Friday, December 30, 2005


So another year draws to a close. A time where some of us take personal inventory.

I'm one of those who does that and I'm not really sure what to say in "big terms" about 2005 because I think we covered it in the roundtable at The Third Estate Sunday Review.

So here's my own reflecting.

Three years ago, the woman I was engaged to got a job in Europe. Of course the relationship didn't last. Was she the one? Last year dating was a pain in the butt. This year, there were actually a few nice women. So in terms of relationships, where am I?

I'd say I'm finally over what couldn't be and ready to appreciate the right one if she comes along. Now the way life goes, that probably means she won't come along in 2006.

Family wise, everyone still with us is healthy so knock wood that stays the same. My youngest cousin is finally leaving his gangsta rap period and the whole family is breathing a collective sigh of relief. He went from ghetto fabulous to gansta and now he seems to be on an information kick which hopefully means he'll get back in college.

Common Ills members will know that I have huge respect for and enjoyment of rap but I don't listen to gansta rap and doubt I will. Watching my cousin try to imitate the lives of a bunch of men who should have known better, so should my cousin, was enough to turn me off of that crap. He went from being this straight arrow, overachiever to a college drop out who just wanted to grab a 40 and hang with his "posse" that went from slackers to hoods in a matter of months. That caused my grandmother tremendous pain so, whether he goes back to college or not, I hope he's serious about straightening his life out.

Work wise I like my job. I get to help people and that makes me feel good. I've got job security and I can pay my bills, do my church tithes, help out family that's not doing as well, so I have no complaints there.

Soul wise, I think I'm doing okay. Normally, I'd write more than that but, to be honest, seems like there's a lot of pandering to prove the center and the left is religious ("too!"). I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a truck today. I have no idea what the statement was supposed to be but it said "I SUPPORT THE TROOPS MORE THAN YOU DO!" Religion's not a competition and I feel like in 2005 that was a trend we saw as people competed to be more religious than thou. If you are religious, whomever you worship is the one who will determine whether you are religious or not.

Church wise, since Keesha e-mailed wondering how the choir's performance went last Sunday, we did a really good job. We don't have a lot of empty seats on most Sundays to begin with, but we were packed Sunday with a lot of people sitting in folding chairs and some standing. That's because the megachurch in our area felt a day of worship is something you skip on Christmas. That still offends me.

I think my church is doing a great job reaching out to older members in the community and that's what I'm most proud of in 2005. Not just my part in that but everyone's. A place of worship, my opinion, should be a place where people come together and it should be about more than a nod on Sunday or a hello in the church parking lot. I'm really proud of my church's efforts to reach out to members, especially older members who find themselves in the area they grew up in while their children have moved on (usually due to economic reasons).

This summer, I had four really wonderful friends. Now I have three. Vern was a really great man with a lot of wisdom and I'm glad I was able to get to know him and learn from him. I'm really glad that Three Cool Old Guys are my friends.

If you're stumbling upon this entry and wondering what I'm talking about, as part of my church's outreach, I agreed to spend time with four of older members who are in a nursing home. It was the best thing I could have done. Not for them, I hope it's good for them, but for me. It was a real honor to know Vern and I'm really honored to be able to call Three Old Guys my friends. They're a trip and then some. If you know someone in a nursing home and you could be visiting but aren't because you're thinking "What will we talk about?" take a chance and visit because I bet you'll find that the problem is not having enough time to talk instead of having nothing to talk about.

I want to thank Rebecca, Kat, C.I., Elaine, Ty, Mike, Betty and Jess for helping me deal with Vern's death. And Kat and C.I. for listening, at all hours, when I called to read them what I was reading at Vern's funeral. I rewrote that thing over and over and everytime they were willing to listen. The day of the funeral, at two in the morning, I woke up C.I. with one phone call and then Kat with another asking them for one more listen. They'd told me beforehand to call when I got the final draft done and read it. That was nice of them and if I hadn't felt that I really needed to say something worthy of him, I would have just thanked them for their offer. Instead, I took them up on it.

Again, if you're stumbling in blind, Vern was pretty much alone except for his friends at the nursing home. His kids didn't come by, his grandkids didn't. (He had one granddaughter who called.) I wanted to talk about how he was still this incredible guy worth spending time with even at the end because he was. But a lot of time, people end up in a nursing home and end up being forgotten. I'll save the speech there for another time.

So what does that leave?

I guess that leaves politics. 2005? It was a big change for me. I voted in elections and sometimes I donated some money to a candidate but that was really it. In March, I went to my first protest rally. It was against the war. In September, I went to D.C. for the big anti-war protest there. I'm proud of taking part in The Third Estate Sunday Review's "'Why Are You Here' and 'What's Changed'" which is us sharing the voice of a hundred people present. You didn't get that from the mainstream media. (You did get real coverage from Democracy Now!)
And "us" was:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty who was on the verge of starting Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man and C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review. This time we're joined by 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 Morning Edition Report and her granddaughter Tracey.

That's who worked on the voices feature. And if a hundred voices seems like a lot to anyone, we all interviewed a lot more. We had to narrow down our choices and then explain why we were wanting our final picks highlighted. Also there were Gina and Krista who do the gina & krista round-robin. Seth and Wally weren't blogging then. It's kind of weird to think about that now. Mike interviewed me for his site and we knew that two members were about to start their own site but we couldn't figure out who they were? That seems like a lifetime ago.

So I'm someone who never went to a protest or a march and I took part in three in 2005, in March, in September and the World Can't Wait in November. That's been a big change. I think when you come together with others to stand up and be counted, it changes you in some ways. You really get the sense that you're not alone and that just because the mainstream media wants to act like you're some minor fringe, that's not true.

In 2004, if you'd told me I'd be taking part in protests, I would've rolled my eyes.

The other thing that changes, or changed for me, is that I found when I'd be back at work, people would want to talk about it. They'd bring it up. They'd say, "I saw a few seconds on the news, what was it like?" C.I. said something, in D.C., about how this was important but what I'd see was that I'd be carrying "seeds" back with me and I really didn't get it then but I do now. The youth group at my church wanted a full report and I was happy to give that. But at work, with friends, with family, everyone wanted to know about it.

I feel like I'm more aware of the world around me. I don't feel like I'm an expert on anything but I feel like I'm tremendously more informed. I'll thank The Common Ills for that. This time last year, I was nervously writing an e-mail for the year-in-review at The Common Ills and hoping C.I. would include it but thinking it wouldn't be included. It got included. I was making a music choice and just that made me nervous. C.I. deserves a lot of credit for The Common Ills but it's also true that it's member driven. And I'm really amazed at how large the community has become. Not just in terms of everyone doing their sites and Gina and Krista doing their newsletter, but . . .

I'm really not sure what to say. It's just a really supportive community and we all get to share and learn. Democracy Now! is a must for me now. I didn't even know about it until I saw it highlighted at The Common Ills. And there are writers that I never knew of or, if I had, it was in the dismissive way that the mainstream media treats them.

I don't think I'd be where I am now if it weren't for that community. I might not have met my friends at the nursing home. My outlook used to be, just keep my head down and my nose clean. People like Cokie Roberts never said anything on TV or radio to make me feel like I had a right to say anything about this country. (Especially people like Cokie Roberts who thought the first Gulf War was a benefit for my race since she believes wars always better things for African-Americans.) People like that exist to say, as she did about members in Congress against the war, "none that matter." I knew I mattered in my family. I didn't think anyone else cared or that I could make much difference.

Now I know there are people who think we shouldn't be in Iraq or that we should have universal health care or pick any issue and there are people out there who think the same way but never get on Good Morning America or NPR. That's really powerful, to find brave voices speaking out. I think it gives us all courage.

For the country, I think 2005 was a disaster as Bully Boy got sworn in and things went even further down hill. But for me personally, 2005 was like an awakening and I bet there are other people out there who feel the same way.

About my site, how do I rate it? Well, I think it's better than the old site. This was meant to be a "big mix" and really a blog report for the community originally but that's not the case now. I'll probably pick two days a week in 2006 to blog. I can manage that. I'm pleased with a few things I've done here like this and that.

I'm pleased with a number of things I've gotten to take part in for The Third Estate Sunday Review and along with the voices feature I noted earlier, I'm probably most pleased with the editorial "War Got Your Tongue?" I'll also thank C.I. for pulling a number of us together to work on headlines twice this year.

I think I'm a better blogger than I was when I started. So that's good. And that's come from doing it and from sharing the experience with others.

My goals for 2006 include becoming more informed and becoming more active.

So that ends the self-inventory.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Add some news to your diet

Hope everyone had a happy holiday (or, for those who celebrate Kwanza, that they are having a happy holiday). If you're stuffed on sweets and turkey, here's some news to add to your diet.

"News roundup including did Bully Boy break the law?"
Did Bully Boy break the law by authorizing spying on American citizens and circumventing the FISA courts? If so, how many years can someone be sentenced to for that crime? We'll highlight a radio discussion on that issue, but first, news on Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, the Phillipines, Russia, Chile, Israel, activism and more.

As reported on The Daily Iraq Wire, December 25th wasn't a day of peace in Iraq. Two bombs went off in Iraq injuring seven Iraqis. In addition, a reported al Qaeda group in Iraq announced Sunday that they had kidnapped and killed four Arabs who had been "working with the US authorities and the Iraqi government in the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad."
Monday violence and unrest continued.
Deepa Babington, reporting for the Irish Examiner, notes that Baghdad saw five explosions today killing eight and wounding thirty-eight. Outside of Baghdad, there were attacks in Falluja where a suicide bomber killed himself and two police recruits. In Dhabab, five Iraqi soldiers were killed.

Reporting for IPS, Gareth Porter reports today a "looming confrontation" between Shi'ites in Iraq and the American officials who are urging the disbanding of Shi'ite paramilitary groups. American officials fear groups may have close ties to Iran. The "looming confrontation" emerged when American officials decided to make an issue of the "torture houses" run by Shi'ites. "Decided?" Major R. John Stukey and others first reported the existance of "torture houses" in June of 2005. From June to November, US officials remained silent.

As of Monday, US military fatalities in Iraq stand at 2169, official count with 56 of those fatalities for the month of December. Iraq Body Count, which gathers totals by following media reports, estimates that as few as 27,592 and as many as 31,115 Iraqis have died thus far since the invasion.

In other war news, Agence France-Presse reports the American military is claiming that "very soon" the number of troops serving in Iraq will drop from 19,000 to 2, 5000.
In activism news,
NOW is calling for action on Samuel Alito, Jr.'s Supreme Court nomination:

There is work to be done, both in Washington, DC and throughout the country. As a part of Freedom Winter 2006, NOW and Feminist Majority Foundation are working together to bring grassroots activists to DC between January 3 and January 20. We're also encouraging activists to organize in their communities.

More information can be found online at NOW as well as online at the Feminist Majority Foundation. In related news, Ms. Magazine has compiled "the top ten news stories for women in 2005." Topping the list, Sandra Day O'Connor's announcement that she will step down from the Supreme Court bench. Planned Parenthood has also compiled a look back at the year 2005. Their look back begins with a listing of the five best and five worst places to get birth control prescriptions filled:

Brooks/Eckerd Corporation

Rite Aid

In international news, Al Jazeera reports that Augusto Pinochet will finally stand trial for the deaths and disappearances carried out under his dictator regime as the head of Chile. Chile's Supreme Court, in a three to two vote, ruled that Pinochet is fit to stand trial. The BBC reports that charges will be filed Tuesday against four US marines for rape. The four are currently at the US embassy in Manila and "it is unclear whether it will hand over the marines." Abdul Rahman Khuzairan reports, for Islam.Online. net, that on Sunday a sit in was staged in Casablanca by Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Forum "to protest the mass grave found recently with the remains of 82 people." Canada's Star Phoenix reports that Monday in St. Petersburg, shoppers in one store were exposed to a mysterious gas: "Boxes containing timers wired to glass vials were discovered at the scene of the attack and three other stores in the same chain in Russia's second-largest city." And in Tut-tut Tuttle news, the Finanical Times reports that car dealer and contributor of $70,000 worth of donations to the GOP in 2004, Robert Tuttle continues to stumble in his post as US ambassador to England. For the second time, Tuttle has been forced to issue a correction to the BBC following an interview. Embassy work, not as easy as moving cars off a lot.

"Have we made poverty history?" asks The Independent of London? The debt relief in 2008 will go not to Africa but to Iraq and Nigeria. In addition the United States is backing off from it's earlier committments. Also reporting for The Independent, Maxine Frith notes that charities and aid workers believe that Live 8, and those involved in the concerts, "hijacked" the effort and gave the world a false sense of resolution when the problems of world poverty contine. Meera Selva reports from Africa that the people supposed to benefit from the concerts in London's Hyde Park have seen little difference in their lives. One woman tells Selva, "We have problems in Africa, big problems. What can plastic bracelets and pop concerts do to solve them?"
Reuters reports Israeli helicopters firing three missiles into Gaza. This comes as Al Jazeera reports that the Israeli government has announced intentions to build an additional 200 homes on the West Bank. The BBC reports, in other news from the region, that Ariel Sharon has been urged to "curb his appetite" by doctors as he awaits sugery "to close a small hole which doctors found in his heart after he had a minor stroke."

For The KPFA Evening News Anthony Fest spoke Monday evening to Christopher Pyle, "a consultant to Congress in the drafting of the surveillance act, today he teaches political science at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusettes." (What follows is a rough transcript, use the link to listen to the archived broadcast.)

Pyle: The Church Committee was set up because during the Watergate era we had discovered extensive domestic surveillance operations by a number of agencies including the FBI, military intelligence, the CIA and, the largest intelligence agency of all, the National Security Agency. It does electronic intercepts worldwide. It has stations around the world. It picks up communications off of statellites. It picks them off of landlines and it searches them with a dictionary of watch words. And during the 1970s, we discovered that the National Security Agency had maintained files on about 75,000 Americans and they particularly targeted political activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, the folk singer Joan Baez, and the anti-war protestor Dr. Benjamin Spock. We sought to end that massive surveillance, which had no judicial authority what so ever, by passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. That law said that if the government, when the government wanted to monitor electronic communications it had to go to a special court to gain a national security authorization, a speciall warrant. And for a number of years, it appears that the government did go to the special court and was able to conduct its monitoring with special warrants. But three years ago, the Bush administration decided that this was inconveinent for some reason that's not fully understood. And they just ignored the court and began collecting, uh, information rather broadly. The law itself says that it's the exclusive method by which monitoring may take place and that anybody who violates the law is guilty of a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Fast: So there's no leeway for interpretation here, it's uh, it's black and white that if you don't go through the FISA court, you are in violation of the law?
Pyle: Exactly. So what we have here is the rather extraordinary situation of a president who has admitted to committing a felony. Now he says that Congress excused him by passing the resolution against al Qaeda but that says nothing about electronic surveillance. And then he says that the Constitution excuses him because the Constitution places him above the law. There's actually a secret memo produced by the Justice Department to justify torture that says that a war time president can ignore the criminal law of the United States. There's no basis for this in law, there's no basis for this in the history of Constitutional law and Constitutional interpretation and that's of course why the memo was kept secret because if it had ever seen the light of day it would have been laughed out of court. Well now it's seen the light of day and assertions based on that theory have seen the light of day and we're not laughing because we realize the government is really out of control.
Fast: Doubtless the techonology of surveillance is incrompably more powerful today than it was in the 1960s. Is there any indication yet exactly how wide, how wide a net the NSA was casting or how many people had been surveilled?
Pyle: No. The initial reports by the New York Times were that up to 500 people at a time had been targeted but perhaps thousands had been intercepted. And if they were, let's say, monitoring all e-mails and searching all e-mails in the United States for certain code words or phrases then it would be probably hundreds of thousands or millions of people who would have been monitored, not simply 500 people targeted at any given time. But we really don't know. But what we know is that the judges on the FISA court are extremely upset. One of them has already resigned because of this. The others want to know particularly whether this warrant-less spying was being used to then produce probable cause for specific warranted spying. In other words, infecting the very process with illegaly obtained information.
Fast: Since the administration was apparently conducting surveillance that was more in the nature of data mining then watching individuals is there any legal grounds under which they could conduct that kind of operation?
Pyle: No, that is what was known in the common law as a general search. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution forbids general searches. The second clause of the Fourth Amendment says that the warrants must be obtained that specify the place to be searched and and the things to be seized. The FISA warrants specify the persons who are the targets of the intercepts. There has to be specifity. There can't be a great dragnet collecting everything and then sorting it by computer and putting everybody under suspicion.

Did Bully Boy break the law? Better question, after trotting out Vicky Toe-Jam in print and on TV to put forward false claims about the Congessional act passed in the 80s to prevent the outing of CIA agents, why has the mainstream media been so reluctant to pursue people who helped with the drafting of the FISA act?

The above is news you may have missed and was compiled by Wally, Rebecca, Mike, Kat, Jim, Jess, Ty, Cedric, Elaine, Betty, and C.I.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Three Cool Old Guys and about megabully

So here's the thing, I started this on Saturday and finished it a few minutes ago. The time may flip because of that. I'm taking Jim's advice about the links. I think there are enough here. If I wasn't rushing for time, I would provide more.

Thank you to Three Cool Old Guys and all their friends who were so encouraging Thursday night when we tried out our caroling program. We really want to do a great job and we appreciated all the input on what six songs we should perform in church Christmas Day. I also thank them for their public praise (and C.I. for mentioning them) Friday.

They get a kick out of it when they get a mention here or at The Common Ills. Or at the gina & krista round-robin. Now Gina and Krista are great and I'll give them their due and then some. But they really deserve more due than that. I have Three Cool Old Guys and Gina & Krista's permission to announce this. If you read your Friday round-robin, you know they each wrote about the first time it hit them that color was an issue. Not the first time their parents had told them but the first time when they saw something that told the truth about a society still pretending.

I really loved their feature. And Gina & Krista persuaded them to make it a monthly feature for the round-robin. So once a month, you'll get perspectives from Three Cool Old Guys on how much we've changed as a society or how much we haven't and on where we are headed. Those men have lived long lives and are a wealth of history and information so I'm really thrilled about this.

And I've been on their backs for them to do that on a website of their own because I think it's important. How much have I been on their backs? They've taken to telling me to "get up out my grill." That makes me laugh because it's funny to hear them say that and also because, since they got online, they are able to stay in touch with their families and specifically their grandkids.
That means so much to them and I'm really glad that's happened.

But even with me, their friend, urging them to do a site, they didn't want to. I told them if it was a technical thing, I would help them out and I know C.I. would be available for any phone call. But they didn't want to. So I offered they could write it in an e-mail and I'd set up the site and copy and paste their e-mails into posts their.

They didn't want that.

In the time since they've become Common Ills members and started getting the round-robin, they've seen what Gina and Krista are able to do in that and they've agreed with C.I.'s remarks that it's a more private way to have a conversation. They did an interview with Gina and Krista for the round-robin and never told me that they'd asked Gina and Krista if they might be interested in any writing?

Of course G&K were. So this was the first of their monthly contributions this week. They wanted to see how they felt about it after it was in the round-robin and they're pretty pleased with themselves as they should be. So with their permission and Gina & Krista's permission, let me be the first to note that this is now a monthly feature of the round-robin.

When we were talking this morning, they explained why they were more comfortable with this format. They feel the round-robin is supportive and geared towards a supportive audience. They really aren't in the mood for "flamers" who would post racist remarks or for the nonsense that people like C.I. and Ava have to put up with (all the threats for silly stuff like not presenting Wentworth Miller as the second coming of acting).

They agreed that their was a need to share their experiences as Black men who lived before the civil rights movement and lived after. But they weren't comfortable talking about specifics where someone could attack them or someone in their family. You know one of them spoke of seeing their strong father have to "play the fool" when a White employer started hollering at him in front of his kids. They didn't want someone insulting their father's memory or some right-wing website chuckling about it.

While they were talking to Gina and Krista, they never let on to me. They said it's their Christmas gift to me since I've been urging them to share their experiences publicly and I think it's the greatest gift I'll get this year.

But they did sound out Betty, C.I. and Ruth for feedback. All three were supportive and encouraging. They were thrilled by the idea. But I think it was the comfort Gina and Krista instilled that helped decide it for them as well as the fact that Gina's an African-American and Krista is White and that they try to address race and racial interaction seriously in the round-robin. They felt this was to place to share their experiences and memories.

I spoke with both Gina and Krista but Gina, like Seth, is living a nightmare these days because she's in retail and this is a busy time for them. She kept trying to think of a quote to go up here and finally begged off saying that she and Krista had spoken at length about this so use a quote from Krista and everyone should know that Krista's speaking for the both of them.

Krista says that they are very honored that Three Cool Old Guys have chosen to share with the round-robin readers. She said she and Gina both see tremendous value in hearing from people who lived through the times and not just someone born after weighing in.

Three Cool Old Guys told me to put in that Ava & C.I.'s commentary last week was the deciding "push" because "we are losing ground." They appreciated that Ava and C.I. didn't shy from noting an obvious but often unremarked fact, African-Americans are leads less and less. Ava & C.I. were focusing on women in their feminist critique and that certainly includes women of color but they were really glad that Ava & C.I. also worked in the fact that when the groups who are being stereotyped and shut out work together, they can put the pressure on.

They also told me this morning that I better note that review because they think it covered a great deal and felt it was "speaking truth when some are just wanting to keep it light." The title of the commentary is "TV: We're losing ground and now is not the time for silence." That was pretty powerful, I agree. And I spoke to Jess and Ty about it Friday to check on the e-mail reaction. The feedback's been incredible on that. Ty joked that they should have just made the edition the commentary and "War Got Your Tongue" because those two pieces spoke powerfully to readers.

I'm going to talk a bit about that edition because I wrote Thursday about the problems that some have caused the community. We had a really strong edition ready to go and the pieces were set but needing some polish. The only thing we hadn't done was the book discussion. As we were on what we thought was our final break, C.I. checks the public e-mail account and there's Christine whining and saying she wants "peace."

C.I. conveyed the e-mail to us, which I won't quote from though I groaned at it as did several others, and felt the need to respond to it.

Christine seems to be offended that anyone would call her out on anything. There's the treatment of Kat which I noted on Thursday, but there's also the fact that she can't grasp why anyone would object to her site pushing The New Republic? If she can't grasp that, she needs to find out information about what she chooses to promote. Her other big beef is that she was called out on her silence about the war.

C.I.'s feelings, expressed to us, were that she was hurting and if she was hurting as much as she said we might want to consider the edition. The edition wasn't focused on her but it did talk about people like her, and she's sadly not alone in her silence.

C.I. took the time to respond to what might have been a genuine e-mail. C.I. took the time to, as was done in the roundtable, attempt to see their side. A lot of us were mad, not at C.I. because C.I. will try to be fair.

But we didn't think the e-mail was a genuine offer of peace or that it was anything but someone whining for being called on what they should be called on.

But in the spirit of the season, we agreed to scrap the edition. That and C.I.'s taking the time to reply to her, cost us a huge amount of time because we suddenly had to come up with an entirely new edition.

Ava and C.I. had written their TV commentary. They wanted to polish it and C.I. needed to call a friend at a TV show to confirm the facts that were passed on by a guest star on the show. The show was Veronica Mars and all last year Veronica was saying she was raped. This year it turns out she's with Duncan who was the man who raped her. (Read on, as Ava and C.I. would say.)

Jim and Rebecca were very angry about scrapping the edition and very vocal about their anger.
Although no one blamed C.I. for the mess Christine was creating or for doing the "in fairness" bit, there were a few remarks that both Jim and Rebecca apologized for later in the week.

But because of the Christine's issues that she dumps on C.I. at the last minute, we were all put out. I say "dumps on C.I." because her gripes were about stuff going on at all the sites but she only contacts C.I. to scream at C.I. and that's how the e-mail read to me.

So all her nonsense put us way behind schedule. And C.I. wasn't able to make the planned call.
We're now agreed to scrap the edition, we all agreed, and Jim posted a note to the readers but felt something, anything had to go up and had to go up right away because it was almost eight o'clock Jim's time and they usually have most of the content, or try to, up by seven a.m. Jim's time. The TV commentary was brought up and C.I. said, "I'm flat out uncomfortable with posting that until I make the call to ____ ______. I can do that, the earliest, in three hours." So the thing to do was to wait. And Ava supported that as well. But there was so much frustration over Christine's nonsense that Jim and Rebecca were basically saying, "You agreed to this delay so it's going up." That was posted over Ava and C.I.'s objection.

When the edition is finally done and posted, we're all wiped out. I left in the middle to attend church but skipped Sunday school. Betty skipped church all together because she felt that things were getting a little out of control in terms of the anger at Christine spilling over onto C.I.
I'll add again that Rebecca and Jim have apologized.

I'll also say again that we were all put under a lot of pressure due to scrapping the edition.

But three hours after the edition's done and posted, C.I. wakes up to the phone ringing and it's the friend. Duncan is no longer the rapist. Veronica wasn't raped. They just tossed that plot out the window.

Ava and C.I. corrected their commentary and really rewrote it, not just offering a simple correction, but rewriting it to work in the fact that marketing Veronica as a rape victim and then letting her be someone who cried rape falsely is even more offensive.

In the new version, Ava and C.I. take the fall for the mistake without ever noting that they were screaming their heads off against that going up before C.I. called the friend. They just own their mistake. And Ava's comments may not be as clear to some, she and C.I. both offer an individual comment midway in the commentary, because Ava & C.I. never say, "Don't blame us. What posted was a draft that we didn't even have time to polish let alone check out." But when Ava's talking about how it wasn't funny to her, she's talking about how she and C.I. had screamed and hollered that the thing shouldn't go up but were overridden. And not just by Jim and Rebecca. I supported Jim & Rebecca on that. Others did too. Jess and Betty were actively taking C.I. and Rebecca's side. And everyone I'm naming gave me permission to discuss this except for C.I. who left it up to Ava to make the call for both of them. (C.I. was polite but vague and I'm guessing intentionally vague in an attempt to high road it. Elaine said she'd be happy to help me in terms of "Yes, that got said" and "No, that didn't get said" if I wanted to run things by her but that she wasn't comfortable being quoted or speaking on background. Everyone other than C.I. and Elaine particpated in this, whether quoted or not, if they were present for The Third Estate Sunday Review edition.)

Dona and Jim's attitude is that the positive side is one C.I. commented to them (C.I. claims not to remember individual conversations which is, my opinion, an attempt to take the high road on the whole issue): it showed that The Third Estate Sunday Review wasn't afraid to correct a mistake and to do so immediately.

As Dona and Jim point out, Pop Politics can't say the same thing.

But after C.I. got off the phone with the friend, the next call was to Ava and, on the speaker phone, to Ava, Jim and Dona, it was explained what was up.

Dona says that it's a lesson. The writers were saying they weren't comfortable. That should have been the clue to wait. But the rape was promoted for a year and a guest star on the show had told C.I. (and backed it up on the phone with Ava) that Veronica was with Duncan. (And Ava and C.I. knew Duncan was the rapist before last season ended because of friends on the show.) Based on the fact that Veronica was raped, because a full season was built on that, and on the fact that Ava and C.I. had been told months ago that Duncan was the rapist, that the guest star told them both Veronica and Duncan were now a couple, Dona says one last fact check went out the window.

"It's one that should have been made," Dona says. "But it wasn't. And it was an issue that the mainstream media deals with all the time, time constraints and the need to go with a story as quickly as possible. I think it was a lesson and I'm glad to say that on our end, the correction began as soon as it did. Not the next day or days later."

That's because as soon as C.I. explained it, Ava & C.I. got to work on the corrected commentary.
They didn't write the whole thing and then post it. That note at the top of the piece was written and it was published with a note that the correction was in progress. As they rewrote their way through, they continued to publish every few paragraphs always noting that a correction was in progress and noting how far along they were in the revised commentary.

Ava says they made that decision because they didn't want anyone to stumble onto it after they knew there was a mistake and not know that there was a mistake.

"As soon as we knew, the correction began," Ava explains. "We could have just done a note at the bottom and nothing else. Some people would never read to the end so we felt we needed the note at the top. We also felt strongly that this was worse, that she wasn't raped, than what we'd originally critiqued so we felt the need to make that point. But anyone reading along, and according to Jess' report on the e-mails, could see the process as it happened. Jim stayed out of it and I wasn't aware that he and Dona were her in room following the progress until after C.I. and I finished. I was exhausted and went to the kitchen to make some hot chocolate and head to bed. Jim and Dona came in. Both apologized, again, for insisting the piece go up before we made the call. They also both stressed that they thought the model C.I. and I used was the one that should be used if there's ever a need for a correction again. There was none of the junk that the New York Times is so fond of where a week or two later, they note in the corrections box a mistake. And online, they'll say something like''correction appended.' We made a mistake and we corrected it and we didn't let the piece stand with a correction but rewrote it. We rewrote it publicly, bit by bit, and anyone curious or wanting to follow it could do so by refreshing their page every few minutes."

Wally told me that he still couldn't believe that the show had "trashed" their own plot like that. He said he would probably still argue for something to be posted but he would be more likely to listen to reservations. He said it was like if The Simpsons suddenly decided to do an episode claiming Mr. Burns had never been shot.

"Everyone saw Mr. Burns shot, so how could you know that the writers would just decide that the facts they presented no longer mattered?" Wally asks. "But, for me, next time, if there is a next time, someone who's participated or, in this case with Ava and C.I., written the whole thing objects, I will listen. I don't know if it would have mattered this time if I had listened because the 'facts' were that Veronica had been raped. Anyone who saw the show at all the first year knew that. My cousin watches and so when Ava and C.I. knew who the rapist was, I asked if it was okay to tell her before the cliffhanger ending. They said it was fine with them so I did. Then you had ___ ____ telling them that Duncan and Veronica were a couple. So the facts should have been the facts. As soon as I heard about the correction, I called my cousin and she said, 'Oh Wally, I stopped watching when it all got too soap opera-ish.' But I could've thought to call her when Ava and C.I. were saying that the weren't comfortable with it being published. I didn't and that's my regret in the whole thing along with not listening when they were saying 'no.'"

Everyone I spoke to is seeing the positive, or trying to, about the whole thing. Which is that the commentary is stronger, the correction was handled in a timely fashion and done openly, and a lesson can be learned from it all.

But it's also true that if Christine hadn't come whining at the last minute, we never would have been put in that position to begin with. We wouldn't have had to decide whether or not to post an article that the two writers weren't comfortable with. C.I. wouldn't have been dealing with Christine's crap and been unable to make the call to confirm with the guy on the show what the story was. And we wouldn't have had to scrap an entire edition.

We put ourselves out to take Christine up on her "peace" offer. That's why when her e-mails attacking Kat went out, people were offended. That's why when she made the decision, in the midst of her "peace" to delink from The Common Ills without ever noting that in any of her many e-mails she sent out, we'd had enough. She'd trashed Kat to Ryan. She'd excused Bernie altering Kat's words (including change a verb form, not just dropping off the "can" in front of the quote) and wasn't too concerned about a correction.

No one asked C.I. or Ava to do a correction. They did their correction because the truth matters to them. A different set of priorities went on at Christine's site where a distortion of Kat's words remained. It may still remain. Christine wrote in one of her many e-mails that she'd cleaned up the comments to that post. I read that as she grasped how badly she'd embarrassed herself and wanted to hide it.

She came whining minutes before midnight Saturday, three I believe, offering "peace" and everyone suffered for it. We made a real effort and you won't find any talk of this at any of the community sites until her "peace" was demonstrated to be false.

This happened even though she continued to trash Kat's writing in her e-mails. This happened even though she tore into Ava in response to a Ava's e-mail that was not controversial and didn't warrent an attack. (I've read Ava's e-mail to her. Both the one that set Christine off and the one replying to that. Even when replying, Ava didn't bring up the attack and stayed with a flat tone.)

Three Cool Old Guys have followed this issue and they think it stems from someone wanting to write "nonsense" and get a pass for it by playing "the feminist card." They think it's like someone wanting to be recognized as a powerful leader for civil rights but deciding not to comment on race issues. When called on it, instead of attempting to make a difference, the person just wants everyone to act like it's okay to call yourself a feminist but not address feminist issues. They say too many people are let off the hook because they pull that nonsense and that it harms us all.

I agree with that and the point that if we were all demanding action from the media, we might see results. Instead the 'vangical voters (to use C.I.'s term) demand and they get served. They got Ford to waffle with their demands.

I also see it as shameful that a grown up of any gender thinks that some stupid TV show is more important than the war.

I'm offended as well that someone calling herself a feminist is willing to promote a magazine that's promoted and offered attacks, including violent ones, "jokes" or not, against Arundhati Roy. That was such a shock to us, what Wally found in the column by Dave Zirin, because we'd been reading a book of essays by Roy. C.I. and Rebecca knew about the attacks on Roy but the rest of us didn't. For Christine to see the rag as worthy of promotion and feel that we're quibbling over something small may be telling about where she stands.

As an African-American, I'm offended that she promotes the rag since the so-called liberal rag has been happy to pimp and further offending stereotypes against African-Americans for many years. Instead of seeing it as a quibble, a thinking person should be looking into the magazine to determine the validity of the arguments.

Christine's happy to have her links and to try to get attention. It doesn't matter that to do that, she has to promote a magazine that, for the left, is one that's been racist, sexist and war mongering.

Having been made aware that there are problems for some with promoting that magazine, she decides the delink to do is not to the magazine that pushed the contras as "freedom fighters" and covered up the crimes in Central America, the delink to do is to The Common Ills?

This is done during her "peace" while everyone's attempting to respond to her offer in a peaceful manner.

At this point, it's not ignorance that allows her to push The New Republic, it's stupidity. I use that term because we were reading a book by Robert Parry for today's book discussion.
Parry's talked about The New Republic at his site but this book makes the points even more clear.

When you can't speak out, and she can't find her voice on the war, people will have to look to other things to figure out where you stand. One of the things they'll look at is what you endorse.
There is nothing left or feminist in endorsing The New Republic.

For those who have been seeking their answer about where she stands, we probably now have it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Megachurches and a megabully

It's been a busy week so there's not been time to post or to remove a link until now. All week I kept thinking, "Tonight."

Tonight, we'll be at Three Cool Old Guys' nursing home. This is the first time we'll be trying out the Christmas program. We've also had to figure out which six songs to sing in church Christmas Day because since some megachurches seem to think you don't celeberate Jesus Christ's birthday in church, we got told we should add some more songs because we're expecting a few more people than usual. The Sunday school classes have been working on a play too. It's about the first Christmas, of course. The older kids have been working on sets and costumes and it's going to be the littlest ones playing the parts so that should be really nice. Our preacher's got a sermon he's working on and he always does a great Christmas one but with the news that some churches won't be having a service, he's really trying to make this one even better.

If you didn't hear about that, the McChurches decided Sunday's a day to close shop. They're sending out DVDs that people can watch at home instead of coming to church. I really don't get why a church would think a Sunday was a day they needed to close shop.

One woman who used to go to our church hinted to her aunt that she was interested in attending Christmas Day. She felt nervous because she left our church for a McChurch. They had stuff that she felt was important. I guess a bowling alley or a basketball court or something. But she didn't have to sound off. People are always welcome at our church and especially on Christmas Day. No one would have thought anything except maybe that she was celebrating Christmas with her aunt and that's why she and her kids were there.

Maybe I'm a Scrooge here but I never thought Jesus was concerned about whether or not your church had a game room. I did assume that he was concerned whether you met on Sunday or not.

But maybe when you're in one of those megachurches where you don't know each other, it's easy to skip a Christmas Sunday and so they figured they'd save some money on the electric bill?

If you think I'm coming off flippant, you're right. I am really bothered by that and the message it sends. Both my grandmothers never made Sunday school if it fell on a Christmas Day because they were busy getting the bigger lunch ready but they did show up for the service. I've also know people who couldn't make it on Christmas Day for different reasons and that's cool. But isn't the point to know that each Sunday the church is there?

And what about people who travel? We used to go on a road trips a bit when I was a kid and on a Sunday, my dad would always look for a church and we'd go in there. What if someone sees a McChurch and they get excited and run up the steps only to find that the doors are locked?

So that bothers me.

Here's another thing that bothers me. Pop Politics. I've pulled their link.

If you missed it, Kat wrote about people leaving comments on one post there were just dogging this one guy. And she also quoted me. I thought the guy who wrote the original post made a bad link between rap and Dylan. Now, I understand from Jess that they maintain they weren't suggestiong a link. Like when Bully Boy says "Iraq" and "9/11" in the same speech or sentence, he's not implying a relationship either? That's nonsense.

And it was nonsense that the guy Bernie tried to force Kat into correcting her opinion. First off, the only opinion offered (other than that people CAN have whatever opinion they want) was my opinion. And even though she provided a link to my site and clearly showed what I said, he didn't have the guts to demand I correct my comments. Instead, he just wanted to try to force a woman into making a correction. What a big man, huh?

So that could have been the end of it. Kat replied to his e-mail saying, "Write what you want and I'll post it at my site." But that wasn't the end of it. His boss had to come along and imply that Bernie was a better writer than Kat. Again, that's not what she says she said. But it was up there for anyone to see and everyone saw it. (Including Three Cool Old Guys who got a copy and paste e-mailed to them.)

So when she did that, and you read it right, "she." A "she" felt the need to say Kat couldn't write as well as her boy. And "she" wants to be considered a feminist. But I guess that was already a question after she was okay with him trying to force Kat to change her words.

So we did a roundtable on that and we did an editorial about adults who were too scared to write about the war. And then Sunday morning as we were ready to post, we had to stop. She went whining to C.I. C.I. writes her back in this long e-mail, I haven't seen it but we were waiting three hours because C.I. was trying to be fair the way C.I. always does.

I learn from Jess that she claims Sunday night she never got the e-mail so C.I. had to write her again. But she said she wanted "peace."

First thing she writes on Monday, Jess reads it, and she's just slamming Kat all over again. This is how she gets peace?

She keeps writing over and over and Jess said it didn't read like it was friendly e-mail. C.I. had told her that we contacted Ryan. That's the guy who was being dogged, the whole reason Kat wrote to begin with. She was really getting on Jess' nerves writing all the time.

So Jess didn't even reply. Then Monday Ava sees the thing where the woman still can't do her own work. Jess and C.I. have explained how Ryan was found via a google search. But that's not good enough for the woman who needs everything handed to her I guess. They went over how to find him in an entry at The Common Ills. But she's too lazy to do her own work.

I won't say busy since she had enough time to e-mail over and over.

So Ava writes Ryan and tells him that now she's claiming her e-mail to him got bounced back and can she give out Ryan's e-mail to her. Ryan writes Ava back and tells her to forward the thing to her.

Which Ava does with, and I did read this, the most dry e-mail in the world. Ava's aunt doesn't trust the woman and told Ava not to form any kind of relationship with her. So Ava writes her in this dry e-mail and the woman writes Ava back screaming at Ava in a "what's your problem!" e-mail. And still slamming Kat, according to Jess.

Ava replies in a dry e-mail.

Remember this is all going on while the woman supposedly wants "peace."

C.I.'s telling Jess and Ava, "Don't read her if she's upsetting you. I'm not reading her, you don't have to read her. We've replied to her. We'll just ignore her and see if the peace offer was sincere or not."

Then Tuesday evening or afternoon, Eddie e-mails to The Third Estate Sunday Review and to C.I. that this so-called peace includes the woman delinking from The Common Ills.

As Jess said, the woman wrote over and over and over. Everytime he went into the public e-mail account for The Common Ills, there was another e-mail from the woman. "It was like she was spoiling for a fight," Jess said. But in all those e-mails, it never occurred to her to say, "I delinked from you."

She had time, over and over, to run down Kat. That's all she really seemed to want to do, to gripe and scream and trash Kat.

And on top of this, she writes Ryan and calls the e-mail an "apology" in the title of the e-mail but all she does there is trash Kat and then, at the end, write, "I'm sorry you won't be visiting Pop Politics again." That was her apology? Why did she even write the guy. It really ticked off him and his wife. (Mike has the interview on that.)

So Jim calls Jess and asks if Jess has seen Eddie's e-mail? Jess hasn't but gets into The Common Ills members account and there it is.

Like Jess said, she screamed, she griped, she couldn't stop trashing Kat all while claiming she wanted peace, the woman's name is Christine something, and though she e-mailed over and over Monday and Tuesday she never once says, "I'm delinking."

So that was it. It was obvious that there was no desire for peace.

It was all about, "I don't want people to know I say I'm a feminist but I trashed a woman at my site and compared her to a man while implying that she wasn't as good as a man. And I don't want people to know that as the boss of Pop Politics, I was okay with a man trying to force Kat to correct her opinion and that he wanted the correction passed off not as his comment but as if the thought just occurred to Kat herself."

Well I guess she wouldn't want people to know about that. I also bet she wouldn't want people to know that while on her site she acted like Ryan was treated poorly by the people leaving comments and that she didn't support that, when she herself writes Ryan she's rude to him and never once says anything about the way he was treated. She's too busy attacking Kat yet again.
And the best so-called feminist can do apology wise to Ryan is to say, "Sorry you won't be visiting Pop Politics anymore."

Wally's trying to figure out how to write about this instead of just linking. He doesn't want to upset C.I. C.I.'s not mentioning it at The Common Ills or hasn't so far. I told Wally that C.I. always tells us to write what we want at our sites.

C.I. says that and C.I. means that. If C.I. doesn't like something, C.I. just avoids it.

The way C.I.'s avoiding Christine now.

C.I.'s not going to be mad at me or Wally or anyone for writing what we think. C.I. knows that we CAN have opinions. Christine's the one who has a heart attack and explodes when anyone has an opinion she doesn't agree with.

I won't be quiet on this. It wasn't right what happened. It wasn't right that after Christine started saying she wanted peace, she keeps attacking Kat, she bites Ryan's head off in an "apology," and she screams at Ava in an e-mail. Christine needs to get a grip.

Is she too scared to write about the war? I don't think she is. I think when you trash people who speak out, Kat, Bright Eyes for "When A President Talks To God," go down the list, then it's clear where you are on the war. You support it. If you didn't, you'd say so. You've got time to write about every dopey TV show in the world.

Three years is comng up, three years of a war, and she can't weigh in on that. If she can't find her voice, people will have to go by her actions.

And I don't know what kind of feminist links to and promotes a magazine that wishes harm, violent harm, on Arudhati Roy?

So I think we have our answer. If it's the wrong answer, she needs to find her voice on the war.
And if she has any common sense or decency, she needs to offer Ryan a true apology. Not a lecture, not a thing on how awful a writer she thinks Kat is or how wrong she thinks Kat was.

By the way, Bernie and Christine have a problem that Kat didn't address Bernie's opinion. While he's demanding a correction, they're bothered that Kat focused on the comments and not the writing of Bernie. Is that not something?

So I delinked from Pop Politics. It was a bad site anyway.

The only reason I linked to begin with was because C.I. had asked us all to link to it. C.I. was trying to be supportive to Christine because she wasn't doing Ms. Musing anymore and she was depressed and trying to make Pop Politics into something. There's a guy there who had a thing on Bob Woodward that was worth reading. And Wally liked the sports. There was a woman who wrote seriously about issues and discrimination that transgendered persons face. But there was just a bunch of nonsense that wouldn't cut it as good conversation in a junior high cafeteria.
She's like a cheerleader for the mediocre. She can't write about the war but she can write about any medicore TV show.

So the link's gone and we're all the better for it. If she is pro-war, that certainly explains why her "peace" offer wasn't sincere. But, my opinion, it was never sincere. She just knew she had embarrassed herself and wanted to try to keep people from finding out. That's why she continued to attack Kat every chance she could grab after she initiated her "peace."

By the way, if she'd just taken the high road the way C.I. tried to, she wouldn't have the mess on her hands she does. C.I. didn't post about Bernie's demand of a correction. C.I. didn't even post about the fact that while demanding a correction from Kat, Bernie quotes her at Pop Politics and gets the quote wrong. He drops out a word and changes another one. And this is while he's demanding a correction? And at Pop Politics, you had no idea of how rude Bernie was to Kat and how he ran her down as stupid. He saves that for the private e-mail. So when Kat told C.I. about the second e-mail from Bernie, C.I. was already "bothered" and then Christine goes and posts, in reply to Maria, that Bernie only posted at Pop Politics because Kat doesn't have comments at her site so he couldn't get his say any other way. Which is a lie. And it's a lie because Bernie was demanding a correction. And it's a lie because Christine knows about it.

If she had just waited to see if Bernie and Kat could work out some understanding, if she'd stayed out of it, the way C.I. was doing, none of this would have happened. But she can't pass a chance to slam Kat and that comment showed it. She made the mess, she has to live with it.
She can scream at C.I. or Ava, at Ryan or Jess, but it's her mess and it's her problem.

And being okay with a man demanding a correction of a woman's opinion, especially when I'm the one commenting on Bernie in Kat's original post and Bernie was too scared to take it up with man but okay with trying to bully a woman, isn't feminism. She can claim it if she wants, but her behavior speaks louder than her words. And much louder than her words on really bad TV shows that she gushes over. But she couldn't stop focusing on Kat and start trying to figure ou what she created this whole mess in the first place.

I'll be posting before Christmas, but we're trying to really focus on getting our program together.
Happy holidays to everyone. Peace on earth. Despite Bully Boys and Christines.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

War got your tongue?

About to head out the door. This is a repost from an editorial we all worked on. The credit for it is at the bottom.

I hope to grab time to weigh in on a specific issue but don't have it right now. For now, I'll say I support Kat and she's a great writer. I do not support Bernie and think he's a lousy writer. I think he's dishonest as well for altering Kat's quote to make it say what he wanted it to say.

Here's the editorial:

"Editorial: War Got Your Tongue?"
Let's give it up to the bloggers and the op-ed columnists with bravery because they've weighed in the war. The war that hits the third year mark in March.
You do know there's a war going on, right?
We kind of feel like we have to ask that question because most people don't appear to. Again, give it up for the bloggers and the op-ed columnists. Give it up for progressive media.
'Why Are You Here' and 'What's Changed'" we asked at the D.C. protests in September. Here's how one person responded:

74) Ivan, 62, Michigan: I think today is great and am thrilled with the turnout. I protested against the war on Vietnam and there it took us years to get the momentum going. What I worry about is where are the people? I don't mean the protesters, I'm really encouraged with the cross-section today. But, okay, you've got Cindy Sheehan. Great spokesperson. Ralph Nader's here and maybe he can make up for the recent past or maybe not, but he's here. The actress from Tootsie and Cape Fear, right Jessica Lange. She's here and I didn't remember her name but she really did give a great speech. I'm glad those people are here. But we need more.
And in my day, the people had others. Yes, we had Jane Fonda, Fred Gardner, Joan Baez, Tom Hayden and others front and center. But you also had people backing it up. Like Bob Dylan. I think he went to one protest with Joan Baez for civil rights. But his songs backed up what his actions didn't. Or you turned on Dick Cavett or David Frost and there was an author or singer or someone and they weren't at the protests but they'd put it on the line and they'd say, like John Phillips [Mamas and the Papas] that the war was wrong. I caught Jane Fonda on David Letterman, when her book came out. And he asked her about the war and she said she was against it and the audience just went crazy with applause and cheers. But are there younger people doing that? Is it just people my age? Maybe there are and I just don't know them. But part of the reason the movement finally did end the war is that our cultural heroes were willing to speak out. You hear a lot of that sneering "You're a celebrity, shut up" talk and that's really fearing the power if they do speak out. With Vietnam, and this isn't a full list, just names that come to mind, you had Joan Baez and Jane Fonda front and center, but you also had Phil Ochs, you had the whole Mamas & the Papas, you had John Lennon, Mia Farrow, Tim Hardin, Laura Nyro, Peter Fonda, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, Janis [Joplin], the Rolling Stones, Grace Slick and the [Jefferson] Airplane, this whole list of people. And you had people my age and younger and we weren't that different from kids today, we thought about what was in front of us. So when you have these people that you watch or listen to talking about it, it put it front and center. There were a lot of priests and a lot of Quakers and a lot of really solid activists who worked and gave their time to ending the war. But what kept it on the front page was a) real reporting with real photos and b) the fact that you couldn't escape it. You turned on the TV to escape but there was some entertainer talking about it. It was front and center. Now maybe there are people doing that today. I don't watch much TV now. Maybe if I turned on Letterman every night, I'd see some young people coming on to talk about a movie or TV show and I'd hear them speak out against the war. But I really don't get the sense that's happening.The right spent a lifetime demonizing Jane Fonda. There's a reason for that. They want to make sure no one else is tempted to use their power. They're scared of what would happen if entertainers really started throwing their weight around and making the people buying tickets or records think about this war.

Hard to believe it to look around today, but that did happen. C.I. had lunch today with a friend who's trying desperately to work the war into a show he writes for. During the conversation a number of issues were raised about what's being ignored by the mainstream press. C.I. shared the converstation with Jess who said, "I had that same conversation!" C.I. came up with the title of this editorial. Jess tossed in something else. By then it was going to have to be a Third Estate Sunday Review piece because we all wanted to weigh in.

All we are saying is JUST TAKE A STAND

On this anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon, we're surprised by how few seem to act as if a war's going on. Ripped from the headlines our asses. Hiding from the headlines. And it goes on everywhere.

Maybe pop culture doesn't allow you to comment on Harold Pinter's speech? Maybe a playwright is too "culture" and not enough pop? Maybe it's just not really handing out awards if no one asks, "Who are you wearing?"

All we are saying is just take a stand.

If you're presenting as being on the left, why are you so silent on a war that's waged for almost three years? War got your tongue?

Hey, if you're for the war, come out and say it. You can find readers who'll support you. But quit hiding behind "I'm left" if you can't comment on the war.

You're not looking "moderate." You're looking ignorant. And when people read you years from now and see that you had nothing to say about a war that waged and waged, they're going to wonder about that.

We should wonder about it right now.

Bloggers, op-ed writers, Laura Flanders, Amy Goodman, The Progressive, The Nation, go down the list. They're the people who have kept the conversation alive, who have forced it to the front. They did that without you. They're still doing it without you even though polling consistently demonstrates a trend of the people turning against the war.

You waiting for it to hit 99% before you feel "safe" about weighing in?

Naomi Klein rightly argued about the need to bring Iraq to the NYC during the Republican convention in 2004. We echo that only we say it's time to bring it to the people. That means no jerking off over Jessica and Nick or whatever "hot" topic. If you're not weighing in on a war, what are you but a couch potato?

Are you in a coma? Do you not see what's going on?

We ask that question because Bright Eyes gets slammed online by a left site. "When a President Talks To God" is "trite, crudely so, and certainly unenlightening"? Harold Bloom, when did you come online? Or is it the Professor from Gilligan's Island? (We felt the Bloom ref might be lost on the "wit" who penned the critique.)

Maybe you missed the performance of that song? Maybe you weren't at any of the sites on the left that talked of this or listening to The Majority Report whan Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder played the clip? We're sure reading The New Rag takes up a lot of your time.

But is that your statement? Your full statement on the war?

Gee, thanks for weighing in. Maybe you're one of the sites or magazines that can also say you reviewed Jarhead?

We're so lucky to have you.

All we are saying is just take a stand.

Clooney and Damon have a new movie, you could blather on about that and claim you've addressed the war three times!

We're not sure what you're so scared of. Or why, having been silent, you think anyone cares what you think about the voices calling for an end to the occupation?

Are you Shelly Hack in Annie Hall?

"I'm bascially very shallow and have no ideas or thoughts of my own."

Is that it?

How's that working out for you?

As you muddle down the middle of the road, how's that working out for you?

All we are saying is just take a stand.

Or maybe you're a certain "lefty" radio personality who thinks it's "cute" to make fun of Pacifica Radio. You think it's "funny" to knock community radio that represents the people. We think it's "funny" that you defended your friend who wrote that article, you know the one, on Ann Coulter. We think it's funny that you excused him and let him off the hook, but never explained why or told listeners that he was your friend. We think that's almost as funny as the writer, an uncloseted gay man except in that article, acting like Ann Coulter got him all hot and bothered.
We're not hearing your brave voice. Last time we listened you were still pushing Colin Powell's (false) Pottery Barn analogy. Color us underwhelmed.

When you've done anything on the level of Margret Prescod, Deepa Fernandez, Jeremy Scahill, Juan Gonzalez, Andrea Lewis, Dennis Bernstein, Larry Bensky or anyone else at Pacifica then we'll take your little jabs a little more seriously. For now, deflate your ego, your nowhere near Amy Goodman's level.

All we are saying is just take a stand.

Or maybe you're the rag that helped lead us into war. Atrios puzzled this week over why one of the rag's writers attacked bloggers and defended The New York Times? We didn't puzzle. We know he writes for the paper's book review. We know he covers his own ass. When it takes years and years to turn out your simplistic book about how the world is just like soccer, you need those paychecks from The New York Times.

And if you had any self-respect, you wouldn't be working for The New Rag in the first place. Remember Stephanie's hilarious commercials on Air America? Having learned of
the "joke" about Arundhati Roy, we've stopped laughing as we realize that while that attack occurred, Stephanie was schilling for the magazine, claiming it was left.

The New Rag didn't have Judy Miller -- it didn't need her to cheer on this war or every other one. Whether cheering on the contras or spinning false WMD claims, in times of strife, The New Rag will always lead the charge for war.

Remember when The New Rag pushed the racist Bell Curve? Or how about when it was home to such leading "lefties" as Fred Barnes and Andrew Sullivan?

All we are saying is just take a stand.

The New Rag took one. Now it tries to act like it didn't but people are wise to reality and that's why it's circulation is in the toilet. Of all the things that float in a toilet, we think The New Rag may be the most vile. It certainly gives off the worst odor. Can you smell it? It's the scent of death.

That's what war cheerleaders smell like. If and when Judith Miller puts out her signature fragance, I, Judith!, we'll all know the smell. In the meantime, take a sniff of The New Rag the way you would a perfume strip in Vanity Fair.

The New Rag pretends it's of the left when promoting itself -- but it's not. Maybe the fact that it's doing so poorly is why others can't declare that they're for the war?

We don't know. We just know that a lot of people who should have an opinion on the war and should express it don't seem to be able to.

Forget TV news for a moment, the war's hidden by more than TV news.
Seems like a lot of people are getting splinters up their hineys from sitting on that fence.
All we are saying is just take a stand.

Got an opinion on that war? Sitting on the fence waiting to see which way the wind's blowing? (No, that wasn't a Dylan ref.) It's blowing right past you.

Are you someone who rags on Pacifica, or think it's cute to make "jokes" about Arundhati Roy, or maybe you're too busy defending your friend who's penning mash notes to Ann Coulter, or maybe you just can't say anything? Maybe they forgot to program you before you showed up because you'd have to be a robot to have no opinion on the war, right?

Or maybe you're just so busy doing the Joe Lieberman that you've failed to note it's not, in fact, the new dance craze. As you lean over backwards to attempt to kiss ass, people are pointing at you. They're not saying, "What's that wild dance?" They're saying, "How pathetic."

And it is pathetic. It's pathetic that a slam on Bright Eyes will apparently have to pass for your war commentary. Or that Pacifica Radio, which gives voice to people who call in as well as guests like Naomi Klein and Norman Solomon and the Center for Constitutional Rights, is someone you think you're better then as you do your little skit, your little funny, and you summarize what was in the headlines yesterday or the day before or maybe several days before in that "moderate" voice you're so fond of using.

We must have missed you standing next to Amy Goodman and Alan Nairn in East Timor, huh? Because surely when you can knock Pacifica, you've done a butt load of things to be proud of. Not just for yourself of course, but for the whole world. Face it, you're a giver!

All we are saying is just take a stand

If Time had any guts (don't make us laugh), Cindy Sheehan would be their person of the year. The fact that she probably won't be, it has a lot to do with you. You who claim the left but can't be bothered by the war. Because surely what the world needs now is . . . distraction.

Mass distraction.

Danny Schechter,, and BuzzFlash are calling for the "Tell The Truth About The War" Campaign. We agree. But we also feel that sites and magazines wanting to get cred for being left and "left" need to start speaking out as well. It's not just the network news that fails us, it's the people who stay silent for whatever reason.
How is it that, after all this time, you still can't find your opinion? Reach around with both hands, maybe you'll fumble into it.

Again, Naomi Klein asked that we bring Iraq to NYC, meaning that we make it an issue that can't be ignored by demanding it be addressed. (Not, as a simp feared, that there be massive riots -- she wiped the floor with simpy -- the key was to bring up her age, he's very sensitive about his own.) But it is ignored as puff pieces and inane criticism is churned out.
Hey, we can talk about Nick & Jessica too. In fact, Ava & C.I. reviewed their special. Of course, Ava and C.I. got the point across early on that war has a cost -- even if Nick and Jessica couldn't grasp it. You can note the real world if you're reviewing something. You can note what's actually going on. It might require actual thought, as opposed to thumbing through your thesaurus, but it can be done.

All we are saying is just take a stand.

What purpose do you think you're serving? We're reminded of a classic film, of one scene in particular:

"I don't think that that's our function, Sally, I think that we're more a base gossip sheet. You know, fun and games for the fellas?"

"I-I just, I want to say that I'm really shocked, I'm just shocked that you'd rather write about a goddamn baseball homerun then what's going on in this hospital. I mean you wouldn't feel that way if they were your husbands."

Since for some of our brave "left" it was "fashionable" to trash Jane Fonda this summer, we might need to point out that the above is from Coming Home. Oh, but wait, she's spoken out against this war. Bright Eyes, he spoke out as well. Maybe you think trashing them qualifies for your war stance?

We think you need to figure out where you stand on the war. Choose a side already. Unless you are just a gossip sheet as well.

Kat's words can be distorted in any manner someone chooses. It doesn't change reality. It doesn't change the fact that anyone who reads her writing knows she's firmly against the war.So before a writer gets outraged that Kat disagrees with him, apparently after he took time off from scolding Kayne West over points of order, maybe that time would be better spent forming an opinion and actually expressing it. Not on the tired topic of Bob Dylan. No one needed, at this late date, your "moderate" view of Bob Dylan.

What a safe little post that was. On the one hand, on the other. He's wrong but I think Bob's great because . . .

Did you smell a Pulitzer? Or maybe a Webbie? We certainly had to hold our noses reading it.
It's not good enough. The war is about to enter year three. If you're for it, say you for it. If you're against it, say you're against it. Not some mealy mouth "on the one hand but on the other" statement. People are dying and if you can't find a voice you're not helping anyone. The fact that you're writing about "soft subjects" isn't an excuse. Kat can and has weighed in on the war in her CD reviews. Ava and C.I. have taken on Colin Powell and his "blot." This Sunday they highlighted a key line of narration, one that goes to where we are today, in their review of Everybody Hates Chris.

A war's gone of over two years, at what point do you find your voice? Knocking Pacifica or Bright Eyes, or Jane Fonda or Kat, may make you feel you look reasonable. You don't. You look indecisive.

Maybe you're afraid someone will distort your words? Kat's words got distorted, she lived.

All we are saying is just take a stand.

To paraphrase a line Michelle Pfeiffer delivers in The Russia House, "I hope you're not being frivilous with me. I only have time in my life now for the truth."

As of right now, we're looking at
22 American troop fatalites in Iraq. Who knows how many Iraqis have died this month -- Bully Boy don't do body counts. We need the truth and we're not getting it from slams at Bright Eyes or attacks on Arundhati Roy. You know what's "unenlightening"? Your boring us with your useless blathering shout outs to The New Rag. Your inability to speak to the realities we're living through right now. Your blind eye to torture.That's "unenlightening." And before you use a word that conjures up the enlightenment, you might want to ask yourself what you've weighed in with that spoke to that period because a historical look at Bob Dylan is neither "hot" nor needed when done so poorly. In fact, we'd suggest that you listen to the song Dylan wrote with Sam Shepard and pay close attention when the line about "original thought" comes up because we think you'll be able to relate.

Until then, keep cheering on whatever adult plays a teenager in a push up bra with a flat affect that you feel passes for deadpan. It's post-post-modern! Or maybe more can be wrung out of a Republican's fantasy of women where they're all dithering airheads, just play-things with nothing to do but be helpless or backbite or fight over a man. They're their own play-things so maybe you think that makes the difference? We didn't buy it when Madonna claimed she was showing power because she chained herself.

Maybe the big topic in your home honestly is arguing over what entertainment programs you will watch on TV because you just feel that there are a wealth of choices airing. If so, that's rather sad if you're no longer 14.

You take a stand or you accept that you're frivilous. In which case, stop trashing the people who do have the guts to take a stand against this war.

We support the Tell the Truth movement. We just think it needs to be expanded to include people who seem left but can't find the time to write a thing about the war.

All we are saying is just take a stand

Need a topic?
Norman Solomon has rightly pointed out that the air war is getting no mainstream media coverage. Instead of slamming someone who had the guts to speak out or tossing out shout outs to The New Rag, how about writing about that? Too hard? How about writing about Laura Flanders or Amy Goomdan or any of the people who are making a difference. It may not be as fun for you as drooling over a young hottie or play to the beltway but it might get the word out on something that truly matters. And guess what? There are many more names. We're sure you can find at least one that you don't feel the need to trash.
[This editorial was written by
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and 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 and Wally of The Daily Jot.]
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posted by Third Estate Sunday Review @ Friday, December 09, 2005