this site received no money, for that reposting. We were never asked, we were never even informed. We started getting e-mails about it after it went up there and, while asking where people were getting the idea that we were on the Soros payroll, e-mail replies would cite MediaCenter. We aren't on the Soros payroll, we have never been on that payroll. We receive no money for this site. Ava and C.I. are wealthy on their own and would have no reason to whore for Soros. This site has never praised George Soros, we have repeatedly called him out, C.I. has noted for years and years that Soros has "blood money."

Ann: And as someone was saying, I believe it was Betty or maybe it was Kat, we're not tricksters. We don't try to play you. We don't sit here and try to figure out the angle we're going to play and how we'll trick you today. We're not David Swanson. We believe Barack belongs in jail because he's a War Criminal. But, unlike David Swanson, we'll go on the record with that. Swanson, by contrast, will go over to Daily Kos and type up a lot of lies about how much he loves Barack and what a big fan he is.

Jim: Exactly. Dona's noted that we need to hear from Isaiah and Trina but before we go to them, I'm going to give C.I. a second to respond to the Danny Schechter discussion. If she wants to.

C.I.: Sure. Marcia's anger is valid. She has every right to be angry. Her words were distorted at Danny's site by Danny who provided no link to her and didn't even give out her site. There was no way anyone could search it and find out what she said or that he was wrong. He attempted to ridicule her publicly and he didn't play fair. There's no way to spin that into a 'good.' He did similar things with other women -- including a woman at WBAI whom he attacked for her alleged religion. That's a pattern. I'm not going to excuse it away. For a period of time, roughly 2003 through 2006, he managed to speak for and to a large number of people. That ended. And that raises the question when do you pack it in? A question I ask myself all the time. It's a credit to the strength of his talents and the strength of that period of work that so many point to that even now. Even in this discussion. I agree with Ruth's point that he should have had more self-examination and should have had some honesty about what he'd done. It would have made the ending more meaningful. In terms of what Jim and Dona are talking about, in terms of running readers off, I got e-mails all the time from readers he had run off. He lost some early on because there was no focus. With the Iraq War on his radar, he had a focus. Then that was lost and then it appeared any and every topic -- news and non-news -- was being covered. When that happened repeatedly with nothing on Iraq, he became seen as someone who made a movie to make money off the illegal war but had no interest in actually following the illegal war. That's a valid critique. Seems to me if the war outrages you, you don't suddenly drop it. His best writing was generally when he felt slammed, wronged or shut out. As he attempted to cozy up to the Cult of St. Barack, his writing became rigid and frozen and of little value. He was playing a part when he should have been being himself. He did a lot of good in his time online and he helped a lot of people see realities they wouldn't otherwise see. What was really great about his site at the best of times was that it was a place where everyone in the country could engage. He wasn't waving a flag for any political party. And the comments from readers -- either in comments or from e-mails he quoted -- were lively and testified to just how diverse his audience was. Tina Brown was talking about the American media not all that long ago on BBC's HARDTalk and she was, rightly, ripping them apart for their unquestioning coverage of Barack. The thing that makes me the saddest about Danny's departure is that lack of self-realization Ruth was talking about because Tina -- I know Tina, I like Tina -- is always a few feet ahead of the curve and if she's talking about it, that's likely going to be the next big discussion. So it would have been nice if he'd addressed these issues on his own. Instead, he's left them open and the result, if the conversation does take place, is that others will have to provide the answers he didn't. Why did he do what he did? I don't know. But 2008 began an embarrassing period that he never recovered from. That said, he was tired and noted that frequently. That's why he took on a helper to begin with. Best of luck to him and a sincere thank you from me for that Iraq coverage during a three year period. If he does another documentary before this site shuts down, Ava and I'll probably review it.

Dona: If I could, there's a lot of anger here. I know Jim's very angry. I think Marcia's angry --

Marcia: Beyond angry. I hate the man.

Dona: Okay, fair enough. And I'm just wondering if you have anything to say on that?

C.I.: Me. Okay. I thought I did. I said Marcia's feelings were valid. I would be angry if I were her. He held her up to public ridicule and misquoted her and provided no link to her so the curious could have at least read what she actually said. I have no idea why he did that and I called it out at The Common Ills. I don't know what you're wanting, Dona. There was no excuse for the defense of Ike Turner and Ava and I called it out. I have no apologies for that. I'd do it again.
If you're thinking inspiration's going to strike me, it's not. I'm thinking, "After throwing up three times in a row about an hour ago, I should have brushed my teeth longer." I'm thinking, "When is this going to end so I can go brush my teeth." I'm also feeling dehydrated and wanting to drink some water. So if you're thinking I'm going to be able to tie some pretty bow around this conversation, you're mistaken. I think Danny is someone who cares a great deal but I think he got lost and I regret that. It impacted his work and harmed his legacy.

Jim: Okay, Isaiah and Trina. Ty, you have any e-mails for them?

Ty: For Trina, I had several. I'll go with one. Bob e-mailed to say he feels like Trina's lost interest in cooking. Valid call?

Trina: No. But an understandable one. What's going on at my site? Like most community sites, I've got a ton of new readers. That's C.I.'s snapshot, by the way. We've all been getting the e-mails on that. So reposting the snapshot -- which Keesha argued we should do to keep Iraq alive as a topic -- actually benefits us by attracting readers to our sites. For me, at my site, what that means is I need to walk it back. I have a core group of readers who have been with me for a long period of time now. And I can offer some recipe -- and was -- that was complex because they've done all the others. But what's happening more recently is these new readers and they're new to the site and need recipes that are easier to break down for them. So it's like we were getting to a point and now all the sudden it's back to the first day of school and the lesson plan needs to change. If I could, on Danny Schechter, I do understand all the anger that was expressed. And my heart goes out to Marcia because I do know that was beyond rude. He intentionally attempted to ridicule her and refused to allow her any way to respond. With regards to what C.I. was saying, Danny was worth reading for a long time. Not everyone can say that. So I'll just focus on that period of time. And if he was stabbing at Marcia in that last comment, I'll also note that Marcia -- like Mike with Dave Zirin -- praised Danny many times though he never felt the need to draw attention to that.

Ty: Okay. Isaiah. Free style! I've got nothing, buddy.

Isaiah: Okay, well I've got something. Jon Stewart's back from his vacation. I didn't know he was on vacation until I found something online whining at him for calling out Barack's lousy response to the Gulf Disaster. This is how DimeWars chooses to respond: "We know you're funny, Mr. Jon Stewart, but leave President Obama alone." That's so embarrassing. That's so shameful. The President of the United States, regardless of whom he or she is, should always be the object of ridicule. It's one of the last things that reminds us we remotely have a democracy. I read crap like that and think, "Grow the hell up." Seriously, there are too many still too invested in Barry The Hype as opposed to the reality. These are the people like Aimee Allison who go out of their way to explain that Pakistani lives aren't very 'important' because supporting Barry is about the 'greater good.' I read something like that and I'm both disappointed in and disgusted by my fellow Americans.

Jim: Amen. And that's the roundtable. This is a rush transcript.

Can we take the award back?

White House vid

Among the crap that took place last week was your aunt Edith visiting the White House. Wait, that's not your aunt, it's Paul McCartney. He was there to pick up a prize and to stir up a lot of criticism for himself, the Library of Congress and the White House.

At NPR, Tom Cole tackled the John Lennon aspect -- the man who would not be mentioned in the the press releases: "It's understandable that McCartney would like the credit that's due him, but this seems petty, and I truly hope that Lennon's omission from the Gershwin Prize has nothing to do with this lingering bitterness. But the Library's website does not even mention John Lennon's name, citing McCartney as 'the writer and co-author of The Beatles' greatest songs.' That's it? No mention of the other 'co-author' by one of the most vaunted research archives in the world? I have to be blunt here and ask, Did Paul McCartney write anything after he split with his partner that holds even a dim candle to what they wrote together? I welcome your suggestions -- but think really hard."

Cole's blistering essay may get some results, the award may next go to John Lennon.

But should it?

We'd argue Lennon is far more deserving than McCartney but we'd also argue that the Gershwin Prize, handed out by the US Library of Congress and named for the US songwriters George and Iraq Gershwin, should go to US citizens. (Lennon fought for -- and won -- his Green Card. We'd honestly have no problem with Lennon receiving the award.)

This is the third winner of the award -- Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon were the previous two -- and there's been no award given to a woman. No one has a problem with that?

Carole King, Carly Simon, Valerie Simpson and a host of other outstanding female songwriters spring to our minds but apparently not to the minds of others. Diana Ross also springs to mind and while we love a number of songs she co-wrote ("Fight For It," for example), we're aware that she's not considered a songwriter.

And so what?

It's not a songwriting award. Did anyone know that? From the Library of Congress, "The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song will honor either a songwriter, interpreter, or singer/songwriter whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of artistic expression and cultural understanding."

So Diana Ross would certainly be a worthy choice and she is a US citizen.

It's not a minor thing. The Library of Congress also names a Poet Laureate. Guess what? Everyone of them? US citizens.

Why in the world, with no woman recognized, and all the American singers and songwriters and singer-songwriters to choose from, was Paul McCartney selected for this honor?

Paul McCartney.

We don't bow to foreign leaders, we're Americans. So we don't add "Sir" before "Paul McCartney." But damned if Barack Obama could follow that logic. He couldn't stop slobbering over "Sir Paul McCartney" in his idiotic speech. And there's something really sick about since this award go to a British citizen and seeing the White House issue statements about "Sir Paul McCartney." Does no one realize that nobility in America forever ended with the outcome of the Revolutionary War?


In the crap fest of last week, the stink of this award never stopped supplying laughs. Most especially during Barack's speech which included this:
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But the Beatles, they weren't the first rock stars. They'd be the first to say that others had opened that door for them. But they blew the walls down for everybody else. In a few short years, they had changed the way that we listened to music, thought about music and performed music forever. They helped to lay the soundtrack for an entire generation -- an era of endless possibility and of great change.

Oh, yes, remember those days before the Beatles? How hard it was to be a rock star? How there were separate water fountains -- one marked "Normal" and the other marked "Rock Star"? Thank goodness for the Beatles breaking down the barriers. They weren't the first rock stars, as Barack reminds, no, they were part of many on that cold November 1964 morning, marching on Washington, declaring, "I have an electric guitar!"

In a week of dumbness, Barack may have carried it to a new level and, more and more, we're starting to think that's his real purpose in life.

On Air Turbulence

So that's our line up for today. Only two hours. We tried. We asked if we could have more time. But, no, Saint Gwen [Scott] will rejoin us at nine so if you haven't heard that once or twice today, nine o'clock you can hear it again. In the meantime though, fresh programming with a live host, that's me, Max Schmid.

-- Golden Age of Radio, WBAI, May 30, 2010.

TV reflections

After a decade when broadcast TV's future seemed iffy, it may finally be emerging from its funk. If there's been a winner in the last two years, it's been CBS. If there's been a loser, it's been NBC.

We warned, before it ever aired, that turning over five hours of prime time to The Jay Leno Show would be a huge, huge mistake. We warned in November that the affiliates were telling NBC that the show gets dropped or they're going with other programming. So we're not surprised that at the start of 2010, the Water Cooler finally caught up with us. Nor were we surprised by the very personal attacks on Jay Leno. Those attacks, please understand, had little to do with Jay. It had more to do with the Water Cooler set being yet again caught with their pants down. They couldn't speak freely -- if they'd wanted to or known what we knew -- because advertising dollars pay their salaries. Though we didn't suffer that hostage syndrome, they did. And it was necessary for them to attack Jay in order to make it appear they were no one's puppets.

So when we say NBC's the loser of the last two years, we're sure the Water Cooler set would immediately point to Leno and nod their head. Leno's not the problem. Leno's show was a disaster. That's not the issue. The issue is NBC doesn't know what the hell it's doing.

Let's talk about CBS because this May may have been CBS' last good month. We know the Sheen family and we honestly do not hate Charlie. So we're going to set him aside and encourage others to engage in that conversation. But he's far from their biggest problem come fall 2010. That's when they unload a lot of shows that a lot of frat boys think other people will like. Aging frat boys, we should say. Do they like them? No, they say, but young men will.

CBS canceled some ratings winners (The New Adventures Of Old Christine most infamously) and it's set to air shows that even they don't like. Do you get why we're saying next fall may not be good for CBS?

That's then, this is now. Right now CBS is doing some very smart things. The Good Wife, for example. Yeah, they renewed, that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about the fact that they're airing it Tuesdays. You'd think after NBC's disasters and the emergence of NCIS as a ratings juggernaut, other networks would have examined how that happened? Excuse us, how the hell that happened?

For one thing, the former Pax aired repeats constantly introducing it to new viewers. But the main reason the show became what it is? CBS kept it on Tuesdays. No, not just in the fall and spring, year round. Wherever you were, you could tune on each Tuesday and there it was. TV ratings have long demonstrated that TV viewing habits are, indeed, habits.

By contrast, NBC destroyed itself each summer. Their hit show was Heroes with Chuck highly promising. Both shows could have increased viewers. But NBC refused to air them in repeats. It was a very stupid decision and one that NBC shareholders should be howling over.

On the most basic cost issue, by only airing Heroes episodes once, NBC was paying far more per episode than they should have. (Repeating them at least once in the summer would have meant NBC was paying for two showings of each episode.) When Heroes was worth watching (year one), it would have benefitted from those strong episodes being available over the summer where new viewers could have seen them and old viewers would have been encouraged to tune in at the same time each Monday for those shows. But NBC took it off each summer.

The effect of that move was most obvious and immediate with Chuck. It would take the start of season three of Heroes for the damage to show but Chuck was showing the damage in season two. A promising and engaging show could have used the summer to grow and garner further word of mouth. NBC didn't give it that and Chuck was benched from it's May episode until its fall premeire. When it returned, viewers didn't really care or were unaware because it took several weeks before Chuck got close to the numbers it closed the first season with.

This slow catch up happened with the start of season three as well. You'd think NBC would have caught on but they've renewed Chuck for season four, have it on the schedule at its same time but they're not airing it once this summer. This despite the fact that Chuck is the sort of show that screams summer (spies, car chases, fight scenes).

Though NBC has repeatedly demonstrated it is unable to learn, it may not have to. CBS may destroy its lead all by itself. They're messing with the Monday night schedule, sending The Big Bang Theory to Thursdays where CBS has offered no comedy prior. And yet CBS has refused to do the needed thing: Show The Big Bang Theory twice a week -- on Mondays where everyone expects it and on Thursdays where they're going to have to go to see it this fall.

With NBC having no clue and CBS losing their marbles, maybe it will be the year for ABC? One smart move they're making currently is airing Happy Town. Were we running ABC, we'd take the remaining episodes and turn them into 'event programming.' Meaning we'd grab them and air them Monday through Friday in the last hour of prime time for one week. Happy Town's highly watchable and a strong show. It could have grabbed viewers if ABC knew how to market it. They saw the ratings for the first episode and gave up hope. What they should have done -- the same thing they should have done with Eastwick -- was given the show a push. Take the first two episodes and turn it into an ABC Saturday night movie. That would have provided a slightly different platform, an audience that would have been mildly curious about a show they previously had no interest in and could have generated some word of mouth.

But the networks really don't know how to do that anymore and, as we've already noted, CBS is proud to be airing shows that they think someone might believe in . . . even if they themselves don't.

Some readers don't believe in the way we (Ava and C.I.) cover TV. They're newer readers and they're furious that, digging through archives, they can't find a review of The Wire or some other overly Water Coolered garbage that we are, frankly, thrilled to have avoided. When this site started, the target audience did not have cable TV. So the decision was made that we would review broadcast television only.

Broadcast television will remain our focus. However, this summer we will include reviews of a number of shows airing on basic cable. Due to pressure from new readers?

Hell no. Due to pressure from friends with Hulu and responses from older readers. The week before last, Ty was on vacation. So we read all the e-mails here and we saw the new readers asking for cable programming. We were already being asked by friends with Hulu to do something and we pitched it to our older readers as a one-summer thing: If Hulu offers the show for streaming (and Hulu has closed captioning option, by the way), would you be okay with us covering non-broadcast shows? All replies indicated that was no problem.

So you'll see some of that this summer. This summer. Not from now on. The death of broadcast TV has been lamented since the first screwball thought The Sopranos was changing his life. (We wish.) The reality is that broadcast TV actually had a resurgence -- little noted -- in the last two years and that it continues to be the most widely viewed platform.

The Frustrations

Friday on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), MBC's Nadia Bilbassy declared, "I think every time I come on The Diane Rehm Show I ask the same question.When they going to from the government and, I think, I don't have an answer." Today, at McClatchy Newspaper's Inside Iraq, Laith Hammoudi has posted a comic from Al-Mutamar in which two politicians talk (one says he'll bring the table, the other says he'll bring the chair) while a third person beseeches them to "just meet".


Parliamentary elections in Iraq concluded March 7th. Everything since has been manuevers by Nouri al-Maliki to remain as prime minister. There were the charges of fraud and demands for recounts. The recounts took place (in Baghdad) and no fraud. As with his other roadblocks, they all appeared efforts to draw out the process while he made secret deals.

163 seats are needed to form the government and Nouri teamed State Of Law with the Iraqi National Alliance to reach 159. Though that coalition may or may not hold, he's yet to announce he's reached 163 while Iraqi National Alliance has announced that they are nominating Ibrahim Al Jaafari and Adel Abdul-Mehdi as their picks for prime minister.

Meanwhile Anthony Shadid (New York Times) reports Faris Jassim al-Jabbouri has been assassinated. He is the third member of Iraqi to be assasinated since March.

And there's no formation of government yet.

Supposedly, the Supreme Court signing off on the election results, the (new) Parliament will sit in the next two weeks. Supposedly.

Tomorrow, it's three months since the elections concluded. Some point to the 2005 experience and note the elections were held in December and the prime minister (Nouri) not selected until April. Four months later. By that schedule, they may be on track.

But haven't we heard how much better things allegedly are? Haven't we repeatedly been told the bad days of the 'civil war' are over?

With all the supposed improvements, shouldn't the process have moved a lot smoother and a lot more quickly this time?

On the hunger strikes . . .

In Thursday's snapshot, C.I. weighed in on hunger strikes. We got 17 or so e-mails on this and we're reposting C.I.'s comments here at Marcia's strong urging. -- Jim

Monday, Marcia noted, "Again, I support Dan Choi. I like him. He's a real leader. But I wish he wasn't on the hunger strike. I just don't see this ending well. I hope I am wrong." This community supported the hunger strike staged by CODEPINK in the summer of 2006. But some of us took it seriously. Others, who swore they'd stay on it until the Iraq War was over didn't. (I am not referring to Diane Wilson or Cindy Sheehan who took the hunger strike very seriously.) Hunger strikes have a long political history but when that one ended, Ava and I made it clear that we would never endorse a hunger strike again and that we were surprised and caught off guard by that one. (The US has enough eating disorders without further equating strength with starvation through political action.) We're noting Dan's hunger strike now. What does that mean?

Jessic Green (Pink News) reports it has thankfully ended and that he and James Pietrangelo "abandoned the protest yesterday evening after supporters voiced fears for their health. Unfortunately, Dan has "hinted" it may come up again. It is a political action but we won't support it. I'm sorry I've spoken to too many groups over the years about body issues and eating disorders. It used to just be young girls and young women. Then it became more and more boys and young men. Some of the males -- not all - are gay. I just cannot personally support a hunger strike again. We'll continue to note Dan, he's a wonderful leader but this is a longterm issue (eating disorders) that many people struggle with and I am very uncomfortable sending any sort of message that we show strength or garner attention by starving ourselves. That's me. Others can do what they want, especially if they're adults. (But I am very glad Dan and Jim are off their hunger strike and think it would be great if they would stay off but they're going to do what they think is best and more power to them on that.) And to be very clear (because as usual Lez Get Real is yet again attacking Dan -- we're not linking to that site ever again), I am sure the strike was powerful and sparked many thoughts, I just personally do not support hunger strikes (for reasons outlined above). Overturning Don't Ask, Don't Tell will require a variety of actions and each person should pursue the ones they can tolerate (go beyond comfort zone).


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.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Heck Of A Job"

"Special Spuds in the Kitchen" -- Trina talks the economy.

"The Last Movie" and "Uma" -- Stan and Ann offer Friday movie posts.

"A birthday (yea!) and an idiot (boo!)" -- Mike offers idiot of the week and notes an important birthday.

"No longer the youngest and cutest" & "THIS JUST IN! DON'T MAKE HIM TALK!" -- when Barry's playing silent treatment, it's because he's jealous.

"Honky Naomi Klein and her racism" -- Betty takes on the racist Naomi Klein. And, yes, we are comfortable calling her a racist. Naomi Klein has earned the title and then some.

"The Story on the portrait," "day 45," "'the costs'," "Morning Edition should be called moaning edition," "No Laurence," "The Gulf Disaster," "Don't be a Goodman," "the gulf disaster is not a sidebar," "The never ending Gulf Disaster" -- radio coverage in the community which also includes:

"Holiday weekend" and "Memorial Day" -- Marcia and Mike posted on Monday or 'Monday'. :D

"Holder talks BP, BP whines," "the gulf disaster is not a sidebar," "BP 'suffers,'" "BP and Wendy's -- two things that piss me off," "Pretty words with little meaning," "The never ending Gulf Disaster" and "Grab bag" -- BP coverage in the community.

"THIS JUST IN! KEEPING IT FAUX!" & "America's top model" -- He's so pretty.
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