Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dumbest statement of the week

Much of the death toll in Iraq these days results from large, high-profile attacks that can skew perceptions of day-to-day violence. The attacks in Mosul, though, are just as often small, directed and constant, with a toll that accumulates inexorably even as it draws less attention.

-- Steven Lee Myers and Campbell Robertson's "Insurgency Remains Tenacious In North Iraq" (New York Times) -- the paper that regularly ignores the violence unless it's a "high-profile attack" wants to whine that those attacks skew the reality.

A note to our readers

Hey --
Day from hell day. We're finally through.

Along with Dallas, here's who helped with the writing:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's 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,
Ann who's filling in for Mike of Mikey Likes It! (Mike's on vacation with Elaine, C.I.'s filling in for Elaine at Like Maria Said Paz),
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

Thank you to all for their help. Last week, Ava, C.I. and Jess handled the edition and managed to finish on time and early. By contrast it is now past noon and we're only now finishing.

And Dona's about to fall over so we'll come back for the note later tonight.

And we're back. Let's talk new content and I (Jim) will talk about the mishaps of this edition.

Here's the content:

Dumbest statement of the week -- We had truest. We had several. But we were all agreed this dumb statement had to be noted. But we forgot until publishing. So we dropped truest this week and just went with dumbest. Congrats, NYT, you earned it.

Editorial: No excuse for Sotomayor's secrets --Tomorrow's the confirmation hearing. A Democrat nominated her. Why is we still don't know where she stands on abortion? Not the planned editorial but as everything fell apart, Betty advocated for this topic and everyone agreed.

TV: Cuting through the crap -- Ava and C.I. were writing long we knew so even when the edition was falling apart, we knew we'd have something to point to with pride. They did a great job here.

Voices of Honor -- We had to note this. This was the last thing we wrote and did so despite being tired and just wanting to go to sleep. This is something that needs to be covered and very few bothered to.

Iraq at a glance -- C.I. said we had to do this. And was right. We were doing a week without noting Iraq? We had two Iraq-related pieces and they were crap. No matter how many times we rewrote and how many times we adjusted, they were still crap. Most of what we did just didn't work this week and we hustled to find topics we could publish online.

Lady nO -- Rebecca, Marcia, Ruth and Ann wrote this and we thank them for it. Dona was asking, at six a.m. EST, when all we had was Ava and C.I.'s TV piece and little else worth posting, everyone to brainstorm new ideas.

The return of Times Select -- Jess brought this in. And no, subscribers to the paper participating in this edition were not e-mailed a survey on Thursday.

Why On A Clear Day failed -- When Dona put out her SOS, Betty reminded how she, Ava and C.I. had spoken a great deal about this film and how it just doesn't work as a whole. She suggested we write an article on it. Rebecca said, "Too many people are going to spoil it. You work on that with Ava and C.I. and we'll work on a fashion piece." Which is what happened.

NYT serving less than half the US population -- Dona brought this over from C.I. actually. C.I. had already noted it and it was easy to turn this into a short piece. Dona, Jess, Ty, Cedric, Stan and I worked on this.

Truth in a Senate committee hearing -- Kat pulled this together while we did that. This is a repost of testimony.

Congressional attention on East Timor -- ETAN.

Highlights -- Rebecca, Betty, Ruth, Marcia, Stan, Cedric and Wally and Kat (almost forgot Kat) worked on this. Not Mike and Elaine, they're on vacation in Hawaii.

Throughout the edition, everything fell apart. It was a nightmare and it was, as Rebecca pointed out, nothing like last week's edition "which was a breeze."

So that's what we had. Hopefully you found something to enjoy.

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

Editorial: No excuse for Sotomayor's secrets

Sonia Sotomayor has been nominated to the Supreme Court by US president Barack Obama. Her confirmation hearing begins July 13th. Despite promising on the campaign trail to appoint only pro-choice justices, despite Katha Pollitt and all the usual Ghouls Gone Wild insisting that only Barack could protect abortion, Sotomayor goes into her confirmation hearing with no one knowing where she stands on abortion.

If White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs is to be believed, "no one" includes Barack since Gibbs claims the president never asked Sotomayor where she stood on abortion.

As Betty pointed out Friday, this happened the last time a woman was nominated to the Court. For those who've forgotten, Harriet Miers refused to say where she stood publicly on abortion as did the White House then led by Bully Boy Bush.

Almost four years later and despite the White House switching parties in the process, we're still stuck with not knowing.

That's not good enough.

Not by a long shot.

Green Change explains:

Here's what we know so far.

In 2002, Judge Sotomayor upheld President Bush's "global gag rule" which forced groups receiving U.S. assistance to pledge not to support or carry out abortions.

In 2004, Judge Sotomayor ruled mostly in favor of anti-abortion protesters in a case regarding police use of force against them.

In 2007, Judge Sotomayor joined an opinion that upheld a school district's policy of requiring teachers to notify parents if they thought that a girl was pregnant.

What a bunch of bulls**t. Especially that last one. A teenage girl is pregnant, she's frightened, she wants to speak to someone she can trust and, thankfully, there's one adult in the world she thinks she can: A teacher. But Sotomayor would have that teacher be compelled to tell a parent. Based on what?

Is pregnancy a crime and by being silent the teacher aiding and abetting? We find it disgusting that a teacher has less rights of confidence than a priest -- especially considering the sexual conduct problems in the priesthood over the last two decades.

In the photo below, Sotomayor clearly enjoys speaking.


So we'd urge her to get honest about where she stands on abortion and do so pretty damn quick.

There is no excuse for her confirmation hearing to start tomorrow and for the American public to still not know where she stands on this issue.

TV: Cuting through the crap

Each Saturday night, NBC airs another installment of their cancelled and failed show Kings. And if you wasted the kind of money they did, you'd be squeezing every last drop out of the lemon possible. Kings was never a good show and was never going to be a good show. Audiences weren't interested from the start and the tiny number willing to give it a chance fled while it was still airing on Sundays last spring.

The ratings are so low that some comparison may be needed. Repeats of Judge Judy just beat out Oprah (and everything else on daytime). But Judy also beat out Kings, three times over. In fact, it's difficult to find a show on daytime TV (on networks or in syndication) that doesn't beat out Kings' ratings each Saturday night.

It can be argued that the networks have abandoned Saturdays for so long now that people aren't even aware that Kings is airing new episodes on that night (or that Eli Stone airs new episodes currently on ABC). But Kings was never a hit.

What is the show about? We should probably make an effort to define that since most people never watched it and never will. It's set in a modern day kingdom. During a war. Are you yawning yet?

The king, no looker -- think Ron Silver with a British accent, is named Silas. Not exactly making the hearts beat faster, is it? His kingdom may go to his son, Prince Jack, or to Jack's best friend David. Jack's friend David and also Jack wishes his bed mate.

Jack's gay. And not since Braveheart has a gay character been written so insultingly.

So it's about who will rule? Yes, kiddies, it is another who will rule Ewing Oil, who will steer Denver Carrington?

It strives towards soap but it's merely non-episodic drama.

There's not a Joan Collins, Donna Mills or Ana-Alicia in the mix but there is, however, a villain.

The Water Cooler Set. Not attractive enough to be onscreen, they do their cunning off camera. They praised Kings like there was no tomorrow.

Even Alessandra Stanley (New York Times) who doesn't generally run with the pack had to act impressed and blown away that the show 'borrowed' the Biblical plot of David. She's ga-ga, wow-wow and it takes dedicated readers until paragraph nine, PARAGRAPH NINE, to learn that she finds the show "plodding." When a show's plodding -- and Kings' pace is plodding, that's the sort of detail that should be in the first paragraph. Not buried in the ninth. But that's what happens when you mistake a conceit or convention for actual drama. The Water Cooler Set largely avoided calling it out and, the few who did, like Alessandra, buried the most important details deep in their reviews.

Tom Shales (Washington Post) buried that the show was slow-moving and spent multiple early paragraphs on David Lynch and assorted other non-Kings details. He did find the time to offer this:

One aspect of "Kings" seems a fait accompli: Young Chris Egan, who plays handsome war hero David Shepherd, appears certain to become a star -- not an overnight sensation, since he's been a fixture in such past productions as "Everwood" and "Vanished" but bound to make a big fat splash.

Poor Tom Shales, never had an eye for talent, never will. Let's help poor Tommy out. Reality has of course demonstrated that Shales was wrong. But any man coming from the WB who didn't become a 'star' via the WB isn't going to. And any critic who waits until a double-digit paragraph of a review to share that a show sucks isn't much of a critic.

But the conceit of being a King David re-telling was catnip not to just the uneducated suits staffing NBC but also to the Water Cooler Set and, in fact, the suits were able to -- are still able to -- justify their bad decision by pointing to the (initial) critical reception.

That's what the Water Cooler Set does today: Exists to provide cover for teams of people to stupid to plan an even adequate weekly prime time schedule.

A number of e-mails have been coming in on one topic: CBS.

Fall 2009 should be CBS biggest year. It's got more goodwill than any network right now.

"I Gotta Feeling," their summer promo, works not just because it's using a marvelous song by the Black Eyed Peas, it works because it's tightly edited and it reminds viewers why they watch and why they will watch. The promo features The New Adventures of Old Christine, Gary Unmarried, The Ghost Whisperer, The Mentalist, Two and A Half Men, Medium and what the networks hopes will be some new favorites. And mingling in clips of new shows from the likes of Julianna Margulies and Jenna Elfman has peaked real interest in those shows.

"It makes it seem like the whole line up is going to be amazing," e-mailed reader Sonia. Forty-two other e-mails echo that sentiment and . . . . Oh, Medium.

Yeah, NBC canceled it and CBS picked it up.

Medium's a strong drama, one that gets stronger each season and, in fact, it was the only program on NBC Monday nights that the network could point to as a hit. It's ratings were higher than Chuck's and higher than Heroes. For bringing in the viewers, it was cancelled. And the idiots at NBC tried to blame the decision on viewers saying there was no write-in campaign to save the show before their announcement. Why would there be? When the show is a ratings winner, who expects it to be canceled?

Medium was never in any trouble because CBS was always prepared to pick it up (and will now team it with The Ghost Whisperer on Fridays this fall). Putting it in the promo was smart. Even smarter would be an individual promo noting that Medium moves from NBC to CBS.

How come?

Of the forty-three e-mails that have come in over the last two weeks about the CBS promo, twenty-nine of them note Medium. Some are people who liked the show. Some are people who, if they liked the show, don't mention that in their e-mails. But they do note that CBS picked it up and use that as their launching pad into an attack on NBC for canceling another show, such as Life (noted by thirteen e-mails).

NBC this fall will attempt to interest viewers in five nights of Jay Leno in prime time. Basically, you'll have The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in prime time, then your local news, then The Tonight Show with Conan followed by Latenight with Jimmy Fallon. Does America need that much celebrity exposure? Truth be told, no one's clamored for The Tonight Show to return to a 90-minute format so the idea that Jay's needed for five additional hours seems dubious. Even more so when those five hours take up prime time.

To put Jay on the air, five hour long shows had to be canceled. That's a lot of people already ticked off before Leno does his first prime time monologue.

NBC claims they've got a winner even if ratings are low because the show will be so cheap to produce (setting aside Jay's salary). That's not really true and we were surprised when talking to an NBC suit with a detached brain last week because he was shocked by a point we were making. "We haven't even thought of that."

The point was that, good or bad, the show could drain up enthusiasm for staying with NBC after the local news and watching The Tonight Show. Many of Jay's older fans have already switched over to David Letterman. Can NBC afford a further exodus?

And if it gets low ratings, that means an even lower lead in for both the local news and The Tonight Show.

"We haven't even thought of that."

Well they should have. Before turning over five hours of prime time to one show each week, you should be running through every possible scenario.

Which includes that Life fans, My Names Is Earl fans, Lipstick Jungle, Knight Rider, etc. may scapegoat Jay Leno, may blame him for hogging so much network time that their own favorites got the axe.

When NBC suits talk to us about Jay's new show, they tend to get defensive and will, at one point or another, cite Ed Sullivan. They will insist that they are striving towards that. But they also insist that it's going to be cheap to make. Ed Sullivan, each Sunday night, promised "a really big show" and it wasn't cheap to produce. By contrast, late night talk shows have always existed because of how cheap they were to make.

One exec insisted, "Look, we know what we're doing." To which we responded, almost five years ago, we were taking NBC to task for damaging and destroying the Thursday night franchise with the hideous Joey but as awful as that show was, worse was to come: My Name Is Earl.

The Water Cooler Set praised this non-funny, sexist and frequently racist show. It was supposed to be a sitcom but try to find the laughs. (Jamie Presley provided the only life in the show whose chief mood appeared to be lethargy.) It was 'new,' insisted the Water Cooler Set, and 'whimsical' and since when has whimsy driven a show to a ratings high?

It was a piece of crap week after week which seemed to exist solely to document how quickly Jason Lee's looks could fade. And, in the process, it destroyed NBC's Thursday night run. It also destroyed sitcoms.

ABC cancelled Samantha Who? We liked Christina Applegate's performance but not much else so we avoided reviewing the show. Reader Amanda wants to know why the show was cancelled?

Blame My Name Is Earl.

Samantha Who? was too expensive. ABC asked for a budget trim, specifically, they wanted it to shift to multi-cam which would save a ton of money. But the show runner insisted that would destroy the series' "integrity." Integrity?

We'll let that slide and focus on the camera. Desi Arnaz came up with the multi-camera process and it turned I Love Lucy into a comedy dynasty which still reigns in syndication. By shooting with three cameras, you're covering everything and can tape in front of the live audience. By contrast, My Name Is Earl was a single camera show and really kicked off the craze for that. (Scrubs predates it and used the single camera set-up but Scrubs never had enough life in it to kick off a bbq, let alone a national craze.)

The Water Cooler Set loves the single camera 'sitcoms.' They praise them for being 'realistic' when they're not at all realistic and, most importantly, they're not funny.

When you watch a sitcom, you'll see various camera angles, regardless of whether the show is multi-cam or single cam. We doubt we've lost anyone on that point, but in case we have: if you see Jennifer Aniston standing next to someone and walking alternating with a close up of Aniston and then one of the other performer, those are different shots. In a multi-camera show, they can be filmed all at once. In a single-camera show, you've got to film those in multiple takes. The pace is slower.

The fact that the pace is slower, pay attention, means that the comedy loses some of its rhythm. Yes, movies use a single camera and Jim Carey and Sandra Bullock and Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton and Eddie Murphy and assorted others have demonstrated an ability to be funny onscreen repeatedly. However, they have more time to shoot those scenes and are not working week after week, year after year, on the same character.

Desi didn't just invent the multi-cam set up because he thought it would save money or just because he thought it would allow them to be home sooner, he also did it because he knew the importance of the studio audience. As a club performer and an actor in films, he knew that an audience gave an extra edge, gave a boost of energy.

The single-cam 'sitcoms' this decade have been awful. The pace has been slow and off and you've had no Ross & Rachel, or Jerry, Elaine and Kramer, or Sam and Diane, or . . . Despite efforts by the Water Cooler Set to turn these nitcoms into hits, they haven't been hits. The Office only saw an uptake in ratings when critical faves were forced to share the time with audience faves John and Pam.

Kath & Kim is the best argument for ending the single-cam so-called sitcom. That show was unwatchable. It was unbearable. And who would have ever thought the usually delightful Molly Shannon could be so awful?

A studio audience, right away, would have forced the show runner to do something about Shannon's look on the show because it wasn't funny. She looked washed out, not overdone. Selma Blair was delivering her lines to her own navel and a studio audience would have forced her to at least play to the audience if not to her co-stars.

Plodding, Alessandra's term for Kings, describes the single-camera sitcoms of this decade. And what's really amazing -- and unremarked upon by the Water Cooler Set -- is how they are everything that Friends' Chandler Bing ever mocked.

Does no one notice that?

Does no one notice that they all offer these little 'life lessons'? Chandler Bing would be laughing his ass off at the 'wisdoms' imparted by My Name Is Earl or The Office. These insufferable shows all play like "a very special episode of Blossom."

We were being asked about our call on Parks & Recreation because apparently, since our review ran, the hot thing among critics is to point out how the tone shifted by the final episode aired this spring. We noticed it because we watched several episodes and read scripts. The problem is that the show's being taken away from Amy Poehler and that happens with each episode. We were interested in knowing who was making that critique? It apparently was the popular critique at the end of May. (We're not implying anyone ripped us off. They had just seen all the episodes by that point.) Regional newspaper critics were picking up on that and we think that's due to the fact that they're not members of the Water Cooler Set. They're expected to inform readers whether a show is worth watching or not -- as opposed to filing an esoteric discussion alluding to the larger themes of Charles Dickens and the minor ones of Jean Rhys.

That doesn't do a lot to inform viewers of whether or not they should watch a show nor does it do much to champion shows that really need championing. It doesn't even allow for noting the little 'morals' embedded in these alleged sitcoms. It certainly doesn't allow for the critics to watch dog the entertainment industry and, these days, that's really necessary. If you doubt it, grasp that cheapness means NBC is importing a late night talk show into prime time this fall.

Voices of Honor

Voices of Honor, a partnership between the Human Rights Campaign and the Servicemembers United, officially kicked off last week. The aim is to end the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and allow gays and lesbians to serve in the US military without having to lie about who they are or stay silent (hide) about who they are.


Ava, C.I., Kat and Wally attended the press conference Wednesday at the National Press Conference in DC where US House Representative Patrick Murphy joined a group of straight and gay veterans (Murphy is an Iraq War veteran) and announced he would be leading the effort in Congress, "I am proud to be the lead sponsor today of the Military Enhancement Readiness Act -- a bill that will finally repeal the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Our troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and are stretched dangerously thin. These men and women in our military understand what it takes to serve our country and the values that our military and our nation hold dear. They take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, yet the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy when it took effect in 1993 has discharged over 13,000 troops -- honorable men and women. That is the equivalent of three and a half combat brigades. They have been discharged not for any type of sexual misconduct but because of their sexual orientation. The policy is not working for armed services and it hurts national security."

While Murphy works in Congress, the plan is to schedule a national tour and bring the issue and the facts to communities across the country. Human Rights Commission explains:

The tour includes former Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, the first U.S. soldier wounded in the Iraq war; Jarrod Chlapowski, a former U.S. Army Korean linguist who opted to not re-enlist because of DADT and is currently a public policy advocate at the Human Rights Campaign; Alex Nicholson, a U.S. Army veteran fluent in Arabic discharged under DADT and current executive director of Servicemembers United; Army Staff Sgt. Genevieve Chase, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Executive Director of American Women Veterans; and others standing united and speaking out for the repeal of this discriminatory policy that continues to harm our nation's security.

Some join the military knowing they're gay. J Carnes (Speaking Out, Servicemembers United) writes about having come out and then having "to go back in the closet in order to serve in the Army for nine years." Others join not knowing who they are. Wednesday at the press conference, Joan Darrah shared what that was like:

When I first joined the Navy, I didn't realize I was gay. By the time I figured it out, I had about 10-plus years of service. Based on my promotion record and fitness reports it was clear to me that the Navy felt that I was making a difference so I opted to stay. Now that I am retired and out from under Don't Ask, Don't Tell I realize how incredibly stressful and frank fully just plain wrong it is to have to serve in silence. Each day I went to work wondering if that would be the day of my last service. Whenever the admiral would call me to his office 99.9% of me would be certain it was to discuss an operational issue but there was always a small part of me that feared the admiral was calling me into his office to tell me that I had been outed, that I was fired and that my career was over. On September 11th, I was at the Pentagon attending the weekly intelligence briefing when American flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon, I was at the Pentagon bus stop. The office I had been in seven minutes earlier was completely destroyed and seven of my co-workers were killed. The reality is if I had been killed, my partner would have been the last to know because her name was nowhere in my records and I certainly hadn't dared to list her in my emergency contact information. It was the events of September 11th that made me realize that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was taking a much bigger toll than I had ever admitted. On 1 June, 2002, a year earlier than originally planned, I retired. I am incredibly proud of our military and our country. And I know that we will be stronger once Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed. More than 26 countries have already figured this out and now allow gay people to serve openly. What we need now is for Congress to act and they must act now. Every day the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is delayed, more highly qualified, motivated, valuable service members are discharged simply for being gay. Our great country can do better than this.

And should do better than that. Bill Clinton campaigned on a pledge to end the discrimination that didn't allow gay and lesbians to serve openly in the military. He got into the White House and had to face a military in rebellion -- in open rebellion -- to him and his plans. Colin Powell, who these days makes noises about how Don't Ask, Don't Tell might need to be reconsidered, was openly disdainful and threatening of what might happen if Clinton moved forward with allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. Congress was in on the act as well and it wasn't just Republicans (example: Sam Nunn). Don't Ask, Don't Tell was the policy crafted that was a stop-gap. It said, no one could ask you if you were gay and, if you were gay, don't tell anyone. It was imperfect but it was a step forward for its time. Before he left office, Bill Clinton was stating publicly that it didn't go far enough, that it was one of his regrets and that it needed to be revisited.

In My Life, Bill Clinton quotes Powell insisting that gays and lesbians serving openly would be "prejudicial to good order and discipline." Along with noting Democratic Senator Sam Nunn's strong objection, he writes, "Sentator [Robert] Byrd took a harder line than Nunn, echoing what I had heard from General Mundy. He believed homosexuality was a sin; said he would never let his grandson, whom he adored, join a military that admitted gays; and asserted that one reason the Roman Empire fell was the acceptance of pervasive homosexual conduct in the Roman legions from Julius Caeser on down." Clinton continues:

The House passed a resolution opposing my position by more than three to one. The Senate opposition was not as great but was still substantial. That meant that if I persisted, the Congress would overturn my position with an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that I couldn't easily veto, and even if I did, the veto would be overridden in both houses.
While all this was going on, I saw a poll showing that by 48 to 45 percent the public disagreed with my position. The numbers didn't look too bad for such a controversial issue, but they were, and they showed why Congress thought it was a dead-bang loser for them. Only 16 percent of the electorate strongly approved of lifting the ban, while 33 percent very strongly disapproved. Those were the people whose votes could be influenced by a congressman's position.. It's hard to get politicians in swing districts to take a 17 percent deficit on any issue into an election. Interestingly, the biggest divisions were these: self-identified born-again Christians opposed my position 70 to 22 percent, while people who said they knew homosexuals personally approved of it 66 to 33 percent.
With congressional defeat inevitable, Les Aspin worked with Colin Powell and the Joint Chiefs on a compromise. Almost exactly six months later, on July 19, I went to the National Defense University at Fort McNair to announce it to officers in attendance. "Don't ask, don't tell" basically said that if you say you're gay, it's presumed that you intend to violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice and you can be removed, unless you can convince your commander you're celibate and therefore not in violation of the code. But if you don't say you're gay, the following things will not lead to your removal: marching in a gay-rights parade in civilian clothes, hanging out in gay bars or with known homosexuals; being on homosexual mailing lists; and living with a person of the same sex who is the beneficiary of your life insurance policy. On paper, the military had moved a long way, to "live and let live," while holding on to the idea that it couldn't acknowledge gays without approving of homosexuality and compromising morale and cohesion. In practice it often didn't work that way. Many anti-gay officers simply ignored the new policy and worked even harder to root out homosexuals, costing the military millions of dollars that would have been far better spent making America more secure.

That's the history of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and it is not, as too many try to present it today, a case of Bill Clinton got into office and said, "Forget the promise, just tell them to shut up and they can serve." There was huge opposition and Clinton doesn't really go into the press opposition which was huge in real time. Things have changed since then. As Patrick Murphy explained Wednesday, "Up to 75% of Americans support repeal and the number is even higher in the age bracket of those we are recruiting from 18 years of age to 29. "

History is important to know because it shows us how far we've come. History includes what
Michael Cole (HRC Back Story) reminded us of: that this was being launched days after the anniversary of Barry Winchell's murder. Winchell was a US soldier who was murdered July 6, 1999 for homophobia over his relationship with Calpernia Addams.

History also includes Hurley et al v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, the Supreme Court case whose decision was the first by the Court to use the term gay. "Gay's in the title of the group!" Yes it is. But until that 1995 decision, that (a title of a group) or a quote was the only way "gay" made it into a decision. The Hurley decision, written by Justice David Souter, used gay, lesbian and bi-sexual when the Court was referring to gays, lesbians and bi-sexuals. It was a pretty big breakthrough. And that was 1995, only fourteen years ago.

Recent history is the growing realization that if Barack Obama wanted to end the discharges of servicemembers for being gay, people like Dan Choi, all he would need to do is issue an executive order. In May, the Servicemembers Union noted:

A new study compiled by the Palm Center and released today claims that President Obama currently possesses the legal authority to halt the firings of gay military personnel who are "outed." The report, entitled "How to End 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’'" argues that because the United States technically remains in a state of "national emergency," as defined in 10 U.S.C. § 12305, the President has the authority to temporarily suspend the separation of military personnel whose loss could negatively impact national security.

He has that power. He refuses to use it. While maintaining that his hands are tied.

Demand the impossible!
Everyone will be free
We'll walk down the Avenue
Openly -- openly!
-- Chrissie Hynde and Johnny Marr, "When Will I See You," appears first on Pretenders' Packed.

Iraq at a glance

At the start of the week, we learned that police were being targeted in Iraq and that they were training . . . in Australia and South Korea.

Iraq map

Thursday US war resister Robin Long was released from the brig and Friday he held a press conference to explain he had no regrets for standing against the illegal war: "I had to do what I felt was right."

Wednesday US Admiral Mike Mullen declared at the National Press Club in DC, "Clearly we're at a point now, in Iraq, where the violence level is down -- dramatically so. In fact, it's the lowest level of violence since 2003, 2004." The words were still lingering in the air when word from Iraq was a double car bombing in Mosul had resulted in a reported 16 deaths.

Thursday saw twin suicide bombings in Tal Afar with at least 35 reported dead.

Also on Thursday, Lucas M. Bregg became the first announced death in Iraq for the month of July bringing the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war to 4322.

Same day, Marine General James Amos appeared before the US House Armed Services Subcommittee on Joint Readiness, Air and Land Forces and Seapower and Expeditionary Forces and explained, "We will be out of Iraq, the marines will be, with the exception of just a few, by this time next year, the equipment will be out of Iraq, being repaired and going to the home stations." With the exception of just a few. Since 2006, the marine leadership has made it clear they wanted out of Iraq (and into Afghanistan) and press reports this year have declared that the marines will all be out of Iraq by 2010. Yet Amos was saying something a bit different to the Congress.

Saturday the US military announced that Sgt. Miguel A. Vegaquinones landed a three year sentence, a reduction in rank and a dishonorable discharge following his guilty plea "in the accidental shooting death of Pfc. Sean McCune".

Thursday saw the US military release 5 Iranian diplomats they'd held for over two years to Nouri al-Maliki who released them to the Iranian embassy. And that's when UNESCO released [PDF format warning] "FINAL REPORT on Damage Assessment in Babylon" about the damages to the historical archaeological site as a result of the US' decision to construct a base on the site, Camp Alpha, which was running from April 21, 2003 through December 22, 2004.

Those are not all the events and they're not even just all the key events. But for those who've been busy or dependent upon broadcast TV 'news,' that's some of the Iraq news from last week.

Lady nO

Michelle Obama would love to be stylish. She'd give anything to be stylish.

Sadly, though she tries to be Lady O!, she always ends up Lady NO!


Above, the non-Catholic attempts to impress the Pope who, heretofore, has never been thought of as a fashion maven.

Wearing something from the spring Mafia Widow line, Michelle goes widow weeds hanging from her head and draping over her ugly bulky frock with a huge bow that brings to mind a frightening bride's maid dress from 1971 and what appears to be a "Bedazzled" fanny pack around her midriff.

The return of Times Select

"The New York Times website,, is considering charging a monthly fee of $5.00 to access its content, including all its articles, blogs and multimedia. All of this content is currently available for free.
"When answering the following questions, please think about whether you would be willing to pay for continued unlimited access to
"How likely would you be to pay a $2.50 monthly fee -- which would be a 50% discount for home delivery subscribers -- for continued, unlimited access to"

According to Bill Mitchell (Poynter), the above was stated in a survey The New York Times e-mailed to all subscribers Thursday. Bill Mitchell is incorrect. You've got four print subscribers working on this article and none of them received that survey.

No surprise that The New York Times can't even handle the distribution of a survey.

New York Times
They can't handle much of anything.

Remember "Times Select"?

Started in 2005, Times Select was a "service" that, if you paid $7.95 a month ($49.95 a year), provided you with all new content to the paper (including the columnists who had been placed behind a "wall") and allowed you the chance to read X number of archived articles. If you were a subscriber to the print edition (paying basically for one month what the Times Select 'subscriber' was paying for one year), you already had access to these "services" for free.

In September 2007, despite insisting that Times Select was a "hit" and had brought in $10 million in revenues for the paper each year, the service was ended.

Now the paper wants to return to it.

And get this, subscribers to the print edition will have to pay.

Subscribers who are already paying will have to fork over an additional $30 a year just to be able to do online what they currently can for free and could for free when Times Select was in effect.

Way to screw your subscribers. Way to piss of your base.

In an economy that's tanking, someone should have grasped that you don't want to piss people off further but telling them that the $600 or so they pay each year for the paper isn't enough and that anyone can pay $30 and get more than they do is just the thing to have people say, "You know I think I'll cancel my print subscription."

Why On A Clear Day failed

On a clear day . . .

On a clear day . . .

So sings Barbra Streisand in the first scene of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, her third big-budget musical in a row and one of the most maddening films she's ever done. On Broadway, the part(s) had been played by Barbara Harris. "Part(s)" because the lead character is Daisy Gamble who, under regression hypnosis, shares of her previous life as Melinda Tentrees.

On a Clear Day

Barbra Streisand isn't bad in the part(s) Audrey Hepburn turned down but the play had a problem that should have kept it from ever being filmed, certainly with Barbra in the lead.

In January of 1969, Streisand, director Vincent Minnelli and assorted others began filming the musical. Yves Montand plays Dr. Marc Chabot and he's just awful in the role. He is as awful as Rex Reed called in real time, bleating his lyrics in a thick accent and without any warmth or humanity. He's also thickening around the middle and efforts to hide that only emphasize it. When he attempts to sing, you want ear plugs.

As awful as he is -- far worse than we've indicated -- he doesn't kill the picture.

The storyline does.

The doctor accidentally hypnotizes Daisy who shows up at one of his classes in order to stop smoking because her fiance's on her case about it. Due to that accident, Daisy ends up getting a one-on-one with the doctor followed by another and another . . . The doctor notes Daisy has unique gifts -- knowing a phone's about to ring, knowing where something is when a person is looking for it, etc. He asks her about that 'trick' and she reveals she's always been able to do it and travels back to an earlier time, the 18th century, when she was Melinda Tentrees in England.

1969 was the year Barbra would win the Academy Award for Best Actress (Funny Girl) and, having already conquered Broadway, recording and TV, this was yet another huge accomplishment for the actress. Barbra mania was high.

And no one involved in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, seems to have grasped that.

As Daisy Gamble, Barbra used the delivery and voice America associated with her. As Melinda, she used a British accent and a more polished manner.

Montand's character falls in love with . . . Melinda.

He loathes Daisy Gamble.

He hates her. He feels she's beneath him and that she prevents him from the beauty of Melinda.

So what's happening is, audiences paying to see Barbra (no one paid to see Yves) were seeing a story onscreen that required them to root for Barbra or root for love.

Barbra or love.

"Barbra" because, again, Daisy is the public's conception of Streisand at that time. The character is how they see the actress.

And they paid to see her so it's only natural that they would root for her.

But Yves Montand's character doesn't like the character of Daisy (to the audience: Barbra) so rooting for "love" and a "happy ending" means the audience has to reject Streisand.

They weren't prepared to and that's why the film (which did make back it's cost and turn a profit when TV was taken into account) fared so poorly at the box office.

And it's why those who enjoy it today generally watch with the premise that Montand is playing a pompous blowhard.

It's easy to see why Barbra would be attracted to the part. Among other things, it allowed her to play two very distinct characters. But what does it say about the studio (Paramount) and the way they really saw Streisand?

This is not My Fair Lady. Daisy does not (and could not) become Melinda. So to feel the 'sting' the studio wanted you to, you had to regret that, you had to mourn that fact. But who wants Melinda when you've got Daisy?

Besides Paramount.

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever should be seen as one of the most curious products, a film that, to succeed, needs for you to want to dispense with the performer you paid to see.

1970. With Bob Newhart and Jack Nicholson. DVD release is in letterbox format. No special features on DVD.

NYT serving less than half the US population

Wednesday, July 8, 2009, The New York Times made it clear on their front page that, circulation crisis not withstanding, they really don't care if they have female readers or not.

New York Times

That's where they made clear what they thought should really matter to the paper's readers. Matt Richtel filed "Lights, Camera, Lots of Action. Forget the Script" ("With pornographic movies being sold online in chunks, moviemakers are now even less interested in story lines.") because cute-angle on porn is so . . . classy? Tasteful? No, just smutty. Just smutty little boys getting their ha-has and ya-yas and pretending their doing a public service.

We're not done. On the same front page you could find David Leonhardt's "In Health Reform, a Cancer Offers an Acid Test" in which Leonhardt argued that success or failure in any 'fix' on health care in the US could be determined by how it addresses prostate cancer.

Health care reform could be judged, the paper argued, by how it addressed . . . a disease effecting only men. Women don't get prostate cancer, they don't have prostates.

That didn't even cross the minds of the paper's editorial staff because pro-porn fluff and judging health care only by how it effects men seems perfectly normal to them.

Truth in a Senate committee hearing

Tuesday the US Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing entiled Military Commission and the Trial of Detainees for Violations of the Law of War. The hearing was composed of two panels, six witnesses and only one made sense and appeared to have a strong handle on the roots of the American legal system. That was retired Rear Admiral John Huston who is Dean and President of the Franklin Pierce Law Center. His opening remarks can be found posted there and also posted [PDF format warning on this link] at the Senate Committee's website.

John D.  Huston

I am the Dean and President of the Franklin Pierce Law Center. I served as a Judge
Advocate in the United States Navy from 1973‐2000 and as the Judge Advocate
General of the Navy from 1997‐2000. I am very aware of the honor and privilege of
testifying before this Committee on the matter of military commissions. I thank the Committee for this opportunity.
Even greater than democracy itself, the greatest export of all from the United States is Justice. Daniel Webster once said, "Justice, Sir, is the greatest interest of man on earth. It's the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together."
But Justice is fragile and easily disparaged. It must be nurtured and handled with
great care.
I was an early and ardent supporter of military commissions. Initially, I was drawn to their historical precedents and, more importantly, I was confident that the United States Armed Forces could and would conduct fair trials even of reprehensible defendants. My own experience gained during 28 years in the Navy and our long history of providing due process while trying our own military personnel in courtsmartial gave me this confidence.
Unfortunately, as it turned out, the commissions that were created did not live up to the traditions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Predictably, they became a significant distraction for the military. I hasten to add that this was in spite of the stalwart, honorable effort of many, many military personnel themselves. Indeed, that is one of the great tragedies of this saga, and largely makes one of the points that I wish to underline.
The primary role of the military is to fight and win our Nation's wars or, stated more precisely, to provide the time and space necessary for real solutions -- economic, cultural, social, religious -- to take place. Prosecution of miscreants is an occasionally necessary sidebar to that mission but shouldn’t distract from it. We have the UCMJ and the military court‐martial system to expedite the legitimate role of the military, not interfere with it.
If a sailor on a ship is alleged to have committed a crime, we must expeditiously and fairly resolve that problem. Otherwise, it can fester and interfere with unit cohesion and impede an effective fighting force. The UCMJ and the Manual for Courts Martial serve that purpose alone. They solve problems for the armed forces; not create them. Our recent history with military commissions has been the opposite. I've come to realize that even a perfect commission regime would be a distraction for the military. It's simply not part of its mission. I am very concerned when the military is called upon to perform functions outside of its core mission even when I'm confident that it can do it well. Preserving and ensuring justice in the United States is the primary mission of the Department of Justice, not the Department of Defense.
If there will be criticism of our prosecution of alleged terrorists—and there will
be -- the Department of Justice and the U. S. Federal Court system are equipped to
deal with that criticism. Indeed, it is part of their responsibility to face it, address it, and resolve it.
Notably, the criticism will come not only critics outside the judicial process such as the media, foreign allies and enemies, and domestic commentators but also from the legitimate appeal process. Some of the criticism may actually be justified or, at least, defensible. There is no reason in law or logic for the military to be the target of that.
Convictions from military commissions will be appealed until Dooms Day just
because of the forum of the conviction. Federal courts are impervious to that.
It is decidedly not the responsibility of the Department of Defense or the U.S.
military to deal with criticism of such prosecutions. It would, in fact, be detrimental to the military mission. There are valid and important reasons why our military is the most highly respected institution in America. One of them certainly is that the military limits itself to its mission and performs that mission very well. Taking on duties outside of that core mission on an ongoing basis will surely undermine the public's confidence in the military…and divert important resources, human and otherwise, from that mission in order to take on the new one.
We already have proof of this. Besides being a distraction to the vital mission of
DoD, military commissions have, to a large extent, become a discredit in spite of the valiant and highly credible efforts of many, many people in uniform. Rather than showcasing the military justice system of which we all are justifiably proud,
commissions represent something else entirely. They have not worked often or
well. "Fixing" them would help, but won't eliminate undeserved but inevitable
On the other hand, during the same period, U.S. District Courts have successfully
prosecuted literally hundreds of terrorists who now reside in Federal prisons
around the country, keeping all Americans safer. Federal courts, including judges,
prosecutors, marshals, and other court personnel have decades of experience in
these cases. They have developed a justifiable and universally held reputation for
fairness, and consequently, they are largely immune to criticism.
There is also now a large body of law that has been developed over the years in the
Federal court system. It would take an equal number of cases and decades of trials
for DoD to match the Federal precedent contained in the Federal Reporters.
Military judges, prosecutors, and defense counsel rotate out of one assignment into another every three years or so. Without significant changes to longstanding DoD personnel policy, none of them will ever, ever gain the experience in these cases that is enjoyed by scores of their civilian federal counterparts. We could do that, we could change longstanding DoD personnel policy but again, if we did we would have the tail of terrorist prosecutions wagging the warfighting dog.
It is not only unnecessary, it is inappropriate for DoD to operate a system of justice in parallel to DoJ. The UCMJ and the courts‐martial it creates are absolutely necessary to ensure our effective fighting force. But for some of the same reasons that the Posse Comitatus Act prevents the military from enforcing laws against U.S. civilians, we should resist the temptation of using the military to prosecute foreign criminals when DoJ can perform that critical function quite well.
Let us not forget, these are not legitimate warfighters. They are common criminals.
They are thugs, cowards who target innocent civilians. We should treat them as
such and not elevate their status to that of legitimate enemies. They don’t belong in the same category as Major Andre or the German saboteurs.
We don't ask DoJ to fight wars. We shouldn't ask DoD to prosecute terrorists.
If the point of this exercise is to create a court system that will ensure convictions of alleged terrorists against whom we don't have sufficient admissible evidence, then we have missed the point. You can’t have a legitimate court unless you are willing to risk an acquittal. If you aren't willing to accept the possibility that a jury will acquit the accused based on the evidence fairly presented, then it isn’t really a court. It's a charade.
The corollary to that is that you can't have a real court if the rules of evidence and procedure are so stacked against the defendant that he has no real chance to
present his case or defend against the government's case. The admissible evidence
against him based on the facts may be so overwhelming that conviction is assured
but that must be the consequence of facts, not rules of evidence tilted in favor of the prosecution.
Over the years, federal courts have displayed remarkable ingenuity, flexibility, and resourcefulness in prosecuting terrorists. The Federal Rules of Evidence and
Procedure are sufficiently adaptable to accommodate the vagaries of trying those
individuals who are captured overseas by military personnel in the midst of
performing military operations. I believe the image of the "strategic corporal"
having to give Miranda warnings after risking his life to break into the bunker is a
red herring.
If you as members of this Committee believe or suspect that the Federal Rule of
Evidence or the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure should be amended to
accommodate certain cases and situations, it is preferable to superimpose modest
new rules on an extant, tried and true judicial system than to create a whole new
system -- particularly in light of recent efforts.
It might be wise to set up a task force of experienced judges, prosecutors, and
defense counsel to make recommendations to Congress in this regard.
However, if we create yet another military commission system that "contains all the judicial guarantees considered to be indispensible by all civilized peoples" as
required by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, then we have essentially
duplicated our own Federal courts. There is no logical reason to create a system
that mirrors one already in existence and is functioning so well. We should strive
for the minimum change necessary to accomplish the purpose, not a wholesale
change to an already effectively functioning system.
Clearly and undeniably, the Administration and this Committee are dedicated to
untying this Gordian knot in a way that serves the very best interest of the country.
We are now operating under the Military Commission Act of 2006 which many find
to be badly flawed. I very much respect and admire your effort to improve it. My
recommendation, however, is to repeal it rather than improve it. In the process, I
urge you to express this body's preference to prosecute alleged terrorists in federal court and thereby demonstrate to the world, friend and foe alike, what kind of Justice the United States wishes to export.

Congressional attention on East Timor

From ETAN:

House of Representatives Signals Ongoing Concern About Human Rights in Indonesia and E Timor

Contact: John M. Miller, New York +1/917-690-4391;
Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078

July 10, 2009 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) today praised continued congressional attention to issues of human rights in Indonesia and Timor-Leste (East Timor).

The State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2010 (HR 3081) as passed last night by the House of Representatives withholds $2 million in military assistance pending a State Department report on for human rights, accountability and military reform in Indonesia and justice for Timor-Leste, as well as access to West Papua.

"An honest report will find that military reform in Indonesia is stalled and accountability lacking for a range of atrocities committed in East Timor and Indonesia," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN. "This bill draws attention to issues which should be central to U.S.-Indonesia relations," he added.

"With this legislation, Congress continues to reflect a deep concern about human rights in West Papua. Papuans continue to suffer repression at the hands of Indonesian security forces," said WPAT's Ed McWilliams, a former foreign service officer.

Continuing threats to Papuan civilians were recently underscored by a recent Human Rights Watch report, which documented beatings and torture of Papuan civilians by Kopassus, Indonesia's "special forces."

"Indonesia's security forces continue to enjoy impunity. They are shielded against international criticism by restrictions on access to West Papua by journalists, diplomats and others," McWilliams added.

"The recent Indonesian elections are not likely to end impunity or improve conditions in West Papua. The candidates list was populated by know human rights violators and others who have a history of allowing blocking genuine accountability for human rights crimes," said Miller.

"Indonesian security forces should be denied U.S. military assistance unless and until they end their abusive treatment of civilians, become accountable for their human rights and other crimes, and undertake serious genuine reform," added McWilliams.

"Unfortunately, the administration is seeking to increase military assistance to Indonesia without any apparent plan to hold Indonesia's security forces accountable for past or ongoing human rights violations." Miller added.

The administration and the House bill call for $20 million in Foreign Military Finance (FMF) funding, an increase of $4.3 million over last year's allocation. International Military Education and Training (IMET) funds would rise to $1.8 million.

The bill must also pass the U.S. Senate before becoming law. Similar provisions have been included by Congress in recent foreign aid appropriations.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the chair of the State, Foreign Operations subcommittee ,has a long-standing concern for human rights in both Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

A joint statement by KontraS, a leading human rights group in Indonesia, and ETAN recently concluded that "The international community can greatly assist efforts for genuine accountability and military reform by restricting military assistance to Indonesia. Together Indonesia's government, its citizens, and the international community must push for human rights accountability no matter who assumes office."

ETAN was formed in 1991. The U.S.-based organization advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. ETAN recently won the John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award. For more information, see ETAN's web site: WPAT produces the monthly West Papua Report.


The foreign operations subcommittee explained its action as follows:

The Committee recommendation includes $20,000,000 for FMF programs for Indonesia. Within that amount, section 7071(c) requires that $2,000,000 be withheld from obligation until the Secretary of State submits a report to the Committees on Appropriations pursuant to section 7071 (c) that contains the following information:

(1) Steps taken by the Government of Indonesia to revise the Code of Military Justice, Uniform Criminal Code and other relevant statutes, to permit trying of members of the military alleged to have committed human rights abuses in Timor-Leste and elsewhere in civilian courts and to deny promotion, suspend from active service, and/or pursue prosecution of military officers indicted for serious crimes and to modernize and professionalize the management of the Government of Indonesias defense forces, improve transparency and accountability in defense spending and operations respectively, refine further the mission of the Armed Forces and develop an appropriate national defense budget to execute that mission;

(2) Efforts by the Armed Forces to cooperate with civilian judicial authorities and with international efforts to resolve cases of gross violations of human rights;

(3) Efforts by the Government to implement reforms that increase the transparency and accountability of the Armed Forces operations and financial management and concrete steps taken to achieve divestment of all military businesses;


(4) Whether the Government of Indonesia is allowing public access to Papua, including for foreign diplomats, nongovernmental organizations, and journalists.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights. Illustration is the movie poster for The Hurt Locker which opened Friday in San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Oahu, Portland, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Minneapolis, Denver, Toronto and DC.

Hurt Locker

"I Hate The War" -- Most requested highlight. C.I. walks you through the law.

"Kat's Korner: Regina Spektor takes you Far" -- Kat's latest album review.

"More wisdom from Bill Bennett's Book of Virtuous Weight Loss" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this comic.

"Roland Burris announces he won't run in 2010" & "John Pilger, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Senator Burris" -- Stan covers Roland Burris decision not to run for re-election.

"Snapshot (C.I.)""Legal abuses by Bush and Barack""War Hawks, CIA"

"Barry and his dresser" & "THIS JUST IN! CELEBRITIES NEED DOWN TIME!" -- Cedric and Wally on our Celebrity In Chief.

"We need answers" -- We do need them, as Betty points out. And we hope to address her topic here this week. This edition is a nightmare. So much so that Betty, Ava and C.I. just dashed off a film analysis because we have no theme or purpose this week. That's not an insult to what they wrote, it's just noting that this is a topic they've covered (in conversations) before but Dona's asking us to all think of what we can do and do quickly.

"Baked tuna casserole" -- Trina's back from Hawaii. (And Mike and Elaine have gone there.)

"Politco goes down on Huffington Post" -- Jayson begged, begged, his grandmother to use this title. Ruth did and was surprised at how well received it was.

"Barack's attempts to bury universal health care" -- Ruth notes she's echoing a point Mike made before she left on vacation.

"Abortion rights" -- Kat on what we lost and how.

"The shameful David Kris" & "Legal abuses by Bush and Barack" -- Marcia and Ann on David Kris' embarrassing testimony to the Senate. With this post, Ann begins filling in for Mike.

"gordo and british escapades," "gordo, gordo, anchor drag," and "gordo killed the mg?" -- Rebecca continues her Gordon Brown coverage.

"Snapshot (C.I.)" -- C.I. will be filling in for Elaine while Elaine's in Hawaii.

"Iraq snapshot" and "House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee"; "Iraq snapshot" and
"National Press Club"; and "Iraq snapshot" and "Senate Armed Service Committee" -- C.I. and Kat report on Congress and the National Press Club.

"Tennesse Guerilla Women: Home to Racists" -- Marcia addresses online racism.

"Sex-segregation in Alabama and on PBS" -- Stan ties the sex segreation of PBS together with the classroom sex-segregation that was taking place in Alabama.

"ACLU, McNamara, Trash TV" -- Elaine offers a grab bag post.

"ACLU on state secrets, Third" -- Mike breaks down last week's edition.
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