Sunday, February 25, 2007

Truest statement of the week


"If I'm an ass, I'm just an ass." We'd take out the qualifier of "if" ("I'm an ass, I'm just an ass") and say Patricia Heaton has had a groundbreaking breakthrough but even with her qualifier, Heaton's self-call ranks among the most true.

She made it last week, 2-20-07, on CBS' Late Late Show -- which no one admits to watching but Ava and C.I. got a ton of "Oh my God!" phone calls once Heaton showed up, apparently having spent the day digging through Joanne Worley's early seventies wardrobe to find just the right 'flowing' suit.

She was sagging and she was bagging and looked like a casing of sausage that had exploded. But we loved the fringe ruffle around the expanding mid-riff almost as much as we enjoyed the "clip" the busy, busy hacktress provided -- it was from the off-the-air-for-how-many-years-now? Sombody's Got To Love Raymond.

Patti confessed she was hated online. Oh Patti, don't be so modest we (Ava and C.I.) hate you to your face and have for some time. Embrace it, you've earned it. And prepare yourself because we're already hearing rumors about Action News. We can't wait, Patti, we can't wait.

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

Here's who did writing on this edition:

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,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
and Wally of The Daily Jot

We thank everyone above and we thank Dallas for all of his help and Rebecca for photoshopping the new illustrations.

New content (and no theme):

Highlights -- Mike, Cedric, Betty, Rebecca, Wally and Elaine wrote this feature and selected the highlights. Mike wants us to please note they forgot Isaiah's comic ("Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'The Same Old Song'").

All is revealed -- a lot of e-mails came on in on this. Most guessed Sue Storm but couldn't figure out Firestorm. We're not sure whether that has to do with how well Firestorm is known or how badly we illustrated her (we'll take the fall). We'd planned to note the five this week in a sort of "installment" manner but we were surprised by how many were up for guessing who the five were.

The Nation Stats -- It's back. And the stats are still bad.

If he exceeds his reach, you must impeach -- We tried really hard last Sunday to recast this so we could run it online. (A version ran in the print edition and last Friday in the gina & krista round-robin.) We never could. But here's an online version that's completely different than the earlier version some readers saw.

Mailbag -- Easy features to try to get done early. (We gave up on early when we all agreed, the core six and Kat, that we needed a nap.) We grabbed the e-mails quickly, sorry if you weren't included. Maybe next time.

Talking artistic representation with The Common Ills' Isaiah -- We knew this would be a short feature and have visuals. We thank Isaiah for speaking with us and think you'll enjoy this.

The Weeping Rapist -- We have an illustration for this. It won't upload to Flickr. Three times tried, three times failure message. We're giving up.

TV: Aftermath leaves an aftertaste -- Ava and C.I. were of the opinion that they didn't have a review. They'd planned to review another show but it didn't air and they couldn't figure out where the show was in terms of what had been aired. So at the last minute, they decided to tackle Jericho. We think it's funny and hard hitting.

Editorial: Watada, they go after, Watada -- Charges are refiled against Watada, meanwhile a man who attempts rape gets no jail time. The military calls it "justice."

Truest statement of the week -- It was the fifth or sixth phone call, the fifth or sixth person saying, "She means you two!" to Ava and C.I. that finally had them turning this on. Patricia Heaton (who is actually more unattractive in person, something that Ava and C.I. long swore but that the rest of us saw for ourselves recently) wearing the most ridiculous outfit in the world. Whining about those mean people online. Oh Patti, we'll save our tears for Michael Schiavo. Remember the awful things you said about him? We laughed hard as you pretended like your views weren't that out there, we laughed harder when you said you weren't trying to step away from them. We laughed even more when we realized you need to 'freshen up' that surgery and quick. Patti was still yacking about her career when calls started coming in about her new show and the horrors already emerging causing Ava and C.I. to note, "We can't wait, Patti, we can't wait." No doubt, neither than their loyal readers.

So that's what we've got. And FYI for readers of The Common Ills. If C.I.'s unable to finish "And the war drags on . . ." before we all leave for the awards presentation later today, Rebecca's offered to either round it out or do the whole entry so it will be up.

See you next week.

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

Editorial: Watada, they go after, Watada


Ehren Watada is due to be court-martialed again. Friday, the US military refiled charges against him. After Judge Toilet's mistrial call, double-jeopardy should apply and the US military really needs to find other things to focus on.

How about this:

BAGHDAD -- Sgt. 1st Class, Daniel Edwards Franklin, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Corps Materiel Management Center, 13th Sustainment Command(Expeditionary), was convicted at a general court-martial on 22 February 2007 of indecent acts upon a female Private 2nd Class in the junior Soldier's room and then lying
about his involvement to CID personnel.
On 20 October 2006 Sgt. 1st Class Franklin followed a female Private 2nd Classinto her room on LSA Anaconda. He attempted to force intimate contact upon the soldier. During a CID interview and on the witness stand at trial, Sgt. 1st Class Franklin stated he was in the room for less than five minutes and never touched the female Soldier. The then 19-year-old victim knew her attacker and testified she often would seek out guidance and assistance from the 34-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Franklin in the days before the attack.
The court martial was tried at LSA Anaconda with Col. James Pohl, Chief Circuit Judge, from the 5th Judicial Circuit based in Germany, presiding. A panel of officers and enlisted personnel, sentenced Sgt. 1st Class Franklin to reduction in grade to E-1.
Capt. Jeremy Stephens and Capt. Dan Mazzone represented the government's interest in the trial.

Franklin got busted from Sgt. to private for attempting to "force intimate contact upon the soldier" which is also known as attempted rape. And the above is from the US military's official press release, FYI.

So attempted rape means no jail time but they want Ehren Watada to be court-martialed again? Seems like they're under some impression that they've got their house in order but that's really not the case, is it?

We recently touched on the violence against women who serve in the military (see "Women and the military") and for the three who felt we were "making too much" (SZX's words) out of it or that it "really isn't an issue of the military encouraging it" (Donnie's words), we ask that you question how "justice" was achieved by merely busting the rank of Frankling down and not sending him to prison?

This was the perfect opportunity for the military to demonstrate that they took the issue of assault seriously and all they demonstrated was that they don't really care. Yes, it must be hard to go from Sgt. to Private, but we're sure it's also harder to serve time and have that on your record.

The same military 'justice' system that wants to ignore the responsibilities it has for sending a clear message of no tolerance for sexual assaults now wants to demonstrate that they believe they operate outside of the Constitution by ignoring the double-jeopardy clause that should now prevent them from attempting to retry Ehren Watada.

TV: Aftermath leaves an aftertaste

Anyone will tell you
Just how hard it is
To make and keep a friend
Maybe they'll short sell you
Or maybe it's you
Judas in the end
-- "Jericho," words and music by Joni Mitchell, first appears on Miles of Aisles

The producers of CBS' nonhit soap opera Jericho could use some of Joni Mitchell's wisdom. So could the remaining viewers -- once a small flock but now they've pretty much split on the ugly proceedings. Jericho is an ugly piece of crap.

In fact, we think a realistic pitch meeting on this show would have gone something like this, "It's about crappy things that happen to crappy people and we're sure some crappy audience will wallow in it."

They could be "sure" like that before American Idol came along to kick its ass each week. Who knew we'd one day find ourselves grateful for Fox's high school talent show?

The show stars ugly and its name its Skeet Ulrich. He's called Jake Green and that may just be because in the decade since he was (wrongly) compared to Johnny Depp, he's taken on a bloat that's left the face with some awful angles. (Teeny bops, we warn you again.) For reasons unknown, though we suspect vanity, acting has never been a skill Ulrich has sought which is why, at 37, he finds himself still stuck playing little boy lost.

Jake Green is lost among the wilderness of nuclear aftermath. It's no On The Beach. But then it's message isn't against nuclear warfare. It's flying it's anti flags all over the place, but No Nukes isn't the message.

What is? How about No Women?

A friend who writes for episodic television and gets lost in the intricacies frequently, when hitting the sauce heavy, wonders about The Lone Gunmen and the episode where a plane almost flew into the WTC and whether that was supposed to prepare the American people for what was to come on 9-11? We'd be more concerned about what Jericho is supposed to prepare us for.

Apparently, come the nuclear attack, all good and bad women are supposed to make like Bonnie Tyler and start rasping, "I need a hero, I'm holding out for a hero . . ." Since the best that fictionalized programming can offer up is Skeet, we'd suggest women learn to be their own heroes and strongly suggest you study just what uses Heddy (the always amazing Jennifer Jason Leigh) can find for a pair of stilleto heels in Single White Female.

The producers of this show know no Heddy, know no woman who can do a damn thing other than stand on the sidelines nervously while waiting for the men to do.

Consider us optimists but, in the aftermath of a nuclear attack, we would have thought a survival instinct would kick in. On Jericho, the women grab the pom-poms.

Gerald McRaney shows up, largely as a cautionary tale to Skeet on what happens when the looks are shot to hell, and Pamela Reed's left to spend all her time trying to get people to save him in one way or another. After this happens repeatedly, you're left wondering if Reed has ever thought to put half that energy into her own life instead of being the woman behind the man?

Lennie James plays another ugly. His name is Robert Hawkins and we're supposed to be hot on his mystery and trying to figure out whether he is an FBI agent and whether he is working with the people who planned the mass bombings across the United States or whether he was attempting to stop them? After seeing Robert order his wife and kids -- who appear to have had a restraining order against him prior to the bombing -- around repeatedly, you start to wonder if wife Darcy shouldn't look through her shoe collection for a sharp heel?

When China Beach aired on ABC in the 90s there was at least KC, a con artist with a heart of silver, if not gold, and a desire to profit (to put it mildly). No such woman exist in Jericho largely because no women exist in the town. It was apparently a test village for Stepford Wives before the bombing.

That's the only explanation for the women who do nothing and seem happy to do nothing. The most action a woman ever takes part in is stalling some harm while waiting for the man or men to arrive who will save the day.

It's really that pathetic and that sick.

If there's a need for a television show about American cities being bombed (and we're not sure that there is), it should be so that Americans can see how resourceful they might be. Instead, viewers are told that fat, stocky men will do whatever needs doing and woman, if they're lucky, may breed.

Jon Turteltaub, a creator and one of the show's three producers, is fond of making statements that seem high minded such as this to Reuters, "Most of us are pretty wonderful during the good times, but our true character comes out when we're confronted with tragedy and disasters. True leadership appears, and really hard choices have to be made."

That sounds really good until you watch even one episode and grasp that "true character" (like True Grit?) is something for males and there's no interest at all in women. Hard choices will be made by and for men and women just go along with them.

In the same Reuters interview, Turteltaub gets closer to the truth with these statements, "If people had no fear of nuclear bombs, then this show would kind of suck. But if America was in a panic over nuclear bombs, we probably couldn't make the show." The show doesn't "kind of suck," it sucks completely and its statements like these that have many wondering if the show exists to turn nukes into a video game and lower America's opposition to them?

Turteltaub would probably argue, "All will be revealed in time." But, as one actor working on the show told us, it's all so damn murky that intent remains a mystery.

What's not murky, what's right there to see plainly on your TV screens, is that women do nothing and should do nothing. That message doesn't need to emerge, it's been at the forefront episode after episode where 'active' for the female characters has meant a 'damsel in distress' moment or two while we all wait for the men to arrive such as when ex-cons posed as cops and tormented a farmhouse.

Presumably, a nuclear aftermath produces a ton of dust and the women have all busied themselves with housework because, otherwise, we can't image what they do all day when not making cow eyes as they fret over the men of the town.

We think that's a really ugly message and hope that, should something like the show ever happen, women would embrace their inner Xenas and Gabrielles and come out fighting. Love her, hate her or be left indifferent, Hillary Clinton's running for president. Ditto the qualifer and note that Condi Rice is currently Secretary of State (and Anger as Wally and Cedric point out quite often). Ourselves, we'd love to see a guest spot by Gloria Steinem, Maxine Hong-Kingston or Robin Morgan where the women are gathered and questions about identity and wants and needs are explored. But, probably, such a scene would play out with Pamela Reed and the other women stalling throughout the attempted consciousness raising for the men to rescue them before any self-awareness set in.

In times of crisis, Jericho tells you, natural leaders emerge and that's based on something other than the ability to lead, it's based on whether or not you've got a Y chromosome. We don't buy into the belief that the dangling Y means extra intelligence or natural leadership but, come the nuclear aftermath, women should keep in mind that the heavily worshipped area, in this society, is also a very sensitive one. Aim the stilleto there as well.

The Weeping Rapist

Have you met the latest? The craze? The thing the reporters were all over last week?

Bald Britney? Uh, that was the first of last week. We're speaking of the Weeping Rapist.

Now he doesn't weep while he rapes, please understand. No tears are shed then.

And no tears are shed for his victim.

But the Weeping Rapist was all the headlines last week in what read like some sort of effort to sell rapists as the "New Hot Bad Boy! He rapes! But he's sensitive, gals!"

He mainly cries for himself when he has to confess his own crimes but that's apparently considered bad form to point out.

We're speaking of Paul Cortez who confessed to his role in the gang rape of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi.

"She kept squirming and trying to keep her legs closed and saying stuff in Arabic. During the time me and Barker were raping Abeer, I heard five or six gunshots that came from the bedroom. After Barker was done, Green came out of the bedroom and said that he had killed them all, that all of them were dead. Green then placed himself between Abeer's legs to rape her [. . .]"

That's Cortez in his confession. Somehow, when The New York Times ran a Reuters story in which the quote appeared, they manged to edit out Abeer's name but they've been rendering her invisible for some time.

Cortez was also quoted as saying Abeer "kept screaming and tried to keep her legs closed. At no point did I think that I had consent to have sex with Abeer." Of course he didn't have consent and, let's note the obvious, Abeer was fourteen-years-old when Cortez became one of her gang rapists.

The press was all over the Weeping Rapist. Here's what he said while sobbing, as reported by AFP, "I'm sorry I let you guys down; you guys treat me better than this."

Oh, did he let down his wingmen? How sad. How very sad.

What about the victims -- who are all dead -- did he have anything to say there?


In fact, CBS noted that he couldn't even explain why he did it. So that's James Barker (in November) and Paul Cortez that have now confessed to their role in the gang rape. (And praise to AP for calling it what it was -- "gang rape.") They both finger Steven D. Green as the one who murdered Abeer's parents and her five-year-old sister. Their court-room confessions both maintain that Green raped Abeer as well and that he was the one who killed her.

Green maintains he is innocent.

There are others involved and we'll learn how their court room appearances go shortly. We find it amazing that the "under pressure" excuse is being mounted by one with an upcoming trial date. "Under pressure"? "I was under pressure so I talked with my buddies about how much fun it would be to kill Iraqis and how hot I thought that 14-year-old girl was. I was under pressure so I took part in devising a murder and gang rape plan. I was under pressure so we were sure to have a lookout. I was under pressure so when I was done with my part in the war crimes, I joined my buddies to grill some chicken and down some beers."

It's a hard life, it's a hard life, it's a very hard life . . . as Nanci Griffith sings.

So Cortez got setenced to 100 years but he's up for parole in ten. Abeer's dead. Her sister's dead. Her parents are dead. Cortez cried for his buddies. And the press wanted you to know all about the Weeping Rapist.

Talking artistic representation with The Common Ills' Isaiah

On the December 4, 2006 cover issue of The Nation, concerns were expressed about the portrayals of women and men of color in the illustration. The illustration was done by Robert Grossman and when we responded here, some readers felt our response should have been stronger.

We don't. We'd spoken with Isaiah about this at length and asked him if we could touch base with him at a future time about this issue. He agreed to that and the fact that the currecnt issue (March 5, 2007) of The Nation offers a rare thing, an African-American on the cover, seemed a good place to start.

When we spoke with you about portrayals before, it had to do with the sexualization of women in The Nation's December 4th cover as well as their portrayals of people of color. Could you talk about little Joe Lieberman?

Isaiah: Sure. That was what I thought of. The day of Lieberman's primary, I did three cartoons on the outcome and told C.I. to grab whichever one reflected the results. The results, as we all know now, were that Lieberman lost the primary. I had Lieberman stating, "You didn't like me as a Democrat . . . Get ready to hate me as an independent." Now I don't go into any of the accounts, the public e-mail account or the private ones. Usually Shirley or Jess forward my e-mails to me. Most of the right wingers who don't like a cartoon I do write once and that's it. The Joe Lieberman comic resulted in the angriest e-mails I had ever gotten. I was accused, repeatedly, of distorting his nose to make him look "Jewish" or "more Jewish." I stared forever at the drawing and I didn't see it then and don't see it now. So on the next Sunday, when I did my follow up, I ended up blowing it. There were some positive e-mails on that but, my opinion, I blew it. I've got Lieberman pledging his love for Bully Boy and I was so bothered by the claims that I was targeting Lieberman because he was Jewish, he ended up looking more like John Kerry than Joe Lieberman. I didn't give Lieberman his nose but if I don't draw it in a way that resembles what it is, I blow my comic.

And that's what you went to when we were asking your opinion about the Grossman illustration?

Isaiah: Right. I said I didn't think he'd be illustrating for the magazine if he was racist, I'm not sure about the sexism issue, but in terms of the racism, I was willing to allow that possibly it was just an attempt to capture the unqiue qualities of the men he was drawing. When you've got a woman with her leg tossed in the air, a Congress woman, I do think you need to wonder about the sexualization. If others were sexualized in the illustration, men, it would be one thing, but I didn't see others being sexualized.

Now comes the March 5th issue with a cover done by two people [CORRECTION: Illustration was done by two people, not four people]. What do you think of the cover?

Isaiah: From what I was told of the e-mails here and also from the complaints I read about the previous illustration in The Nation's letter pages, I didn't see pigment as an issue. No one was complaining about, for instance, the different shades used for John Conyers and Obama. So it's surprising that The Nation's cover illustration robs Obama of pigmentation. He's presented as White on the cover. And with questions arising over his commitment to the African-American community, I did find that puzzling in terms of, "Are they making an editorial statement?" If they were, it wasn't clear, and Patricia J. Williams article only muddied the issue. I think when you feature so few persons of color, you need to be clear if you're intending to make a statement by rendering Obama White. I don't think they did that. I fault this illustration more than the earlier one.


Isaiah: Well one reason is the other one was attempting to present about thirty people in one illustration. When you're dealing with two or more, you're having to fit them into something. That wasn't a portrait but a comic look at the celebration going on immediately after the election. That was the theme of the illustration and that's why I was bothered that a woman's got her leg straight up in the air but I was willing to give leeway on it. With the new cover, the one just of Obama, you've got several different things going on. First off, it's just him, no one else. So there's no, "He has to fit into a theme." He is the theme. So why did they decide to rob his skin of pigment and present him as White? And if you look closely at the cover, you'll note it's his skin that's lost color. His shirt, his tie, his suit jacket, they all have color. So what is the message? If people are offended with this cover and feel that when The Nation finally puts a person of color on the cover, they rob the person of their color, I think that's a valid complaint.
It's made more valid by the fact, again, that his wardrobe has color, it's his skin that doesn't.

While we're on The Nation, we understand from Jess, that a recent comic has proven to be the most popular?

Isaiah: The Peace Resister continues to result in e-mails. People love that one. It's gone way beyond the community and e-mails come in, week after week, praising it.

Give us the history of that comic.

Isaiah: I probably wouldn't have done it if we weren't all in DC. The subject's Katrina vanden Heuvel and we all know The Nation hasn't been supportive of war resisters. It's ignored them in the print edition. Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editor and publisher of the magazine. She has her own blog. She's never weighed in on war resisters so it's not that surprising that the print edition has never offered anything except a sidebar. Her refusal to cover war resisters, made her the peace resister. But I was concerned about C.I.'s reaction. I always hear it [the comic] is my space and that, other than language concerns, do what I want. But, because we were all in DC for the rally and the march, I was able to show that to C.I. ahead of time. I was told, "Go for it, it's your space." So I did. I'd drawn it out roughly and had the dialogue done when I showed it to C.I. but after being told, again, that it was my space, I went ahead and worked on the lines some more and also added the colors. It continues to result in e-mails and I don't think I've ever had one that has resulted in so many. That does surprise me but sometimes it's just a case of saying what needs to be said.

We promised we'd be brief because you told us you had no idea what you were doing on Sunday and needed to get some sleep to think of an idea. So we'll wrap up by asking if there's anything else you'd like to add?

Isaiah: I think questions about intent are important and worth raising. With my own work, it will keep me on my toes. But it's also true that sometimes the motive that gets pinned down may not have been intended. So I see it as a fine line. I put off drawing Ehren Watada due to the complaints from right-wingers about Lieberman's nose. I probably would've have done something sooner with him had it not been for those e-mails. I was especially nervous because the switch to Flickr [from the Hello program] has resulted in some things I can't control. Things I have colored yellow, for instance, have shown up as green in Flickr. With the earlier cover of The Nation, I think it would have been productive on the part of the magazine for them to present the illustrator explaining what he was going for with the illustration. With the latest one, I find it hard to see another side to it when it is obvious that they intended to rob his skin color of tone while allowing other things in the illustration to have color. If people have questions, concerns or complaints about that illustration, I think the problem rests with the magazine and the illustration.


Krystell e-mails: "Congratulations to Jim and Dona on their engagement but did they tell their families first?"

Dona: We did. That was one of the two reasons we went on the trip with C.I. two weeks ago. We were able to tell our parents face to face. They did know before we announced it here.

Jim: Second reason we went is that those trips are fun. And my dad actually knew before my mother and before Dona because I had called him for advice of what would make an appropriate engagement ring.

BigHoss38 e-mails: "Studio 60 is on hiatus. Are you glad you killed it?"

Ava & C.I.: Well thank you, Big Hoss, for the compliment but tis not always beauty that kills the beast. In this case it was the non-stop dialogue and bordom factor. By the way, you're presuming it's dead and not, like a nasty bout of herpes, on the verge of returning. We hope you're correct.

Madeline e-mails: "I love Kat's reviews and I'm wondering if I'm guessing right in guessing that the closing of Tower has slowed the reviews?"

Kat: Absolutely. That really was my second home. I was used to popping in 4 or 5 times a week, mimimum, tp grab something or just look around. It's honestly very depressing for me currently and I'm attempting to figure out my step which is either embrace the modern day equivalent of mail-order catalouges -- order online -- or start downloading instead? I'm in flux currently.

Kat's latest review ("Kat's Korner: Air kisses from Diana Ross") went up yesterday.

CCM e-mails: "I get the feeling Betty's leaning towards voting for Hillary Clinton. Right or wrong?"

Betty: If Hillary would have admitted her vote to grant Bully Boy the authority for war was a mistake, if she admitted that last week, I'd probably be telling you right now, "You're right. I will probably vote for Hillary." That's pretty much known among everyone participating and I say that because there's been no negative on it. I know several people participating will not vote for her but there's been no pressure to change my mind. What has changed it is that she will not state clearly, "I made a mistake." To be honest, one of the reasons I have been in her corner strongly is because I remember the end of her husband's presidency and have a huge amount of respect for the way she handled the entire Lewinsky episode. I feel she's a lot more on the ball than she's given credit for. I will always respect her for the way she handled herself during that, in public life, but I think she's lost my support in terms of her current campaign. I do not see the vote as a small matter. I honestly assumed that by now, she'd not only admit it was a mistake, the vote, but also have a joke prepared about it. Now I'm exploring John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich. Patricia J. Williams has ensured that I will not vote for Barack Obama and that includes if he becomes the Democratic nominee. Ruth's Report covers that and covers it very well. A big thank you to Ruth for addressing that.

Parker e-mails: "Thank you for 'Arch nemises Teen Dumb Ass, junior division.' As an English major, let me state for the record that we are taught to do research. That's just one more lesson Rachel [Jones] never could learn."

We were initially surprised to hear from so many people who knew Jones and disliked her -- then we realized, you are what you write.

Bill and Kimmy e-mail: "Thank you for 'TV: Boys' WB!' We know how hard it is to sit through so called children's programming but we have to do it each fall before we feel safe letting our son watch. The absence of color and women is a really serious issue and we're very glad that was worked in but most of all we enjoyed the 'call' at the end because it really is up to parents to demand better programming. We don't see why animated television can't be inclusive and entertaining and we agree we could do with a lot less moralizing."

Bill and Kimmy's e-mail at the end of January 2005 was what caused Jim to realize that Ava and C.I. needed to handle the TV reviews all on their own. Their son, Chad, is now five-years-old and in their first e-mail, his viewing habits weren't a concern but they wrote very honestly about what having a child meant for them in terms of financial struggles. They remain the main reason Ava and C.I. refuse to cover cable or satellite programming and they are representative of a great many of our long term readers. Point, when they speak, we listen.

N268 e-mails, " MyTV's Fascist House is just something I enjoy. I couldn't give one reason but it does make me laugh and I hope you continue to do it."

Kat is very big on doing collages with children, which we won't take as an insult -- honest, and often does them at a friend's art classroom. They're popular with a lot of readers and it is a regular feature. Ideally, we try to go for twice a month.

Kandice e-mails: "Put me down as disgusted by The Nation's appalling figure when it comes to publishing women. 'The Nation Stats' is the first thing I check for each week and I was very disappointed that it wasn't in last week's edition. I did not even notice how women were shut out until you started keeping track."

It's a popular feature and the theme meant that we weren't able to include it last week. It's also true, read this issue's stats, that we weren't sure whether to include one writer who never should have gotten an internship. We've addressed that this issue.

Ross e-mails: "More roundtables!!!!!"

Ross, everytime we finish one, we swear it will be our last. It's a pain for Ava and C.I. to take notes throughout. It's a pain to type up after. It's a pain to edit. That said, we'll have one in the next two weeks.

If he exceeds his reach, you must impeach

Two Saturdays ago, RadioNation with Laura Flanders addressed the issue of impeachment with Laura Flanders noting, "New Mexico approved it, Washington state is pushing a similar message and it's going town by town in Vermont." In fact, it's alive everywhere except in the US Congress.

Flanders guests were David Swanson and Elizabeth de la Vega. Flanders noted US House Rep John Conyers' statements at the rally in DC January 27th about how "we can fire him" meaning the Bully Boy. Flanders contrasted that with a February 16th Democracy Now! appearance where Conyers backed off that call by stating the the 2008 election being won by Democrats would be "firing" the Bully Boy. (Since the Bully Boy can not run for the White House in the 2008 election, even "laying off" would be too strong a word to describe what might happen in 2008.) A version of the points Flanders was making can be found online at Common Dreams.

Responding to the compare and contrast Flanders provided, de la Vega responded, "I do think that politics are getting in the way of what the substance of the debate should be and it is certainly disappointing that John Conyers would take this postion."

Swanson saw it differently and suggested that Conyers is providing "reasons to hope" while walking the line regarding Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's edict that impeachment was "off the table." Swanson feels that is the case because "the two issues that could most easily go to impeachment, the signing statements and illegal spying" are things that Conyers is already investigating.

Is Conyers backing off or attempting to acknowledge the citizens' call while at the same time obeying Pelosi? We don't know.

We agree with Elizabeth de la Vega, who has been touring in promotion of her book United States v. George W. Bush et al., that the grassroots across the country are calling for impeachement as well as people who are not normally political. de la Vega: "To be honest with you, I've been going to a lot of book talks and such with people who are not activists in the least and they are asking me how do we get impechement proceedings started."

de la Vega explained that her book examines "the conspiracy to defraud the United States in the runup" to the illegal war and rests on "the sort of fraud that's prosecuted throughout the country" already.

Swanson believes that there should be a hard push during the next few months , noted the people's impeachment heartings that will be taking place around the country, and the April 28th nationwide protests as well as the "Bush Is Over" campaign (an update of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "War Is Over If You Want It" campaign).

Flanders noted that the issues are impunity and accountability, that "really, it's not about Bush or Cheney to me." de la Vega agreed, noting, "It's about our system of government. It's about holding people accountable. . . . No person is above the law and if we fail to hold people accountable simply because they are powerful then we are going to have a very difficult time holding other people accountable [later on] . . . It's not about being vindictive."

In addition to de la Vega's book, there are a number of other books out that explore the issue of impeachment. We recommend the following books.

The Center for Constitutional Rights' Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush was the first book out in the most recent wave (post 2004 election) on the subject and it provides legal reasoning for impeachment in easy to understand (for the lay person -- non-legal). At 141 pages of text (that's counting the appendix), this is a brief book and a great starter.

Dave Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky's The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office builds on many of the reasons cited in CCR's book (Olshansky is the CCR's deputy director) and offers additional reasoning that includes domestic issues not related to spying (failures and criminal negligence in the wake of Hurricane Katrina) as well as taking an in depth look at the Bully Boy's actions prior to occupying the Oval Office. This is a passionate call to action that will leave surprised by how quickly you read through the nearly 300 pages of text.

John Nichols' The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism argues impeachment as a people's remedy and demonstrates its past usage and roots in both the United States and England. This may be the more historical argument and, let's note, history doesn't have to equate "boring." (It doesn't in this book.)

Former Congress Rep Elizabeth Holtzman teams up with Cynthia L. Cooper for The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens. In January of 2006, Holtzman was among those who helped restart the discussion of impeachment by penning a cover story for The Nation. Here she and Cooper build on Holtzman's own work as part of the House Judiciary Committee exploring the impeachment of Richard Nixon and make a solid case for similarities between the two administrations. The first hand experience during the Nixon debacle give the book an added attraction to students of history and those interested in the earlier Bully Boy.

We give the last word to de la Vega who noted to Flanders, "What we come down to here is really the most serious abuses of power you could ever imagine." For those who missed the broadcast, an archived version is available here.

The Nation Stats

In this latest in our continuing series of tallying the statistics for The Nation, we're dealing with the February 26, 2007 issue.

Let's start out by noting that we don't tally letters. We will, however, note that Ann Jones replies to the centrist Peter Bergen's sexist attack on her book (and Jones does so quite well, Bergen choose to play stupid -- it is playing, right?). That sexist review (where women just weren't rational was the subtheme) is part of the reason why Ava and C.I. instituted this feature. As they, Mike, Wally, Ruth, Betty, Rebecca, Kat and Elaine noted in real time, there is no need in the world for CNN centrists, for 'terror' warriors to be reviewing books in the magazine, no matter how attractive someone may find Bergen to be. You'll note that in his response to Jones and Derek Davis' letters, Bergen never apologizes for (nor does the magazine recognize) the sexist nature of his review which offered that women aren't too emotional and instinctual to be analytical creatures. (Sounds like someone's going to spend his lifetime getting over many last call shoot downs.)

(How many Daddy figures does one woman need? Good God!)

We'll also note that Derek Davis, like Ava and C.I., took strong offense to Bergen's 'need' to open his review by recounting his trip to a brothel. Bergen replies by ignoring the objection and blathering on in the text equivalent of one long fart but we will note that he's in love with Pakistan's secret service. Pakistan figures in this edition of the magazine in other ways as well.

Editorial & Comment
"Into 2008" -- unsigned (get 'em Alterpunk) and, yes, they can't let go of the November 2008 election. It is the most pressing thing in their empty little heads.
"Molly, In Her Own Words" -- how does a woman get printed in The Nation?
Apparently death helps. They offer up a cutting of Ivins' writings from the magazine, we'll note the most recent was in 2000. We'll note that The Nation was wrongly listed in mainstream obits as the publication Ivins wrote for on the left -- that would be The Nation and, while we're noting, Matthew Rothschild needs to check his dates, Friday on KPFA, he was again two years short on how long Ivins had been writing for The Progressive.
Mark Hertgaard's "Green Times"
Victor Navasky's "Mission To Caracas" (he must have found someone to hit up for money there)
Sunil Dutta's "Kill The Death Penalty"

Score: 1 woman, 3 men

Calvin Trillin's "The Madness of Nanny Dick"
Eric Alterman's "Dude! Where's My Debate!" -- we actually like that title because Alterpunk is like an ugly, less smart version of many of the characters Ashton Kutchner has portrayed.

Score: 2 men

Marc Cooper's "Lockdown In Greely"
Amanda Spake's "Dying For A Home"

Score: 1 man, 1 woman

Jackson Lears' "Williams James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism"
Ali Sethi's "In the Country of Men"
Stuart Klawans' "The Lives of Others . . ."

Score: 2 men.

We're excluding Ali Sethi for two reasons (a) dopes who bought into "It's democracy!" about the show elections are dopes and (b) internships should be for people in need, not spoiled babies.

Total score for this issue: 8 men, 2 women.

Year to date score: 86 males; 19 women.

The four males for every byline a woman gets continues.

We last checked in on February 11, 2007.

All is revealed


Last week's "25 comic book super heroes" included an illustration and we noted that five women listed were featured in the illustration. With four objects visible, many readers correctly guessed that we were saying Sue Storm, The Invisible Woman, was in the illustration.

Most also could identify Storm, Batgirl and Wonder Woman.

But only Ethan got the object in the far right corner, Firestar.

So the five: Storm, Firestar, Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Sue Storm.


This entry is written by Cedric, Rebecca, Elaine, Betty, Wally and Mike and we picked out the highlights as well unless otherwise noted.

"Kat's Korner: Air kisses from Diana Ross" -- Kat's latest review, Diana Ross' I Love You. After you read it, be sure to read the Diana Ross career restrospective we did at the start of this month.

"Ruth's Report" -- Ruth seriously addresses the topic of Air America Radio and, at the request of Ty, Cedric and Betty, takes on the nonsense Patricia Williams was spewing over the KPFA airwaves. Betty and Cedric say, "Thank you!" and note that if they had worked on a response with Ty, "It would have been really ugly. Ruth found a way to make the points and to make them in an entertaining fashion."

'The dirty joke that is military "justice"' -- Wally's mother picked this entry by C.I. She said this wraps up a week of hard hitting commentaries on rape by C.I. and begged us to go with this one. Happy to.

"Arroz Con Pollo in the Kitchen" -- Trina's latest offers a recipe from Maria (Mike and Wally both had it last week and vouch for it) and explains why issues like war resisters and rape need to be covered. Strong post from Trina.

"A Foreign Affairs Columnist Built of Do-Do" -- Betty says thank you "always" to Kat and C.I. for being her audience and letting her know where it sagged and where it moved too quickly. She agrees this one is funny (she agrees with that, note, she never does) but she says she was in no mood to even write after Williams' nonsense on KPFA this week.

"The twins (humor)" & "THIS JUST IN! DADDY'S GIRLS DON'T SERVE!" -- Cedric & Wally explain why Jenna and Barbara Bush don't serve in the military and why their father didn't either.

"Moonbat drools over the crotch of America" -- Kat said it perfectly. Why do so many in other countries make the US their "beat"? Seems like your country might need coverage and the US certainly is covered quite enough already. As Kat points out, the US is not the center of the world.

"Fact" and Monica Benderman" -- Elaine touching on the subject she's owned for some time and doing much more than a student's book report.

"War Hawk Clinton" -- Mike explains why he wouldn't vote for either Clinton.

"dumb ass danny" -- Danny Goldberg, as Rebecca points out, is a dumb ass and we agree he needs to take accountability for his role in the promotion of gansta rap and the damange it has done.

"THIS JUST IN! SHOW BOATING MCCAIN BACK AT IT AGAIN!" & "The show boating John McCain" -- We love it whenever Wally and Cedric take a pin to the hot air gas bag that is John McCain.
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