roundtable two

1st apologies to trina. i didn't think to invite her to the roundtable last night. we started that late by my time (and her's) and i just assumed that it was too late for her to participate because she's really busy. that actually wasn't the case, so we're doing another roundtable tonight.

Rebecca: Our second day in a row of roundtables. Tonight, topics will include food, independent media and the war in Iraq. Participating are:

Trina of Trina's Kitchen;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
and C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review

Our first topic is food. For this, we'll be referencing Jane Goodall's 2005 book Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating, The New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story "The School-Lunch Test" by Lisa Belkin from the August 20, 2006 issue and The Nation's September 11, 2006 "The Food Issue" featuring contributions from many people on this topic. Trina?

Trina: For me, and probably for a lot of people who've followed food issues, the starting point is Frances Moore Lappe. She wrote Diet for a Small Planet in 1971 and it's updated regularly. That's a book I've gone through so many copies of. There are times when someone looks at it and I can tell they're really interested so I'll say, "You take it." Then I'll buy a new copy. Or I'll be using various recipes and the binding will break over time, so I'll buy a new copy. It's always been a staple in my kitchen since I first discovered the book. So when I saw her name on the cover of The Nation's Food Issue, I went to her article first. "A Right to Food? How to Frame The Fight Against Hunger," on page 39, actually is a good set up for the issue because it presents the rights of food noting that the UN's 1948 Delcaration of Human Rights declared foor a right as did the 1993 Vienna Conference on Human Rights. But she argues that there are problems with making the case just on the argument that it is a right since "rights and power are too easily uncoupled." She argues it should be seen as a power and, using that perspective, this will increase our ownership and our activism. The other issues raised in the Food Issue spring from that perspective. So if I were editing the issue, I would have opened with the argument Frances Moore Lappe presents.

Elaine: I'd question the placement as well. On the one hand, maybe it was seen as a summation and that's why it was placed where it was. But I agree with Trina, it works better as an opening essay. Something like Liza Featherstone's "Mean or Green? Wal-Mart's Organic Turn Divides The Movement," which starts on page 31, is enhanced when you realize your stake in it. Alice Waters has a strong essay that opens the section on food --

C.I.: "Slow Food Nation," page 13.

Elaine: Right. But I actually would have flipped the two. To me, it reads more like a conclusion. It's looking to the past and to today and it's much briefer. I'd end with that and open with Moore Lappe. The danger is that for those who are reading and not interested in the topic, or not seriously interested, by the time they're getting to the ownership of the issue, the perspective Moore Lappe's dealing with where we own our power, they may feel, "I've read all these articles, I'm done." I would have structured with Waters at the end because it is a shorter essay and it really is a summation.

Betty: If we're talking about placement, I would've moved Felcia Mello's "Hard Labor: For Farmworkers, It's Not Easy Being Organic." That starts on page 21 and it's an important article but, I did put the magazine down. I care about the issues, I think it's great that The Nation devoted an issue to it -- and look forward to an issue devoted to Iraq, hint, hint -- but Mello's talking about the non-organic realities for some workers on so-called organic farms. The farms aren't alternative in the ways they treat workers.

Elaine: And for anyone who's not read the article, talk about it.

Betty: Well, some farms that are organic actually do treat the workers like human beings. Others don't. The workers are largely immigrants. Mello describes seven-minute bathroom breaks on some farms, where the workers are timed. The wages are poor and there are no benefits. It's using 'organic' in the sense that there may not be pesticides but the treatment of workers is no better than it is on many farms, organic or not.

Trina: And she gives an example of Jim Cochran who owns Swanton Berry Farm who actually does offer benefits like medical, dental and pension and pays a higher wage. He made that choice and the people working at Swanton Berry Farm work under a union contract which is not common, nor are the benefits and wages offered, when compared to the other farms she visits.

Betty: And that woman who was studying law in Mexico but thought coming to America would improve her financial situation --

C.I.: Beatriz Gonzalez.

Betty: Beatriz Gonzales. She works for eight hours a day on her feet, sorting oranges and she's got arthritis and, in her knuckles she has arthritis, from the work, and she's been working there for four years and makes only $7.30 an hour. The minimum wage, which she started at, in California is $6.75. And that actually reminded me of conversations and discussion Andrea Lewis and Philip Maldari have had on KPFA's The Morning Show about how there is so little affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Was she from that area?

C.I.: No, she's near Bakersfield. That's further south and closer to Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Or that's where the farm is, I have no idea where she lives. But affordable housing is a problem pretty much everywhere.

Betty: And Andrea Lewis and Philip Maldari have talked a lot about the living wage and there's just no way that someone making $7.30 an hour, working a forty hour week, at a job after four years, is making a living wage. Mello, the author of the article, talks to a shopper and she, the shopper, asumes that food from organic farms means the workers are better off.

Elaine: Right, she talks about the assumption that those marketing has dubbed "hard core" organic produce consumers have about that.

Betty: And about how there are other consumers who don't know about the conditions and prefer not to know. How it's a personal choice, usually for their children, wanting their children to not be exposed to pesticides and all, and they'll purchase organic but they're really of the "Don't wake me from this dream because I don't want to deal with reality."

Rebecca: You said you had to put the issue down after that article. How come?

Betty: Well. I mean, what do you do? That's what Frances Moore Lappe's addressing and why I think you open with that. Mello's talking about labels that would note true organic, the idea that hard core consumers have of the working conditions that produce the organic foods they purchase, and that's needed but I just had to put it down because, and I buy some organic in the winter but, for the most part, my father's semi-retired, he works his garden like crazy. In the spring, summer and fall, we've got more than enough fresh fruits and vegetables usually. I can't leave my parents house without hearing, "Oh take some of this, take some of that." The backyard was supposed to be just a few rows and my mother jokes about how now she steps out her back door and her backyard is gone because he's turned it into a farm. But when I do buy organic, in the winter, I am just like the hard core consumer Mello talks to at Whole Foods, I've just assumed, "Organic food equals fair labor practices." So it was just shocking to realize how frequently that isn't true. And, from Mello's article, that's not the exception, which I could have handled, but that's the norm for a lot of farmers so it was just a shock. It really depressed me and I had to put the issue down. If Liza Featherstone wasn't a name I recognized, I might not have picked it back up. She wrote a great article debating the pros and cons of Wal-Marts move into stocking organic foods. But when I got to Frances Moore Lappes' article, it was like, "Okay, here's something that can be done. Here's a way to look at it and address it." If that makes sense. And, just to put it into perspective, I went from laughing with Jim Hightower, who's a very funny writer, to the shock of Mello's article.

Rebecca: Now organic practices are something that Jane Goodall addresses in Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating. C.I.?

C.I.: What? You haven't read the book?

Rebecca: I read it and loved it, thank you for it. But I'm trying to be moderator.

C.I.: You are allowed to comment. Goodall's tackling that issue, and Betty, I can send you the book if you're interested and a great deal more.

Betty: I'd love to read the book. Let me check at my library later today and if they don't have it, yes, please send it.

C.I.: No problem. But to me the issue of Goodall's book that I wanted to raise was one that Barbara Kingsolver also raised in Small Wonder. You have, in your produce departments, all these foods from various places.

Betty: Holland has been big in my supermarket. I have no idea why. But at the end of spring, suddenly they had some fruits from Holland. I don't even remember what. I didn't buy it. But I remember thinking, "Holland? Don't we have growers in Georgia?"

C.I.: Which is a point that both Goodall and Kingsolver make -- which is, this notion that we should have year round access to everything. There are growing seasons. That's part of the natural cycle. Instead of addressing that, we're getting fruits and vegetables from all over the world and, to have those, requires they are shipped great distances which requires fuel both for to get from point A to point B and to keep the produce refrigerated. Goodall uses strawberries as one example and notes that they are picked too soon so that they will last through the travel cycle. This effects the taste and effects the quality of the nutrition. Goodall writes of how some produce native to certain areas is in danger of being lost because it doesn't travel as well so there's no large market for it. And Kingsolver writes, this is a paraphrase, I don't have the book in front of me: "Most adults my age couldn't pass a simple test on what foods are grown in their home countries and what month they come to maturity." She writes of visiting a friend in Manhattan, in winter, who was serving a dish with fresh raspberries, and wondering where, in winter, fresh raspberries came from. Both Goodall and Kingsolver stress the point that it's important to eat locally grown produce both to support your communities and to cut down on the waste of fuel which, of course, effects the environment with the fuel being burned off into it and polluting so that we can have this or that out of season produce. Goodall focuses on how diets, over time, adapted to the environments they were in. She offers the Masai people of East Africa who ate a meat heavy diet due to the fact that they were cattle herders. But, as a result of the plants they ate, they had less problems than would be expected from a meat based diet. And how the Tohono O'odham tribe, in Arizona, began moving from their native diet to a more processed one and even the children were developing diabetes.

Rebecca: Which is a good transition to the article in The New York Times' Sunday magazine. This is from Lisa Belkin's "The School-Lunch Test," QUOTE: "By any health measure, today's children are in crisis. Seventeen percent of American children are overweight, and increasing numbers of children are developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes, which until a few years ago, was a condition seen almost only in adults. The obesity rate of adolescents has tripled since 1980 and shows no sign of slowing down. Today's children have the dubious honor of belonging to the first cohort in history that may have a lower life expectancy than their parents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has predicted that 30 to 40 percent of today's children will have diabetes in their lifetime if current trends continue." And for those wondering why that quote wasn't set off, we're trying to make this as easy as possible for everyone to copy and paste without worrying about spacing. You'll find typos here, just like the last one. This is a rush transcript. Those wanting links, we're providing very few. We've told you where the article is, you can go to a web site and hunt it down if you're interested.

Elaine: Just googling the author and title should provide you with the article.

Rebecca: Right. So that's the current stats for children today and what can be done regarding student lunches is the focus of the article. Who wants to start?

C.I.: As with Frances Moore Lappe, I know and respect the work of Alice Waters so I'm excusing myself from commenting on either so no one thinks, "Of course you would say that."

Elaine: I wish you wouldn't. But let me grab the article because the Alice Waters aspect seemed more than insulting. I didn't care for this article at all. I didn't care for the majority of the people speaking in it. I didn't care for what happened in the schools.

Betty: The pledge. What was that? A woman has children recite a pledge to eat this and that? I'm sorry, my kids don't recite any pledge that I haven't been informed of prior and that I haven't given my consent to. If one of my kids came home telling me about a pledge like that, I would be up at the school complaining. It doesn't matter what the pledge is, what it's topic, I would be complaining because you don't tell my kids to pledge to anything without my permission. I am the parent.

Trina: You know I had the same response. This was a pledge that I could live with, and I assume Betty could as well, right?

Betty: Right. But you tell me first. You get my approval.

Trina: Because today's it's something we agree with, and I only have one child still in school, the other seven are out. Mike's in college of course, so it's just my youngest daughter that's still in school. She's in high school. Something like this, if she were pledging it, I would assume, "Well she's old enough to make up her own mind." And if that included not wanting to take the pledge, then the school better not have attempted to shame or force her into it. But I don't like the idea of pledges being brought into a school, regardless of what they are, without a parent being informed of and giving their consent. This was elementary school. And while I would have given my consent to the pledge, I would have had to have been notified first. I'm with Betty on that.

Betty: Because what someone else is okay with may not be something I'm okay with. There are many issues that I wouldn't want my children pledging to. I also had serious concerns about a lose weight diet author being put in charge in children's food. I would have been one of the parents calling the school system, as happened in Florida, asking, "Why is my child being put on the South Beach Diet?" And the fact that a parent did that demonstrates that parents probably weren't informed of it before the program started. They may have been told there was a new lunch program. But I'm sorry, I wouldn't want my kids on Atkins, I wouldn't want them on South Beach. I don't understand how you skip nutritionists when you're dealing with something as important as children's lunches and breakfasts? I don't care that you've written a 'hot' book or that you're responsible for a fad. That's not speaking to my children's needs.

Elaine: And what a child needs and what an adult needs are different things so I have trouble grasping how someone who wrote a weight loss book for adults could be brought in to begin with. That makes no sense. The issue of Alice Waters, just to touch it on quickly, there's a bit more going on with her program than weight loss. It's about healthy eating, reconnecting with your environment and long term goals. I don't believe that was grasped in the article.

C.I.: If you're talking weight loss, you're talking food and you're talking activity. Nation wide, there has been reduction in free form activity as well as in structured play. Harry Truman's cited in that article, about how WWII inductees were rejected due to being underweight and how, in 1946, Truman signed the legislation to guarantee that every child would have a meal which, hopefully, for those in struggling environments, would be the most nutritious meal. Where's the legislation for activity? There is no time for that because everyone's so busy teaching to a test which may be why some teachers didn't want to use the guide material they were provided with. But, and this is why choosing someone who wrote an adult diet book as your 'savior' is such a problem, your expectations with regards to diet are way too high. You're talking one meal. The Florida program, that's the state it's going on in, at some schools, is focusing on K through 6th. Somone familiar with children would be fully aware that children do not generally prepare all their meals. Truman wanted children to have a nutritious meal. That can be done. It can be done with the Florida program. But one meal is not weight loss. Lunch and breakfast is not weight loss. Any adult trying to lose significant weight by eating one healthy meal a day, low-fat, would not, or should not, expect to lose significant weight as a result if the other meals remain the same. And in many cases, the other meals will remain the same because of resources, what kind of stores you have access to, what kind of time you have to prepare a meal, etc. You want weight loss, you have to up the activity time each time. You want to reduce calories and fat for one meal a day, that's a worthy cause. But don't assume that will result in any significant weight loss.

Elaine: Remember to that one parent complained about how her child wouldn't eat anything at home, after the program started, and she said, the parent, that she couldn't very well throw out everything. Any adult who has done some diet is familiar with the restocking required. I don't think the parents were given, or shown, any power in this program -- going back to Frances Moore Lappe. I also think there's too much denial. Don't complain about the weight loss, which does require physical mobility, as C.I. pointed out, and allow people to sell Chick-fil-A bisquits in the parking lot at the start of the day. Don't say it's mainly parents buying. Why are you selling those to begin with? Yes, the PTO is selling them to raise funds. If you've banned junk food from the cafetria, why are you inviting it on to the campus once a week? As for JoAnn Kandrac, she's kidding herself. She says that the McDonalds coupons provided are "a tradition." The whole point of the program is to break away from bad traditions. If you give those coupons out to honor roll students as a reward then you are presenting McDonalds as an indulgence you can earn. It's a mixed message. Her excuse is, "This is educating our children that they can make smart choices at places like McDonalds." When the coupon you hand out allows them one burger, one fries, one soft drink, they're not making smart choices, they're redeeming coupons and being handed junk food.

Rebecca: I would agree with that. I also found it laughable that the author of the South Beach Diet took exception to her plan being called that and noted that it was a way of eating healthy. You put "Diet" in your book title and you marketed it as a weight loss gain. If anyone's confused, it's the author of that book. We're now turning to the topic of independent media. To give background, WBAI broadcast a program Thursday, The Largest Minority. I was listening with my friend T and we've all now listened to the program. Rachel called it to Mike's attention for one reason in particular but that entire interview was a problem. Who wants to start?

Trina: I'll just note that the issue, and Rachel was clear in this and Mike was clear in summing up her e-mail at his site, was not that someone was talking about cooking. It was the fact that two women were speaking, a host and a guest, and the guest was instructing the listeners to cook to please their man. That's how it played: Please Your Man. The whole thing was insulting. But that was the most insulting.

C.I.: The whole thing had no place on a Pacifica station. Tackling menapause, which a program in March did, fine. Tackling rape, tackling health issues, even discussing cooking, that's fine. But that retro bullshit, and I do call it that, had no place on Pacifica. It would have been booed by the mid-sixites. That it's considered acceptable today is nonsense. I e-mailed Rachel about it after I listened because the cook-for-your-man was only one problem with it. She agreed and said that writing the e-mail to Miake, she did it while she was listening to the show, was when she was ready to scream and she decided to focus on only one point to get the e-mail sent out. But to be clear, it wasn't just the women-you-better-keep-your-man-happy-by-cooking-for-him bullshit, it was also the guest offering up that women needed to marry men who were more successful than they were because that was the only way to happy marriage and that this was the natural balance. That bullshit, and I will call it that, I try to be supportive of independent media but I will not support that crap, had no business airing on any Pacifica station and the host's giggling responses were tragic. She should have called the guest out. She didn't. She giggled, she made jokes about her own significant other, she was playful, she was everything but a mature adult woman. It was embarrassing to listen to and, Mike was right, it was retro.

Betty: I want to add that this is exactly the sort of thing I talk about when I praise Andrea Lewis. Lewis isn't doing that nonsense. She's not playing like she's sitting in the beauty parlor giggling with the gals, while she waits her turn. This was sub-standard. It's the reason I don't listen to most radio programs geared towards Black women. I find it insulting to hear that "You go, girl!" nonsense. That's all it was. The guest and the host were Black women. I find it embarrassing that this nonsense aired, I find it more embarrassing as a Black woman that it was put out there by Black women.

Rebecca: T hated it as well. When it ended, she said, "Thank God I'm a lesbian. Hopefully, I've never embarrassed myself like that." She also made the comparison to a beauty parlor.

Betty: Well, T's Black. She's aware that this "Oh we got to get us a man and keep us a man, girlfriend!" nonsense is too often put out there to Black women as the height of any discussion we're capable of. Again, I have praised Andrea Lewis and she's earned it because she's not trying to deny who she is, racially or sexually, she's not playing prim and proper, she's natural on air. What I heard on WBAI, however, was a stereotype that Terry McMillan wouldn't even try to promote. I was so insulted and called Rebecca and asked, "Do I have to listen to the whole thing?"

Rebecca: Betty had fury in her voice. I could tell she was ticked off.

Betty: Because it's bad enough that Black women are fed that stuff on commercial radio. To have to hear it from a non-commercial radio station, one where supposedly educated discussions take place?

Rebecca: Your mother dropped by while you were listening and she didn't care for it either.

Betty: I was on the phone with Rebecca and my sister had my kids because I've got hers on Saturday, she's got mine on Friday. So my mother came in, nodded to me and just sat down because I was on the phone. She listened for about a minute half before she said something about how those women were 'tripping.' It's embarrassing to hear those kind of caricatures. As though all Black women can do is focus on getting a man and keeping him. And that 'advice' was so insulting. But it was presented in that you-go-girl wrapping that we're all supposed to assume surrounds the true package of Black women. I was disgusted. Again, I could hear that on commercial radio without having to go up and down the dial too much. Andrea Lewis, if anyone didn't get the points I was trying to make when I subbed for Rebecca or that I've made elsewhere, comes off like a grown up. Those two came off like a parody you'd see on Mad TV. It was so disgusting. I was so disappointed and so outraged and, like Rebecca said, I was furious.
I'm sure some liked it. I'm sure some White audience members thoughts, "Oh them colored women and their man troubles." I feel like I'm saying the same thing over and over. I can understand Rachel being so furious that she only focused on one thing in her e-mail to Mike. I'll just shut up at this point because I'm getting too angry.

C.I.: I think you expressed yourself very well. I don't think you were repeating yourself. But it was insulting. It was insulting on many levels. Again, had Pacifica broadcast that conversation in the mid-sixties, regardless of the race involved, there would have been fury over it. There should be today. The key points were, you have to find a man who is 'better than you' and hold the power because that is the only way to have a successful relationship and, after you find that man, your long day at work doesn't matter, get in the kitchen, over "a hot stove" and cook, because men like that. They like for their women to cook for them.

Elaine: You know what I thought of while I was listening? That scene in Tootsie. Where Dustin Hoffman's Dorothy Michaels and Dorothy's speaking to the battered woman and breaks from the text. When the director yells cut, Dustin as Michael pretending to be an actress named Doroty says that she wouldn't tell any woman to give up her home. I just flashed on that for some reason and maybe it's because there was more feminism and awareness in Dustin Hoffman's performance of Dorothy Michaels than there was in that entire show broadcast on WBAI. What's next? I think Rachel made a joke, in her e-mail Mike quoted, about how maybe they could offer up programs on how to apply blush? That really is the next step, the next low. That was disgusting. That it aired on progressive radio was disgusting.

Betty: They'll get an out. The show will. It will be, and this is what makes me so furious, well that's the way 'those people' talk. No, it's not the way I talk, it's certainly not the way any of my friends talk and it's not the way my mother or her friends talk. Silly little girls, aged old women who fancy themselves as 'girls,' talk that way. Mature women deal with serious issues and don't sit around yacking over how to keep your man satisified with you. Now I do go to a hot stove every evening after I get home from work, after I've picked up the kids. I do that because I am their mother. You can take it to the bank that if I didn't have children, I wouldn't be doing that for a man. A grown man's a grown man. If he's hungry, he knows where the kitchen is. If I've had a hard day, I've had a hard day. It was Black Cosmo aired on WBAI and it was insulting and embarrassing and I'll bet you anything that if it had been two White women, there would have been huge complaints about the program and there would be some attempt to address that nonsense. But it won't be seen as nonsense, it will be seen as, "Oh, I can't object that we aired something sexist and racist and retro because the two women involved are Black and what do I know about that?" And you better believe some smug, pampered Black man will rush in to say, "Oh, there was nothing wrong with it, they were just having fun." That was the first point my mother raised when I got off the phone. Because there are a number of Black men who dream of taking away the power of Black women. God forbid that they go out and get their own power. So instead it has to be a competition with us. So, yes, my mother is quite correct, some Black man on WBAI's staff will say, "Problem? There was no problem with that." There was a huge problem with that and I seriously question the way women are seen at WBAI as a result. I listen to The Morning Show, Kat tapes it for me and sends me cassettes. That airs on KPFA. I have no interest in listening to WBAI again. That something so racist and sexist could be presented and not send up alarms tells me that station has some serious problems.

Rebecca: Anyone want to add to that?

C.I.: I think Betty's said it all. She's very upset by it and she's conveyed why.

Rebecca: Okay, then we'll move on to Iraq. We'll let Trina and Elaine start because this was a topic on the last roundtable and I didn't invite either due to the late hour. They read it and wished they could have participated. So I apologize to them for not inviting them. And before we start, let me note that when I put this together, it was again last minute. I did get ahold of Ruth but she was actually doing something with four of her grandchildren so she wasn't able to participate. Okay, Iraq. Elaine or Trina?

Elaine: Why don't you start it off.

Trina: Okay. Thank you. I think the points raised in the previous roundtable were good ones, strong ones. Iraq has vanished from the coverage. Not because things improved there, it's worse. Even with the so-called crackdown, it's worse. It does bother me that the coverage is so poor and that it seems that independent media, just like mainstream media, seems to rush to cover every other topic. There's a lot of talk about how Ted Koppel read the names of the fallen on Nightline and now he's gone. Well, why can't independent media do that? Why are we going into a holiday where we will have broadcasts of pre-recorded programs and none will do that? Why will we have pre-recorded programs and no one thought, as Ruth's pointed out before, to use existing material from previous broadcasts to assemble a special on Iraq? I am very disturbed by what appears to be a lack of interest in the Iraq war.

Elaine: Those are good points, and thank you to Ava for attempting to include the point I would have raised in the previous roundtable, which is, and C.I. makes this point as well, don't blame the peace movement for the growth. Once again, we're coming up on demonstrations and actions, this month, and independent media may or may not cover the lead up, judging by past coverage, it won't, but somehow it will be the peace movement's 'fault.' Whatever the figures, it will be the fault of the peace movement for not getting and keeping X number of people interested in Iraq. As though the peace movement has a program on Pacifica or anywhere else. I'm thinking now, Dona called the office Thursday and spoke to Sunny, I had just finished a session and Sunny put it on speaker, who was that stupid woman you were all listening to?

C.I.: She wasn't on public radio. She was on commercial radio. We were in Sacremento and Jim had gone around the dial trying to find something to listen to. He landed on her and we were just appalled by her. Dona was so appalled that she wanted you to hear it. She insulted Mike Malloy, which was the whole point of over an hour of her show, Randi Rhodes and just about everyone who called in. She was a silly piece of nonsense.

Elaine: Who whined about how unfair the media was to Israel and justified Mike Malloy's firing.

C.I.: Right, but we may be doing a piece on that at The Third Estate Sunday Review, so I'm going to stop you there on the details.

Elaine: Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know that. Well, the thing that ticked me off the most was her talk of the need for 'fun.' Yes, there is a need for fun. I like fun. But if you're a political program --

C.I.: She airs on a station that carries Air America programming. Supposedly, she's a political program.

Elaine: Thank you. Then she has no excuse for whining about how she doesn't want to cover this or cover that. I'm going to drop that because I'm going to start giving examples and if this is possible piece for Third, I don't want to step on it. But the point is, there's very little coverage of Iraq. In the mainstream, in the independent media, with few exceptions, so once again, the heavy work will be done by peace groups and, once again, a turnout, a sizeable and impressive one, will turn out. But there will be the usual post-commentary of, "Why can't the peace movement mobilize?" They are mobilizing and without the help or support of the media.

Trina: I would add to that by noting that this week Donald Rumsfeld smeared critics of the Iraq war and of the so-called war on terror and instead of noting the smear and how out of bounds it was, everyone wanted to say, "Well, here's where he's wrong historically." Of course he's wrong historically. Expecting him to be right about history, when he's been wrong on everything else, is beside the point. Where were the voices condemning his statement. They could be heard in Congress. But you didn't hear them in commentary after commentary which read like everyone wanted to show off that they hadn't slept through the class discussion on WWII. Good, grab your prize. Get your pat on the head. But don't ever criticize 'tone' again because that wasn't tackled. C.I. and Cedric both listed names of people on the left who were attacked by the center and the left for statements they made. And yet Donald Rumsfeld makes an offensive statement and instead of dealing with how offensive it was, especially coming from someone serving in government, supposedly serving the people he's smearing, but all we get is, "Well, the real history of WWII . . ." Take off the kid gloves.

Rebecca: I'm with you. No wonder the left is in such a sorry state when the left can't even rise up against that kind of nonsense. Wally and Cedric did a joint entry on how Congress showed some spine even if most of the left didn't. I'm sick of that whole "You catch more flies with honey" nonsense. It's that bullshit that's allowed the playing field to tilt so extremely to the right for so long. We're not in a contest judged by Miss Manners, we're competing in the public square and if we're not willing to call out the ones who need to be called out, then we're not doing anything but proving how 'reasoned' we are. Good for the Congressional Democrats because "flies" aren't "voters" and "Look at us, we are so reasoned' isn't a winning campaing motto. Betty?

Betty: I agree and I think Trina's point is especially valid. This is the Secretary of Defense, a public servant of the people, smearing the American people. A large chunk to judge by the polls. That was so out of bounds, so off sides. It was a huge foul and instead of blowing the whistle, they wanted to talk about the next play. Sorry, Elaine.

Elaine: No, I followed your analogy.

Betty: If we can't come alive in the face of those sort of attacks, and Democrats in Congress did so good for them, then what kind of a movement do we think we have? It's a movement where, All Puff But No Politics can and did trash Bright Eyes and Kanye West, West for his statement that George W. Bush doesn't like black people, Bright Eyes for recording "When A President Talks to God" but the same supposed lefties can't call Donald Rumsfeld out on his offensive statements? That's just -- just really, really sad.

Elaine: Rebecca made the point, a good one, that some of the biggest voices, or what we were supposed to think were the biggest voices, haven't been urging the troops come home. Like she pointed out, Baby Cries A Lot has repeatedly urged just the opposite and continues to. She made a comment about how, when C.I. called Baby Cries A Lot out on that, I believe in 2004, it was seen as "controversial" and I wanted some clarity on that. I'm not surprised by it being seen as controversial but I was wondering what the crowd was.

C.I.: The Bull Moose crowd. The idiots, as Cedric pointed out, who chased down the mythical 'vangical voters and dropped the war as an issue immediately after the 2004 election. How dare I say that about Baby Cries A Lot was the gist of the e-mails from those. That and how I'd be sorry. I am sorry he has no guts. I'm not sorry for what I wrote then or since. But they are part of the problem, that crowd and Baby Cries A Lot. They wanted to push the nonsense of 'pottery barn' -- which isn't their policy -- you break it, you buy it. Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize Iraq was an uninhabited object. I thought it had citizens and that the citizens might be the ones to best chart their future.

Trina: I think it is "the other." The looking at the Iraqi people as if they're not smart enough or functioning adults and so inferior that they are our responsibility or our burden. I think it's quite clear that there's a lack of respect for them. If there wasn't, people would have been outraged in this country that contractors were being shipped in to work on reconstruction, which never really got off the ground from most reports. I think if we saw them as adults, we, in this country, would have said, "Now just a minute. There aren't any engineers in Iraq? What's going on here?" And I think Elaine wrote some wonderful pieces for the gina & krista round-robin before she ever started blogging.

Elaine: Thank you.

Trina: Unfiltered used to air on Air America. It's been cancelled for over a year now. Could you talk about that show because you did listen to it and I think that the movement is where it is in spite of the media and that Unfiltered is the perfect example.

Elaine: Sure. I used to grab an hour of it during lunch, when you could still listen to archived shows without the new steps, and, when I was scheduling a hole in the schedule to do paperwork, I'd schedule during the show so I could listen. The show was often funny. I'm not saying it wasn't. It could be entertaining. But they refused to address some issues. For instance, I think this is what Trina's talking about, they couldn't go a week without some refugee from Op-Truth. An organization that couldn't call for withdrawal and, in fact, was preaching that stay-the-course nonsense. You couldn't get a peace advocate on the show but you could hear at least once a week from them about how we needed to stay-the-course. Tariq Ali is a guest and I was nodding along with what he was saying but apparently not everyone was because as soon as he was gone, Liz Winstead felt the need to note that they didn't agree with him. Who did Rachel Maddow and Liz Winstead agree with? They fawned over Op-Truth. It was so bad at the end, that they could offer a comedic look at couple training but you still couldn't get, in a three hour program broadcasting Monday through Friday, a peace advocate. It was "We must worship their opinion because they know, they were there" as the ad they couldn't stop airing reminded you constantly. Well other vets returned from Iraq and called for withdrawal but they couldn't get on the show because we weren't going to address that. Rachel Maddow was quite clear repeatedly that, in her opinion presented as fact, troops could not leave. Now when the polls shifted, after she had her own show, she apparently had a new way of thinking. But while she was on Unfiltered, she couldn't do anything but push the stay-the-course nonsense. Liz was less inclined to but when a listener would bring up the need for a peace advocate as a regular guest, Liz would go ballistic. She did at a guy once when I was the one who'd brought it up. She went ballistic and then offered a mealy mouth apology to the guy she'd torn into. But they couldn't talk withdrawal. What good were they? They were presenting the same argument as the Bully Boy and arguing for a 'smarter war.' A war based on lies is a war based on lies and you can't 'smarten it up.' But the peace movement had to overcome that as well. Not just the mainstream media dismissing them and shutting them out but the likes of Unfiltered or Baby Cries A Lot as well. The peace movement had to overcome that and they did. There have been so many obstacles and the worst have been the ones put up by supposed 'friends.' There was also the issue and, Rachel and Liz would go spastic when anyone pointed this out, that in a democracy, no one has a greater voice. But they were treating the Op-Truth crowd like gods and goddesses. They were worshipping that hideous organization. And it was hideous and it did attack CODEPINK in March of 2005. CODEPINK is still around. Op-Truth disbanded. But not until they'd done all the damage they could. And someone tell that leader he looks like he's wearing pantyhose on his head with that stupid photo at The Huffington Post. He looks like a White boy with Mommy's pantyhose stuck to his head. All he wanted to do was talk war, war, war. Now he can't sell that because America's not buying it and he's trying to reconfigure himself. He was disgusting in 2004, he's disgusting now. And let me say, on the record, to C.I. that I'm so sorry. I would start a piece for The Common Ills on this. C.I. would note that I was doing a piece and then I'd think, "Oh, I shouldn't even go there." So my apologies to C.I. for not finishing those pieces, when the round-robin started up, I would just give them to Gina and Krista, but this was before it started up. Then when I'd say forget it, C.I. would end up writing about it and I know C.I. didn't want to even mess with that crowd. So thank you to C.I. for that.

C.I.: You don't have to thank me for that. I'm glad it was written. I wish you'd written them instead because you would have said it better but when that 'leader' was on a program this year and disagreed with another guest, he repeatedly called the other guest 'your caller' as though the man speaking, who'd also been in Iraq but had different views than rah-rah-war, "your caller." As though the other person wasn't good enough to be a guest on the same program as 'the leader.' His smugness is the least of his problems but I'm glad I said it. I think you could have said it better, but I'm glad that it got said in 2004 and 2005. And Elaine is correct, that's what the peace movement was up against. A little twerp could get airtime preaching war-war-war and Leslie Cagan couldn't. A little twerp could go on week after week with the same speech, eventually, they started bringing on others from his organization because the Unfiltered audience had too many negatives on him, which is only surprising to anyone who's never heard him pontificate. Or take the actions at the end of August and start of September in 2004. Naomi Klein rightly argued that we should bring Iraq to NYC. Toad and the others freaked out. "Oh my God! Riots!" That wasn't what she was arguing and I had a difficult time then, and still do, believing that Toad was really confused. He didn't want any protests. When Laruga Flanders interviewed Tom Hayden this year, she asked if the Democrats gained control of at least one house of Congress via the November elections and then did nothing would he be in favor of some actions of protest, harkening to 1968 in Chicago, and he said yes. The audience applauded, this was at a thing for the republishing of the Port Huron Statement. Flanders agreed as well. If the Dems gain a House and do nothing with it, then yes, we need action in the streets. We need it now. But yes, the Democrats need to be protested if they do nothing.

Rebecca: The above was done early Saturday morning for those of us in EST time zones and we took a break and are resuming later Saturday. A long break, so we could all get some sleep. Betty?

Betty: The new thing seems to be that Donald Rumsfeld should resign, the new thing elected Dems can rally around.

Rebecca: That is true. The call on that has gotten louder. Thoughts on that?

Betty: Well, he does need to. He's been repeatedly wrong, he's acted as though he's impervious. He's mishandled an illegal war. The start of the war, the lies it was built upon, meant nothing good could come from it; however, he's been at the heart of the biggest scandals from Abu Ghraib to you name it.

Rebecca: Right. Dennis Bernstein interviewed Janis Karpinski on Flashpoints and she spoke of how, when the story on that was breaking, she wasn't advised of that. She wasn't over that area of the prison, she was attempting to find out what happened when she was informed after the fact and when she returned to the prison, one of the things she noticed was, still displayed, Donald Rumsfeld's memo, signed off by him, regarding the permission granted for these 'new technicques.'

Elaine: Torture.

Rebecca: Torture. Forget his involvement, or forget splitting hairs over it, the fact that he was Secretary of Defense when that happened, and remember there are photos that Congress refused to release, the fact that he was in charge then should have led to immediate calls for his resignation though, if he had any real sense of duty, he would have resigned without anyone calling for it.

Betty: Which goes back to the lack of accountability. No one's accountable. There's no accountability for the lies that led us into war. Rumsfeld's not accountable for anything. The no-bid contracts have resulted in on accountability. We're seeing some small bit of accountability for those who bribed or received bribes, but that's really it. In so-called military justice, we've yet to see any justice. There is no accountability in this administration.

Elaine: And Congress doesn't push for accountability.

C.I.: Nor did they with the imprisonments at Guantanamo.

Elaine: Exactly. Scare the nation and keep it scared and you can do whatever you want. That is the historical, Machevillian type 'lesson' from this dark era of our history.

Trina: Bully Boy doesn't worry about history, but I do think about it. I wonder what people, future generations, will think.

Rebecca: And?

Trina: I think they'll think, "How could you be so stupid to be lied into war?" For one thing, that's what I think they'll wonder.

Rebecca: Well, and this is the point C.I.'s made for some time, it helps the excuse when you act as thought it's all Judith Miller's fault. As though she were the only one in the press pushing the war. It helps when you ignore her frequent writing partners, still at the paper.

C.I.: And to beat that drum one more time, Judith Miller was not the editor of the paper. She did not decide if her story would run, where it would run, etc. She did not publish the paper. She also did not own or operate NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, MSBNC, PBS, go down the list. Some papers carried her writing, other than the Times. While you can probably make a strong argument that other papers expect the Times to do some sort of work and vetting, the reality is that those papers made the choice to run her pieces. And she wasn't the only one at the Times writing those pieces nor was the Times the only paper with original reporting or 'reporting' that led the push to war. Betty was talking about the lack of accountability and she's correct but there's also a huge lack of journalistic acountability. A lot of people are basically staying silent and getting off scott free because Judith Miller's been "punished." Iraq didn't even bring Miller down. It was the outcry over the involvement in the Plamegate matter. Which, to be clear, Judith Miller never wrote on. Her reporting had been questionable for some time, prior to the lead up to the Iraq war, then came her involvement in that. She refused to testify without her source, Scooter Libby now indicted, giving her permission to break the privacy trust built into the source and reporter equation. Because of who she was and the issues involved, a lot in the press wanted to scream, "Oh she should be forced to testify!" She wasn't sympathetic to many in the general public but it's still surprising to me how many of her peers were willing to turn on her. The Times saw headlines, after her release from jail was on the horizon, and honestly didn't realize the aminosity towards her by readers, the public -- which includes non-readers and there are a lot of them to judge by some of the criticism which attempts to hold her responsible for things she never even wrote -- and by the Times own staff. When that sunk in, Judith Miller's days as a reporter at the paper came to an end.

Rebecca: The myth is Iraq brought her down.

C.I.: Her gender and manner of carrying herself brought her down. If it wasn't about gender, others would be held accountable for their own actions but a lot of men are still around. When the issue of the lies, the press lies, that led us into war, is discussed, people always say "Judith Miller." She became the focal point. By all means, hold her accountable for what she wrote, but she's being held accountable for things she didn't even write. And the idea that one person could be so all mighty powerful is laughable. But it plays into the fear of women, powerful women especially, still in this society, so it's much easier to bash Miller and let others go unnamed. It's also true that Bash the Bitch, the true national pasttime, is so ingrained in this country that even those who didn't read the paper, didn't follow the criticism, know her name. It may be more well known than Jayson Blair's.

Rebecca: That would be interesting, to see Zogby or some other organization poll on that.

Elaine: I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case. Blair's largely fallen out of the public eye but the war drags on and when people want to appear 'informed,' they'll toss off her name. She is the short-hand and it goes to, I agree completely, the fear of women in this society. She wasn't the only one who needs her feet held to the fire but she was the most prominent woman so she becomes the face for all.

Betty: And no one hear is defending her reporting. We are talking about the fact that to give Tim Russert or anyone else a pass is insane. I'm borrowing from C.I. here, but Dick Cheney offering lies on Meet the Press and then waving around a copy of The New York Times with a story on the front page doesn't mean Tim Russert has to take a dive. Nor does it excuse the awful reporting that the networks aired or the way they shut out voices in their aired discussions. Do you think they were all saying, "I wish we could have on someone opposed to the war. Hey, check with Judy Miller? Maybe she's okay with it. If so, we'll book Medea Benjamin." It's crazy. Her area, Judith Miller's, was The New York Times. If that paper and only that paper pushed the war, it wouldn't be enough. Other outlets did and no one is held accountable for that. We all are supposed to act like it was all Judith Miller.

C.I.: And now the witch has been burned and the village purified. That's the take away, that's the message being sent. A lot people, especially a lot of men, must be real grateful that what passes for press criticism is so superficial that not only do they not have to explain their own pre-war actions, but that no one even bothers to note those actions. Danny Schechter's documentary WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception, a great film, has him wondering if it was all a dream? The press coverage. The official narrative today is such that the question could be posed: "Was it all Judy Miller?" The answer is now but the official narrative doesn't bear that out.

Trina: And it amazes me that Dexter Filkins, also with The New York Times, has not gotten the criticism he deserves. My paper does, or did, carry his stories. And he wrote the most mythical accounts.

Elaine: As C.I. has said for 2 years now, if Miller got the US over there --

C.I.: If.

Elaine: If, it's people like Dexter Filkins that have kept us there with their non-reality based reporting.

Trina: And that point, which I agree with 100%, is demonstrated repeatedly but no one tackles it. Well, in this community it is tackled and I'm sure in a few places elsewhere, but in the supposed press watchdog quarters, it's not even dealt with. Filkins was outed by The Washington Post as their go-to-guy when they wanted to plant a story. The reporter --

C.I.: Thomas E. Ricks.

Trina: Gets Dexy to speak on the record and it didn't even cause a ripple. Or take his review of Paul Bremer's book. Danny Schechter did take him to task and that was one of the few who did.
The point Schechter made was, "If you knew this then, why didn't you say it. You didn't need an official source to report what you saw with your own eyes." That's his point, not a direct quote.

Elaine: Right because Dexter Filkins, who won awards for his rose colored glasses view of the slaughter of Falluja, repeatedly spun the realities into something more palitable an bearable. He should be held accountable and he's not.

Rebecca: When it gets to the point that you're blaming Judith Miller for an article that had Chris Hedges' byline, it's clear that Miller's being scapegoated.

Elaine: I like Hedges, I think we all enjoy his writing, Rebecca's speaking of his article immediately after 9-11 that pushed the false lie that a terrorist training camp was in Iraq, training people to hijack planes. That article established the link between the two, Iraq and 9-11, a false link, for many. To his credit, Hedges has spoken of the story and disowned it. But there were two sources and apparently The Common Ills is the only one that will point that out. Apparently, actually going back to the article and reading it before weighing in, because this was a mini-hot topic a few months back, is too much work for our watchdogs. There were two sources, at least two, but he wrote of two sources. Only one was outed by Mother Jones. Who is the second source? Who is the second liar? No one wants to tackle that. And now, in ignorance and haste, you hear press critics give Miller the blame for that article.

C.I.: Chris Hedges is a good writer and anyone can get burned. But it's true, his article says "two" and only one was outed. It's that kind of nonsense, the refusal to address the issue by the press critics at large, that allows for a lot of stupid press criticism. And that stupidity, or refusal to explore, allows an impression that "Judith Miller's gone! The press works! All is well!"

Rebecca: Which is the ultimate lie. Going back to Falluja and Dexter Filkins, he didn't report what went on. As you, C.I., have pointed out, the Times and other outlets initially dismissed the reports of white phosphorus when they emerged in the last twelve months. What did they use to dismiss those reports? We had embedded reporters and they didn't report it so it didn't happen. Then the Pentagon admits that it was used and there's no, "We had embedded reporters and they didn't report it so how did that happen?" Does anyone think the press is doing a job today that demonstrates a huge improvement?

Betty: No.

Trina: No.

Elaine: Well, I think they're more cautious. I think they realize how angry the public is and that some of that anger is aimed at them, as it should be, so they're realizing that they have to tone it down a notch or two. The country won't accept that nonsense right now. The people were lied to and they know that. I think that makes some who would be more hasty a little more cautious and it makes some outright liars look over their shoulder with every word they type.

C.I.: And let's be clear, because members wrote about in e-mails and continue to, this wasn't confined to the hard news section or the opinions. This war march leaked into the arts coverage with Sheryl Crow being slammed for a Grammy nomination. As Billie and others have pointed out, they were so eager to slam her that they couldn't even get their facts right. It leaked into the sports coverage with Steve Nash and others being told to shut up. I wish I could remember the female athelete, a basketball player, that Billie always notes who got slammed in one column.
But it was a sports column, in the sports section, by an award winning sports columnist, and he listed her, Nash and others and basically said, "There's no draft, shut up! If the draft was reinstated, you could speak." And as Billie fired off to the columinist, in an e-mail, if the draft did come back tomorrow, it's questionable whether women would be included so, by the columnist's 'logic,' even then the female basketball player would have no right to voice an opinion. Members can tell you about columnists whose beat was their local cities, not Los Angeles, who had to rush in to weigh in about Michael Moore or the Dixie Chicks or whomever. Or the local columnist, Steve something, with the Dallas Morning News, who felt the need to weigh in that the actions of peace activists were traitorous. Now the Dallas Morning News just slimed Cindy Sheehan as being pro-terrorist in an editorial. Not a lot's changed obviously. They can't go after sports heroes but they can slime Cindy Sheehan. That editorial ran Friday, for anyone attempting to locate it.

Trina: It's appalling that she, Cindy Sheehan, can be portrayed like that but, and I think everyone will agree, a lot of the reason for that, the reason for that happening, is because independent media abandoned Iraq, didn't care about Camp Casey this summer and I think it allowed a lot of people to feel this was their moment, they could go to town on Cindy Sheehan and get away with it.

Rebecca: I would agree with that completely. And that gets to the failure of all media to seriously address Iraq. There's been too little serious coverage, too little coverage period. The war didn't end, just the media's interest in it. And we're going to have to wrap up because C.I. has entries and we all have things to do. Thanks to everyone for participating in this roundtable and joint post. Thanks to Trina, Betty and C.I. who did the typing. Typos are here. Enjoy them.



Joint entry that you will see at a number of sites. We're doing a roundtable on a number of issues. C.I. made me laugh with an e-mail comparing me to Liz Smith. When I called to talk about the e-mail we ended up discussing a number of things and I thought, "Okay, we can bring this up here." We will touch on Iraq but we're going to be dealing with a number of issues.

Participating are:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ils);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
and Mike of Mikey Likes It!;

Rebecca: Okay, I'm going to start the topic off with Tom Cruise. Ava?

Ava: We actually attempted to work this in two reviews, the slaughtering of Tom, two of the TV reviews we did this week. But we weren't able to.

Mike: She means her and C.I. and I'll toss out that what we're talking about is the coverage of Tom Cruise. I noted a recent Zogby poll, that Zogby did just on Cruise. It's crazy. The kind of coverage this has gotten is crazy.

C.I.: I'm going to jump in here and will probably say the most on this of anything.

Rebecca: You don't know the topic list!

C.I.: No, I don't. But this is such nonsense. A fuzzy, overly ripe peach fell to the ground and his name is Bummer Redstone. Bummer Redstone doesn't know crap about entertainment. He knows how to please Wall Street. That's all this is about. Wall Street is upset with the box office returns of the last few years. Wall Street wants heads to roll. This happened before. Marilyn Monroe was made an example of to please Wall Street. At the same time she was filming Something's Got To Give --

Betty: Which was never completed.

C.I.: Which was never completed, Fox was in trouble with the overruns of Cleopatra. They intended to fire Elizabeth Taylor. They couldn't get away with that. This wasn't about what Fox wanted for entertainment, it was about what Fox wanted for Wall Street. Paramount is in a free fall. Paramount needs to do something quick to show they're serious. So they do a show-firing of Tom Cruise. This doesn't have to do with Tom Cruise other than he was made the example, the same way Monroe was. This has to do with the investors. Disclosure, I like Paula [Wagner] and Rick [Nicita]. I'm netural on for Tom Cruise. I'm not saying what I'm saying to defend Tom Cruise. We're not friends, I don't care for his acting, I never have. This isn't about his acting. This is about a war on talent. They're also tossing out Lindsey Lohan. It's not about Cruise about her. Redstone wanted to put the blame for the box office of Mission Impossible III on Cruise's personal life. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with you don't hire a shitty TV director to do on the big screen the same meandering crap he does on the small screen. It's a testament to Cruise's box office power that the film made what it did. With the first two MI's, you had a directors, film directors, making pop corn features. With MI: III, you had a touchy-feely TV director trying to turn in Felecity Learns To Spy. It wasn't going to play, it wasn't going to draw in a huge audience. The fact that it did, the film was a hit, one of the bigger ones of this summer, is a testament to Cruise's box office.

Cedric: I hope all that got down.

C.I.: Sorry. I am talking very fast but this isn't a topic I care to discuss. However, it's one I feel I have to because I am so sick of the New York Times and everyone else lining up to take their shots. Of course the Times is applauding. They applauded the firing of Monroe. They always applaud when money boys try to throw around what they think is their 'power.' Redstone has no power. He can claim all the phone calls he wants and he may have gotten a few but he's damaged the studio. And the pip squeak running it or 'running it' . . . If Sherry Lansing were still heading things, this wouldn't have happened. But it's the difference between someone who knows movies and someone who knows how to do one deal. If you're in the deal business, get your ass back to managing or agenting. Don't try to run a studio. Let me take a breath. Rebecca had a point she wanted to make.

Rebecca: Well, what's hurting the most, what's allowing the garbage to stick, is the fact that media press, not the Times, isn't eager to rush in and defend and that's because they're still smarting over the fact that they can't get a photo of his child. As someone who used to be in p.r., the smartest thing he can do is to immediately grant a photo-op with him, Katie Holmes and the child.

C.I.: Right. At this point, it probably has to be done which is too bad because it shouldn't have to be. But Cruise isn't unbankable. He's still bankable. He's a man and they have a longer shelf life or a perception of a longer shelf life. For a leading man, he's young.

Betty: I didn't understand the criticism of Lohan.

C.I.: That made no sense. She's not a producer, she's not a writer. She starred in what was offered and though she should have picked better, Scarlett Johansson does, blaming her for box office in crap you cast in her is insane. She's starred in some awful movies. Her fan base gave those movies some sort of an audience. She's a very young woman, still finding her way.

Rebecca: Is Hillary Clinton going to take her to Iraq?

C.I.: No. And she needs to let go of that fantasy. Hillary going to Iraq with Lindsey Lohan has "Hollywood" written all over it at a time when Hillary's trying to avoid anything that might get her dubbed "liberal." If we were talking about someone with less publicized personal drama, it might be a go but right now, there's no Iraq trip. If Loham wants to go, she'd be wise to look to the House and not to the Senate period.

Rebecca: In the Times today there was an article on the guy who wrote The Player --

C.I.: Michael Tolkin.

Rebecca: Thank you, did you read it?

C.I.: No. I'm avoiding their arts coverage. They're trying to pull a corpse into Wall Street so they can all stomp it.

Rebecca: Did you see it, Ava?

Ava: I try to avoid that paper period.

Rebecca: Well Tolkin was talking about how film was suffering from a hero track. I'm trying to think . . .

C.I.: Joseph Campbell?

Rebecca: Yes.

C.I.: Campbell's hero's journey has been used in a number of films including Terminator II. I didn't read the article. Was he saying it was too predictable?

Rebecca: Yes.

C.I.: Well he's fairly attuned and ahead of the curve which is why he's a strong writer. You can't be a strong writer if today you sit down to write what's on the screen right now. Geez, I can see his point but --

Ava: I think it's more than that. I haven't read the article though.

C.I.: Right. Did he talk about the format of scripts themselves?

Rebecca: No, but that's what I thought about because we've sat through enough films in the last ten years where you've been bored out of your mind.

C.I.: Because they think they seized on the formula. So now everyone does it. By the eighth minute, you've got that turning point after the set up, you've got your first act turning point, you've got your mid-point, you've got the second end turning point that's supposed to speed the last thirty minutes along. Everything is done by this formula and it's so obvious, the formula, that there's no thrill, there's no surprise. We really are seeing the same movie over and over. Sometimes it is well acted and/or has strong dialogue, but it's the same damn movie over and over.

Ava: Right. If you know the formula, you know the movie in ten minutes. You've got everything there but the supporting characters. Once you know the formula, there's no point in sitting through most movies because they're so obvious and the surprises to come have been set up in the ten minutes that started the film.

Cedric: What damages someone's box office?

Ava: A woman? Just about everything you can think of. A man? Hardly anything.

C.I.: Harrison Ford isn't unbankable but how he is bankable has changed and there doesn't appear to be any awareness of that thus far. His biggest hit since his divorce was when he played Michelle Pfieffer's evil husband in What Lies Beneath. Ford's image was as a family man, devoted husband. That marriage didn't last. When it didn't and he ended up with the younger Calista Flockhart, there was fallout. He can't play the usual character in a caper right now and get the usual audience. There's got to be some strong recognition of the change in audiences perception. But it didn't make him unbankable. It just meant that more care needed to be taken with roles selected.

Cedric: Well then what about Tom Cruise. He broke up with Penelope Cruz and he divorced Nicole Kidman before that.

C.I.: His box office didn't depend on an image. By the time he married Kidman, he'd already divorced Mimi Rogers. He'd married Rogers when he was a star. He's not marketed his personal life in a confessional. He's marketed it in the most general terms.

Ava: This is the man who was on the cover of Time and other magazines talking about his love for then wife Mimi Rogers when news broke that they were divorcing.

C.I.: Right.

Ava: The conflict with Brooke Shields isn't that big of thing. Sean Connery's done worse and gotten away with it. The couch hopping was extreme but consider the show. You're practically begged to make a fool of yourself and when you don't, Meg Ryan didn't, it's obvious that the big O isn't pleased.

Rebecca: But all of that could be wiped away with some photos of him with child and Holmes.

Ava: I think so. It's more a puzzlement than a turning away. It's more a "What's up with Tom Cruise?" than a Michael Jackson.

Cedric: So why Cruise?

Ava: You want bragging rights.

C.I.: Redstone's got nothing if he did that to Lohan. In fact, he'd look like the prick he is, my opinion, if he did it to Lohan because she is so young. It would create a sympathy factor. Cruise was selected to make an example of and by choosing someone with that big of a name, he gets to look like he's whipping the entertainment industry into shape when all he's doing is driving people away, predominately to Warner Bros. which has had nonstop meetings.

Rebecca: Talk about that.

C.I.: You're not going to set up shop with some asshole that's going to stab you in the back. What Redstone did is appalling. The entertainment industry works on perception to a great degree, he's attempting to destroy the reality of Cruise's box office with this perception that his career is over. Long after Redstone's name is forgotten by all but the Times, Cruise will still be known. Most don't remember the name of the man who fired Marilyn Monroe. This is the same thing that happened then and I'm about to get really long winded. We're seeing a fundamental shift and people want to pin it off on techonology. It's not about technology. It's about a shift in mood in the country.

Rebecca: Tolkin talked about that.

C.I.: Again, he's very attuned. But this is the shift that the entertainment industry spent much of the sixties trying to address. Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper tapped into something and then, realizing they knew nothing, studios started letting others have that opportunity. Some succeeded, some failed. But the traditional fare had gotten moldy and people weren't lining up for it. It's the same thing today. The three act structure is as predictable as any Doris Day & Rock Hudson sex comedy was then. None of this has anything to do with Cruise. But it lets Redstone look "tough" on Wall Street while driving away a lot of people who will not work for that studio as their first choice. There's talk of "I'll never work for them again." That's true until they offer the better dea, for most people. But Paramount is damaged and Wall Street can do cart wheels and the Times can cheer Redstone on, but they'd do well to remember that Darryl Zanuck ended up back in charge at Fox following the firing on Monroe. But, Mike, you go to movies, do you find them exciting?

Mike: Not really. I love V is for Vendetta and wish I'd gone to see that at the movies. But most of the movies are just boring. Superman was boring and too sweet, like I was getting a cavity just from watching.

Betty: Well, I don't see anything at the movies except animated films, I only go with my kids, but, I'd say when Quentin Tarantino came along, it seemed like there was going to be some life but what I got instead were a lot of bad rip-offs.

Cedric: Rip-offs of the stories. There was none of the excitement of Pulp Fiction. I wouldn't have put it the way you did, C.I. did, but thinking about it now, it is the same story. I'm not talking about the story of the hero as much as I am that I can see those breaks you're talking about and I know instinctively when I can go to the bathroom and not worry about missing anything.

Ava: Right. Because everyone's following Syd Field's three act structure. It's supposed to have been the miracle cure the: Do this and even you can write a script. And it should be noted that a lot of the edges that would make it onscreen get destroyed in test screenings that lead to reshoots.

Rebecca: Anything else before we move to the next topic? No. Okay, next up, and I'm sure C.I. will sit this one out --

C.I.: Unless it's Iraq, I will. Otherwise I'll take notes.

Rebecca: It's not Iraq. Cedric, Betty and Ty responded to an e-mail to Cedric in Cedric's "Noel, who's not in the US military, wants to send them to fight his war." As someone whose own posts led to Cedric be put on the spot, my apologies.

Cedric: No need for that. I was glad to weigh in. Noel tried to make an appeal to me that, as an African-American, I should be on his side regarding Darfur and want the US military over there.

Betty: As a rule, I tend to get nervous when White people are rushing to 'save' Black people. As a Black women, if the 'saving' isn't being advocated by reliable Black voices, I'm already suspicious and the Out of Iraq Into Darfur groupies are White. You can call me racist if that makes you feel better, but this Black woman has seen too many White 'saviors' that have only made things worse.

Cedric: And it's a one-note story that doesn't go into the historical or even recent events. And if you can meet with Bully Boy before your mini-demonstration in March, you're really not a protest group, you're an extension of the administration.

Kat: Good point. What I liked about that response, well what I liked most, was the fact that it was turned back on Noel. The military isn't his toy to be sent here and there whenever he wants. And military solutions are not diplomatic ones. I really enjoyed what the three of you wrote.

Betty: Well, Cedric wrote it up. We all talked about it, but give Cedric the credit for writing it up.
Mike's "Lotta Links pushes Voice of America -- the war crimes of indymedia" tonight made me laugh. Mike usually cracks me up. But I thought that was an important point to make, that the Darfur movement/craze must be supported, a website seems to suggest, and proves it by linking to a story from Voice of America.

Kat: I didn't see that yet. Fill me in.

Mike: Lotta Links linked to a Voice of America story on Darfur.

Kat: What?

Mike: Yeah, I was shocked too. They're linking to a propaganda news organization that if legally forbidden to broadcast in this country because it's a propaganda unit of the government and Congress said American citizens could not be propagandized by their government.

Cedric: I'm sorry, Mike, I hadn't read it either. I was just getting home from visiting Three Cool Old Guys when the roundtable was about to start. But they really did that?

Mike: Yep.

Cedric: Then let me you and say, "And this is why the left sucks."

Mike: The Sammy Powers movement, I understand what Betty's saying and agree, but if you ask me, they're nothing but this centuries Carrie Nations. Samantha Powers, grab your axe.

Kat: That is a hilarious comparison.

Rebecca: We're all opposed to sending US troops into Darfur. Do we want to stay on this topic or move on?

Betty: Well, before we do, Guns and Butter, as Kat's noted, did a wonderful two part discussion on Darfur.

Kat: They actually did a show while I was gone, while I was in Ireland, as well. July 17th, I think. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet but a lot of e-mails say I need to recommend that as well as the two-parter.

Cedric: And I want to back Mike up. Independent media should not be providing the same voice, Eric what's his name, that's all over the mainstream. There are independent journalists, have them on. Have on Keith Harmon Snow or Joshua Frank or . . . .

Betty: Sara Flounders. And it's Eric Reeves.

Cedric: Thank you.

Kat: And to be clear, Z-Net and others have covered this. This Sammy Powers craze is not representative of all of the left. I don't think it's representative of even most of the left. It's made up of a lot of evangical right wingers which is why I find the Carrie Nations comparison so humorus.

Rebecca: Okay, now we're turning to The New Yorker. See, I really did make a list of topics. The August 28th issue had two features that I thought somebody might want to comment on. For the record, I hated them both. First up, George Saunders "Proclamation." In this piece, Saunders attempt to comment on Iran with humor and to do so from the perspective of their president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Kat: I know that article. I picked up the issue at C.I.'s. Did you want to comment on it?

C.I.: No, you go.

Kat: I just found it offensive. It's supposed to be making fun of the president but I felt like it made fun of Iranians, made fun of people who didn't speak English, go down the list. I found it insulting, not funny and thought, "Oh look, The New Yorker's doing 'shit' jokes now. And using the word 'shit.'" This probably can't go up at The Common Ills now.

C.I.: It was already iffy. It'll go up at the mirror site.

Rebecca: Well I agree. It just seemed so pompous, so ha-ha, let me make fun of how the foreigners talk. I wouldn't have cared if the president was a fool, any president of any country, but that really did seem to treat Iranians as backwater, undeveloped, unthinking, simple-minded fools. I found it very offensive too. Anyone else?

Mike: I don't read the magazine unless Seymour Hersh or Jane Mayer have an article in it.

Rebecca: Then you can't comment on the next article, also from that issue, Malcolm Gladwell's "The Risk Pool." Anybody?

Ava: I actually read that because Jess was outraged by it. I was as well. We're in a crisis. I love how we're always in a crisis. But Gladwell tells you we're in a health care crisis and a pension crisis and he pins it on the fact that, he says, there are more retirees than workers. Didn't Paul Krugman already tackle that myth and disprove it? More importantly, people didn't go from 31 to retirement age. Big business doesn't need bail outs, they need to be asked what they were doing all those years when they should have been preparing for retirements. People pay into pensions. Where did the money go? I know where it went, it went to stock points and bonuses.
Gladwell wants to act as though the number of people hitting retirement age was an unknown. It was a known, it could be calculated and planned for. If the same companies, he focuses on GM, had forecast so poorly regarding a product, Wall Street would be up in arms. Instead, what you get is, "These things happen and the population bulge is so big" and wah, wah, wah. The bulge was big when those workers started, the bulge was big when those workers were ten years away from retirement. To ignore the bulge was bad planning on the part of big business unless the plan all along was to deny promised benefits.

Cedric: I wish I'd read the article because I'm sitting here nodding along with everything Ava's saying.

Rebecca: Kat?

Kat: No. I read the Saunders thing mistakenly thinking it would be funny. I was so disgusted with it, I had no interest in the rest of the issue.

Rebecca: Okay, we're turning to The Progressive. Ava wanted one thing put on here. Ava?

Ava: I just wanted to say that while I appreciated what Luis J. Rodriquez was saying, he overlooks a perceived threat and if the immigration rights movement is going to confront the obstacles being put in front of the movement, then what people see as threats need to be noted.

Betty: And The Nation had an article on that very topic recently.

Ava: I'm not trying to put you on the spot, but could you talk about that. I haven't read that issue yet. We're all at C.I.'s -- Dona, Jess, Ty, Jim and I -- and the magazines tend to make there way from person to person slowly.

Betty: Okay. It was written by Bob Moser. I don't know the title.

C.I.: "White Heat."

Betty: Thank you. I'm looking for my copy. Moser went to Nashville to attempt to grasp where this anger/fear was coming from. He met a woman who saw herself as a free spirit and she felt she'd usually supported the 'right' left causes but on immgiration, she was vocally and actively opposed to it. He spoke with her, Bob Moser, and to other people as well. Including a dee jay who'd joked that the answer was to "shoot them." The dee jay, and I've got the issue now, so I'm flipping, said his remark was meant as a joke and just off the top of my head but the response at the rally he was attending to his remark was positive. Okay, his name is Phil Valentine. It's the August 28/ September 4, 2006 issue and the article starts on page eleven. He speaks with Stephen Fotopulos who is there trying to create a dialogue and get people to move beyond fear. He says, "What I really value about being in Tennessee right now is that this is Middle America, and there's no winning this immigration debate without understanding what people think here." Here is Nashville which has had a very vocal segment opposed to immigration.

Ava: I think that's a strong point. My point with regards to Rodriguez' article on pages seveteen and eighteen of the September 2006 issue of The Progressive is that I'm not sure whom he's talking to. He's addressing the English only movement. Now, we were all speaking on Tuesday and a number of people my age, we were talking to students, wanted us to speak to some of their parents groups so we stayed over an extra day. I'm Latina so maybe that's why middle-aged women felt that they could raise the issue with me, I hadn't spoken about immigration, we were largely speaking about the war --

C.I.: Jess had spoken about immigration.

Ava: Right, Jess had. But I was approached, at three different events, by three different women, White Anglo women, who felt they were really wronged. Their issue was that they worked in offices, all three did, I don't think they worked at the same offices, but they told the same story. They felt that in their offices, co-workers spoke Spanish to talk about them with others who spoke Spanish. Now, we were in New Mexico by the way, they felt the need to tell me that while they were not in favor of building a wall between the US and Mexico or in turning immigrants into endentured servants, they were in favor of English Only because they felt such a policy would make their office lives run more smoothly. When we got back to California, we were talking to some friends in the immigration and the anti-war movement and I brought that up and was surprised that so many had heard similar stories. I'm not passing a judgement on the women in this roundtable, I'm just noting that this was their fear and it was apparently a not uncommon fear. I wasn't aware of that until we got back to California, that it wasn't that uncommon. If you're addressing the English Only push, if you're responding to it or trying to help people see that this is not an attack on English, I think you need to be aware of it. I wasn't until this week. I was surprised. Then we got back and I heard everyone saying, "Oh yeah, I've been told that." Then I was shocked. I don't cover English Only, I would assume someone who did would be aware of this. There were other issues as well that they raised but I feel llike I've talked too long.

Betty: I will note that I had a supervisor who attempted three years ago to implement an English only in our office for that reason. It only caused more problems. But there were a number of people, Black and Anglo White, who felt that when people were speaking Spanish, they were talking about them.

Ava: Did you ever feel that way?

Betty: No, but I was friends with most of them. I knew them. And when we'd all go out to lunch, they'd mix the two languages and I knew that it wasn't to talk about me but because they were bilingual and it was sometimes a word that came to mind quickest, or a phrase, and sometimes it would be that they weren't sure of the phrase in English, and would say that to me, and other times it's just that it's part of who you are. If you know how to speak another language and someone else does, of course you're going to want to speak it with them.

Ava: But there were tensions in the office for others?

Betty: Yes, a number of people were convinced that anytime something was said in Spanish, especially if laughter followed, they were being talked about. This wasn't true of every Anglo White or Black person in my office but it was true of enough of them that they got together and complained to the supervisor.

Mike: So what happened?

Betty: She implemented a policy. I was outraged. Especially since some people were dealing with people who only spoke Spanish. That was their job. If you've hired someone for that as their job, I don't see how you can then tell them, "Well don't do it." If you have a skill, you need to practice it. But, long story short, too late, upper management got a complaint and the policy was dropped.

Mike: Then what happened?

Betty: It really wasn't an issue after that. I don't know why. Maybe because those complaining about the Spanish in the office realized upper management wasn't going to support them, maybe because while it was briefly in place, they heard that they weren't the topic of conversation. But it went from about nine people being really angry and mad to just one. But it was fear based and I agree with you that it's something, if you're trying to help people get over their unreasonable fears, that you need to be aware of.

Rebecca: Anything else?

C.I.: I'll just add that Rodriguez makes the point that the second generation, the first born of immigrants, tend to immerse in the dominant culture and that is true but it's also true that, regardless of what ethnic or racial group you're talking about, the third and fourth generations tend to have a reclaiming of heritage. The reclaiming isn't noted. But you're avarage majority-minority relations sociology class addresses that in the first weeks of the class.

Cedric: I'll offer my opinion on that, and I did learn that in sociology, when we discussed it, the feeling of the class was that when you're first generation born in America, your like every other kid in America wondering if your parents are embarrassing you? Are they hugging you too much? Are they babying you? Go down the list. So it's part of the growing process that every generation has. And when you add in that you're dealing with language and other issues, that's just more that you're moving from to establish who you are. Your children are, the grandchildren of immigrants, coming at it differently because they have assimilated parents so there's not the same concern when they're attempting to define themselves plus we all love hearing our grandparents stories. That was our spit balling of it.

Rebecca: Our second article from The Progressive, September 2006, is Adolph L. Reed Jr.'s "When Government Shurgs: Lessons of Katrina." By the way, Bety can't italicize at her site without it running together into the next word. Are we using quotation marks?

Kat: Not in sections I've typed.

Rebecca: Okay, well we'll all just not itacilize and assume that people are smart enough to grasp. We have very smart readers.

Cedric: I loved that article. It was my favorite in the magazine. I felt it was the best look at the realities of Katrina. Race is involved but there's class and other issues that factored in as well. I really enjoyed the information and the way that was written.

Betty: He did have an engaging writing style. And what's been done to the evacuees could not have been done without assiatance from Blacks. There's always going to be some who will stab their brothers and sisters in the back and that's been true forever and a day. In New Orleans, they sided with the establishment Whites to do away with public housing and reasonable rents.

Cedric: And the whole concept of who was a 'stakeholder' and how the ones in charge based it upon ownership.

Mike: But it's Bully Boy's method. I'm not giving the ones in New Orleans a pass, but I'm saying it could only happen under Bully Boy. He's done the same thing with Iraq, turned it into a 'free marketers' wet dream. With a real president, the actions taken in New Orleans could not have been taken because a president who truly represents the people would have been disgusted by the choices made and hesitant to rely on big business as the almighty savior.

Betty: Absolutely. He set the tone. And the decision makers knew they had not only a free hand but encouragement. They acted accordingly and it's the people who suffered in the hurricane and in the wake of it that are still suffering.

Kat: The poor. And what stood out to me the most was that section on the distribution of the DVDs. That might have been covered a year ago by the news media, but if it was, I had forgotten it. But, I'm going to quote here because I think this is really important: "Two months before Katrina, Mayor Ray Nagin's administration determined that it couldn't afford to provide public transportation to evacuate residents in the event of a major storm. So the city produced DVDs to distribute in poor neighborhoods, alerting residents that they would be on their own. There was no attempt, as part of the evacuation plan, to promvide transportation for the nearly 100,000 New Orleanians who didn't own dependable cars and couldn't afford to pay their way out of the city. This was triage without the name or the courage of its convictions." Reed goes on to write that this determination is at the heart of the Katrina tragedy because issues of public good always took a back seat to cost ratios. The government's first job is to protect its citizens. If it's not maintaining that, then it's not doing anything.

Cedric: Right, he writes: "The Nagin administration couldn't afford to deploy enough buses as part of its evacuation plan because it gave higher priority to dedicating funds to other purposes -- such as subsidizing development and keeping taxes and fees low."

Rebecca: Which brings us back to the point C.I. made in real time about the difference between tragedy, the hurricane, and injustice, the response.

C.I.: I was noting Judith N. Shklar's The Faces of Injustice. That's was her concept. Just to give credit where it's due.

Rebecca: Okay, great roundtable and C.I.'s got to do "And the war drags on" still so my apologies for breaking the agreed upon half-hour. Cedric upped his participation via Katrina, but Mike, you're lagging!

Mike: I'm sorry, it's the heat and it's past eleven my time. I'll try to participate more.

Rebecca: You're forgiven. By the way, everyone was invited but this was last minute and Wally, Jim, Ty, Jess and Dona had plans to see a concert and, of course, Elaine has group on Thursday nights and I didn't invite her for that reason. She would have tried to participate but after doing therapy all day and then doing it at night, she is wiped out. She would have been here and I'll hear tomorrow that I should have invited her but she would have been exhausted before we started and I wasn't going to do that to her when she still has to go into work tomorrow. But we're in the home stretch, boys and girls, and we're finally on Iraq. "There Is Silence in the Streets; Where Have All the Protesters Gone?" by Andrew Rosenthal ran in this morning's New York Times and, C.I., I don't want to hear that it's an op-ed because this isn't going up at the main site for The Common Ills so you can engage in this conversation.

C.I.: But I haven't read it. I don't usually read the opinions.

Rebecca: Grab the paper, I know you've probably go the main section by the computer in the bedroom still.

Kat: Well, I did read it because Jess and I discussed it. I'll note that it doesn't perpetuate the lie that people are streaming out of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young concerts when "Let's Impeach the President" is played. They didn't when I saw them live. But there's this myth, sort of a Pearl Jam redux, that says it is happening. That's the only thing nice I can say about it.

Ava: That was the only nice thing Jess could say as well. He kept trying to get me to read it and I kept saying, "Get that crap away from me."

Mike: So --

Rebecca: We've just delted a lengthy section that I wish we could keep because C.I. had a funny line about Fleetwood Mac. But we'll go back to the Rosenthal column.

Mike: He's basically saying that the generation, younger, of today isn't active and doesn't care to be. He makes comments and comparisons to his day and I don't think he's bothered to look around, he's another desk jockey who didn't see a story in the New York Times so he's convinced nothing must be happening because action is ike a tree falling in the forest, if the paper didn't write about it, did it happen?

C.I.: It's an opinion piece. While I strongly disagree with it, it's also true that he's expressing frustration and on some level may be attempting to goad people into activity, or shame them. Obviously, there's action in the peace movement, whether or not the paper covers it, but I'm not so sure the article wasn't a prove-me-wrong type piece on some level. I'd also add that his comparisons have a built-in problem because he's comparing today to, largely 1968 and after, and we're really just recently arriving at the point where a groundswell could effect in a similar way.

Kat: That's a good point. Kent State is 1970 and it's after other protests have taken place. That's why the National Guard was sent in by Nixon to begin with.

Ava: And if Elaine were here, she's make the point that the peace movement has existed without mainstream support and that it's existed with very little independent media support.

Cedric: Never more so than in the last two months.

Betty: Amen.

Ava: So, it's foolish to compare the two.

C.I.: Today's movement will be led by the people of today. He's staring in the rear view mirror and people are ahead of him on the crosswalks. The sixties had a youth culture before it had an anti-war movement because the youth culture began in the fifties as the baby boom came of age. College students and high school students are involved and their involvement will only grow. Only someone who was out of it at the beginning and out of it now would think that there's been no measurable progess.

Ava: And look at what we had to go up against.

Kat: Like Baby Cries a Lot. Annointed as our liberal voice on radio and he still can't call for the troops to come home.

Rebecca: Exactly. And when C.I. made that point a long time ago, it was considered controversial. Now it's accepted and you can read it in most places. But he did hurt the movement. Now he's not taken seriously and who cares what he thinks. But a lot of people with microphones and platforms were clamping down and saying, "Oh, we've got to stay over there."

Cedric: Well, let me say The Common Ills because I know C.I.'s going to get ticked off, but the community did address the war in the post-election 2004 period and most people didn't. Most people were off drooling over ways to gather up the mythical 'vangical voters. When you think of what we've had to overcome not only from outside the left but from within the left, it's amazing that it's progressed as far as it has.

Betty: And talk about the distractions. We're trying to end the war and the Sammy Powers are trying to pull the troops out so they can go to Darfur. We're up against a lot and the Bully Boy doesn't meet with us and we don't get fawning coverage from the media and we can have 300,000 rally last March --

Ava: At least 300,000.

Betty: At least, and we're treated to less mainstream attention than the small number of Darfurian Saviors. And on Democracy Now, we're presented as the same because we're given the same amount of time, a headline, in the Monday after the protests. Mike?

Mike: And let's be real, independent media lost interest in Iraq for over two months. There has been little support for the movement and the support that it has gotten has been from very few but that was appreciated. But really, dropping Ehren Watada, not going to Camp Casey, that's nonsense. The independent media failed. Plain and simple. There were exceptions. But collectively they failed. C.I.?

C.I.: I don't disagree with you on that. They dropped the ball. Iraq vanished completely. You could go whole weeks listening to independent media and never hear a thing about Iraq beyond headlines. It is very sad. I'm saddened by it. I think those who dropped it should ask themselves some serious questions. It shouldn't have happened, it shouldn't happen again and it shouldn't be the case that the coverage has still not picked back up -- however, the coverage has still not picked back up. I was on the phone with Rebecca's grandmother today and I agree with her completely, when your country goes to war, you don't drop the coverage to grab every other topic in the world. When most people are finally at a place where they want to talk about the war, you don't say, "Oh, okay, we did that now let's move on." But that's what's happened. It's very sad. And don't think Bully Boy didn't know he could divert attention by encouraging and approving of Israel's armed aggression and war crimes. He knew that would defocus attention from him. He or someone with a brain in his inner circle. It was a perfect play in that regard and people got played because instead of offering that story, which did matter, in balance with coverage of Iraq, we got that story wall-to-wall and little else.

Mike: Will you be promiting the upcoming book by --

C.I.: Don't say their names. No, I won't be. Why would I promote them and their book when one of the writers elected to ignore Iraq and still largely ignores it? We won't be noting the book, we won't be noting personal appearances, we don't even note the program. The community turned on it. As I said, I'm not the Bully Boy. I grasp that when opinion has hardened, there's nothing you can accomplish by ignoring it. But more to the point, when someone drops Iraq, they're not someone I'm interested in getting the word out on. Even were we covering the program today, which we no longer do, I wouldn't be promoting the book. Independent media rode Iraq to a larger audience and then, this summer, they turned their back on the war. Overt or not, a pact was made with the audience, you support me and get the word out because I will cover Iraq, I will address it seriously, blah, blah, blah. That pact was broken. I hope that answers your question.

Mike: It does. But I was worried we'd see upcoming appearances and the book noted.

C.I.: Worry no more, it's not happening. If you don't treat the war seriously, the community has no interest in you. There's no point in publicizing something the community doesn't care about. I know you've expressed that you hope the book does poorly. I don't share that wish but I won't be surprised if, as with Baby Cries a Lot, the authors find a smaller audience this go round at publishing. What passed for bravery in 2003 and 2004 doesn't cut it today and, honestly, that program isn't even maintaining that level, they've fallen. As Ann Wright said in July, we have to be upping the ante.

Rebecca: And on that note, I'm calling this to a close. I know C.I.'s still got an entry to do. Thank you to everyone who participated. Thank you to Kat, Ava and C.I. who typed up the transcript throughout. Cedric, do the summary.

Cedric: We started out with Tom Cruise as an example of when big business attacks. We also addressed the so-called unexpected 'crisis' in pensions, Hurricane Katrina, immigration, English only, bad humor and Iraq. See, you can cover more than one topic.

C.I.: Jumping in, Camp Democracy starts next week in DC, September 5th.

here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Thursday, August 31, 2006. Chaos and violence continue, another war resister goes public and Dr. John Gee accuses the CIA of interfering with the work of the Iraqi Survey Group and points fingers at others who couldn't grasp that "there was no WMD in Iraq."

Starting in Australia. Dr. John Gee is considered "
an expert on chemical weapons" and was part of the Iraq Survey group (a group of scientists made of British, Australian and American scientists sent into Iraq to attempt to find the WMDs). Gee and other Australians have been truth telling with little attention from the US domestic press. Rod Barton, who resigned in March 2004 from the Iraq Survey Group at the same time as Gee, has published The Weapons Detective which, UPI reported, maintained that: "British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard both knew before the invasion that the intelligence on Iraqi WMDs was false. . . . When shown the pre-war Iraqi WMD Australian intelligence assessment, Howard even asked, 'Is that all there is?'" Peggy Lee remix: "Is That All There Is To A War?"

Apparently so. Lies and more lies.

Speaking to Samantha Hawley on PM, Gee stated: "There were no WMD in Iraq and we were all wasting our time pursuing the illusion that there was something there." Australia's ABC reports that Gee "says he quit his job in 2004 because the group was focusing on trying to justify pre-war judgements rather than establish facts." Appearing on the 7:30 Report, Gee discussed his interaction with Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer which was dismissive. Appearing on the show, Rod Barton backed up Gee's account. Alexander Downer states that Gee is "a scientist and we took his advice very seriously."

That's one issue.
Samantha Hawley (PM) noted another: "At the time of his resignation, Doctor Gee was serving under a contract with the Defence Department. He claims his resignation letter never even made it to his superiors there, because it was stopped by the Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer." Downer denies blocking the resignation letter, which included references to CIA interference, and states that he "raised it [the issue] with Mr. [Charles] Duelfer himself."

Australia's Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Security, Kevin Rudd states, "The Australian weapons expert sent in to help came back and told Mr Downer to his face that there were no WMD there at all. What did Mr Downer do? He covered it up. He didn't want that message to get out to the Australian public before the 2004 Federal elections. That's where this thing stinks." Rudd is also calling on Downer to release the six-page resignation letter Gee wrote.

On the letter that Downer denies suppressing,
Marian Wilkinson (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that it "outlines in detail interference by the CIA and the Bush Administration in first reports abou tthe weapons hunt to avoid finding that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction."

The Scotsman notes: "The CIA analysts in teams searching for chemical and biological weapons were the same ones who concluded before the invasion -- officially called Operation Iraqi Freedmon -- that they must exist, Gee wrote in his resignation letter. 'Much of the two teams' work is geared to trying to justify pre-OIF judgements rather than any attempt to establish the facts surrounding Iraq's WMD programs,' Gee wrote in March 2004."

Gee and Barton resigned in March of 2004. In the United States, members may be more aware of David Kay who resigned January 23, 2004 and stated that he didn't believe WMD "existed." Kay headed the Iraq Survey Group. When he resigned, Charles Duelfer took over after being appointed by the then-CIA director George Tenet.
The Duelfer Report would come out in September 2004 and an 'epilogue' in March of 2005. No WMD were ever found. However, despite admitting that Gee informed of the fact that there were no WMDs in Iraq, Downer still stood side by side at a press conference with Charles Duelfer in April of 2004 and called the search "
a work in progress."

Possibly, instead of scientists, they should have sent Donald Rumsfeld who claimed, to George Stephanopoulus on ABC's This Week, "We know where they are. They're in Tikrit and Baghdad and East, West, South and North somewhat." (March 30, 2003.)?

As with the Downing Street Memos, this story may have trouble getting traction in the United States. Two dailies are apparently having a real struggle dotting their "I"s and crossing their "T"s which would explain why, though they were made aware of this story on Tuesday evening, there's still been no report of it.

Turning to Iraq, where the chaos and violence continues.


CNN reports a car bombing "in a southeastern Baghdad neighborhood" ("near a gas station") that took the lives of two and left at least thirteen wounded, one in the eastern section of the capital ("near a restaurant") that wounded three and a car bomb in Harthiya that left two civilians and two police officers injured. On the bomb near a gas station, Reuters notes that "four police commandos" were killed and 11 other people were injured. (Which may mean two of the injured in the CNN report may have died.) Also in Baghdad, AFP notes that six children were wounded by mortar rounds and roadside bomb injured eight "travelling in a minibus." Baghdad. The site of the 'crackdown.' Is it time for another of US spinmeister William Caldwell IV's "three-day 'quick look'"s? Reuters reports: "A convoy of British diplomats and guards was blasted by a roadside bomb in western Baghdad on Thursday but the British embassy said no one was injured." Rebecca Santana (AP) reports on a bomb "at a popular market" in Baghdad, that combined with two other bombings in the capital, has led to at least 20 people dead and at least 75 wounded.


Rebecca Santana (AP) reports that, in Mosul, "[a]n Iraqi soldier wearing civilian clothing was shot and killed while walking". Reuters notes that in Samawa four people were wounded by gunfire; in Ramadi, "[a] former Iraqi Air Force commander" was shot dead; and, in Mosul, two police officers were killed by gun fire and two more were wounded. AFP reports: "Police from the Diyala province, of which Baquba is the capital, said that at least nine people were killed in the province on Thursday" including two borthers when a store was attacked. AP identifies the store as "a cotton shop" and notes that, in Baghdad, a security guard for the oil ministry was shot dead and another was wounded.


AP reports that a woman's corpses ("riddled with bullets") was discovered "dumped on a main road." Retuers reports that, after four days missing, Turkey al-Duleimi ("a civilian judge") was discovered in Samarra.

In the most recent report,
Rebecca Santana (AP) reports: "A series of attacks killed at least 46 people across Iraq Thursday, including 39 within a half hour in a Shiite section of Baghdad, officials said. At least 118 people were wounded."

In peace news, following Ricky Clousing's lead, another AWOL soldier has come forward. Speaking at
Camp Casey III, Angela K. Brown (AP) reports, Mark Wilkerson announced that, after "a year and a half" of being AWOL, he would be turning himself in. Brown reports: "Wilkerson said his views of the war changed and he realized he could no longer stay in the military, so he applied for conscientious objector status. But his request was denied a month before his unit was to return to Iraq. He said he was told his appeal would not be considered until after he came back. So Wilkerson then decided not to return from the two weeks of approved leave before the January 2005 deployment."

On August 11,
Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) broke the news that Ricky Clousing, who also checked himself out after returning from Iraq, would be turning himself in. As the war drags on, the resistance grows with the Pentagon estimating that 40,000 have deserted or checked themselves out of the military since 2000.
Michelle Mason's documentary
Breaking Ranks covers the stories of some war resisters, including Jeremy Hinzman and Kyle Snyder, who've gone to Canada and it will air on Global TV October 7th.

Meanwhile in the United States,
Ehren Watada awaits the military determining what they will do (the recommendation has been court-martial). Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Like Clousing and Wilkerson, Watada sees the war as illegal.

Speaking to Caroline Aoyai-Stom (Pacific Citizen), Watada explains his duty: "Despite conflicting loyalties, I am fighting for the allegiance to which I swore an oath to uphold and defend -- the Constitutional laws and principles of democracy. My decision brings honor to veteran JAs. Instead of perpetuating war crimes and a war of aggression, I am actively trying to put a stop to it. Instead of being the 'quiet, obedient Japanese,' I am fulfilling my oath to protect my soldiers and this country from our government. This is all at great expense -- when the easier, safer path would have been to do my tour in Iraq."

Susan Palmer (The Register-Guard) reports that Ehren Watada's father Bob Watada "spoke at a Eugene [Oregon] peace rally on Tuesday in support of his son and called for change in Washington, D.C." Bob Watada tells Palmer, "My son has taken a stand for a very good reason and he is willing to suffer the consequences that the military wants to mete out."

More information can be found at
Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org. and Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use public@defenselink.mil to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD."

In Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco is on hold as the attorneys and those on sitting on the board of inquiry practice shooting guns.
Luke McIIveen and Gemma Jones (PerthNow) recap some of the hearing's moments of this week. They also note that Soldier 14 has claimed to be in the room after hearing a shot -- strange since the unit's commander didn't testify to that.