Sunday, March 31, 2013

Truest statement of the week

The celebrity trolls who currently reign on commercial television, who bill themselves as liberal or conservative, read from the same corporate script. They spin the same court gossip. They ignore what the corporate state wants ignored. They champion what the corporate state wants championed. They do not challenge or acknowledge the structures of corporate power. Their role is to funnel viewer energy back into our dead political system -- to make us believe that Democrats or Republicans are not corporate pawns. The cable shows, whose hyperbolic hosts work to make us afraid of self-identified liberals or self-identified conservatives, are part of a rigged political system, one in which it is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, General Electric or ExxonMobil. These corporations, in return for the fear-based propaganda, pay the lavish salaries of celebrity news people, usually in the millions of dollars. They make their shows profitable. And when there is war these news personalities assume their “patriotic” roles as cheerleaders, as Chris Matthews-- who makes an estimated $5 million a year -- did, along with the other MSNBC and Fox hosts.

-- Chris Hedges, "The Day That TV News Died" (Truthdig).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

Chris Hedges.  Not only did we all agree but because we all thought so, he was the only one we brought to the table.  So we only offer one truest this week.
The Drone War.  The video alone made it appropriate for today's editorial (it's Easter).   This ended up being easier to write than expected.
This did not.  I (Jim) gave the topic to Ava and C.I. Sunday morning (around two) and my point was that we had a lot of e-mails asking why, since they've done great pieces on the genres of sitcoms and variety shows over the years, they've never tackled the TV movie genre.  Ava and C.I. looked at me like I was crazy.  And I well may be.  They said (a) that topic is too huge to drop on them, (b) that topic is too huge for one article, (c) the only reason they might do it is there is nothing at all "trendy" or "Water Cooler" about it, (d) let them make some calls to any friends who might be up and they'll get back to me.  They still weren't sold on it when they finished their phone calls but figured they could give it a try since we were hoping to be done before seven a.m.  They roughed out a draft that they hated.  But did so to make the deadline.  Then we didn't make the deadline.  And since some have young kids, that meant regrouping later in the night.  Which we did.  At that time, Ava and C.I. took a second pass on the piece.  I thought it was a solid piece with the first attempt.  I realize now why they didn't.  With minor tweeking and removing a sentence here, adding a few words there, they turned into an Ava and C.I. piece -- as opposed to staid academia.

This has been brewing as a topic for some time.  The decision to ignore listeners and axe Talk of the Nation made it a must do piece this week.
A friend of C.I.'s asked us if we could work in a link to this group.  My response was, "I'm sure Ava and C.I. can if we can't" -- meaning they could do a link in their TV article.  Then, days later, when we're doing the edition, Ava and C.I. are singing along to this amazing song.  What is that song?  It's Chic Gamine's "Closer."  Oh.  Oh!  We quickly made this video of the week.  They are amazing in this video.  
Our Iraq piece.  
We didn't set out to call out Black Agenda Report.  We honestly only visited today looking for a second truest but instead we found a problem.
This piece has a lengthy intro from me so I'll let that stand.  C.I. did some great writing in this piece be sure to read it.
Repost from England's Socialist Worker.
Repost on Cindy Sheehan's Tour de Peace action.

Workers World repost.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it. 


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

Editorial: The Drone War

That's the new video from Brave New Foundation.

For years now, The Drone War has taken place and with little objection.

People have been killed.  Innocents?  All are innocent.  None were convicted of anything.  But, yes, children have been killed (as many as 197 in Pakistan alone),  an eight-year-old girl has watched as a drone killed her mother.  The Drone War is US terror inflicted upon innocents, especially children, who watch these attacks from the sky on their family, on their friends, on their neighbors.

And you better believe, these attacks will not be forgotten as the children grow into adults.

The Drone War takes place in Somalia, Yemen and, especially, Pakistan.  In Pakistan alone, US President Barack Obama has launched 366 strikes.

drone war

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has compiled various data on The Drone War and you're big question there should be where is the US press equivalent?

In the United States, we only get garbage.  Today, NPR aired their most recent 'report' on The Drone War.  It was the usual garbage one can expect from NPR, from Weekend Edition and from Rachel Martin (link is text and audio).

RACHEL MARTIN:   This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. The drone attacks carried out under the Obama administration have for years been one of the biggest open secrets in Washington. It was only last year that the president's then-counterterrorism chief, John Brennan, acknowledge the program publicly for the first time. In recent months, there have been calls from both Democrats and Republicans to make the program more transparent. One suggestion floating around Capitol Hill is the idea of something called a drone court, which would examine the legality of a drone attack. Gregory McNeal has been writing about accountability and oversight of the drone program for Lawfare. It's a blog covering national security law. He also teaches that same subject at Pepperdine University's School of Law. We asked him to explain the different ways a court like this could work.

GREGORY MCNEAL: A drone strike happens against an individual. It turns out, based on journalist reports, whatever, that it was wrong or a family member says, you know, this person was not involved in terrorism at all. You've taken his life, you've destroyed our property - that could be part of the suit as well - you owe us some compensation for what you've done. This one is the least controversial in my mind because it's the type of thing that courts are able to do; review facts after the fact and it's not second-guessing the judgment of the commander in chief, at least it's not second-guessing it before a strike happens.

MARTIN: So, let's walk through another option that you outline. It would be a court modeled after what are called FISA courts. These are the courts formed out of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, essentially a secret group of judges who can hear very highly classified cases and decide, for example, whether or not the government can open a wiretap or otherwise monitor a person of interest.

The Drone War is a problem, Rachel Martin and NPR apparently believe, but the only possible solution is to create a court of some kind to be over it?

The notion of eliminating, of ending The Drone War doesn't occur to NPR or Rachel Martin?

That's just how limited the thinking and the discourse is on NPR.  They should be ashamed of themselves.

Brave New Foundation notes:

Brave New Foundation has the honor of releasing a video to accompany a seminal report by human rights law experts at Stanford and New York University law schools. The report, entitled Living Under Drones presents chilling first-hand testimony from Pakistani civilians on the humanitarian and security costs of escalating drone attacks by the United States. The report uncovers civilian deaths, and shocking psychological and social damage to whole families and communities – where people are literally scared to leave their homes because of drones flying overhead 24 hours a day.
The report is based on nine months of research, including two investigations in Pakistan. The Stanford-NYU research team interviewed over 130 individuals, including civilians who traveled out of the largely inaccessible region of North Waziristan to meet with the researchers. They also interviewed medical doctors who treated strike victims, and humanitarian and journalist professionals who worked in drone impacted areas.
As U.S. citizens, we feel a responsibility to know the real impact of the policies of our government. We hope you will join us at to be part of this fight for a more humane and just world.

CNN's Dan Merica did cover Brave New Foundation and the new video.  If you're wondering how often NPR has covered them, the answer is zero.

If you're wondering how much NPR cares about those killed in The Drone War, the answer is zero.

TV: The Death of the TV Movie

Donato:  That ring and that watch were hot stuff.  Hector kept them in a safe and they were stolen by his boyfriend Larry Gaines. 

Jessie Lee Stubbs:   Hector was gay?

Donato:   He was gay, yes, and, Larry Gaines, he was anything.  Hector was sore at Larry because Larry quit him.  Hector knew he could bring the cops down on Larry by using the nurse.

The above is from a scene between Farrah Fawcett (Jessie Lee Stubbs) and Steve Artiaga (Donato) in Criminal Behavior (written by Wendell Mayes, directed by Michael Miller) a 1992 TV movie.  In the 80s and 90s, network television re-discovered that they could get strong ratings with TV movies starring women.


ABC didn't create TV movies but they did air ABC's Movie of the Week from 1969 to 1976.  Sometimes these films were pilots for TV shows (Lee Majors' The Six Million Dollar Man, for example).  Sometimes they were remakes (Tuesday Weld starred with Joan Hackett and Sam Waterson in Reflections of Murder, a November 24, 2974 Movie of the Week that was a remake of Diabolique).  Sometimes they were based on other material (F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood was a 1976 Movie of the Week starring Tuesday Weld, Jason Miller and a then emerging James Woods).

Tuesday Weld, in fact, can be considered one of the original strong actresses doing TV movie work.  In 1978's A Question of Guilt, she plays a mother accused of murdering her children.  In 1980, she did ABC's Mother and Daughter: The Loving Wars. In 1981, she starred in a remake of Madame X playing the Lana Turner role.  In 1982, she starred with Tommy Lee Jones in HBO's remake of The Rainmaker. 1983 found her starring in CBS' Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Winter of Our Discontent in an Emmy nominated performance.  1984 found her teamed with Keith Carradine and Peter Coyote for Scorned and Swindled (CBS) and, in 1986, she finished off her TV movie cycle with two tele-films, Circle of Violence: A Family Drama (where she physically abuses her mother; River Phoenix is among her co-stars) and, with Ellen Burstyn, she starred in Something in Common (which also featured Eli Wallach).

During this period, many actresses took so-so roles in splashy premises that were a form of stunt casting resulting in attention if not applause.  See Shirley Jones play a gambling addict in 1975's Winner Take All!  See Sally Struthers survive spousal abuse at the hands of Dennis Weaver in 1977's Intimate Strangers!  See Eve Plumb play a prostitute in 1976's Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway!  However, except for Elizabeth Montgomery, few of the TV stars were really up for creating full blown characters.

Montgomery was a natural whether playing Belle Starr or Lizzie Borden, whether doing something heavy like Amos (abuse in a nursing home -- Kirk Douglas also starred in the TV movie) or something lighter like Mrs. Sundance.  But she was the exception in the 70s.   For the most part, it was left to film actresses Tuesday Weld and Lee Remick to do the strongest work in the TV movies of that time period.

If the genre itself had a layer of cheese over it, that stemmed from too many generic performances and too many superficial victim roles.  There's not a problem with playing a victim, per se.  Michelle Pfieffer rightly called out rewrites on the film Wolf that tried to turn her character into 'career gal' because the writers didn't know what to do with her -- not knowing what to do with her was the character.  And playing a character like that with awareness can be a strong statement.

But the TV movies fell into the trap of being nothing but statements.  Well, exploitation hidden under the guise of 'we are making a strong statement.'  So you weren't supposed to be critical of the TV actress playing the mother hitting the child, you were supposed to be thrilled that abuse was being tackled.  (We're not referring to Cheryl Ladd who starred in the TV movie When She Was Bad.  Cheryl was actually very moving in that film.)  All these 'social issues' TV movies were supposed to be applauded for intent.  Apparently because if you didn't applaud at the start for the intent, no one would ever applaud when the end credits rolled and you realized just how bad a production that movie was.

The demise of the TV movies was hidden in part by some major successes in the TV mini-series genre.  A movie usually lasted one night (some lasted two and were billed as "movies" and not a "mini-series").  A mini-series lasted two or more nights.  There were the prestige ones like Roots and The Winds of War there were the entertaining ones like Scruples and Hollywood Wives.  The networks preferred a semi-successful mini-series to a successful TV movie.

Thornbirds, for example, was huge (second only to Roots as the highest rated mini-series) and the network could and did spend months promoting this mini-series that would take up multiple nights in the schedule.  By contrast, 1975's Trilogy of Terror was but one Movie of the Week ABC had to try to drum up enthusiasm for while also promoting the other TV movies that would be airing.

So more attention was paid to the mini-series format and the TV movies got weaker and weaker.  Is there really a point, for example, to The Best Little Girl in the World other than seeing how much weight Jennifer Jason Leigh could lose?  We're not panning her performance -- she's one of the greatest actresses working today -- but we are panning the TV movie and the same goes for Something About Amelia which may have been about incest but really doesn't work as a movie.  The scripts are threadbare in those and other 'social issue' movies of that time.  Noble cause may look good on a resume but it usually translates on screen to self-celebration.

In the 80s,  Ann-Margret, Farrah Fawcett and others would bring new life and new layers to the genre.  With 1983's Who Will Love My Children? and 1984's The Burning Bed, the two women set a new standard for performances and for quality of material.   They didn't settle for 'good cause,' they wanted characterization and they wanted story.  They fought for it and those are two of the finest TV movies of that decade.

Ann-Margret would follow up Who Will Love My Children?, with 1984's A Streetcar Named Desire.  Though she would continue to give strong performances in 8 more TV movies and 2 mini-series, only 1998's Life of the Party was worthy of her.

That goes to the level of the material out there.  By the 90s, TV movies were something of a joke.  "You're so Markie Post in every single Lifetime movie," Will tells Grace in the second episode of Will and Grace.  Substitute Michelle Lee, Nancy McKeon and Merdith Baxter and you have summed up many a bad TV film starring many an actress giving the exact same performance she gave in everything else she ever did.

Ann-Margaret's available choices may also have suffered from the fact that the type of TV movie she favored -- quality versions of those types of TV movies -- usually had leads already snapped up by Lindsay Wagner who tackled strong topics and delivered incredible performances (see especially Evil In Clear River).  Equally true, TV movies were going for young actresses as well.  The battle there was basically between one-note performer Melissa Gilbert versus the very talented Valerie Bertinelli (see especially Rockabye).  (They were both following in the footsteps of Mare Winningham who starred in 7 TV movies or mini-series from 1979 to 1981 alone -- the best being Freedom, The Women's Room and Off The Minnesota Strip.)

Farrah Fawcett was fierce in hunting down strong material (and in fighting on the set to keep it strong and to make it stronger) which is how she and Colleen Dewhurst created such magic in 1986's Between Two Women, the same year Farrah delivered an amazing performance as the lead in Nazi Hunter: The Beate Klarsfeld Story.  She'd finish out the eighties with Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story (1987) and 1989's Double Exposure: The Story of Margaret Bourke-White and Small Sacrifices.

As she finished up the 80s, she noticed the roles were getting more victimized while the scripts became more superficial.  That's why she went with Criminal Behavior.  As she explained to Harvey Solomon (Los Angeles Times),  "That's why this character was so interesting, why she was allowed to do the things she did.  She moves the story along--she wasn't victimized, she wasn't beaten up or beaten down."

In the film, she's an attorney with a low opinion of the police due to her family's experiences ("My family tree is recorded on police blotters") and due to her job.  A. Martinez plays police officer Pike Grenada.

Jessie Lee Stubbs:   If you'd let my client out, maybe he'd just come right to her.  There'd be Larry Gaines, right at her door.  I don't get the way that you guys think.

Pike laughs.

Jessie Lee Stubbs:   What is so funny?

Pike:  You are.

Jessie Lee Stubbs:  No, I'm not.

She wanted strong characters but found weak characters who suffered for the bulk of the movie and then the writers justified the suffering by allowing the women to turn into Charles Bronson and the movie into a revenge fantasy.

So she went with roles like The Substitute Wife that she hoped had larger truths.

That was 1994.  After TV movies especially changed.  In 1992, Amy Fisher shot the wife of her lover.  That year and the following year saw four TV movies about the shooting and affair.  The rush to get the tawdry topic to the small screen led to Drew Barrymore's The Amy Fisher Story airing opposite Alyssa Milano's Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story (January 3, 1993).   With the source material and the rush, there was little doubt that both would be little more than Trash TV (fortunately Barrymore and Milano have given stronger performances in many worthy projects).

And that's what really destroyed the TV movie.  Cheap and tacky, cheap and tacky.

1990's A Killing In A Small Town starring Barbara Hershey, 1986's Nobody's Child starring Marlo Thomas, TV movies like that were no more.

The Substitute Wife is a good TV movie.  It's also, surprisingly, a Lifetime TV movie.  The TV movie largely exists today due to Lifetime and no one's done more to destroy the TV movie then the Lifetime.  Vengeance fantasies dominate with more time being spent on get-even twists than on characterizations.  Not every TV movie needs to be life or death.

They do need to capture the viewer's attention.  Lifetime's succeeded, for example, with the TV movie The Client List which was entertaining.  The Cartier Affair, starring Joan Collins, was a caper TV film but it was also a satisfying TV movie.

Lifetime movies became a joke in the same way that people snicker when they watch Jennifer Lopez in Enough (not a TV movie, though it feels like one): They don't resemble life.  They can slap "based on a true story" at the front of every one of those TV movies, but there's nothing lifelike about it, nothing relatable, nothing truly frightening.  But as big a joke as Lifetime can be, the bigger joke is HBO which seems to think their centrist-left applauding, right-wing demonizing films provide entertainment or art.  We're back to the period of nobility only these days noble is being a corporatist whose hue and cry is "My Democratic Party, right or wrong!"  In other words, somebody grab the grater, another layer of cheese has formed.

A sure sign that NPR is out of touch with listeners

More and more, NPR is about taking the "Public" out of National Public Radio.  That's why, for example, they're ending Talk of the Nation which they bill as "a call-in show."  That's the real reason.

You can always count on David Folkenflick to lie and he did so on Morning Edition Friday (link is text and audio):

You know, if you think about NPR's show - it distributes THE DIANE REHM SHOW out of Washington, ON POINT out of WBUR itself, that TALK OF THE NATION is no longer quite as distinctive and they wanted a show that could bridge the gap in those hours between the end of the last run of MORNING EDITION and the first run of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED in the afternoon that could respond perhaps more quickly to developing news. They thought this format (unintelligible) the new show out of BUR might help do that.

Check out this illustration.


First off, as NPR listener Anne Pancella observed about the claim that NPR has so many call-in shows, "Diane Rehm is the only one that comes to mind, and how much longer can she keep going?"  Or, as Trina would ask, how much longer should she be allowed to stay on air?  She'll turn 77 this year.  Secondly, most stations either carry Diane Rehm's show or On Point -- few carry both.  But guess what all carry?  That's right.  Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

The magazine format with the giggly hosts dumbing down news and thinking they're cute?  It's already done to death and Tell Me More struggles to add stations (their most recent stab at another magazine show).

Plus, as Betty points out, "They just killed off science."

In a nation where science regularly is ignored despite all the proclamations that America needs to increase its science skills, that the future will depend upon it, NPR's taking the axe to the only program that provides science every week: Talk of the Nation Science Friday.

NPR maintains Science Friday will live on in another form.  Really?

With the egos of these on-airs and none really prone to science we're supposed to believe another show will make a serious commitment to including science and keep it for more than six months?

Keep dreaming.

This is part of the general sneering at the public that's taking place at NPR.  

You can catch it all over.  We caught it March 22nd on the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show as 
Tom Gjelten, Julie Hirschfeld Davis (Bloomberg News), Michael Scherer (Time) and Jerry Seib (Wall St. Journal) pretended to provide a public affairs discussion about sequestration . . . while ignoring the public.  How bad was it? 

Half way in, guest host Gjelten had to clear the air:

Welcome back. I'm Tom Gjelten, sitting in today for Diane Rehm. By the way, Diane Rehm is at East Tennessee State University, not East Tennessee University as we mistakenly said at the top of the show -- East Tennessee State University. She will be back on Monday. Meanwhile, we're holding down the fort here: Jerry Seib from The Wall Street Journal, Julie Hirschfeld Davis from Bloomberg News and Michael Scherer from Time magazine, and we're discussing the domestic news of the week. We have a number of emails. You know, the Diane Rehm show is a national show, but we obviously have a lot of listeners in the D.C. metropolitan area. And many of our listeners would be affected by the sequestration cuts that would hurt the -- cut into the employment roles, the -- in federal agencies. And I want to read, "It was exasperating."  This is from A. Leonard, "It was exasperating to hear folks in "The Diane Rehm Show" discuss sequestration from such an impersonal view. Would you be so calm if your salary were going to get a 20 percent cut as DOD," that'd be Pentagon, "civilian workers are facing?" "Why is no one," this is a note from Ed, "Why is no one talking about the 800,000 people who are about to have their salaries slashed by 20 percent?"  Another one from Brian, who says, "I'm a government employee and planning for a minimum 20 percent pay cut." All right. So there's a whole stack of emails here from people who are going to see their pay cut -- going to possibly see pay cut although, Julie, we don't know yet, for example, whether or -- when or maybe even whether those cuts are going to take effect. Is that right? Well, that's right. I mean, that's right to some extent. I think some of the furlough notices haven't gone out yet. But certainly there will be furloughs, there will be people who'll see their salaries cut. There will be people who see their unemployment payments cut as well if this continues. And so, you know, we shouldn't downplay the impact of that for people who will feel it.

And the mop up above?  Pretty bad.  One of the e-mails?  From a federal worker but he doesn't work in DC.  Tom Gjelten is such an idiot that he fails to grasp there are federal jobs all over America -- not just in DC.

What a moron.

To be clear, there are times to remove shows and good reasons too.  If this were a Pacifica Radio show, we'd probably be less concerned.  While both are public radio, NPR is a different model.  Meaning NPR does not broadcast, it makes programming that it offers to radio stations who then pay for it.  Point being, there's no reason to discontinue Talk of the Nation right now.

If you think that what NPR listeners want is another magazine show, offer them Here and Now for a year and Talk of the Nation for a year.  After 12 months, see which one is being carried by more stations and reaching more listeners and then you make the decision to take the axe to one.

But that would be allowing the public a say in National Public Radio and, let's face it, that's the last thing NPR wants to do.

Video of the Week

Canada's Chic Gamine with "Closer" -- Closer is also the title of their debut album.

Photo of the Week

From Karkuk من كركوك

The Iraqi Spring MC photo had the photo of the week.  Protesters in Kirkuk carried this poster of Saleh al-Mutlaq with a red X across his face.  In the Arabic writing on the photo, he's being called a traitor to the Iraqi people.

Last week, Saleh al-Mutlaq decided to skip the Iraqiya boycott and return to the Cabinet meetings.  Iraqiya was boycotting the Cabinet meetings until Nouri started addressing the protesters demands.  Protests have been taking place across Iraq since December 21st.  Over 10% of the population is participating.

al-Mutlaq yet again stabbed the Iraqi people in the back.  And they weren't happy.

This was a surprise to the media that doesn't pay attention.  It wasn't a surprise to those who follow Iraq via The Common Ills.  On December 30th, Saleh wasn't greeted 'warmly' in Ramadi and C.I. explained:

Why he was stupid enough to go to a protest is beyond me.  Yes, he is Sunni and, yes, he is in the Iraqiya slate.  But Saleh al-Mutlaq is not popular.  He and Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi (also Sunni and Iraqiya) were both targeted by Nouri in December of 2011.  While Tareq ended up having to leave the country and being convicted of 'terrorism,' Saleh sailed right through.  In May, Nouri dropped his efforts to strip Saleh of his office.

By that point, there had been months of speculation in the Iraqi press that Saleh al-Mutlaq had cut a deal to save his own ass, that he was now in partnership with Nouri al-Maliki.  This seemed to be even more true when Saleh was seen as undermining efforts to get a no-confidence vote against Nouri as spring was winding down.

Saleh al-Mutlaq is seen -- rightly or wrongly -- by Sunni Iraqis as someone who protects himself and does nothing for other Sunnis (whether they're politicians or average citizens).

He went to a Sunni area, Ramadi, where protests had long been taking place and was immediately greeted with a demand that he resign from the Cabinet.  (That would not have taken him out of his MP status.  He just would no longer be a Cabinet member.)  He was appalled by the idea and rejected it outright.

Nouri's first term was notorious for one Cabinet walk out after another.

But Saleh wouldn't even entertain the idea?

You've got provincial councils going on strike but Saleh can't even do a walk out?

Of course they threw rocks and bottles at him.  He was already seen as a sell-out.  And people want to believe that's not the case but then he appears before them and acts like that?  He destroys his own image.

He never should have gone and it's a sign of just how out of touch with Sunni public opinion he is that he did show up.

Saleh al-Mutlaq's been unpopular for years now.

Bad Move of the Week

Ben Carson is Dr. Benjamin Carson and Johns Hopkins notes:

Dr. Benjamin Carson is the Director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins.  Dr. Carson focuses on traumatic brain injuries, brain and spinal cord tumors, achondroplasia, neurological and congenital disorders, craniosynostosis, epilepsy and trigeminal neuralgia. He is also interested in maximizing the intellectual potential of every child.
An internationally renowned physician, Dr. Carson has authored over 100 neurosurgical publications, along with three best-selling books, and has been awarded 38 honorary doctorate degrees and dozens of national merit citations.
Dr. Carson majored in psychology at Yale and graduated from the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He went on to complete both his internship in general surgery and residency in neurological surgery at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. In addition, he served as senior registrar in neurosurgery at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Center in Western Australia.
Dr. Carson sees patients on Monday afternoons and Fridays at The Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center located in Baltimore.

He's a conservative with conservative views.  Having lived through the dark days of Bully Boy Bush, we're not all that surprised to discover conservatives exist.  Sadly, others on the left have to grab the vapors.

On Fox News, Carson recently came out as an opponent of marriage equality as he declared, "Marriage is between a man and a woman.  It's a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality -- it doesn't matter what they are, they don’t get to change the definition."

The reaction from Black Agenda Report was disappointing to put it mildly.

bad move

Wilmer Leon offered "Dr. Ben Carson: Great Surgeon, Bad Icon" which was a thoughtful column and one worth praising.  Sadly, however, it featured an introduction -- not written by Wilmer Leon -- dismissing Carson as one "of the Right's favorite Negroes."  No, he is the right and that's really offensive the way Black Agenda Report tokenized someone just because they disagreed with the person.  We think Carson's ideas are lunacy but we don't for a moment believe that he's embraced by the right because he's a token.  He's embraced by the right because he's one of them.  And they've embraced him back for the same reason.

Sadly, a bad intro was the least of the problems with the disgusting crap Auset Marian Lewis offered "Dr. Ben Carson: Send in the Clowns."  Here there are multiple premises -- none of which is truly developed -- but the worst is the comparison of Carson to the Samuel L. Jackson character in Django Unchained.

The racist film by Quentin Tarantino works under the premise that KKK Jonah Hill is adorable, that slave owner Leo Di Caprio is understandable and that the most vile person in the history of US slavery is a Black slave played by Samuel L. Jackson who enjoys favors by selling out his own.

Now we're not arguing that's the portrait of a saint.  We are questioning, in that line up, a KKK-er ready to attack and kill a freed slave, Leo Di Caprio with a plantation of slaves who are regularly beaten and Jackson who gets a tiny bit of power, the worst offender is Samuel L. Jackson?

Django Unchained is a racist film.  Some people have made idiotic and offensive comments praising that trash.  The audience does not stand and cheer when, for example, Leo dies but, when it's time for Jackson to suffer, the crowd goes wild.

It's really interesting how the White Tarantino was able to get away with making yet another splatter movie but this time one that indicts for slavery not a White person but a Black slave.

That's why the film's so popular.  It plays into the myth that Black people brought slavery on themselves while pretending to be about freedom.  It degrades and dehumanizes African-Americans while glorifying the slave owners.

It is the anti-Roots.

The true crime of slavery, in Tarantino's world, was the 'uppity' Black.

So to find some idiot at Black Agenda Report trying to compare Ben Carson to an offensive stereotype of Black people popularized by a White man?

That's just disgusting.

It's also disgusting that everyone wants to be shocked by Carson's words.  Their next step?

To demonize him.

Is that because they're too ignorant to fight back against Carson's words?

Carson is arguing against marriage equality because he maintains same-sex relationships are unnatural.  Are the writers aghast at the thought that they might have to actually defend same-sex relations?

Same-sex coupling takes place all the time in the animal kingdom.  It's taken place historically throughout the world among humans.  No, not just in Greece.

We'd refer readers to a book edited by Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe entitled Boy-Wives and Female Husbands: Studies in African Homosexualities (1998).  From the back cover:

Among the many myths created about Africa, the myth that homosexuality is absent or incidental is one of the oldest and most enduring.  Historians, anthropologists, and many contemporary Africans alike have denied or overlooked African same-sex patterns or claimed that such patterns were introduced by Europeans.  Among African Americans questions surrounding sexuality and gender in traditional African societies have become especially contentious.  
In fact, same-sex love was and is widespread in Africa.  Boy-Wives and Female Husbands documents same-sex patterns in some fifty societies, in every region of the continent.  Essays by scholars from a variety of disciplines explore institutionalized marriages between women, same-sex relations between men and boys in colonial work setting, mixed gender roles in east and west Africa, and recent developments in South Africa, where lesbians and gays successfully made the nation the first in the world to constitutionally ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.  
Also included are oral histories, folklore, and translations of early ethnographic reports by German and French observers.  The first serious study of the subject, Boy-Wives and Female Husbands is a significant contribution to anthropology, history, and gender studies, offering new often surprising views of African societies, while posing interesting challenges to recent theories on sexuality. An invaluable resource for everyone interested in the continent's history and culture, Boy-Wives and Female Husbands reveals the denials of African homosexualities for what they are -- prejudice and willful ignorance.

So maybe it's time you educated yourselves.  Maybe then, when Ben Carson made an ignorant remark, you could confront the ignorance and not be left using ugly stereotypes popularized by racist films?

The Death of the Media (C.I.)

Jim's note: That's Danny Schechter's The Death of Media, a great book, one we discussed in a roundtable and returned to later on.  C.I. has been pitching a piece since January.  She even noted it at The Common Ills, hinted at it, and I'm sure that was to prompt me to say, "Hey, let's do that piece you're pitching!"  I never got what she was talking about.  And, honestly, when she would refer to Indymedia, my attitude was, "Huh?  It's really not even around anymore."  Duh! That was her point.  After I couldn't take a hint, she finally carried it over to The Common Ills and wrote (dictated) the piece in Friday's snapshot.  I'm pulling it from the snapshot and I'm adding media illustrations that are just media and just to break up the text.  This is an important essay that she's written.  I feel really stupid for not grasping her point when she repeatedly pitched it for an article here, week after week, month after month.

The Death of the Media

The costs of the illegal war have been many.  Reason  notes the 4 to 6 trillion dollar tab."  Yesterday we noted, Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) report,  "The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers between $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher [Linda J. Bilmes]."  That's where that cost was coming from.  Those costs did not all take place in 2003 -- the veterans who were wounded were wounded throughout the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War.  So it's kind of strange that some want to look at other costs but only look at 2003.  It's also kind of strange the terms they use.   Chris Hedges (TruthDig) had a great column this week with a factual error and Tom Cleveland (All Voices) may have realized it and tried to pad it out by taking "TV news" and adding "broadcast journalism" to it.  But while the reality is that Phil Donahue shouldn't have been pulled from MSNBC -- his was the highest rated program, a fact that no one seems to note, he was beating Chris Matthews in the ratings when he was pulled -- the reality is also that he wasn't doing TV news -- nor is Matthews or any of the talk show hosts on MSNBC or any other channel.  Talk shows are not news.  They can sometimes qualify as public affairs programming but they are not news.


I can remember watching Today on NBC, for example, Monday, January 12, 2004.  It's an entertainment show that features news.  And a breathless reporter did a live report that Matt Lauer swallowed because he is so disgusting and such a piece of s**t and that's why so many of us are so thrilled to see his downfall take place in public (hey, Matt, at least you got in some good golfing with George H.W. Bush, right?). So there was Matty Lauer open mouthed in shock at the 'news' being reported.  Ron Suskind's book (which the reporter was waiving on air) The Price of Loyalty would be released the next day and it was all these fantastic charges by former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill and it included documents that the White House said O'Neill was in trouble for taking and they were talking criminal charges and . . . .

And I was dialing on my cell phone to friends at Today asking WTF was going on.  How the hell did that piece of crap presented as reporting make the air?  I too had an advanced copy and, unlike the NBC 'reporter,' I had actually read the book.  But you didn't need to read the whole book, I pointed out on the phone repeatedly, to know that O'Neill asked permission to take the files when he left the White House -- that's in Ron Suskind's opening introduction.

The next day, January 13, 2004, Katie Couric did a mop up segment where they addressed the fact that, yes, O'Neill did have permission to take those files.  There would be no prosecution and he had broken no laws.  She did it with another reporter. No one mentioned the previous report.  Katie is gone from Today by her own choice, the reporter who did the mop up is at another network because NBC didn't give a damn about facts repeatedly.  Matt Lauer's only being brought down today because he's no longer pretty to look at and the reporter who did the false report, the bag boy for the White House who waived a book on air that he didn't read the first pages of (the introduction)?

That was David Gregory.  And for being a whore and not a journalist, he was eventually promoted to host of Meet The Press -- where he scares away viewers with that creepy forehead that screams for either botox or bangs.


So spare me your Chevy to levy drive about the day TV news supposedly died.  Worth noting, on the topic of Ron Suskind, that the well researched, by the facts journalist published another look at another administration, this one was Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President.  It was a different administration but the tactics that White House used to discredit Suskind's books were incredibly similar and it's very sad that the American tax dollar is repeatedly misused by administrations to brainstorm how to attack US citizens who say things the White House disagrees with.

That 2011 treatment?  Much more important to a story about the death of journalism than Phil Donahue's firing.  Donahue's firing was well noted in real time and it continues to be.  It's not hidden history.  What was done to Ron Suskind -- by Republican and by Democratic administrations?  Much less well known and representative of the problem in journalism.  We were going to be the media.

That was the promise in 2003.  I didn't understand it.  I was speaking all over the country, starting in February 2003, against the Iraq War.  As I traveled city to city, campus to campus, young America was outraged by the Iraq War but adamant that something good would come from this crime: The creation of a new media.  Blogs and websites and serv-lists and micro-radio and web radio and all these other terms I had no idea about.   (This site started in November 2004 and I didn't know what I was doing then anymore than I do today.)

And for a brief moment, that did look possible.  But there was no real desire to build a media and you can see that looking back today.  I think the people I met were sincere, I just think they were lied to, tricked and duped by so many.  Take Air America.  That was the biggest con job in the world, in all of its incarnations which began in 2004.  In terms of being opposed to the Iraq War, the hosts Laura Flanders, Janeane Garofalo, Sam Seder, Mike Malloy, Lizz Winstead (only if Chuck D were on Unfiltered that day; with  just Lizz and War Hawk Rachel Maddow who repeatedly stated on air that the US couldn't leave Iraq, Lizz was silent), Marc Maron and Randi Rhodes were.  That may seem like a lot but there were a lot of hours to fill.  And, again, if Chuck D wasn't around, Rachel was pimping her learn-to-love the war b.s.  She repeatedly cited Colin Powell's 'Pottery Barn rule' (if you break it, you buy it -- Pottery Barn has no such rule) and insisted that the US remain in Iraq.  She refused to allow anti-war veterans to come on her show.  (By contrast, Janeane and Sam were happy to interview those currently serving, who'd been deployed to Iraq and were saying that the US needed to withdraw.)

Air America Radio talked about the need to build a new media.  It was just talk to cover the fact that they only existed to get Democrats elected (I'm referring now to the money backing the effort and not the on airs).  So the ratings challenged, money destroying 'network' finally went under as soon as a Democrat was elected to the White House.


But it never needed to be that way.  The so-called history of Air America Radio is largely a lie.  By the summer of 2004, Air America Radio had enough listeners to be a hit, enough to make a healthy profit.  It had listeners all over the country and was breaking records.

If you're skeptical of this, that's because you've been lied to and misled.  The focus was on land-locked radio stations, physical ones.  That's not where their audience was.  Their audience was in streaming.  Real Player*, for example, had never had any demand like it before.  They had to change their streaming procedures and rules for Air America.  This could have been built on, this was the model.  But they weren't interested in a new media.  Again, Real Player had never seen anything like it before.  Streaming in the millions and not for a minute or two but for hours -- it was averaging that over 50% of Air America Radio listeners were listening for six continuous hours.

[ADDED MARCH 30, 2013 -- A friend at the investment meeting called me Saturday to state that though the presentation stretched Real Player numbers, it was also true that Windows Media Player numbers were mentioned in one hand-out.  He is correct.  The streaming via Windows Media Player was also off the charts but second to Real Player numbers.]


Air American Radio was a flop and that's because they wanted to be old media.  That's because they whored as well and not just in terms of the Democratic Party.  I can tell all the tales because I know the bulk of the players.  Sam Seder, for example?  Cowed easily.  The first time?  On air, he was repeatedly attacking Adam Nagourney's bad journalism.  A New York Times reader once wished that Nagourney was dead and Drama Queen Nagrouney tried to inflate it into a death threat -- destroying the poor man's life in the process.  So Seder couldn't have picked a worse target.  Nags whined like the little priss he is and got the New York Times advertising department to call Air America Radio and threaten to pull the New York Times ads (which were then running once an hour) if Seder didn't shut up.  Seder not only shut up, he immediately deleted his comedy blog Ad Nags.

The one truly independent program Air America had was The Laura Flanders Show.  In part because Laura had decades of experience and was a popular on air in the Bay Area and in part because she broadcast (live) Saturday and Sunday evenings (three hours each night), she was left alone and built up a huge following.  She could and did bring on war resisters.  She could and did loudly decry the illegal war.  Only Janeane matched Laura for eloquence when it came to speaking out against the Iraq War and for devotion to covering that topic.  And that meant that Janeane and Laura called out Democrats as a result.  On Janeane's show, there was Sam Seder to act as rescuer and point out some good quality to the elected officials who was a War Hawk.  There was no such person on Laura's show.

So how could they curb her?  They needed to partner her, you understand, it will be good for all involved. So began Radio Nation with Laura Flanders.  It started off okay.  But Laura was fighting for every one of those programs.  I'm not fond of Laura Flanders anymore because she's been a stooge for Barack so don't think this is me doing a favor for someone I like. This is about reality and recognition to those who tried.  Laura fought like crazy to make shows that mattered.  Not only was she fighting Air America, she was also fighting The Nation magazine.  And as her show was stripped of hours, The Nation began insisting more and more that since they were 'sponsoring' the show, the guests should include Nation journalists.  Soon that's all it included. Each week was about the pseudo-issues being churned out by that week's bad print edition. Laura created Grit TV for a reason.  I wish it were worth watching, I wish she had the guts and courage she once did to decry what is going on today.  Maybe she can't because of all she went through at Air America?  Maybe the scars are too deep?  But while she was on Air America Radio, she fought to get coverage that mattered, she fought to keep the Iraq War a topic of discussion even though Air America was issuing statements (once Lionel and others were added, orders were no longer needed, the hosts were determined to comply with mere suggestions) that Iraq not be covered (because the Democratic Party had walked away from it).  To her last show on Air America Radio, Laura fought like crazy to make it matter.

And Air America Radio could have mattered.  I was at the meeting in August 2004 where the suits discussed whether to go forward with trying to buy radio stations and syndicate or rather they build on the unheard of web presence.  I was being asked to invest.  I didn't.  If they had built around the web, I would have because that seemed new whereas the plans presented about purchasing radio stations and syndication reminded me of the problems a friend had with her workout studios.  I stated at that meeting that I would invest if it pursued the online model only.  I pointed out the problems that they already had with stations -- including knocking out a Black radio station which the local community greatly (and rightly) resented.  Across the nation, they were going to grab stations (low-rated, yes, but they did have listeners) and try to penetrate new markets as a new entity while pissing off segments of the audience by taking over these existing stations?  I didn't see it as a win and I didn't see that the network could carry off purchasing those stations, let alone running them.

'So that's what happens when a corporation tries to be of the people,' you say.  'It's bound to end in disaster.' 

Pacifica Radio Archives

Maybe, but what didn't end in disaster?  The Iraq War made Pacifica Radio a national presence.  It was something to see.  And on air, they covered Iraq.  They didn't do an Iraq show, that was too much work.  But if it was in the news that day, they did mention it.  Brian Edwards-Tiekert, to his credit, did try to build enthusiasm for an Iraq War program.  When that failed, he tried to talk stations into carrying War News Radio -- which some saw as an effort to kill local voices but was actually an effort to get Pacifica to focus on the wars -- which is why Pacifica is supposed to be around.  But the Iraq War was a cash cow to Pacifica.

They didn't get Air America Radio numbers -- no one had ever gotten those numbers before and probably won't again - but they did see huge increases in streaming.  KPFA being the most news based of the Pacifica stations benefited the most.  WBAI, not able to grasp what a schedule is or that dead men should maybe go off the air after they died and not still be hosting a weekly series, saw starts and spurts.  In terms of streaming, their hits were Law and Disorder Radio, Taking Aim with Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone, Wake Up Call with Deepa Fernandes and Behind The News With Doug Henwood.  Of those four programs, only Law and Disorder remains (and has greatly increased its syndication around the country).  Wake Up Call remains with a new host who seems to think a party atmosphere is needed.  Deepa now works for KPCC.  Doug Henwood's WBAI show was dumped by WBAI but KPFA saw the value in it (they were repeating it already) and it was such a hit on Saturdays that it's now got prime afternoon time during the week (Thursdays at noon).  Mya and Ralph are no longer on WBAI.  I like Ralph and Mya but they're off because they were greedy.  They were being offered another slot and it wasn't good enough for them.  Since the bulk of their listeners came from archives and not from live radio, the time slot shouldn't have mattered, they would have still had the show and its internet presence would have remained but a pride factor entered in and that's their own damn fault.  All of Pacifica, but especially WBAI hosts, should be made very aware that they do not own any of the airwaves or any segment on the schedule.  The failure to do that has been the biggest downfall for Pacifica and it's why so few of the shows matter today.  In addition, they waste a fortune on Mitch Jeserich's bad program when that money could be spent on programming that matters and not yet another public affairs program.  That features the same guests you hear on all the other Pacifica stations.


But while Iraq was covered, they made money.  KPFA had pledges from all over.  Not token ones, either.  They had people from other states pledging and doing so with the monthly pledge on the credit card.  They were rolling in dough and that was because of the Iraq War.  Yet they refused to create a program for it and when the Democratic Party officials lost interest in the war, so did KPFA and others.  And they lost listeners and they lost donations and it still hasn't hit them.  They still get on air and mention Iraq in pitches for money.  They have to do their beg-a-thons even more frequently these days.  It's because they failed the listener.  The Iraq War gave them a chance to prove they were something different from the mainstream.  Forget that they all whored for Barack in 2008 -- and I mean during the primaries, not just in the general election. They ran off listeners by ignoring Iraq.  Even to this day, when KPFA broadcasts rare Iraq coverage -- take the great radio documentary that Nora Barrows-Friedman just did and  Flashpoints broadcast entitled Iraqi Frequencies: 10 Years of Occupation and Resistance.  If you missed it, you can currently click here and stream. It is also posted at Project Censored for streaming but that's a KPFA stream as well.  Nora made the documentary with Shakomako and they've posted it at their website. But even to this day, when they do rare Iraq coverage, it helps the station.  Nora's documentary helped the station so much that they damn well should be re-establishing her as full time employee -- full time paid employee.  I don't know if she's aware of the huge positive response KPFA has received over that documentary.

And if they'd continued to cover Iraq, things could have mattered.  Working from a Justice Department press release, Sandra Lupien broke the news of War Crimes that the US was willing to prosecute.  We're talking about Steven D. Green who was convicted  May 7, 2009 for his crimes in March 12, 2006 gang-rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, the murder of her parents and the murder of her five-year-old sister while Green was serving in Iraq. Green was found to have killed all four, to have participated in the gang-rape of Abeer and to have been the ringleader of the conspiracy to commit the crimes and the conspiracy to cover them up. May 21, 2009, the federal jury deadlocked on the death penalty and instead he was sentenced to life in prison.   From the July 3, 2006 snapshot:

Sandra Lupien noted on today on KPFA's The Morning Show, the military had put the age of the female at 20 years-old when they announced their investigation last week (Friday). Reuters reports that the mayor of Mahmudiya declared today that the woman "was no more than 16 years old when she was killed along with her parents and young sister". Lupien also noted the arrest of Steven D. Green. Green, is 21 and was with the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army. Friday, in Asheville, North Carolina, he was arrested and charged with both the four deaths as well as the rape. According to the US government press release, if convicted on the charge of murder, "the maximum statutory penalty . . . is death" while, if convicted on the charge of rape, "the maximum statutory penalty for the rape is life in prison."

Sandra Lupien always found things that others missed and when no one -- not even the major dailies -- were aware of the arrest, KPFA listeners knew about it.  That's why they donated. That's why people out of state streamed and donated.  KPFA had a national presence and listeners from around the country who were willing to donate for that kind of coverage.  And they threw it away.  Did so knowingly.  There was a slaughter in Iraq one day which was only noted on the newsbreak and Aimee Allison groaned that she was "so sick of hearing about Iraq." It was a mini-rant which was partly recorded in the studio (she wasn't on air during her rant) and part of the reason why, when she was fired, no one gave a damn.  (It hadn't helped that she'd taken to the airwaves to call for book burning -- specifically she wanted copies of The New Yorker burned because they ran an image ridiculing The Prophet Barack.  That kind of nonsense will never build good will in the Bay Area where we don't take to supporting book burning for any reason -- certainly not to whore for a politician.)

So corporate new media failed, public media failed.  But what of this new media?

As great magazines like Clamor closed shop, the left model wasn't apparently going to be print.  But there was Independent Media Center.  Remember that?  It had seed money and it would depend upon contributions from locals.  It was all over the world.  In the US, it was hundreds of sites with most states having multiple Indy Media Center sites.


The circus is falling down on its knees
The big top is crumbling down
It's raining in Baltimore fifty miles east
Where you should be, no one's around
I need a phone call
I need a raincoat
I need a big love
I need a phone call

-- "Raining in Baltimore," written by Adam Duritz, first appears on Counting Crows' August and Everything

It's raining in Baltimore, Baltimore Indymedia announced it was shutting down February 25, 2012.  Binghamton IMC was one that regularly updated.  Visit today and find "The Binghamton IMC site is gone, RIP."  San Franciso Indymedia is no more (its rival Indybay remains active).  Arizona IMC, Kansas City IMC Madison Indymedia, . . . so many gone.  Indymedia US pretends it's still around but would the top story on your page be from September 26, 2012 if you were really still around?  Seattle Indymedia was the first (1999) and it's no longer around.  Not everyone ceased publication.  California is represented by, among others, Santa Cruz Indymedia, Los Angeles Indymedia, In addition, Atlanta Indymedia, Chicago Indymedia, Boston Indymedia and Colorado Indymedia are still around.


That should have been huge, IMC.  It had the least overhead.  It did face attacks from the Justice Dept, true.  But most destructive, if you talk to Indymedia vets, was the Cult of St. Barack.  I disagree.  The most destructive aspect was catering to the Cult of St. Barack.  No one forced you to cater.  But once you did, your readers -- or drive-bys -- knew you could be bullied into submission so they then controlled what you covered and what you didn't.  You traded influence for likability failing to grasp that influence is the only thing that matters.  Or, for that matter, that the people who say they'll love you when you write just what they tell you forget to inform you that when you do that they won't respect you and they won't read you.  You sealed your own fates.  In the process, you ran off your real audience -- a group of independent thinkers from across the political spectrum who didn't see anything 'independent' about an outlet becoming suck-up to teacher each day.  The brown nosing is what killed IMC.  The sites that survived tended to be willing to fight for what they believed in.  San Francisco offers the best example. San Francisco Indymedia was an embarrassment.  It was nothing but a megaphone for the Democratic Party.  Indybay was independent.  The two fought like crazy and there was bad blood.  Both claimed to represent the Bay Area.  In the end, San Francisco Indymedia was the one to go under.  Colorado IMC was incredibly independent and that's why it thrives today.  But so many of the outlets became nothing but cheerleaders.  They'd cheerlead politicians and they cheerlead TV personalities.  They offered no critique that was worth reading.  They were rehashing talking points about 2003 and 2004 and the GOP is evil and blah blah blah.  It didn't reflect the changed landscape.  It was artificial and fake.

And so it died.  Indymedia can't applaud, for example, the Libyan War and expect to have an audience.  It goes against everything IMC was created for.

IMC had a huge audience when it was able to provide Iraq commentary and some coverage.  Those outlets that continued to be about justice flourished.  The bulk went under as they twisted themselves into pretzels to justify one sell-out after another by the now-in-charge Democrats.  There are answers here for future generations and for media activists.  But notice how this topic has been ignored.  Notice how the deaths of IMCs all over the country have taken place with no comment from the same outlets that used to promote them.


The Iraq War is illegal.  It has also been a non-stop teachable moment demonstrating what we refuse to look at as a people, what we refuse to examine, what we will put up with and what we will gladly ignore.  All the people wasting time trying to pinpoint the so-called death of TV news or news or whatever miss the reality that a vibrant healthy media has been one of the biggest casualties of the Iraq War -- and that took place after 2003.

More species die out (Socialist Worker)

Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Is it the end of the world if a few more species die out?

| | digg |

A provocative new exhibition asks if extinction matters, and whether we can stop ourselves wiping out thousands of species writes Dave Sewell

We owe our existence to a mass extinction event 65 million years ago.

A perfect storm of volcanoes and asteroid impact wiped out three out every four animal species. But a small shrew-like creature surivived.

Its descendants flourished in the gaps left by the dinosaurs. They grew into horses, elephants, whales, tigers and humans.

A new exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London, provocatively asks whether extinction is really the end of the world.

Extinct beasts have always been the museum’s biggest stars, from the chasmosaurus skull that leers at the exhibition entrance to exquisite shiny moths in cases.

You can touch an ancient meteorite like the one that killed the dinosaurs.

There is also a computer game to play to simulate a species’ struggle to adapt and survive.
Nine tenths of the species that have ever existed died out through so-called background extinction.
One species in a million dies out every year, on average.

It’s refreshing to be reminded what a dynamic struggle natural history has been.

As science writer Stephen Jay Gould said, “Life is a copiously branching bush, continually pruned by the grim reaper of extinction, not a ladder of predictable progress.”

There have also been five great mass extinctions. And we could well be on our way to the sixth.

Although the number of recorded extinctions in recent history remains relatively low, it’s accelerating


The museum’s Plants Under Pressure project found that a fifth of plant species are now at risk of extinction.

Animals are faring no better.

In 2006 researchers went to China’s Yangtze river to capture Baiji dolphins for urgent breeding in captivity before they died out. They were already too late.

The exhibition points the finger squarely at humans for hunting, destroying habitats, changing the climate and introducing new competition.

It says that if we don’t want to see the natural world disappear we need to change our ways.
That is true but humans are divided by class, in a society driven by competition to accumulate.

As long as capitalism continues to subsume everything to the drive to profit, well-meaning attempts to, say, eat less bluefin tuna won’t work.

So while human society is a big part of the problem, human struggles within that society offer the only solution.

Conservationists don’t always put themselves on the right side of those struggles.
Fred Pearce has written of how conservationists have provided cover to corporate landgrabs.

And cuddly reactionary David Attenbrough has decided that too many people—especially poor ones—are the problem.

Fudging this question doesn’t stop the exhibition showing us some fascinatingly weird beasts of the past and present.

But it leaves the sections on what we do about extinction feeling unfinished.

The only live exhibit, Mexican pupfish, swim past in a tank they were transferred to before their unique lake was drained.

They feel like enticing relics of a world already lost. The question of the future remains unanswered.

The following should be read alongside this article:
The other side of the story of the British riots
Reviews round-up
© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

The Tour de Peace

We're reposting this from Cindy Sheehan's website.  Her Tour de Peace is about to kick off.


Tour de Peace: The Road Less Taken 
is rolling off from Vacaville, Ca, in a few days (April 4) and we are still in need of some major equipment.
We sincerely and gratefully thank all of you who have donated, or purchased shirts to help us Pedal for Peace.
Roof rack for support vehicle
Inverter for support vehicle
Bike rack for support vehicle
10 by 10 canopy
One dozen reflective vests
Camp Stove
It's probably too late to donate the actual goods, but there is still time (until 4 July) to make a tax deductible donation, or to purchase one of our hot, hot, hot, shirts.

Rallying to save the post office (Workers World)

Repost from Workers World:

Protests across U.S.: Save six-day mail service!

By on March 28, 2013 » Add the first comment.
Neither rain, snow nor sleet kept postal workers from protesting to demand “Save six day mail.”
From a spirited community march and union rally in New York’s Manhattan to a militant march through the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, postal workers and their supporters came out from coast to coast on March 24 to save six-day mail delivery. Wintery weather throughout most of the country did not dampen their enthusiasm.

The National Association of Letter Carriers called for the national day of action to prevent cutting mail service to five days a week. The American Postal Workers Union and the Rural Letter Carriers Union both endorsed. Hundreds of protests took place around the U.S., with at least one in every state. A common chant in all the rallies was “Five day, no way!”

In New York City, the group Community-Labor United for Postal Jobs and Service began with a community street meeting in front of the Port Authority Post Office, which is slated for closing. After an hour or so of connecting with the community — including the Fulton Houses across the street — CLUPJS and its allies marched to the Main Post Office at 31st Street and 8th Avenue to join a rally of 1,500 postal workers.
On the march with CLUPJS were Mary Pannell and high school student Victoria Pannell, who was a leader of the 2011 National Rally to Save Postal Jobs and Services, and letter carrier Charlie Twist, a NALC member.

CLUPJS believes the best way to fight to save postal jobs is to unite the fight of the workers and their unions with that of the communities to save necessary services. CLUPJS member and housing leader Rosa Maria de la Torre was invited to speak to the mass rally, along with leaders of the postal unions.
De la Torre made a strong case for building solidarity with communities that need postal service: “… [I]t is only through unity that battles affecting the poor and the working class can be won. CLUPJS urges all postal unions to work together. We in the community are committed to saving our post offices. We are petitioning against the closing of the Port Authority [Post Office] and against the sale of Old Chelsea Station … and for saving Saturday delivery.”

In Los Angeles, nearly 4,000 postal workers marching through crowded Hollywood streets received widespread encouragement from people yelling support and drivers honking their horns. This strong working-class action and the outpouring of support stood in stark contrast to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and gave tourists a real struggle to observe.

More than 300 postal workers and supporters gathered in Philadelphia outside the Ben Franklin Post Office, named after the first U.S. Postmaster General. The protest drew letter carriers from around the tri-state area, who lined both sides of Market Street as drivers passing by honked in support. Teachers, state and city workers, carpenters and other unionists joined the protest.

Around 200 turned out at the Lower Paxton Post Office in Harrisburg, Pa. Workers from Reading, Pa.,also participated. In Pittsburgh seniors, veterans, religious groups, community associations and other labor organizations turned out to support postal workers.

A highly visible Western New York rally at a Buffalo post office near a huge shopping mall turned out some 400 postal workers and supporters. Union members welcomed the International Action Center’s signs declaring community support and opposition to closings, cuts and layoffs.
‘They want to privatize all public services’

Despite miserable rain and cold weather, over 100 letter carriers and supporters rallied at the General Assembly building in Raleigh, N.C. A union rally like this is extremely rare in the largely non-union state of North Carolina. The impressive mobilization showed the potential strength of an organized working class there.

Eddie Davidson, president of statewide NALC Local 382, chaired the rally, along with Craig Schadewald, Local 382 vice president. MaryBe McMillan, secretary treasurer of the N.C. AFL-CIO, led the chant, “They say cut back, we say fight back!” that roared through the crowd.
Ajamu Dillahunt, former president of the Raleigh APWU and a leader in Black Workers for Justice, and Zaina Alsous, from NC Student Power Union, also spoke. “It is not just about postal workers, it is about all workers, municipal workers, mental health workers, we must all stand together, ” stated Dillahunt. “They want to privatize all public services.”

Cold, wet weather in Atlanta didn’t stop several hundred postal workers, their families and other union members from rallying outside the Crown Road Post Office for three hours. The large crowd filled the area around the sprawling complex and across the street. Again community support was expressed by passing motorists. Occasionally train engineers honked and waved. Hundreds of leaflets were distributed detailing the real story about Congress’ role behind the postal service’s budget shortfall.

Freezing weather on top of a snow storm in Wichita, Kan., couldn’t keep letter carriers and other postal workers from rallying outside the main post office. They were joined there by members of the Communication Workers, the American Federation of Teachers and community members. Members of the German union ver.di added international solidarity to the action. They were in Wichita protesting T- Mobile’s cutting union jobs, alongside CWA.

At a rally sponsored by the Wisconsin State NALC in front of the West Milwaukee Post Office, over 250 postal workers, their families and allies from many unions and community groups protested for two hours in blowing snow. The crowd chanted, “Ho, ho, hey, hey, we want our mail on Saturday!”
Before the rally ended, participants gathered to commemorate the work done everyday by postal workers for more than 200 years. That announcement drew many hoots and hollers of support. Other rallies took place in Madison and Green Bay, Wis.

Hundreds of postal workers converged at the huge central post office building in downtown San Diego. Cheered on by honks of passing drivers, the workers surrounded the building with a picket line and were clearly unified in their demands that Congress stop dismantling the U.S. Postal Service and not reduce Saturday services.

In Seattle,labor and community leaders from Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, Colorado and New Mexico — in town for the AFL-CIO Western Regional Conference — joined local postal workers and community activists for a downtown rally.
Dante Strobino, Ellie Dorritie, Bob McCubbin, Audrey Hoak, Scott Scheffer, Johnnie Stevens and Dianne Mathiowetz contributed to this article.
Photos: New York/Brenda Ryan; Los Angeles/Scott Scheffer; Springfield, Ill./Tony Hutson; Buffalo, N.Y./Bev Hiestand

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