Sunday, October 11, 2009

Truest statement of the week

I no longer have any respect whatsoever for the Nobel committee. Obama is continuing TWO wars, with no end in sight. How that can be considered giving hope for peace is simply beyond me. Obama no more deserves this prize than George Bush. The man never has to do a damn thing for people to shower him with praise and gifts.

-- Caro, Make Them Accountable, on Barack winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Truest statement of the week II

And though they deny it, we know that in 1938 they couldn't decide whether to give the prize to Hitler or to Gandhi. And finally, they gave it to the Nansen International Office of Refugees, which was a much better choice.

-- Tariq Ali, Democracy Now!, on the Nobel Peace Prize going to Barack.

A note to our readers

Hey --

Along with Dallas, the following helped with 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),
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

We thank them all and here's what we came up with.

Truest statement of the week -- Congratulations to Caro for having the truest.

Truest statement of the week II -- Panning for gold, we also found Tariq Ali's statements.

Editorial: It's not hurt feelings -- Betty came up with the topic and, in conversations with Dona, Jess, Ava and C.I., we realized it was actually three pieces. One of which is slated to be next week's editorial. And, no, an apology won't cut it.

TV: The Good, the Barack and the Ugly -- Ava and C.I. Everyone was e-mailing on this -- even more so after C.I. tried to cut down on the e-mails by explaining at TCI that she and Ava would cover the topic here. Barack and SNL. Originally, they were planning to do a review of The Good Wife as one article and then a piece on SNL. Then Ty told them how many e-mails came in. "How many?" Realizing that a huge number of people were planning on reading their SNL piece, they decided to combine it with The Good Wife in the hopes of raising awareness on the CBS drama.

Getting the help you need -- I think this is the piece I'm proudest of. ("I" is Jim.) The first draft was written by Betty, Kat, Wally, Ty, Dona, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself. And I loved it. Then we tossed it out to others and they made it even stronger. Then Ava, C.I. and Trina did an edit that tightened the whole thing up. It is probably my favorite piece -- after the TV article, don't attack me in e-mails, Ava & C.I. groupies! -- in this edition. And there are illustrations planned. Flickr's been a pain in the ass. After two hours of trying, C.I. said, "Let's just publish as is and I'll put the illustrations in tonight." Sunday morning is the worst time to upload to Flickr.

Baby Comics -- Same thing here as above re: illustrations. We hadn't done a comic piece in awhile. As many e-mails reminded.

Iraq -- This could have been more, on the 33rd floor. As the song says. But we were tired. It is what it is, as Kat says.

Roundtable -- An e-mail and music roundtable. Illustration by Betty's oldest kids.

Halloween (Dona) -- Dona's go round at writing about Halloween. That leaves me.

Senator Byron Dorgan on shoddy contractors -- Byron Dorgan's office issued this statement.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Ruth, Betty, Marcia, Kat, Cedric, Wally, Stan and Ann wrote this and we thank them for it.

See you next week.

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

Editorial: It's not hurt feelings

Judging by e-mails to this site and the general conversation taking place in the country, there seems to be some confusion over what is required.

So let's be clear to the Cult of St. Barack which took to the airwaves, the internet and to paper to lie throughout the Democratic Party primary season: An apology is meaningless.

Please, you're liars.

You're damned liars and you're now liars with a track record.

We'd no more accept your 'pretty words' than we would Barack's.

You don't seem to grasp what went down.

It wasn't that Barack got the nomination over someone else.

This isn't about sour grapes and you'd do well to grasp that quickly.

As long as you continue to delude yourself that it's an issue of 'hurt feelings,' you're never going to get it.

It's what you did and it's that we know what you did, that we saw what you did.

American Dad

Words will not take back 2008.

If you've forgotten (or want to pretend like you have) your behavior was unacceptable.

We grasp that a number of you aren't really Democrats. (This isn't aimed at the closet Communists or closet Socialists.) We get that you're Republicans who like to say you crossed over but you really haven't. You're just looking for a way to make a buck and by 2002, it was obvious to even you that the GOP was a sinking ship.

We grasp that because, during the primaries, you showed your true colors. You started attacking Hillary Clinton by . . . repeating the right-wing lies. Lies that were long ago rejected by the bulk of the left -- excepting only nut jobs like Alexander Cockburn and Sam Smith. You repeated it. You presented Matt Drudge as a respected source. Yes, your roots were showing and they betrayed you.

Now prior to 2007, we were hearing that we'd stick together and we'd fight this and that and we'd end the illegal war. (If we listened closely, we also heard you Republicans posing as Democrats make your anti-choice rumbles.) We were in it together -- all of us. That was the lie.

And we'd live in the 'reality-based world.'

But we didn't, did we?

And we won't until you get honest about your own actions.

So, for example, John Nichols, that's you. Going on Democracy Now! to LIE about Hillary. Barack's camp told Canada that they weren't messing with NAFTA. When the press started reporting on it, you took to Democracy Now! and claimed you were working on an explosive story about how it was Hillary having that conversation and Hillary could be tied into the 'false' rumors about Barack.

You f**king lied.

You f**king lied.

And you knew you were lying when you did it.

Ava and C.I. called you out here and knew all about the little conversation you and Amy Goodman had off-air. So why don't you get honest and stop pretending anyone has 'hurt feelings.'

It's not 'hurt feelings,' it's shock and disgust over your actions.

You lied. You lied and used Republican tactics to destroy anyone in your way.

You didn't just mistake Barack for something he wasn't, you behaved appallingly.

The idea that we'll all 'come together' in the near future is unlikely but what makes it even more unlikely is the fact that you betrayed every belief we supposedly shared and you want to pretend it never happened.

You don't seem to get it. It's not hurt feelings.

You need to take accountability and do so publicly.

TV: The Good, the Barack and the Ugly

The best new drama of the season is CBS' The Good Wife airing the last hour of prime time each Tuesday night. It is clearly the best scripted, the best acted and the best produced hour of drama -- and on that, we're leaving "new" and pitting it against all dramas.


It has many things going for it, chief among them the amazing Julianna Margulies in the lead role of Alicia Florrick. Alicia has two problems, two joined problems. The problems should allow for viewer identification.

First of all, Alicia has had to leave her fabulous home in a posh neighborhood and move to an apartment in the city. It's a nice apartment but it is a step down for her. And the step down also involves her children leaving their private school and going to public schools, her returning to work (as a lawyer) and facing other economic realities that may allow for identification on the part of many viewers struggling with an economy that just will not recover.

Whatever you have, imagine losing it? What would your chief fears be? Did you wonder if you'd lose friends over it? Alicia has lost all her posh friends. In the third episode (which aired last week), a teenage boy shows up at the law firm asking for help. His mother used to be Alicia's best friend. Before the fall. Alicia takes the case and ends up clearing the young man of a murder charge. His mother thanks her and says she'll call and they'll get together. Alicia smiles, looks her in the eye and replies she won't call, that they both know it, and that it's okay.

It's a powerful moment and Julianna handles it beautifully. But why the moment? What was the downfall for Alice?

Like many a woman, her downfall had little to do with her own actions. She placed her faith in a man. She married him, she had children with him and he moved up and up in his profession but he couldn't keep it in his pants and a sex tape surfaces forcing him out of his State Attorney job and into a prison sentence.

His crimes land him behind bars. Alice 'crime' was placing her faith in an undeserving man.

Did someone say Barack?

Last week ended on a hilarious note: Barack was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and people are still trying to figure out what Barack did to win the prize? Not us.

We've never had to wonder.

We've been singing along with Stevie Nicks on "Paper Doll" since 2007 whenever Barack walks into view.

You love a man with a future

You love a woman with a past

Well do you really believe that

She said to faces in the crowd

-- written by Stevie Nicks, Rick Vito and John Heron, first appears on Fleetwood Mac's The Chain boxed set.

You love a man with a future. A woman? Never.

Barack didn't win for what he did. He won for being a man. He won for what he might do but mostly he won for being a man. We honestly think, considering the scant number of women awarded the prize, it should change its name to the Nobel Penis Prize.

Barry O won the Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing.

What a proud moment.

And two Saturdays ago, a Saturday Night Live skit was pointing out that Barack had done nothing. Fred Armisen, who we've praised many times before, played Barack. How could we have missed that, the multitude wondered and pondered in various e-mails to this site and The Common Ills?

In the skit, Fred as Barack reflects on the 'accomplishments' since being sworn in: "When you look at my record it's very clear what I've done so far -- and that is nothing. Nada. Almost one year and nothing to show for it." He concluded with, "So looking at this list, I’m seeing two big accomplishments: jack and squat. And remember I can do whatever I want. I have a majority in both houses of Congress. I could make it mandatory for all gays to marry and require all cars to run on marijuana. But do I? No." The skit quickly went viral online.

We didn't miss it. And we always planned to tackle the topic.

But what interested us was not the skit itself but the response to it. And Saturday night/Sunday morning, that was impossible to gauge. We expected the response to be a lot of nervous Nells insisting it was unfair. We expected to see a lot of derangement.

As it turned out, we were not mistaken.

It's hard to figure out who was the most ridiculous so let's just start with CNN. CNN decided to fact-check the skit. Wow. CNN never fact-checked George W. Bush's claims in the run-up to the Iraq War but damned if they don't have the time to fact-check a skit on a TV show. Never fail to grasp that when Ted Turner was muscled out of CNN, all the integrity the network had left with him. Greg Marx (CJR) observed that even sadder than the fact that CNN was fact- checking SNL was the fact that CNN wasn't: They had to farm the fact-check out to Politifact. That left Marx to wonder if the news network didn't "think it has enough authority, on its own, to fact-check a comedy skit?"

At CBS, the news division disagreed with the opinion commentator (John Dickerson). Politico lined up a bevy of opinions. We'll note Rory Cooper, of the Heritage Foundation, in full:

More Cowbell! SNL has a school girl crush on Obama. If all that I knew about President Obama, I got from SNL or the Daily Show, even I would be his biggest supporter. It took the crew at SNL weeks to come up with one little sketch that parodied the President and even then he was a cool guy who we shouldn't be so concerned about.

And it's too bad, because SNL's presidential parodies are a classic staple of Americana. From Phil Hartman's Reagan in the Oval with the girl scouts, to Dana Carvey's Bush (especially the debate against Dukakis), to Hartman's classic Bill Clinton in a McDonald's. Heck, Will Ferrell is still drawing a paycheck on his 'George W. Bush is dumb' bit. But the past year, they have really had kid gloves and clearly an agenda. Too bad too, because there is some great material from his teleprompter, to Van Jones, to his predictable lines like "Let me be clear," "Some will say," and "As I've said before…" I hope SNL sets aside their love affair and gives us more laughs at Obama's expense, which I'm sure even the President would appreciate. A great cast right now, so I expect more. Armisen, Forte, Hader, Meyers, Samberg, Sudeikis and the amazing Kristin Wiig have high expectations.

Here we are, two leftist feminists, and we're agreeing with a guy at the Heritage Foundation. But he is correct and an e-mail exchange with him (Ty did the first e-mail for us -- we're on the road speaking out against the Iraq War so if you get an e-mail from Ty speaking for us, it's for real, we just don't have the time) revealed him to be highly knowledgeable about SNL.

His favorite SNL skit is "President Reagan Mastermind," followed by Phil Hartman's Bill Clinton at McDonald's and he also enjoys the "lockbox" debate between Bush and Gore. He was so nice and knowledgeable that we'll even give a link to his organization despite the fact that it's far, far to the right of us. (Or we're far, far to the left of the Heritage Foundation. Take your pick.)

We're not attempting to suggest that his opinion was the only thing worthwhile about the Politico piece. For example, a quick study of a photo of an adult-child will allow you to immediately grasp why the parent would have so much plastic surgery. You can also marvel over how stupid professors can be.

Take, for example, Joshua Tucker of NYU. He tosses out a stream of words that are as meaningless as his final thoughts: "would be interesting to know how much other presidents 'accomplished' in their first 8 months in office . . ." He has to wonder that because he knows nothing about domestic politics or campaign politics. He studied Russia, folks. He studied Russia.

That might explain why the moron's whining about a skit that aired in October critiquing Barack's "first 8 months in office". Poor little Josh, so confused by the ways of the United States where January is the month presidents are sworn in. Meaning, it's nine months, going on ten, for Barack. Poor little Tucker, he thinks the way to defend his crush is to attack someone else so he goes after Bill Clinton: "Bill Clinton, on the other hand, couldn't 'accomplish' his way out his supposed fondness for Big Macs." Hey, Josh, spend at least nine months on Jenny Craig before you attempt to knock anyone else's weight. Okay?

Then there's the professor we corresponded with who thinks 'logic' and debate is declaring, "Most people seemed to agree with me; you guys notwithstanding." And you wonder about the sorry state of academics? We didn't realize that the art of criticism was a popularity contest but then we didn't realize we were "you guys." For the professor who can't debate and can't distinguish male from female, we offer up this from the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page, "Even the gifted Fred Armisen, who could pull off an Obama imitation almost good enough to fool the Secret Service, found jokes at Obama's expense fell flat." Look, it's one more person who thinks Fred does an amazingly dead-on spoof of Barack and, look, it's from a person with a penis. That last detail will, of course, allow the opinion to carry more weight with our unnamed professor. (Read the Politico article, you should be able to figure out who he is.)

As foolish as he was, he and CNN get trumped by the Supreme Drama Queen, the online world's own Mary Wilson, ladies and gentlemen, Brett Michael Dykes. Monday morning, BMD took to Yahoo blog to ask "Is SNL right that Obama's accomplished 'nothing'?" and we believe reading his post out loud would take up more time than the actual skit did. Yes, BMD is a member of the Cult of St. Barack. Remember that, to keep the faith, the followers have to give up the facts. Which is how Brett ends up writing:

Pull all troops out of Iraq: In February, Obama told congressional leaders that he wanted all troops out of Iraq by August 2010. On June 30th of this year, a large number of troops were pulled out of the country, a move that was understated here in the U.S., but was met by dancing in the streets in some parts of Iraq. At the time of the withdrawal, the American military leadership refused to put a number on how many troops remained, though some have estimated that number remains as high as 124,000.

"On June 30th of this year," Brett maintains, "a large number of troops were pulled out of the country". Are you laughing yet? If not, grasp that Yahoo pays Brett to write. Now laugh. He goes on to insist in the sentence that there was "dancing in the streets" but 'forgets' to link to evidence of that. Ourselves, we saw no dancing in the street videos June 30th or July 1st. We'd give Brett the benefit of the doubt but, honestly, it would appear far too many already have.

"A large number of [US] troops were pulled out of" Iraq on June 30th? Silly Brett, they didn't leave Iraq. Now we know it can be hard when someone insults your boyfriend. We know that. We grasp it. But you really need to stick to the facts. On June 30th, some US troops pulled out of Iraqi cities and went to bases (not in Iraqi cities -- some went to bases in Iraqi cities). There was no departure from the country itself.

So far, Alicia hasn't followed Brett's lead. Like Barack's inability to act, her husband's inability to keep it in his pants is known far and wide. And she's not defending him, she's not covering for him. She's getting on with her life and is not really sure what, if any, part her husband will play in it if he's released. (Chris North plays her husband Peter -- what an apt name.)

She's focused on her kids and she's focused on her job. Her kids are struggling to adjust to the new neighborhood, the new school, the gossip that never ends, the money that's no longer there and more. At work, she's struggling to keep her job. Cary (Matt Czuchry) has already revealed to Alicia that only one of them will be hired by the firm after the trial period. He thinks it will be him. Cary is every bit the pisher James Spader's character was in Baby Boom if not more. He not only attempts to undermine Alicia, he takes credit for her wins.

Eager to assist him in that is the show's resident bitch Diane Lockhart who, in a bit of typecasting, is played by Christine Baranski. Baranski's role in season two will be decided by viewer reaction -- so far she's already pissed off the crew and a good portion of the cast. Regardless of her antics, never let it be said that Baranski couldn't convincingly play the woman you love to hate. And then some.

Josh Charles plays the character everyone will love and that's a problem because you end up fearing they're going to pair Will and Alicia. The two are friends from college and anything more not only changes the show but feeds into Cary's simplistic mind which believes that Will only brought Alicia in to get into bed with her. Charles is certainly sexy enough to be paired with Margulies -- having burned off all the boyishness that doomed so much of his 90s work. But an office romance really isn't where the show needs to be heading at present.

The most complex office relationship is the one between Alicia and Kalinda (Archie Panjabj) who is the firm's investigator. The two are from completely different worlds and their differences spill over in the scenes easily and freely while at the same time their bonding usually allows for a way to look at a case in a fresh manner.

The writing needs to be praised because for all that Panjabj brings to the role (a tremendous amount), even on the page, Kalinda is different from Alicia (and the other characters). At a time when most TV scrips require you repeatedly look at the name of the character to find out who is speaking, The Good Wife has worked very hard at providing each character with their own way of speaking on the page.

These strong scripts are then turned over to strong actors. Chief among them Julianna Margulies. Face-to-face with the man who released her husband's sex tape to the press, Glenn Childs played by Titus Welliver, Alicia levels him with, "You're worried about my husband, Mr. Childs? You've obviously never made a woman angry." There's never any doubt that, indeed, Alicia's the one he better worry about.

We worry about Julianna. Carol on ER wasn't the one you were supposed to notice. But she was the one you noticed and they had to do a major rewrite on the character because the audiences embraced her. It was an amazing performance, an Emmy award winning one. And there aren't a lot of roles in film or TV that an actress like Julianna can really go to town with. She found one in Canterbury's Law last spring. She was an attorney in that one as well but far less noble and she was just amazing.

We were attempting to juggle several different shows and a suit at Fox swore to us that the network knew what they had and they would be standing by the show. So with other things to grab, we put it on hold and, next thing we knew, the show was cancelled. (Who makes the decisions at Fox? The execs we know are always clueless. We noted the cancellation of one show . . . and Fox brought it back.) So in early August, we began charting out the shows we needed to immediately cover. We always try to alert you to what you must watch and what you must avoid in our first reviews. We knew ABC was iffy on Cougar Town. We knew it was strong and in danger of being watered down or, worse, cancelled quickly. So that was our lead for the season. We also knew Jenna Elfman's show had stunk on paper but that they had worked really hard to fix it and had fixed it. It's a hilarious show and check out Monday's episode on CBS if you don't believe us on that. But what to do with Julianna?

We'd already hailed it as the best new drama here. Could we wait or not? CBS suits (two) told us we could wait. They swore that CBS knew what it had with this show. A part of us believed that and another part of us thought, "Wait, mere months ago, Fox was telling us the same thing." No, really, they swore, we get that this is a quality show and one that viewers are going to love.

But this is the world where, last week, Fringe had two guest stars. Leonard Nimoy returned in his role and got all the publicity -- for what were basically flashback scenes. Meanwhile, same episode saw Theresa Russell give a strong and touching performance as a woman from Walter's past and no one in the Water Cooler Set seemed to even notice. Their loss.

No one does loss like Julianna. No one can make you feel that loss and no one on television can make you as happy as one of her characters because they're haunted and lived in and you just wait for them to get a moment of joy, a moment of happiness. And Julianna works through these characters with so much skill and so much talent that you wish they'd just build an entire network for her to showcase her in one role after another. She doesn't play a character, she inhabits one.

And Alicia and all of her sideways glances and delicate touches is a full bodied woman completely unlike Carol and unlike Elizabeth (Cantebury's Law) and unlike anything Julianna's played before.

And we're going to miss having the chance to praise the work she's doing?

No, not happening. Which is how Julianna's show ended up being the first drama we reviewed for the fall season and the third show. This is a program that you want to catch and that you want to catch regularly. It's an intelligent drama and there's so much talent going into each episode. We weren't going to live with the regret of twice not being able to weigh in and urge you to catch the magic while it was onscreen.

However, turns out CBS friends weren't lying and weren't misinformed. The show does have (at least currently) the support of the network: It's already been given a full season order. And if you wonder why CBS has so much faith in the series, tune in Tuesday night as the show explores jury tampering. Tuesday nights, last hour of prime time, CBS. And to catch up on past episodes, visit and CBS (at least for now -- CBS doesn't like broadcasting online for free).

Getting the help you need

"Why am I telling you this?" Marti would say, lighting one cigarette off another.
I smiled, probably a little uncertain myself, but thrilled to be taken into her confidence.
"I don't even know if I love him."
"You love him," I said. "He's the coolest guy here."
Everyone was in love with Ray.

So explains Betsy Lerner on page 57 of Food and Loathing: A Life Measured Out in Calories. And we're in the self-help aisle for a reason,: The Cult of St. Barack is seriously out of hand. It's time for an intervention.
Self-help books

Are you now or have you ever been overjoyed to read the details of one of Barack and Michelle Obama's Friday night 'dates'? Then you, friend, have a serious problem. Either your own life is so pathetic that you need to live vicariously through others or you have a strong need for an authoritarian system.

If it's the latter, toss us an e-mail and we'll try to help you find a good Dom (master or mistress) in your area who can help you actually find release from those issues thereby preventing further embarrassments and support for other illegal wars due to your perpetual state of heightened frenzy.

If it's the former, we suggest that you immediately shut off the computer (scary thought!) and go outside into the real world (even scarier!). If it weren't for the crowds working through their own sexual issues and the shut-ins, we doubt that either George W. Bush or Barack H. Obama would have ever been the object of a Cult of Personality.

With Bush, the nation had to go through a national intervention that was slow and messy and, in the process, not one but two illegal wars were started , the Constitution was shredded and oh so much more took place. People, citizens, we don't have the time, your country doesn't have the time, to go through all of that again.

In 2000, Michael Hardiman shared in Overcoming Addiction: A Common Sense Approach, "The notion that people can become psychologically addicted to another human being is recent." See, if you'd paid attention in 2000, well before that year's election, you could have done your part to assist the nation with avoiding George W. Bush. You could have been a sponsor, possibly set up some support groups. Hardiman continues, "This is a complex and epidemic problem." As they say, 'You ain't just whistling Dixie.' Back to Hardiman, "In general, an addictive relationship is one in which a person consistently tries to change another person in order to get their own needs met."

We hear a collective gasp as the scales fall away from the eyes of many members of the Cult of St. Barack. Not Norman Solomon but he's too focused on the results of his pregnancy test. (Norman, call us, we'll help connect you with your local Planned Parenthood. An unwanted pregnancy is an unwanted pregnancy, regardless of whether the mother is a female or male.) Yes, Cult members, you have been repeatedly encouraged to believe that you can change Barack.

It goes hand-in-hand with the trust-and-obey principle so many pushed. Laura Flanders is probably among the chief exponents of the 'change' philosophy. But look at her own pathetic personal life. Oh, wait. You can't. The woman who never needed a closet while working in the Bay Area, went diving for one when she got a national talk show. Trust us, the self-loathing, re-closeted lesbian Laura Flanders has a pathetic personal life filled with lousy sex and non-stop screaming matches. So she's the last one you should ever take advice from.

Don't beat yourself up for turning to a closet-case for advice. You came to the table with your own issues. Hardiman explains, "People who are addictively involved with another person tend to have low self-esteem, a high tolerance for suffering, a need to define their worth in terms of other people's opinions, an overestimation of the suffering of others, an underestimation of others' ability to help themselves, and a sense of failure when they cannot make their partner happy." We believe several of you are nodding at that check-list.

You may also grasp that Team Obama has repeatedly use those flaws to manipulate you and others. You've cheerleaded a man who has accomplished nothing of value and, when that nagging thought comes to the forefront, Team Obama and it's shrill shill Team (Nancy Pelosi's become among the worst of that collective) show up to start playing on your issues in an attempt to manipulate you back into blind devotion.

They play on your low self-esteem. It's why Barack has so damn little good to say about the country and usually runs with any attack on the US (a worthy critique or a flawed critique) while immediately insisting it's on people other than him because he wasn't even born, or he was a child, or he was only 8 years old, or . . . He plays on your low self-esteem and you find yourself returning to your pool of shame, a pool you've already bathed in for far too many years.

It's past time for you to break the cycle.

That can seem scary. To the sick, healthy can seem scary. You can grow so familiar with you own sickness that it becomes a comfort blanket. Tossing it aside is never easy; however, there is help if you want it.

In The New Codepency: Help and Guidance for Today's Generation, Melody Beattie outlines how you can enter THE CIRCLE OF LOVE with giving and receiving that is healthy. She explains, "It's said people can't outgive God, but codependents come close." Good, you're laughing. Laughter is healthy. We've been a sick nation for far too long and part of the drive to keep us sick has been the Water Cooler Set's determination to pass off the likes of My Name Is Earl as "funny." Beattie offers seven steps for you to live healthy within THE CIRCLE OF LOVE and you can pick up the book to explore all seven; however, we'd suggest that right now you zoom in on three important steps.

"Know your boundaries." Beattie advises, "Boundaries aren't static. They're based on how we feel and what feels right or wrong to us in each situation. Be aware of what feels right or wrong to us in each situation. Be aware of what feels right to us concerning giving and receiving. If we're unsure, wait until we're clear." You really need to remember that one. As MoveOn and countless others repeatedly spam you daily, insisting you must take action to support Barack, you need to always remember that you do not need to do anything immediately that MoveOn or anyone other than the Weather Channel advises. (If the Weather Channel tells you to head for higher ground, get packing immediately!)

Your boundaries are what protect you. Consider them your invisible force field that allows in only those things which will not harm you. That's when your boundaries are working correctly. But messy, co-dependent relationships -- especially ones encouraged by sick-f**ks like Laura Flanders and Norman Solomon -- tend to screw with our natural concept of boundaries. Equally true is that a great deal of time was spent in 2007 by Team Obama grasping how to tailor the message to those who already had issues, baggage and damaged senses of self, how to work the principle of emotional reactivity on victims of past trauma. So it really is imperative that you work on repairing your boundaries.

As part of the repair, you’re going to need to learn the Power of No and practice it. Grasping that you need to work on yourself and do not have the time to devote yourself to the alarming cry of The Daily Obama which insists you must take on this, that and everything else in the name of Obama and in the name of His Cause will be tremendously freeing. Right now, you are being manipulated. The Daily Obama exists to prey on the instincts of the abused.

"Victims acclimatize to the terror," Patrick J. Carnes explained in 1997’s The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitative Relationships. That principle is part of what The Daily Obama attempts to work as they attempt to create non-stop drama that stirs a sense of dislocation in a victim's previous trauma.

As you work on your boundary issues, you will slowly grasp that what you're doing is saying no to a one-way relationship that requires you give of your time to him and you give of your strength to protect him while he does nothing for you. You will grasp that all the interference MoveOn and others order you to run to push through Barack's right-wing and/or neo-liberal policies are not helping you or anyone not in the Fortune 500.

Beattie also advises that you "Give cleanly and clearly." She explains that as, "Give without ulterior motives or conditions. If we have conditions with our giving, then be clear about what those are, otherwise it‘s manipulation." Ask yourself when have sick-f**ks Laura Flanders, Norman Solomon or any of the other beggars ever encouraged you to be clear? You were told to blindly support Barack in the Democratic Party primaries and not make demands on him. You were told the time for that would come later. You were told to blindly support Barack in the general election. You were told that his feet would be held to the fire later.

Later never came, now did it. He's now pushing ObamaBigBusinessCare which is a confusing series of nebulous plans that promises little to American citizens but is set to force every American to buy (bad) insurance policies which will further enrich the insurance industry -- the same industry which has driven the sky rocketing costs of health care today. His 'answer' is to force everyone to fork over more money to the tyrant.

Laura Flanders, Norman Solomon and all the rest are sick-f**ks. They truly are. And Norman's late-life pregnancy doesn't excuse his illness. Ralph Nader, loudly and repeatedly in 2008, warned against offering blind support and repeatedly insisted people needed to make demands upon their candidates.

The last step by Beattie that we're going to emphasize here: "Saying no is loving." She explains, "God needs people to be vessels to give to and care for people. If we don't want to give, it means we probably aren't meant to (unless we're stuck in our fear about compulsively giving). Knowing when to give, how much, and to whom, are as important as knowing when not to give."

It's The Power of No. A principle we've long pushed here. One best explained in the axiom: “Hollywood always wants what it cannot have.” Many a successful career have been built around The Power of No. And you can apply that to your own life and be well on your way down the Path of Awareness as you Write Your Story or you can get caught in the canyons of Denial and Repression, trapping yourself within them for many more years to come.

If you can avoid those canyons, we'd advise you to prepare for owning your anger. That's a step further on down the line. One where you break the silence and begin calling out the abusers, the ones who forced you into silence, who manipulated and abused you. When enough people get to that point, the Laura Flanders of this world will either have to get fully honest or leave public life. Either would be a victory for the people of the world. For now, Flanders, Norman Solomon and others escape scrutiny as a result of the concept of carried shame, where the victim who has been lied to and had their trust abused ends up carrying the shame instead of the aggressor who did the shameful things. Perpetrators and predators like Laura Flanders always know they can count on the victim to feel shame.

But you can Write The Story and you can take control of your life. You can reject the non-stop attempts by Team Obama and all of his surrogates to create drama and play on your past traumas in order to manipulate you. It's about being healthy. And you can do that at any point and at any age. In Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul, Theresa Peluso shares the moment when she walked away from the life of abuse:

My stepfather spent a few days in jail and went through the motions in rehab after which they reunited and we moved. I suppose we were all so desperate to feel something pain was acceptable. Consequently nothing changed.
One late summer evening, another argument ensued. I listened from my room for the signs that would tell me where on the Richter scale this one would fall. The sound of crashing glass and a blood-curdling scream brought me into the living room where my stepfather began coming toward me. Something had snapped and when our eyes made contact I knew I was next. I turned, opened the front door and ran. A police car was heading toward the apartment; lights flashing and sirens wailing. I went the other way.
I would be fourteen in a couple of months, we had just moved to another state and I had no idea where I was. I wasn't enrolled in school yet, had no friends, no money, only the clothes I was wearing. But I knew one thing with every fiber of my body: that I wasn't going to live like that any longer. If my mother had chosen that for her life, it was her life and she could live it.

Baby Comics

"Those are baby comics." A dismissive cry we heard repeatedly at ComicCon this past summer.

"Baby comics" could refer to titles such as Bongo Comics Group's The Simpsons whose issue three is out currently, "Summer Shindig." It attempts to include beer humor to reward the few adults brave or determined enough to peruse the issue: Drunken Doughnuts. Moe comes up with a new franchise and Krusty the Klown worries that it will threaten Krusty Burgers. A bigger problem looms on the horizon, Duff Beer is being used and the company and Duffman want credit. For that and two more stories, the focus is clearly on the adult Homer and his antics (including as a super hero). The last eight pages are devoted to "Moron Kombat!" -- a story featuring Bart, Martin and Milhouse. (No women are prominently featured in any of the stories thereby continuing The Simpsons well known sexism.)
Baby Comics

Fans of Bart can turn to Bongo Comics Group's Simpsons Comics Presents Bart Simpson issue 45. It will also reduce female characters to bit players, even in it's final story: "The Maggie & Moe Mysteries! In Color! Tonight’s Episode: Naptime For Murder!" Despite Maggie having her name in the title and comics' long history of devoting considerable attention to infants who cannot speak, Maggie's lost in her own supposed co-story. Reading it or the Simpsons Super Spectacular issue 9, is to assume that young readers really aren't all that interested in young characters. Possibly true?

DC’s Looney Tunes, issue 178, sticks to the world of Porky Pig and Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird and Foghorn Leghorn and while young girls will clearly be left out of the proceedings if they’re hoping to see themselves reflected on the page, young boys will be in heaven.

The sexism is a problem. Catering comics to young readers isn’t necessarily.

When does it become a problem?

When comic book characters who are allegedly going for adult readers are also the subject of titles geared to clearly young readers.

Tiny Titans is a comic series (currently on issue 20) which re-imagines the Teen Titans as toddlers. To its credit, boys and girls are both actors in the action. To its credit, the title should leave no room for confusion who the desired readership is. But for every Tiny Titans, there are others that confuse the issue.

Batman: The Brave And The Bold claims to be "STRAIGHT FROM THE HIT NEW CARTOON!" except that the cartoon is a bit more adult. It's our nominee for most embarrassing cover art for 2009. Issue 8 does at least boast a little better art within. But it's everything that drove away readers long, long ago. And when you combine it with another embarrassing and poorly drawn comic entitled DC Super Friends (see issue 17 especially), you're left to wonder how greedy DC is and how self-damaging?

It’s these type of comics that attendees of ComicCon were referring to. While DC may think that they're managing to serve all markets, the reality is they're cheapening the brand that was barely rescued not all that long ago.

Instead of milking a cash-cow dry by re-imagining heroes for young readers, novel concept, try creating new characters who can appeal to them. Until you can do that, don't blame us when the next wave of complaints comes in and readers walk away from titles you've worked hard to provide an edge to.


The big news of the previous week was Matthew D. LaPlante (Salt Lake Tribune), reporting, "And some Utah units have been told to anticipate deployments to Iraq as far off as 2012." As far off as 2012? Keep pretending the SOFA means the Iraq War ends in 2011 and the joke's on you.


Elaine noted that AP's Jennifer Loven reported, "He said he would end the Iraq war. But he has been slow to bring the troops home and the real end of the U.S. military presence there won't come until at least 2012, and that's only if both the U.S. and Iraq stick to their current agreement about American troop withdrawals."

Last week, Matt McAllester's "The Hunted" (New York Magazine) explored the continued assault on Iraq's LGBT community. Monday on NPR's Talk of the Nation (here for audio and transcript links) discussed the issue and the article with Matt McAllester.

Neal Conan: As the conditions improved in Iraq, general security, the militias had time to start feeling that gay people were a real threat and punishing them.

Matt McAllester: Yeah. I'm not sure that they ever felt that they were a threat. I felt that there was, in a sense, there seemed to have been a lack of targets. American troops were armed, much less visible and much less numerous and really just aren't in the major cities in Iraq anymore. The government of Iraq is much stronger than military and police forces in Iraq. And the power of the militias has faded in terms of the civil war that was going on and really has been over for sometime. So some of the militias, one in particular, Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, which had been extremely powerful, had lost their sort of raison d'etre in their power base, and, in a sense, needed someone to pick on. And there was no more hated and is no more hated group across just about every ethnic barrier that you can think of and social group in Iraq than gay people.

Last week also saw concerns raised over the attacks on Iraqi Christians and, of course, violence continued.

Last Sunday 4 people were reported dead and 9 were reported injured. Monday saw 10 people reported dead and 30 wounded. Tuesday saw 13 people reported dead and 44 injured. Wednesday saw 7 reported dead and 12 reported injured. Thursday saw 8 reported dead 21 wounded. Friday saw 4 people reported dead and 15 injured. A total of 46 dead and 131 wounded. Tuesday, the US military announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Division-South died of a non-combat related injury October 6. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin." The announcement brought the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4349.

Thursday, the Senate's Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on chemical exposure. Here's a section of the hearing, for more see Kat's "US Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs" and C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Senator Jay Rockefeller: Dr. Gibbs, do you have any thoughts about that? Why is it that people, strong men like Russell can't -- or they look down at a medic or they -- Some doctors are good, some doctors are bad. Whatever. For heaven's sakes, they knew they were going to send you to this camp, to Qarmat Ali and therefore they had to have been there. For the fact of there being some orange dust must not have escaped them unless they were color blind and so I don't understand that. There's a lack of thoroughness or a lack of concern or a lack of care. I mean if you saw the orange dust -- you now know and knowing what the world now knows six years later, it's not very complicated to me. They were entering a risky environment and chose not to know about it, not to warn about it, to take steps to clean it up or to do whatever. Now, Dr. Gibbs, I don't know if you have any thoughts on that?

Dr. Herman Gibbs: I think they had a significant exposure there. I mean, some of the soldiers described looking like orange powder dough nuts. And it was all over the ground. Statements of the soldiers at the previous hearing indicate that it was everywhere. Uhm, I think that -- and the bags read: Sodium Dichromate. It wasn't like guessing. So they should have known and it should have been reported and, again, I don't think there was a good understanding of what Sodium Dichormate is or what it's effects are. So I think there was a significant exposure that should have been addressed immediately as soon as they learned what it was. So I-I think that there was just, uh, uhm, I feel like it was dealt with uh, irresponsibly. I can't think of a better word.

Senator Jay Rockefeller: Well let me be -- let me be tougher about it then. Doesn't the military have a responsibility? And particularly when you're not in a huge situation which varies a lot. Like the Second World War, the First World War, you know, whatever. But you've got a particular type of territory where there are certain factors which are common for all that territory. Basra, I guess was where you were. And then there's this orange dust. I don't understand that. I don't understand why, if there are doctors who are in charge of the health, are they not in the deployment decision process in any way? Are they left out until somebody does get sick? Is there anybody here can answer that question?

Dr. Herman Gibbs: Again I think that the knowledge of industrial hygiene is uh we could do -- you could recommend pre-deployment physicals and post-deployment physicals and those kinds of things but if you don't understand what substances that you're dealing with those kind of physicals are not going to get the kind of information that you need. So you know I think this was um a lack of -- a lack of understanding of the industrial hygiene, of the environmental health. And then the follow-up to that was uh . . . You know -- It was just . . . sort of like "Don't worry about it, it's okay." And I think uh that, you know, that to me is just uh uh I don't want to say -- unconscionable> But I think it was uh -- This was -- This was a very dangerous substance, this was a very potent carcinogen, a very irritating substance. You don't have to look very far to find out about the effects of Sodium Dichromate. It's not some arcane chemical that we don't know about.

Meanwhile Human Rights Action and the Human Rights Institute at Georgetown Law Center issued [PDF format warning] a report entitled "Refugee Crisis in America: Iraqis And Their Resettlement Experience" whose findings included, "As it exists now, the total package of assistance to refugees amounts to between just seventeen to forty precent of the federal pvoerty line. Although a family of six may receive up to $2,500 in R&P assistance to cover living costs for the first ninety days, a single adult receives only $425, or less than $5 a day."


Jim: This is a music and e-mail roundtable where the focus is solely on readers' e-mails. Our e-mail address is Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Ruth of Ruth's Report; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. The illustration is done by Betty's kids. First up, Ty?


Ty: Mackenzie Phillips' new book is entitled High on Arrival and is out now. Reader Leslie e-mails to ask about C.I.'s thoughts on the book and also notes Stevie Nicks' "I Miss You" is mentioned in it and any comment on Nicks' music.

Jim: To clarify, Leslie was just wanting C.I.'s responses?

Ty: Correct.

C.I.: Mackenzie was always a sweet girl and she remains that as an adult. Rebecca's written about this at least three times at her site. In one of her posts, Rebecca noted I first heard about the book's big revelation in 1997. Mackenzie's not lying and part of her healing is talking about what happened. I haven't read the book. I probably won't unless I learn it has a section on Iraq in it. But she's not lying and best of luck to her with her journey. Not said in a kiss off manner, it's just not a topic I want to discuss, the revelation. I will repeat: She is not lying.

Ty: Stevie Nicks' song?

C.I.: "I Miss You" is a song Stevie wrote with Rick Nowels that appears on Trouble In Shangri-La. I have no idea how Mackenzie references it in the book but I'm sure it's done movingly. It's a wonderful song. I've often thought we should have a roundtable here on just that album -- released in 2001 -- because so much of the album was lost on reviewers.

Jim: In what way?

C.I.: It's a strong album and a new generation of music critics had come up, ones who had seen Stevie repeatedly and unfairly attacked. Add in that the space available for reviews in many outlets had shrunk. So reviewers had to telegraph in a limited space that it was an album worth getting but they didn't have time to explore it. "I Miss You" is a wonderful song. "Love Changes," the song right before it on that album, if I remember correctly, is also a very strong song and it's a song that sailed over many people's heads apparently. If you pay attention, Stevie's sketched out the story of an abused woman rejecting that life.

Dona: I'm jumping in because I didn't know that. Where?

C.I.: The chorus is another voice in the song. A younger voice. The verse is the narrator after she's leaving and has left the abusive relationship. The chorus is the woman in the relationship.

Dona: "I only say what you want to hear, When there is conflict, I stay clear, When he was loving I was in tears, He knows my fears."

C.I.: Right. That's during the abuse.

Elaine: "When love changes in the flash of an eye, it leaves people burnin' by the side of the road." Hmm. I hadn't thought about it but, yes, it's right there. "It wasn't that I didn't love you, I just couldn't make you see, That as hard as I tried, To make it better, It was not better for me."

Dona: I wish I had caught that. I sing along with that song constantly and have it my iPod.

Jim: Dona will hate me, but what's the chorus of "I Miss You," just to have that out there since Leslie mentioned the song.

C.I.: "Well I miss you now, I have so many questions, About love and about pain, about strained relationships, About fame as only he could explain it to me." Again, that song and "Love Changes" are on Stevie's Trouble In Shangri-La.

Ty: Okay, a question for Kat. Robbie wants to know if you're aware "PJ" -- Pearl Jam -- "has a new album out. I hope you're going to review it."

Kat: I have no interest in it. I reviewed that crappy band last go round. That was before Eddie Vedder demonstrated he was nothing but pure bulls**t. He did that by attacking third party and independent presidential candidates in 2008. What a coward, what a loser. In 2000, he was all about Ralph Nader. In 2008, the lying sack of s**t is demonizning anyone who won't stand for Barack. He's a no talent and he's always been a no talent. In a just world, Eddie Vedder would have taken his own life and Kurt Cobain would have stuck around to create art for many more years. Instead we've got Eddie's caterwauling vocals and bad lyrics and political posturing.

Ty: It's been announced for weeks now that we'll be doing a Carly Simon roundtable this month. And that's led to questions about who else we could do as a roundtable feature musically?

Jess: When we were doing music retrospectives of various artists -- we did Stevie Nicks, Tina Turner, Diana Ross and I forget who else -- we had Prince and Dolly Parton on our list but never got around to doing them so we could always grab those two.

Betty: Laura Nyro was another retrospective that was done. The two roundtables have been the Mamas and the Papas and Joni Mitchell. And the retrospectives were killed by C.I. and myself because we were furious with the Diana Ross piece here. During the writing of that piece, we were very vocal that we thought judgments were too harsh and we were adding in our own take. When one of the Third crew -- I know it wasn't C.I. or Ava -- was in charge of editing that piece, it went in the direction C.I. and I fought against and, on top of that, Jim gave it a headline that may have been fitting for the article's point of view after it was heavily edited but was insulting to Diana's career calling it something like 'a sad waste.' That's when I said I'd never work on another retrospective here and C.I. agreed with me. There are e-mails to my site from time to time asking me if there's ever anything I've written that I would disappear? At my site, no. Good or bad, I can live with it. Here? I would delete the Diana retrospective. It's very insulting and we never got what we -- C.I. and I -- were promised, a follow up that looked at Diana as a singles artist.

Jim: And that's an example of how we do have very real conflict when we're writing. There are e-mails where people imagine we all get along and are all saying, "Yes, true that!" to every thought and contribution. Reality, we're generally arguing over each and every line. And if I'd known how much that would hurt Betty, I would have argued that we not publish the Diana piece. Betty was furious. C.I. was as well but she focused on the fact that Betty wasn't listened to and it was only about a year after, during a conversation the two of us were having about an idea for a different feature, that she let me know how angry she still was over that feature. Betty rightly points out that there was a promise made that we'd revist Diana as a singles artist. We've never had time and Ty, Dona and I were scheduled to be off for the last July 4th -- and we were off -- so I suggested they grab it then but Betty's attitude was that this isn't a 'corrective,' that we either all work on it or what's the point? I'm going to open it up to Betty and C.I. for a few remarks on Diana Ross' career or the article we published or whatever. As Betty just explained, she and C.I. were a part of the writing of the original article but, in the editing, all of their contributions were stripped away. I was the editor on that piece, by the way.

Betty: I'm looking at C.I. and she can shake her head if she disagrees with me but, excuse me Jim, we've got a story online trashing Diana's entire career and, I'm sorry, but a few sentences in this roundtable will not be an equal substitute for me or C.I. C.I.'s nodding with me. It's just not good enough. And I will further add that stripping C.I. and my comments out of that article? Not just short-sighted but down right stupid. We are the only two working on that article who had heard every Diana Ross album. Only us. We were the only ones who would have passed for knowledgable and it was our opinions that were stripped from that critique? I'm going to shut up now because I'm going to get mad all over again.

Jim: Okay, I'm going to say something quickly: We obviously need to do some sort of make up feature. Figure it out and let us know what. I'll let it drop because Betty's not joking about being angry. She was angry after that went up in 2007 or 2006 and talking about it now has made her as angry now as she was then so we'll move to a different topic. Ty?

Ty: "Little bombs," "Will She Just Fall Down?," "That's Just What You Are," "no 1 is watching you now," "I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up For Christmas," "Freeway Medicine Wheel," "I Can't Get My Head Around It," "Goodbye Caroline," "J For Jules" and "Video" went up last week, a theme post on Aimee Mann's songs. Jill e-mailed wondering why there wasn't a feature like that at Third and how Aimee Mann got selected?

Mike: I'll go first. Jill, I don't like your question. Are you Jim's ringer? If we give up theme posts as a feature here, what will we do? Seriously, we do a theme post every now and then. We used to do them Tuesdays or Wednesdays. And we stepped away for awhile when people were taking vacations. A theme post allows you to do a quick post that hopefully doesn't require a great deal of research but can just be a fun post. Wally and Cedric do humor posts so it doesn't work for them. Back when Betty was doing her online comic novel at her site, she didn't get to participate either because it wouldn't work. But everyone who posts at night is always invited. Sometimes everyone participates, sometimes they don't. My mother's one who doesn't always participate.

Trina: Right. Sometimes I already have something I'm planning to write about, other times I don't feel I know enough about the theme to write on it. A music theme is always harder for me to say "no" to.

Stan: As for how we picked Aimee, usually someone, Mike or Marcia, will ask if anybody wants to do a theme post. And someone will gather some ideas as they check in with everyone. We did that theme post on Wednesday. What inspired it was a Tuesday morning entry by C.I. about how Iraq's elderly suffered and Nouri turned a blind eye. In that entry, C.I. quoted Aimee Mann's "Freeway" to strong effect and that had us all rethinking the song which we knew. Which led to a lot of talk about other Aimee Mann songs. Then when Wednesday rolled around and theme post talk started, her songs became the obvious choice.

Ty: Crazy2009 wants to know why the only time country music is ever addressed community wide it's from Ava and C.I.?

Trina: Is that true? I'm not saying it's not, but that surprises me. I do, for example, listen to Emmylou Harris.

Marcia: It feels true. I don't know if it is.

Wally: Actually, Cedric and I have referenced some country songs in our joint-entries. Cedric's actually a bit of a country music buff.

Cedric: I am. I am a blues fan and a lot of country, real country, is built on similar roots. As Wally pointed out, we've referenced country songs in our humor posts. The Dixie Chicks are no longer considered country but that's an example of a group that probably everyone here is familiar with. In terms of country, I don't think most people here listen to it. You've got a lot of people coming from urban centers and the coasts so country's not really a big thing for them. Ava and C.I. listen to everything. I try to, but they really do so it's never a surprise to me when they reference something. Kat knows country. Kat?

Kat: Yeah. C.I.'s got a copy of Rosanne Cash's new CD that I've snagged. If I do more than one review this month, it'll be to review Rosanne. My not reviewing her shouldn't be seen as, "Oh, it's not worth having." I've done my reviews and then some this year. And I'm tired so just see it as my being lazy. By the way, get them in a honky tonk and Ava and C.I. will hop on stage and start singing with the band, I'm not joking. And the shocker, they blend perfectly.

Ava: We like country. And to be fair, we're usually dared right before we hop on stage. And Rosanne's new CD is The List which is her performing some of her late father's favorite songs. Jeff Tweedy is among the artists appearing on her new album.

Wally: I have to jump back in to point out that about two weeks ago, Ava and C.I. did a crowd pleasing version of "Looking For Love" -- they did it slowed down to a really slow ballad.

Cedric: They did it better than the original back in the 80s. Wally got a huge section of it on his cellphone and e-mailed it to me.

Dona: I'd like it noted that Betty's from Georgia and I'm a Mid-West gal, in terms of the coastal remark.

Cedric: Noted.

Ty: This one is mainly for Kat and for Ava and C.I and from Bill. The FTC is supposed to have new rules about guidelines for reviews. Kat does CD reviews, Ava and C.I. do TV here. Kat?

Kat: I have never been given an album for review during my online days. But, back in the seventies when I was doing music press, largely photography but some reviews, every time I reviewed an album, we would have copies of that album given to us. This is b.s. from the FTC because they're inventing rules for online that are not required offline. For example, every album reviewed by Rolling Stone is from a copy given to the magazine. I own a copy of everything I've reviewed, a copy I've paid for either in CD format or downloadable. I often grab C.I.'s copies because C.I. gets stuff before it comes out -- that's books, music, DVDs, you name it. C.I.'s always getting gifts offline from offline friends. But anything I review I have paid for a copy of.

Ava: C.I. and I review shows where we know someone on staff. We long ago noted that. And said, for argument's sake, we know someone with every show unless we say otherwise. That's a conflict of interest that the FTC wasn't concerned with, apparently. That hasn't stopped us from sharing what we think. We're not paid for these reviews, by Third or by anyone else. We do get copies of shows and copies of scripts. I agree with Kat that the FTC seems completely unaware of what happens and what doesn't happen in the press. I would further add that neither Third nor The Common Ills is a "blog" so the FTC rules do not apply to us. We're an online magazine at Third and TCI is a "community resource."

Ty: Okay, anyone else?

Trina: I was asked to plug a contest for some company -- no payment involved -- and I did noting that I had been e-mailed about it. I would do that again if it had to do with cooking. I've been offered products for free if I would write a review of them at my site and I have declined that.

Ruth: Trina's been offered a lot of products! She will call me and say, "I just said no to ___." Her site is apparently highly valuable to corporations. I admire her maintaining her dignity and repeatedly saying "no." I have only had one offer. I was told I could have a free pair of glasses if I would write a review about the glasses. I respectfully declined. I had just purchased a new pair of reading glasses. If the e-mail had come in before that, I would have tried -- with me paying for -- the brand being promoted in the e-mail to see what they were like and then reviewed them at my site but I have never reviewed anything I did not purchase at my site.

Ty: C.I.?

C.I.: As Kat noted, I get sent everything in my offline life from various friends. That's my offline life. In terms of the FTC, various writers and publishers have offered versions of their books to read for a review and I've either said no or missed the e-mail completely. In my offline life, I already have friends sending me books and I don't need any more books coming in, especially with an expectation that I'll review the book -- favorably or unfavorably. I promote things friends are doing all the time, however. I wanted to promote Drew's directoral debut, for example and meant to and meant to and just kept missing out over and over. But I'll keep promoting friends and if people don't like it, oh well. I'm not paid for it. We don't take ads at TCI and I don't need the money so we're not bought.

Jim: As noted, here, we're an online magazine --

C.I.: Sorry, Jim, I'm not through. If the FTC wants to fret about the issue of money, they need to get serious. For example, The New York Times. Sam Seder, in the early days of The Majority Report, was launching a non-stop war on Adam Nagourney. What ended it? The paper buying ads and then threatening to pull them if Seder didn't leave Nagourney alone. It's at that point that Seder stops calling him out on air but claiming he will continue to do so online; however, shortly after, Seder ends the Ad Nags website he was running. Ends it and deletes it. Now that's censorship and that's control and that's what the FTC should be worrying about but notice they ignore that and instead go after people they see as powerless. Kind of the way the IRS, under Bush, avoided the fat cats and went after low-income filers.

Ty: Good point. Soren e-mails to note we used to download pieces and stopped that. "Did you stop downloading? Are you planning something to replace them?"

Ruth: I am still downloading. I note that at my site. I am the oldest living downloader in the country!

Rebecca: We did a Jackie DeShannon feature that was strong and I'm sure we did other things. What were they?

Jess: A combo piece on Rod Steweart and Ashford & Simpson.

Rebecca: I think readers might see something musically here on Jackie DeShannon before the end of the year. In terms of downloads, I haven't nixed anything but if we did do a piece and it was about something downloaded from Amazon, I would be complaining about some changes Amazon has made and about some things it needs to fix. In fact, I propose we do a download feature next week.

Marcia: I second that. I wrote about one of the problems at my site two weeks ago after I downloaded Barbra Streisand's new album from Amazon. If I was downloading something this weekend, I'd use iTunes -- which I hate but Amazon's becoming a real pain post-download.

Jim: Okay, we'll put that down as a feature for next week then. In terms of Soren's question. We have multiple things that are regular features but don't run every week. For example, we've got a piece on comics for this edition and we try to cover comics in some manner about once a month. That's one of the things we've added this year. So there are always other things that can come up. Equally true is that some things get worked on but never posted here because they're just not good enough.

Ty: Kyle e-mails asking that we consider doing a piece on Christmas music this year. I know we're getting into the winding down section so I'm flipping through e-mails quickly. Vern e-mails his thanks that "Bonnie Raitt finally got a mention from the site. I've read TESR for three years now and it seems like she's the only one of my favorites you never acknowledged." That's in reference to "Screwing the American music consumer" which was very popular in the e-mails. Dona, tell them what we've listened to so far while working on this edition as I try to pick out one e-mail from the remaining ones.

Dona: Sure. We've listened to Aimee Mann's The Forgotten Arm, Carly Simon's Have You Seen Me Lately?, Heart's The Road Home, Prince's 1999, Graham Nash's Song For Beginners, Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs' Under The Covers Vol. 2 and David Saw's Broken Down Figure.

Ty: Okay, Trent notes C.I.'s "2008: The Year of Living Hormonally" which "mixes music and political commentary" and Trent wonders why "you don't do stuff like that every week" at Third?

Ann: I agree with Trent that's C.I.'s year-in-review is impressive but as for doing it here? I'm not sure we could. Jim?

Jim: No, we couldn't. Ann's right. C.I. writes those things, those year-in-reviews, and spends about three hours on them. That's three hours of writing -- at least -- after having thought about the piece for some time. I know that the spine on that year-in-review was girl group songs and that C.I. was going through various songs as early as the week before Thanksgiving for that piece that she wrote January 1st. In addition, she has all these notes on scraps of paper that she works through. It would be really difficult for us to do a piece like that here because the scope is so huge and we have so many people adding input that it would be a one feature for the week edition. There just wouldn't be time. That's what you were wondering, Ann?

Ann: Yes. I just don't know how we could do that. I marvel over C.I.'s ability to do that but I have no idea how we could ever accomplish that as a group writing piece. And Ben Harper's Diamonds On The Inside just kicked on. To add to Dona's list of what we're listening to as we work on this edition.

Jim: And on that note, we'll close the roundtable. This is a rush transcript. Our e-mail address is

Halloween (Dona)

I thought I had pretty standard Halloweens. Then I started talking about them with everyone here.

I mentioned the Christmas Halloween party where Chris already had his tree up so we strung popcorn balls up on the tree. "A what?" A Christmas Halloween party. "In October?" Uh-huh, the 31st. 1996 or 97.

No, that wasn't a common one apparently. Okay, when I was really little, I had a shiny, metallic orange bag to put candy in. We went trick or treating starting in the day, first stop the bank my parents banked at and then on through the neighborhood. So I mentioning how great it was and the toys and the candy --



Didn't they give out toys in your neighborhood?

Apparently not.

But we had toys handed out. Skeletons. Pumpkin heads. Frankenstein heads. You could plop the heads off of your dolls and put pumpkins heads on them.

And what kind of candy?

Looking at the still envious faces, I decided to just stick with, "Oh, you know, candy."

And I'm thinking, "I want to go to the Halloween store."

I really don't see Halloween as a kid's holiday and am as excited about this year as any other. Last year, I went as Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. I not only loved my costume, I love all the photos of that party.

Senator Byron Dorgan on shoddy contractors

US Senator Byron Dorgan chairs the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and last week he issued the following:

There's an important development regarding the exposure of hundreds of U.S. troops to the deadly chemical compound sodium dichromate in Iraq. The Department of Defense's Inspector General has agreed to investigate the Army's response to that exposure. I requested such an investigation, in a ltter in August, along with six other Senators.
The reply we have now received is heartening. What happened to U.S. troops -- mostely National Guard men and women from Indiana, Oregon and West Virginia -- should never have happened and must not be allowed to happen again. They were exposed because of shoddy work by one of the largest military contractors, KBR, but the Army's deeply flawed response is just as troubling.
The exposure of troops to this deadly chemical compound was first revealed at a June 20, 2008 hearing by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC), which I chair. We found ample evidence that KBR dropped the ball multiple times with regard to the contract it held for assessing the site, cleaning it up, and getting it running again. It failed to inform the Army of the contamination until months after it knew there was a problem and after hundreds of U.S. soldiers had been exposed. It failed to clean up the site properly. KBR failed to warn even its own workers of the danger.
But the evidence suggests the Army's response was also highly inadequate and compounded the problem.
We found that when the Army finally got around to informing the soldiers, they consistently down played the seriousness of the exposure. When it finally got around to testing soldiers to determine the amoung of exposure they had experienced, too much time had passed. The test results were useless.
We found troops back home in the U.S. coping with illnesses consistent with exposure to sodium dichromate with no idea why they were sick. They did not know they had been exposed to sodium dichromate or that that exposure was life-threatening.
When I called the head of the Indiana National Guard after our 2008 hearing to tell him what we'd learned about the exposure of his troops in Iraq to the deadly chemical, he said it was the first he'd heard of it. No one at the Army thought to tell the Commander of the Indiana National Guard that his troops, while serving our country in Iraq, had been exposed to one of the most potent carcinogens in the world.
I asked the Army to review its response to the exposure.
The Army appointed a task force, which reported back, months later, that the Army had not only acted appropriately, but that its response had been exemplary!
We scheduled a second hearing to examine the Army's response ourselves. That hearing was held on August 3, 2009. We heard very little that was reassuring.
Following the hearing, Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN), Robert Byrd (D-W VA), John Rockefeller (D-W VA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) joined me in formally requesting an investigation by the Defense Department's Inspector General into the Army's handling of all this.
We now have a written request from the Inspector General's Office, agreeing to conduct an investigation and making clear it will get underway immediately.
Someone recently asked me what I hope will come out of the investigation. The answer is simple -- in a word, accountability. I want to know how all this happened, why it happened, and whose being held accountable for it. I want to know what is being done to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.
I also want every soldier exposed at Qarmat Ali to be accurately informed, first, that he or she was exposed, and second, that the exposure presents serious health risks. I want every exposed soldier to have access to on-going health monitoring and, if they should get sick, treatment, through the Veterans Affairs network of hospitals. I want this exposure made part of the service file of every soldier who was at Qarmat Ali during this time, so doctors can proactively look for sodium dichromate exposure related symptoms. Time is of the essence in treating illnesses that result from sodium dichromate exposure. Doctors need to know immediately, and up front, that the soldiers was exposed.
I also want there to be no question about whether illnesses that result from this exposure are service connected. They can take years, even decades, to show up. If every exposed soldier's service record includes information about what happened at Qarmat Ali, there will be no question about whether a resulting illness -- no matter when it appears -- is service connected, and therefore, eligible for treatment at a VA medical facility. If an illness develops, time is of the essence in treating it. I don't want anyone to have to waste time fighting to establish that the illness is service connected.
War is risky business. Soldiers know that when they sign up. But there is no excuse for any of that risk to come from sloppy work by a U.S. military contractor. Nor is acceptable for that risk to be increased because the Army dropped the ball in dealing with the aftermath of that contractor's failure.
I look forward to the Inspector General's report.


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, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"New York Times tries to bury the war they started" and "I Hate The War" -- most requested highlights by readers of this site. Ty says there was one more vote for "I Hate The War" but that it was so close, they should both be noted as the most requested.

"US Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs" & "Iraq snapshot" -- Kat and C.I. report on the Veterans Affairs Committee hearing dealing with chemical exposures.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Dream Team Take Two" -- If there's no comic from Isaiah today, blame yourselves. Seriously. This one and the one before were hugely popular and Isaiah says he dashed both off at the last minute and was thinking he was lowering expectations with both. Instead, they ended up widely popular and he's feeling pressure.

"Kat's Korner: Combo is the answer" -- Kat's review of Barbra Streisand's new album Love Is The Answer. Check it out and check out the album.

"Bully Boy's scary Christmas" -- Isaiah dips into the archives to drop back to 2005 when an angry Bully Boy Bush responded to a gift of peace in typical Bully Boy fashion.

"Ardi on Discovery Sunday" -- That's today. We may do something on it here. But even if we don't, Discovery Channel tonight: Ardi. In fact, all about Ardi.

"Cheese Sandwiches in the Kitchen" -- don't laugh but two people participating in the writing of this did not know that you could make grill cheese sandwiches in a skillet on the stove. They can confess later in the week at their own sites.

"National Organization for Women," "NOW, links, Hillary" and "March, Big Business, more" --

Ann, Ruth and Mike highlighting NOW and noting how the departure of Kim The Pig Gandy means we're willing to give NOW another chance. Oink, oink, Kim, oink, oink.

"Barack's all about the boys," "THIS JUST IN! HE'S FOR THE BOYS!" and "A Pig Named Obama" -- Kim Gandy's boy-toy Barry O proves what he really thinks of women with each and every day. Long bury Kim Gandy, bury her and piss on her.

"Jennifer Loven told too much truth" -- Elaine on how a bit of truth in an AP story is systematically removed.

"Little bombs," "Will She Just Fall Down?," "That's Just What You Are," "no 1 is watching you now," "I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up For Christmas," "Freeway Medicine Wheel," "I Can't Get My Head Around It," "Goodbye Caroline," "J For Jules" and "Video" -- theme post from Wednesday night. Theme was Aimee Mann songs.

"Feingold" and "Feingold" -- Betty and Stan highlighting Russ Feingold.

"Climb off the cross, Bertha" -- Mike calls out faux victim Bertha Lewis.


"Here's That Rainy Day" and "barbra" -- Ann and Rebecca on Barbra Streisand's new album.

"Robert Gibbs shows contempt for Congress""Reviews and hisses""Iraq's LGBT community""Feingold""Iraq""Climb off the cross, Bertha""Dress Up for Barry""THIS JUST IN! BARRY GOES EXPLORING!"
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