Sunday, December 23, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

Congress' approval Wednesday of $70 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mean the twin conflicts are now more costly to American taxpayers than the war in Vietnam.
According to a study by the Washington-based Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Congress has now approved nearly $700 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Using inflation-adjusted dollars, the total cost of those wars has now surpassed the total cost of the Vietnam war (which ran to $670 billion),” the group’s Travis Sharp told OneWorld. "It's also more than seven times larger than the Persian Gulf War ($94 billion) and more than twice the cost of the Korean war ($295 billion)."
As a result of Wednesday's vote, Sharp said, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will become the second costliest conflict in American history, trailing only World War II.
"But that was a time when 12 million Americans served, as compared with 1.42 million active duty soldiers and just over one million National Guard and reservists today," Sharp added.
Much of the money approved by Congress will go to buy expensive new military equipment: $922 million is earmarked for purchase or alteration of 41 new Blackhawk, Apache, and Chinook Helicopters; $813 million will be spent on new Bradley Fighting Vehicles; $455 million for new Humvees; $427 million on new Heavy Tactical Vehicles; and $425 million for M1 Abrams Tanks.
"I think what you're seeing from Democrats is a resignation to the fact that they’re going to have to wait for the Bush Administration to leave office before they see any serious change in the country’s war policy," Sharp said. "The Democrats just want to play out the clock on this one."

But "playing out the clock" comes with a severe cost for essential services at home.

I think what you're seeing from Sharp is intense denial or wilful ignorance. The Iraq War was thought to be a 'win' for Democrats and they didn't want to do anything to end it prior to the 2008 elections. They are not 'playing out the clock' as evidenced by John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's refusal to promise that all US troops would be out of Iraq by 2013 if they were elected president. Saying otherwise prolongs the illegal war or 'plays out the clock' if you prefer. The above, noted by Doug, is from Aaron Glantz' "Iraq, Afghanistan War Costs Top Vietnam" (OneWorld via Common Dreams).

In far fewer years, the Iraq War now costs more than the slaughter of Vietnam did.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3893. Tonight? 3897 announced -- three away from the 3,900 mark. 1,132,766 was the number of Iraqis killed in the illegal war last Sunday. Tonight? Just Foreign Policy lists 1,139,602.

Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing on Sunday claimed 2 lives (1 woman, 1 man, two more people injured), three corpses were discovered in Baghdad, 5 people were shot dead in a Diyala Province armed clash with the Iraqi army (two Iraqi soldiers were wounded), a Nineveh car bombing claimed 1 life (five wounded) and Ahmed Zeinai -- a US collaborator -- had his home bombed in Kirkuk (no reports of deaths or wounded). Al Dulaimy also notes that on Saturday an armed clash with police officers in Kirkuk resulted in 2 fighters being killed and two police officers being wounded. On Saturday, Al Dulaimy reported five people wounded in a Baghdad roadside bombing, a Baghdad car bombing that cliamed the lives of 1 Iraqi soldier and left four people wounded and 2 corpses discvoered in Baghdad.

Stealing from Kat, the following are mentioned below:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
and Wally of The Daily Jot

Lewis, who is not sure he will be supporting but knows it will not be one of the three 'front-runners,' wants this from Stephen Zunes' "John Edwards' Foreign Policy" (Foreign Policy in Focus) noted:

Edwards' single biggest problem with progressive voters has been his pivotal role back in 2002 as one of the most strident among the minority of Democrats on Capitol Hill who supported Bush's demand for Congressional authorization to invade Iraq. Indeed, were it not for the support by Edwards and his Democratic colleagues--who then controlled the Senate--there would be no need to be concerned about a genocide, an al-Qaeda safe haven, the spread of a civil war, the protection of a Green Zone or American personnel, or any of the other functions for which he would spend billions of dollars and risk American lives in the coming years if elected.
In September of 2002, in the face of growing public skepticism of Bush's calls for an invasion of Iraq, Edwards rushed to the administration's defense in a Washington Post
op-ed. Apparently aware of public opinion polls showing that a majority of Americans would support a U.S. invasion of Iraq only if it constituted a threat to our national security, he set about to claim just that, insisting that Iraq, which had actually been successfully disarmed several years earlier, had somehow become "a grave and growing threat" and that Congress should therefore "endorse the use of all necessary means to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction."
Edwards insisted that "our national security requires" that Congress grant Bush unprecedented war powers to use against Iraq, even though it was located on the far side of the world and posed no threat to the United States. Furthermore, in an apparent effort to undermine respect for the United Nations Charter--which forbids such wars of aggression--in his support for the Bush administration's quest for U.S. hegemony in the Middle East, he further insisted that "we must not tie our own hands by requiring Security Council action."
The Bush administration was so impressed with Edwards' arguments that they posted the article on the State Department website.
The former Senator's defenders reject critics' charges that he deliberately exaggerated the supposed Iraq threat in order for the United States to take over than oil-rich country and that he was instead simply fooled by the phony intelligence the Bush administration gave him. But the episode still raises questions as to what other wars he might be talked into waging as commander-in-chief.
Edwards was one of only seven Democratic co-sponsors of the Senate bill authorizing Bush to attack Iraq whenever and under whatever circumstances he chose. Indeed, his contempt for international law became even more apparent when he voted against a resolution introduced shortly beforehand authorizing a U.S. invasion of Iraq only if first approved by the United Nations Security Council as legally required. Edwards' wife Elizabeth, who is also a lawyer,
challenged him over the absence of any legal justification for an invasion, but this was apparently of little concern to him. In effect, like Bush, Edwards believes that the United States need not abide by international legal standards that forbid countries from invading one another.
In calling on his fellow Senators to support his resolution, he stated, in reference to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, "We know that he has chemical and biological weapons." This was totally false, however. Iraq had
rid itself of its chemical and biological weapons stockpiles years earlier.
Edwards also claimed, "We know that he is doing everything he can to build nuclear weapons, and we know that each day he gets closer to achieving that goal. Iraq has continued to seek nuclear weapons and develop its arsenal . . ." This was also totally untrue. As far back as 1998, the International Atomic Energy Agency had reported that Iraq's nuclear program had been completed eliminated.
Edwards was also dismissive of the plethora of evidence challenging the claims that he and the Bush administration were making about Saddam Hussein's alleged military prowess: "Almost no one disagrees with these basic facts...that he has weapons of mass destruction and that he is doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons" and "that he is a grave threat to the region, to vital allies like Israel, and to the United States." He went on to ridicule opponents of the war, saying, "Yet some question why Congress should act now to give the President the authority to act against Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction," apparently failing to consider the fact that he didn't have any, and insisting that "it is a decision we must make. America's security requires nothing less."

Lewis also asks that I note "Dems & Iraq" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) because he got an e-mail saying, "They've endorsed John Edwards! And if you don't clarify it, I think it's going to spread." Thank you to Lewis for e-mailing (the highlight and the request). He's right this sort of thing does spread quickly. From "A Note to Our Readers" (written by Jess, Ava and myself):

Dems & Iraq -- A brief look at some Democrats running for president. This was pulled together at the last minute and written by Jess, Ava and C.I. We found Betty's son illustration of Barack Obama (whom Betty's son loathes) and thought we could pull something together very quickly and use the illustration. This is not providing a look at all candidates. The focus is Iraq. We're noting Bill Richardson, John Edwards and Barack Obama. Richardson had to be noted because he was the first to start talking about Iraq and should have made it into a snapshot last week but there wasn't time. Obama's latest dramatics meant that he and Edwards were included. Nothing is intended in ignoring the others except maybe Kucinich because he had a personal tragedy last week and we were too tried to want to go there. (Kucincih is mentioned in this week's TV commentary.)

If that's not clear (or if it was missed by some), let me go on a little longer. In September, we were all in DC for the protest. Betty's kids were with her and her oldest son has helped out with illustrations and done his own before that were used at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Hanging out with a bunch of adults doesn't make for a lot of fun, to be sure. But he didn't complain and just grabbed some paper and some art supplies and started working on illustrations. He said he was going to make enough illustrations for us to use for a year and he probably did.

We have a clip folder that articles and faxes and e-mails goes into. (The latter two are from friends offline.) If we ever hit a wall on ideas for an edition, we go to that huge file. That's what Betty's son's illustration's went into. (Kat, with Betty's permission, has noted Betty's son's name. I'm just going to call him Betty's son because -- even with permission -- I'm not comfortable putting up a child's name online where it will be forever and a day.)

In the meantime, Flickr (the program we use to post illustrations) was being a worse pain than usual. So we quickly lost interest in spending an hour or more to post three illustrations. That was a time issue and not reflective on the quality of the illustrations Betty's son had done. In November or October, he spoke to me about the illustrations because he'd told his friends about them after the DC trip and nothing had gone up and they were starting to doubt him. (We once, in a rush, forgot to credit him for an illustration and his friends pointed that out and took the attitude of, "You didn't do that illustration." We corrected that to note he had. We noted it again in the next edition.) So when he spoke to me we immediately posted some of his illustrations and used them in that edition. (It's the moon drawing and another one.) When he spoke to me this weekend (Saturday night), he wanted to know about the snowman as Santa illustration he'd done because his sister (Betty's youngest child) had seen that and wanted it. He'd told her it would be online and they could look at it on the computer. Christmas is Tuesday and it had not been posted online. I told him I had no idea what we would be using it in but it would go up. (It's used in "Editorial: Should we pray to Santa?".) Kat and I were going through the folder to find that illustration and noting how many there were and so many had never been uploaded to Flickr (which they have to be before we can use them). We decided we'd use three of his illustrations. He'd done one for a roundtable (used in "Roundtable") and I had forgotten about that one. We were doing a roundtable that edition and we knew we could use it. He'd also done one of Obama and we pulled that one because Obama's usually a topic at some point in every edition so it seemed like we were grabbing one we could use automatically without attempting to figure out a feature.

We thought we were done with the edition (as this point just Ava, Jess and I) and that we just had to smooth over a few things in features (and finish one). Jess pointed to the Obama illustration (all three were by the scanner) and asked what we were using that on?

For a change, Obama hadn't been mentioned. Not even in the roundtable. We had no feature for it. But we wanted to use it. We had no idea what Obama had done recently and went to Cedric's Big Mix and The Daily Jot because Cedric and Wally regularly note Obama and we also dove into the morning's New York Times because they can't stop covering Obama (including running his photo in alleged pieces on Hillary Clinton). He's mentioned in an article on A24 ("Candidates Trade Criticism Ahead of the Holiday Break" by Jeff Zeleny). So we started looking for things about that (Obama and Edwards are mentioned in terms of a 527 ad, the articles about GOP candidates as well). Ava pointed out that Bill Richardson was supposed to be in a snapshot all week but got bumped repeatedly because (a) I'm not interested in this becoming presidential central, (b) there were so many things that weren't getting the attention they need and (c) when I mention one, I try to either note all or note anyone else that's done anything on Iraq.

The piece that someone thought was an endorsement to Edwards is actually more favorable to Richardson. But I'm not endorsing anyone. And, for the record, Jess is a member of the Green Party and will be voting Green so he's not endorsing any Democratic candidate. I have no idea if Ava has narrowed down a candidate (Democratic or otherwise). Although Ava and I go out on the road each week, it's to talk about Iraq. We talk about many other things (especially music if we're lucky to have Kat with us). We're also watching too many TV programs (on TV and on webcasts) because we're not able to review entertainment programs as a result of the strike (more on that in a bit) and, believe it or not, we're not talking about polls or contributions. If candidates come up, we're talking about their silence on Iraq or if they've said something on Iraq. I'm not focused on determing a vote right now and I don't believe Ava is. (Although, for all I know -- she and Jess are out with his parents right now -- she may have selected a candidate.) So that wasn't an endorsement piece. We had problems with the laptops and with the PC in terms of all getting the same error (which I forget now but some file was corrputed) and as a result, things were moving very slowly. We discussed switching to another PC but just wanted to be finished. So we didn't make a point to check out all of the candidates websites and just focused on those three. Obama to include the illustration, Edwards because he was part of the Obama story and Richardson because he spoke out (I believe last Tuesday) on the illegal war and was bumped from the snapshot every day.

We were not endorsing Edwards (or Richardson) and I'm sorry that there's confusion over that. For myself, the only candidate I will endorse in the 2008 election is Cindy Sheehan and, had she not decided to run, I wouldn't be endorsing anyone. (A) I'm focused on the Iraq War. (B) Members are smart enough to know who to vote for based on their own judgements. (C) Every member is not a Democrat (or a Green), it's a diverse community and endorsing one person means not endorsing others from the same party and it also means endorsing one party. Cindy Sheehan's running as an independent candidate. If she'd run as a Green, a Democrat or even a Republican (no, that wouldn't have happened), she would have been endorsed.

The reason I am endorsing Cindy Sheehan is she has given so much of herself to ending the illegal war. We obviously know where she stands on that issue as well as many more. And if someone who has gone around the country speaking out against the illegal war, someone who has inspired so many of us, can't be supported that's rather sad.

I had no plans to ever endorse any candidate for anything. The community endorsed Howard Dean for DNC chair and, those long enough to remember those days know that I was actually leaning towards another candidate (not Slimey). With that there was universal agreement that Dean was the only choice for DNC chair among the community. We had members who were Green then but they weren't insulted by the endorsement because it really had nothing to do with them (and some were predisposed to Dean as well). I have friends and relatives in the press who do not vote. Forget not endorse. And while I support anyone's right to vote or not vote, I did roll my eyes over that for years. I do understand the position better now (I still roll my eyes, however). If you are really vested in a candidate it can effect coverage even if you're stopping to put on your reporter, editor, producer, whatever hat. Though I will be voting, I won't be endorsing and that was obvious when this site started. (Obvious to me. It has also been noted repeatedly since this site started.) Members are free to endorse (either here or in a newsletter). But if Lewis endorses someone or Kayla endorses someone, you can read it and agree or disagree. If I do, everything I write is going to be examined for whether or not I'm pushing someone. I'm not even pretending to be objective about Obama. He's a War Hawk whose presented by the Katrina crowd as not being that which infuriates me. If Obama wanted to break with that and make some strong statements, fine. He could get better coverage here and probably at other sites. The fact that, in 2004, he told Elaine and I that he didn't support bringing US troops home could be written off under 'growth' on his part since then. But instead he's repeatedly presented himself as always against the illegal war when that's not reality. He also gets a free pass from the bulk of small media. Take the clip played on Democracy Now! last week or the week before which could have broken up to include various strong points against all candidates but instead provide Bambi with a soft moment and made sure to end on his laugh line. Hillary was portrayed in an unflattering light via that clip but Bambi wasn't. Read the transcript of that debate and you'll grasp Bambi didn't hit 'em all out of the park. It's equally true that Bambi's supporters have been able to appear on DN! and trash Hillary (and sometimes Edwards) and then lie (I doubt Goodman knew they were lying) and claim they hadn't decided who they were supporting. I have a friend on Obama's paid campaign staff that I can and do call. I will say, "I thought you told me ___ was supporting Obama." I'll be told that ___ is. I'll say, "Well he was just on Democracy Now! telling everyone he hasn't decided yet." And the response is, "Well he's decided enough to make a donation!" (Or in one case, several donations.)

The Katrina crowd love to claim (publicly) that they're playing fair and they're not playing fair. They offer no criticism of Obama. They run one trash Hillary article after another. That by itself would be fine. There's no problem with holding Hillary to a standard. But that same standard needs to be applied equally. It's not. They're not interested in saying, "Here are the good things about a candidate, here are the bad things. You make up your mind." They have tailored coverage since day one to benefit Obama (prior to Bambi entering the race, they were behind Edwards). Which is why, when Bambi's just allowed homophobes onstage at a South Caroline event, allowed homophobia to be broadcast through the PA system, you end up with an open lesbian ignoring that and writing a "Please, Bambi, think about Richard Daly's support for torture before getting into bed with him." Please, Bambi? Is he a presidential candidate or a child we're attempting to toilet train?

And how does an open lesbian refuse to comment, refuse to call out a candidate who puts homophobes on stage? You damn well better believe that if it were Hillary, that would have resulted in another cover story by Air Berman.

But Bambi did it and he got away with it. He's getting away with a lot of that junk and that's one reason that people like Paul Krugman get attacked for raising obvious factual issues. I haven't used this site to build up Krugman (or any other columnist for the mainstream). But it was so funny to see all the Krugman groupies boo and hiss the man they hailed as an economic genuis when he applied that knowledge to analyzing the health care plans and noted that Obama's was less inclusive than Hillary's.

Bambi only left the *DLV* in 2004 when Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon (among others but they would write about this more than other reporters) started pointing it out. He's running like a *DLC*-er as he slams the left and moves to embrace the right. (And embracing homophobia is embracing the right.)

He's done nothing since declaring that's indicated honesty. He's regularly used steroetypes and coded language against African-Americans to appeal to White voters. He's claimed, while calling out John Edwards on stage, that he was always against the Iraq War which is a flat out lie (not only because of what he said to Elaine and I, but also because he told the New York Times in 2004, right before he would speak at the DNC convention, that, if he'd been in the Senate in 2002, he didn't know how he'd vote).

The big push now is "youthful." He did drugs when he was "youthful." I don't care if he did drugs or not but I do know it will be a GOP issue and for his groupies to claim otherwise is insane and I also know that he would have been tried as an adult if busted because he was an adult.

The new push his campaign is on (articles are supposed to have already started popping up but I haven't seen them) is to use charges of racism in the hopes that they can create the impression that bi-racial Obama is under attack from Whites and that this will create an outpouring of sympathy in the African-American community.

He has regularly been exposed doing things that should have led to a cover story in The Nation calling him out. That includes his lies about small donors when in fact he was counting people who bought t-shirts and key chains and bumper stickers as 'donors' (the New York Times reported). There's the land his house sits on and the federal indictment against his neighbor who used to be billed (prior to the indictment) as his friend. There's the fact that Joe Lieberman is his hand-selected mentor. There's his "present" votes from the Illinois legislature. There's the lobbyist contributions he's received.

There's a great deal going on but he gets a pass. I've never seen a pass like that for a Democrat. And, sorry, I didn't major in Russian languges, I majored in poli sci. All the refusals to explore the realities about Bambi by little media means that, should he get the nomination, a lot of people will be going from disbelief to shock and anger when things that have been ignored become the GOP arguments against him.

A lot of idiots have sprung up over the years and they say things like, "As Ronald Reagan said, 'Never speak ill of a fellow Republican'." I care what Reagan said because? We're applying Reagan-isms to the Democratic Party because? We're not smart enough to think of our own strategies and we're lazy so we'll just attempt to rip off Reagan?

Whomever the candidate is (regardless of your party), you want to see him or her tested before receiving a nomination. You want to know that they can stand up to attacks and that they can explain their record. You want the strongest candidate possible to win the nomination. You don't get that when the press refuses to examine someone and grants them a pass over and over. If something isn't done quickly, people will look back and see this period as the death of The Nation magazine. They have repeatedly ignored Iraq and chased after campaign politics. They have elevated Obama to a stature he hasn't earned because you can't earn it without being tested. If challenged on his stance on the illegal war and how it has veered all over the map, he might have an answer. He might have a strong answer and a believable one. Waiting for that answer to emerge in a general election is a losing strategy.

A magazine hopping on a bandwagon for any candidate is the death of a magazine. They may be able to do a slow rebound but they are never the same. A very good friend hopped onto the Carter bandwagon in the primaries and stayed on it through the election and, as with The Nation today, thought they would be so influential in DC as a result. The result was subscribers left the magazine, the magazine was not just out of touch with readers, it was out of touch with itself, it had to start taking advertising that years ago they had refused and the big DC impact never happened. (Though a lot of money was wasted by a drunken correspondent -- known to be a drunk -- in DC before all the realities sank in.) That nearly killed the magazine and it stumbles to this day.

The Nation is killing itself and it's killing itself more quickly if Obama gets the nomination. Between Patti Williams' ditherings and hormonal induced ravings over Obama and Katrina's inability to be objective but attempt to portray herself as such (when an editor & publisher feels the need to jump in to the fray and say that one of the magazine's reporters is wrong -- one of her own reporters is wrong -- she's lost it and everyone knows it which is why Big Media was laughing their asses off at her when not offended for the reporter in question), the magazine is tied to Obama in the public mind. Having not been tested, having not been pushed (pleas aren't pushing), Obama owes nothing to anyone and, if pattern holds, won't be giving to anyone if elected. The worst thing for The Nation is an Obama presidency and not because circulation is higher when a Republican is in office but because everytime Obama stabs the left in the back, if he became president, presents a problem: Do we call him out now or not?

"Now" will be after the only ones left reading the magazine are the Bambi Groupies and it will be a little difficult to call him out to them. The magazine is being destroyed and most publishers grasp that. Why no one's told her to lay off is anyone's guess. But the magazine is being destroyed. Had it been a Dennis Kucinich cheerleader, it wouldn't have effected the magazine. Readers would continue to read and those not supporting Kucinich would dismiss the cheerleading with, "Well they are more left than I am" or "They're sticking up for the underdog." They might have been able to pull of cheerleading Edwards because there are some who do believe he's had an RFK moment. They would have had to call out Hillary regardless. That's not the issue. The issue is her clone gets a free pass while Hillary's called out non-stop. That's not journalism and it's no way to run a magazine. (It is one way to ruin one.)

If Bambi got pressured the way the other candidates do, if he was held to the same standard, he might surprise me and actually have something other than sop and toothy grins to offer. But the fact that he's not been tested means that he continues to lie about his stand on the illegal war (which is a series of "stands" and not one consistent one), he's got nothing to offer but spin. It's interesting to watch (in private and in public), the way his pushers respond when challenged. In Patti's case, our cloud floating legal professor, screamed on air at a caller (KPFA), a Middle Eastern woman, who only corrected Patti on the issue of Barack voting against the illegal war. (He hadn't, he wasn't in the Senate so he couldn't vote, however he would have voted.) Patti dropped that stumbling, fumbling delivery in the purring voice to snarl at the woman. It was like something you'd see in a horror film, just this complete transformation of the public image she's spent years cultivating. But that is what happens with the pushers when they're confronted with reality. And, in Patti's case, she had no problem attacking a woman who was obviously nervous just to be on air and who hadn't attacked Patti. That would be the same Patti Williams whose written a ton of columns about cultural sensitivity. Out the window when her candidate (though she was playing 'coy' on that back then and pretending she hadn't decided and was just noting Barack's qualities because she found them interesting) get challenged with actual facts.

Okay, quickly on the TV pieces Ava and I do. (And I'm going to cheat on links which I'll add in a bit.) 1) Why is it bad to watch so many TV shows?

Along with the potential damage (received 'conventional wisdom'), it's bad because we don't have the time. When we're doing entertainment shows, we've got scripts and episodes to go over. And, in fact, we have that for all the shows that started airing this fall (and for two that will start airing next month). So we're able to spread out our research and our only big thing on the weekend is figuring out which one we want to tackle. Now, there are some that spring up at the last minute and that's fine because it's not generally every week. In terms of since we decided no more entertainment programs during the strike, it means we're watching everything and most of the work we'd already done earlier is now out the window since we're not writing about entertainment. So we're watching everything and we don't have time for it. We don't have time to check in on Charlie Rose each day (nor do we want to). We're also asking ourselves, do we really want to go there? There was a nice broadcast, a report, marred by what appeared to be the use of banjo music and that was insulting. (And probably intended to be.) We didn't feel like tackling that show (that wasn't this week). So that meant that program, which we'd assumed we'd be reviewing, was out the window. We never know and we're forced to watch at least 20 hours of TV programming each week. On the way back home on Saturdays, we're watching the podcasts we've downloaded on our laptops. And we're asking, "Is there a review in this?" all the time. (Like being columnists, everything is now reduced to, "Can we write about this?") We're fast readers so we can go over any number of scripts for an entertainment show and, based on what raises our interest or concern, watch those episodes (if it's a new show or one we've never seen, never more than three episodes for an hour long show). We're also doing calls with any friend or aquaintence working on the show. Sometimes those calls come to us and not the other way around. When they come to us, there's usually a reason so we bump up a review in those instances. But all the work we've done is out the window and we have to sample 20 hours of television each week (a lot of via podcasts and streams) and figure out what we can write about? It's also true that there's pressure to write something people are going to enjoy reading. We've been doing this so long that we have phrases we attempt to not use anymore. An example would be "And then we watched." We use that in today's "TV: The Weak Get Weaker" and had a parenthetical in there explaining that we thought we had self-banned that phrase and explaining why we were using it. The reality was that the parenthetical added nothing (other than explaining why we were using it) and drug the entire paragraph down. And, honestly, that's not something we would have given a damn about in 2005 when we just wrote to have fun. It's not fun anymore. They are better written now, we both agree. But they are no longer fun. There's too much pressure, we've been doing it too long and there's never a week off. (Next month is three years in a row. That's when we all worked on them. February 2005 is when it became just Ava and my feature.) It's equally true that we would rather deal with a screaming writer, producer or actor (no actress we know has ever screamed at us over a review) because they get it and it's gone. Friends in news never let it go. (They're worse than our friend at Mad TV. We thought comics were bad but news people beat them.) And it's equally true if we don't like something and we explain why we don't hear about it from everyone in entertainment we know but go after a sared cow in news and not only do we hear about it from people with the program, we hear about it from people who know the host or the producer and it just never ends. We held Sally Field to a standard in a review of her show. We like Sally Field. But we're not impressed with the writing on that show and think it forces her to fall back on tricks she's used before to prop up some really bad writing. There was no personal fallout from that. No phone calls from anyone on the show. No whining. Their show's a hit and they weren't thinking, "Oh, they trashed the show!" But news people, regardless of ratings, can't take the approach of, "Well I disagree with them but who cares." They, possibly due to the power they hold or think they do, can never let it go. We saw Sally after the Emmys were presented and congratulated her on the win. (And did so sincerely. She deserves it as a career win. And maybe she deserves it period because she's made a lot of people believe in one of the most underwritten leading characters to grace the screen.) There was no problem, no how dare you. If she saw the review, she blew it off.

But actors are used to mixed reviews and bad reviews. News people, and you can see that in all the rantings and ravings over the dreaded blogs, think they are above reproach. They aren't. They're doing something in public and as such it is open to criticism. We've heard that we shouldn't talk about looks (such as bad hair) when discussing a news program. Considering that we've reviewed very few news programs (despite the fact that they are billed as such), that's laughable. But more importantly, TV is a visual medium and if someone's got hair sticking out all over the place and looks like he didn't even run a comb through it before sitting down in the studio or if a woman's loaded all the jewelry she can grab onto herself, we're going to note it. If it's an actual news program, that might be something. But these chat & chews passing themselves off as news are nothing but entertainment programs and will be reviewed as such.

2) Ava and I say that someone told a dollop of truth but what he said wasn't true!

What he said was true for him. He said that Iraq had been a disappointment. He cheerleaded the illegal war so for him to admit that he was now disappointed was true. We refuted his other claims but didn't refute that one because it was disappointing for him and it was the only truth he offered in his segment.

Ava just got back and has read over this. She wants to return to the first question and this will be from both of us.

Michael Cooper (we're grabbing that name from the Times, this really isn't about Michael Cooper) hosts Talk To Me America on PBS (no such program exists). We watch and we note that "America" isn't allowed to talk to Cooper. White men are allowed to do so. Sometimes a White woman. In our review, we make that point along with many others. Cooper, his producer and his friends want to scream at us over the phone about how, "Don't you know that in 1972, Cooper did ___ and he did ____ and how dare you write that!" Well we weren't reviewing what Cooper did in 1972. We were reviewing Talk To Me America which airs now (it doesn't really, just to clarify). And we didn't like the show and, in fact, were being kind in that review compared to what we really wanted to say which was, "Another White male host on PBS. Oh how 'different' that is. And can anyone grasp that 'PBS' does not mean that your run-of-the-mill conversations are suddenly elevated to deep conversations just because it aired on PBS? And we were kind in not noting that when the female guest was on, Cooper spent the bulk of his close ups and two shots staring at her chest. And exactly where was the political diversity in the guests because we saw none and, in fact, saw the same talking heads we get on ABC, CBS and NBC!"

Or Cooper talked about something, say welfare 'reform,' and we disputed it as a good thing. "How dare you? I'm sending you statistics right now and want you to pour over them and then call me back!" And we open the attatchment and think to ourselves, "Why the hell is PBS sending us a study from The Hoover Institute?"

First off, we don't support the 'work' or 'studies' by that group and, second of all, isn't PBS supposed to be non-partisan and 'balanced'?

In terms of another thing, the five journalists who wrote screaming about last week's "Ike Turner (Ava and C.I. feature)," Jess has already found two e-mails since "Roundtable" went up today, two e-mails from two of the five, screaming about what Betty and Cedric said in that. Those are Betty and Cedric's opinions and if you don't like it, oh well. We agree with every word Betty and Cedric said. And we'll note when an entertainment show has popped up in a discussion, even if it's been negative and about friends of ours, we don't hear, "How dare they say that!" or "They are wrong!" But entertainment people don't believe they're "gods." Apparently, those in the news industry do.

Jess isn't replying to those two and they also note that we never replied to them. We don't read the e-mails. Because of that feature resulting in someone one of us knows (C.I.) embarrassing himself and since neither of us wants to know who that person is, Jim and Dona are reading them (Ty's on vacation so we were going to be reading the e-mails). We don't generally read them. Ty gives us a report on feedback. There are too many e-mails coming in on the TV pieces each week for us to read them and, tell it someone else because we damn well know that journalists not only do not read all their own e-mails, they usually don't reply to them.

The five want to defend a torturer (Ike Turner) who regularly abused women. They can scream in hundreds of e-mails but it will never make us change our mind and say, "You know what, Ava?" "What, C.I.?" "I don't think domestic abuse is so bad after all." "I agree." Just because you shape the news and control people's understanding in your professional lives doesn't mean you can't convince us we're wrong. Get over yourselves.

We think it's appalling that you want to defend torture. And we're not going to see that differently even if we read your looney e-mails. We think it's appalling at this late period in civilization, you want to make excuses for a torturer.

Ava: And just to add to the issue Lewis raised, I haven't decided who I'm going to vote on. I'm not following the horse race, I'm not overly impressed with the bulk of the candidates. When it's time to vote in the primary, I'll make a decision then. We don't bring up candidates for president when we're talking with groups. People can and a small segment does. If they say, "I'm for ___ because s/he is going to end the illegal war," we don't respond, "You're wrong! You're wrong!" We may ask them to explain that. In most cases, what we're encountering on the road is people deceiving themselves because they've latched onto a 'front runner' and they'll admit that to a degree usually by offering that s/he can't speak out right now but when s/he gets elected, watch what happens. We do mention Congress in terms of what they're not doing and do hit on that regularly. If we were speaking at home, we might be tempted to say, "Vote for Cindy!" but we're on the road and there's really no point in pushing her to people who can't vote. That said, Cindy Sheehan does come up because we're talking about Iraq and obviously she is a nationally known figure and one far more respected than some grasp. Who was the fat ass who was calling Cindy divisive? Don't answer so we can leave this in but you know who I mean.

C.I.: Yeah, the woman with the bad hair and weight problem who is presented as an 'expert' on elections because she repeats conventional wisdom and she offered that an edorsement from Cindy Sheehan would be 'divisive' because Cindy Sheehan is 'divisive.' In fairness to the non-expert, she was weighing in on Oprah and when you talk about a War Hawk, you probably do have to 'balance' that by talking about Peace Mom. Though the media loves to turn their own into 'experts,' the reality is experts on elections aren't in the news media but if you quote them in your articles they may turn around and do the same for you and pretty soon the whole country will think of you as an expert.

Ava: Lastly, in terms of Obama, right on the head. Sign me up for those comments. He's not tested and the Democrats do themselves no favors by thinking if he emerges from the primaries with no testing he could be the Wonder Candidate. And one more thing, to the five journalists, we researched that piece before we wrote it. We called and checked our facts (which, unlike at least one of you, we got right). When we finished it, C.I. made the correct point that only women and countries were 'discovered' and there was talk of how we needed to go back and add that to the piece. We didn't. We were done with it. We don't go back and read our stuff. If there's a question in an e-mail, Ty will ask us, "Where did you get ___ because there's a question about it." We don't go back in re-read it then (and we can back up what we've put in without re-reading). The point is, we write those things and we're done with them. That two of you are still bound and determined to try and convince us that Ike Turner's torture of Tina Turner and other women needs to be 'set aside' or 'forgotten' or 'left out of the equation' is ridiculous. Our pieces we write together are our opinion and we express it and then move on. Your obsession with us is unhealthy and an indication of how many people (or maybe just women) you've been able to browbeat into agreement. We will never agree that Ike Turner's beating doesn't go to who he was as a person. All being journalists, you presumably have an outlet in which you could disagree with us, but doing so would mean going on the record and that's probably why you resort to those e-mails because it wouldn't play well with most people if they knew you were repeatedly minimizing and justifying the abuse of a woman -- it's more than one woman but you all refuse to grasp that. So you keep coming back to it and coming back to it. None of you will get a reply. I am insulted that Dona attempted to reply to one journalist last week and was treated like she was a babbling fool. Dona chooses her words very carefully. She's steady in everything she does and if you can't grasp what she says in a simple declarative sentence then you'll never grasp anything that anyone says. Jim told C.I. and I both that Dona stated, "I am disturbed by what appears to be the passed on nature." She goes on to explain that you're writing about an article you haven't read which indicates someone told you, "You must write in on this!" because if, someone didn't tell you that, why the hell are you writing to complain, question or comment on an article you never even read? And how the hell did you find our e-mail address to begin with? You didn't visit our site last week or else you're unable to handle a webpage because Jim's note lists every article in each edition and, in addition, the articles are all listed in a sidebar on the right. So if you visited the site to find the e-mail address it's rather shocking that you were confused as to which article was about Ike Turner. It would have been the one entitled "Ike Turner (Ava and C.I. feature)." That should be rather obvious to anyone but especially to an allegedly trained journalist. Jess just read the two whiners, of the original five, again and one wants to say, "If it was wrong for me to weigh in on an article I didn't read, it's wrong for you to weigh in on my e-mail you didn't read." No, there's a difference. We posted an article online for anyone to see. You wanted to comment on it. We don't read those e-mails. We get a summary on all e-mails about our writing. We don't have the time to read regular readers let alone someone who happens by. The difference is we posted an article online that anyone can read and you wanted to argue and bicker in private about an article you didn't read and things you didn't know. We know your points, they were summarized to us -- and it appears the five were part of an organized writing campaign indicating that your bosses should be aware of exactly how much time you have on your hands while on the company clock. There is a difference. And here's another. We didn't read your e-mails but we know what you said and responded to that. You heard of an article but didn't know enough about it -- because you didn't read it -- to comment on it. Apparently you took part in an organized e-mail campaign based on a one sentence summary. The morning after Elaine's post went up, we had Jim on the phone and C.I. opened with, "I'm going to repeat some points based on my understanding of Elaine's post. Tell me if I'm understanding correctly." After that was all checked off on, Jim then added some more details about the texts of the e-mails. We fully understood your rants. You couldn't even point to errors despite maintaining they were there. Clearly, what we did and what you did were not the same things because we understood your e-mails and you couldn't even be bothered with reading a public article before weighing in. Do yourself a favor and go away. It's like we went into a bar to grab a drink and catch up and you hovered around us the whole time, ignoring that we refused your drinks, ignoring that we've told you to get lost. It's last call, find someone else to go home with. You never stood a chance, but you have struck out.

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