Sunday, February 06, 2011

Truest statement of the week

Not too long after his inauguration, Obama basically said that accountability for the crimes (national and international) of the Bush regime would be "off the table," because we need to "look forward." That’s easy to say if A) one hasn’t experienced such unpunished loss, and B) one is planning on continuing the crimes. Indeed, the Obama DOJ has vigorously blocked accountability for anyone in the Bush regime; maybe most notably, John Yoo and Federal Judge, Jay Bybee, who collaborated to formulate the disastrous US torture policy.

-- Cindy Sheehan, "Stuck In Stage Two" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox).

Truest statement of the week II

To western eyes, watching revolutions is re-enacting our own democratic origins. They remind us, sometimes smugly, that much of the world has yet to find the path to free elections, free speech and freedom of assembly. But they are also the political equivalents of earthquake or flood. Surely these people need our advice, our aid, at least our running commentary. The itch to intervene becomes irresistible.

-- Simon Jenkins' "The West's Itch to Meddle is No Help. Leave Egypt Alone" (The Guardian via Information Clearing House).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday. We're done a lot quicker than usual. The credits for this edition are Dallas and the following:

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.

We thank everyone. And here's what we came up with:

Cindy Sheehan again. She was the person with the most truests in 2010.
Simon Jenkins.

Our WikiLeaks editorial. Covering it meant putting another feature on hold. DS will be addressed next week, sorry to those who have been waiting.

Ava and C.I. take on the homophobia of 30 Rock.

This was an idea we'd been toying with which Dona refined. And it got used for our Iraq feature because the alternative was an article about the two Iraq hearings and Ava, C.I., Wally and Kat felt they'd already written of the hearings last week.

E-mails demanded this one. Again, if she wanted to be a critic, we'd most likely have just replied in private e-mails. Her delusion that she's building and leading a movement -- pointed out by most PUMA bloggers e-mailing us -- meant we had to cover this.

We could have gone on much longer and maybe we should have.

I (Jim) moderated this and we did it while Dona moderated the other piece.

Short article.

Reprint from Great Britain's Socialist Worker.

Reprint from Workers World.

Mike and company wrote this. We thank them for it.

And that's what we came up with. Hopefully, something made you think, made you smile, made you frown, made some sort of an impression. We'll see you next week.


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

Editorial: The short life of WikiLeaks

Imagine if information was really free. Imagine if you discovered some great offense, passed on proof of it and it was all over the net with your supporting evidence.

Once upon a time, WikiLeaks promised to be that sort of outlet. That quickly changed.

In our October 24, 2010 edition, eight of our eleven article were on WikiLeaks. Coverage continued in October 31st edition. And while we defended WikiLeaks, we also had problems with it. Last Monday, in the "Iraq snapshot," C.I. addressed some of them.


WikiLeaks was supposed to use the web to free information but as 2010 progressed, WikiLeaks stopped doing that. Instead of posting information and freeing it, they began censoring. For weeks and weeks, old media news outlets were allowed to review documents that were censored from the public, allowed to prepare stories on those documents and then, when the stories were published, often the source documents still weren't available at WikiLeaks.

What was supposed to be a celebration of the information advances of the web instead became a holding pen allowing old media to have 'scoops.'

With the October release, Julian Assange publicly began insulting websites and blogs, insisting that they were not amplifying the stories. (This site covered the WikiLeaks revelations and, at The Common Ills, C.I. spent two weeks covering the Iraq aspect of the October release.) What Assange didn't understand was he had removed new media from the mix except as a megaphone saying, "Check out this story at . . ."

Earlier in 2010, WikiLeaks released a video. The video became a huge internet staple and websites and blogs repeatedly covered the video. In addition, NPR programs picked up on it, some papers picked up on it, TV news picked up on it. That was the model WikiLeaks preached -- even after Assange decided to abandon the model.

Along the way, Assange began to think of the documents people risked their jobs and possibly more to turn over to WikiLeaks (so that they would be released) as his documents, began claiming ownership of them and not just in meetings with The Guardian's staff and attorneys but also with regards to release dates.

For a moment, for just one moment, picture yourself were at Bank of America. You know of cooked books, double dealings, contributions to the country's financial collapse. You make copies of files. And you turn them over to WikiLeaks.

Did you do that to get the information out?

Or did you do that so that Julian Assange could spend months teasing journalists and cautioning that, should anything happen to him, these documents are coming out?

What is supposed to be public information is instead being hidden away by Julian Assange.

A number of people with WikiLeaks have now left the company. That's completely understandable because what is called WikiLeaks today long ago left what it claimed to be and what it claimed to stand for.

TV: Oh those hateful little things

There's a lot of hate in TV. That's surprising only if you forget how many people there are in TV. Or if you're one of those who insist upon glorifying them -- especially if they're on 'your' 'team.'


That's how, for example, we end up with the sexist Michael Winship treated as a hero. We've noted his sexism many times before. One example can be found in "TV: Bill Moyers Locker Room." Winship's sexism was most obvious in those weekly commentaries he used to write that ended up posted at Bill Moyers Journal. With that show thankfully gone, he now has to find new places to trot out his loathing. As Ruth noted Friday, these days he dog-walks his crazy at The Huffington Post.

That's where readers could find his "For the U.S. in Egypt, Blowback Is a Bitch" last week. How old is Mikey Winship? We foolishly thought he was a fifty-nine-year-old adult despite his obvious immaturity; however, titles like that make us seriously wonder. And we wonder about the state of political discourse that this is the best a professional writer -- one whose sexism is known and document -- can come up with.

And his use of "bitch" in the title of a political essay reminded us another infamous hate-filled personality, Tina Fey. We'd told ourselves we'd do our best to ignore Fey in 2011 because, honestly, life is too damn short. But then incidents like the following exchange in Thursday night's broadcast of 30 Rock take place.

Liz: But let's get back to the interview.

Carmen: We're done with that portion. I thought it would be a fun visual if we got some B-roll of you taking sexy pregnancy photos where you bare your stomach like the pregnant bitch that you are. What do you say?

Liz: Let's take some pictures.

We're not real fond of political articles by sexist men that use "bitch" and we're even more offended by the exchange quoted above.

"Bare your stomach like the pregnant bitch that you are"?

For those who missed the episode, Liz pretended to be pregnant to cover for Avery. The episode was written by Matt Hubbard so Tina Fey might pretend that gives her an out but it doesn't.

There's no hiding behind anyone.

That was offensive. And what's really sad is it was hardly the worst portion of Thursday's show.

Here we've long called out using gay as a derogatory. In April 2009, Susan Donaldson James (ABC News) reported on how anti-gay taunts led to the suicide of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover. Last year, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network attempted to educate on the bullying and released several PSAs such as Wanda Sykes explaining that "that's so gay" was not funny or needed and that people need to "knock it off." We'd pretty much assume thinking people of the left had received the message.

So imagine our surprise when, shortly after hearing that nonsense about bare your stomach, the following took place on 30 Rock.

Jack: Avery and I want the baby's middle name to be Elizabeth after you.

Liz: Oh, Jack, that's so gay balls.

How is that even funny? It's not. But it is harmful and this from the woman who wants to play superior to others?


And let's be really clear that 30 Rock's been on an anti-gay kick all season five. Not just this episode. There's again been the in-passing joke that "Topher" (James) is gay. And that might not be so offensive were it not for the fact that this show with such a large cast has no out-gay characters who appear regularly.

There is Devon Banks (played by Will Arnett) who was gay and in the closet. And a fool. In a wider range of characters, that might not be a bad thing. But when gay is always to be ridiculed, it's part of a pattern. Maulik Pancholy's Jonathan may or may not be gay (he worships his boss in what appears to be a sexual way -- such as when, episode three this season, Jonathan was giddy that he and Jack might stay overnight in DC and end up sleeping in bed together and what if they forgot to bring t-shirts . . .)

An out gay character in a single episode this year (episode 11 of season five) was D'Fwan. He was Angie Jordan's effeminate hair stylist whose sole purposes consisted of flaming and uttering three lines. And, when Jack offers Angie her own reality show, allowing Liz to ask if D'Fwan can be on it and having Angie respond "Mmm-hmm, with his even gayer boyfriend."

Gayer? Really?

Does NBC realize how likely 30 Rock is to pull an Amos & Andy? Meaning how, in ten years, stations may avoid airing the show due to progress in society and what is so obviously hateful stereotypes.

Now when Jack's mother Colleen (Elaine Stritch) appears and makes one of her invariable homophobic remarks, that can be dismissed with the reality that the woman's over 80 years old and Colleen's a joke -- an increasingly tottering one this season. So when she digs into the obvious homophobic remarks so often that even "What are you smiling at, you fruitcake?" (episode 10 of this season) seems homophobic, you just write her off as someone with a foot in the grave (and wish that make up and wardrobe had some sense -- don't put black eyeliner around an eighty-six-year-old woman's eyes and give her face no color while also dressing her in bright red -- she looked like death warmed over). But when the lines come from Liz, it is especially offensive.

Jack warns her, in episode eleven of season five, that if she wants to tangle with him, she better know this isn't his first rodeo. To which Liz responds, "Well I've been to a rodeo too. It was a cat rodeo. At a gay guy's apartment." What?

At a gay guy's apartment?

That added to the humor how?

Or was gay supposed to be the 'joke'?

Season five has been a non-stop parade of homophobia and it's appalling. It's far from the only problem the season's suffered from but it is the most appalling and it's about time Tina Fey was held accountable for what her show's consistently preaching. And, Tina, Comcast takes diversity a little more seriously than does GE.

Face The Press

Dona: Firing Line. The Firing Squad. This and other titles were proposed for this feature. We're going with "Face The Press" -- a) to avoid gun imagery and b) to give a nod to Monthy Python -- who I grew up watching on my local PBS station. So what is Face The Press? Years ago, Meet The Press' format was a little different than it is today and more similar to that of a William Buckley show called Firing Line. In it, a moderator asked questions in a more formal setting than the roundtable's that the chat & chews now feature on Sunday mornings. I'm moderating, we're tape recording this and will type it up as a rush transcript piece as well as allow excerpts to go into the audio version of Hilda's Mix. Our panelists are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); and Wally of The Daily Jot. This is a piece focusing on the Iraq War and the four are the panelists because they attended two Senate hearings last week that will be the focus of the bulk of my questions. For Thursday's hearing you can see C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot," Ava's "In appreciation of Lindsey Graham (Ava)," Wally's "It's a bi-partisan hole (Wally)" and Kat's "John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Jim Webb"; for Tuesday's hearing you can see C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot," Ava's "The forgotten covert wars on Latin America (Ava)," Wally's "It's a boom economy!" and Kat's "Senate Foreign Relations Committee." Wally, the two Senate Committees were which ones and what was the big difference for you between the two?

Wally: Tuesday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met. That is chaired by John Kerry. Thursday the Senate Armed Services Committee met and the chair of that one is Carl Levin. Appareing before both committeees were the same two witnesses: James Jeffrey who is the US Ambassador to Iraq and General Lloyd Austin who is the top US commander in Iraq. Tuesday was a total disaster and I'm not sure where to start there. John Kerry's opening statement? Before he offered his many lies on Iraq -- he outdid Bully Boy George W. Bush for Iraq spin on Tuesday -- he had to offer a lengthy editorial on Egypt. As if Iraq's not imporant enough for a hearing? He was so embarrassing. He supports the illegal war now. What's the big change? That a Democrat's in the White House.


Dona: Jumping in to ask, this was contrasted -- John Kerry was -- how in the Thursday hearing?

Wally: Well Carl Levin knew what he was talking about. Kerry was yammering on about some fantasy Iraq whereas Levin was noting in his opening statements the reality on the violence, the reality that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki still hasn't formed a complete Cabinet, the attacks on various minority groups and much more. John Kerry was as embarrassing Tuesday as Joe Lieberman was in 2002. I'm making that comparison because both men were on the national ticket -- Lieberman as Al Gore's running mate and John Kerry as the top of the ticket, in 2000 and in 2004 -- and both now speak like anything but the average Democrat. They're too far from their own party.

Dona: Listening to Wally's comments, if I wanted to grab a simplistic take, it would be, "Oh, John Kerry preached the Iraq War should continue and Carl Levin advocated against it." That's not correct, is it, Kat?

Kat: No. I'm not really seeing anyone objecting in the Senate to continuing the illegal war. Ava did a piece Thursday night where she offered some kind words for Republican senator Lindsey Graham. Graham wants the illegal war to continue, obviously Ava doesn't. So why the kind words? Because Graham was one of the few dealing in realities. Carl Levinson was another dealing in realities. Forget their positions on the war, our issue, as we sat through those hearings, was whether or not they were being honest, not what their position on the war was. Or, as Wally noted in his Thursday post, what their position had been.

Dona: Wally, let me go to you then to explain that.

Wally: Jack Reed is a senator who voted against the war authorization in 2002. For that he deserved praise. However, since Barack was elected president and continued the illegal war, you'd be hard pressed to find a bigger war booster or a big liar on the war than Jack Reed. I was especially offended by his using the Senate hearing to explain to Jeffrey how he could best argue for government money and ensure that he got all he was asking for.

Dona: Okay. Ava, Kat's talking about your post as well. Your reporting on Lindsay Graham. First off, you largely rely on transcript in that post. C.I. took the notes, I know that. I'm not asking that. I'm asking why you presented it in transcript format?

Ava: We were all aware that there would be big doubts about the hearings. We were afraid they wouldn't get covered -- and beyond AP and The Hill, they largely weren't. I believe Walter Pincus -- C.I.'s nodding -- Okay, Walter Pincus covered it. In terms of non-traditional media, it received some coverage at as well. But on certain aspects of the hearing, we were all agreed that key quotes needed to be included. One of the key moments Thursday was Lindsey Graham's exchange with Jeffrey and Austin. C.I. was attempting to cover a great deal in that day's snapshot and she didn't have room for Graham. She suspected that going in. When that was the case, I quickly said I'd grab it. I was going to summarize and offer a few key passages. But then I read over the transcript and realized how much work Graham was doing in that questioning. It was a really important section of the hearing and I didn't think it could be captured accurately any other way.

Dona: In that exchange, he pins down the witnesses on what exactly?

Ava: Well, for one thing, via his questioning of Jeffrey, Graham pins down that US troops, if they remain in Iraq under control of the State Department, will be doing largely what they are doing now under the Defense Department. With regards to Austin, he estblishes that Austin doesn't think the US military should leave Iraq.

Dona: That's an interesting conclusion to make. C.I., do you agree with Ava's conclusion?

C.I.: Yes, I do. Six times in a row, Graham asked Austin whether he -- Austin -- believed the US needed to maintain the military in Iraq past 2011? Six times Austin refused to answer. That is an answer. At one point, Austin told Graham that he'd prefer to "avoid speculating." But that's all his testimony was. He was insisting that if the State Department got the money they were requesting, they would be fine in Iraq. That is speculation. And speculation is why he was brought before the Senate which wanted to hear his opinions. I really found it insulting not that he refused to answer the question but that he attempted to pretend that answering it would somehow be different than everything else he was doing before the Committees.

Dona: You're speaking of the general in the Thursday hearing. In the Tuesday hearing, you largely ignored him and noted you were doing so. Explain why that was?

C.I.: He thought he could get away with lying. Lying on basic things. Wednesday morning, one of the two morning entries noted him because there was a question similar to what you're asking. An e-mail came in saying that I'd said he was spinning and lying and they didn't see how that was different from Jeffrey. It was a difference in degrees. Austin's lies were so outrageous. For example, his little "opportunity" reply to the question about the violence of the previous two weeks. He was asked that on Tuesday. There had been a wave of bombings -- with big death tolls -- going on for two weeks prior to his appearing before the committee. His response was that it was "opportunity." He thought he was so cute with that and telling them he could answer in a one-word answer. He then elaborated that the religious holiday -- which requires a lengthy pilgramige -- provided opportunity. Well that same opportunity existed last year because this is a religious holiday which is celebrated every year. And although the opportunity existed last year, last year did not see the bombings. That's just such an insulting lie.

Dona: Explain any difference -- if there is any -- between Lloyd Austin and former top US commanders in Iraq David Petraeus and Ray Odierno.

C.I.: Me? Okay. He's a great deal -- Austin -- like Petraeus. He's going to tell any and every lie to Congress. I had no respect for David Petraeus because he showed no respect to Congress. I say "had" because he's no longer involved in Iraq so I don't cover him anymore. Ray Odierno had a point of view and was going to express it. But he also placed some value on the truth as evidenced by his testimonies to Congress. After the hair splittling and lies of Petraeus, Odierno was a huge relief. Now we've got Austin and if Tuesday was an example of what we can expect, I don't expect much from him as a witness. I will note he was slightly better on Thursday.

Dona: Kat, Wally covered the Tuesday hearing by emphasizing the money. How important do you think the money aspect of it is?

Kat: I think that's very important. We don't have needed money to provide for our domestic needs. And yet we're going to give the State Department up to 4 billion this year alone for Iraq alone? That's insane. The Barack voters thought they were voting for an end to the illegal war. Spending $4 billion this year and something like $30 billion over the next five or so years is not ending the Iraq War. We have schools and libraries in this country that are suffering. We have a record number of people on food stamps. It's beyond irresponsible to continue to pour billions into the Iraq War.

Dona: Wally, does the war end in 2011?

Wally: No. Not at all. In fact, in addition to the two hearings we covered, C.I. also reported at length on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee report which people like 'antiwar' Barbara Boxer signed off on. Not only does it advocate for the extension of the SOFA to allow US troops to remain in Iraq, it also proposes that, if there is no extension, the troops be shifted to State Department supervision so that they can remain in Iraq. The war is not ending and it's appalling that there has been so little coverage of these hearings. You really have to wonder about the people at The Progressive and The Nation as they continue to ignore these developments.

Dona: Ava, what did you think of the press turnout?

Ava: For the Tuesday hearing, the turnout -- press and otherwise -- was much smaller. Thursday, we saw a much bigger gathering at the Senate Armed Service Committee hearing. I do believe it got written up. Tuesday's hearing, by contrast? The press on it was largely, beyond AP, people pulling from the opening statements which were distributed before and after the hearing. There was nothing in various reports that I read on Tuesday's hearing -- except Walter Pincus and the AP -- which indicated the person had been present for the hearing since all comments and quotes were from opening statements.

Dona: And what do you think of the lack of coverage from our so-called independent media?

Ava: Like Wally, I find it appalling. If the Iraq War is going to continue -- and both Senate hearings addressed how that was going to take place -- it seems to me that the so-called independent media is required to cover that. Instead, they covered everything but that. Possibly because after two years of lying about the Iraq War, to tell the truth was far too much for them.

Dona: Thank you. And that's going to be it for this piece.

Everbody scatter at The Confluence

In a village run by idiots , Riverdaughter would still reign supreme. And, at The Confluence, the Big Pharma apologist and cog ("Soooo, let me get this straight. The ability to sue is still of utmost importance. Did I get that right? Because, from where I sit, the class action lawsuits are part of the problem. Everyone complains about not reining in the big finance guys but ambulance chasers looking for big bucks who glom onto adverse drug reaction reports like blood sucking ticks are all ticketyboo?") has run off nearly everyone.

Not to worry though, Katiebird, the only contributor she appears to have kept after her most recent meltdown, joins Riverdaughter in leaving comments at the site. Were it not for their multiple comments to their own posts, people might start to notice just how many readers have left.

Last week, Riverdaughter managed to top her own record for stupidity and superficiality with her post "Whose side is the American right on?" which opened with:

I haven't watched Fox’s coverage of Egypt (because I watch *actual* news) but let me guess what's going on there: The Muslim Brotherhood is stirring up trouble, they're going to take over the country, they'll be an immediate threat to Israel, there will be chaos and looting, rending of garments and tearing of hair, the blind will lead the deaf, oil prices will spike, the Imams will call for jihad and all is lost, LOST, I say.

Got that? Another fact and information-free post from the increasingly embarrassing Riverdaughter who feels she just must weigh in on what a TV network is doing even though she's not watching the network. And is not going to do the work required to actually watch the network. Instead let her use her imagination to rip it apart for a lengthy post because facts just don't matter and, hasn't her writing always demonstrated, research never mattered.

In this community, Marcia has repeatedly tackled the nonsense of Riverdaughter. The rest of us largely avoid her and the site. That is due to the fact that The Confluence linked to this site at one point and Ty contacted them to ask that they please delink from us. Instead of doing that, a lengthy e-mail arrived from Riverdaughter. Ty had been very clear why we did not want to be linked to them (shortest version of the story: they were promoting a 'political' site running nude photos of women and objectifying women with Riverdaughter and others praising the male blogger). Ty didn't need to enter into a long conversation about all the people supposedly out to get The Confluence. He made a simple request which should have been honored. We are a feminist site and the link was causing us problems.

We take the e-mails very seriously because we take our readers seriously. And in the last two weeks, the bulk of the e-mails not related to content published here have been from PUMA bloggers asking if we're going to weigh in on the nonsense going on at The Confluence?

In 2008, Barack Obama was gifted with the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. He did not earn it which is why Nancy Pelosi had to cut short the delegate roll call in Denver. Long before he was officially given the count, it was becoming obvious that it didn't matter what Democrats wanted, Barack would be imposed on them. At that point "PUMA" was born. "PUMA" meant "Party Unity My Ass" and meant that everyone wasn't going to fall in line behind the candidate chosen by fat cats in smoke filled rooms. In fact, that approach was supposed to have stopped long ago.

PUMA was not just women but a large number of them were women. At some point, fretting over the 'image' and 'genteel' factor, there was a push to say "PUMA" meant "People United Means Action." That was such a weaker phrase and may explain the eventual weakening of what was a very real movement.

We were never a part of PUMA. Ava and C.I. were sympathetic to PUMA and knew women in the movement but were too busy to take part in it. (They were speaking out against the wars and doing things like reporting from the floor of the Democratic Party convention "TV: The endless non-news." They felt the role of observer was needed more than anything else by that point and we agree.) When PUMA was mentioned here in an article written by the group, they would usually call friends to make sure an accurate portrait was being conveyed (they'd already checked with friends for their own pieces -- which doesn't mean PUMAs always agree with what Ava and C.I. wrote about PUMA, many times they didn't).

We've noted many times that we were supportive of PUMA movement and, among other sites, we link to The Daily Puma -- a great resource for various reports, articles and commentaries in the last remainders of the reality-based community. And we watched with amazement as what should have been a powerful movement began to fall apart. (This is not a "Death of PUMA" article -- it remains the grassroots supported movement it always has been.)

When the "our name stands for" insistence started, Ava and C.I. noted it was the beginning of the splintering and that we should make a point to register that. Why? Because "Party Unity My Ass" is a battle cry. "People United Means Action" is pretty wallpaper that attempts to conceal the very pain and anger that members of a political party felt as they were betrayed by the leaders of their own party. "People United Means Action," by contrast, sounded both like a charity and a bumper sticker.

In the years since that popped up, we've often asked Ava and C.I. for their thoughts -- and offered our own -- during writing editions about PUMA. One thing that was obvious (and we believe obvious to Betty first) was that PUMA's biggest problem was The Confluence.

For a site that used to boast/encourage "Come together at The Confluence," Riverdaughter was forever doing purges and forever ticking people off -- the latter resulting in websites like The Widdershins emerging so an argument can certainly be made that her actions unintentionally had a net positive*. But she was forever taking a giant eraser and scrubbing people as well as her own original opinions.

We don't believe someone has to have a fixed point forever. Ideally, we all grow -- on our own paths -- and evolve and we're not going to be the exact same in ten years as we are today. But there's a difference between that sort of growth, for instance, and, for example, a friend of C.I.'s who heads a studio and is forever reinventing himself and will deny his own statements from six months prior to your face, insisting that never happened. The man is friendly and very amusing but we wouldn't trust him for political commentary.

And that's the type of person Riverdaughter's become. Every few months, she's furious and determined to reinvent herself. As Betty has noted for two years, this reinvention requires her to accuse the people she's purging of racism. "That's her favorite tactic," Betty says today. "'They were racists and who knew!' And she takes to the comments to make those statements -- usually implying more than she will outright state. That way, those who don't have the patience to read through 30 or 40 of Riverdaughter's comments to her own post will just be left with the post where she pretends she's high roading it."

She tends to reinvent herself especially when she's made a fool of herself.

Instead of having the guts to say, "Hey, I was dead wrong about ____," and just move on, she has the need to purge.

If she had a background in anything -- she has no discernible knowledge framework to pull from -- she most likely wouldn't make so many mistakes. But she's someone who repeatedly feels she knows everything and rushes to blog when she doesn't know the first thing she's writing about. (A hilarious example of that is documented by Marcia in "Idiot Riverdaughter's online meltdown" about Riverdaughter confusing the CIA and government paying, planting and controlling the media with 'that right wing!') Worse yet, for Riverdaughter, she rushes to blog about the 'hot topics.'

You can always tell one of Marcos' Daily Toilet Scrubber refugees when they leave. They don't really break with Big Satan Orange, they just try to copy him at their own sites. Emulating The Daily Toilet Scrubber, they chase after whatever topic the media has glommed on and rush to weigh in. They don't feel bound by facts because they are factless. But they were trained, at Big Satan Orange, to believe in 'hits' and the mistaken belief that web 'hits' are the end all, be all.

They're not. If you're blogging or writing online to make money, then "hits" may matter in terms of advertising revenue. But they have no real relevance. At a dinner party C.I. threw Saturday, a music producer and an actress got into a lively conversation about just this topic and used Stevie Nicks as their example. In the seventies and eighties, few rockers were trashed by critics and music writers more than Stevie Nicks who was regularly mocked as "a space cadet" and far worse. Those articles and album and concert reviews were read by millions. Writing with a smaller audience were those celebrating the unique artistry of Stevie. As the 90s drew to a close, who had won out? Not the most widely read, not the accepted narrative. It was the smaller writers, writing passionately and factually that changed the tide and led to the critical reappraisal of Stevie.

That was before the dominance of the web and that's the kind of power that you'd assume independent writers online would be going for: Tackling false (and often sexist) narratives and refuting them.

With that in mind, you'd think the net would see various writers carve out their own territories, their own areas of expertise. Instead, it's all rush to cover the Water Cooler, to glom on whatever every newspaper column is about, to that which is over-talked and over-covered.

Not only will most writers have very little of value to offer to the over-covered topics, it's also true that, by joining in, it often reveals a writer's worst weakness.

The Tucson shootings, for example, revealed Riverdaughter's worst weaknesses.

First up, her hatred for others as she rushed to instantly demonize a large section of Americans. Second up, her tendency to grab onto a term she doesn't understand (in this case, "meme") and use it in one sentence after another without ever using the term correctly. Third of all, when her snap-judgments blow up in her face, her tendency to do a 'Gather round everyone, I think some people have been speaking a little heatedly and we need to remember . . ." Needless to say, the 'heated speaking' was never, in her mind, from her. Then comes the fourth step: Casting out of the garden.

Riverdaughter made an idiot out of herself attempting to politicize the Tucson shooting. It would have been very easy to politicize the shooting for any of us. Here, we did our late-Beatles edition because of the Tucson shooting. We all ended up writing individual articles and did so because we didn't want to become part of the swarm that was taking place. Ava and C.I. know Gabrielle Giffords and were very clear that they were appalled by a great deal of the early commentary taking place as we worked overnight on that edition. It was also noted that as various writers glommed on narratives (most of which have been demonstrated to be false), the most telling narrative was being ignored: In this society, when someone's targeted, doesn't it appear to be women? We could have easily run with that narrative. We didn't.

"The Hysteria Beat (Ava and C.I.)" encouraged us not to join the hysteria and to remember, as Ava and C.I. wrote in the aftermath of the shooting, "A tragedy's taken place. A shooting has led to multiple deaths and many wounded. That's what's known. Probably a good thing to leave tea leaf reading to the psychics. Or do we not remember the last attempt to whip up hysteria over a death?"

But facts weren't an issue for Riverdaughter as she launched one attack after another. While this was going on, the saving grace of her site was Klownhaus (miq2xu). While Riverdaughter was trafficking in the crazy, Klownhaus was a voice of caution. When it all blew up in her face, Riverdaughter lacked the good sense and grace to type, "I was wrong." Instead, it was time for another purge. Klownhaus was gone because, she insisted, it was like she'd left him in her home and he'd thrown a party without her knowledge. No, he'd kept her site alive with postings. (It's pretty much dead there now except for her and Katiebird and the multiple comments they leave on each of their posts. Klownhaus is currently blogging at The Crawdad Hole.)

The offense wasn't what Klownhaus wrote. As one PUMA blogger e-mailed us, "What the heck? She just wrote 'Tucson. I hope this is the last day we beat this dead horse.' Does she not get how offensive that is? People died in Tucson and she's calling it a 'dead horse.' And she just got done trashing [Sarah] Palin in a post about Palin's word choices." [The blogger is not linked to by us or mentioned in this article. So before Riverdaughter blames one of the two sites already mentioned and goes off on another war path, it wasn't them. But there are five PUMA sites in contact with us to express that they are very concerned about the damage Riverdaughter's doing.] Even more disturbing was the fact that it was Riverdaughter who chose to make her site all about Tucson (because it was a 'hot' Water Cooler topic) and that she was now acting as though the topic had been forced upon her -- acting that way after, as Marcia had noted, her site had announced it would be tastelessly live blogging a memorial.

In Tucson, people died and were wounded. In what world do you live blog a memorial? That is tacky and tasteless. That's akin to paparazzi rushing into a funeral and taking photos of the grief stricken. But you ignore the insult, you ignore the gutter dwelling when your entire goal is to go after those "hot" topics. A number of bloggers have demonstrated that they could easily work for The National Enquirer. It's a shame so few have been interested in demonstrating that they can contribute anything of even momentary value.

What concerns the PUMAs e-mailing us is that Riverdaughter is repeatedly burning bridges, repeatedly demonizing people (including We the People) and, for some, she is seen as 'the' voice of PUMA. The face she is presenting is not seen as helpful or needed. They are concerned about the upcoming 2012 election and they are concerned about whether or not PUMA will be able to have any impact. But, as one noted, with Riverdaughter blacklisting everyone every other month, all she's doing is creating and hardening divisions among PUMAs.

Were she not wanting to be part of a movement (presenting herself as a leader, according to some), we wouldn't care too much about this issue. We'd read the e-mails and reply privately. But she's constantly accusing others of destroying the movement and using terms like "rat f**kers" who are supposedly infiltrating 'her' movement when, in fact, the only one that's damaged the PUMA movement in any real way has been Riverdaughter.

If her role was that of social critic, we'd try to publicly ignore the issue. But, again, she's presenting herself as part of a movement and PUMA bloggers are especially bothered by the way she repeatedly (mis)defines what a PUMA is. In fact, she's now identifying PUMA on terms very similar to the ones Tamerlane defined PUMA at Liberal Rapture -- a definition that bostonboomer wrote a post ("Lecturing 'PUMAs'") rejecting, March 5, 2009 at . . . The Confluence.

The inconsistency never bothers Riverdaughter. She just grabs a large eraser and tries to erase all that's come before as she attempts yet another make over. In the process, that movement she claims to be building? Where is it? Her sites gone from 180 comments per posts just three weeks ago to 23 and 25 comments -- and it's even worse than those numbers because on the 25 comments, 9 of those are from Riverdaughter and Katiebird (Katiebird often adding such important comments as "I totally agree with this post -- Riverdaughter!"). To her, does that qualify as movement building (let alone leading)?

As a blogger, she bores us with her ambulance chasing choice of topics and her apparent ADD. As a movement member and/or leader, she's pissing off a number of PUMA bloggers who have had it with her repeated attacks on others in the movement (often done 'slyly' in her opening sentence of a post). All in all, it's a real shame because her tactics in every way ape those of The Daily Toilet Scrubber demonstrating that she's unable to re imagine the world to the way she wants it to be; instead, she's merely content to copy the very things that ran her off from Big Orange Satan.

* Dona note added 2-10-2011. Our apologies to The Widdershins because a kind e-mail explained how we were wrong that the site was created after a purge. It was created by someone walking away from The Confluence on her own, leaving and not being kicked out. Our sincere apologies for our mistake. I've reworded the sentence to fix our error.

You Might Be A Gasbag If . . .

Last week, two Senate committees publicly addressed how to continue the Iraq War, the Senate openly discussed extending the Patriot Act (various scenarios -- the most extreme proposal, Charles Grassley's, was to make the Patriot Act permanent), young veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars became not only one of the key groups to suffer home foreclosures, they also became one of the groups with the highest unemployment rates (15.2%). In the Iraq War, which the US government started and continues, Nouri al-Maliki's power grab got push back and the long suffering Iraqi people of the still US occupied land began demonstrating and protesting.

You may be exclaiming, "What!!!!" If so, that's because the left outlets (Democracy Now!, The Progressive, The Nation, Pacifica Radio, US Socialist Worker, et al) and left blogs ignored the United States to obsess over All My Egypt, the apparently great American soap opera starring Hosni Mubarak.


As one news story after another was ignored and drowned out by the circus, we realized just how little life there as in the 'left' voicesphere. Unable to lead, they merely follow. Unable to think, they merely gasbag.

You might be a gasbag if . . .

1) Any of your pieces have opened with "[News outlet] rulez!"

2) Less than 7 days ago, you lectured readers on the importance of paying attention to the US economy and the FDIC and yet all you've offered since then is your half-assed commentary on Egypt.

3) You write/speak as if you are actually over in Egypt when, in fact, you are not. (See The Daily Show for more on this topic.)

4) In your insta-expert coverage, key phrases pop up -- such as "Why am I not surprised?"

5) In fact, your writing exists not to inform but to celebrate how great you are.

6) You have taken a very real protest by living, human beings and attempted to turn it into a spectator sport.

7) When your 'side' is losing, you begin offering that maybe US forces could or should go into Egypt.

8) A complex, decades festering issue is boiled down by you into a paragraph as you explain who is right, who is wrong and, most of all, what needs to happen next.

9) Despite your non-stop coverage, honestly, you still couldn't find Egypt on a map.

10) When the media packs up and leaves, like a dog chasing an ambulance down the street, you will drop your coverage as well and be offended when people note that you only write about what everyone else is writing about.


Jim: It's roundtable time. Our e-mail address is Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; 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; 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. Others who are not participating are working on an Iraq feature for this edition. We are tape recording this and will provide audio highlights for Hilda's Mix. What you are reading is a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): One of the articles we've finished for this edition is on Riverdaughter. I had the feeling that there might be some comments on that. I could be wrong. Anyone?

Betty: I could make a million. I've made very clear my problems with that website over the years. More recently, Marica's taken on specific posts that were factually unsound. I don't see the point in that site. As we note in the article, factually, it's on shaky ground. In terms of 'movement,' Riverdaughter's forever expelling everyone from the Garden. It's just a waste of time and, most importantly, she's forever chasing trend topics. And then dropping them just as soon as the media moves on. This is what Rebecca's dubbed "Baby Cried The Day The Circus Came To Town" coverage. And she dubbed it that long before The Confluence ever existed. Rebecca?

Rebecca: Peter Allen and Carole Bayer Sager wrote a great song for Melissa Manchester entitled "Don't Cry Out Loud." I love that song. It opens with, "Baby cried the day the circus came to town because she didn't want parades just passing by her." When I started applying that to news coverage -- it was probably 2005 -- my point was that, like the people in the song giving the circus a little bit of attention while it's right in front of them, the news media quickly drops stories. It's similar to C.I.'s point about press that acts like the Red Cross rushing into a disaster and then dropping the story before it's complete to rush off to another disaster. So the point is someone like Riverdaughter grabs Tucson because it's a hot topic and then drops it because it's no longer hot and suddenly the Tucson expert she supposedly was is replaced with an expert on Egypt and next week, who knows!

Elaine: If C.I. were participating in this, she'd note Ellen Goodman -- as she has noted her at The Common Ills many times on this point. Ellen Goodman is a columnist for The Boston Globe. She used to be on a number of chat & chew TV shows discussing news developments. She stopped doing them, she explained, because she was not brought on to discuss a certain issue. Instead, she was supposed to be there to discuss the week's issues and she was supposed to be an expert on all of them. Goodman, unlike so many in the press, was smart enough to grasp that she is not an expert on every issue and news story and began to decline invitations as a result. The public square would be a lot better off if all the 'experts' realized they weren't experts on everything.

Betty: And C.I. has a very funny story about visiting a friend working on a live radio show last year and watching all the 'experts' get a topic list thirty minutes before airtime and take to their laptops to become 'experts' on the various topics that would be discussed in the hour. And let's be clear on that, these 'experts' were not offering facts, they were offering 'expert' opinions on a variety of topics they'd just learned they better bone up on.

Cedric: If I can weigh in --

Jim: Sure.

Cedric: I started my blog at Blogdrive. I no longer have one there and Blogdrive sent me racist e-mails and deleted my blog. But while it was up, you could see what I originally did. Now I do humor posts with Wally and I have a great time doing that. We started joint-posts because I was doing get-out-the-vote work in 2007 for the Democrats in my spare time and was going to have to stop blogging because I didn't have time for everything. Wally called me and said, "Don't stop blogging, we'll do humor posts together." And that's what we do. But when I started, I had a number of topics I covered. And, for a little bit, that included Afghanistan. C.I. was covering Iraq and doing a great job of it. And, this community, we're all opposed to the Afghanistan War. So I thought I'd make that my focus. And for two or three weeks, I tried. What it drove him is I am against the Afghanistan War but I am not familiar enough to cover this development and that development. If I'd stuck to it for six months or so, I might have become that. But it would have required real commitment. So when I see Riverdaughter or any of these other instant-experts on Egypt, I have no use for them. They are not experts. They are spitting back out what the media has just told them. It takes real work to be able to comment knowledgably on a subject. For example, C.I. and Iraq. She can do it. She's put the work in. She's now covering the Arab press -- Arab language -- to make sure Iraq continues to be covered. That's allowed her to be ahead of many of the US newspapers -- whether it was being a day ahead of The New York Times on the assault on the Christian recreation center in Baghdad or being days ahead over the protests in Iraq or whatever. And we all know what she has to do in order to be informed like that. She's got to attend Congressional hearings, she's got to read government documents, she's got to speak to friends in the State Department, she speaks to journalists who are or have covered the region, she speaks to friends in the French government and in the British government, she's constantly addressing Iraq and has been, online, for seven years now. She's a highly qualified voice. By contrast, when I see these people like Riverdaughter -- and she's not the only one -- who chase after the current popular news topic and present themselves as experts, I'm disgusted. They haven't done the work required. And they don't have the knowledge base they think they do.

Mike: I would agree with everything Cedric just said. I'd further add that there's the whole legal issues as well. C.I. does not just make a legal snap judgment. If she's talking about the Constitution -- Iraq's Constitution -- she's not only read it, she discussed it with scholars and with attorneys. And she's done all that long before she ever weighed in. That's why she was right, from the beginning, from the day the SOFA was published in November 2008, and why pretty much everyone else was wrong. I really want that noted. She, Ava, Kat and Wally are doing an Iraq piece with Dona right now talking about the Senate hearings they attended last week. In those hearings, one of the things floated was extending the SOFA. That would be the SOFA that C.I. always told you could be extended or replaced with another treaty just as easily as it could be terminated or run in full. While C.I. was providing that reality, for over two years now, other news outlets and other speakers and thinkers were telling you that the SOFA meant the Iraq War ended in 2011. That's not what it meant at all. C.I. was right. If she were wrong the conversation would not be taking place last week in the Senate. She was right. For two years plus, she told the truth and was attacked for it repeatedly by the likes of Raed Jarrar among others. Those liars have still not gotten honest about the realities of the SOFA. A more recent example is when she was explaining that Nouri's power-grab was not legal and just because a self-proclaimed 'legal expert' was saying it was legal didn't make it so. C.I. outlined just two ways the Parliament could circumvent Nouri. Less than 24 hours later, the Parliament was exploring that and, as a result, Nouri began wanting to form some 'understanding' with them over the issue.

Marcia: I want to jump in on this topic too. Along with having the knowledge base, you have to be able to call things up. By that, I'm referring to a female journalist being killed in a bombing in Iraq. She was an Iraqi journalist. C.I. was covering, one morning, another assualt on press freedoms by Nouri and she points out that another journalist has died the week prior and then further points out that two journalism watchdog bodies have failed to include the woman in their counts and one had just issued a report on the deaths and it didn't include the woman. I was on the phone with Wally about that one because I just thought C.I. pulled everything together so wonderfully and I was wondering how she did it and all. Wally said C.I. was writing the morning entry and stops and says, "Wait, a woman died last week. I think on Thursday. Why isn't she in the death count?" And then she's pulling up the snapshot that covered that bombing and getting the woman's name to include it. And I don't have that kind of memory. If I'm reading something a week later, I'm not going to be able to run down the names and also think, "Wow, they've forgotten the woman killed in last week's bombing." It's also being able to access it.

Rebecca: And Elaine and I have always teased C.I. by comparing her to Katharine Hepburn and -- AND -- the computer in the movie Desk Set. In that movie, Hepburn's a reference librarian for a large news network and forever recalling this or that fact or whatever. The computer's name is Memorac and we have often teased C.I. by not only calling her Bunn Watson -- Hepburn's character -- but Memorac as well.

Ty: While we're singing praises, let me extend it to Ava and C.I. and then note someone else. Here, Ava and C.I. bust their ass to cover TV. That means watching episodes, reading scripts, talking to people with the shows and with the networks, etc. They do so much work before they ever write a word. And we appreciate that but reader Albert doesn't believe they get the praise they deserve. He e-mailed to note Ava and C.I.'s "TV: One Less Bag To Leak Gas" from last month and to note that they were right and didn't tout their own horns. "While many others," he wrote, "praised themselves and pointed to how they noted there was a problem between NBC news and Keith Olbermann when Olbermann was suspended or a few even went back to cite some comments made after the November 2008 election night coverage. Ava and C.I. didn't self-cite, but they could have. 'MSNBC's Weiner Dog' was written in August 2008 and, in that, they were outlining all the problems that ended up getting Olbermann shown the door last month."

Jim: That is true. And I remember noting in my note for that edition that Ava and C.I.'s friends with NBC News dumped that story in Third's lap. Albert's correct and, as I'm sure he knows, there were many other pieces Ava and C.I. wrote on the topic.

Ty: So there's that credit. But to move to another example, we've got Trina. She started her site to be practical and address the Bully Boy economy. And she's done that and she covers the economy and does so in basic, easy to follow language. And I'm sure there are times when she's sick of the topic but she's been covering it for years now.

Jim: True? Trina, are you sometimes sick of covering the economy?

Trina: I'm more often sick of the economic aspect of recipes. I love sharing recipes but, at this point, I've shared all my staple recipes. I started out blogging just once a week. Friday nights or Saturdays. Back then, the community didn't have as many blogs. Cedric and I, actually, both started to be weekend bloggers because the community felt that only this site and C.I. offered content on the weekend, that everyone else took off. But I've done one recipe a week since the start of the site and, again, I've shared everything I regularly cook and then some. I'm always happy when readers send in recipes because then I can highlight that. If I don't get one and it's Friday, I'm on the phone to Wally's mother or another friend asking, "Do you have a recipe?"

Jess: And the recipes are important. I've subbed for Trina before when she's gone on vacation or been busy. And I've shared very basic recipes because I'm not a cook. My stuff was very basic stuff that Jim, Ty and I would do when we were all sharing an apartment in college. And Trina was fine with that. Her biggest point was that the site's readers weren't all cooks, many were learning to cook, so don't try to offer a four-course meal. And I think that's why she's so popular. She's kept the economic writing and the recipe writing basic. She wants to give you what you need to follow and help yourself. I agree with Ty that Trina deserves a lot of praise for what she's accomplished with her site.

Trina: Well that's very nice of you but it's also true that we all poach. If, for example, we weren't all covering radio from time to time, I'm sure that would still be Ruth's beat but she's had to expand her scope because we do all cover radio.

Ruth: Well I never did anything like what Ann does on her own or with Ava and C.I. I love that kind of work. I think they do amazing work. I cannot recommend "Terry Gross' new low (Ann, Ava and C.I.)" highly enough. But what I do not care for from people like Riverdaughter, for example, is the lack of voice. You can go to any website in this community and, within three or four sentences, know who is writing. Betty's got her own unique voice, Marcia's hers, etc. And it goes beyond just what their scope is, it goes to developing a style. Because Riverdaughter fails to focus on topics -- runs from one to the other -- and because she lacks her own voice, it leaves a lot laking for me as a reader. Not that I am going there anymore after the latest purge. One thing that Betty and C.I. led on last week that I was so proud of them doing -- and Mike was hinting at it earlier in the week as well -- was noting that there are other stories than Egypt. By the end of the week, we were all attempting to ensure that we offered topics that were important but not being covered in the wall-to-wall Egypt coverage.

Jim: And I think most people picked up on that -- that everyone was making a point to cover topics that were falling by the wayside. Isaiah, what stands out as you look back on last week?

Isaiah: For me it is what Mike and others were talking about a lot earlier, the whole decision that the Iraq War will continue. The Senate offering two possibles -- either US troops remain but under the State Department or the SOFA gets extended and US troops remain still under the Defense Department. Look at just us, this group. We have marched against the war, we have lobbied our Congress reps, we have talked about the issues with friends, taken it to our own communities and we've written or drawn about the war online to draw attention to it. And last week any pretense that the US was leaving got demolished in not one but two Senate hearings. Yet these people who couldn't shut up about the illegal war in 2003 couldn't be bothered with it.

Stan: And really, how much of that is their refusal to hold Barack accountable? I have to wonder that. If this were Bush, I do think the Iraq War would have been the story of the week. And I don't mean, "If this were Bush and 2006." If Bush or some other Republican were in the White House right now and the Senate hearings took place like they did, I think this would be the overwhelming story: THe Iraq War is not ending.

Isaiah: I really think Egypt was a defocus. I'm not saying, "It was planned to be a defocus and, in the bowels of the CIA . . ." I'm saying the event emerged on its own and suddenly it became a way to defocus. Egypt's going to do whatever it does and the US will have to adjust as will the rest of the world. But the US continuing the Iraq War? That's something US citizens should damn well be aware of.

Stan: I agree so much with you, Isaiah. And, honestly, I'm just really despondent over the outcome in terms of the peace movement because we don't have one and no one's writing about the Senate hearings on the left. You've got C.I., Ava, Wally and Kat. If you include the right-wing, you've got and the Cato Institute. And that's really it. All the people who made money off the war with their books and movies are suddenly nowhere to be found.

Jim: And I'd agree with that and add that I find it shocking. I can remember when Jess, Ty, Dona, Ava and I thought the Iraq War would be over by the time we finished college. Of course that hasn't happened and the Iraq War continues. Ann, we haven't heard from you, I'm sorry. I'll give you the last word.

Ann: That should go to Betty who is much better up summing up and offering insight. Okay, well, like Jess, I am a Green. I'm not a Democrat or a Republican and I'm not caught up in the two party system. I think a great deal of the refusal to call out the war has to do with the two party system. You've got Republicans who formed pro-war positions under Bush and aren't going to change. Not all Republicans are pro-war, just to be clear. And you've got anti-war Democrats who are not going to use their voices because Bush is out of the White House and Barack is in. Add in, and I'll say this as a Black woman, the cowardly element of White people -- and this is especially true of so-called leaders -- who think Barack can't be criticized because he's a person of color. It all adds up to where the Iraq War is no longer about the illegal war itself but something to be silent over in order to 'support' Barack. There are a lot of cowards and a lot of whores and that's what's betrayed the peace movement.

Jim: Thank you for that, Ann. On that note, we'll end. This is a rush transcript.

Before The Nation next mounts its high horse . . .

People who got it wrong about the Iraq War have not been held accountable. That's not our unique observation. FAIR and its radio program CounterSpin, Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive), Bob Somerby (The Daily Howler), Norman Solomon and countless others have made that point repeatedly over the years. The point being that for the pundits, there is no accountability. Those who cheerleaded an illegal war are responsible for one of the worst global crimes of the century. Instead of being ridiculed and laughed out of the public sphere, these same gasbags are still allowed to pontificate with no consquences and treated as respected voices.

"Countless others" includes The Nation magazine. So imagine our surprise when, this morning, we visited the website and discovered the contents below.


Did you catch the problem?

You may not have.

The Nation is giving platform to British writer Johann Hari -- granting Hari 'expert status.'

That would be the same Johann Hari who wrote the following for The Independent:

In his latest column for the New Statesman, Mehdi Hassan argues that we can't only blame Tony Blair for the Iraq war, which has led to the death of a million people, and four million more being forced from their homes. We also have to pin responsibility on the much wider circle of people who supported the war -- including those in the media, like me, who he mentions by name. I think he's right, and it's an important article to link to and reflect on.

And if you're reading the above and thinking, "Well okay, she's a War Cheerleader and maybe a War Hawk, but look, she took accountability."

Yes, she did. January 26, 2011. Long after the British were officially out of Iraq. Long after it no longer mattered.

Two months shy of the eighth year of the illegal war, Hari finally acknowledges her mistake and The Nation's now turning in her into a trusted voice?

It's too damn little, too damn late. The Nation should be embarrassed to be printing 'advice' and 'expertise' from a writer who was so wrong on Iraq and whose columns were used to advance the war. And if you're new to this topic, a good starting point is Eric Alterman's "Think Again: The Sunday Scene: Same as It Ever Was" (American Progressive).

Sexism and homophobia

This article on sexism and homophobia is from Great Britain's Socialist Worker.

Two TV pundits sent off after foul sexism

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by Saira Weiner

The sacking of Andy Gray and subsequent resignation of Richard Keys from Sky Sports has opened up a much needed debate about sexism in football.

I’m not entirely convinced how noble Sky’s motives for the sacking are. After all Gray is currently taking legal action against another part of Rupert Murdoch’s empire over alleged phone hacking by the News of the World.

But whatever Sky’s reasons, everyone is still talking about the case. It’s clear that some people still think it’s acceptable for public figures to have views like theirs.

To them the issue was getting caught on record. After all, Gray and Keys were only bantering. “What’s the problem with a few off hand comments?”, they say.

Keys was filmed making gross comments in a television studio to ex‑footballer Jamie Redknapp about an old girlfriend.

Afterwards he claimed he was attempting to put his fellow presenters at ease. If that was his aim he failed, because instead they look uncomfortable and embarrassed.

But what was the most encouraging thing about the whole affair, is that most commentators, including those from within the world of football, think Sky made the correct decision.

Even Ron Atkinson supported the move—and his own TV career ran into the buffers when he was sacked in 2004 for using racist terminology.

Gray and Keys have been denounced as “dinosaurs”, hangovers from a previous age.

Unfortunately, while things have undoubtedly improved over the last decade, bigotry—whether it’s sexism, racism or homophobia—is still very apparent in football.

Women, black people and gay people play a full and vital part in everyday life. We pay the same money to see a match as white men and we are demanding of as much respect.

Big campaigns against racism in football, such a Kick it Out, plus the number of black players in league teams, have made racism less acceptable at football grounds these days.


I watch Manchester United at Old Trafford, and I’ve sat in the same area for ten years.

Not only is it rare to hear any racist comments, but if any are made they are challenged by other fans.

Sexism and homophobia however, are still considered more acceptable.

This is not surprising when gay footballers are advised by the likes of public relations guru Max Clifford not to come out as it will affect their careers.

Sexism runs deep through football culture in Britain. There are no female football managers in the league, and less than 1 percent of all referees registered with the Football Association (FA) are women.

And that helps the likes of Gray and Keys to feel confident in expressing such sexist views about women so openly.

These ideas about women run more deeply in the game than they do on the terraces.

It would be easy to miss the fact that the England women’s team has been far more successful internationally than the men’s.

Sexism may still sit not far below the surface, but no-one who sits near me at a match would dream of suggesting I didn’t understand the offside rule.

And, every time the blokes agree with something the women sitting around them have said and get to know them more, they think twice about comments they might have previously made. It is still hard work though.

Culture is difficult to shift, and women’s oppression is so intrinsically tied to the needs of this society that any shift is powerful, political and threatening for the ruling class.

And, at a time when cuts are being pushed through, It is particularly women who cuts force into unpaid carer roles.

The notion that we have achieved women’s equality in society is a myth.

Women still earn on average 80 percent of men’s earnings, and gender divisions in the labour market are still clearly defined.

This is both reflected and magnified in football.

But some things have shifted. Every time England captain Rio Ferdinand labels the likes of Gray and Keys as “prehistoric”, or the FA comes out against bullying idiots, it gives women more confidence.

It helps us to feel we can stand up and challenge inequality—not only in football but in wider society.

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

Targeting peace activists

This article on the Barack Obama administration targeting peace activists is from Workers World.

Protesters vs. FBI repression say: ‘Solidarity is not a crime!’

Published Feb 5, 2011 4:38 PM

When the FBI delivered subpoenas for nine Palestine solidarity activists in Chicago to appear before a grand jury on Jan. 25, the response was loud and clear: Protests, press conferences and forums were held in more than 45 cities in the U.S. and around the world on that date to stand in solidarity and say no to FBI repression.

San Francisco

San Francisco
WW photo: Judy Greenspan

This same grand jury was impaneled by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to indict 14 individuals in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, some of whose homes and offices were raided in September. Many feel it’s a fishing expedition targeting activists in solidarity with Palestine and the Colombian people. Six of those subpoenaed to appear in Chicago were Arab Americans.

Many of the protests denounced this attempt by the U.S. government to criminalize solidarity with the Palestinian people. Protesters, including those summoned to appear before the grand jury in Chicago, vowed to continue to work to end U.S. aid to Israel.

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Monadel Herzallah,
San Francisco.
WW photo: Judy Greenspan

Organized by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, one of the largest demonstrations took place outside the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago, where more than 250 people crowded the sidewalk during rush hour. A number of the activists who were subpoenaed but refused to appear before the grand jury addressed the rally.

In New York City people rallied in front of the FBI offices chanting, “Stop the subpoenas, Stop the raids! We are here and not afraid!” Groups supporting the protest included the May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights, Al-Awda-NY, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the International Action Center, Veterans for Peace-NY, the Pakistan-USA Freedom Forum, Workers World Party, The World Can’t Wait, the Free Mumia Coalition and others. Ralph Poynter, spouse of jailed lawyer Lynne Stewart, read her statement. Stewart is serving 10 years in federal prison after being framed up by the government for her steadfast defense of politically targeted defendants.

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Richard Brown,
San Francisco.
WW photo: Judy Greenspan

At a picket line and street meeting in Cleveland, speakers stressed the long history of FBI spying and grand jury harassment against Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activists and the anti-war movement.

In Los Angeles, protesters gathered outside the Westwood Federal Building, which houses the FBI offices. A tribunal was held where members of Students for a Democratic Society, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the International Action Center, the South-Asian Network, the Labor Strategy Center, the Freedom Socialist Party, the Answer Coalition and the National Lawyers Guild testified as witnesses to crimes committed by the FBI against solidarity activists. Participants pledged to intensify resistance.

In Atlanta a dozen people withstood cold wind and rain to stand downtown with banners against FBI repression and in solidarity with imprisoned soldier Bradley Manning. Flyers were distributed and a press conference was held.


WW photo: Susan Schnur

Subfreezing temperatures failed to dampen the spirits of participants in a strong, diverse picket line in Detroit comprised of members of labor unions, youth groups, anti-war and other progressive organizations. Chants included “From Iraq to Palestine, solidarity is not a crime!” and “FBI off our backs! Enough attacks!”

A speakout after the picket included solidarity statements from youth/student organizations at two universities in Arizona. Debbie Johnson of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice, sponsor of the rally, demanded an immediate halt to grand jury proceedings; that those targeted receive justice and have returned to them all of the items that were stolen by the FBI; and that all government attacks against progressive and revolutionary activists cease.

‘Free, free Palestine!’

In Philadelphia a press conference brought a number of activists together to denounce the FBI harassment campaign. It was followed by a forum on FBI entrapment of innocent Muslims featuring attorney Steve Downs, a founding member of Project SALAM; Dominick Calsolaro, member of the Albany, N.Y., City Council, which passed a resolution in support of justice for Muslims targeted by preemptive prosecution; and Burim Duka and Leila Duka, brother and daughter of members of the Fort Dix 5. Endorsers included the ACLU-PA, the CAIR-PA; the Brandywine Peace Community; the International Action Center; and Philadelphia Against War.

Speakers and audience members commented on and linked the FBI repression of activists; the targeting of Muslims; Immigration and Customs Enforcement and police collaboration; police brutality, including Philadelphia’s stop-and-frisk policies; and the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security spying on more than 300 groups and individuals in 2010 for potential “terrorist” activities. Abdus Sabur, father of a young Black man brutally beaten by police in September, spoke movingly about his son’s experience and urged Philadelphia’s City Council to pass a resolution supporting the Muslim community.

In Raleigh, N.C., activists gathered outside the Federal Building with signs reading “Federal Bureau of Intimidation” and “Hands off Activists.” Participants included the Triangle Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the Durham Bill of Rights Defense Committee, FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) and the National Lawyers Guild. Khalilah Sabra of MAS (the Muslim-American Society) Freedom read a statement by a ninth-grade student on the injustice of repression.

At a noontime rally and an early evening demonstration in Boston hundreds of flyers were distributed to passersby and rush-hour commuters, many of whom applauded the demonstrations. A man whom activists suspected was an undercover agent, likely FBI, filmed participants and appeared to be trying to provoke a response.

More than 200 people chanting, “Free, free Palestine! Solidarity is not a crime!” protested in front of the Federal Building in downtown San Francisco. Coordinated by the newly formed Bay Area Coalition to Stop Political Repression, participants staged a dramatic enactment of 23 duct-taped grand jury resisters marching into the Federal Building to return their subpoenas.

Speakers included Richard Brown of the San Francisco 8, who served time for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury witch hunt targeting the Black Liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Brown stated, “The FBI and police are the real terrorists.” Monadel Herzallah, a key organizer and member of the Arab American Union Members Council, announced that the subpoenaed brothers and sisters did not come to court as ordered.

Another case of FBI intimidation was reported from Memphis, Tenn., where solidarity activists planning a public event at the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center were visited by the FBI and a Memphis police SWAT team who claimed they were there to “keep peace” at the demonstration. Two activists’ homes were also visited by the sheriff’s department with bench warrants.

For reports on actions and events in other cities, including St. Louis; Salt Lake City; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Dallas; Tucson, Ariz.; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Seattle; Providence, R.I.; Asheville, N.C.; Louisville, Ky.; Albany, N.Y.; and Kyiv, Ukraine, visit the Committee to Stop FBI Repression at

John Catalinotto, Judy Greenspan, Dianne Mathiowetz, John Parker, Bryan G. Pfeifer and Susan Schnur contributed to this roundup.

Articles copyright 1995-2011 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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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, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights. Our apologies to Isaiah because we copy and paste this every week. Jim called Mike last week to ask, "Is Isaiah working on these? You always mention him doing so at your site but he's not actually given credit." That was an oversight.

"Iraq snapshot," "In appreciation of Lindsey Graham (Ava)," "It's a bi-partisan hole (Wally),"
"John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Jim Webb," "Iraq snapshot," "The forgotten covert wars on Latin America (Ava)," "It's a boom economy!" and "Senate Foreign Relations Committee" -- C.I., Ava, Wally and Kat

"Baked Onions in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a new recipe.

"How very, very sad" and "Egypt"-- Bookends from Betty.

"america the beautiful and perfect" -- Rebecca on the wall to wall.

"So thankful Bill Moyers is off PBS" -- Ruth expresses gratitude.

"The Patriot Act (look away from Egypt, if you can!)" -- Marcia wonders if anyone remembers the Patriot Act?

"RocknRolla" and "The Bride of Frankenstein and Street" -- Stan and Mike go to the movies.

"The Cape" and "Chuck, enablers, truth tellers" -- Stan and Mike cover TV.

"The Quotable Bully Mama" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this one on Babsie Bush, Bully Boy and Gordon Brown.

"THIS JUST IN! TED GLICK EXPOSES ALL!" & "Ted Glick's shocker" -- Wally and Cedric offer a short but sweet one.

"Noam and Nim"

"ObamaCare," "The White House disrespects the courts," "Fringe, ObamaCare, Third" and
"THIS JUST IN! HE KNOWS HIS CONSTITUTION!" & "Regrets" -- ObamaCare coverage in the community.

"Another solid commentary" -- Marcia shares some praise for good writing.

"Bill Keller the finger pointer" -- Elaine offers a pointed reminder to Bill Keller.

"The first real heir to Public Enemy" and "THIS JUST IN! IT'S LUPE FIASCO WEEK!" -- Cedric and Wally highlight an important new tune.
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