Sunday, July 27, 2008
Barack Obama's smiling brown face and Kansas-Kenya parentage are key elements in the Obama brand, that hazy image of progressive, post-racial transformation at home and abroad which lie at the heart of his appeal. At the same time, Barack Obama is committed to preserving what he calls Israel's “identity as a Jewish state”, the polite term for what much of the rest of the world recognizes as an apartheid state.
-- Bruce Dixon, "Obama (and Big Media) Turn Blind Eye to Israeli Apartheid" (Black Agenda Report).
-- Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader explaining to David Shieh's "Nader prepares to campaign in Austin" (Austin American-Statesman) what he's running for.
We debated (and partied) so the note is late. But our biggest thing was, what do we do about Ava and C.I.'s note? We decided to keep it. It runs at the end of this.
Along with Dallas, the following helped with this edition:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Marcia SICKOFITRDLZ.
Thank you to all. And here's what we have:
- Truest statement of the week -- This is Bruce Dixon and read it to find why he got top honors.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
See you next week and, below this, you can find Ava and C.I.'s original note to the readers. Dona points out, "Ava and C.I. deserve special thanks. They typed the bulk of the articles this week and that was shoved off on them, not asked."
-- Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava and C.I.
Ava and C.I. here. The note will come later when everyone's awake. We'll note the edition was 'finished.'
We had to do our TV commentary and broke it in two and needed a conclusion for the main one. With the edition otherwise 'finished,' we told everyone else to go to bed and get some sleep. Jim -- such a sly fox (or hedgehog?) -- neglected to pass on that while everything was finished in the writing stage (as we knew having participated in the writing), everything was not fully typed. We've had to finish typing each feature to get it ready for posting. Typos will be fixed on Tuesday (the ones we catch).
We are also sure we dropped letters or words as we rushed to type so we could get some sleep.
Again, what's caught on Tuesday, we'll fix.
Illustrations will be added tonight.
A real note will take the place of this one then as well.
We hope we have the right "Truest." We nominated our choices and then went to work on the TV commentary. We can't find the vote tally. If we've misunderstood what won . . . people should have written down the vote or stayed up.
It's a little more ecletic this edition and we'll let Jim go into that when he does the note later tonight. Thank you to Mike, Elaine, Betty, Rebecca, Cedric, Wally, Ruth, Marcia and Kat. Other than our TV pieces (which we type), their "Highlights" was the only thing that was typed in full.
-- Ava and C.I.
[No, she never even uttered the word. For the most recent BonusGate coverage in the community, see "Iraq snapshot," "Other Items""Iraq," "ralph nader v. the media's baby," "the 'gals' in feminist leadership, ralph nader, more," "BallotGate," "Cooking, Ralph Nader, BonusGate," "Ralph Nader, pushy people,"Working Ralph and 'too busy' Barack" and "BonusGate.]"
Travelogues are never news. It's really that simple.
But who ever accused the press of getting the basics?
Last week was the news industry took their own vacation as they trotted around the globe after Barack Obama. The whole thing reeked of the Deadheads and, considering what they produced, that may be the apt comparison (and a pot-induced high would provide some excuse for the 'coverage').
Oh look! There's Barack in the Holy Land! And there he is in Jordan! And there he is England! And Germany! At a time when Where In The World Is Matt Lauer no longer results in a ratings bump for Today, why anyone should care that Barack -- who we always assumed was mobile and capable of travel -- traipsed across the MidEast and Europe in search of adoring throngs and press, was always a mystery? Maybe the press was just itching to see Europe?
They certainly weren't itching for journalism.
Late in the game, some would notice that. Andrea Mitchell (NBC News) may have expressed it better than most (and only a few bothered to try) when she declared on MSNBC's Hardball: "He didn't have reporters with him, he didn't have a press pool, he didn't have a press conference while he was on the ground in either Afghanistan or Iraq. What you're seeing is not reporters brought in, you're seeing selected pictures taken by the military, questions by the military, and what some would call fake interviews, because they're not interviews by a journalist. So there's a real press issue here." [Campsunk (Alegre's Corner) posted the video for those who'd like to watch.] There was always going to be "a real press issue" and it started with the fact of who the hell cares?
Seriously, who the hell cares that Barack got his passport stamped?
We were supposed to believe -- to focus on one of the countries Mitchell noted -- that Iraqis gave a damn about the visit. That they were thrilled. And happy. And thank goodness for Saint Barack of Anitoch. Like Saint Nicephorus of Antioch there is no evidence whatsoever of any miracles performed by St. Barack; however, Nicephorus just had Matthew (and possibly Luke) while Barack got the entire US press corps to invent him.
On the very face of it, the left should have damn well known better with regards to Iraq. You expect the right-wing to reduce Iraqis to a US cheering section and to pawns with no real thoughts or desires of their own. But that Barack 'Magic' had all the gals turning into gushing Heddas and Lollys -- everyone from the breathless Aileen Alfandary (news reader of KPFA) to Tom Hayden (who has truly become a John Waters parody of himself).
When even the left can't stop from going ga-ga and soft in the head, you really have to appreciate the work of Said Rifai and Siaf Rasheed (Los Angeles Times) who, wacky move, decided that to know what Iraqis actually thought, you might have to, you know, speak to them. We think Khalil Ibrahim said it best, "If either McCain or Obama visits Iraq, it would be for campaign purposes, and therefore at this point in time it won't have any effect on the situation in Iraq." What Rifai and Rasheed did was reporting. Reporting is not a CSpan feed from exotic locales. Nor is 'Barack huddles with al-Maliki!' reporting -- take note, Good Morning America. But that sort of fluff does 'get-the-get' -- who knew Barack was right up there with the Victims of Sitdowns? Terry Moran landed an exclusive . . . Barack infomerical for Nightline.
Last week it was time for all the women haters to pile on CBS Evening News' Katie Couric. First it was SHE ASKED HIM THAT QUESTIONS THREE TIMES! (Actually, four times.) Then it was all about how Katie (& company) had covered for McCain. They'd hidden what McCain said. No, they didn't find it as newsworthy of other remarks made. They aired what, in their judgment, was news. You can disagree with them on that, you can't claim a cover-up.
The way the lie goes, a little War Hawk who pimped the Iraq War before it started (Spensy Ackerman) broke the censorship story, the one CBS was hiding!
Spensy isn't much of a reporter. In fact, he's not a reporter. In the tank for Barack, Spensy thought the way to live blog US Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker testifying to the US Senate (two different committees -- one in the morning, one in the afternoon) back in April was to pimp the man who gives him the tingles (Barack) and render the woman (Hillary Clinton) invisible. He thought he was being 'cute' (he's never cute) by claiming he lost the feed during the five minutes plus of Hillary's exchange; however, he was at a computer. Had he really lost the feed, he could have gone online and pulled up CSpan TV for the streaming video or CSpan Radio for the streaming audio. He didn't do that. He wasn't interested in covering Hillary so he censored her. Now he wants to act outraged by CBS News?
Spensy went online to CBS and read the transcript of the full interview. That's where he found what he insists is oh-so-important (read the transcript and make your own call). The very fact that CBS News posted the full transcript (and video) online makes it a hard sell on the "censorship!" and "hiding" charges -- but watch as all the pathetic males bark.
Why they're really barking is rather obvious. It's not about McCain, it's about the interview Couric conducted with Barack Obama.
Yes, she did ask him repeatedly about the 'surge.' So what? He didn't answer her question --repeatedly. What she did is called journalism. And, as usual when journalism is practiced around Barack, he can't handle it and his groupies and Cult go into overdrive (as they did after the ABC debate between Barack and Hillary) screaming like wounded banshees.
Here's the first portion of that exchange from the CBS transcript.
Couric: Before the surge, as you know, Senator, there were 80 to 100 U.S. casualties a month, the country was rife with sectarian violence, and you raised a lot of eyebrows on this trip saying even knowing what you know now, you still would not have supported the surge. People may be scratching their heads and saying, "Why?"
Obama: Well ... because ... what I was referring to, and I've consistently referred to, is the need for a strategy that actually concludes our involvement in Iraq and moves Iraqis to take responsibility for the country.
Couric: But didn't the surge ....
Obama: And ....
Couric: .... help do that?
Obama: Let me finish, Katie. What happens is that if we continue to put $10 billion to $12 billion a month into Iraq, if we are willing to send as many troops as we can muster continually into Iraq? There's no doubt that that's gonna have an impact. But it doesn't meet our long-term strategic goal, which is to make the American people safer over the long term. If that means that we're detracting from our efforts in Afghanistan, where conditions are deteriorating, if it means that we are distracted from going after Osama bin Laden who is still sending out audio tapes and is operating training camps where we know terrorists' actions are being plotted. If we have shifted away from the central front of terrorism as a consequence of enormous and continuing investments in Iraq, then that's a poor strategic choice. And ultimately, what we've got to do is - we have to recognize that Iraq is just one of our ... security problems. It's not the only one. We've got big problems in Afghanistan. We've got a significant threat in Iran. We've got to deal with Pakistan and the fact that there are safe havens there. Those are all the factors and all the issues that I've gotta take into account when I'm president of the United States.
The question was about the 'surge' and why Barack says the 'surge' worked but says he wouldn't have supported back then even knowing what he knows now? He goes off to Afghanistan and Pakistan, he does not answer that question. Back to the transcript and we've added a ":" that it leaves out in one spot:
Couric: All that may be true. But do you not give the surge any credit for reducing violence in Iraq?
Obama: No, no ... of course I have. There is no doubt that the extraordinary work of our U.S. forces has contributed to a lessening of the violence, just as making sure that the Sadr militia stood down or the fact that the Sunni tribes decided to flip and work with us instead of with al-Qaeda -- something that we hadn't anticipated happening. All those things have contributed to a reduction in violence. So this, in no way, detracts from the great efforts of our young men and women in uniform. In fact, that's one of the most striking things about visiting Iraq is to see how dedicated they are, what a great job they do -- all those things ... are critically important. What I'm saying is it does not solve the broader strategic question that we have been dealing with over the last five, six, seven years. And that is how do we take the limited resources we have, both militarily and financially, and apply them in such a way that we are making America as safe as possible? And I believe that my approach is the right one.
If he's accepting that the 'surge' worked, then he is saying he was wrong on that aspect regarding Iraq. Barack has touted his superior judgment, it is a fair question and one that needs to be asked until he responds.
Couric: But talking microcosmically, did the surge, the addition of 30,000 additional troops ... help the situation in Iraq?
Obama: Katie, as ... you've asked me three different times, and I have said repeatedly that there is no doubt that our troops helped to reduce violence. There's no doubt.
Couric: But yet you're saying ... given what you know now, you still wouldn't support it … so I'm just trying to understand this.
Obama: Because ... it's pretty straightforward. By us putting $10 billion to $12 billion a month, $200 billion, that's money that could have gone into Afghanistan. Those additional troops could have gone into Afghanistan. That money also could have been used to shore up a declining economic situation in the United States. That money could have been applied to having a serious energy security plan so that we were reducing our demand on oil, which is helping to fund the insurgents in many countries. So those are all factors that would be taken into consideration in my decision-- to deal with a specific tactic or strategy inside of Iraq.
Couric: And I really don't mean to belabor this, Senator, because I'm really, I'm trying ... to figure out your position. Do you think the level of security in Iraq ...
Couric: .... would exist today without the surge?
Obama: Katie, I have no idea what would have happened had we applied my approach, which was to put more pressure on the Iraqis to arrive at a political reconciliation. So this is all hypotheticals. What I can say is that there's no doubt that our U.S. troops have contributed to a reduction of violence in Iraq. I said that, not just today, not just yesterday, but I've said that previously. What that doesn't change is that we've got to have a different strategic approach if we're going to make America as safe as possible.
He never answers the question and, after the fourth evasion, Couric moves on.
It was embarrassing for Barack. But, as is so often the case, it was embarrassing because he couldn't answer the question.
There are a number of ways that the question can be answered but running off to Afghanistan or Pakistan in your answer isn't one of them. A left position would be as follows:
The 'surge' has not worked. When people say the 'surge' has worked that confusing realities in Iraq and crediting the 'surge' for things it has not done. 1) The 'surge' runs for at the same time that an increasing number of Iraqis are leaving the country -- the external refugee crisis. When over a million people flee a country, violence -- like the population -- may go down. 2) As Ambassador Croker admitted to the Senate in April, the US government is paying $300 a month to Iraqis that they call "Awakening Council" members (also "Sons of Iraq") and putting these Iraqis on the payroll so that they will stop attacking American troops. The huge sums of money paid out each month have a great deal to do with any drop in violence just as any school yard would see a 'drop in violence' if the school yard bullies were paid off. 3) Moqtada al-Sadr and the US military have a cease-fire/truce. When it was temporarily in question during the March assault on Basra, you saw an increase in violence. All of these things factor into what it is going on in Iraq. The 'surge' is not responsible for this. To credit the 'surge' is to overlook the fact that US troop brigades have been and are being brought home.
He could have added any number of details to the above or any additional points. But he didn't do that. He accepted that the 'surge' worked. (It didn't work.) Once you accept that, if you did not support the 'surge' before it started, it is fair game to ask you why you say today -- when you say it worked -- that you still wouldn't have supported it back then.
It has nothing to do with Pakistan or Afghanistan. That's a tired debater's ploy of shift the focus when you can't answer the question. The question was about Iraq. No one prevented Barack from saying the 'surge' had not worked. Had he answered as we did above, Katie Couric might have had a follow up for clarification but the very fact that he was not saying the 'surge' didn't work would explain why he didn't support it then and wouldn't support it now. (That his tutors are so stupid is only a surprise if you don't know grasp how cautious they are and how quick they are to accept each day's news headline as the ultimate reality.)
According to claims put forward by Arianna Huffington on ABC's This Week -- and by many others at many other outlets -- Barack is now the presumed Democratic Party presidential nominee because of his 'stand' on the Iraq War. He better get used to being asked about the Iraq War. And having claimed he was right, that he has superior judgment and that his position on Iraq has never waivered, Iraq will most likely always be one of the issues he will be probed on in any sit-down interview. That's only a surprise if you've forgotten his claim in Denver back in January, "It's not enough to say you'll be ready from Day One - you have to be right from Day One."
After that statement, he can't be upset when he's questioned today as to how he can say the 'surge' worked but that he still wouldn't have supported it. "It's time for new leadership that understands that the way to win a debate with John McCain," he declared at the end of January in the Los Angeles debate, "is not by nominating someone who agreed with him" on this and that. Well now Barack's agreeing that the 'surge' worked. He's agreeing with McCain. It is an issue.
The groupies don't like it but that's reality. Instead of booing and hissing at Charlie Gibson or Katie Couric when Barack can't deliver an answer, his Cult would do better to insist that Barack is prepared before the interview begins.
That exchange caught the most attention from Couric's interview with Barack (and had the Cult ready to nail her to the wall for anything). But the Couric interview was the strongest and it was real journalism.
Couric also asked him why he had held no hearings while chairing a Senate Foreign Relations Committee's subcommittee, especially when he says Afghanistan is "the central front in the war on terror" and again, he tried to side-step the question. This time he insisted what "I chair is the European subcommittee" so it wasn't necessary because "any issues related to Afghanistan were always dealt with in the full committee". Couric let that slide and she shouldn't have. Click here for a list of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittees. You should be able to note the obvious: There is no subcommittee on Afghanistan. Subcommitees work on issues that the committee takes up. That's how it works, that's the chain of work flow. The committee Barack 'chaired' should have been a leader on the issue of Afghanistan.
If you're not grasping that, you aren't grasping which foreign forces are in Afghanistan. From NATO's own website: "NATO is a key component of the international community’s engagement in Afghanistan, assisting the Afghan authorities in providing security and stability paving the way for reconstruction and effective governance. . . . NATO’s role is a key part of the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year plan between the government of Afghanistan and the international community, which sets goals relating to the security, governance and economic development of the country. " Click here to find out which countries make up NATO (if you don't already know). Barack's committee is supposed to provide oversight of NATO. If you're not grasping it, Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of England, has made no secret that he sees Afghanistan as the battle for England. He has made no secret of the fact that he feels more troops are needed in Afghanistan. Not just this year but since he became Prime Minister.
Couric's follow up question should have been, "You're saying that Afghanistan is something the full Senate committee should address and you're touting Afghanistan as 'the central front in the war on terror.' Well on January 31st, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Afghanistan, heard testimony from the State Dept.'s Richard Boucher and you didn't attend that hearing. Do you think now you should have been at the hearing?"
We're sure Barack would have tried to weasel out with the claim that he was debating Hillary in Los Angeles. Yes, that night. The hearing started at 9:30 a.m. EST. With a three hour time difference between the East Coast and the West Coast and a 'new' thing called "airplanes," there was no reason for him to skip the hearing.
While the hearing was going on, Barack was speaking at the Trade Technical Community College -- which was only one of his many campaign stops that day. We do not agree with a 'war on terror,' nor do we claim that Afghanistan needs more US troops or more war. But Barack claims that . . . now. What did he say about 'ready on day one isn't enough, you have to be right on day one'? On January 31st when Afghanistan was the issue of the committee he 'serves' on, he thought it was more important to visit community colleges and drum up votes than to focus on what he calls 'the central front in the war on terror.'
Couric did better on the issue of Israel where Barack attempted to go light and airy as usual and to dismiss questions of whether Israel, in his opinion, had a right to declare a war with Iran. He insisted that was speculation and he wasn't going to speculate. (He's been far less reluctant on that subject in his speeches.) Couric pressed on, "Was it appropriate, in your view, for Israel to take out that suspected Syrian nuclear site last year?" The left may want to brace themselves for his answer, "Yes. I think that there was sufficient evidence that they were developing a site using a nuclear or using .... a blueprint that was similar to the North Korean model."
Sufficient evidence? In April, the White House released 'evidence.' As with the Iraq War, their visual 'evidence' was spotty. A videotape that revealed nothing and several laughable photographs. The Syrian government, in fact, compared it exactly to the 'evidence' offered of Iraq's WMD program (which turned out to be non-existant). In addition The International Atomic Energy Agency's director Mohammed El Baradei condemned Israel's bombing in a statement released in April, "The director general views the unilateral use of force by Israel as undermining the due process of verification that is at the heart of the nonproliferation regime."
But Barack's okay with it?
He told Couric -- based on a one-day fly over stop -- that Iraq's "scary situation's improved" and spoke of how you could "see that markets are reopening, that in places like Anbar province you have seen a complete reversal in terms of the attitude of Sunni tribesmen towards American forces there." He sure 'saw' a lot in a one day visit that lasted less than 24 hours. Anbar is where the "Awakening" Council begins -- pay off your enemies so they won't attack. It is far from a peaceful region and, were John McCain to make these type of observations, the 'left' would be eating him for lunch (most days, they just have him for breakfast).
Barack has no promise on Iraq. He has no pledge. In March of this year, Samantha Power made it very clear as she told the BBC he wouldn't be bound by any pledge on the campaign trail and would decide it after he enters the White House. Barack repeated those sentiments on CNN June 5th. The 16-month non-pledge is also non-withdrawal despite Tom Hayden creaming his own shorts over it. Barack says combat troops would be withdrawn (in his non-promise) and that a residual force would be left behind. Estimates of that 'residual force' most commonly peg the number of US troops which would remain in Iraq past 2010 at 50,000. (Please note that there are approximately 32,000 US troops in Afghanistan today). That's not an end to the illegal war. Better, apparently, to stone CBS Evening News than to talk about what Barack said on Iraq. On national television, Couric noted that his talk of "residual force" doesn't include anything "specific, though some of your advisors have said it could be tens of thousands of troops. Why can't you be more specific as to what you envision?" His response included the following:
As I've said before . . . I am not interested in a false choice between either perfect inflexibility in which the next 16 months or the next two years I ignore anything that's happening in Iraq. Or, alternatively, that I just have an open-ended, indefinite occupation of Iraq in which we're not putting any pressure on the Iraqis to stand up . . . take this burden on. What I'm gonna do is to set a vision of where we need to go, a clear and specific timeframe within which we're gonna pull our combat forces out.
Nowhere in his answer above (or elsewhere in lengthy response) could he give a number. He did, however, agree he would be listening to "conditions on the ground" and that's not what he's told people when he had a Democratic primary opponent. Hillary Clinton said there was no military win and the US troops need to come home. (Joe Biden made similar comments with the qualifier that unless Iraq could become three regions -- a Kudish one, a Shia one and a Sunni one -- and when the Senate refused to endorse that, that ended the partitioning of Iraq which means Biden was on record stating if he were president, US forces would be coming home.)
What Barack's doing is saying that it might be 16 months, it might be 2 years, it might be longer. And what he's promising is not the end of the illegal war. It's a reduction in the number of US forces in Iraq (by approximately two-thirds if "conditions on the ground" hold -- and he's previously told The New York Times that if they don't 'hold,' he's fine with sending more US troops back into Iraq).
He's not an anti-war candidate but he's not even an "end the war in Iraq" candidate. He declared that Iraqi forces were "more and more" grabbing "the lead in actions where we're playing more of an advisory role." Barack Obama, read Nancy A. Youssef's "Iraqi forces aren't quite ready to take charge" (McClatchy Newspapers). It's very curious that the man Tom Hayden publicly hates (Joe Biden) could note in an open Senate hearing this year that the US is propping up a government in Iraq that is not supported by the people and yet Tom Hayden's man-crush can't ever point that out.
Publicly hates? Let's take a side-trip to news that's not getting traction. John McCain is the root of all evil . . . say the Democrats today. Of course, in 2004, the party's nominee was considering whether or not to ask McCain to be his running mate. Friday on NOW on PBS, John Edwards revealed he either didn't get this year's memo or he forgot it. In a sit-down interview with David Brancaccio (not the one on stage that also aired during the program), Edwards made some surprising remarks while discussing poverty. He noted -- as the press has heavily reported -- that after he suspended his campaigning, he met with both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to press them on the issue and extract promises. He then revealed he'd also met with John McCain to address the issue and found McCain receptive to several aspects. Brancaccio was obviously surprised as evidenced by both his facial expression and his immediate comment.
While we're on the topic of PBS, Foreign Exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal. Two Sundays ago we noted the Camilo Mejia interview. [Camilo is a war resister and chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War.] A number of readers were interested in watching or reading that. You couldn't. The segment they offer for streaming online is not the segment with Camilo. They state they offer podcasting (with no cost mentioned); however, 51 of you e-mailed to complain about the fact that the podcasting option did not work. One of you e-mailed Foreign Exchange and got what we saw (and see) as a laughable "The dog ate my homework" reply. There are problems with the website, but they're working on it! When the host of the program states repeatedly during the broadcast that you can visit the website and stream the program or see transcripts, you damn well better fix the problem immediately. (Two weeks later, it is still not fixed and, yes, on Friday, she was plugging the website again.) We weren't ignoring the complaints, we were holding them for a reason.
A number of you decided, "Screw it, I'll pay!" Pay for either transcript or a copy of the show. The host never mentions that you have to pay for a transcript and makes it sound as though the transcripts are posted at the website -- they are not posted. To purchase you needed to pay $10.00 by credit card for the transcript and $25.00 for a DVD copy of the program.
But here's the problem that the 35 who decided "Screw it, I'll pay!" (Camilo is someone worth listening to) then ran into: When you click on the link, you're taken to the payment page which gives you an amount $5.00 less than what Foreign Exchange tells you that you have to pay.
No, they can't even get their prices right. One person did pay for a transcript, paid $5.00, and his concern was that he might not get it because that's cheaper than the price Foreign Exchange gives. We planned to wait until today to comment, hoping that he would have received his transcript. Having announced in Friday's Iraq snapshot that we would cover it today, we were a bit nervous when Friday came and went without his receiving the transcript. Fortunately, it arrived Saturday. Eight days after he ordered it. Apparently (and this is how the e-mail from Foreign Exchange reads) they don't even type the thing up unless someone orders it.
It's strange that they would have to type it since, in these days of closed captioning, they should have something resembling a transcript already. More strange -- and they took offense to this -- was the fact that they physically send it to you, via snail mail. Unlike some programs (don't say which when interacting with them -- it sets them off), you do not pay and then receive a code via e-mail that you plug in at a site and get a transcript. You pay and you wait. And then you wait some more.
Saturday afternoon we spoke with the reader about what he received. Postage was $1.17. The transcript didn't sound accurate. We didn't think he was lying but didn't want to make those claims without physically seeing it so we asked him if he could fax it or scan it and send it to us. As two who regularly review transcripts of news and public affairs programs, we've never seen anything like it. We're speaking of the layout itself -- as well as the marks on the copy in highlighter (put in before the transcript was mailed). The pages note that a Shelley Chance of Pro. Docs (http://www.prodocservices.com/) did the transcript. It's not like any transcript you're used to -- it looks more like a student paper. It's also not very accurate.
When the complaints started coming in about Foreign Exchange's website, we knew we were going to have to provide a transcript of the Camilo section. So we pulled out the disc of the episode we'd been passed on and went to work. (Transcription runs in Hilda's Mix this Tuesday.) It was also used for Friday's snapshot. As we read over the 'official' transcript (after it was faxed to us), we couldn't believe this was from a professional service. Several sentences, to give one example, spoken by Camilo are rendered as one sentence that last nine full lines. Double dashes are used for asides -- at the start -- never to close them out. We started to wonder if the real reason Foreign Exchange doesn't post transcripts is to save the program further embarrassment?
If that sounds rude, an eight day wait after payment is received strikes us as rude as well. Telling people watching you on TV that visiting the program's site will allow them to watch episodes and read transcripts is just flat-out lying. We really don't care that the program is having 'website problems' or that they're trying to 'fix them.' If you're promoting the website online and telling people they can find things there that they can't find, you either immediately fix it or you stop lying to people on camera. Two Fridays ago, they knew the website did not offer what Dhaliwal promised. And yet they continued to say on camera that it did. All that is is is lying. In the e-mails here (which we read), readers kept saying, "We're not blaming you."
Thank you for that but it is our problem, our error and our mistake. We apologize. We did check the website when we wrote our commentary. We checked by visiting and giving a quick look. We should have check it out completely. We saw the video boxes and assumed it was -- as the show said -- the entire episode. We saw the podcast options at the bottom and didn't check them out either. We were scanning quickly and aren't sure whether we even checked for transcripts or even saw the "transcript" button (we obviously didn't click on it or we would have known you had to pay for it). So it is our problem and we apologize for it. Last week, Gossip Girls was among the shows we were reviewing and we knew it wasn't streaming online (that was a big mini-scandal) so we didn't bother to offer a link to the site. It is supposedly now about to start streaming again. (They just knew that streaming was cutting into their broadcast audience. Last week they decided it wasn't.)
Our mistake was in believing what was said on PBS and, goodness knows, we've covered PBS more than long enough to know never to just believe what they say on air.
Bill Moyers Journal remains one of the only PBS public affairs programs that meets the mandate for PBS in terms of serving the community. Are you hard of hearing, deaf or with hearing difficulties? They've got the transcripts posted. Are you on an older computer, dial up or have some other computer problem? You can read the transcripts or just listen to the program. Do you and your computers have the ability to enjoy state of the art of the video streaming? They offer that. They also have a blog where you can comment. In terms of the mandate's requirement that they serve the public, Bill Moyers Journal has that covered online. It's a damn shame that other PBS programs can't grasp that America includes the disabled and that it includes the low-tech who can't afford every add on and option in the book.
We offer negative criticism of the Moyers program frequently -- and will in the future -- but we always try to note that regardless of what the content is, it is accessible to anyone who can be by a computer. In The Common Ills community, audio links became a requirement due to the fact that there were couples where one had perfect vision and the other didn't. Text only meant that everything had to be read outloud. An audio or video options, meant that the sighted partner could start streaming and they could listen together. By the same token, those with hearing problems couldn't enjoy the bulk of Pacifica Radio programs so community member Eli took it on himself to transcribe the headlines from Free Speech Radio News each week for the gina & krista round-robin. (Free Speech Radio News now offers a great deal of text options.) Especially for those members with hearing difficulties, the snapshot now provides transcripts (partial or full) for audio links that do not. None of this is difficult to grasp and is part of PBS' mandate to serve the communities.
In terms of content and serving the communities, watching PBS Friday night was rather depressing. We believe they're calling it "The Choice" and it starts in October . . . on Frontline. It's the presidential race. So how does Frontline think it can cover said race without covering all the candidates. The choice, according to Frontline's advertisement, is a two-person choice. You can vote for Barack or McCain. All other candidates are rendered invisible and no one's supposed to notice or complain (an organized campaign might force Frontline to expand its scope). PBS was created to give voice and cover topics that the broadcast networks were not covering. Somehow Frontline has made the choice that "The Choice" is only about two parties. It's elitist and, to use Ralph Nader's apt phrase, it's political bigotry.
We could turn to racial bigotry but we think that will be the topic this week . . . when CNN's embarrassing two-parter on race in America airs. Having seen an early cut of that two-parter, we expect that many will be complaining. We'll simply note that offering two programs begs for complaints. One is the "Black Men" and the other is "Black Women and Family." Apparently, by CNN's take, the "Black Man" is not connected to the "Black Family." But, on the plus for the "Black Man," he is so much more important than the "Black Woman" or "Black children" that he's worthy of his own program while the other two have to share. With all the stereotypes (and Barack's promoting) of the 'missing' African-American father, we really think CNN should have reconsidered the split.
"Women and children." We keep coming back to that bad CNN special. And we think about how TV is so often a reflection of either where we're headed or where people want us to head. Barack's "feeling blue" remarks (about abortion) are frightening enough. CNN is lumping grown adults in with children . . . on the women's side. Neither is a full person in CNN's eyes or worthy of their own special. Only the males are. What it's really doing (and we believe intentionally though friends at CNN disagree) is trying to bring back the stereotypes that the feminist movement demolished years ago. Like liquid metal (in Terminator 2), the sexism just regroups over and over and keeps coming back. You do know, we asked, that not all African-American women are mothers or want to be? "Most women are mothers." That was the response.
Well, golly, last time we checked, pregnancy required egg and sperm. So without any hard numbers on the mother issue, we could shoot back that most men are fathers. But that's not how the special breaks it down.
The news broke down last week. If you paid attention you caught it. The gushing over the Berlin speech. Barack spoke in Berlin. To a crowd of a 100,000 or 200,000 or 300,000 or -- they just seemed to make up whatever figure they wanted. (The police estimate was approximately 200,000.) So giddy and dizzy were they on his attempt to turn the duet "(Love Lift Us) Up Where We Belong" into a one-man ditty (which was as unsuccessful last week as when Diana Ross turned "Endless Love" into a solo number on her Why Do Fools Fall In Love album), that they weren't too concerned about the rest of his schedule. Late in the day Friday, they were noticing, gee, Barack was supposed to visit wounded US service members in Germany Thursday but he cancelled. Oh, his campaign explained that the Pentagon asked him to.
But wait, that's not reality.
After the Friday network news casts, Dan Balz was reporting ["Obama Campaign Cancels Visit to U.S. Service Members in Germany" (Washington Post)]:
"Nobody denied Senator Obama the opportunity to visit our wounded being cared for at Landstuhl. Obviously, as a sitting senator, he has an interest in that and can certainly visit in an official capacity," said Byran Whitman, a spokesman for the Pentagon, who added that there are "restrictions on what you can do as a candidate for political office, that stems from trying to maintain political neutrality and not have the military involved in politics."
The Pentagon said on Friday that it did not prevent an Obama visit.
"The senator's staff was informed of the limits on what the military can do with respect to a political campaign and how we could support a senator's visit to Landstuhl and, quite frankly, I expected them to have the visit," Whitman said.
Grasp that. Grasp how many US reporters were following Barack around and no one thought, "Hmm. Wounded GI event got cancelled. Let me dig into this?"
No, because that would have required (a) thought and (b) action. A travelogue is never news. But it sure ate up all the time on network news, on cable news, on 'independent' broadcast news. With nothing to show for it. Look, the then-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wowed them in Paris, Vienna and Greece (with her spouse at her side, note) decades ago but she also came back with something tangible to show for it (a gorgeous wardrobe). Barack wants to make like Jackie and we don't even get the fashion spread. It wasn't news. Summer vacations rarely are.
He's gotten a bit like the elderly Lost Boy in Hook, always pushing his "happy thoughts" and looking more and more ridiculous.
Barack wants to be president.
But he doesn't want to work for America.
He wants Americans to make him work for them.
That comes through in speech after speech when he pushed the burdens of the presidency onto the people.
He apparently missed out when "couch potato" was all the rage in usage.
Americans haven't changed a great deal (some studies state we've put on more weight), the term just lost its cachet (the way "It's not rocket science" has -- though some delude themselves into thinking they can continue to work that phrase in).
In a Happy Days episode many will remember, Fonzie has a problem. It is now the sixties. He just can't adapt. Joanie and Chachi are singing folk songs -- what happened to rock and roll!
Fonzie doesn't like change, he explains, and wonders why things can't stay the same.
Were that an isolated moment from a single TV show, that would be one thing.
But the reality is that thread dominates in both popular cultural and the sociological literature.
So here comes Barack Obama, presumed Democratic presidential nominee, selling an undefined "change" and telling the American people it's up to them to make him work.
If you went into an interview tomorrow, the interviewer might ask, "Do you think you can handle the job?" Try replying, "If you make me do it!" In other words, you'll do your job if someone makes you. Most interviewers would immediately say, "Thanks for coming in. We'll call you." And the call would never come.
But how is it that anyone who wanted to could make Barack do his job? He hasn't defined his job. "Change." Empty talk about "change" with nothing as to what that would mean on the job as president.
Hillary Clinton said what she planned to and added, "Hold me accountable."
Americans can do that. Tell us you're going to do something and we'll hold you accountable.
Change is presenting the American people with a plan. Barack's "change" offers Americans no plan. They're supposed to make you do something but the what of it has never been defined.
Equally true is that, should he become president and flop, it falls back on the American people. They must not have made him to do what they wanted him to do.
Considering that the American people have been unable to "make" the US Congress or White House end the ongoing, illegal war in Iraq, we're not seeing any real pressure that could be brought to bear on a President Obama.
Does Barack know any Americans? Outside of Hyde Park?
Go to your neighbor's and hide the TV remote. Pay attention to how long s/he looks for it. Notice that all the time spent looking for the remote -- and think about how much quicker it would have been to go over to the TV just flip the channel by a button on the TV. But gotta' have that remote. Can't live without that remote. That remote means you can sit there and change the channels. Where's the remote!
Or go to the grocery store. Note the abundance of brands for microwave macaroni and cheese and grasp that, on the stove top, we're talking seven minutes to cook macaroni and cheese. Seven minutes is apparently too long and a microwave version was 'needed.'
As a people, as a whole, we are a nation of short-cuts and quick-fixes.
The Cult of Barack would have you believe that the Christ-child can change all of that.
The illegal war passing the fifth year mark was not enough to result in mass actions across the country; however, somehow a toothy grin (with lip gloss) will do what death and destruction won't. He will, it is said, inspire.
And he has, they insist, a movement.
As many commentators who haven't lost their common sense have pointed out (Adolph Reed Jr., Bruce Dixon, Glen Ford, Margaret Kimberly and Paul Street are but a few), a movement does not build around a political campaign for public office.
Should he get into the White House (assuming he's the Democratic Party nominee), there's no movement to hold him accountable, there's no movement to press him on anything.
If his FISA cave taught anything it was that not only will he break his word but when his most ardent supporters take to his very own campaign blog to pressure him, he blows them off.
Maybe he's just lazy?
If so, he at least knows how to live American, if not how to speak to them.
Like Katharine Hepburn's character in On Golden Pond, he's become a nag and a scold.
In the December 7, 1980 issue of The New Yorker, Pauline Kael nailed all that was wrong with that film. What she wrote then can also be applied to Barack Obama today:
Ethel is meant to be a capable, down-to-earth woman, but Hepburn leaps about weightlessly -- she never comes close to touching the ground. She has become a Kate Hepburn windup doll -- chipper and lyrical, floating in the stratosphere, and, God knows, spunky.
[. . .]
Ethel, who is so understanding with her husband, is starchy and impatient with her daughter, telling her, "All you can do is be disagreeable about the past. What's the point? . . . Life marches by, Chelsea. I suggest you get on with it." That's not a mother talking -- it's a headmistress.
Who knew Barack was trying to become Headmistress of the United States?
It goes to what's valued and what's not . . .
and, if you paid attention this year, you saw that race was valued and gender was not. Bill Moyers wasn't interested in anything to do with gender. Nor was Dr. Kathy -- the chatty gas bag who was supposed to provide viewers with 'hidden meanings' but mainly came off like a dithering fool. Race? Moyers addressed it and addressed it. (Or addressed the way TV does -- which means Black and White. Screw the rest of the races in the country, apparently.) It was always time to celebrate the 'historic' nature of Barack's run and always time to avoid exploring Hillary's 'historic' nature.
A CBS exec steered us to a piece by Brian Montopoli that went up in May 2007 and found Brian explaining to readers that the CBS News site had decided to close off comments on Barack stories due to the fact that some people were leaving racist comments. Strangely sexism was never a concern.
Below are some of the comments left to an article trashing Hillary (stay tuned for who wrote it). Sexism was never a problem to CBS, they never felt that any of the following comments might be objectionable -- why would they be, they only insult women. As you read over them try substitutions of race and grasp that CBS wouldn't -- by Brian's article -- allow them to be posted about Barack.
Hildebeast wishes to cloak herself in the "accomplishments" of BubbaZipper''s admin.
"You are all emotion and no logic. ie, a woman."
"How about, Sayonara baby, or should that be, bimbo."
"Women have some legitimate gripes about how they have been treated. But they just look like babies when they whine and complain."
"She can't help it. Like many women, equality to them means they are GIVEN chances and GIVEN advancement and GIVEN nominations and GIVEN anything their hearts desire."
"Hillary is the caricature of that desperate, grasping woman, who when told the man does not want or need her, claws and clings to his pants leg screaming and blubbering, while he staggers away -- draggin her proste body across the floor."
"Scened from Fatal Attraction come to mind."
"she is after all a broken old woman with low self-esteem"
"Show me any woman that looks good, and I'll show you a man carrying the load for her."
It just never ends but our patience did and we didn't go through the entire comments. Women defending Hillary were also subjected to ridicule (those defending Hillary with male screen names or those whose gender was not apparent from their screen names were not). "Give me a kiss," "get a clue little girl" and references to "your broom" were popular things to say to women who supported Hillary. "Bimbo" and broad" were popular terms for Hillary as was "Billary." Orion manages to get in "sweetie" three times -- and still accuse her of "*** the boss" to climb "the corporate ladder." Not content to call her Bush -- or, just as popular, "Bush in a pansuit" -- JohnGaltWho shares she "really is starting to look alot like George Bush." "Bitch" is also very popular and spelled "Bitch" even when it's not at the start of a sentence (such as "The Bitch . . .") -- in fact, it pops up so frequently, someone must think it's a first name ("The Bitch is Done . . ." gloats Omar following others' lead to capitalize the "B") It's suggested that "Maybe if she did a Playboy spread she could get some votes."
What prompted all this blatant sexism? A better question is "Who?" Katrina vanden Heuvel. It was her piece of garbage attack calling for Hillary to drop out (from The Nation that CBS reposted in May) which inspired and fed the attacks on women. How proud she must be.
A reposting from The New Republic in March demonstrated that while CBS would refuse to allow racists posts regarding Barack, the would let in a two-fer -- more attacks on Hillary mixed in with attacks on Jewish people.
"tuckerndfw" couldn't shut up about what he so 'colorfully' termed "Jew money." He uses it three time while explaining that the Jewish people (or maybe their "Jew money"?) will kill Barack because -- unlike Hillary or John McCain -- he doesn't take their orders. (No word from "tuckerndfw" if he takes "Jew money.") "b-easy63" should have been banned for his March comments (would have prevented a great deal quoted earlier re: Katrina's nonsense) instead he was allowed to continue to 'contribute' to the 'discussion' and was 'kind' enough to include his 'theory' that Hillary went out and got women for Bill ("she is not even interested in him sexually"). Of coures "b-easy63" 'advances' the discussion with things like sharing his belief that Hillary has "body odor" or other lies he either made up or just decided to repeat (Chelsea does not recoil from Hillary, that's so outlandish and such a lie that it's really offensive, but, hey, fits into the 'she's so evil, she's not even a good mother!' trash, doesn't it?). When done trashing her with lies about her mothering, he repeats lies about Hillary's father and explains that the "abuse" is why Hillary needs "shock therapy" and not "a kick in the pants." He calls her a "monster," a "sociopath" and so much more. "b-easy63" was also allowed to share his anti-immigrant position (it's one reason he supports Barack -- big surprise) and to post such 'cheery' statements as, "If you are gay, then you are a homosexual. If the clinical term bothers you -- get over it." ("Obama is my first choice, then McCAin, or I will write in Obama," the independent "b-easy63" shares.)
One shares that Hillary's "angry," a "political hit woman," has to be "dominant" and "let them know who'''s boss"" (we've reproduced the spelling and punctuation in these as they are displayed at CBS) while another offers that she's "HITLERY" -- still another works in "silly drunken wench." Popular 'sources' for Barack supporters attacking Hillary are the left and liberal Andrew Sullivan (no, he's neither) and The Clinton Chronicles (don't miss The Clintons Trail of Blood which is posted in several installments to the Katrina article) . Another recommends this 'art' excercise "draw a Hitler mustache on her picture". "jesterbelle" 'raises' the discourse with "Swear if the witch wasn''t a politiican, she'd be a gold diggin'' w*h*o*r*e." Another shares they find her "a outspoken man-hating bigot" and her supporters are "the divorced woman, and the crusty man-haters, and the liberal male self-hater."
The New Republic article was by Jonathan Chait who also felt it was time for Hillary to go -- remember there are no real differences between The Nation and The New Republic -- it's why Katrina would still be publishing so many TNRs in her magazine if she hadn't been called out and if Little Lee-Lee hadn't self-destructed. Why CBS chose to republish this garbage is a question that needs to be answered. The title alone should have made them steer clear: "Hillary Clinton, Fratricidal Maniac." We assume Chait would be happy to gather all the unsold copies of the issue his story ran in and have an autograph party during which he could hand out the Hillary "nut crackers" that so obviously 'inspired' his writing.
What CBS wasn't bothered by, "phillysage" noted right away: "'Barack Obama, Matricidal Maniac'--you can bet the farm they''''d never let those words appear on a major media website."
Brian Montopoli's May 4, 2007 piece is entitled "CBSNews.com Turns Off Comments on Obama Stories" and from that article:
"It's very simple," Mike Sims, director of News and Operations for CBSNews.com, told me. "We have our Rules of Engagement. They prohibit personal attacks, especially racist attacks. Stories about Obama have been problematic, and we won't tolerate it."
The Rules of Engagement? It notes:
There’s legal language nearby. Here's the plain English: no libel, slander, no lying, no fabricating, no swearing at all, no words that teenagers use a lot that some people think aren't swearing but we do, no insulting groups or individuals, no ethnic slurs and/or epithets, no religious bigotry, no threats of any kind, no bathroom humor, no comparing anyone to Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot. We expect heated, robust debate, but comments should be polite and civil. We consider this to be public space so behave and write accordingly.
You'll notice that sexism isn't specifically mentioned. CBS might want to consider adding that to the policy considering the crap they've allowed. (We were told by the CBS exec that we could find this sexist garbage in the comments of any story mentioning Hillary. We only focused on two.) You may also notice that they didn't follow their own rules. Hillary has b.o. and her daughter recoils, she's a sociopath whose father "abused" her and now needs "shock therapy" doesn't qualify as libel? (Slander is spoken -- someone might need to explain the law to CBS.) "No comparing anyone to Hitler"? They didn't bother to impose that "rule" with regards to Hillary, now did they? In fact "b-easy63" has broken everyone of those rules (even if you don't include his 'observations' about Latinos and the LGBT community).
Here's a question for CBS, if "CBS cares" wouldn't it be better to demonstrate that via action and not a bunch of badly lit public service announcements?
Last Monday, she set up what she couldn't deliver. The item in the the day's headlines was entitled "Sen. McCain Suggests Obama Might Be a Socialist."
Wow! Senator John McCain says Barack might be a Socialist!
Even we haven't suggested that and, as an e-mail noted last week, "You hate Barack Obama more than anyone in this whole world wide and you will say anything to keep him from being elected!"
Golly, had John McCain cut ahead of us in line?
Before we could worry too much over that, Goody was reading her 'news:'
In campaign news, Senator John McCain has accused Barack Obama of having the most extreme record in the Senate and suggested Obama might be a socialist. McCain was asked about his views in an interview with the Kansas City Star.
Wow! It must be true! She even gave a paper! John McCain suggested Barack Obama was a Socialist!
Then she played the exchange. Follow along (Goody couldn't):
Dave Helling: "You talked a little bit about Senator Obama today."
Sen. John McCain: "Mm-hmm."
Helling: "You said he was the most extreme member of the Senate, I think is the quote."
Sen. McCain: "Yeah, that's his voting record."
Sen. McCain: "Yeah."
Helling: "You mean, you really think he's an extremist? I mean, he's clearly liberal.
Sen. McCain: "Well, that's his voting record. All I said was his voting record, and that is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont. So" --
Helling: "Do you think he's a socialist, Barack Obama?"
Sen. McCain: "Oh, I don't know. All I know is his voting record, and that's what people usually judge their elected representatives by."
Each day Pravda on the Hudson demonstrates that the lying never ends.
So you knew Amy would be back to it later in the program pushing the lie, "What do you make of Senator Obama's trip to Iraq and Afghanistan to talking about a timetable for pullout, Nouri al-Maliki saying he shares his view, though he was castigated, it looks like, by the President, and Senator McCain saying Barack Obama has the most extreme record in the Senate, suggesting perhaps he’s a socialist?"
As C.I. explained last Monday:
No, LIAR Amy Goodman, McCain didn't suggest Barack was a socialist. He was asked it by Helling (who brought the issue up) and McCain said he didn't know. "Most extreme voting record"? McCain's referring to the National Journal labeling "Obama: Most Liberal Senator in 2007" at the end of January based on their examination of his record.
February 8th on CounterSpin, Janine Jackson demolished the claim. However, that was the same February 8th that Goodman allowed Robert Kuttner to cite that same study as reason to support Barack: ""I think it was National Journal recently came out with a rating that showed that Obama has the most left-of-center record." So when Kuttner cites it, Goodman raises no objection. McCain cites it and she's ripping him apart with lies. Get your act together. What a disgrace. [Jackson's demolishing of the National Journal and Kuttner's idiocy on Democracy Now! were covered Feb. 10th at Third.] Repeating, McCain referred to the National Journal 'finding' that Goody accepted on her show from Kuttner. He was then asked if he thought Barack was a Socialist. He didn't raise that issue, he was asked. When asked, he stated he didn't know. This is exactly the garbage Ava and I were talking about Sunday: gossip -- uninformed gossip -- passed off as news intended to make you enraged. In headlines today, Goodman pimped the same gossip: "In campaign news, Senator John McCain has accused Barack Obama of having the most extreme record in the Senate and suggested Obama might be a socialist. McCain was asked about his views in an interview with the Kansas City Star." No, McCain didn't ACCUSE Barack of having the most exterme record, he was referring to the National Journal study -- one Goody allowed to be cited Feb. 8th on her show without objection or question. And McCain NEVER suggested Barack was a Socialist. Get your damn facts right, Pravda on the Hudson.
Goody can't help it, she can't stop lying. And that day was nothing but lies.
Monday morning, before her program finished airing, Jim had caught her in another lie and tacked on a note to C.I.'s morning entry. Goody declared, "The Green Party made history last week when it nominated the first all-women-of-color presidential ticket in US history." LIE. (And she titled her segment "First All-Women-of-Color Presidential Ticket in US History: Green Party Nominee . . .") Jim referred everyone to the July 14th snapshot for this point: "Leave it to Aileen Alfandary to bring in 'uninformed' which, for the record, she did on the first news break of KPFA's The Morning Show where she declared of the Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente ticket, 'This year's Green ticket marks the first time a US has nominated women of color for both president and vice-president.' Uh, no, Alfandary, it's not. From Friday's snapshot: "What About Our Daughters? explains that, if McKinney is the nominee, this is the third time two women of color would be on the ticket with the first being Lenora Fulani and Maria Elizabeth Munoz in 1992 (New Alliance Party) and Monica Moorehead and Gloria La Riva (Workers World Party) in 1996." Dumb ass Amy Goodman (or maybe just liar) declared today that McKinney and Clemente (aka "Don't call me a Latina!") were 'the first all-women-of-color presidential ticket in US history.' And, dig it, New Alliance Party was on more state's ballots than the Green Party will be this year. H.B. Goody felt the need to LIE. Felt the need to strip the first women-of-color ticket (Fulani and Munoz) of their credit and to render the second (Moorehead and La Riva) invisible.
Since Goody was lying, Don't Call Me a Latina! thought she could as well. Here's Rosa Clemente hoping she can woo back Latinos, " I mean, thank you for having me, Amy. It’s a humbling experience, first and foremost. But, I mean, I’m a South Bronx Puerto Rican-born girl, 1972." Uh, no, you're not. Not by your own definition. You were born in the Bronx. As for Puerto Rico? Here's what you wrote in May of 2007, Clemente (there are many other examples that can be provided -- as the Latino community damn well knows):
I am often asked what I am usually by Blacks who are lighter than me, and by Latinos as dark or darker than me. To answer the ,000 question, I am a Black Boricua, Black Rican, PuertoriqueÒa! Almost always I am questioned about why I choose to call myself Black over Latina, Spanish or Hispanic. Let me break it down.
I am not Spanish. Spanish is just another language I speak. I am not a Hispanic. My ancestors are not descendants of Spain, but descendants of Africa. I define my existence by race and land. (Borinken is the indigenous name of the island of Puerto Rico.)
Being Latino is not a cultural identity but rather a political one. Being Puerto Rican is not a racial identity, but rather a cultural and national one. Being Black is my racial identity. Why do I have to consistently explain this to those who are so-called conscious? Is it because they have a problem with their own identity? Why is it so bad to assert who I am, for me to big-up my Africanness?
My Blackness is one of the greatest powers I have. We live in a society that devalues Blackness all the time. I will not be devalued as a human being, as a child of the Supreme Creator.
It's exactly those type of comments that have long offended the Latino community. Clemente self-identified Black and made comments about Latinos and Hispanics. Then you went on KPFA and tried to speak for (lie) the Latino community. No one wants to hear anything about Latinos from you. In the view of many, you spat on the Latino community.
Clemente can tank any hopes of 5% of the vote as far as we're concerned. Not only is she persona non grata to the Latino community (and her lying about their support for Hillary only solidified her status), she's also not very bright. Doubt that? Notice the first thing she responds with from this question of Goody's:
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you think, Rosa Clemente, are the most important issues right now? What are you going to be campaigning on around the country?
ROSA CLEMENTE: For young people right now, the most important issues is a dismantling of the prison-industrial complex;
Oh Big Red, you spent too damn much time in the Bronx. Jim called out that b.s. online Monday and was worried after because Jess' father is a prison reform activist. He called Jess' father immediately but got no disagreement.
Jess' father told us Saturday night, "Jim's exactly right. It is not a driving issue. If it were all of us working on the issue would not have to work so hard. She [Clemente] doesn't know the first thing she's talking to. She sounds like someone who only interacts in radical circles and has this mistaken view that what her circle cares about is the driving force in America. It's not true. I wish it were. I'd love to see it hit an upswing but I honestly think there was more energy and focus on it in the sixties and early seventies. If you gathered twenty 'young people' at random into a room today and said 'prison-industrial complex' many would not what you were talking about. And if you asked them to rank it, it wouldn't show up as number one for the group. She's going to be a lousy running mate for Cynthia because she's so out of touch. As a Green, I find that very sad."
She is going to be a lousy running mate. If you doubt that, let's continue with Rosa Clemente's laundry list ranking of the most important issues to "young people" -- and read along closely:
a livable wage; dealing with the AIDS pandemic that is affecting disproportionately African American and Latina young women; a real gender equity movement; a real movement where women, particularly women of color, are not marginalized in the media or at work; and really dealing with no healthcare and a lack of good public education, but also a lack of now higher education. No young person in America who can go to college should be in $100,000 debt. We are supposed to be competing with the best of the best, and we have over a 60 percent, in some cities, dropout rate of African American and Latina/Latino youth. So those are, I think, the most important pressing issues. And, of course, an immediate withdrawal from Iran. And we must not be duped that a troop withdrawal in Iran could also mean a troop transfer in Afghanistan and more young people, particularly white working-class youth, being used as cannon fodder.
We love Rosa's "gender equity movement." This is the woman who, in mid-July, felt the need to rip apart Hillary Clinton (who suspended her campaign in June). Go for that gender equity, Rosa! "Particularly women of color." Rosa, know the demographics. (And Ava says, "Quit using my community to prop up your pathetic ass you Latino hater.") Check our her bill for college: "$100,000 debt."
Again, as Jess' father pointed out, Big Red can't relate to anyone who's not like her. $60,000 and $70,000 was the figure we heard when we polled (using C.I.'s rolodex) twenty college students enrolled today. And all noted that would be the max for state universities (no community college -- community college for the first two years would drive the cost down). More importantly, Pell Grants and other scholarships are available so they felt their peers on financial assistance would most likely rake up $40,000 at most. An outrageous sum, to be sure, but not $100,000.
Where did Rosa get the figure? Who knows? But, though it's hard to tell listening to her talk, she went to Cornell. (Talk about money wasted.) Did you catch what Jim caught? "Withdrawal from Iran." Said twice. Withdrawal's way down at the bottom of her list and possibly that's due to the fact that there are no US troops in Iran at present. Like far too many useless 'lefties,' Clemente's so consumed with a maybe-war (predicted to be coming any day now since 2004!) that she can't even focus on the illegal war in Iraq.
We've pointed out that by defining "victory" in the presidential race as 5%, McKinney's made it questionable as to whether or not she should even be included in the race (the other candidates are running for the presidency, not 5% of the vote). But we're starting to think maybe Clemente should be allowed into the vice presidential debates if only for the humor factor. We'd love to see a candidate ask her, "What troops do you want to withdraw from Iran?"
What is Pravda on the Hudson without lies and compliments for coverage that never took place?
Rosa Clemente offered Amy Goodman air kisses, "And again, in the progressive press, we've been whited out, whether it's the Huffington Post or Air America. It's only been Pacifica and Democracy Now! and a couple other--I don’t even call you 'alternative' anymore. I think we are the mainstream. But why are we not being allowed to even voice our opinions?"
Like Clemente, we've called out 'progressive' media. In fact, C.I. tore into Arianna's Aging Socialite's Cat Litter Box the morning of Cynthia's nomination. That was because a columnist there wrote a lengthy column reducing McKinney's presumed nomination (she was nominated that afternoon) to "what does this mean for Barack!" As though Cynthia weren't a worthy topic on her own and a candidate in and of herself.
The Green Party held their convention -- four day convention -- this month. Cynthia McKinney won the presidential nomination contest on July 12th. Prior to last Monday's interview, this was Goody's entire coverage of the Green Party convention and McKinney and Clemente:
And the Green Party has nominated former Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney to be the party's presidential nominee. The Greens also nominated hip-hop activist and organizer Rosa Clemente to be McKinney's running mate. McKinney spoke on Saturday at the Green Party convention in Chicago.
Cynthia McKinney: "And when I got to Washington, I saw that public policy is really made in a room at a table. There were real seats at the table. Well, imagine what has happened to public policymaking now. There is a real room with a window and a door, and there's two seats at the table. The window is for us to look through, while our representatives make policy for us, so we can see what they're doing. At the table, one seat is for the Democrats, one seat is for the Republicans. Now, we don't know who did it, but one of them put a lock on the door and slipped a key to the corporate lobbyists who can come and go at will and whisper what they want to Democrats and Republicans, and the result is that we the people, who pay for those seats and determine who sits in them, want one thing, but because the corporate lobbyists can come and go at will, our values get overridden and our representatives give us something else. That’s how we end up with everyone saying they're against the war and occupation, but war and occupation still gets funding. That's how we end up with everyone saying they're against illegal spying on innocent people, yet end up with a telecom immunity bill being signed into law. That's how we end up with everyone saying they're in favor of universal access to healthcare and no one supporting what the physicians, nurses and healthcare really want, and that's a single-payer healthcare system in this country."
That's not even McKinney's speech in full. The entire four day convention, McKinney's nomination, et al was reduced to a brief headline on July 14. That was it for Democracy Now! until last week. We call out Huffington's site all the time. But, truth is, The Huffington Post's one article already mentioned provided more coverage than the above. Truth is, John Nichols wrote about McKinney's win for The Nation online. We're no fans of The Nation. (Ask 'em, they'll tell you. Or just read the angry e-mails they send us.) But it takes a lot of suck-up power to sit there and praise Goody for her non-existent coverage. (The interview with McKinney and Clemente only came about because Goody got a lot of complaints over her refusal to include them -- the woman who finds a way to introduce Barack into every conversation and note him in almost every day's headlines.) We thought the suck-up to Pacifica was cute too since Rosa Clemente is part of Pacifica. Or was, before the campaign.
Democracy Now! -- where the lies never end and the truth rarely begins.
Last week, the non-racial, non-sexist cartoon was formally and publicly 'protested' by those 'great' 'lefties' at MoveOn. In case you missed it, this is how they express their pride: "Hip-hop star Nas helped deliver 620,137 petition signatures from MoveOn, ColorOfChange, and Brave New Films demanding that FOX stop their racist smears against the Obamas. When FOX refused to accept them, Stephen Colbert did--making even bigger news!"
Hip-Hop star? Yes, Feminist Majority Foundation, they not only didn't pick you for the team, MoveOn (and the other two losers) teamed up with a misogynist. Or maybe you're not familiar with Nas' 'pro-woman' ditty "P*ssy Kills"? [See Cedric and Wally's "The racists of MoveOn and Color of Change" and "THIS JUST IN! MOVEON HAS NO STANDARDS!" for more on the ditty.] Poor little Feminist Majority Foundation. It was all so very "and girls whose names were never called when choosing sides for basketball."
Really pathetic. We're talking about lessons Janis Ian learned "At Seventeen" and the feminist movement is oh, so much older today.
So we think it's time to discuss some real lessons, ones that the movement regularly forgets to teach. They need to be known, they need to be learned.
The Ego Of Us All. Yeah, her, Red Betty. She died and Katha Pollitt clued you in on her own cognitive issues by praising Red Betty and by expressing puzzlement that young women in college today couldn't identify with The Feminine Mystique. Few ever could, few ever did. It was the sort-of crap you'd find in the self-help section today.
The reasons for that go to Betty being a Red but bound and determined no one find that out. So she hid not just who she was but also what she believed in. Made for soggy rip-off of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex.
Unlike Red Betty, Simone wasn't marveling over clouds. See, in Red Betty's public world, things just oppress women. Unnamed and unnameable things! (Hence 'the problem without a name.') Simon didn't play that game. Who oppresses women? Men oppress women. Simone spelled it out.
But there were the realities of feminism and there was the marketing. Too much of feminist 'history' today is based on marketing and not reality.
Marketing insisted it always be kept 'kinder and gentler.'
Which is why people like Katha Pollitt can wrongly credit Red Betty with doing a damn thing or express puzzlement that a book about as specific as a vaginal spray commercial wouldn't go over well with young women today. It didn't go over well with young women in the sixties either. But how could it? Most young women in the sixties hadn't given birth (once or many times) to children who were now off in school and feeling a little empty in their wonderful middle class lives. They were young women, not society matrons. It's cute the way, all this time later, Red Betty (Liar Supreme) is still credited with birthing something that predates by many centuries.
But there's a lot of 'cuteness' in the history.
Sisterhood is powerful.
Kathie Sarachild* came up with that slogan. She came up with many slogans before she and what she would probably term 'mainstream feminism' parted ways. (We're not taking sides on that long ago battle.) But Sisterhood Is Powerful was one of the many slogans Sarachild came up with, one of the many contributions she made to the movement.
It's not just that she deserves the credit she's earned, it's also the fact that the intent has been misconstrued. Feminist Majority Foundation misconstrues it today (intentionally or not) when it starts sobbing over poor Michelle Obama.
"Sisterhood Is Powerful" never meant "all of us are in the same boat and we're sticking together!" "Sisterhood" was used in the same way "brotherhood" had been. For example, the "brotherhood" of dock workers might stick together against their bosses. And those who didn't stick with the "brotherhood" weren't "brothers." Didn't matter that they were male.
By the same token "sisterhood" requires more than a vagina.
The Drama of Michelle Obama.
Last week, Rebecca, Kat, Wally, Ava and C.I. spoke with seven women's groups around the country. [See Rebecca's "the 'gals' in feminist leadership, ralph nader, more" for one group they spoke with.] It wasn't pretty for Feminist Majority Foundation which has included Michelle Obama in the sisterhood on the basis of vagina with intent to use it.
Real feminists, grassroots feminists, were outraged. Michelle Obama's never identified as a feminist. She's in the midst of her Laurie Petrie imitation. Her husband used non-stop sexism in the primary campaign. She didn't publicly object to the Iowa victory party where the 'song' about '99 problems but a bitch isn't one of them' blared. She didn't object to anything. Not her husband's sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton, not her brother's sexist attacks on Hillary. Michelle even floated her own attacks on Hillary on network TV.
So the idea that this woman who has not just stayed silent but has personally benefited from sexist attacks on another woman has become the 'sisterhood' focus for protection goes beyond laughable to outrageous.
As one woman wondered, leaving aside Michelle Obama's non-feminist status, "Why is so much energy being put into defending a potential First Lady when they couldn't say a ***damn thing to defend Hillary?" (In fairness to Feminist Majority Foundation, from the start of the year until the month of May they issued two -- only two -- 'daily' briefs on the sexism targeting Hillary. Yes, they've done more than that this month alone for Michelle and hubby.)
And that brought up a number of issues including that feminist leaders decided to break from action to electoral politics some time ago. It was noticeable in 1976. Or at least, there was no more denying after 1976. Possibly smarting from the wounds of Miami (real wounds, no question), leaders decided that the feminist movement was nothing but a get-out-the-vote for the Democratic Party and, worse, that women couldn't really push for much.
Which is how you got the song and dance at the convention. Should women be fifty percent of the delegates in all future party conventions? Considering that women made up more than fifty percent of the Democratic voters, the answer should be obvious.
But somehow that reality was obscured. Those running for office that year (including Elizabeth Holtzman) had reason to lie. Can't get the money they need from the party and also be a strong supporter of the feminist movement. Better to lie to the women about how they really don't need that in the plank. So Elizabeth lied and others like her (that would include Bella Abzug). Women wanted equality and were pressing their demands and Lizzie and the gals were sent out to tell the women to pipe down.
After the decree was issued (and 50/50 was taken off the table), Gloria Steinem did what she does (and that's not meant as an insult) which was to try to find the "win" for feminists in that betrayal. Gloria's wonderful and we love her. Her attitude and energy inspire millions of women. Her role is not one of critic of the movement, it never has been.
But historically, the truth needs to be told and no one's going to learn a damn thing until it is. Women had real scars from Miami and, truth is, they were better for having those scars. Those scars fueled actions and energy for the next four years. Women were treated like s**t in Miami. It was up front and visible.
By contrast, they were treated like s**t in New York City but with a layer of 'respect' so no one was supposed to notice that women were yet again screwed.
We prefer the honesty of 1972.
In 1989, it was time for the mainstream press (and Democratic Party) to attack Molly Yard. Molly's 'crime' was suggesting a feminist political party -- at least that's what Molly did according to the non-stop editorials, articles and columns. The push for a new political party wasn't from Molly. It came from the grassroots. [This part of history is addressed in Susan Faludi's Backlash, chapter ten.]
The attacks in 1989, like the attacks in 1972, were at least out in the open.
What was behind them? An awareness of the power of women. 1976 NYC, like most that has taken place since, showed no awareness of women's power on the part of our 'leadership' in the feminist movement.
It is the feminist movement and that's part of the historical problem. It's been marketed as something else and then that got shortened by the press (and some leaders) to make feminism more palatable. It was never "the women's movement." You hear that today. It was "the women's liberation movement." It became known as that because 'leaders' like Red Betty saw how popular radical feminists (and radicals period) were in the late sixties. "Liberation!"
"The women's movement" is as insulting a phrase as "women's lib."
Liberation. That's what was and is sought.
And when that important word falls out of the phrase, the movement's rendered weak and it allows 'leaders' to get confused. It allows them to, for example, waste their time 'contributing' by arguing against the grave injustices done to a potential First Lady.
Michelle Obama is not a feminist. She's married to a pig she doesn't disagree with. Elizabeth Edwards had no problem noting her differences with John Edwards on the issue of same-sex marriage (Elizabeth is for them). Barack speaks of women having abortion as "feeling blue." Where the hell's Michelle? Barack says, "I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she's feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal." He says "the claws come out." Where the hell's Michelle?
Like Feminist Majority Foundation (and Ms. magazine), she aired no objection.
Barack never called out the non-stop attacks on women by his supporters. And his wife is supposed to now see the feminist movement rush to save her two-faced ass?
Early on in the second wave movement, feminists attempted to address scope. This was shot down by 'leadership' which felt that the movement could handle it all (it can't -- and that's as obvious today as it was three decades ago). It was noted that there were other movements that could fight issues not related to the lives of feminists or issues not related exclusively to the lives of feminists. It was argued (and shot down) that feminists could participate in those movements but that those issues didn't need to consume the feminism movement.
If you ever needed proof of how needed that shot-down conversation was, note that the Feminist Majority Foundation could have led July 15th with a brief on the sexist 'jokes' made at an official Barack Obama campaign event and how Barack then made 'jokes' as well; however, it instead chose to call out a cartoon insisting it was sexist and racist.
A cartoon or an official campaign event that insulted ALL women? Which was the greater offense? A campaign event with the candidate joining in?
ALL women being insulted wasn't important to Feminist Majority Foundation. It not only sends the message that the organization is in the tank for Barack, it also sends the message that one woman (Michelle) is more important than all women. While feminists should be willing to come to the aid of other feminists, this notion that feminists have to spend all their time on one woman is a joke. It's idiotic if the woman herself is not a feminist. There are exceptions to that. A battered woman, a raped woman. A woman not able to defend herself.
A woman who may become First Lady? No. Hillary Clinton is a feminist. Hillary Clinton has long been ridiculed for being a feminist. When sexism was used against her, feminists should have stepped up. Michelle's yet to be the victim of sexism this month but that hasn't stopped Feminist Majority Foundation from trying to marshal the troops in support of her.
Michelle's 'running' for First Lady. Yawn. She clearly is aping Barbara Bush -- no feminist role model. Pamela Anderson is often the target of a sexist press. She's not a feminist. It's not really necessary to mount a campaign to defend her. Ditto Michelle.
This month Feminist Majority Foundation rushed out their brief on Barack's endorsement by the increasingly pathetic Planned Parenthood but never said a word about his reach-out to right-wingers using right-wing lies about abortion.
Feminism, at its most powerful, is never an auxillary of anything -- not a political party, not another movement. Feminism is at its most powerful when it focuses on the liberation of women.
By the same token, it is its weakest when 'leaders' sell out the movement to pimp for a man.
Just as peace movement 'leaders' embarrassed themselves getting into bed with Barack, so have feminist 'leaders.' There's no reason for either camp to get in bed with him. There is every reason to object and attempt to force him into addressing the issues that matter to each movement.
The scars from 1972 came mainly from men. There were a few backstabbers and sellouts among the women, but the biggest offenders were men. The scars of 1976 involved women selling out other women. It involved women being co-opted (they got a seat at the table!) and enlisting in the selling out of other women.
That is a part of the feminist history.
We love Gloria Steinem very much and will clearly state that it is not her job to be (and she's never defined herself as) the feminist historian. But it's past time that someone stepped up because a lot of today's lessons are actually lessons that keep popping up. When a woman in Atlanta brought up 1976 last week, there was shock from feminists (younger, the same age and older) who had never heard of it. As one said, "Well we can certainly see that repeating today." Exactly. And if we knew our history, we wouldn't just prevent surprise, we could prevent it happening in the first place.
Another thing that could be prevented is the repeated ignoring of the grassroots. If the grassroots were listened to, feminism would be a lot stronger. That's true today, that's always been true. The grassroots has always been more active and more radical than anything 'leadership' has allowed to be presented to the general public. 'Leadership' and journalists who saw their role not as reporting but as marketing -- Hello, Marlene!
The obsession with electoral politics was always scary and the main reason was fear that the movement would be sold out by leadership. Other reasons included that a movement of millions was reduced to a cheering section for one person (usually a man). As you piece together the historical truths in this article, you should realize how valid those fears were and are.
History isn't only something that happens in the past. It's something that continues to happen over and over until enough people say "no more."
Now is the time to say "no more." Repeatedly throughout the primaries, Hillary would be attacked by The Cult of Barack and they'd cite Michelle as a "traditional wife." In fact, two 'career gals' were praising Michelle for being just that last month on NPR. In March of this year, The New Republic was addressing that traditional factor. Cindy McCain self-identifies as a traditional wife and she's been smeared. (Isn't it interesting that her drug use* is regularly pointed out by the same people who screamed foul and 'racism' when Barack's was brought up?) There's not much point in the feminist movement wasting their energies to do a sexism watch on McCain. The same way there's no reason for feminists to fret over Michelle. "Traditional wives" aren't really what the feminist movement is about.
The feminist movement should be pressing demands on ALL candidates. It should not be telling half-truths for Barack -- or for any candidate. Having refused to stand up to the sexist attacks on Hillary (Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan are the only leaders who stood up), 'leadership' needs to grasp that the grassroots doesn't give a damn what happens next in the presidential race. If sexism mattered, if it was worthy of being called out*, that damn sure should have taken place when a feminist was the one under attack. Feminist Majority Foundation didn't find sexism very important when Hillary was a candidate for president? Well the grassroots really isn't into the rescue-the-traditional-wife-who-might-become-yet-another-first-lady. It all comes down the mushy-soft-focus approach, the one Red Betty sold. As opposed to the realities on who supresses women . . . and who benefits from it.
*Sarachild was and is a member of Redstockings.
* Elaine and C.I. want it pointed out that if the McCain camp decides to take issue with the attacks on Cindy McCain, those who have engaged in cheap shots at Cindy without any knowledge of the facts are going to look foolish and hateful. They'd be wise to back off now. Not only does the story have a strong built-in sympathy factor, there could be a huge backlash from women (towards Barack and his followers) if this is addressed. Any woman who's ever suffered physical pain and been dismissed by a doctor over it will emphasize with Cindy.
*Of course we think sexism is worth calling out. But you can't stay silent while a man uses it against a feminist and then rush to 'man' the towers for the same man's wife. It's offensive.