Sunday, August 01, 2010

Truest statement of the week

Blix put Iraq in a no-win situation. Before setting off to inspect it in 2002/early 2003, he told a reporter that 'not seeing something, not seeing an indication of something, does not lead automatically to the conclusion that there is nothing'. So if he found weapons there would be war, and if he didn’t find weapons, well, there might still be war. The pro-war lobby saw what it wanted to see in Blix's suspicions-filled final report to the UN in January 2003, with one account rightly arguing that it 'greatly strengthened the American and British case for war'. Far from trying to prevent war, the weapons inspectors -- with their demented scaremongering between 1998 and 2003 -- provided Washington and London with the perfect justification for their military venture.
Only a fool would idolise Blix. The spat between him and the US and the UK is no principled stand-off between anti-war and pro-war camps. Rather it is a struggle amongst clashing invading forces, with Blix defending the right of his people to occupy and blackmail the 'moral lepers' of Iraq for the rest of time, while Bush and Blair preferred to launch all-out war against those 'moral lepers'.

-- Brendan O'Neill's "Hans Blix's Stalinist rewriting of history" (Spiked).

Truest statement of the week II

"NBC's Chuck Todd, Sleepless and Depressed Over JournoList" (Peter Hart, FAIR):
Rebecca Says:

Peter Hart, if you want to ever be taken seriously how about your write a piece on FAIR and how you and FAIR ignored sexism throughout the Democratic Party primaries? How about you do that? How 'bout you explain your single sentence at the end of May and how it took Hillary being called a "bitch" on CNN for you to say a word — a single sentence.

Ava and C.I. documented it here, if you've forgotten, Peter.

And how about you talk about FAIR's action alert on the last debate between Barack and Hillary? And how about you talk about what Journolist did on that?

FAIR used to be FAIR. In 2008, it showed a really ugly side and I've seen nothing to indicate that it intends to change.

By the way, where's the article on Barack's homophobia?

You stayed silent when he put homophobes on stage in South Carolina (read Kevin Alexander Grey's piece in The Progressive for what FAIR wouldn't tell you), you stayed silent when he did it again in the general election and you stay silent all the time.

P.S. Stop sending me your FAIR alerts. I do not highlight sexists and homophobes at my blog. Stop sending me your 'alerts.'

-- Rebecca takes the fight for truth to so-called FAIR.

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another week, another long edition. 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),
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

What did we come up with?

Hans Blix is a serial liar. It was amazing to see so many believe in his lies. Here's one person who called them out.
Rebecca taking on FAIR.

Isaiah did the illustration, we thank him. This is the Iraq focus for this edition.

Ava and C.I. wanted to review something else this week. I asked them to cover Burn Notice. ("I" being Jim.) Hopefully, when you read this you will agree it was the right call.

Reporting on a Congressional hearing last week. Isaiah did the illustrations of Bob Filner and Steve Buyer.

The naval gazing roundtable. We really did intend to expand to some other topics. That never happened. Betty's kids did the illustration and we thank them.
A new feature that we hope will be a regular one. First out of the gate, Doug Henwood.

Isaiah did the illustration of our modern day Charlotte Rae.

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

And that's what we managed to complete that was publishable.


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

Editorial: Hans Blix's Fairytale

Hans Blix, the hero supreme. The legend, the man, the miracle.

If you believe that, you're on the hard stuff and need to check into rehab.


Tuesday, Hans Blix prattled and preened before the Iraq Inquiry in London. As many waited for the truth, Blix conjured another Hans -- Christian Andersen -- as he told a pleasing fairytale, one in which War Criminal Tony Blair was as brave and true as King Arthur.

To hear Blix tell it, even when the evil witch George W. Bush came along, Tony was still true of heart.

The problem, Hans explained, was that the US was driving a runaway train and Blair was trapped on it. And, for good measure, he insisted that Blair always worked within the United Nations framework.

Many an overgrown British tot sighed contentedly, able to drift off into slumber at last knowing that empire was a US thing and that the Brits had been unwillingly pulled into an illegal war.

And like all fairytales, to believe in it, you had to suspend disbelief. You had to believe that a wooden puppet could turn into a human boy; that mermaids not only existed, they pined for washed out colorless human beings; and that, given the choice, any woman would willing step into a pair of glass slippers.

To believe Hans Blix's fairytale, you had to suspend disbelief and you had to forget a lot of details and facts. Such as the MI5 Director General refuting Tony Blair's claim that England could be attacked with WMD by Iraq.

Eliza Manningham-Buller: As I said to Lady Prashar, we regarded the threat, the direct threat from Iraq as low. We did think -- and it comes in that letter -- that Saddam Hussein might resort to terrorism in the theatre if he thought his regime was toppled, but we did not believe he had the capability to do anything much in the UK. That turned out to be the right judgment. What the letter -- has been redacted from the letter, like I say, in general terms is that is partly as a result of action we took. But I don't think the threat in the UK was anything other than very limited.

You had to forget what Blair's Deputy Legal Adviser told the Inquiry January 26th:

Committee Member Usha Prashar: Can I just then confirm, what were your views of the legal position on the use of force against Iraq before the Security Council Resolution 1441?
Elizabeth Wilmshurst: They were the same as described by Sir Michael Wood this morning, that it would be necessary to have a resolution of the Security Council, if force against Iraq were to be lawful, that the other lawful reasons for the use of force were not present at that time.
Commitee Member Usha Prashar: But there was a consistent view of all the law officers with the FCO [British Foreign & Commonwealth Office]?
Elizabeth Wilmshurst: Of all of the legal advisers within the FCO, yes.

There is so much testimony that you had to forget to believe the fairytale.

You had to, for example, forget that Blix testified, "I came out right from September 2002 on to the very end when I said, 'Yes, there might be weapons of mass destruction'."

What was Blix tasked with?

Determining whether or not Iraq had WMD. As Blix explained to the Inquiry, he thought they did. He investigated and couldn't say they didn't but he thought they did and he passed that along.

Did Iraq have WMD?


Shouldn't Blix have known that?


Blix is responsible for the Iraq War as surely as War Criminal Tony Blair and War Criminal George W. Bush.

It's obvious to all but those who really need to believe in fairytales.

TV: Burn what?

USA network's Burn List is currently in season four and that may be the most puzzling thing about the show.


Jeffrey Donovan stars as Michael, a former secret agent for the United States, who was "burned." When they're done with you -- for whatever reason -- they burn you. Michael now attempts to make a living in the real world and the most unsettling thing there may be how little prepared he is for the private sector. Don't they teach CIA agents marketable skills?

Donovan delivers endless voice overs throughout the show which, no one's supposed to notice, undercuts the notion that Michael is the 'strong silent' type. Playing the weak and bubbly type is Bruce Campbell looking like at least sixty large pizzas exploded inside of him in under ten minutes. Campbell's performance is nothing but a grin, like George Peppard in the original A-Team. The term for it isn't "acting," think of it as "funning.'' Sharon Gless plays Michael's mother Madeline and Gabrielle Anwar plays Michael's business partner and sometime lover Fiona.

Season four finds Coby Bell added to the cast as Jesse. Who is Jesse? Another secret agent who got burned. And he got burned my Michael! It's like the life cycle of plants and secret agents.

The A-Team really is the template for this show. It's instantly forgettable and completely disposable. It's not even a confection -- the way Covert Affairs is -- because it's far too drab. In fact, the only thing memorable about the show is the homo-erotic undercurrent forever threading its way through each episode. Michael's fond of speaking to 'bad guys' on sexual terms. Posing as a drug supplier, he tells a Miami drug dealer that when he's ready to get serious, tap him on the hip and they'll meet up in the champagne room.

When he's delivering one of those lines, undercover, he's often using a very bad southern accent that makes him sound like a New Jersey man hitting the Big Apple and determined to market himself as a Midnight Cowboy. Which only adds to the homo-eroticism.

There's nothing erotic or sexual about FAIR. In an earlier time, they might have been dubbed Salt Peter. Last week, FAIR's Peter Hart lashed out at Chuck Todd (MSNBC). Why?

Roger Simon (Politico) quoted
Todd stating of Journolist, "I am sure Ezra [Klein] had good intentions when he created it, but I am offended the right is using this as a sledgehammer against those of us who don't practice activist journalism. Journolist was pretty offensive. Those of us who are mainstream journalists got mixed in with journalists with an agenda. Those folks who thought they were improving journalism are destroying the credibility of journalism. This has kept me up nights. I try to be fair. It's very depressing."

Them's fighting words to neutered tabby Peter Hart. See, no one's supposed to talk about Journolist. If they do, Hart's going to hiss and scratch. Todd explained why he had a problem with the list and Hart begins ridiculing Todd for not saying something similar about the Iraq War. (Note, Rebecca called out Hart in the comment section.)

"I'm all for journalists feeling in some way responsible for the reputation of their profession," smirks Peter. "In that spirit, I wonder if the media's coverage of the Iraq War keeps Chuck Todd up at night, many billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives later? Does Andrew Breitbart's destruction of a community organizing group--aided by credulous media coverage--bother him much?

On the latter, it's really important for Peter to continue lying about ACORN. We don't support falsified voter registration -- whether done by Republicans or Democrats. ACORN got into enough trouble over the years on its own. When Juan Gonzalez attempted to present a balanced picture of the pros and cons of ACORN on Democracy Now! he was cut off and no one on the left has tried it since. ACORN was a group started and run by White people with a few token African-American faces for public consumption. It was a White man, Dale Rathke, in fact, who stole the most money from ACORN (nearly one million dollars from 1999 to 2000) -- a White man whose brother founded the organization. Despite the fact that ACORN depended not only on private donations but also on state and federal monies for funding, this crime -- embezzlement is a crime -- was covered up and not reported to the authorities. Peter covers for ACORN because he's part of the White radical set that tries to manipulate people of color. This is evident by many facts but, keeping it simple, he is a co-host of CounterSpin, this supposed 'modern man,' thereby ensuring that a person of color is kept out. Apparently the need to create opportunities for people of color does not, in Peter Hart's mind, demand that he surrender the microphone to, in fact, a person of color.

FAIR is a lot like ACORN. For example, they love to trot out Janine Jackson as proof of their racial diversity. Janine got into the all-White crowd by marrying in. You don't get much Whiter than FAIR. Remember that the next time they're yammering away about this act of racism or that act of racism. Jeff Cohen, Norman Solomon, Steve Rendall, Peter Hart, Jim Naureckas . . . FAIR's a White world and, yes, it's a man's world.

As for Iraq, Peter Hart's quite the funny man, isn't he? Iraq. FAIR pretending to give a damn about Iraq?

FAIR is supposed to put a spotlight on the stories that need covering. CounterSpin discussed Iraq last when?

You have to drop back months and months to March. And before that you drop back even further. When it is time to supposedly talk Iraq, they tend to go with little Mamas boys -- you know, Iraqis who are 'fighting' the occupation . . . from the safety of the US. Those cowards know who they are. And it's no great surprise that they and FAIR would cling together -- birds of a feather, after all.

So Peter lies about ACORN (again) and wants to toss out Iraq, try to get mileage from a war FAIR's all but forgotten (except, of course, for grandstanding purposes). But he never deals with reality. Like a secret agent, Peter engages in distraction.

"Look the Iraq War!"

As opposed to the reality that Journolist is and was a scandal. That FAIR collaborated their efforts ('action' alerts) with Journolist on many occasions.

Peter Hart hopes the story is buried because there are so many loose ends that right-wingers will allow to dangle. Not knowing the left, they won't make the connections. The Daily Caller appears (at present) to be done with Journolist which is really too bad because a lot more was being exposed than Tucker Carlson & Co. thought. When Peter Hart's slamming Chuck Todd, you better believe Petey has s**t his underoos over Journolist.


Because continued publication of Journolist e-mails would have created a Burn List. Not a right-winger thing, but something on the left. On the left, we're not fond of liars. Now, granted, a lot of Republicans who grew tired of Bush and decided to call themselves Democrats embrace liars. They lived through the 90s, they were in bed with liars. Or, like Arianna Huffington, they themselves were liars.

But the real left, the left that's left today, left tomorrow and left yesterday? We don't put up with liars. Not even for our side. In fact, we cringe when we discover liars on our side. And that's what had Peter worried. It wasn't just the 400 members. It was also how the talking points were distributed (including on CounterSpin). And it went to the larger point we've been making for years now.

Drop back to our 2008 writing, specifically look at "Panhandle Media." No, it is not normal for all magazines on the left and all radio stations on the left to all agree on one candidate in a primary. That doesn't happen normally or, in fact, naturally. Journolist was only one of the many ways Team Obama conspired to fool the public.

Grasp that independent media gives lip service -- only lip service -- to grassroots and people participation. They decry backroom deals. At least publicly. Privately, they got on board the Barack bus early on and conspired to bully and destroy anyone who would not hop on board. We know independent journalists -- or journalists working for so-called 'independent' publications and programs. We've heard the horror stories. We've heard how the line came down before 2008 that Hillary would be portrayed as a bitch and Barack as a saint, that every bad thing about Barack would be buried.

Knowing inside stories, we watched with fascination as the Journolists were published, noting how X had connections to this radio program, that TV program, this magazine and how the talking points would be amplified at all. The Daily Caller, by contrast, half-the-time didn't have any clue as to what they were publishing.

For example, why did people following every piece on Journolist published by The Daily Caller, end up writing this site last week to ask us if it was true (as we noted in "Serving under Richard Nixon, Chris Hayes (Ava and C.I.") that Chris Hayes' wife serves in the Administration? Yes, it is true and we provided links you could click on to verify that. But that's what we're talking about.

And all sorts of interesting linkages could be made, a network of deception could be charted. But Tucker seemed to have no idea what he had or maybe he just got scared off by the attacks from the likes of Petey Hart.

If you've ever listened to Pacifica Radio for any length of time, you are familiar with the pledge drives. That's when various hosts insist that you are getting real news -- despite the lack of news programs on Pacifica -- and that you are getting unbiased opinions and that you are getting, from Pacifica, something you couldn't get anywhere else. And that pitch would be a lot more laughable if anyone ever stopped to grasp just how much coordination is going on.

Peter Hart has to attack. He can't find employment in the real world.

If he got a burn list, what would he do then?

Probably take part in plodding non-adventures like Michael Westen. Badly written episodes which try to fill gaping holes in the plot by non-stop voice over narration and lots of explosions. Burn Notice is the type of show that's dated about thirty minutes after an episode airs. That's about thirty minutes more of currency than most 'independent' radio programs have.

VA's lost billions

The Department of Veterans Affairs cannot account for billions. This was well established Wednesday in a House Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing. Chair Bob Filner noted, "The US Dept of Veterans Affairs is the second largest agency in our system of government and each year, they are authorized billions of dollars to care for our nation's veterans. Miscellaneous obligations are used by the VA to obligate funds in circumstances where the amount to be spent is uncertain. They are used to reduce administrative workload and to facilitate payment for contracted goods and services when quantities and delivery dates are unknown."


And the Government Accountability Office can't track it. This was very clear from the testimonies of the GAO's Susan Ragland and Glenn Slocum -- even with the GAO attempting to be "diplomatic" as US House Rep. Cliff Stearns pointed out.

Chair Bob Filner: If you had to give a grade between your initial report and now, what would you give?

Susan Ragland: Oh.

Chair Bob Filner: I'm a teacher, so.

Susan Ragland: Oh, I guess I'd say somewhere between a C+ or a B-. Somewhere in there.

Chair Bob Filner: Sounded like an F to me, but what do I know?
The VA sent the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Finance Edward Murray, the Chief Financial Officer W. Paul Kearns III and Chief Procurement and Logistics Officer Frederick Downs, Jr. to testify. Kearns would provide a breakdown of missing/unaccounted for monies:

2007: $6.9 billion
2008: $11 bilion
2009: $12 billion
2010: $12 billion

That adds up to $41.9 billion.


Ranking Member Steve Buyer would repeatedly express his hope that the money was merely unaccounted for but repeatedly note how, when the money can't be tracked, there is a huge temptation for fraud and worse.

Committee member Jerry McNerney would repeatedly express how the VA and the Congress needed to get on top of this issue before the press started running with it. McNerney was worrying for no reason. Despite an open hearing, despite $41.9 billion being missing/unaccounted for, the press pretty much ignored the hearing. No major daily paper reported on it the next day. McNerney

Rep. Jerry McNerney: As Mr. Searns pointed out, we've seen an increase from five billion to 12 billion in the use of form 1358. t just seems to me that form 1358 must be so easy to use that everybody in the VA wants to use it. I mean is that why people are using it more? Is that why the -- it's just easier to use? It requires less discipline? Less work? Is that what's happening?

Edward Murray: I-I-I -- 135 -- 1358 form is used primarily, should be used primarily for non-far type uh procurement transactions, things like that. Beneficiary travel, meal tickets, purchase care under Title 38 that does not require a far based contract.

Ranking Member Steve Buyer: You've just said "should be." We're all getting really annoyed here. Please be responsive to the gentleman's question.

Edward Murray: There are 23 approved uses for this -- for that form.

Rep. Jerry McNerney: Right.

Edward Murray: They've been vetted. That is the uses for that form. They should only be used for that 23 approved uses.

Rep. Jerry McNerney: It just seems to me that form 1358 ought to be eliminated and form 2237 ought to be expanded and used for everything because look what the problem -- look what the situation is that you're in right now. I mean, if 2237 requires more discipline then that's what people should be using. Uh, I mean, do you have a way to respond to that?

No, he didn't have a way to respond to that.

Chair Filner stated, "I am angry that the VA leadership continues to be unresponsive to these issues on cost controls. I understand the need to obligate funds before you know the exact cost, however, these expenditures need to be tracked, itemized, and carefully reviewed. This particular procurement process is a disaster waiting to happen. As the Committee charged with oversight of the VA, we will continue to press for action until we are assured that waste, fraud, and abuse is prevented." Ranking Member Buyer would note to the GAO witnesses that "the VA's own audits showed a continued a disregard for your recommendations and, "I mean, right now, you could look back and the last three or four [VA] Secretaries -- I mean, they have, since 2000, increased these directives without execution."

For more on this topic, refer to C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and Kat's "The House Veterans Affairs Committee was pissed" and C.I.'s "VA can't account for $41.9 billion in tax payer monies."


Jim: Roundtable time and we've got some news topics and hopefully some time for some fun topics. This is one of the rare roundtables we do where we are all actually face to face. 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.


Jim (Con't): First up, Iraq. Still a political stalemate. If you're lost, they held Parliamentary elections in March. This has happened only one other time in Iraq since the start of the war and that was December 2005. As C.I. has pointed out, in 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. Today makes it four months and 25 days. It's really amazing that some people want to scream success.

Dona: And what's worse is that it's alleged Democrats doing the success screaming.

Trina: Well one of those is my state's governor, Governor Who is what he's known as statewide -- Deval Patrick. He's a nothing, a glossy from a magazine who can't actually do any real work and our state's been suffering. For those unaware, Team Deval is the same people who later brought you the Barack presidency. So it's another male model who poses for the cameras but never gets down to doing the actual job he was elected to do.

Mike: Like my mother just said, we don't take him seriously in the state. I hope he's not re-elected. He's done nothing and that's why he's known as Governor Who. Were it not for his posing, we wouldn't be aware he was even still around. He's been ineffective and his term can be seen as "Governor Who" in that it's as if the office has gone unfilled for years now.

Jim: Okay. We've got a number of e-mails. Let's go to Journolist first. Isaiah, why don't you explain what that was and then we'll deal with the e-mails.

Isaiah: Sure. Ezra Klein, now at The Washington Post, started a list-serv entitled Journolist which eventually included 400 journalists, reporters and government and political operatives -- though the latter classification was not supposed to be taking part. On the list, vile things were said -- and I'm with Elaine on this, the problem was that they were said privately while publicly they wanted to pretend they never harbored such a thought -- and coordination of talking points were laid out. It's a ridiculous slap in the face to the notion of independent journalism -- I'm referring to all journalism which is supposed to be independent, not the beggar press. They've been outed and now everyone rushes to insist it's no big deal.

Jim: Including the ridiculous Peter Hart whose nonsense enraged Rebecca. Last week's edition largely focused on Journolist. Ty, break down on the e-mails.

Ty: Setting aside the fan mail to Ava and C.I., 85% of those e-mailing enjoyed the coverage in some manner, 10% felt other stories should have been covered and 5% were strongly of the belief that there was no story in Journolist.

Jim: So first off, let's get a few things down. We have never participated in an online circle jerk. Haskell e-mails insisting that "night time bloggers in your group regularly coordinate messages." That would not include anyone from Third -- Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava, C.I. and myself. So we're tossing out for the others to comment if they'd like to.

Marcia: We don't coordinate messages. Can we leave Wally and Cedric out of this discussion? They can come at the end, but what they do is so different from what the others of us do, that it's really not fair to include them in this discussion.

Jim: That's fine.

Marcia: Okay. Ruth, Betty, Ann, Mike and I have all written at our sites about a 'scraps' e-mail. That goes out each day from C.I. It's things that might have made the snapshot if there was more room. It goes out to all of us who post at night during the week. We can grab anything from that if we want to. We don't have to grab a thing and most of the time, we probably don't. I think I grab about one thing a week on a good week. We generally do a round-robin of calls to see what's going on. Betty and my cousin Stan talk every night before they blog. Ruth and I talk every night before we blog. Mike generally talks to all of us -- including Elaine whom he lives with. Setting aside theme posts -- there are times when we'll come up with a theme like "favorite movie" and all blog on that at night -- we're not coordinating. We're trying to avoid stepping on each other. If Rebecca's blogging about, say, apples, okay, I'm not going to blog about apples, I'll blog about doughnuts, but I'll e-mail an article on apples to Rebecca since I know she's tackling the topic. Rebecca and I or Ruth and I may end up blogging on the same topic because one of us calls the other and says, "This is really important, it's not a topic that fits into Iraq so C.I. won't be able to cover it, how about we team up and both cover it?" When that happens we generally note that. There are times when we disagree on a topic. Ruth and I will grab the same topic and write about it from different opinions. That's not talking points, that's not messaging and there's nothing hidden about it.

Stan: And I'll pick up now. Betty and I are on the phone. We highlight Hillary Is 44 if there's a new post. We include the Iraq snapshot. Between the two of that, we grab different things. Sometimes we're just commenting on Hillary Is 44. If so, we've discussed it to make sure we're not hitting on the same thing. I really just talk to Betty and Mike each night before blogging. Mike will call specifically to ask if I need any help, which I appreciate, in tracking something down. He'll also give me a rundown on what others are planning to blog about. And Betty and I talk usually as we're blogging. We're on the phone with each other. I talk to my cousin -- Marcia's my cousin -- all the time. We're generally not talking about blogging.

Betty: Mike usually calls me when I'm on the way home from work. Like Stan said, he goes over what people are thinking about blogging about. I usually have no idea. If I have an idea, I've usually called Ann because it's something I think is more her beat and I'll make sure she's fine -- she always has been -- with me covering it either instead or as well. I love everyone in this roundtable but I'm really thrilled about Ann because we do have so many similar thoughts. I was standoffish to Ann at first. I didn't go to the wedding -- and had a solid excuse for that -- and I was very protective of Cedric. I had this attitude of: Who is she and who does she think she is? It was probably about three or four months after their wedding before I started warming up to Ann.

Jim: You know this story, Ann?

Ann: Oh, yeah, we've talked about it.

Betty: And she was finding herself online when she started, as we all have to stumble along to find our voices. But when she found her voice, it was so obvious that Ann was like someone who would be my best friend in high school. And that's why I say that if I worry, it's generally that Ann would be the one writing on it. Rebecca -- whom I love -- and I could write on the same topic from the same opinion and have completely different posts but Ann and I tend to think along the same lines. And that's why I always want to give her the chance to grab something on her beat and not just rush to do so.

Stan: And, as Marcia pointed out, none of this has ever been hidden. We mention this all the time at our sites, Betty and I. Forget that there's no strategizing going on, there's also nothing hidden.

Elaine: Well anyone who reads my site would never accuse me of being part of some grand conspiracy. More and more, I write less and less. I live with Mike so I hear from him. I usually speak to Rebecca and C.I. several times a day on the phone. That's noted at my site. If I speak to Kat or Ava, I generally note that. My site's a journal, not a news site, not an opinion site, just a journal. It doesn't read like any great thought or planning was behind it because none was.

Jim: Do you speak to anyone else on the phone?

Elaine: Wally. I'll get Wally or Kat or Ava sometimes when I'm calling C.I. Betty and I probably talk twice a week on the phone but we're not talking about blogging.

Betty: No, we are not. Elaine hates blogging.

Elaine: We're usually talking about what we're reading. It's the same when I'm speaking to Trina. What are you reading? Is it a good book, do you recommend it? Betty, Trina, Dona and I read the most fiction of anyone participating in this roundtable and we tend to have our own little book club. In addition, I usually e-mail or call Isaiah after one of his comics goes up.

Jim: Which is one of Haskell's points, the conspiracy with the comic.

Kat: Oh dear Lord. The comic is something Isaiah works hard on. Let me tell the story. In 2004, I started doing music writing for The Common Ills because I loved the website. And that was my way of adding something. Ruth would do the same with her "Ruth Reports" which were a look at NPR programs, a critique of them. Isaiah also wanted to do something. He looked at the site and saw nothing but text. He used to draw comics all through school and figured he could do that to help the site have a visual image. So in 2005, he became the site's cartoonist. It gave the site a visual. He was probably one of the first comics doing what he did for a site. As opposed to just doing their own site. We put up one of his comics on Monday if he's had one go up on Sunday because (a) we like what he does and (b) we get to use a visual at our site. There's no great conspiracy wherein we say to Isaiah, "Draw this and we'll post you." It's just an automatic thing we do.

Mike: Yeah and you have people providing links to Kat's album reviews for the same reason.

Trina: I'm with Elaine in that my blog has less and less work and becomes more and more of a chore. I'm in a difficult spot right now because more and more time is taken up by e-mails, people e-mailing my site. It's really cut into my writing time. Not that my writing is all that great. But if you're finding any great conspiracy at my site, let me know because I'm not seeing it. Monday night we all blogged on Journolist and that was because we were all shocked by the e-mails that were published. Actually, we didn't all blog on it. I know Mike didn't. I'm not even sure Betty did. But a lot of us did blog on it because we were offended. Just briefly, this was a set of Journolist e-mails on Sarah Palin's pregnancy and it was offensive to read. It was offensive on so many levels. That was a case of someone -- I think Rebecca -- finding them and passing them around in e-mails. Was it you, Rebecca?

Rebecca: Yeah. I was just so disgusted and Ann called me after I sent them out, called me right away and we both said we were blogging about it. And Elaine did as well, and Marcia and Ruth. Stan and Betty had their own thing going on and so did Mike.

Jim: Okay. Cedric and Wally?

Wally: Well, I have to confess, there is a conspiracy. Cedric and I get together and figure out talking points and then post them at our sites. Only we call them "joint-posts" because we write them together! Hello! That's so ridiculous that anyone would think that. Cedric and I are doing humor posts. We can't even drop to participate in the fun theme posts the rest of the gang does like "favorite eighties song." But we're somehow able to come up with a grand conspiracy? Get real.

Cedric: Yeah. It's crazy. There's no big conspiracy. I live with Ann, we're married and I can tell you that most nights she doesn't even want to blog. I can also tell you that if anyone suggests a topic to her that night, she'll grab it just to avoid Fresh Air. There's no conspiracy.

Jim: And far from conspiring to get things up at other sites, an argument can be made that I conspire to keep everything here. I'm forever asking C.I. not to write something or, if it's written, to bring it over here and not put it up at The Common Ills. But let's talk about what's offensive about Journolist. As a journalist, you're not supposed to be coming into a story with a set of talking points. What you're writing is supposed to have required thought and observation. The idea that I'm going to be on a list-serv and pick up talking points that I'll then use in my writing is offensive. But that is why Journolist existed and Ezra Klein or anyone can claim otherwise but they're lying. And we've never liked Ezra. We've been on to his game from the start. He participated in the CJR circle jerk, we know all about Ezra and how he whored to get an online name. It's what Journolist was about. It's what his Washington Post blog is about. He's just a whore. There's no reason to believe him because his tongue goes where the money leads, he's a whore. We are independent, we have always been independent. We've never attempted to toe a party line, obviously. We were offered circle jerks, we turned them down.

Jess: I don't want to get too far into Peter Hart's crap, but I do want to point out that these were reporters for MSM outlets. They were not all columnists. You had Bloomberg News reporters, Newseek reporters, Washington Post reporters -- Ezra Klein isn't a reporter -- and you had so much going on that was secretive. It was offensive. They should never have engaged in it and a reporter's job is not to put one over on the public but repeatedly you have a Luke Marshall or a Katha Pollitt insisting that's what must be done. It's taken for granted that whoring is the way to go. It's offensive. It's offensive to journalism as a profession. It never should have taken place.

Jim: And we're going to stop there because Dona's pointing to time. We actually had other topics to discuss but that'll wait until next time. Isaiah, by the way, has done at least four illustrations for this edition that we'll be using. This is a rush transcript.

Radio moment of the week

Ava and C.I., Wally and Kat, spend nearly every week on the road and a new feature we're implementing this week is "Radio moment of the week." For the inaugural highlight, they selected Doug Henwood.

Doug Henwood: Over the long term, economic growth is a function of labor force growth and the productivity of that labor force -- that is how much workers can produce in an hour or year of labor times the number of workers and then growth would be the product of the growth of those two things. The Congressional Budget Office apparently assumes, I say apparently because they do not disclose this explicitly, the labor force will grow very slowly around .3 to .4% a year. That's half the current rate -- less than half the current rate -- and about half the rate the census bureau projects the population will grow in the coming decades. If that's true, if that is that labor rate will grow at least than half the rate the census bureau projects population will grow, then the share of the adult population working will shrink to levels we haven't seen since, well, maybe forever. At the same time, they're assuming record low growth in productivity -- something like a third below the long term average and below the rate clocked in the much maligned 1970s, the period of the famed productivity slow down. These assumptions are very similar to those underlying projections that the Social Security system will go broke. but if the economy grows at something closer to its long term average then that won't happen and the massive growth in debt won't happen either because the government will collect more in taxes than it would if we were really locked in a semi-permanent slump. So what's going on here is the CBO pushing these strange projections to promote an austerity agenda cutting social spending and privatising social security? If so, that's worth investigation. Or are they really serious that a 70 year near depression awaits us soon? Inquiring minds want to know?

Doug Henwood made those comments on last week's Behind The News which airs on WBAI Thursdays at five p.m. (here for WBAI archives). KPFA airs the show on Saturdays . . . sometimes. (It did not air Saturday.) In addition, you can stream at the Left Business Observer website. And if you're unable to stream (or do not benefit from streaming), click here and you can read a text version of Henwood's commentary.

Ideally, this feature will highlight something you should give at least a few minutes to thinking about. When possible, it will be less statement of fact and more a question posed to radio listeners.

Katha Pollitt Journolist

The laughable 'journalist' Luke Mitchell had yet again tried to outline on Journolist (September 8, 2008) how they would message when David Roberts corrected him that it is the job of journalists to "say what they think/, not to support Obama." A chagrined Katha Pollitt whined back, "Well, Okay, j-list isn't the place. But people who think message discipline is a good idea can start another list, and promote the weekly message there."


Katha Pollitt, bad 'poetess' and columnist for The Nation magazine, wants to create "message discipline" among reporters. Katha's "message discipline" includes passing herself off publicly as a Democrat. She's not a Democrat. "Message discipline" for Katha is hiding her entire life in a political closet. "Message discipline" is what the Communist Party used to preach, after all. Katha's used to "message discipline," she's just not used to independent thought.

And that may be the most unsettling thing about Katha and Journolist. See, to be a columnist, you have to appear authentic. Your opinions must appear to be your own.

So, for example, if you write the following publicly in September 2008:

John McCain chose the supremely under-qualified Sarah Palin as his running mate partly because she is a woman. If you have a problem with that, you're a sexist. She talks incessantly about being a mother of five and uses her newborn, Trig, who has Down syndrome, as a campaign prop. If you wonder how she'll handle all those kids and the Veep job too, you're a super-sexist. "When do they ever ask a man that question?" charges that fiery feminist Rudy Giuliani. Indeed, Palin, who went back to work when Trig was three days old, gets nothing but praise from Phyllis Schlafly, James Dobson and the folks at National Review, who usually blame all the ills of modern America on those neurotic, harried, selfish, frustrated, child-neglecting, husband-castrating working mothers. Even stranger, her five-months-pregnant 17-year-old, Bristol, gets nothing but compassion and respect from Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and others who have spent their careers slut-shaming teens for having sex--and blaming their parents for letting it happen.

You shouldn't have written the following privately August 30th, 2008: "Unfortunately, palin is kind of cool. she's not a brittle pastel- suited nut, like some of the eagle forum types. if she weren't in politics, we would probably really like her."

Katha Pollitt wrote that . . . for private consumption.

All a columnist has is the trust people place in them. When they betray that trust, when they wore it out, they not only disgrace themselves, they destroy the bond between journalist and reader.

"We can’t be passive. she won’t destroy herself," insisted Katha on Journolist, advocating for destroying Sarah Palin.

In the September Nation column, she insists, "Count me as a feminist who never believed that being PTA president meant you could be, well, President."


That's grossly sexist. And, by the way, what's so awful about being president of the PTA? We would assume a successful PTA president might know a great deal more than a failed community organizer, for example.


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 by readers of Third.

"The World Today Just Nuts "Barack Addresses Netroots Nation" -- Isaiah weighs in on President Lazy.

"Iraq snapshot," "The House Veterans Affairs Committee was pissed," "VA can't account for $41.9 billion in tax payer monies" and "Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. and Kat report on Congress.

"There's only one term for Laura Rozen," "Catty gossips," "thank you to maggie mahar,"
"Ryan Donmoyer is a gossipy little girl," "Fat Ass Katha Pollitt," "Laura Rozen: Conspiracy Nut,"
"They're kidding themselves," "Bloomberg News' Ryan Donmoyer is a 'birther'," and "Roger Simon weighs in on the Journolist scandal" -- some of last week's Journolist coverage in the community.

"US Killings in Afghanistan" -- Betty covers the WikiLeaks.

"barack's latino issues" -- Rebecca weighs in on Barry O.

"Lynne" -- Lynne Stewart remains a political prisoner.

"THIS JUST IN! SOLD TO WHOM!!!!" and "If he was selling, who was buying" -- Wally and Cedric on the ex-governor's scandals.

"Covert Affairs" -- Ann weighs in on TV.

"Potatoes in the Kitchen" -- Trina on seasoning.

"the gulf disaster" -- the Gulf Disaster continues.

"Good luck to Christiane Amanpour"

"Charlie Rangel" & "Charlie Rangel" -- Kat on the Rangel scandals.

"Rebecca socks it to the FAIR Alley PTA," "Peter Hart has no heart," "The unfair FAIR gets called out" and "The unfair FAIR" -- Marcia, Elaine, Mike and Ann on Rebecca and FAIR.

"Aretha II" and "Aretha" -- Marcia on Aretha's issues.

"Valentine's Day" -- Stan's Friday movie night.

"Peggy Kerry's Allergic Reation to Peace" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Iraq Inquiry, Gulf Disaster" -- Mike on the two disasters.

"THIS JUST IN! ONCE MORE INTO THE VIEW!" & "New bookings!" -- Wally and Cedric on the Boob hitting the Boob Tube.
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