Sunday, November 23, 2008
-- Marie Cocco, "No Breakthrough for Women Politicians" (Washington Post Writers Group).
-- Louis Proyect, "The Early Days Of The Nation Magazine" (Swans Commentary). Katty-van-van objects to this selection for "truest."
Sunday and we're done!
We thank Dallas and everyone else who worked on this edition:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ
and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.
What did we come up with?
Truest statement of the week -- This is Marie Cocco (her second time getting a truest) and we wanted to highlight and actually do so much more than we did.
Truest statement of the week II -- Louis Proyect. Elaine and C.I. found this one and we all encourage you to read the entire commentary by Proyect. You're cheating yourself if you don't.
Editorial: What do you mean 'we'? -- We knew this would be the editorial. It was a long writing edition. We almost tossed this out. Then Jess and C.I. (bored with the rest of us bickering over some detail) started out acting out the scene from Good Times that now opens the editorial. They did it perfectly and at first we weren't aware it was from a film and were wondering, "What the hell's going on between Jess and C.I.?" After we realized what it was, we put on the Good Times soundtrack and rocked out repeatedly to "It's The Little Things" while writing this editorial.
TV: Tina Fey to the lido deck, Tina Fey to . . . -- NBC suits were calling the house Thursday and Friday repeatedly. I (Jim) kept passing on the messages to Ava and C.I. (they were calling for those two) and I also informed them that I wanted the topic covered here whatever it was. (I actually thought it was more cancellations.) So they offer up another look at 30 Rock. This is very funny.
10 Cover Classics -- To read this, you'd never guess it took the longest of any to finish. Not due to YouTube. Dona loves the Barbra Streisand video and included that in her remarks so we decided to do links for all the songs. That was fairly quick. The problem was in narrowing it down to ten. We also refused to let any artist make the list with more than one song. Cher (with or without Sonny) could have easily taken up all ten spots (and we love, love "500 Miles) and certainly the Mamas & the Papas "Dream A Little Dream" could have made the top ten. But, as Ty pointed out, that's probably a very well known cover, one of the most well known covers during the rock era. They really aren't in any order except we all do agree Streisand would top the list with "If You Could Read My Mind." It really is amazing cover.
Bedtime stories for the Cult of Barack -- Sorry, kiddies, he's not the first politician declared a "rock star."
Joan Didion on the Cult of the Christ-child -- We transcribed this because we know there are a large number that streaming doesn't reach. Either the computers won't stream (connection or operatirng software) or the person has hearing issues. C.I. said,"I'll transcribe it for Hilda's Mix" (which is geared towards special needs community members) and we thought, "No, let's not put it off. Let's do it now and make sure it's available to all." It's an important judgment.
Yes, let's stop kidding ourselves (Ava and C.I.) -- I belly ached about how we were supposed to do something more with Cocco's column and Ava and C.I. said finally, "What do you want and we'll work for five minutes and no more." They weren't joking. They set a timer. There was no ending. They wrote a sentence or two quickly and said, "There. Leave us alone!" (In fairness, it was the last thing written.)
Music Access -- This was an Ava and C.I. piece originally because we were supposed to do this week after week. We'd promised to tackle the issue after the election (we still have another issue to tackle that's been on hold) and Ava and C.I. knocked out a version last week. We held it because everyone wanted to work on it. This is basically another draft of what they wrote last week. ("Four more drafts," says Ty.)
Ike Skelton reminds Death Of Free TV Is Coming -- PSA.
The War Drags On -- We really love the animation here. Thank you to Syreeta for e-mailing it.
Highlights -- Stan, Marcia, Rebecca, Betty, Kat, Ruth, Cedric, Wally, Elaine and Mike wrote this and picked out the highlights. We thank them for it. My apologies to Stan who I left off last week.
And that's the edition. Hope you found something to make you laugh, scream, cry or complain.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
Sonny: Well we do.
Cher: And that's all you got to say? You're just going to let them tell us what to do now?
Sonny: That's not it! We've got a contract, don't you understand? It's either that or we're in a lot of trouble. You know nothing -- nothing -- about business!
Cher: I don't care anything about business. I just care what you said and you said we wouldn't have to do it. I told you not to get involved with those people.
Sonny: Now I get I told you so, right? Okay, I did it and we goofed. Okay, I'm sorry. What else?
-- Good Times (1967) starring Sonny & Cher also included in the intro of "Just A Name" on the film's soundtrack.
When do you want your I told you so?
Figure it out and let us know.
But don't say "we" goofed because "we" didn't goof.
The White House has been attempting to push through their treaty with the puppet government in Baghdad for the bulk of this year after initiating talks on the subject in November of 2007. The United Nations Security Council's mandate governing the occupation of Iraq expires December 31st. The choices were renew the mandate or put together a treaty. The White House opted for the latter and swore it would be concluded and passed last July and it wasn't. Now a vote's expected in the Iraqi Parliament on Monday after it's already been approved by Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet. If approved by the Parliament, it would next go to the presidency council made up of Jalal Talabani and Iraq's two vice-presidents -- any of the three could veto it.
And over here?
In the United States, there's no process required at all. Or that's what the White House maintains. In spite of the Constitution.
But no problem, right? Congress has been calling out the White House's attempt to circumvent the Supreme Law Of The Land for over a year and Democrats have a majority in both houses of Congresses plus the president-elect is a Democrat! Problems solved!
Not so fast. Last week, Michael Abramowitz' "Bush Reversal on Iraq Deadline Gives Obama Breathing Room" (Washington Post) explained:
The agreement signed yesterday by U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari needs approval by the Iraqi parliament. And the Obama transition team is signaling that it wants Congress to review the pact, though not necessarily approve it.
"President-elect Obama believes it is critical that a status-of-forces agreement that ensures sufficient protections for our men and women in uniform is reached before the end of the year. We look forward to reviewing the final text of the agreement," said Brooke Anderson, a policy adviser and spokeswoman on national security.
Is anyone still trying to count up all the Barack caves because Boy Blunder is buckling again.
During the Democratic Party primary, when Hillary Clinton repeatedly called out the White House's attempt to break the Constitution, Barack attempted to ride her bandwagon. He became one of thirteen co-sponsors to her S. 2426 on this issue. Clinton's bill was one of many in the House and Senate. Objection to the White House pushing through a treaty without Congressional approval resulted in bi-partisan objection which was most vocal during the April 10th Senate Foreign Affairs Committee hearing chaired by Joe Biden. Biden who is now the vice president-elect.
Barack and Biden offered the following in "Plan for Ending the War in Iraq:"
Obama and Biden believe any Status of Forces Agreement, or any strategic framework agreement, should be negotiated in the context of a broader commitment by the U.S. to begin withdrawing its troops and forswearing permanent bases. Obama and Biden also believe that any security accord must be subject to Congressional approval. It is unacceptable that the Iraqi government will present the agreement to the Iraqi parliament for approval--yet the Bush administration will not do the same with the U.S. Congress. The Bush administration must submit the agreement to Congress or allow the next administration to negotiate an agreement that has bipartisan support here at home and makes absolutely clear that the U.S. will not maintain permanent bases in Iraq.
That's what they campaigned on throughout the general election. But the Cult Members who thought they saw caving after Barack secured/stole the Democratic presidential nomination haven't seen nothing yet.
If they cave on this issue, Barack-Biden's name is going to be mud long before the inauguration. Biden told the State Dept's David Satterfield and the Defense Dept's Mary Beth Long, regarding the so-called Status Of Forces Agreement, "I respectfully suggest that you don't have a Constitutional leg to stand on." That was April 10th.
At that hearing, Senator Robert Menendez offered the following opinion, "Many of us on both sides of the aisle believe that such an agreement needs to come before Congress." Menendez argued for a renewal of the UN mandate. That also is the opinion of US House Rep Bill Delahunt who chaired a hearing on the issue last week during which he declared, "What we do now could very well be referred to at some future date much to our chagrin if we don't stand up and take some sort of action. My option is extend the UN mandate because that solves all of these issues. It protects our troops. It provides the authority to conduct offensive military operations."
Delahunt was chairing Wednesday's Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing which sought testimony from five witnesses: Oona A. Hathaway, Raed Jarrar, Michael Matheson, Issam Michael Saliba and Thomas Donnelly.
At the outset, Delahnut reminded that "no one should forget that this agreement has just been provided to Congress -- and that there has been no time to conduct the analysis required by such a significant document -- one that purports to end a conflict that has had such momentous and tragic consequences for both the Iraqi and the American people. And remember there has been no meaningful consultation with Congress during the negotiation of this agreement. And the American people, for all intents and purposes, have been kept completely left out. Even now the National Security Council has requested that we do not show this document to our witnesses or release it to the public -- a public that for over five years has paid so dearly with blood and treasure. Now I find that incredible. Meantime, the Iraqi government has posted this document on its media website so that anybody who can read Arabic can take part in the public discourse. But this is typical of the Bush administration and its unhealthy and undemocratic obsession with secrecy."
Only one organization seemed to be paying attention last week, the American Freedom Campaign which issued the following action alert:
Does this sound right to you? Next week, the Iraqi Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve an agreement setting the terms of the ongoing military relationship between the United States and Iraq. So far, so good. A legislative body, representing the people of a nation, shall determine the extent to which that nation's future will be intertwined with that of another. Of course, one would expect that the United States Congress would be given the same opportunity. That, however, is not the case. Or at least it is not what the Bush administration is allowing to happen. Shockingly, the Bush administration is not even letting Congress read the full agreement before it is signed!
We need you to send a message immediately to U.S. House and Senate leaders, urging them to demand the constitutional input and approval to which they are entitled.
The administration has asserted that the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq is merely a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and therefore does not require congressional approval. Yet the agreement goes far beyond the traditional limits of a SOFA, which typically set the terms for bringing materials and equipment into a nation and outline the legal procedures that will apply to members of the military who are accused of crimes.
Believe it or not, the current agreement contains terms that will actually give Iraq a measure of control over U.S. forces. No foreign nation or international entity has ever been given the authority to direct U.S. forces without prior congressional approval - either through a majority vote of both chambers or a two-thirds vote in the Senate in the case of treaties.
If this agreement goes into effect without congressional approval, it will establish a precedent under which future presidents can exercise broad unilateral control over the U.S. military -- and even give foreign nations control over our troops.
Congress must take immediate action. Unfortunately, they are about to adjourn for at least a couple of weeks. But it is not too late for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a statement, signaling their strong belief that Congress will not be bound by and need not fund an agreement that has not been approved by Congress.
Please send an E-mail encouraging such action to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid immediately by clicking [here]
This is truly a dire situation and we hope that you will join us in calling for action. Thank you.
American Freedom Campaign
At last week's hearing, UC Berkeley's School of Law professor Oona Hathaway outlined three areas of concern:
1) "The agreement in my view threatens to undermine the Constitutional powers of President-elect Obama as commander-in-chief and it does so in two ways.
a) So first this agreement gives operational control to a Joint Military Operations Coordination Committee which is made up of Iraqis and Americans and is jointly led by both sides according to the agreement."
b) "The proposed agreement also undermines the Constitutional powers of President-elect Obama as commander in chief by binding him to observe specific timetables that are outlined in the agreement for the withdrawal of US troops."
2) "The conclusion of this agreement without any Congressional involvement is unprecedented and, in my view, unconstitutional."
3) "If the administration proceeds as planned the war will likely become illegal under United States law when the UN mandate expires on December 31st."
Those are three very complex issues and their complexity requires Congressional oversight, input and approval for any treaty the White House might want to push through. The legal issues are immediate and longterm. Of the latter, the notion that the White House can push through a treaty with no Congressional approval would have long lasting and life altering consequences if allowed to stand unchallenged. That is not a power vested in the office of the presidency. Allowing the White House to get away with this power grab destroys the framework for our federal government and the checks and balances the framework is supposed to allow.
Long after the Iraq War ends, we would live with and under the stain of that illegal activity which would create and encourage further power grabs and disregard for the Constitution.
The Iraq War ends?
The treaty is being pimped like crazy by the MSM and it's a case of you're being sold a bill of goods the same way they tried during the lead up to the illegal war. In part to clamp down on objection, they keep insisting that the treaty means all US troops are out of Iraq by the end of 2011.
A bold face lie.
First, the contract only has to run for 2009. Either the US or Iraq can cancel the contract at any point but they must provide one-year's notice. So the contract that the press swears means an end to the illegal war in 2011 will not even necessarily run to 2011.
But that's the lie that they sell the treaty to the public with the same way WMD was the lie they used to sell the illegal war.
Why Barack's caved is a question only he can answer but it is true that accepting Bully Boy's treaty and hoping the Iraqis pick up the two options for extensions would mean the illegal war would run longer than what he promised on the campaign trail. Maybe he plans to announce, "I wanted to keep that promise but I'm not the one who pushed this treaty. It was made before I was president!"
If he tries that garbage, everyone needs to remember he was not publicly objecting when it could have made a difference. Nor was he maintaining the position he'd campaigned on in both the primary and general elections.
The easiest solution is for a renewal of the UN mandate to be requested for a limited time (six months). Those late to the party can refer to Delahunt and US House Rep Rosa DeLauro's July 8th's "The Wrong Partnership for Iraq" (Washington Post).
A lot of harm will be done if the White House is allowed to push through that treaty without Congressional approval and Democrats will be left looking especially foolish. Senator Jim Webb publicly stood up to insist that the Constitution be followed back in April, telling Satterfield of the treaty, "I would argue it's a document that needs Senate consent." Webb was far from the only
Democrat standing up. Along with Webb, Clinton, Delahunt, DeLauro and Biden, others in the Congress included Ike Skelton, Susan Davis, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Water, Russ Feingold and many more.
If Barack decides to cave on the Constitution and members of his own party do not call him out, then they're telling the American people that all their words were meaningless and they were just offering sniping in an effort to defeat and disarm the previous president.
The Constitution only needs to be stood up for when Republicans are in power? That's a dangerous reading. "Situational Ethics We Can Believe In" will do more to elect Republicans in the mid-term than anything else. If the Constitution matters (we believe it does), it matters regardless of who is in power. If it's to be respected, it's to be respected regardless of party affiliation.
From Wednesday's hearing:
Rep Lynn Woolsey: What is the legal standing? Will an agreement/treaty be -- have standing if it does not come before the House of Representatives of the Congress in general?
Oona Hathaway: Well this is a complicated question as you might imagine. In my view it would be unconstitutional because it would extend beyond the president's power to conclude an agreement under his own independent powers and for all the reasons we've discussed it clearly goes beyond those limits. The question is: How would you challenge it? How would you demonstrate that? One possibility, obviously, is a resolution in Congress, another is a challenge in the courts -- that's unlikely to succeed. So the likely result would be that we would be operating under an unconstitutional agreement and what worries me is not only that -- although that is quite worrisome in and of itself -- but the precedent that that sets. So we then set a precedent that the president can enter into an agreement to commit US troops without having to get the assent of Congress. And, moreover, that the limits that we all thought applied to Sole Executive Agreements, the limits that had been observed by presidents for a generation on agreements that are entered into by presidents on their own no longer apply. All bets are off. So could President Obama enter Kyoto on his own? Could he enter the Law of the Sea Treaty on his own? If we don't know what the limits are, it creates real questions about where those -- where the Constitutional limits are? If they're not going to be observed then that creates problems not just in this instance but in every future case as well.
Rep Lynn Woolsey: So how do you think we can untangle this mess?
Oona Hathaway: My view is I think that this legislation is very positive. I think that, if in fact something like that were to pass demanding that Congress approve the agreement, I think that could have a significant effect. As I said, that would address all the questions that I've raised about the procedural issues. Congress could work out the substantive concerns if it had any about the agreement. But if this agreement were approved by Congress -- and there's nothing that would stop the president, I should say, from simply submitting this agreement as it is for approval as what's called an ex post congressional-executive agreement. That is a legal procedure that is available to the president and then this Congress would be able to pass that through majority votes in both houses and then it would become a legal agreement with the seal of approval of Congress and would be federal law and address all the concerns that I've raised. So that, to my mind, is a very real and, I think, would be an extremely positive development though, sadly I'm afraid, not entirely realistic. Another possibility is, of course, a renewal of the UN mandate because that does address both the international and domestic law issues that I've raised. In effect, that kicks the ball down the road because then we still have the issue of 'then what do we do?' That mandate would only be in effect for a short period of time -- the period of time talked about is six months. You'd have to enter an agreement then. My hope would be that given the stated position of the president-elect and vice president-elect on this issue that they would not only negotiate a good agreement but would submit that to Congress for approval.
For more on this topic see C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot," "Same press that sold the illegal war sells the treaty," "The hearing on the US-Iraq treaty," "The Imperial Presidency With Cavity Fighting Fluoride Protection!" and "The treaty and the press"; Kat's "As C.I. said, it's a treaty"; Trina's
"The hearing on the US-Iraq treaty"; Rebecca's "stop the white house push for the treaty"; and
Jenny Paul's "US-Iraq security pact may be in violation, Congress is told" (Boston Globe).
Along with losing 200,000 viewers since the week before (which would be 1.2 million viewers lost since the season premiere), the failed and failing sitcom basically utilized thirty minutes of network time to elaborate on the point we had made last week. In fact, you could practically hear Tina Fey sing during the opening:
Freaks, exciting and new
Come aboard, we're expecting you
Thursday's freak was Steve Martin. He followed in the footsteps of this season's other freaks Megan Mullally, Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Aniston. And, to be clear, we're not calling the performers "freaks" -- well, except for Oprah, we aren't -- we're referring to what their role was in the weekly disaster someone wants you to believe is a plot.
Megan kicked things off playing a lunatic woman sent in to assess Liz Lemon's skills as a parent since Fey's decided the 'feminist' thing to do would be to turn her career gal Liz into a walking 'biological clock.' It's was like watching one of those rare thirty-something episodes that feigned interest in Melissa Steadman. Liz didn't pass the test so there was no point to the guest spot that took up the bulk of the show. Did we say Steadman? Maybe we meant Stedman? Oprah showed up for the second installment playing a faded name whose looks had faded far beyond hagged out and ragged out. Sadly, friends with the show told us that was how she now looks and no special make up was utilized. In that case, a freak played a freak. That led to Jennifer Aniston being a good sport and playing the "psycho" two weeks ago allowing Steve Martin to play the con man Gavin pretending to suffer from agoraphobia while actually he was under house arrest for assorted charges including racketeering.
The week before "psycho" Jennifer hiked up her boobs and went after Jack (Alec Baldwin) and, in what Fey must think passes for 'equality,' this week found her own character passed off by Jack to Gavin who would, as Liz bragged, feel up her own boobs. Progress!
Gavin was a convict under house arrest and, no, Steve Martin's career fortunes haven't so greatly fallen that he's been reduced to TV regular. Translation, the whole 'plot' added up to nothing. Nothing lasting, nothing that impacted the character, nothing that was even remotely realistic and, most importantly, nothing that was humorous or even qualified for 'comedy adjacent.'
NBC's noticed that as well. They've noticed the fall off in viewers. For those who've forgotten, Fey's sexist and bitchy 'portrayal' of Alaska's governor Sarah Palin made her a star and her faltering a sitcom a hit.
Or that's what the Water Cooler Set was insisting while passing their half-baked predictions off as certifiable facts.
Remember when they insisted that Studio Yada Yada was the greatest thing to happen to TV since Lucille Ball? Yeah, their current embarrassment factor is equal to that embarrassment. Membership in the Water Cooler Set doesn't just mean never learning how to dress (hello, NYT's Docker Boys!), it also means never learning (period).
Despite the fact that female performers, producers and writers told us bitchy doesn't bring stardom for females attempting comedy, despite the fact that Tina Fey's bad impersonation got worse each time she attempted it, the Water Cooler Set was doing whatever the effete equivalent of a head-butt is over and over while insisting, "Fey rocks! She's a rock star! This is her year!"
The Water Cooler Set at Entertainment Weekly picked her as runner up for 2008's entertainer of the year and the objection is not that she was only runner up, it's that she's even on the list at all. $63 million domestic box office of Baby Mama didn't make Tina a star and wouldn't have this decade, last decade or in the 80s. In fact, she'd have to set the way back machine to 1977 for that meager box office take to qualify as stardom. When speaking to one friend at EW, he felt the need to insist that this is all a bit like Time magazine's person of the year -- not about enduring talent, but who had the 'impact.' And Tina, he insists, had 'impact.'
"People believe," he pointed out, "that Palin actually said she could see Russia from her front porch."
What an accomplishment, what a 'credit': The Fabulist Fey.
He did note another 2008 'accomplishment,' looking increasingly 'wan.' And how thin and pointy her nose had begun to look. Why was that?
Well it wasn't so she could rub it up and down inside the egg and prepare to hatch. It had to do with the weight gain the 'boys' of the Water Cooler Set missed. In fairness, some of them noticed but were thrilled with the increased breast size as well as Tina's desire to flaunt her body in various cheesecake poses. We're not, for example, remembering either Lily Tomlin or Gilda Radner posing for a magazine cover with their ass stuck in the air.
Fey was the one behind the glasses, the sexy buttoned down woman. The sexy because she was smart woman. Those days are long gone and she's so trashed her image that we half expect her next 'clever' 'parody' tor result in her half-naked before the camera, promoting Harry & David's Fancy Fruit Spreads with a 'send-up' of Sharon Stone's infamous Basic Instinct scene.
Somehow (shh, no rumors), Tina finally ended up with breasts and she's very eager to alert the world to their emergence hence the half-dressing she gives them in photo session after photo session. And to make sure the brainy image is in the trash can, she tosses aside the glasses (which only makes her eyes appear too far apart).
We offered the EW-er a counter-argument, Tina Fey was The Backlash Entertainer of 2008. She went from appearing sexy and intelligent to a busty airhead. She went from someone known for sharp observational skills to an actress spilling out of her blouse and pulling up her skirt for laughs. She went from a role model applauded by many feminists (including, at one time, us) to starring in an eighties throw-back movie about a woman who must, must, must have a baby. We pointed out that prior to giving birth (September 2005), Fey wasn't obsessed with babies but once she had one, suddenly it was very important for her to portray women as desperate for them. We considered her similar, in that regard, to a starlet or twink on the five-factor diet and babbling away incessantly about glycemic index.
In one year, she's demonstrated she wants to be seen as just another piece of ass (aged ass, but ass none the less), that she will embrace any retro backlash attack on women and, most importantly, that she's lost the ability to laugh at herself or others.
The joy, like the intelligence, got squeezed right out of Fey. And you're left with an anti-feminist on auto-pilot attempting to demonstrate just how much damage she can do.
A great deal. For example, Thursday night managed to go the full half-hour without ever showing co-star Jane Krakowski. It was Fey, Fey, All About Fey. So much so that when Katrina Bowden's Cherie was finally given her one-line for the episode, we felt as if we'd been watching Mr. Skeffington. And while that reference and observation delighted our EW-friend, we knew it wouldn't play with NBC which really doesn't give a damn about the way women are represented on TV.
But what NBC does care about is ratings. They don't know from funny and assume, most of the time, that they're just missing the joke. But they know how to squint at the overnights. And though they can't figure out why, they know America's sour-heart Tina Fey has not become a 'breakout star' or even a 'star.'
They're fully aware the show will never again get the kind of build-up (blather) it got as the Water Cooler Set treated Fey like a comedic goddess for her bad Palin impersonation. Week after week, that crowd dropped her name with such desperation you'd think they were leaving their Lubys, Dennys and Golden Corrals behind and attempting to get a table at XIV. When hype doesn't create stardom -- as many a Van Fair 90s cover subject can testify -- the career's over. Your heat vanishes, your descent begins. The press that acted as your own personal public relations outfit suddenly doesn't want to know you because you committed the worst of all sins: You exposed their ignorance.
So this was Tina's big shot, 2008 was it. Fall 2008 was specifically it for 30 Rock. And NBC grasps that did not work out. They also instinctively know something is off with the show and we were asked specifically about our Love Boat criticism Friday afternoon. What were we saying there?
We are saying that four episodes -- four bad episodes -- have aired so far this year and each has heavily featured guest stars while the regular characters -- that would be the ones the audience actually tunes in for -- have done little to nothing. Each week, Tina and Alec make like Julie McCoy and Captain Stubing, greet a guest star, turn the episode over to him or he and then show up for little nothing scenes.
Regular characters are what is supposed to sell a TV series. But 30 Rock viewers can sit through entire episodes without seeing some cast members featured at all. Guest stars can improve or pull down a show. Of all the NBC sitcoms, Will & Grace utilized them most heavily. But the bulk of the time, with a Glenn Close or Matt Damon, they were used wisely. (Contrast that with Janet Jackson and Jennifer Lopez who had no real purpose for being on the show.) They advanced the plots -- short-term and long-term -- and they interacted with the characters. 30 Rock basically turns each week over to a guest star. And if the guest star's lucky, like Aniston, they come off as good sports. If they're not lucky, they come off extremely foolish. That's because the scripts are so poorly thought out and so badly written.
And they just get worse and worse each week to the point that the regular characters no longer seem eccentric, they seem cartoonish and when Kevin can lose $4,000 in a minor subplot ($4,000 that was supposed to go home to his family) and not even break a sweat, the audience cares less and less.
"You do realize," we asked, "that The Mary Tyler Moore Show was able to feature a guest spot with Betty Ford and still construct a full-blown episode where the regular characters got to shine?"
We were losing them. So we flipped over to the losing audience, to the 1.2 million lost since the first episode this year.
"You do grasp that when something's judged a dingo dog with fleas, no big names want to appear?"
That they grasped. And they began making jokes about Fey turning future episodes over to the likes of Anson Williams and Todd Bridges. They joked that Sandy Duncan would get a multi-arc story as Lemon's aunt from out of town. And as their laughter died down, The Love Boat comparison truly sank in.
30 Rock was never a hit series. But a lot of people rooted for it to be one. Note the past tense. That's true of NBC today as well. Who wants to be the one explaining in May 2009 that 30 Rock's cancelled due to low ratings? That's the only thing that might allow it to run through the year with no improvements: The fact that it should have been cancelled some time ago. When the axe falls, the question will be, "Why did it take so long?" If Fey had any intelligence left, she'd work like crazy to quickly improve the show. She'd ditch the guest stars and bring the show back to the characters that were supposed to pull in audiences to begin with.
Otherwise, get ready to sing . . .
30 Rock soon will be making another run
30 Rock promises something for everyone
Set a course for adventure
Your mind on a new romance . . .
Note that Fey and her faltering ratings are the topic of Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Bitchy Tina Fey", Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Ghosts of Network Bombs Past and Present" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Tina Fey: America's Sour-Heart".
1) "If You Could Read My Mind," Barbra Streisand.
This Gordon Lightfoot song appears on Streisand's Richard Perry produced Stoney End. Rebecca recently turned Marcia on to Streisand and Dona told her she had to either purchase Stoney End right away or purchase this track off iTunes. Marcia loved it and Dona was the topic of an e-mail last here from a reader who felt she didn't share enough so we'll turn it over to Dona.
Dona: I love this song and grew up with Gordon Lightfoot's version. When we moved here [C.I.'s], Ty was already established here and had his room just perfect, and Ava and Jess had been out here almost as long so their room reflected them. Jim didn't give a damn about decorating our room and I just forgot about it until I had a late night freak out over the blank walls and the lack of any personal detail. At which point, I was whining to Ava and C.I. about how I wished Jim and I could pull together something pop-culture and blah, blah, blah, whine, whine. At the end of my long rant, C.I. said I could pull out photos from X number of photo albums and frame and hang those, plus there were vintage posters rolled up and not being used, etc. Ava said, "We'll make it 'funky'." She rushed off to the music room and came back with multiple vinyl albums she judged 'funky' to play on Jim's turntable while we worked on the room and two of them were Stoney End and Barbra Joan Streisand. At some point, C.I.'s putting Stoney End on the turntable and asks, "You want to hang up these posters too?" C.I. had the original posters for Stoney End and Barbara Joan Streisand and I said, "YES!" So that's what our room is -- Jim and mine -- some vintage photos and posters -- including an Airplane [Jefferson Airplane] concert poster, the Streisands and a lot of posters and photos of the [San Francisco] Giants. And those who feel the flip to CD and then MP3s is wonderful, you really need to know about the sort of things that used to come inside the vinyl albums. The Barbara Joan poster is almost as tall as I am and it is wider than I am. The song itself is three minutes and fifty-eight seconds of perfection. And if you've never heard it, you can click here for a YouTube video of it which features rare footage from Up The Sandbox and the filming of Up The Sandbox. The track has become one of my all time favorites by Streisand or by anyone and I felt that way the moment it came over the speakers of Jim's turntable. I was hollering, "Play that again!" When I go on the road with Kat, Wally, Ava and C.I., I always make sure I have this track in some format. And if that was enough 'sharing,' let me know and I'll try to do better.
2) "Dedicated To The One I Love," the Mamas and the Papas.
This huge hit, number two on the charts, first appears on the album Deliver and is a remake of a hit single by the Shirelles though the two versions have very little in common other than the lyrics and basic melody. John Phillips worked overtime on this arrangement, creating new time signatures and one of the most intricate vocal arrangements the group did. Michelle Phillips does the softly sung opening and there's magic from that first note. She and Cass Elliot cook on sections like "There's on thing I want you to do, especially for me" with Cass owning "And it's something that everything needs."
3) "All Along The Watchtower," Jimi Hendrix.
There's a song in there, who the hell knew? And all the pale and preening Dylan cover artists can forget trying to 'explore' the 'meaning' in this song via their own interpretations, Hendrix revolutionized it and made it so damn much more than it ever was. YouTube it here.
4) "Here Comes The Sun," Nina Simone.
The title track to Simone's 1971 album found her in tackling the George Harrison-penned Beatles classic and making it all her own. (On the same album, you have to hear her versions of "O-O-H Child" and "Angel of the Morning.) Long considered an immediate classic, it got a bump in the nineties via the Bridget Fonda starring Point of No Return soundtrack. Here for video.
5) "Just My Imagination," Rolling Stones.
A hidden treasure on Some Girls that still stands as one of the best covers the Stones ever did.
Click here to catch it performed live via YouTube.
6) "Sweet Jane," Cowboy Junkies.
Many strong vocals have been done on this Lou Reed song over the years including a blistering duet by Maria McKee and Bono; however, Canada's Cowboy Junkies didn't add heat, they added ice to create a sound that was fresh and convincing. To hear it is to think this is how the song should have always been performed. Video click here.
7) "What A Fool Believes," Aretha Franklin.
In 1980, the Queen of Soul was recovering from the Atlantic years and more than anything else off her Aretha album, this track -- with its intricate interplay of vocals -- demonstrated there was only one Aretha and she was still unchallenged. It remains one of the strongest vocals she did at Arista. Click here for video.
8) "Spanish Harlem," Laura Nyro and Labelle.
1971's Gonna Take a Miracle found Laura and Labelle (Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash) teaming up for an album of cover songs. Among the ones covered was this one that it seemed Aretha had already nailed. Click here for video.
9) "You Know I'm No Good," Artic Monkeys.
Amy Winehouse's Back To Black masterpiece may be only two years old but already Artic Monkeys have successfully re-interpreted one of the gems. Click here for live video. And because we love Amy, here's her performing the song live and acoustic.
10) "I'm No Angel," Cher.
The song was written for Gregg Allman but no one performed it better than Cher -- click here for the living proof on YouTube.
It was a bad week for the Cult of Barack what with all the realities emerge about Dear Leader indicating he not only had feet of clay -- which Michelle's already informed the world stink -- he also had no character or integrity. To them we offer Bette Davis' All About Eve greeting: "Happy birthday, welcome home, and we who are about to die salute you."
Though the Cult appears impenetrable to de-programming, let's at least attempt to harsh their mellow about the Christ-child they insist the whole world loves, their 'rock star.' Barack's far from the first American of color to be a rock star and those 'reigns' appear to be short-lived. Travel back with us to December of 2005 when Joel Brinkley reported the following for The New York Times:
Despite the time-worn diplomatic formula of quiet airport greetings by often-dour foreign ministers, for Ms. Rice the more telegenic receptions in Bishkek and Tokyo were not anomalies. Among the diplomats, politicians and journalists of the world, there is no argument that she has ascended to rock star status.
In her office, her aides say that has been one result of a deliberate strategy.
"We think it is very important that she connects with the ordinary citizens of the countries she visits," said Jim Wilkinson, a senior aide to Ms. Rice. An important part of his job is to set up her image-making events.
One high point came last summer, when Forbes magazine put her at the top of its list of the 100 most powerful women in the world. The New York Post hailed the selection with the headline "Condi Rules the World!"
The airport "greeters" are important part of Mr. Wilkinson's strategy. Most of a secretary's work during a foreign visit, aides noted, is boring to a majority of the population, so "she always tries to meet people and do events that an average person can relate to," he said.
"Condi Rules the World!"? Yes, boys and girls, three years ago there was another 'rock star' who was 'rocking' the world. And we all know how that turned out, don't we?
Whatever happened to the Condi Cultists? They vanished quicker than all the swooning Donald Rumsfeld groupies -- and, yes, they existed once upon a time too.
What troubled had nothing to do with the candidate himself.
to them they were saying "transformational."
I couldn't count the number of times I heard the sixties evoked by people with no apparent memory that what drove the social revolution of the sixties was not babies in cute t-shirts but the kind of resistance to that decade's war that in the case of our current wars, unmotivated by a draft, we have yet to see.
It became increasingly clear that we were gearing up for another close encounter with militant idealism by which I mean the convenient redefinition of political or pragmatic questions as moral questions -- which makes those questions seem easier to answer at a time when the nation is least prepared to afford easy answers.
Some who were troubled in this way referred to those who remained untroubled by a code phrase. This phrase which referred back to a previous encounter with militant idealism the one that ended at the Jonestown encampment in Guyana in 1978 was "drinking the Kool-Aid."
No one ever suggested that the candidate himself was drinking the Kool-Aid. If there was any doubt about this, his initial appointments would lay them to rest.
In fact, it seemed increasingly clear that not only would he welcome healthy realism but that its absence had become for him a source of worry. "The exuberance of Tuesday night's victory," The New York Times reported on November 6th, "was tempered by concerns over the public's high expectations for a party in control of both Congress and the White House amid economic turmoil, two wars overseas and a yawning budget gap. " A headline in the same day's paper, "With Victory At Hand, Obama Aides Now Say Task Is To Temper Expectations."
Joan Didion was speaking on a panel which included Andrew Delbanco, Jeff Madrick, Darryl Pinckney, Robert Silvers, Michael Tomasky and Garry Wills at New York Public Library's Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. The New York Review of Books has the podcast of the event (scroll down to November 17, 2008, What Happens Now? A Conversation on the 2008 Election)
The above remarks are approximately 10:40 into the podcast and last till 16:30 into the podcast.
Women were scapegoated, bullied and blamed throughout 2008 and the best our feminist 'leaders' could do was to call out MSNBC. They ignored Bill Moyers' non-stop crap. They ignored the Roberts Parry and Scheer and all the other 'progressive'ly aged 'boys.'
We don't mean that Gloria, Robin, Kim and all the rest ignored these men just when Sarah Palin was running for vice president, we mean that they refused to call these men out when the primary campaign was ongoing and Hillary was running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
They refused to call out the men doing the damage.
There are a number of new feminist groups that have sprung up this year and thank goodness, for that. Too many of the 'old girls' have been co-opted and can no longer speak up when women are under attack.
While we applaud the work of these new, emerging groups, we disagree partially with one point a number of them make: Women's struggle is a narrative we need to make people aware of.
We agree that the average person has very little idea of what women have had to struggle against and what rights they've won. But that's in the general population. Where we disagree is with the idea that the media is unaware of the struggle women's rights have been.
So that we're not a useless Walrus (goog goog g'joob) like Robin Morgan, let's put a name on the problem: Bill Moyers.
Bill Moyers damn well knows the basics of the struggle for equality women have had to fight. He knows it and he chose to ignore it. But it you go to the archives Bill Moyers Journal, you'll see what we pointed to throughout the Democratic Party primaries: Week after week, Billy was saying it was a historic race because . . . a "Black" man was running. It was never time to turn a segment over to what it meant that a woman -- of any color -- was running, but week after week, he made it all about a bi-racial man passing for "Black" running for his party's presidential nomination. That was 'historic.'
That's only one example. There are many more. And, no, (Democratic) Women's Media Center did not call Bill Moyers out. They never publicly objected.
They were and are useless.
They've tried to put a cherry on top of the big pile crap that was 2008 while trying to get you to dig in with spoons.
Their most recent piece is nonsense by Celeste Watkins-Hayes' "What Obama Really Means for Black America and Beyond." Someone spike the Geritol and wake WMC up to the fact that it's called "Women's." Point? It's not a general interest site.
There's a place for an article entitled "What Obama Really Means For Black American Women and Beyond." No, that isn't what Watkins-Hayes offers. Her scope is not feminist and her opening manages to insult freely: "The global celebration of President-elect Barack Obama's victory, punctuated by the teary faces of civil rights activists such as John Lewis, represents a historic moment that almost is beyond words." Yes, Watkins-Hayes, you are the CENTER OF THE EARTH. Yes, the WHOLE WORLD WANTS TO FOLLOW YOU.
What a load of crap. People starving around the world and living their lives are not caught up in some hysteria over a US election anymore than any but the frou-frou set in America got caught up ("Let's stay up and watch!") in Charles and Di's wedding back in the 80s. Grow the hell up and lose the sense of entitlement and the notion that nothing in the world is ever more important than what the US does at any given moment. Believe it or not, there are countries where the majority of the people never obsess or attempt to emulate what the US does. (And if certain pseudo-science projections released at the end of last week are true, that number will only continue to grow.)
At a time when WMC should be exploring what the elections meant for women, they're instead allowing US exceptionalism to 'grace' their site via a bad, bad article. The topic is beyond the scope of WMC; however, if it's going to be the scope address it seriously.
From Jonathan Martin's "Obama faces less pressure for diverse Cabinet" (Politico):
But now that we have a black Branch Rickey in Barack Obama, what does that mean for the rest of the team? Put in political terms, does our first African-American president, elected with a rainbow coalition, have more of an imperative to appoint an administration that includes minorities in high-ranking positions?
Not really, is the answer supplied by a group of prominent African-Americans. Having a team of varied faces is preferable and in keeping with Obama's pledge to represent all Americans -- but these veteran black politicians and public officials say the president-elect should tap into the best talent available without taking a head-counting approach, in which slots are determined by demographics and symbolism trumps substance.
If WMC and Celeste Watkins-Hayes want to go beyond WMC's scope and tackle meaning, there it is. Bi-racial Barack is under no pressure to appoint African-Americans to the cabinet which explains why only one, Eric Holder Jr., has been mentioned thus far.
What a load of crap and by that 'thinking,' had Hillary become president this year, she'd 'need' to appoint an all-male cabinet? Barack seems itching to do nearly that.
Lisa Lerer's "Will men dominate Obama's Cabinet?" (Politico) notes that and quotes NOW's Kim Gandy declaring, "There's definitely been a reaction to the few groups that have been named so far. I agree with those who are concerned that it would have been nice to see more women." Oh, are you concerned, Kimmy? All that work for Barack and all she got was a sore back. You violated tax law to use NOW (and not NOW PAC) to attack Sarah Palin and drum up support for Barack. And you made clear that it wasn't about women or equality, it was about you getting cozy in the halls of power. From Cocco's column:
Those who watched the media's sexist hazing of both Clinton and Palin often rationalize this treatment as the result of these two candidates' particular personalities and the legitimacy -- or presumed illegitimacy -- of their campaigns. But Barbara Lee, whose Boston-based family foundation has conducted extensive research of gubernatorial races involving women, routinely identifies the same undercurrents in state campaigns. Voters demand more experience of a woman candidate, and judge her competence separately from whether she is sufficiently "likable." Male candidates typically must clear only the competence bar to be judged -- as Obama indelicately put it during a primary debate -- "likable enough."
And you can add that there's not much reason anyone has to rationalize anything. Gloria, Kim and Robin made it very clear that Sarah Palin could be ripped apart and that it should be considered 'feminist' to rip Palin apart.
In reality all they did was disgrace themselves, damage their legacies and make it so that it's all the harder for them to raise money (and money's needed badly). WMC elected to post Robin's bitchy 'column' where she attacked a former NOW chapter president and a former editor of Ms. magazine. 2008 told you that the so-called 'sisterhood' died for leadership a long, long time ago.
And we'll be living with the damage that those 'leaders' inflicted on ALL women.
Watch Seth Meyers solo-host Weekend Update and grasp how much hatred is being heaped on women. Yes, he still manages to work in a Sarah Palin 'joke' each week, but he manages so, so much more. Saturday's misogyny also included Bill Clinton (Darrell Hammond) insisting to Seth, "If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, the last thing I want to do is screw Hillary." Later Seth would do 'jokes' about Angelina Jolie's breasts. Can we do jokes about the fact that the sides of Seth's mouth are so puffed out even in repose that it looks like he's forever chowing down on a cock? Or is he the only one allowed to do Deep Throat 'jokes'? (Which, for the record, in 2008, he did.)
We think about that and we think about a college junior this week who asked us where the women were? In films, where are the women? When she was in high school, she declared in a tone letting us know she thought that was ages ago, she could rent a Meg Ryan comedy, a Julia Roberts comedy, a Sandra Bullock comedy, a Kate Hudson comedy, "and much more." But she'd gone to rent videos last week and noticed for the first time that there are no such movies. Not just no movies with Meg, Julia, Sandra, Kate, etc., but no movies where women are the leads or equals in comedy.
Those movies vanished. And, hint, a woman doing porn (in a predominately male cast) is not the equivalent of You've Got Mail. Nor is a woman getting "knocked up," the equivalent of Drew Barrymore in a romantic comedy.
These days women are supposed to be thrilled that Gwyneth Paltrow managed to keep her clothes on and came off semi-intelligent in Iron Man where she basically plays the Thelma Richards' role from All About Eve -- with less wit.
There are numerous problems effecting women and the right to dream and hear their stories told is among them. There was nothing "historic" for women this year . . . unless you factor in the sudden popularity of abuse.
Pretending otherwise only adds to the culture of misogyny.
A musician -- pay attention those who fancy themselves that -- wants their songs heard by a wide audience. Otherwise, s/he would never hit the road, let alone the recording studio.
So one of 2008's biggest embarrassments came from rockers.
Time and again, they rushed forward to say, "Oh, no, you don't!" to the McCain - Palin campaign. It was really embarrassing.
Take Heart (and we love the Wilson sisters). "Barracuda" is not a song utilized on one of the many CSIs (though we would love it if it and "Crazy On You" were). "Barracuda" was used for Governor Sarah Palin at the GOP convention and Ann and Nancy Wilson wanted to make it clear that they would never, ever vote for Palin and/or McCain. Fine. No problem. But they also wanted the campaign to never, ever use the song again.
With regards to McCain, that's pretty damn insulting and we'll come back to that.
But did the Wilson sisters check to see if Barack Obama carried all fifty states? No, he didn't. And looking at what he didn't carry, we're seeing states that kept Heart alive when no one in the rest of the country gave a damn. That was before they resurfaced on Capitol and after.
So what message are they sending to the people in those states?
It's something they might want to think about.
But Heart, to their credit, has never been used in any national political campaign and maybe the message is: We don't want to be used ever. And maybe their message is we don't want to be part of the political process?
If that's the message, fine.
But if the message is only some people can use our songs, we have a problem.
Which brings us to Jackson Brown who didn't drink the Kool-Aid, he damn well snorted lines of it and, in the process, disgraced himself.
"Running On Empty" was used in a web ad and used under Fair Use guidelines (by the McCain campaign, of course). Jackson Browne had a meltdown.
We went back and forth over this one throughout the campaign. In the end, we couldn't find any way to support Jackson's view.
Mainbly because, though Jackson doesn't like to publicize this and most Americans who agree with his politics have no idea, he's raked in the royalties over the years -- at a time when no one would play his songs on radio -- through his songs being bumper music on a variety of right-wing talk shows. "Lives In The Balance,"via its use on right-wing radio (during the Clinton years) has become his best known hit since "Tender Is The Night."
Now he had no problem with it being used on right-wing talking shows, he had no problem if the demented hosts were preaching that the Clintons wanted one-world government, to take away your guns, and to kill you like they 'did' Vince Foster. Jackson Browne never said a damn word complaining about that.
So it was a little embarrassing to see him making a spectacle of himself over the McCain campaign using a snippet of "Running On Empty."
Let's break it down a little bit further.
Jackson can insist (as he does) that he phoned the cops that night when they arrived at his home for a disturbance call. He can insist that until he's blue in the face. No one's believing it and they wouldn't even if Joni Mitchell hadn't used him as an inspiration for "Not To Blame" (Turbulent Indigo). Right or wrong, the voyeurs of pop culture spoke long ago and they sided with Darryl Hannah. That's the main reason Jackson can't get his new stuff played on the radio today.
True or false, he's seen as the man who physically abused Darryl Hannah. It's killed his career. The bulk of his peer group doesn't want to hear a too-sensitive-for-words love/observational song from Jackson Browne as a result.
To put it bluntly, Jackson Browne's songs can use all the exposure they can get.
We said we'd come back to McCain. We are on record long before 2007 stating we would not vote for John McCain, that we do not agree with his politics, etc. We don't have to 'prove' our disagreement with John McCain because it can be found throughout the archives. That said, musicians need to remember one important point: When Congress held hearings on radio consolidation, McCain was the one on record opposing the censorship of the Dixie Chicks for their political statements.
There's not an adult alive in this country that doesn't know John McCain supports the illegal war and supported it from the start, from before the start. He defended the Dixie Chicks not because he agreed with their opinion but because he believed in their right to say it. It's called free speech and once upon a time rockers grasped it.
Ronald Reagan couldn't stop attempting to harness Bruce Springsteen's Born In The USA work in 1984. Bruce and Reagan agreed on nothing. Bruce made that clear nicely. He wondered if anyone with Reagan's campaign had paid attention to the verses of "Born In The USA"? But he never threw a hissy fit and whined, "Don't you use my song at your rallies! Don't you use my song!"
Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney were two worthy candidates that All Things Media Big and Small shut out. And when all the rockers were embarrassing themselves during the last months of the campaigns, we started thinking about them and other independent and third party candidates. What are they going to be able to play at their rallies?
If Heart and Jackson Browne is a sign of what's to come, where does it end?
The reality is that thirty years after the songs were releases, Heart and Jackson Browne should be thrilled to death that a national campaign was interested in them. That's what you live for when you write a song, that it will live on for years long after it falls off the charts.
Van Halen (who ever's left in that group at this late date) and the Foo Fighters had to object to.
What really is the point?
Is your music only for certain people?
In 1984, Springsteen had enough sense not to throw a public tantrum and insist that his song couldn't be used in a campaign. Twenty-four years later, common sense is in short supply.
And if songs are only allowed for candidates you approve (or a quorum of the band?) rallies just got a lot harder for third party and independent candidates.
Phone'll jingle, door'll knock
Open the latch!
Something's comin', don't know when,
But it's soon --
Catch the moon,
Around the corner,
Or whistling down the river,
Come on -- deliver
-- "Something's Coming," West Side Story, Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein.
Ava and C.I. have warned you repeatedly what's coming around the bend (starting in December of 2005). For those who missed what ____ editorialized as "The Death Of Free TV" (their finest editorial and they vanish it?), it starts next year.
US House Rep Ike Skelton issued the following last week:
TV Viewers Should Prepare Now for Digital Television Transition
Today, television stations air programming in analog and digital formats and will continue to do so through February 17, 2009. On that date, however, full-power television stations, such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and PBS affiliates, will stop broadcasting in analog and continue broadcasting in digital format only. The switch from analog to digital broadcasting is referred to as the digital television transition or the DTV transition.
The digital television transition will provide many advantages for consumers: it will free up frequencies for use by police, fire, and other public safety officials; will allow broadcasting networks to offer improved picture and sound quality, as well as more programming choices; and will provide more robust wireless service offerings.
To prepare for the digital television transition, some consumers will need to take steps to continue to enjoy television. Cable and satellite subscribers should not be impacted by the transition, but if they have questions they should contact their service provider. Consumers who enjoy free over-the-air television should determine if they own a digital or analog television. Families who own a digital television will be able to continue to watch free programming after the transition. Analog televisions receiving free programming through an antenna, including outside antennas and “rabbit ears”, will not work after February 17, 2009. Consumers who rely on analog televisions to enjoy free programming must purchase a digital-to-analog converter box. A converter box is a product that will keep an analog television working after February 17, 2009.
Fortunately, Congress established a coupon program to offset the cost of acquiring a converter box. Until March 2009, all households will be eligible to receive two $40 coupons to be used toward the purchase of two converter boxes, which typically cost between $40 and $70 each. Coupons will expire after 90 days and will come with a list of retailers that are selling converter boxes in their neighborhood, as well as through the telephone and the Internet.
For more information about the coupon program or to obtain a $40 coupon, please visit the Converter Box Coupon Program website or call the Program’s toll-free number at 1-888-388-2009. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call their toll-free number at 1-877-530-2634.
February 2009 will arrive sooner than we think. Now is the time to prepare for the digital television transition. For more information about the transition visit the Federal Communications Commission's Digital TV Transition website or call them toll-free at 1-888-225-5322 or toll-free through TTY at 1-888-835-5322.
The switch could leave an estimated 20 million Americans behind. The groups most effected are the elderly and the poor. One of our readers is a ninth grade science teacher and she's made this a lesson module for her class for a number of reasons including the opportunity to teach that the digital to analog shift provides as well as the fact that those most in need of help with the shift will be the elderly and grandchildren should be prepared to help out.
She cautions that people are thinking the antennas can be tossed and that's not so. The converter boxes will need to be hooked up to both the TV and any antenna.
Along with the song (written by Mick Softly and available on Donovan's Fairytale) that we love it also features some wonderful animation so check it out.
"I Hate The War" -- most requested highlight. C.I. breaks it down on the contract proposed between the White House and the puppet government in Baghdad plus finds a way to work in Rick Springfield (we're not joking). A big treat.
"Deal with it" -- Betty's got so many ideas on what to do with her site and "When it was time to blog, I end up writing about fashion!" :) That's cool it was a pleasure to read.
"Easy in the Kitchen" -- Trina was going to offer some last minute recipes but decided that went against the point she wanted to make leading into Thanksgiving: Easy, relax. Thanksgiving's no fun if you're exhuasted by the time the food hits the table.
"who do you write like?" and "delilah, you gender-bender!" -- Rebecca plays around online with devices/instruments that allegedly measure something. In the former, she finds who everyone supposedly matches up with in terms of writing. While we love the findings of similarities between Ava and C.I.'s TV commentaries and the writings of Oscar Wilde, we don't take it very seriously. Rebecca notes re: Edgar Allen Poe, she's sure C.I. found that insulting "if she gave a thought." But at least Elaine got compared favorably to her favorite writer from childhood. That's one device/instrument and the second listed post focuses on another. According to that one, we're all men. Women, men, we're all writing like men! and the most masculine among us? Stan, Ruth and C.I. all scored at least 80%. (And the National Lawyers Guild's Marjorie Cohn scored over 80% as a man.) We don't take the devices/instruments too seriously but they were a fun topic to read on.
"Regarding Seth" -- Marcia's immensely popular post on a liar. and fraud Make a point to check it out.
"How the press ignores women" -- Ruth is really something to read these days, isn't she? You never know what topic she's grabbing but you always know you're going to be rivited. Here she's noting a woman not known for doing much of anything for women and explaining how that repuation might or might not be deserved.
"Cabinet?" -- A big whiner e-mailed the public account of The Common Ills about his politic crash Janet of Arizona. Kat read it and thought, "What the hell is he snorting?" We're ignoring his woman who may make the cabinet! We're not really covering the cabinet. Kat explains this but we want to go over it to make sure it's really clear and while we can all comment on the record in this entry. The most covered appointment or possible appointment by Barack has been Rahm Emanuel. The reason for that is C.I. knows (and likes) Rahm. So not to be accused of favoritism, at The Common Ills, C.I. has repeatedly noted negative criticsm of Rahm in the last few weeks. That's really the only reason Rahm's been covered. At this site (Third), Jim asked C.I. to comment on Rahm specifically and we were all encouraged to comment on the names being tossed around for the cabinet in "Roundtable." That was prompted by a post of Elaine's where she noted the names being thrown around were mainly male ["The cabinet, Robert Fisk"]. Wally and Cedric's joint-posts are humorous ones on what's in the news that day and if it's a big day for cabinet chatter, they may grab that as a topic but they're not "overly interested." Mike has blogged twice on Hillary as Secretary of State. The first time noting it was her decision and he'd hold his opinion. The second time to note an idiot who was allegedly writing on Tom Daschle but ended up with three paragraphs on him and eight screaming about the Clintons. Wally, Cedric and Mike have loudly called out Tom Daschle. C.I. has noted that and joined it in terms of noting how Hillary's being skewered and the frightful and frightening Tommy D is getting a pass. Ruth's not sure she's written a word on the cabinet and Marcia only remembers writing about Eric Holder (and in passing on that). Stan's not focused on the cabinet, Elaine's not focused on it, Kat isn't focused on it, Betty's not focused on it and Rebecca says if she covers it at all, she's doing it in passing thus far. Point: Janet is not being slighted. We don't care for her. She's very fortunate we're not writing about her or we'd be talking about that infamous speech this year where she attacked Mexican immigrants. We went on at length, yes, but we hope we made our point.
"Mantan Moreland" & "Movies, Lauren Bacall, and more" -- Staci spoke for a lot of people when she e-mailed Saturday to say that she loves all the work Stan does but she really does enjoy it when he discusses movies. We do too. He's planning to make Friday's a movie post of some sort each week.
"The failure of 'leadership'" -- Jim's reaction to this post by Elaine? "I begged and begged C.I. not to write about this topic during the week so we could have it for this weekend and then Elaine goes and writes on it! Highlight it please."
"Iraq and NYT's tabloidish ways" -- This was a hugely requested highlight. C.I.'s tackling NYT and doing so forcefully. Angelina Jolie is slimed and front paged by the paper on the day they bury CIA lies about a plane crash? They're exploring the People magazine 'scandal' at length and on the front page and brushing aside the CIA crimes? How typical.
"Missy Comley Beattie, F**k the Hell Off" -- Hate to say it, but we agree with Mike. We usually do agree with him but on this we wish we didn't. Missy Comley Beattie once appeared to have something to say. Barack lovers better learn to grow up or leave the left because maturity and ending the illegal war requires truth telling. If it's too much for you, f**k the hell off.
"Daschle, Chuck and more," "Tom Daschle the Disgrace" and "THIS JUST IN! CRAP YOU SMELL THE STINK OF!" & "More cronies for Barack"- And here's Mike, Wally and Cedric covering Tommy D.
"THIS JUST IN! CHRIST CHILD CLIMBS ON THE CROSS OF HIS OWN MAKING!" & "Christ-child mounts his cross" -- Wally and Cedric cover how Christ-child Barack built his own prison.
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Ghosts of Network Bombs Past and Present" -- Isaiah's latest in his three-part series on the stink that is Tina Fey's 30 Rock.
"Gerry Ford 2009 and the treaty" and "The Imperial Presidency With Cavity Fighting Fluoride Protection!" -- Elaine and C.I. on Barack the White washer.
"A Man Named Joe" -- Elaine 'Twaine' writes a short story. Elaine carried a short story over to Betty's site this week. The 'Twaine' remark is in ref to a 'device' or 'instrument' that found Elaine's writing in this to be over 80% like the writing style of Mark Twaine.
"Equality" and "Boycott the losers" -- Ruth and Marcia's very important posts on LGBT rights.
"Iraq snapshot" and "As C.I. said, it's a treaty" -- C.I. and Kat cover the Congressional hearing last week that they, Wally and Ava attended. Boston Globe's Jenny Paul was the only reporter at a major daily to cover the hearing.
"Disclosure II?" & "THIS JUST IN! WAS IT WORTH IT?" -- No means NO!, Barack.