Sunday, October 25, 2009

Truest statement of the week

Maddow failed to tell it straight Tuesday night. Every president has done these events, not just comical Bush. She failed to be forthright in setting the record straight on Wednesday evening. But the key problem here is the sheer waste of time involved in silly segments like these --and the noxious attitude these segments may breed in the ranks of young liberals. For decades, we liberal hayseeds have loved to laugh at the average American rubes. And we're too dumb to see the way that connects to those bad polling numbers.

-- Bob Somerby addressing Rachel Maddow's 'journalism, "FOR LACK OF A PRESS CORPS! Davey’s liberal use of soft soap continued a growing tradition" (The Daily Howler).

Truest statement of the week II

Americans care about issues when those issues directly affect Americans. I believe that one thing that will get people out into the streets is a forced military conscription, or draft. But even with the threats of sending tens of thousands of more troops to the war zone, the economy is swelling the ranks of the military and for the first time in six years, recruitment is meeting its quotas. So forced conscription is unnecessary. Obama's "job's plan" turned out to be enlistment in the military. Who knew?

-- Cindy Sheehan, "Hopeless? by Cindy Sheehan" (Dandelion Salad).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday and 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 everyone. And what did we come up with?

Truest statement of the week -- Bob Somerby.

Truest statement of the week II -- Cindy Sheehan.

Editorial: When all the lies are exposed -- This isn't exactly the editorial we had planned. Our plan was to consider the issues Cindy Sheehan raised in an online piece (see truest II), however, the essay is no longer at her site. Is that an accident? Or does she want to delete it completely? We didn't know so we took a different approach.

TV: Hank Tanks -- I told Ava and C.I. that this was more than enough. This is a piece on one TV show and it will please the longterm readers. They were afraid it didn't do enough and that and the fact that we were so far behind this edition led Ava and C.I. to do another feature this edition.

The Carly Roundtable -- As long promised, the Carly Simon roundtable. Remember her new album comes out Tuesday, Never Been Gone.

The Idiot Barack (Ava and C.I.) -- The bonus from Ava and C.I. They were adament that this had to be written because all last week everyone took a pass on covering the issue. So they did this as a bonus.

The gas bag journals -- Here we examine the main points various opinion journals are making.

You can judge a book by its cover -- Turns out you can. Read it and weep.

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

And that's the edition. We'll see you next time.

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

Editorial: When all the lies are exposed

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert self-righteously declared last week, " Except for the families of those in the military, most Americans are paying very little attention to these conflicts. I've brought this matter up a few times on college campuses and the response has been, in essence, a collective shrug." That facile 'explanation' overlooked the reduction of Iraq coverage offered by the press and continued the media's long pattern of blaming everyone for any problem except themselves. And let's get something straight, they're not just ignoring Iraq at their outlets, they ignore it in the White House briefings and the State Department briefings.

It also overlooked Congress.

Last week, the US House Armed Services Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing entitled "Afghanistan and Iraq: Perspectives on U.S. Strategy" and yet, somehow, neither the witnesses nor the subcommittee members remembered Iraq.

And Bob Herbert wants to lecture the public?

Last week, Cindy Sheehan offered an essay that should have resulted in multiple questions and suggestions for the peace movement; however, Cindy quickly pulled the essay from her site. You can still find it at Dandelion Salad. For now, anyway.

What do we do? Keep doing the self-indulgent marches and meaningless symbolic actions; ramp up the efforts (with very few "troops"); or just fold our tents up and go home and try to enjoy what’s left of this country and world.
Boycotts? That would be asking Americans to sacrifice and that's un-American!
Elect better Democrats? Don't make me laugh, although I need a good laugh right now.
Strikes? Labor is in the pockets of the Democrats.
Shut down DC everyday until our demands are met? Not with a handful of people and no money.
Can we call for Revolution from a people that have been made afraid of their own shadows and the Leviathan that has become the United Police States of America?

And this is where it gets interesting. The Iraq War is not ending, as former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker made clear in a recent speech at Harvard. What happens when the lies the media and the Democrats have told are exposed?


As Joni Mitchell sings on "Passion Play (When All The Slaves Are Freed)" [Night Ride Home] "Who you gonna get to do the dirty work, when all the slaves are freed?"

Interestingly, last week in the US House Armed Services Committee, it was learned that the Committee had been requesting the administration's 'plan' for withdrawal in Iraq since July and been repeatedly rebuffed on the request. As Chair Ike Skelton and the Pentagon's Michele Flournoy appeared to agree that the Committee would have access to the plan at some point in the near future, the question that should have been asked is why the 'plan' is being kept from the American people?

Then again, Flournoy may have answered that question during the hearing, "Uh, let me start by saying, you know, the draw-down plan that we have, is conditions based and it creates multiple decision points for re-evaluating and, if necessary, changing our plans based on developments on the ground. [. . .] The draw-down plan is not rigid. It is got -- it is conditions based, it leaves room for re-evaluation and adjustment in terms of the pace of the draw-down between now and the end of 2011 so, if need be, we will re-examine things based on conditions on the ground."

TV: Hank Tanks

Hank is ABC's struggling Wednesday night sitcom starring Kelsey Grammer. It struggles for viewers, it struggles for a sense of purpose, it struggles for laughs.


It shouldn't have been that way. Grammer, as producer, should have ensured that his talents were in a vehicle that he could really drive. Instead, it's as though Grammer's only ever driven an automatic and now he's being expected to drive a stick cross country. And maybe if we'd peaked in on him a few weeks on down the line, he'd have figured out how to do it but, sadly for Kelsey, his attempt to drive is being broadcast on a major network.

The best thing that can be said about Hank is that it's a lot like CBS' The Ellen Show. That sitcom was Ellen DeGeneres' follow up to ABC's Ellen. It wasn't a bad show and, along with Ellen, it featured the talented Cloris Leachman and Emily Rutherfurd. But it just didn't click. Many times it came close, many times it almost made it, but it never got there.

How did Kelsey end up where he is?

The premise didn't help. Does America really want to see a big Wall Street type brought down and struggle while they bulk of Americans are struggling in the economy? For some, laughing at the loss of income might seem like courting bad luck. And that's before you get to the fact that having started with that ugly premise, the show is then unable to commit to it.

Hank (Grammer) and Tilly Pryor (Melinda McGraw) are supposed to have gone from riches to rags but try to find any evidence of that in anything the writers assign to Tilly. For someone who's supposedly gone from the high life to a home falling around her and sleeping in a children's bed, Tilly's just a ray of sunshine. A constant ray of sunshine. You keep waiting for the episode where everyone finds out that she's been hoarding Quaaludes since the late seventies. That's really the only explanation for her eternal, beaming smile.

The two have kids, two kids: Maddie and Henry. The actress playing Maddie is 18 which is the minimum a performer has to be for us to critique them but we'll take a pass on both actors and merely note that the writers haven't given them anything to indicate that they've fallen any economic levels.

Most episodes revolve way too much around Grady, Tilly's brother, and that's probably to the further detriment of the show. David Koechner plays the part. He's really not funny, he wasn't funny on Still Standing, he was a bit player on Saturday Night Live, there's nothing in his career to date that indicates he would be funny. But he's really the second lead in the show.

Here's what could have made the role funny: An attractive man. A young attractive man.


Kelsey's Hank feels he's lost everything. He and Grady are supposed to lock heads. What would be more threatening to Hank than a young man as he's trying to rebuild his life. What would be more threatening to Hank who cracks many jokes (most of them funny) about his age or aging than a younger man?

Grady's supposed to be a threat to Hank and it's as though they decided to ditch Niles on Fraiser and replace him with Jethro Bodine. The show needs a major rewrite. If tomorrow, they could just substitute a younger and attractive actor for Grady the show would improve instantly. And if that's too 'illogical' for them, they should immediately introduce a younger and attractive actor who is Grady and Tilly's brother and then kill off Grady. David Koechner has nothing to offer, he will never have anything to offer. Not because he's a second banana but because he's a bad second banana.

Other things they could consider doing is allowing Maddie to run off with that boyfriend she left in New York and get the character off the show for at least ten episodes. When she comes back, pregnant and unmarried, Hank can do his tongue lashing that lashes everyone including himself. In the meantime, they could use the Maddie-free time to figure out what the other characters want.

See, characters have to want something. But every one on Hank is in a state of flux. It's not just their futures that are in questions, it's their dreams and wants as well. It's amazing that this has happened because they went out of their way to saddle these characters with a story that is never used. We're supposed to think Bernie Maddoff but who wants to see Bernie Maddoff in a standard sitcom?

So we get Grady and Hank going hunting and we get Hank and Maddie going to work at an ice cream shop. And the more you watch, the more you realize how moldy the scripts are, how the situations seem to have been taken from The Lucy Show. You keep waiting for the episode where Hank and Tilly do their own plumbing and end up trapped in a shower filled with water.

The only thing that's currently working in this show is Kelsey Grammer's timing. That may distract some viewers but it doesn't add up to a half-hour show.

The Carly Roundtable

Jim: This is the Carly roundtable, our roundtable on Carly Simon whose latest album, Never Been Gone, is released this Tuesday. The twelve track album includes two new songs: "No Freedom" and "Songbird." The other ten tracks are recordings of some of Carly's past classics.
Participating in this roundtable 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); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Mike, give us an overview.

Never Been Gone

Mike: For the one or two people who have never heard of Carly Simon, she's a singer-songwriter and she is theSongwriters Hall of Fame. This is the opening paragraph of the Songwriters Hall of Fame's bio on Carly Simon: "Carly Simon’s body of work encompasses a significantly wide spectrum of activity. In addition to having recorded 22 concept albums of her own compositions, she has composed four film scores, including Heartburn, This Is My Life, Postcards from the Edge and Working Girl, for which she won a Grammy, a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar. Simon has also written four successful children's books for Doubleday, including her most recent, 'The Nighttime Chauffeur.' The most far-reaching of her accomplishments is the opera, 'Romulus Hunt,' for which she was commissioned jointly by The Metropolitan Opera Guild and The Kennedy Center. The co-production was performed both in New York and Washington. Referring to the opera, a recent review in CD Magazine states, 'Here is a genuinely beloved artist, with years of popularity, with a vast public that American opera composers would kill for, bringing that public to opera with an ease few composers can match'." We count Never Been Gone as Carly's 24th album because (a) we count live albums -- Greatest Hits Live, (b) we don't count soundtracks, (c) we don't count compilations and (d) we count Christmas Is Almost Here as one album even though it was updated with two more songs to become Christmas Is Almost Here Again.

Dona: In addition, other Carly albums -- that we're not counting -- include the first collection of hits The Best of Carly Simon, Reflections, the three-disc set Clouds In My Coffee, The Carly Simon Anthology. Similarly, we didn't include Romulus Hunt, released on the Angel label, as a Carly Simon album. We didn't include the soundtrack to This Is My Life either and were on the fence on how to count that. Unlike other soundtracks Carly has worked on, she's on every track.

Jim: We noted we'd be doing a Carly roundtable weeks ago and there's not a week that goes by when it's not the topic of several e-mails. Among our readers e-mailing on Carly's music, the top two mentioned albums are 1978's Boys In The Trees and 1987's Coming Around Again. That said, there's no album that someone hasn't cited as a favorite in an e-mail and that also includes Carly Simon's work with her sister Lucy Simon as The Simon Sisters. They were a folk act and we aren't including their recordings in this roundtable. In addition, there's a wonderful Yahoo discussion group on Carly which is a private group by invitation only, run by Bill, entitled Carly Simon Conversations. But long before there were discussion groups or the internet, people were discussing Carly Simon's songs and work. Her most discussed song is "You're So Vain." That's her number one hit and the one everyone talks about. It isn't her only discussed song. As with "The Joni Roundtable," we're discussing the albums. We haven't discussed our choices with each other ahead of time so let's get started. C.I., kick it off with your favorite album?

C.I.: I'd pick The Bedroom Tapes. This was a wonderful, amazing and brave album which had the misfortune of being released by Arista when Arista was beginning its long slide into obscurity. This was Carly's home studio album and you can really feel an energy and presence in the songs. This is the perfect Carly album. It opens with the rocker "Our Affair" which probably surprised some who thought Carly had set that part of herself to the side. Then it moves into one of her finest ballads, "So Many Stars." Carly's humor is a hallmark of her albums and "Big Dumb Guy" is a wonderful example of that. Then comes "Scar" which is my favorite of all of her songs. In this one, she's addressing not only her breast cancer but also the reactions to it. "And a really big man, loves a really good scar." It's an amazing song made all the more amazing by the powerful vocal Carly puts on, climbing and swooping with the notes on passages such as, "And the night is cold, As the coldest nights are, There's a wise woman, She comes from an eveing star, She says, 'Look for the signs, You won't have to look far, Lead with your spirit and follow, Follow your scar'." Carly's a confessional songwriter and she is our bravest confessional songwriter. She's also our most mature. If you ever doubt that, look to her work and not just "Scar." Look to the songs she's been writing in the 80s, 90s and today and grasp that many of her male peers are still trying to pretend they're the James Deans of Light Rock -- all these marriages and relationships later, they're still pretending they're a fresh faced, young boy about to find love for the first time. Carly's brought perspective to the popular song and she's done it from the start of her solo career and she's the only one of the confessional songwriters -- Joni Mitchell doesn't claim the genre so I'm not referring to her but I am referring to a ton of male songwriters -- who has anything to say because she's never hidden her pain or her growth or tried to play like she just emerged from the womb. Now I love the entire album, The Bedroom Tapes. and could go through it track by track but I'll go ahead and stop there and let someone else speak.

Jess: I can pick another if I have to but that was actually my choice as well.

Jim: Go ahead and stay with that one then. What do you have to add to what C.I. just said?

Jess: I like all of Carly's albums and I love a lot of them but this was a change in her sound in that she sounds more alive and I put that down to the fact that the rough tracks were done at her home and that she pretty much was laying down all the parts long before this became an album project proper. After the tracks C.I. noted, "Cross The River" comes on and that's an amazing song and a lot of fun to sing along with on the chorus. The final track is Carly using George and Iraq Gershwin's "Embraceable You" to write some verses around and is called "In Honor of You (George)" -- it works really well and it really haunting. She plays with the tempo and uses it to convey emotions. It's the sort of touch -- and the album's filled with these touches -- that she might not have time for exploring if this was "We just booked studio time, get to the Record Plant now!" The songs, all of them have a very lived in feeling to them. And I agree with the perspective observation that C.I. was making. Carly truly does have perspective and you can find that on any album. But there is so much bravery and so much fun in this album. Both of my parents are huge Carly fans so I heard her growing up. And, on this album, it was right before school let out for the year and I had the worst flu. I was old enough to be home by myself so I was camped out on the sofa. I don't know now if it was Good Morning America or The View, just that the TV was on ABC that morning and I kept coming in and out. But that's where I heard "So Many Stars" the first time. I didn't think I'd enjoy it as much on the album because I figured she was using the -- I'm trying to think of what to call this.

C.I.: Her upper register?

Jess: Thank you. She pitches this song higher in her upper register than she normally does and it gives it a quality that's really amazing. When we got the CD, my dad and me, we listened and she does the same on the recording. I really love this album and it's not just my favorite Carly Simon album, I think it's the best album of this decade.

Jim: Okay, I'm going to skip to Ruth next. Ruth?

Ruth: Playing Possum would be my pick, from 1975. I really love that album. My husband's mother freaked out that our oldest son had the album because of the cover -- it was a big controversy back then and Sears refused to carry it because of the cover. I did not get along with my mother-in-law so that may have made me enjoy the album even more. But I found it to be a very sensual album and Carly's vocals to be more supple and flexible, jazz inflections and just really an amazing collection of songs. "After the Storm" smoulders and the whole first side -- I have this on vinyl -- really does. Side two kicks off with my least favorite song, "Attitude Dancing." That said, I do sing along even now when I put the album on. And "Sons of Summer" -- which was written by Bill Mernit, I did prep-work -- is just so much fun to hear and to try to sing along with: "Where are those sons of summer now . . ." And "Playing Possum" is a song that still entrances me. C.I. quoted it not long ago at The Common Ills and I immediately had to pull out my vinyl copy and listen again. The arrangements are a little more delicate and a little less structured than on a lot of Carly's 70s albums. This one's really something different and something special.

Jim: Playing Possum was produced by Richard Perry. This was the third album with Carly that he'd done, the two earlier ones being 1972's No Secrets and 1974's Hotcakes. This decade they reteamed for Moonlight Serenade. One of those is Dona's favorite, so let's move over to her.

Dona: Hotcakes. Ava and I were roommates in college when this website started and one thing we were doing was attempting to give ourselves a musical education. So each week, we'd add to our CD collection. We both came to college with some Carly -- Ava had The Bedroom Tapes and another disc which I'll refrain from naming because I'm expecting her to list it as her favorite. I had Greatest Hits Live and Reflections: Carly Simon's Greatest Hits. So at some point, we started noting how easy it was to check out the back catalogue of any male. They always carry those at stores. A woman gets her most recent album and a best of -- if she's lucky. So we decided we'd explore women artists. Hotcakes was one of those explorations. Carly recorded this when she was pregnant with her daughter Sally, this was her first pregnancy and there's so much in this album that I love, including Carly's sense of humor. Something like "Safe and Sound," written with Jacob Brackman, could easily make way for the dreamy "Mind On My Man." "Older Sister" is just so much fun. "Forever My Love" and "Grownup" are such favorites of mine that I got C.I. to teach me them on piano. I can play those songs and if I didn't love those two so much, I wouldn't have been able to will myself to learn them. But they're so much fun to play. And this, for me, is really a fun album. It's one of expectations and joy and that may or may not have something to do with her being pregnant at the time. The big hits from the album were "Haven't Got Time For The Pain" -- written with Jacob Brackman -- and "Mockingbird" -- written by Charles and Inez Foxx and sang with James Taylor.

Jim: Okay, Cedric?

Cedric: I don't think anyone else here will be picking this one, Another Passenger from 1976. This is, for me, just a fun album in the way Dona was describing Hotcakes. For example, I love bearing down and singing, "Because it's a cow town, a cow town!" on "Cow Town." And I love the piano runs on "Libby." "Dishonest Modesty" finds Carly having fun with a song about a woman -- right or wrong, I always picture it being about Joni Mitchell -- that uses the titles of magazines. I love the guitar work on "Be With Me" and "Fairweather Father" is just one of those examples of perspective you don't find from many of Carly's peers. As has been said many times, her ex-husband may have titled an album Dad Loves His Work, but you wouldn't know a "dad" was working to listen to any of the songs. This is a really fun album to listen to and it may have more guests sitting in on it than any other Carly album: Lowell George, Jackson Browne, Andrew Gold, Leah Kunkel, the Doobie Brothers, Linda Ronstadt and so many more.

Jim: We're discussing albums and we mean to note when an album contains a track that she's redone for her new album Never Been Gone which comes out Tuesday but I'm going to ask C.I. to back me up on that because I'm afraid I'll end up missing it.

C.I.: So far nothing.

Jim: Okay, good, I was afraid I was missing it. Okay, we seem stuck in the seventies. A good period, but do we have anyone who's picking an eighties album?

Elaine: I'll go. Mine is Hello Big Man [1983]. This album got a rave from US magazine and a strong review from People -- that may have been written by Stephen Holden -- but was largely ignored. In terms of humor, "Floundering" is a wicked send up of those chasing cure and self-help trends. And the track ends with a wicked laugh by Carly. In terms of moving songs, my two favorite Carly songs of all time are: "Damn You Get To Me" and "You Don't Feel The Same."

The guitar on "Damn You Get To Me" always get to me and the nah-na-na-na-na-na-nah-nahs make the song even more beautiful. To me, those two are the most beautiful of Carly's 80s work. "You Don't Feel The Same" includes such lines as, "I remember when you were looking up at me, like I was the only one, that you'd ever want to see." It's a very moving song. There are many more on the album including one that's remade for Never Been Gone.

Jim: "It Happens Everyday."

Elaine: I always felt that was a song everyone should have covered.

Rebecca: Right. I always thought Wilson Phillips, back in their hey day, could have had a huge hit with that, with a video where they were in high school when the couple breaks up.

Trina: And I've always felt that someone like Emmylou Harris could have done a wonderful country version of it.

Wally: It's a break up song, "It happens everyday, two loves with the best intention to stay, together, they decide to separate, just how it happens, neither is certain, but it happens every day."

Jim: Okay. Marcia, what's your pick?

Marcia: 1987's Coming Around Again. Can I start with a complaint. I got this album on cassette tape many years ago. When I got rid of my cassettes and switched to CDs, the songs were the same but the track listing was different. I really belive "As Time Goes By" works better as the third track. That's the classic song from Casablanca and Stevie Wonder plays soundtrack on Carly's version. Another guest on the album is my favorite: Roberta Flack. She sings backup on "All I Want Is You." That's a favorite of mine as is "Two Hot Girls On A Hot Summer Night" which includes, "Thanks for introducing us said Dwight, polite, as he waived goodnight, I wondered why it wasn't me, I guess it's just that time's not right." "Do The Walls Come Down" is probably my all time favorite track on the album after the title track. "Something in my pocket, that was written years ago, in faded ink says 'you are my fire,' do you think so?" I really love this album but I liked the order better on the cassette.

Jim: Okay, the title track, "Coming Around Again," is redone for the new album Never Been Gone.

Betty: It's an interesting comeback -- this song was Carly's first trip back to the top forty since 1980's "Jesse" -- because it's not the "I just fell in love and I'm a virgin" type song that generally populates the top 40. "Baby sneezes, Mommy pleases, Daddy breezes in" are not lyrics you generally get in the top 40. Nor "So you break a window, burn a soufle, scream a lullaby." This goes to the points made earlier about how Carly has perspective and what is a writer without perspective? An overgrown man-child in the final chapter of his life? That would appear to be the case for her male peers.

Wally: This is a fun song musically. There's a little figure that goes through the song, before "I know nothing stays the same," that's really ear catching.

Mike: Dad wanted me to pass this on. My dad has a big vinyl collection, huge. And he has that in the room that's his. Always was his. It's really supposed to be a laundry room but the washer and dryer are in the garage and it's where Dad set up most of his vinyl. So anyway, there are a lot of posters in there and one of them is Carly from this album. If you were among the first to purchase the album, fill out a survey for Arista and mail it in to them, they would send you the poster -- which was the back cover of the album. And Dad was among the first and that poster is framed and up in Dad's vinyl room.

Jim: I found it interesting that only one song from this album made Never Been Gone. And Betty was speaking of "Jesse" and that's not on the album.

Stan: Wait, let me go. Come Upstairs is my pick. From 1980. This is one of the vinyl albums I got from the head shop earlier this decade when I was in college. This was a fun one to listen to with the headphones. The first track really should be done again by Carly because it's a really good one. It's got a new wave feel to it as she stacatto sings, "Sitting in the car here, after a party where we've seen, everyone we've known for years." The drums are really good on this song, by the way. Then there's "Them" which is also new wave. "What do they want, what shall we do about them, what do they want, what shall we do about them, what do they want, what shall we do about them, what do they want!" "Them" is men, by the way. I love "Take Me As I Am" for the verses and wish she'd included it on the album because I wonder how it would sound as an acoustic song. "The Desert" is different than what I expect from Carly. And, of course, there's "Jesse." With the kids singing the la-las and the finger-snapping bridge of "quick come here, I won't tell a soul, not even myself." It's probably got the best opening of any Carly Simon song, "Oh mother say a prayer for me." Right away you're hooked and she pairs it up with, "Jesse's back in town it won't be easy." The chorus is just perfect. Everything about this song is perfect. I would rank it as my favorite Carly song. And that album really requires you to listen with headphones. You really need to hear all the nuances.

Jim: And again, I was a little surprised "Jesse" wasn't included on the new album. Now six of Carly albums are her performing songs mainly written by others. Those albums are 1981's Torch, 1990's My Romance, 1997's Film Noir, 2005's Moonlight Serenade and 2007's Into White -- as well as Christmas Is Almost Here. Did anyone pick one of those as their favorite?

Wally: I did. Into White. I really enjoy that one. "Love Of My Life" is redone in an acoustic setting and she changes the lyrics a bit. I also really love her version of the Beatles' "Blackbird." But I love her version of all the songs and think they work as an album. It creates a mood and works through a theme. And it's nice to hear her and her daughter Sally sing together, their voices form an interesting blend.

Jim: Okay. So no one else? Okay, Rebecca, Betty, Trina, Ann, Mike, Kat, Ava, Ty and I haven't offered our pick yet and Betty asked to go last. So how about we move to Trina?

Trina: My pick would be Letters Never Sent. I don't think it holds together as an album because it's too diverse musically but that's why I rank it as my favorite. "Like A River," for example, works in a bit from her opera at the end. Then you've got "Halfway Round The World" which is like a sea chanty and like "You're So Vain" all at the same time. "I'd Rather It Was You" would sound at home on Anticipation. The title track is more of a funk song. It's just a really diverse blend. The theme is, of course, letters that were never sent. "The Reason" is an example of Carly using her sense of humor on a fine song. This album came out in 1994. I'm not sure how many people are aware of it -- even Carly fans. But there are at least six songs that would sound great on any Carly compilation.

Jim: Alright. Rebecca?

Rebecca: I'll pick the one that's always beat up in the playground: 1985's Spoiled Girl. Even Carly doesn't appreciate this one as evidenced by the boxed set. "Tired of Being Blonde" was a good single whose biggest problem was that it peaked at different times in different markets. The song made it to number 70 and if it had been worked better, I think it would have been top forty easily. To listen to the album, you'd never agree with me because the album track was not the single. The album track goes on forever and ever and the last minute of the album track is bascially combined into twenty seconds on the single. Carly didn't write this song but it was the perfect fit for her. "My New Boyfriend" is the opening track and if the first single had been worked properly, I think this could have been a big hit as well because it sounds a great deal like what Eurythmics were doing this same summer. "Come Back Home" is one of my favorite Carly love lost songs and it has a great opening: "Summertime, kids on the street, we were up on the roof, laughing at the heat, that was the last I ever saw of you." "Make Me Feel Something" is so adult and so confessional it's shocking. There's not a track on this album I don't sing along with. I really think this album is treated badly because of the sales and not because of what's on it. "Tonight and Forever" is a great song.

Jim: Ann?

Ann: I'm going to go with Boys In The Trees, from 1978. The hits from it were a duet with James Taylor, "Devoted To You," and "You Belong To Me" which she wrote with Michael McDonald. My favorite song on the album is "You're The One." "Well I spent all night alone with you and you weren't even there . . ." I just love that song and I love how the chords are so bright and sharp. It's got a really crisp sound to it. I wish she was redoing this song for the new album. After that, my favorite is "Back Down To Earth" but I really love everything except "One Man Woman." I hate that song. I can't stand it. But I love everything else which allows this to speed past No Secrets and become my favorite.

Jim: Now there are two tracks from Boys In The Trees that are redone on Never Been Gone: "You Belong To Me" and the title track. I'll let Ann weigh in first on either.

Ann: I'm interested in hearing "You Belong To Me" because I think it could be really interesting as a guitar strummer. But "Boys In The Trees"? It's already pretty much an acoustic on the 1978 album.

Elaine: I agree with Ann. There are some songs that you know would have to be on Never Been Gone. "You Belong To Me" would be among the ones that would have to be on. But to include "Back Down To Earth" as well? I don't know but, honestly, no offense to Ann or to Carly Simon, but Boys In The Trees really is my least favorite Carly album. Carly's vocals are good but the music is usually arranged and produced to sterile. My opinion.

Ruth: And the thing is, we're all going to wonder why X did not make the album and Z did. Twelve songs, ten of which have been released by Carly before, really does not allow for a wide range of choices. I would also add that I wish she'd included that theme song she did for the Judith Light TV show.

C.I.: "The Promise and The Prize" from Phenom.

Ruth: Right. I wish that had been on the album. I really love that song. The only time I ever heard the song was when the show was still on ABC, so not since 1994, but it has always haunted me.

Cedric: And Ruth's right that there are songs you expect, like "You're So Vain." You know that has to be on there. And "You Belong To Me" and a few others and then it's a scramble and you really want yours to win. I don't think most people will feel their personal favorite won because we are talking a solo career that is in its fourth decade. There are just so many songs.

Jim: Kat?

Kat: 1972's No Secrets. It was a huge deal when it came out and remains one. If this had been stocked by stores, by your Tower and Sam Goody and everything else, the way Jackson Browne's Late For The Sky or whatever by any male artist, this would be one of the best sellers and one of the touchstone albums. But by 1978, this album disappears from the shelves and the only way you get it is at a garage sale or by special ordering. Carly's not wearing a bra on the cover and that does two things at the same time, (a) makes for a sexual cover and (b) captures the mood of that time. Women didn't feel they had to wear bras. Or be bound in any way. And it's that freedom that you find on No Secrets. "You're So Vain" is the mammoth hit and everyone knows the song so you almost feel like there's nothing else to add. I think Carly finds something new on Never Been Gone and encourage everyone to listen especially to that track. This is the portrait of a young woman, the album. "The Carter Family" lopes through early childhood to adulthood and the album's exploring what being a woman means throughout. There are issues involving fathers, involving religion, involving love, involving loss. This really was a monster album for Carly and it's really amazing how stores rushed not to stock it but remember that stores were assisted by the label. Carly was on Elektra and she'd never see this success again because, after this album, Elektra merges with Asylum and David Geffen didn't care for the Elektra artists.

Jim: We've noted that "You're So Vain" is on Never Been Gone. "The Right Thing To Do" is also on No Secrets and it too is redone for Never Been Gone. Thoughts?

Betty: At her Grand Central Station concert, Carly did a calypso version of "We Have No Secrets" and that version really charged the song. I was really hoping that would be included on the new album, an acoustic, calypso version of "We Have No Secrets." Obviously, the thing that everyone will be doing on first listen to Never Been Gone is attempting to guage whether the songs that made the album live up to it -- meaning, is it a strong album or would their own personal favorites have made it a stronger album?

Jim: "Let The River Run" appeared on the soundtrack to Working Girl. It's never been on a studio album. So Never Been Gone will be it's first appearance. Anyone want to talk about that song?

Wally: That's one of her great songs. It's got a wonderful production but I'm talking just about the song. This is an amazing song: "We the brave and small." It was the best thing to use after 9-11 because it was the sort of song that spoke of all and didn't divide. I really love this song and I do love the new version of it on Never Been Gone.

Mike: I'd agree with everything Wally said. And add that "your sons and daughters" is probably part of the reason it's an inclusive song. But it has some really beautiful lyrics and imagery.

Cedric: And a really strong melody. My nephew's high school choral group includes that as one of two non-standards. The other song is Boys II Men's "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday."

Jim: Okay, still to go are Ava, Ty, Betty and me. I'm surprised my favorite hasn't already been picked. Wait, Mike hasn't picked yet. Okay, as I was saying, I'm surprised my favorite hasn't been picked already. Let's go to Mike next.

Mike: I'm going to go with Anticipation.

Jim: My favorite.

Mike: Mine too. This is more guitar based and I really love it. "The Girl You Think You See" is a great song and that's got a lot of piano on it so I'll start with it. Kris Kristofferson's "I've Got To Have You" is just amazing. "Share The End" has pertinence today. "Legend In Your Own Time" is just fun to sing along with -- "turn on the radio" is a favorite phrase to sing along with, for example. And I really love "Three Days."

Jim: And, of course, the title track.

Mike: Right. I can't ever remember when I didn't know the song "Anticipation." It seems like I learned that song as a kid the same way you learn "This Old Man." And who can't love "These are the good old days"? That coda's really important to the song.

Jim: And it's one of her best known hits so it had to be included on Never Been Gone. I really like that recording, the new recording, by the way. In terms of the album Anticipation, I'll note "Julie Through The Glass" is another piano based tune and that's a great song as well. I actually wish Carly had made more albums like this. I think the fact that she's working with real producers prevents her gifts from being appreciated in the manner that some of her peers are. Richard Perry, for example, added a lot of polish that probably prevents some of the purity crowd from embracing a lot of Carly's work. Okay, Ty or Ava. Who's next?

Ty: Ava's pointing to me. I think she knows my pick because I've been listening to it all month. It's the debut album, the self-titled one, 1970's Carly Simon. I didn't know this album. I knew the hit from it and that was it. I had never listened to it until this month when I figured I should make a point to hear all the albums before the roundtable. I'm sure it being new to me is part of the reason it ranks so high on my list currently but I really love it. "The Best Thing" is a fun song to listen to for what she's doing with the lyrics and also for the piano work. "Another Door" and "Just A Sinner" really contain some strong, full bodied singing. I'm really amazed at how strong her voice is on those songs. She has really incredible breath control which is why a lot of these songs will never be recorded by anyone else. Most singers can't do the songs on her debut album. They don't have the ability to. The hit from the album is "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" which she wrote with Jacob Brackman. And it's one of the songs she's redone for Never Been Gone.

Jim: Ava?

Ava: I'm really surprised because I thought my favorite would have been snapped up early on. It's 1990's Have You Seen Me Lately? The title track appears --with instruments and Carly humming -- in the film Postcards From The Edge. But to hear the song, you have to get the album. And it's really something. "Didn't I?" is a delicate ballad, "Life Is Eternal" is just amazing especially with all the vocals. "Better Not Tell Her" is a flamenco hit. "Don't Wrap It Up" is a sexual song that appears to have sailed over many heads. I love the humor and gentle rhythm of "Happy Birthday." Most of all, though, I love "We Just Got Here." I think it is one of Carly's finest songs and finest recordings. I wish she'd included this song on Never Been Gone. Whenever I'm depressed, I'll put that song on repeat and it will really provide -- here's that word we've been using this roundtable -- perspective. I love this album.

Jim: Okay, that's everyone but Betty.

Betty: I asked to go last because there are about six albums I could pick as my favorite. So I figured I'd go last and grab one that wasn't already picked. I believe the choices are Spy from 1979 or last year's This Kind Of Love and, sadly, that doesn't help a great deal. I guess This Kind Of Love wins by a hair. I love the rhythm of "People Say A Lot." "How Can You Ever Forget" is probably the most amazing song on the album. I really love it and it sounds like something Rogers & Hart wrote that only just was discovered.

Jim: Who wrote the song?

Betty: Carly and David Saw. Sally Taylor contributes a really strong song as well, "When We're Together." And Ben Taylor contributes "Island" which can breeze past you before you absorb the darkness in that song. Best of all, I can listen to this album straight through. That really is the main criteria for me when it comes to rating an album: Can I listen to it all the way through, every track? Carly's got at least six albums that I can do that with.

Jim: Spy, which didn't get picked, is where "Never Been Gone" first appears. Carly offers a live version on Greatest Hits Live. I think we've covered all the tracks on the album now, on the new album, Never Been Gone. Spy didn't end up picked and I know a few readers have noted it as their favorite so I'll ask if there any comments on any of the songs on that album?

Stan: "Memorial Day" is a strong song, including the drum solo. It's really an epic and it's one of my favorites. "And I was in the get away car, giving him a chance to get away, get away, get away, get away."

Betty: "Just Like You Do" has some wonderful sax work by David Sanborn and a great line in "I wish you were an ocean so I could jump into you."

Elaine: "We're So Close" is a heart breaking song.

Ty: I like "Pure Sin" -- mainly for the humor -- "and splash it all over my face."

Rebecca: "Oh, I'm going to get me a judge who is a lady, maybe she knows about having a baby." That's from "Coming To Get You."

Trina: I've always loved the lyrics to "Love You By Heart." "The lies that you tell, Will leave you alone, They'll keep you down , They'll catch you and trip you up, Keep you hanging around, The habit is old, You don't need it no more, Go on kiss it goodbye, Cause you've got me and I can see, Who you really are."

Jim: Tuesday, Carly Simon's Never Been Gone comes out. It's an album in which ten of the tracks are classic songs that she's redoing and the album also includes two songs she's never recorded before. Carly's a major talent and one of the strongest singer-songwriters the country has. You can find special offers on the album at her website. This week, she'll be promoting the album Monday on Good Morning America (ABC), Wednesday on Today (NBC), Thursday on Tavis Smiley (PBS) and Talk Of The Nation (NPR). Our e-mail address is This is a rush transcript.

The Idiot Barack (Ava and C.I.)

"But one of the saddest episodes in American history was the fact that these vets were often shunned and neglected, even demonized when they came home," declared The Idiot Barack last Tuesday. "That was a national disgrace. And on days such as this, we resolve to never let it happen again. Many of our Vietnam vets put away their medals, rarely spoke of their service and moved on."

What the hell is the idiot talking about now?

Our right-wing, War Hawk Barack is talking about Vietnam, or rather repeating lies about Vietnam.

And because they are lies, you know they were immediately called out by Panhandle Media the following day, correct?

Amy Goodman devoted the full hour of Wednesday's Democracy Now! to refuting this right-wing lie, right? Wrong. She didn't even note it in the headlines.

Well surely Free Speech Radio News was all over it at least. No, they made a point to ignore it as well.

Okay, well KPFA's The Morning Show, no doubt, devoted a segment to the statements, right?

F**king wrong.

Real media didn't ignore it. For example, Michael D. Shear and Michael E. Ruane (Washington Post) covered the remarks.

Now you can be damn sure that if George W. Bush had made the exact same remarks, we would have seen a huge pushback against those lies. Barack says them and our brave beggar media sticks their collective heads into the sand. Must not ever call out the Christ-child.

Now they can waste our time by doing nothing but pimping Barack's talking points, by teasing that bulls**t out into lengthy segments -- and toss Bill Moyers onto that list as well. What the f**k is that? Day after damn day of what the White House wants told and they want to call themselves 'independent media'? And some say stand up is dead.

It's amazing that The Idiot Barack tried to get out of his long association with Bill Ayers by claiming he couldn't be expected to know about things that happened when he was "eight-years-old." Well, Weather Underground doesn't even start then. It's active for many, many years and, in fact, outlast the war on Vietnam. But Barry makes an ass out of himself last week and, apparently, we're all supposed to look away and cluck, "He was only eight-years-old."

Barack Obama has proven to be the biggest distraction and waste of time for the left. And as if all the other damage he's done isn't enough, he's now going to start reinventing reality and get away with that too?

In February 2007, Jack Shafer (Slate) noted a column by Chaim F. Shatan on his work with Vietnam veterans:

You don't have to believe in post-Vietnam syndrome or its successor, post-traumatic stress disorder, to appreciate Shatan's sympathy for vets. As he catalogs the "basic themes" of post-Vietnam syndrome, he mentions the vets' sense of guilt—for having killed and for having survived. He discusses their feelings about being victimized by "inadequate V.A. treatment and paltry G.I. benefits," and made scapegoats for atrocities their superiors were responsible for. His vets felt "duped and manipulated" by their government and brutalized by combat and combat training.

If Barack wants to take responsibility for the government's appalling treatment of veterans, please do so. But don't confuse that with the public. Vietnam split the American public. So right there the idea that there was this universal condemnation of veterans is questionable -- and really requires that you believe everyone against that illegal war was also against service members. That's a leap that only the foolish would make.

Equally true is that the assault on Vietnam was not a one-year thing. It started with JFK, it ended in the mid-seventies. Are we to believe that all those years were consistent in the response to veterans?

Are we supposed to forget the many veterans used by LBJ and Dick Nixon as props for photo ops at the White House?

Here's a reality (and it applies to Iraq today as well) on parades. After WWII was won, there were parades. They were called "Victory Parades." Grasp that?

The war was over (though it would take some time to 'wrap up') and there were parades. That wasn't the case with Vietnam. It went on far too many years and you had waves of returnees throughout. A paraded when it was finally over? There was no victory. You can't have a victory parade without a victory. Iraq today, the war drags on year after damn year, just as with Vietnam. Now more are expected to do repeated tours of duty than were back then but even so, there are waves who have returned from what will be their last trip to Iraq.

There are a number of laments on the part of veterans from that era. Some are more valid than others. The use of Agent Orange -- the use of American service members as test animals -- is appalling as was Congress' very slow response to Agent Orange exposure. But some of it really requires some knowledge not only of that time but of what happened before.

We do support the rights of veterans to receive the medical treatment they need, the educational benefits and much more. But, unlike Barack last week, we don't confuse them with heroes or issue a blanket statement calling all of them heroes. Heroes are individuals who stand out by doing something heroic. There are certainly some within the military now and in the past who would qualify as heroes. But the idea that any profession has nothing but heroes is not only illogical, it insults the ones who actually demonstrate heroic behavior by insisting we hand out a trophy to all who showed up.

And it insults and degrades the left when Barack's constant attacks on the left are ignored. They need to be called out. Whenever he wants to bolster his persona, he goes on attack and there's no one who's received more black eyes and broken bones from Barack than the left.

The gas bag journals

Left, center, right, what’s on their minds?

The minds of the American people?

Oh, please, the American people are rarely reflected in the gas baggery -- they're hardly ever acknowledged in the gas baggery. But what's the gas baggery focused on? Real issues or pushing talking points? Things that matter or blindly cheerleading their own?

You sort of already knew the answer to that one, didn't you? So did we. Let's dive in.



War and peace are the basics. Everything else follows. And despite the fact that the US engaged in three wars (Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan), war is of little concern to the gas bag set. War is front and center to only four magazines: the right-wing National Review, the libertarian Reason, the leftist ISR (International Socialist Review) and the Democratic cheerleader The Nation.

Starting with the last, The Nation runs a cover photo of US soldiers (stationed somewhere -- it's all unclear, a bit like the magazine's politics) which was taken by Getty Images' Joe Raedle and add this quote to it:

I see an opportunity to accomplish American objectives in Afghanistan while avoiding a course of action that could derail plans for your presidency just as the Vietnam War ruined the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.

What are they speaking of? The Afghanistan War. In a pandering editorial ("Against Escalation" -- unwritten subtitle "But for the continued Afghanistan War") which reveals just how ethically corrupt The Nation has become, they ask a series of questions including this one: "What is the goal of a counter-insurgency mission?"

That is the best The Nation can do? It can't explore counter-insurgency, let alone call it out. It can't even question it? (Counter-insurgency is war on the native people and has a long history that's fairly well known even if 'left' gas bags this century have tried to act as if that history is unknown.) The best they can do is ask what are the goals of this attempt to destroy a native people?

How pathetic.

And even more pathetic is that this less than a page editorial (it takes up a little less than two-thirds of the page) is pretty much it for the "cover story" except for William R. Polk's "An Open Letter To President Obama" which is two and two-thirds pages of text and pretends to be about Afghanistan.

It's really about how Polk taught at the University of Chicago just like Barack Obama did. It's about LBJ (for some reason, the "B" or "Baines" is never included by Polk), it's about Vietnam, it's about Pakistan, and India, and Kashmir, and Palestine, and about Polk's trip to Afghanistan in 1962 (we’re now well into the second page) and it's about the rise of the Taliban, and suddenly it's about US General Stanley McChrystal. Uh, what about the US invasion in 2001?

Look for it, search for it. Polk can't find it. One minute he's yammering on about the Soviets and suddenly, skipping many years, the US has Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan. (For those unaware, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor, publisher and leading non-thinker at The Nation, and the magazine supported the 2001 War On Afghanistan.)

Polk offers a non-linear mosaic that is somehow supposed to persuade a sitting US president (it's presented as an open letter) but this mosaic approach probably won’t even interest the few who still read The Nation.

And that's all you got.

Surely, you may insist, Katha Pollitt is covering Afghanistan.

You would be wrong. The World’s Ugliest Feminist is busy babbling away about self-help. She's against it. And for Pollitt, that qualifies as both a brave stance and something important to write about. She is truly as hard hitting as the late Erma Bombeck.

The libertarian opinion journal Reason is focused on "The Unknown War: The defeat of communism 20 years ago was the most liberating moment in history. So why don't we talk about it more?" Having read the issue, we reply: "Why doesn't Reason talk about it more?" The 'big' article is actually a commentary from Matt Welch which is basically two pages of text. Two pages of text qualifies as a cover story? In what world? Welch ends his brief lament as follows:

Ironically, the one consistent lesson U.S. officials claim to have learned about the Cold War is the one that has the least applicability outside the East Bloc: that aggressive and even violent confrontation with evil regimes will lead to various spring-times for democracy. It is telling that the victors of an epic economic and spiritual struggle take away conclusions that are primarily military. Telling, and tragic.

Reason should talk, eh?

ISR and Natioanl Review are focused on Iran. The latter offers swinger John Bolton's "A-Jad's Gang: Our Options on Iran." For almost three pages of text, Bolton explores the options he's created for a US policy with regards to Iran. He laments, "Sad to say, Obama's Iran policy is not much different from that of George W. Bush in his second term." There are four options, as Bolton sees it:

1) Allow Iran to become a nuclear power

2) Use diplomatic tools and sanctions (as Bolton states Bush did)

3) Regime change. He refers to internal problems and "spontaneous protests" but Bolton's long history would indicate regime change would be led by the US. Whether US troops would 'officially' be sent in is something he ignores while insisting the US must "press for regime change, overtly and covertly".

4) War: "the pre-emptive use of military force against Iran's nuclear infrastructure." And this is the option that interests him the most -- as evidenced by the fact that he spends so many words on it despite stating "President Obama is all but certain not to use force" -- all but certain not to use force? Then why give the option so much prominence, Bolton?

International Socialist Review also tackles the issue of Iran and opens with a letter from editor Ahmed Shawki which briefly notes Iran but what he really wants to do is whine about celebrities.

Which is a real shame because when they're not resorting to knee-jerk reactions and actually addressing real issues they can offer quite the read. Alone among the magazines, they devote real attention and space to their cover issues. Lee Sustar and S. Sepehri contribute "Iran: Rebellion and reaction" which runs from page 13 to 22. And if that doesn't blow you away, ISR grasps that a cover topic needs more than one article. Pages 22 and 23 is Phil Gasper's "Which side are you on? Why are some U.S. leftists siding with the repressive Iranian regime against pro-democracy protests?" No soft soap from Katha Pollitt about self-help here. Then they move into an interview with Iranian-American Kouross Esmaeli entitled "A fight for more freedom and openness" (conducted by Hadas Their) which runs from pages 25 through 27. That's three serious articles on the issue of Iran -- their cover theme. Those who enjoy reading and read to be informed will get the most out of the current issue of ISR.

Feminism is a real issue and topic (Katha Pollitt not withstanding) and two magazines are concerned with it. Dissent and -- no, we're not joking -- Newsmax.

Dissent features Ann Snitow's "Women's Anniversaries: Snapshots of Polish Feminism since 1989." Is it distressing to anyone else that Dissent -- the Democratic Socialists of America's chief hangout -- rarely seems concerned with American feminism?

For seven pages, Snitow offers easy, breezy 'analysis' such as the following:

1) "But like everything else in the new Poland, feminism is moving fast."

2) Following an especially superficial paragraph, on 'the new economy,' Snitow offers, "Abortion can be a figure for what was happening more generally."

3) "For divergent reasons, people are deeply ambivalent about this new possibility for women's -- and everyone's -- autonomy."

If you think the third item is explored in the article, you're thinking like a writer. Sadly, Snitow wasn't. Again, it's easy, breezy "snapshots".

Heidi Hartmann does a far better job with "Women, the Recession, and the Stimulus Package" which includes this:

As a labor economist, I am most often struck by the gains women have made in the labor-market -- they are working more and more consistently, preparing themselves through education and training for lifelong participation, and earing more per hour and over their lifetimes than previous generations. Yet the bottom line is that women experience more poverty than men do across all age groups. Figure 1, which displays Current Population Survey data for 2007, shows high rates of poverty for girls and boys (but slightly higher for girls) and a steadily declining rate of poverty for men as they age, with men aged sixty-five and older having the lowest poverty rates. For women, the story is dramatically different. For the cohort aged eighteen to twenty-four, who are in the early childbearing years, the poverty rate climbs even higher; it falls gradually thereafter, never falling as low as men's rate, and rises dramatically again at older ages.

Newsmax features "The Newer Feminism {21 Women Who Are Redefining Womanhood}" and uses Sarah Palin as an example on their cover. Give it up to Newsmax, a magazine we don't agree with politically but which, we'll note, offers 18 pages on their cover story. Only Newsmax and ISR appear to grasp that the cover story is supposed to be something readers can sink their teeth into. "The Newer Feminism" leads off the coverage with an article by S.E. Cupp which is a blend of backlash falsehoods and some real issues (some of which stem from misunderstandings) that one would expect from Newsmax. A caption of the eighties proclaims, by photos of Jane Fonda, Sandra Day O'Connor, Geraldine Ferraro and Madonna, "By the 1980s, women's issues were in the hands of a bold mix of influences." The strongest section of Cupp's article is when she addresses attacks on Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin in 2008.

In Clinton's case, the attacks were perceived as coming from her opponent, Barack Obama, while in Palin's case, they came from self-proclaimed feminists themselves.
Comedian Margaret Cho called Palin "the worst thing to happen to America since 9/11."
Actress Roseanne Barr called her "bad Mother Palin," and liberal talk-radio personality Randi Rhodes joked that "she's friends with all the teenage boys. You have to say no when your kids say, 'Can we sleep over at the Palins'?' No! NO!" And comic diva Sandra Bernhard warned that she'd be "gang raped in New York City."

Cupp's article is worth reading. Laura Schlessinger offers "'Feminine Wiles' Will Always Serve a Useful Purpose" which lowers the discourse considerably but that's what homophobic 'Dr.' Laura does. Andrea Tantaros explores "Feminism Now Defined by Each and Every Woman." And, remember this is Newsmax, a feature entitled "Women Who've Done It Their Way" explores 21 women: Indra Nooyi, Kathy Ireland, Danica Patrick, Sarah Palin, Katherine Spiller, Nancy Brinker, Suzy Welch, Venus and Serena Williams, Arianna Huffington, Joyce Meyer, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Martina McBride, Ivanka Trump, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret 'Meg' Whitman, Carly Fiorina, Rachel Ray, Erin Burnett, Laura Schlessinger and Michelle Obama.

Moving on to non-topics. Harper's magazine wastes their cover with "Twilight of the American Newspapers." As a general rule, a death can be news. "___ is dying!" rates as gossip. Someone explain the difference between the two to Harper's. The New Republic's also interested in gossip, as evidence by Enrqiue Krause's "Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Romance With Power." The issue should be infamous for the female hatred on display as they have Sarah Palin -- in a cartoon entitled "White House Watch" by Drew Friedman, getting off leafing through Levi Johnston's Playgirl spread. First, Johnston's allegedly going to pose for the online edition. Second, "White House Watch"? We weren't aware Palin was in the White House. Just another example of a loser who can't find humor or call out a sitting president. Drew Friedman, you're an idiot and a joke.

Mother Jones wants to talk climate as a theme -- well that and Glenn Beck. They lower their own IQ by choice, you understand, like Madonna, they do it by choice. They also inform you that you can "Put your kid on our cover! See page 4". They explain they -- Monkia Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery -- already have. How nice to use the magazine you edit to pimp your own family. When you return to real publishing, let us know.

And then there's Maude. Or at least Extra! The 'monthly' 'magazine' from FAIR. Truth, it rarely makes 12 issues a year. Truth, it's barely a newsletter and calling it a 'magazine' is a disservice to actual ones. They're all about alleged health care but they've been carrying Barack's water -- well his piss -- for some time. If you listen to their radio program CounterSpin, you've already heard -- weeks and weeks ago -- anything worth reading in the 'magazine.' And that's the truth.


In Iraq the violence never ends (witness today's headlines).

Monday the US military announced: "CONTINGENY OPERATION BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq -- a Multi-National Division - North Soldier was killed and two were injured in a vehicle accident approximately five miles west of Mosul, Iraq, Oct. 18. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website [. . .]. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." Tuesday the US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq - A Multi-National Division - North Soldier was killed and two were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle in Ninawa province, Iraq, Oct. 19. The name of the deceased is being withhled pending notifcation of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website [. . .]. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary kin." The announcement brings to 4351 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

Last Sunday 1 Iraqi was reported killed and 7 wounded; Monday 9 were reported dead and 31 reported injured; Tuesday 9 were reported dead and 31 were reported wounded; Wednesday 6 were reported dead and 19 reported injured; Thursday 17 were reported dead and 10 were reported injured; Friday were 5 reported dead and 5 were reported injured; and Saturday 6 were reported dead and 4 were reported injured. That's 53 reported dead and 107 reported wounded.


While all that was going on, Nouri al-Maliki could be found in DC hobknobbing with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Vice President Joe Biden and US President Barack Obama. After the meet and greets, the thug minister of Iraq then went into a two day business conference.

While he was doing all of that, the fate of Iraq's 'intended' elections in January dangled.

Two weeks ago, it was pretty much just Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) observing that Iraq's Parliament was about to miss their deadline for passing the election law. They missed it. They said it would be addressed last week and they missed that as well. This despite the fact that, as Jeff Mason (Reuters) reported, "Barack Obama urged Iraq on Tuesday to complete an election law so that a January poll is not delayed". Ranj Alaaldin (Guardian) observed, "Iraq has once again met what very low expectations remain of it. Despite a 15 October deadline, the Iraqi parliament is yet to agree on a new election law for the national elections due to be held in January, and this may, as a result, throw its political, legal and constitutional framework into disarray."

Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) added, "The United Nations envoy to Iraq, Ad Melkert, said further delays in passing the law may call into doubt not only the Jan. 16 election date, but also the credibility of the result." Melkert is quoted stating, "It is the collective responsibility of members of parliament to now rise to the occassion and be ready to account to the Iraqi people, who expect to exercise their right to express their preference in the upcoming elecitons." Rod Nordland (New York Times) explained, "The Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission and United Nations elections experts have said Iraq needs at least 90 days to adequately prepare for the vote. Iraq's existing election law was declared unconstitutional by its highest court, which said it needs to be replaced or amended."

There were Congressional hearings (see our editorial) and many other things Iraq related last week. One of the most important may have been the Ryan Crocker (former US Ambassador to Iraq) speech at Harvard Kennedy's School which Gordon Robison (Gulf News) reported on:

Like any international agreement the Sofa can be modified if, at some point in the future, both governments agree there is a need to do so. It is rarely said in Washington, but widely assumed, that this means the actual implementation of the withdrawal agreement is essentially situational: that is, it will go ahead only if conditions on the ground warrant it.
Despite the fact that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has emerged as a stronger, and far more savvy, political player than almost anyone expected; and despite the fact that the existing Sofa was only grudgingly approved by the Iraqi parliament, there remains a near universal assumption in Washington that if, come 2011, Washington decides we need to stay longer, then so be it. Last May, the army chief of staff, General George Casey, acknowledged as much, telling a group of journalists and think tank specialists that his planning scenarios envision the presence of US combat troops in Iraq for another decade.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there has been little discussion here in the United States about what 'withdrawal' really means. As Crocker emphasised last week at Harvard, the US policy has always been that it wants no permanent bases in Iraq. Crocker, however, failed to note that government officials and the general public often have starkly different definitions of "permanent base."
[. . .]
Beyond that there is the question of what 'withdrawal' actually means. The military tends to make a distinction between training or advisory troops and combat forces. The American approach to Iraq raises the very real possibility of combat forces heading home while tens of thousands of trainers, advisers and their accompanying support troops remain in place. A military professional might call such a situation 'withdrawal', but a lot of ordinary Americans and Iraqis are likely to think otherwise.
[. . .]
It is time, as Ambassador Crocker says, for a more public, more focused, discussion about what 'getting out' of Iraq really means. Americans and Iraqis alike may well be unhappy with what they hear.

You can judge a book by its cover

3 Books

You can judge a book by its cover. Take the following books:

Perez Hilton and Jared Shapiro's Red Carpet Suicide
The Huffington Post's Complete Guide To Blogging
Russ Kick's You Are Still Being Lied To

Starting with the last one, you’re greeted with a host of names, many great ones such as Russ Kick, Stan Goff, Russell Banks, Noam Chomsky. You also get a few of the losers: Jeff Cohen, for example. And losers like Jeffy just underscore that a wide-ranging conversation will be taking place inside.

And you are not disappointed as you flip through the book encountering, for example, Jim Martin's essay entitled "What I Didn't Know About the Communist Conspiracy" which includes:

The House Un-American Activities Committee -- brought to us by an agent of Soviet Intelligence. Samuel Dickstein, who served as a US Congressman from New York from 1923 until 1944, was a paid informant and "agent of influence" whose code-name was "Crook" in view of his incessant demands for money from his Soviet handlers. In 1934 he drafted a proposal for Congressional inquiries into subversive activities, and became the vice chairman of what became known as "The Committee" investigating pro-Naxi elements rather than communist subversion, in America. It was Dickstein who introduced the concept of ongoing congressional investigations into what he called "slanderous or libelous un-American propaganda."

So apparently the current US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are just touching on historical roots when they call citizens "unAmerican" today.

You also get Peter Laufer's "Mission Rejected: Clifton Hicks" about Iraq War resister Clifton Hicks:

We're sitting at the Holiday Inn in Heidelberg, Germany, just before the Heidelberg Volksfest, and Clifton Hicks is telling me some horrific tales from his time in Iraq. The son and grandson of soldiers, Clifton was not yet nineteen when he found himself working as a gunner on a Humvee on the dusty roads of Baghdad. "The first time that I really saw some s**t go down that really freaked me out, we were driving around at night," he begins to tell me. "They were all these packs of wild dogs all over Baghdad, they chased the Humvees, and they yipped and yapped. This one night the headlights went over a pack of dogs and they're eating something. They were eating a couple of dead people that had been picked down to the rib cage. I was eighteen and a half, had never even been to a funeral before, had never killed anything other than a raccoon or a possum, get grossed out going to a butcher's market or a fish store.
"And here I'm seeing a rib cage, bare. And a bunch of dogs eating it."

Peter Laufer is the author of Mission Rejected (which we recommend) about war resisters. You Are Still Being Lied to is the follow up to 2001's You Are Being Lied To which has become a publishing evergreen and remains in print. Russ Kick is the person behind the volumes and his other books include two volumes of 50 Things You're Not Supposed To Know and The Disinformation Book of Lists. He also runs the website The Memory Hole. You Are Still Being Lied To is not another printing of You Are Being Lied To. Kick explains in the introduction:

Originally, there was to be a smattering of new articles in this volume, but because of my insatiable need to stuff more more more into every anthology, around half of this edition is compromised of material that wasn't in the original. (And elven of the pieces making a second appearance have been updated by their authors.)

Could anything have been ditched?

If you have a computer, you've read Jeffy Cohen and Norman Solomon's "The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV."

Many times.

And while we do know the hardships Norman Solomon is enduring currently as an unwed mother-to-be, we do feel that the space could have been better utilized for something that does not show up each year at CounterPunch, FAIR, Common Dreams, etc. Other than that, we have no negative criticism of the book and highly recommend it.

Perez's book screams "Live! Life! Strife!" as this decades' Rona Barrett, in shocking pink hair and with chin stubble, is mauled on the cover by a stiletto heel. We turn the book over to Ava and C.I.

The heel is a signifier because it informs you of Perez Hilton's lurid fascination with women. Outside of drag queens, we've never seen a male so obsessed with women. Perez, who is gay, made a name for himself (again) recently when he spewed homophobia. What the book spews is misogyny.

That is very clear throughout but Perez and Jared helpfully illustrate that point for any who might miss the subtext on page 55 where they serve up an illustration of a nude woman (from just below the breasts) in heels flashing her vagina. There is something really unsettling about men turning vaginas into 'jokes' to begin with but even more so when the writers wouldn't go near a vagina if you held a gun to their head.

And it is a hatred of women and their body parts that threads throughout the book. Take for example the inspirational chapter "Be A Skinny Bitch" which attacks one woman after another for surgery, eating disorders and what have you. Curiously missing from the chapter are . . . Men.

Let's see Kelsey Grammar's weight issues are well known and were Kirstie Alley not also a former Cheers cast member, his issues would be loudly remarked upon. Then there's the I-Just-Returned-To-ABC non-hunk who destroyed his career with a thong and man boobs -- man boobs that, yes, he had plastic surgery last summer to reduce. That male we'll leave unnamed but note that Perez is obsessed with him online so we found it very strange that he and all other men were vanished from the chapter -- including the bulimic actor who's part of an attempted TV supercouple but continues to falter in one failed show after another. How bad were things on the set of his last show? A female co-star was a major coke head and the show runner said it was easier to work around her than it was to work around the unnamed actor because his face didn't match up from one shot to the next.

The apparent book end to "Be A Skinny Bitch" is the chapter entitled "Get Some Work Done" which finds Perez and Jared addressing plastic surgery -- at least alleged plastic surgery famous women have had. Flip through in vain for details about the various men who've had hair plugs or face lifts, Apparently the book publisher noticed a problem so while attacking various women at length, Kenny Rogers and Lance Bass’ names are tossed in (neither man rates even a full sentence from the authors).

Red Carpet Suicide is an ugly little book by two ugly little men and grasp that, for the size queens they chase after, being little men is the cruelest cut of all. But, as the song says, the first cut is the deepest . . .

And finally there is The Huffington Post's Complete Guide To Blogging. The cover informs you that to be a blogger you need to be someone who had a career once -- preferably in the entertainment industry but you can also be a failed and faded politician (hello, Gary Hart!) provided you had a sex scandal once upon a time. Take Steven Weber who emerges from one failed audition after another and whose only real credit is the sub-standard sitcom Wings. Wings went off the air in the 90s and Weber has nothing to brag about since then so he calls up Arianna and she purrs, "Dahling, for no money at all, I will make you a blog star."

It never takes so maybe, as in the past, these failed starlets kept under contract despite being unable to produce at least become party girls and boys. Arianna's trippy life is already so wild and vulgar (that weird 'religion,' the decades married to the gay man, the reshaped face, etc.) that it's not hard to imagine her calling up Weber and snarling, "Steveo, get your ass over here! Mama needs to sample some goodies!"

Flipping through the book, it was obvious that Arianna was so distracted by her D-list friends and by her incessant whoring, she forgot to write a book. So we'll present a basic outline of the Arianna way.

1) Kiss ass.

2) But only to online bloggers.

3) Attack big media.

4) It will get you links from online bloggers and ease any guilt you feel about repeatedly stealing their works (such as your 'interview' with George Clooney).

5) Present your friends as 'talented' and 'successful' even if the last time a director, for example, saw success was in the late 90s by creating a barren retread of her only hit.

6) Always remember the topic is you and how great you are.

That really is the key to Arianna's blogging career and it’s a real shame that her 228-page 'book' couldn't acknowledge that. And speaking of "Acknowledgments," Arianna's such a whore. Despite having two pages to give 'shout-outs' note that she doesn't . . . to her bloggers. This is a book, baby, and Whore Mama wants to write more of them! So she kisses the asses of real media but as for the 'new' media? Arianna winds down her thanks "And last, but not least" -- whatever "we want to thank all the members of the Huffington Post team." How sweet. And who are they? Whore Rule Number One, never credit others, it reduces your own abilities to appropriate credit. Which is why she quickly instructs, "Please go to HuffPost's About Us section for all their names and titles."

Ending on that note, Arianna makes it clear that The Complete Guide To Blogging can be boiled down to one sentence: “It’s all about me.”


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.

"I Hate The War" -- most requested highlight of the week. C.I. calls out the press who tries to blame the people.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "White House On Attack" -- Isaiah's latest comic which takes on the Barack's war of choice.

"Iraq snapshot," "US House Armed Services Committee: Define stability," "Iraq snapshot" and "Friday, at last" -- Congressional reporting from C.I. and Kat.

"No government should attack the press" & "A new Watergate?" -- Elaine and Ruth on the out of control White House.

"Against the Grain attacks Chomsky, Zinn, McChesney and more" -- Ruth explains how KPFA attacks their listeners as well as some who helped them out.

"Alito's confirmation" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this one.

"Dinner in a skillet in the Kitchen" -- Trina breaks down the economy and offers an easy recipe.

"Scary" -- Yes, Ann, she is scary!

"TNAOC" (Betty)

"tony blair and gordon brown - war hawks of a feather" -- Rebecca explains how Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are responsible for the war on Iraq.

"Governments shouldn't attack the press" -- Ruth had strong posts all week.

"Taxi Cab Obsessions" -- Kat offers tales from the road.

"David Brock, you ought to be ashamed of yourself" -- Elaine also had a very strong week.

"Idiot of the week: Norm Kent" and "Applause and boos" -- Mike covers the really lows of the faux left.

"Do they get it?" -- Marcia offers an important question in this think piece.

"THIS JUST IN! EVEN HE CAN'T BELIEVE IT!" and "Not even Britney fell so quickly" and "now that is scary " -- Wally and Cedric and Rebecca on Barack's falling poll numbers.

"Army pays out $4.3 million" -- Betty covers her favorite TV show.

"Harry Reid" and "Harry Reid, Think" -- Stan covers the awful Harry Reid.

"THIS JUST IN! TELL THE DIVA TO CHECK THE EGO!" and "The Little Princess" and "Princess Baracka whines" -- Wally and Cedric and Betty on Princess Barry.

"iraqi refugees" -- Rebecca covers the refugee crisis.

"The joke that is Norman Solomon" -- media criticism from Ann.

"Geoff Millard, Barbra Streisand" -- grab bag from Marcia.
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