Thursday, October 06, 2005

On churches

Monday, someone asked me what I liked about church in an e-mail.

The easiest way I can explain it is to ask you to remember that slogan Hillary Clinton used to believe in, "It takes a village." Betty and I aren't the only church goers in the community. The Common Ills has a vareity of religions represented by members and certainly Kat and Mike are known Catholics. Betty and I are Protestants. So since we're both church goers and we're both African-Americans (Betty prefers the term "black"), I thought I'd call her up and we discussed this Tuesday night.

For both of us, church is our village. We were raised in it and the extended family it represents to us is very powerful. Somebody's always going to have a squabble in any large group but what I was wondering was about her church's leadership because mine is steady but I have friends who go to "white" churches or "black" churches and have heard horror stories about them running off preachers or pastors or ministers. I've heard stories of battles over who controls the church bank accounts. I've heard of choir directors who tried to take over the churches and when they couldn't, they split off taking parts of the congregation with them.

One friend, Tim, who is white, tells about how he gave up on his church because it was steady until he was in high school and then it became this huge power struggle. To make sure that the new choir director had the votes, they started dropping members, who had been baptized in that church, for any excuse. A blind man who was in his eighties was dropped because he only came once a month when his daughter was in town and could bring him to church. Other people were dropped because they only came on holidays.

The choir director was a real nightmare and had been dating a girl who disappeared and ended up found months later when she was dead. Tim feels that was a shock to the choir director who suddenly found religion and started going to his parents church. He was made choir director within two months and then all the nonsense started. He got his drinking buddies to start showing up with their children and wives and girlfriends. The church make up changed and some of the old people stopped going as often because of it.

But within a year, the choir director and his new group had taken over the church, fired the preacher and taken control of the accounts by intimidating all but one of the elders of the church.

This one old guy was tough and Tim said he refused to take his name off the account and without his co-signature, they couldn't write checks. The choir director was using the church as his own personal playground. He would invite friends over to play volleyball and if members drove by and saw a game and stopped, if he didn't like you, he would tell you it was a private gathering and you needed to leave. Tim saw all of this because his parents' home was right across the street from this church. He'd grown up in this church. He stopped going and so did his parents because the choir director and his friends were falling down drunk every Saturday night and staggering into church Sunday morning to talk about "evils."

When the last holdout, the elder, died, there was no stopping this crowd. They were already dropping by the church all the time to use the phone for long distance calls that the church would pay. With the last man who could stand in their way out, suddenly church funds were used to send the choir director and his friends and their children to amusement parks and on other trips.

None of this was about spreading the word of God and it wasn't open to all church members. The choir director, who'd made himself preacher at this point, would pick who could go and who couldn't. His sister was in the church, his whole family was, but his middle sister was in the church and he didn't like her or her kid and so they'd find themselves not eligible to go on certain events because he just didn't like them.

He and his male friends would hang out at the church after Sunday evening services for three to four hours drinking in the parking lot.

That's the worst chuch story I've ever heard of, where members are stripped of their membership and a coup takes place so that a church can be used for someone's own personal amusment.

When I was telling Betty about this she wanted to know what the religion was. I told her but I don't really think it matters (and don't think it represents all churches that practice that religion). I've heard many other horror stories though none as bad.

I'm not someone who walks around with a Bible or says, "Well I was praying last night." My beliefs are known and if someone asks me, I'm happy to talk about them. But I firmly believe you provide an example, not a lecture.

So with new friends who don't go to my church, religion usually comes up about a month after the friendship begins. I've heard great stories and I've heard horror stories.

But, and this is what I wanted to check with Betty on, the worst thing in my church is when you get two women bringing the same dish to a lunch and they're mad at each other. Betty said that was about the worst thing in her church as well. There were some members who didn't care for one another but it wasn't an open war and they'd just avoid one another unless one of them was in need at which point, like them or not, they were there for one another.

Here's another horror story a friend who grew up in the south told me. His church turned the front pew over to a drug dealer. The priest knew, the whole church knew. But the guy had money and he could show up every Sunday and be treated like a hero. I couldn't believe that or that a priest would hold up such a person to the congregation (we call them congregations in my church, Catholics may use another term and no offense intended if they do). What does that say to the little kids and teenagers coming to the church?

We're not all saints in my church but if someone's doing something illegal, they need to come in, sit in the back and stay out of everyone's way. God, my belief, wants to help everyone. But my preacher did ask one man to leave. His parents and grandparents had been in the church, his parents still were but his grandparents were dead. The guy had faced some problems and ended up a pimp. That's not what the church is about. And the guy was showing up and acting flashy and the precher told him that he was sending the wrong message to the children in our church.

At my church, no one cares about your private business or follows you around. If you have a problem and ask for help, we pray for you and try to help you and know that a problem couldn't happen to any of us. But there are problems and then there is a living a life of crime. Betty agreed with me that our churches had kept people we grew up with away from crime and at a time when there is so little for many African-Americans in the way of economic opportunities, I believe that should be one of the fundamental aims of the black churches: making sure that wealth isn't held up as God.

I think TD Jokes misses that point. I've seen him on TV go on and on about his shoes and how important his shoes are. I think it's a little bit Little Richard-like honestly but if it was just the shoes, that would be one thing. The fact that his church, my opinion, seems to exist to make himself rich and to pass on false messages (like "Jesus was a businessman") digusts me. Most people of any race in this country are not going to end up rich in worldly goods. The church should especially work hard to get across the message that wordly goods are not going to bring happiness or provide anyone with salvation.

So those are some of my problems with some churches.

What binds me to my church is the fact that we are focused on working together. My mother, for instance, always knew if there was an emergency, she could count on anyone in the church. I'm sure some liked her better (and us) than others did but they were always there to help out when the need arose.

If I was acting the fool or showing out (and I did all the time once I became a teenager) and someone from my church happened to see that, they'd call me out on it. By the same token, after my father died especially, if I had a big track meet or was doing something outstanding academically, members of my church would turn out to show their support and when you have that kind of faith behind you, it really helps. It helps you believe in yourself and it helps you feel like you have some value in this world. That's something that the African-American community could stand to hear a lot more of.

My uncle tells me today reminds him a lot of when he was a kid in the early seventies. He says every other movie made for African-American audiences seemed to be about a pimp or some other criminal. He looks around at the bling-bling music videos today and the direct to home video crap put out by Master P and just finds it disgusting. He says that at least there were some alternatives and he'll list Stevie Wonder or Aretha or someone like that and talk about how they were keeping it real. I think kids are lucky to have Kanye West and I'd add in Mary J. Blige because she's come along a way. She could always sing but with each album, she's grown and really tackled some deep themes. Jill Jones is another example. Back during The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill she (and the Fugees before that) were providing a strong alternative to Money is god.

I'm not calling for censorship where the government decides what gets played on the radio or on BET but I am wishing that listeners and viewers would reject that crap that debases us. The church has historically provided an uplifting voice to the African-American community and when I see a TD Jokes who seems determined to not to lead but to be another Pat Roberston sitting on millions of dollars and all about how rich he can't, it really bothers me.

If we lose our churchs, I'm not sure what we have left. They have instilled in us a belief in our own good and our own worth and that's not a message we've gotten very often from the larger society.

I get e-mails about religion all the time. I'm answering this one because it seemed sincere. Last week I got one about Seth. This visitor was up in arms that I had "promoted" Seth's site. I did promote it. I'll promote it whenever I can remember to. If you haven't check out Seth's site, the visitor was offended that Seth was gay.

That's not an issue with my church. With Betty's church, AIDS has finally begun to help them address the issue. For me, it's not an anything to be ashamed of. I don't know if Seth's religious or not but if he is he may feel, as I do, that God makes you in his image. God made Seth the same as he made the visitor, the same as he made me. I am attracted to women and Seth is attracted to men and that matters as much to me as whether or not Seth likes cherry soda or yogurt.

I like Seth's site. I like Rebecca's. I like Mike's. Mike has written about his balls and everything else at his site and I've never had anyone e-mail to gripe about Mike. But if Rebecca talks about guys, I get some jerk having a fit that a woman would talk about that. If Seth writes about guys, I end up with a jerk like the visitor today.

Seth is Seth and Rebecca is Rebecca. They are individuals and they have value and I'm glad to be in the same community with them. If Seth were a member of my church, there wouldn't be an attitude of "He's gay, don't talk to him."

I realize that some southern black churches are still struggling with the issue and Betty can tell you that her church went through a period that AIDS made them snap out of. But whether it was AIDS or something else, it was not an issue when I was growing up in my church. It's about as important to my church as whether or not you're eating pork or shellfish or shaving. They are not issues.

I really like Seth's site and hope he blogs for a long time because there are jerks like the one who e-mailed me about Seth. I think a lot of ignorance is out there and hopefully Seth writing about whatever interests him that day will slowly help even jerks see that gay people are not weird or something to be hidden or shunned.

I have a cousin who is a lesbian and that's never been an issue. She and her partner go to our church. When you're not stuck with stereotypes but with actual exposure you realize that people are people. And hopefully the jerk who wrote, if he keeps reading Seth's site, will have a better understanding of at least one gay person.

A friend played something that had been sent to him in an e-mail. He thought it was hilarious. It was this African-American preachers screaming about gay sex. Just putting gay men down, he didn't mention lesbians. My friend thought it was funny the way some liberals will supposedly listen to Rush Limbaugh for laughs. I told him I didn't find it funny.

I don't. I don't think a preacher screams and yells about a people. I think it's really sad that the preacher was African-American because in this country, white preachers often hid behind their professions to scream about African-Americans and to argue that slavery was right or that we were stupid or depraved or whatever.

They can't get away with that as easily as they once could. So it disappoints me that someone of my race would turn around use the name of God to preach hate. Julian Bond and Coretta Scott King have been leaders in the African-American community on the importance of seeing each other as people and not demonizing gays and lesbians. I was really impressed with Al Sharpton in the 2004 race for making similar comments. At one point, my youngest cousin had some friends over and he mentioned Rev. Sharpton's statements about tolerance and acceptance and one of his friends refused to believe it. Kept saying Rev. Shaprton would never say that. We had to pull it up online to convince him.

I wish more of our leaders would take the lead on this because I think one thing God judges you on is how you handle your experiences. For African-Americans who've been demonized historically as sex craved or rapists or what ever stereotype you want to toss out to not have learned from that and to turn around and do it to another group is something that I personally believe God does not look favorably upon. My opinion is He knows we know what that's like and He expects more from us than to do to others what was done to us.

I asked Betty what her thoughts were on the gay issues regarding the black churches and she thinks it's at the root of where we will be in twenty or thirty years. We will either have the strong community that we've always maintained or we will have chapters of hate across the country turning from the lessons of God's love and embracing the same right-wing nonsense that's overtaken many (but not all) white churches. She said she sees it as the issue because it goes to whether the historical role of the black church will continue or whether we'll splinter into some who continue to speak out for social justice and others who want to preach hate.

I think Betty's right. I'll even thank the jerk for his e-mail because it's been a non-issue to me because it is a non-issue to my church. It was dealt with before I was born (or at least old enough to remember). Betty's church has had to start dealing with it due to the AIDS crisis in the African-American community.

Splintering will weaken the historical role of the church in African-American lives. It will also lead to a loss of good people, some gay, some not, who can't support intolerance and can't reconcile hatred with what the church has always represented to our community which is hope and a place of acceptance.

I've tried to answer the e-mailer, the sincere one, and hopefully this did. My church is important to me because it is a family and not just on Sundays when you're sitting in the pews, but throughout the week. We help each other and we support one another. We work to uplift and that's more important as every other cultural message hitting us seems to be about "bling-bling" or being a gangster. My uncle's looking around for the next Marvin Gaye and not seeing him. I hope that he, or she, is already among us and ready to restore the humanity to popular music because we need a voice like that today.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Todd Purdum

Jim of The Third Estate Sunday Review has one peeve with C.I. of The Common Ills and it's that some of C.I.'s best work is buried within a post. I had an e-mail from Jim and I knew right away, before I opened it, what it was going to be about. I'd read The Common Ills this morning and when I got to "NYT: "Mixed Review of Bush Pick in Oversight of Gambling" I could just hear Jim saying, "You didn't even put Todd S. Purdum's name in the title."

C.I.'s reply would be, based on past replies, that there's not enough time for perfection and if there are going to be entries up at The Common Ills, they just have to be what they are. (Which can be shorthanded to Kat's "It Is What It Is" motto.)

I understand both points of view. Jim wants the best stuff to really be noticed and C.I.'s feelings are that the posts are for the members and there's no point in attempting to cater to outside the membership.

Jim wants it to be the best because Jim's a member of The Common Ills and thinks it's an amazing site (I do too). But the reality is C.I.'s too busy to worry about "Will this get attention?" or "Will this add readers." C.I. doesn't care. The site is a resource/review and any member can tell you it's about helping you find the voices that speak to you.

C.I. truly doesn't give a damn what people outside the community think. And that's probably why the membership is so huge. Kat would say it's "organic" and that's what speaks to people.
But Jim's a friend and he feels like C.I. had some criticism that was both needed and humorous. He was looking at action alerts and media criticism today and found that Robin Toner and Elisabeth Bumiller are the focus of the Tuesday criticism of The New York Times.

Todd S. Purdum embarrassed himself again. C.I. called him on it. No one else has that Jim's seen.

My friends at the nursing home who just became Common Ills members would disagree with Jim. They were raving over this morning's entries and talking about when Todd popped up in the middle, it was a "gut buster" and provided needed laughter.

That might be, intentionally or not, what C.I. was going for. Jim thinks in terms of a journalist filing a single report and C.I. thinks more in terms of film.

But I'm tired and when I called Jim I told him I could excerpt the section. Which I'll do in a minute. But here's my thoughts on whether or not it would have made a difference if C.I. had made Todd a single entry. It wouldn't have made a difference. First of all, The Common Ills is known at this point. It's been mentioned on NPR and all over the web. Second of all, a lot of the Democratic sites refrain from calling Todd out because he's married to a Democrat from Clinton's administration. So I don't think it would have made a difference. (And Dona was agreeing with me, I could hear her in the background while Jim was on the phone.)

The Common Ills is too independent to be noted. C.I.'s too pro-peace, too pro-choice, too-pro minorities, too . . . It's not a site for the centrists or the middle of the roaders. It never will be. Sometimes "helpful" bloggers will e-mail C.I. saying "Don't write about that" and the only thing that does is make C.I. write about it more.

It's not an echo chamber of talking points. Nor is The Common Ills trying to shore up weak spined Democrats (no spines?) just because there name is "Harry Reid" or whomever.

I started my site to draw attention to the community and all the great sites coming out of it. I understand Jim thinking, "Okay, well if it had just been about Todd . . ." but the reality is, it wouldn't have been linked to then. We, members, know who links and who doesn't. We know who highlights and who doesn't and we're very aware that one site in particular doesn't anymore. (Which is why The Third Estate Sunday Review dropped it a few weeks back.) C.I. says, "Don't try to get it linked" and we get the lecture from C.I. in the gina & krista round-robin, then a few weeks later, someone e-mails to tell Gina and Krista about a site (like the one that Third Estate dropped) that didn't link when they'd e-mailed. (Eddie and Ryan are usually the two who will pay attention to C.I.'s lecture for about two or three weeks and then try for links.)

But, and this is something I've realized since I started my own site and started getting e-mails, it doesn't matter. The Common Ills is a big community. And most of members didn't see a link somewhere and become members. We had someone we know pass it on to us. The community built through word of mouth and that's really how it continues to build.

Don't e-mail me to gripe about that because I'm not excusing one site in paticular that no one goes to anymore for a reason (one that Kat will be delinking from either tonight or tomorrow because Jim called her this evening and she didn't even know she had the site on her blogroll).

But I started my site, Seth's started his site and we've got another member soon to start their own site. There's really no need to go outside the community.

If people are concerned with social justice and with issues that Democrats are supposed to stand for, they'll find the site. If they're not, they won't.

I'm not excusing the sites that have certain members upset. I was one of the people saying "Delink from ___" because that person a) insulted Isaiah (which enraged the community) and b) always wants to be mentioned at The Common Ills but when Billie checked that site she found out that he never mentions The Common Ills at his site. A member will notice that the same way that a member will copy and paste and send something through the community.

But we've go the round-robin, we've got The Common Ills of course, we've got Rebecca, The Third Estate Sunday Review, Betty, Mike, Elaine, Kat and now Seth. There will be a new site shortly. We're not getting smaller, we're getting larger. Last Friday's poll in the round-robin is something C.I.'s taking very seriously and thinking about.

Right now, there's the weekly (sometimes more) gina & krista round-robin and nine sites. The Common Ills isn't even a year old. That its launched so many voices in so short a time tells you that with or without someone scared that The Common Ills is too left or too into minorities or too into pro-choice or whatever the excuse is, the community just continues to build.

I see Jim's point but I think he's wrong. (He knows I think he's wrong.) There were times when I felt like he did before I started my site. I'd be upset that a really great entry that was on something important wasn't being noticed. (By mid-day, had anyone else noted Ralph Nader's complaint against Harriet Miers from today's Democracy Now!? Not that I saw and that's pretty important. She refused to comply with a request that she's bound by her office to comply with.) But now that I'm getting e-mails from members, I'm really getting how big the community is. I should have grasped that from the round-robin but I really didn't.

The Common Ills doesn't spit out talking points and because of that, or the decision not to push Harry Reid as the great savior or whatever, it's not noted by those working from a playbook of talking points.

I ended up doing things differently than I planned here. I was going to do a blog report. That was what the Big Mix was going to be. Instead, I've written about the elderly and some of their issues, about race and other things. C.I. told me that the only rule was that there were no rules.
And the result is that if you're independent, you're voice has more value. There are people who never get e-mails and that's probably because they're running down talking points.

I couldn't imagine making time in a schedule with no time at all to just repeat what everyone else says but there are a lot of sites that do that. The fact that The Common Ills doesn't is why all of us value it so much. And it's why Jim likes to think that, for instance, if the Todd S. Purdum comments had been in their own entry, they would have gotten attention from outside the community. But that's not the way it works.

I don't know if there will be changes to the permalinks (C.I. doesn't call it a blogroll) anytime soon or not but I do know that C.I. has read the complaints and is taking the poll from the latest round-robin very seriously. In some ways, its our fault because we follow that stuff, C.I. doesn't. C.I.'s lost in the e-mails and if we'd raised this issue sooner, it might have already been dealt with. Coming on the heels of the continued ignoring of Rebecca, it is something C.I.'s taking seriously. But C.I. didn't know about that until we started bringing it up.

I want to note my good friend Isaiah who had "Celibacy in the City" today, his latest The World Today Just Nuts comic strip. That was hilarious. We were passing it around at work and Isaiah does great work. Ignore ___ who is an idiot who just wanted to use the community and not give back. But Natalie told C.I. about the insult to Isaiah a week after it happened and C.I. asked Isaiah if it bothered him. Isaiah said not really. It's one of those things that festers and it does bother Isaiah now. More importantly, it bothers the members. ___ is no longer linked. Whether we'll have to hear "I was reading and wanted to share" comments in entries anymore or not, I don't know. (I would guess not.)

But members had followed ___ in the copy and pastes and for him to slam Isaiah and also to be saying, "Great post and I wrote about this if members are interested"? Billie went there and if it's a great post, why wasn't it noted?

If a member took the time to provide ___ with raw data for research, why wasn't that noted as well? (That data now goes to Mike.)

So the point is that we take care of each other in the community. We stood by West, who wasn't even a member when he got attacked. Eddie forwarded the e-mail from the attacker and we don't go to that site anymore (C.I. had already delinked from it). It was bad enough what was done to West but to find out that the jerk was e-mailing trying to get dirt on West was offensive.
West was just a high school kid who spoke his mind and got attacked for it and threatened with delinks if he didn't apologize. Then his apology wasn't good enough. That was bad enough to turn us all off that organization. (And give credit to Rebecca because she got the e-mail from West and wrote him back immediately saying, "Call me." She then stood up for him and others didn't. C.I. did. But others didn't. And we note that as a community.) But when the round-robin published the e-mails by the jerk trying to get information on West that so offended the community. He wasn't a member and hadn't even written C.I. at that point. But C.I. and Rebecca didn't play (as some did), "Oh too bad, that's your own personal problem." Their attitude was, "You liked our work and we're not going to pretend like what was done to you was okay just to have a link." They spoke their mind and that's why the community is tight and strong.

I still can't believe that the jerk and his boss got away with what they did. You'd think the organization would have told them, "Look, you were out of bounds. You need to apologize." Because that didn't happen and West never got an apology (for the attacks or for the attempts to go behind his back, a day before the attacks, and pry into his life) and members have never gone back to that site. We never will.

I had an e-mail from Brenda wondering how I searched online and I don't have time to write back so I'll put an answer in here. I'm using the same hub that other members are using. The one that integrates the software that we all purchased and then added the add on from UK Computer Gurus. I don't understand the "hub" talk either but I think it means that we're routed. I'll pass the e-mail onto the UK Computer Gurus because they're back from their September vacation and we should have a newsletter from them this weekend.

Here's C.I.'s latest on "Todd Purdum's Stinky Jock" (my title):

Todd Purdum and Neil A. Lewis file "Miers Known as a Hard-Working Advocate for the President" which is full of "news." Here's one example:

It has been a long time since Ms. Miers lacked encouragement, and for the last 12 years she has had the support of an important patron.

Is Todd trying to get a job at People? "It has been a long time since Ms. Miers lacked encouragement!" The first clause of the sentence screams for an exclamation point. Breathless writing?
You bet. Who can breathe when the fumes from Todd S. Purdum's smelly jock are wafting all around!
It gets better!

Ms. Miers has been a go-to person for Mr. Bush ever since, first as his appointee to the Texas State Lottery Commission, which she helped clean up; then as White House staff secretary, directing the flow of . . .

She helped clean it up!
Uh, Todd, get your fingers out of your jock and pick up the morning edition of your own paper.
Blumenthal's a little less sure than you are. Todd. Todd! Quit sniffing your fingers and read Blumenthal's article.

She is known among friends and associates as a hard-working and thorough advocate, someone staunchly loyal to Mr. Bush and possessing an unusual ability to remain calm and out of public view in the glare of the White House.

Friends don't trash her? It's "news"!!!!

What she is not known for are her personal views on the hottest legal and political issues of the day.

Has a more awkward sentence appeared in the Times this week? Well you can't type with two hands when you're sniffing the fingers of one. Purdum's grooving on his own funk, people. Cut him some slack.

"I think she's conservative in the sense that most lawyers are conservative, that she looks at the issues in that case," said Linda S. Eads, a professor at the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University, from which Ms. Miers graduated and to which she returned as an adjunct professor. "I don't know her to be an ideologue."

Linda S. Eads. She's what, Todd?
Diane Ragsdale (an African-American woman) is identified as a "liberal Democrat" but all the white folks get a pass? Is that how it works, Todd?
Linda S. Eads. Served under Corny John Cornyn. Which means she served under Bully Boy. Why is she treated as impartial? Just a law professor, apparently. One who also fiercly supported Priscilla Owens but the article doesn't tell you that either. So she supported Owens and she was in the attorney general's office under Corny, under Bully.
Todd's surpassed himself today. He must have worn a cup, and not just a strap, while writing this one. Probably gathered all the other kids and went behind the fence with them so he could show off his jock and cup.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Iraq and The Third Estate Sunday News Review

Here's my section from The Third Estate Sunday Review's news review. We're trying to make sure people know about the news review because it's a feature that Dona came up with and it's proved to be pretty popular. If someone's new, The Third Estate Sunday Review only publishes on Sunday. They're an online magazine. They were the second blog to spin off from The Common Ills. And C.I.'s a member of The Third Estate Sunday Review now. At first, it was just "I help out" but C.I. always helps out and C.I. and Ava do the TV reviews there so C.I. really is a part of it.

A lot of us help out. I help out when I can and I never get to make it to the end because I've always got to get to bed for church. They do this on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings and it's always an all nighter. So I usually bail half way through. But I'm glad to help out in my own little bit. I think, if nothing else, it helps to have one more African-American voice. Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Good Man helps out and Ty is a member of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

The news review is done like it's a radio or TV show. C.I. is anchor (and hates being anchor) and Dona and Jim are going around making sure everybody's got enough material and helping edit if time is short. They're really the producers. All of us doing reports know what we're going to say basically. C.I. has no clue what we're doing until right before when someone's finishing and Dona will whisper over the phone "Okay, Cedric's coming up and he's going to discuss Dahr's latest article on Iraq" and then C.I. will do the introduction and we'll do our report and C.I. may stop you in the middle to ask a question.

The reason for the news review is that it can take a little over an hour. We start at 15 minutes before and then once we start Dona's watching the time and she and Jim will say, "We're long, you'll need to lose a minute" or something similar. They stick to the hour because the whole point of Dona figuring out a new feature was to try to find something we could do that wouldn't take all night. By doing the news review like it is a radio or TV program, we're confined to the hour and that's it. At the end of the hour, it's over. If C.I.'s asking questions, sometimes it's because Dona's just whispered, "We're not ready, stretch." It's fun but I know C.I. would rather do a report and thinks it's just sitting there asking questions. I disagree because you need a strong anchor who has knowledge and if you read the thing and watch for the questions and realize that Dona's just said "stretch" and C.I. has to think "What do I ask or what do I say?"
you realize that you really need someone like that who can think on their feet.

My friends at the nursing home asked me yesterday about how we did this feature and when I got done explaining, they said I should just do a post about it.

They were wondering if we were assigned topics. That doesn't happen. Jess's parents are looking at stuff in the 15 minutes before, looking all over the web, and they'll tell us some topics and if we're interested in one of those, we can grab it. Most of the time, people have an idea of what they want. It might be a topic Jess's parents found or it might be something else. After we pick our topic, we tell Dona and Jim and they may ask, "Why do you think this is important?" After you explain why, they say, "Make sure you're making that point in your report." Kat always closes because she's really good at cutting. So if there's only 2 minutes or if there's 5 minutes, Kat can get up there and wing it. She doesn't even have to time her stuff. She asks Dona to tell her when there's 1 minute left and that's really all she needs.

I think it lets everyone bring something they're interested in to the table.

So once C.I. says "Welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review," the clock is ticking and everyone's rushing around. The person who's ready in the 15 minutes prior goes first and while that's going on the rest of us are working on our reports and Jim and Dona are checking and seeing if you need help finding stuff and Jess's parents are looking for your topic so it's a real group effort on research. Then it's up to you to figure out what to use and how to say it.

It's better to go early because you can do your full report. If you don't go early, you may get cut. So everyone tries to finish as quickly as possible. But sometimes it's hard to finish early and that's when you end closer to the end. Ava's usually ready early but she waits because she can do the edits easy if we're running short on time.

So that's the process and the story behind it. Now here's my section of the news review:

C.I.: Thank you, Elaine. Still on Iraq, we go to Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix. Cedric, you're focusing on Dahr Jamail, correct?
Cedric: Yes, on Dahr Jamail's most recent article,"Securitizing the Global Norm of Identity: Biometric Technologies in Domestic and Foreign Policy." Elaine just got finished discussing the latest torture revelations and noting how the techniques migrated from Latin America to Iraq.Dahr Jamail, unlike Dexter Filkins of The New York Times, has never shied from discussing realities in Falluja. The "pacification" techniques used in Falluja. As Elaine noted while we researching, the Falluja reporting also depended upon the mainstream accepting military statements as fact and refusing to give voice to the people of Falluja. Jamail writes:

Out of these ruins, occupation forces argued they were erecting a 'model
city', replete with a high-tech security infrastructure centered on biometric
identification strategies to manage returning citizens. Returnees are
fingerprinted, retina scanned, and issued a mandatory identity badge displaying
the individual's home address and collected biometric data.

Cedric (con't): People should be aware of this. They should question whether it's an "American" thing to do in order to "build democracy" and they should ask themselves how they'll respond when the technique migrate back to the United States with calls for a national i.d. card.
C.I.: Cedric, some may hear "biometric" and think, "What is that?" Retinal scans in the film The Minority Report may help illustrate but could you give some more examples.
Cedric: Certainly. Jamail goes into this and explains "the body as passport." Some examples of biometrics include facial scans, iris scans, digitized finger prints and things such as body heat emitting from the face. As Jamil points out, the debate over national security leads to some advocate similar tactics in this country.
C.I.: You mentioned the national i.d. card which would be hard to implement for a number of reasons, among which is the GOP's long so-called support of 'state rights'; however, the way around that has been to require that states develop their own i.d.s and do so under general guidelines. What are your thoughts there?
Cedric: As an African-American male, I worry that digitized cards will be one more technique to disqualify African-Americans. For instance, you go to vote, "Woops, your card doesn't read, you can't vote." The disenfranchisement in the last two presidential elections is enough to cause me to worry whenever a Republican controlled Congress wants to "help" America because some people get helped and some people get hurt and, from my viewpoint, it's the powerless that get hurt and a few years after the fact, the mainstream press can note that in passing while remaining silent in real time. I think you see that in the "pacified" areas in Iraq which result not in safety but in people losing homes and ending up living in tents as evacuees.
C.I.: Thank you, Cedric. With other updates from Iraq as the constitutional referendum approaches, we go to Mike of Mikey Likes It!