Sunday, December 26, 2010


Jim: The last time we did a roundtable, I had to cut it off before we could get to Ava and C.I. I said I'd be slaughtered in the e-mails for that and I was. Like that roundtable, this also is a grab bag e-mail roundtable working in some e-mail topics. Our e-mail address is 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. Betty's kids did the illustration.


Jim (Con't): First up, we'll go to Ava and C.I. I'll start with C.I. for a historical take. An e-mail came in this week stating that there are many women pioneers in film that do not receive credit from Ava and C.I. C.I.?

C.I.: Ava and I took over the series on Jane Fonda here. It started with all of us and then Ava and I were asked to finish it. That was back in the lead up to the release of Monster-in-Law which was Jane Fonda's return to films. The film was a comedy so, each week, we would offer an analysis on Jane's many comedy roles. Why am I bringing that up? That's the only writing Ava and I have done for movies here. There are movie pieces and movie roundtables that we've all done but in terms of what Ava and I write, that's the only movie piece we did. I know who sent that e-mail and I asked him to. He e-mailed me last week, he's a historian, and he feels horror films -- specifically women in horror films -- have been ignored here. I readily copped to that and told him to e-mail in. Primarily, what bothered him was a piece -- and I asked him to tell me when it ran and he couldn't remember -- that was on female directors. It wasn't a piece on female directors. It was my comments in one of our "Movie roundtables" [Isaiah found it] which is apparently my comments on women working for the studios and women nominated for Academy Awards for directing -- that includes shorts and documentaries. That was my scope. In the late sixties and early seventies, Stephanie Rothman directed a number of B-pictures with The Velvet Vampire being one of the better known. Amy Jones directed the B-movie The Slumber Party Massacre in 1982. She went on to direct Halle Berry in The Rich Man's Wife and Ally Sheedy in the 80s classic Maid To Order. She also worked on the screenplays for both and she wrote the script for Indecent Proposal and Mystic Pizza among others. Those are two women who are pioneers -- Amy is still working, Rothman isn't with horror film connections. My friend argues that horror has offered much more opportunities for women. I've argued he should take a break from heavy history and do a book on film history to enlighten us and I'm not being sarcastic. That's not an area -- or an argument -- that's received a great deal of serious attention. I think it would make for a wonderful book.

Jim: And now for Ava. Put on your creative cap, Ava, because reader James wants to know what kind of film Sharon Stone has to make now "to save her career. She's my favorite actress."

Ava: The perfect film for Sharon Stone? She needs to grow her hair to shoulder length and do a spooky film. Where a lot of scenes take place at night. It's sexual but not The Entity. Probably more sexual tension than sexual. Gothic. She's being driven mad by persons living or dead. That's the sort of film that would create a buzz around Sharon. She got into a rut of proving she was an actress. She's a very strong actress. She's not my favorite but, like James, I do enjoy her acting. She needs to play a role that's more mythical than real. You can see her walking around a spooky house in the dark, a breeze coming through and blowing her hair and the loose white gown she's wearing. It should also be pointed out that the perfect movie and perfect role often never arrives. I think Sharon Stone's done quite well with what's been offered because it's not like there have been these huge, wonderful roles for women that's she's been avoiding.

Jim: Alright. Betty, as the year ends, what are you thankful for?

Betty: Two more years. Only two more years of Barack. I don't see how he can get a second term but I felt the same about Bush so who knows. But what I am thankful for is that in two years, there's a good chance Barack will be leaving the White House. Please God.

Jim: And you're completely serious.

Betty: And I'm completely serious. Barack's been the worst thing for Black people. On every level.

Jim: Elaborate. This is an argument you began making in 2007. So provide some examples.

Betty: The most obvious is the huge unemployment rate for Black men. If it weren't Barack in the White House, you better believe Al Shaprton would be screaming his head off. But just in terms of allowing us to one day finally have a Black president, Barack's screwed it up. He had to get your vote in 2008, the narrative went, so that America wouldn't be racist. And now we get the cries of he must get a second term or that would be racism. All that does is piss people off. And it should. If he's a president, he's a president. He needs to be judged the same way anyone else would be, held to the same standards. If he's not, you damn well better believe that in 2020, when ___ is running and people are saying, "Should we vote for him or her?" it will be pointed out that they're Black and, "You know, even if they do an awful job, we're going to be stuck with them for two terms or have to hear 'Racist! Racist!'" I can't believe how this bi-racial man has managed to do so much harm to the future of Black America.

Cedric: I agree with Betty. And as Jim just pointed out, Betty was sounding the alarms before anyone was. I think that's because Betty's realistic whereas a lot of us in the African-American community let go of common sense and of our own real and long struggle for equality to put a mixed preppie into the White House.

Jim: Thank you and Barbara e-mailed to ask that question. I'm tossing to Dona now.

Dona: Last week's "Nicole Colson forgot to write Third" was almost our most popular piece for the week. Almost. New and newer readers were glad to see the m.o. of the site pointed out, older readers were already aware of it. One reader, Marley, wanted to know how you reject being male-identified? She wrote that she was 15 and wanted to do her part.

Elaine: Can I grab? Okay, in that piece, it notes that Rebecca, C.I. and I all went to college together. We -- Rebecca and I -- saw what C.I. did. She brought women into the classroom even when they weren't the assigned reading and that's what you have to do. Marley's going
to have to do that. It's a lot of work. But you will be having an impact. Certainly, C.I. did on Rebecca and I but it was true on the make up of every class. By raising the issue and following up, she underscored it, she made us all think and she expanded what the scope was.

Rebecca: And the best example online would be what a lot of sites do which is quote Bob Dylan endlessly. I'm not saying "Never quote him!" I am saying that you need to break from the pack and start emphasizing women. We determine what and who is remembered by what we emphasize. So if you're looking for a song quote, go to Carly Simon's work or Joni Mitchell's or Janis Ian's or Lady GaGa or whoever. In the answer C.I. was giving, regarding women in horror genre, she was pointing out that it's little explored. So much of women's work is. If you want to make a difference, do your part to highlight women.

Dona: Gillian wrote Friday to say she was charting C.I. at The Common ills and over "the last seven days, she's highlighted Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell, Melanie, Carly Simon and Tina Turner. I often enjoy the songs but I never noticed until the article at Third how this was done. I wish more people did that. It's very depressing to be at a website run by a woman or women and they post a video of some 'great' song that's really a sexist song and a song the whole world knows because it's by a man. I wish we all took more time to note the art women create."

Jim: Alright. Ty, anything stand out in the e-mails you read?

Ty: A number of things, actually. One is a piece we need to write about spines. The other is a number of readers noting that Ruth and C.I. addressed the latest on Lynne Stewart and it was hoped that others would as well especially now that the only radio program that regularly covered Lynne is off the air, Taking Aim.

Mike: I'll talk about this topic. Once upon a time, people appeared to care about this story -- people like Amy Goodman and others. But then, over the summer, there was a re-sentencing and we saw how little coverage there was. Workers World, Taking Aim and a few otehrs covered it. Most of what you would consider independent media ran from it. Has The Progressive written a word on Lynne Stewart in the last ten years? I don't think so. The Nation did a bad column in 2003 or 2004 by chicken s**t Georgetown professor, we know who he is, and that's really it. It's rather amazing. Lynne's not accused of killing anyone. She broke no law -- she's convicted of breaking a 'guideline' -- and she's imprisoned at her age, over 70, with a history of cancer and where's the attention? It's disgusting. I really think a lot of people were comfortable calling out the mistreatment of Lynne when Bush occupied the White House but now that Barack's in there, they just don't want to be reminded.

Marcia: I so agree with that. And I think it's a real shame and a real indictment of the left. We will get outraged about Mumia Abu Jamal but we don't have time for Lynne? I support the Free Mumia movement and I believe he's innocent. But my point here is, Lynne's not even accused of crime, not even convicted of one. There's no law on the books that anyone can point to and say, "See, Congress passed this and she broke it!" All she broke was a guideline and when she did Janet Reno and Bill Clinton didn't think it was worth pursuing. Then Bush is swept into the White House and they go after Lynne for something that took place before they were in office. Where is the outrage? My Black ass'll play the race card here, is it because she's White? I think that's part of it. I think a lot of White people on the left are very comfortable seeing the victimization of Blacks -- even when it doesn't exist -- but have a hard time seeing or admitting that they too are victims of the same system. I also think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Lynne's a woman and the left is notoriously sexist.

Ann: Marcia that's a strong point. Several but I'm thinking about the victimization. You can't be an aware Black person and not notice how Amy Goodman, et al is forever seeing Black victims -- never Black strength -- and seeing it whether it exists or not -- and 'improving' on it by ignoring many facts -- but that there is a real desire not to see the same on the part of Whites. They don't want to admit -- people like that -- how they are just as at risk in a police encounter as we are. They prefer to present themselves as the SUPER STRONG only at risk from the executive branch of the government. I also agree that it's the female thing. Lynne's got a vagina and we all know how that frightens so many lefty men. I think if Lynne offered to remove her vagina and leave it in prison if she could be freed, you'd see a huge movement of lefty men and self-hating women chanting: "Free Lynne!" I'm using hyperbole but there's truth in that. I agree with those who wrote in that Lynne is a serious issue. She's a political prisoner and if we're okay with that, then we should be silent. If we're not, then we need to speak up.

Jess: The thing about Lynne is, why the silence? The Nation? Okay, it's a crappy little magazine, accused of being a CIA front since the 60s. No real surprise that the cowardly magazine wouldn't do a damn thing. But -- and this is something several friends of C.I. were raising as the re-sentencing was approaching -- what the hell with the NLG? The NLG should have been leading on this but they were ignoring it -- and, to be clear, there were NLG members complaining about the silence -- and you have to wonder what do they think happens if it's them? "Oh, we'll be silent on Lynne, but we'll go to the mat to defend you." No, that's not how it's going to go. And I don't care if you're a little known attorney or Michael Ratner. When your ass is the next targeted by the government, you better grasp how little the organization's going to do for you.

Isaiah: I was especially put-off by Goodman's silence, Amy Goodman, when you consider that her framing of an interview she did with Lynne can basically be seen as causing the re-sentencing. I think having grand standed on the issue in columns and speeches and brought the anger of the unfair justice system back onto Lynne, it was incumbent upon Goodman to cover this in something more than a one day headline. She didn't do that. I see Goodman as nothing but an ambulance chaser. With her rhethoric, she invited all that followed and she didn't have the courage to cover it.

Jess: And Isaiah's not the only one who feels that way. Some simple statements by Lynne were inflamed by Goodman. That is something that the grown ups on the left -- there are a few of us left -- discuss.

Jim: Alright, that's everyone but Ruth, Wally, Trina and Kat. Trina, I have a question specific to you. Wally, Kat and Ruth, why don't you cover Iraq?

Kat: Ruth, you want to start?

Ruth: Sure. Last Tuesday, the Parliament signed off on Nouri al-Maliki's partial Cabinet. It is being hailed as a success. But would a success really be a partial cabinet? He was named, read the press coverage, prime minister-desginate November 10th. But they played with the truth and said that he was not really declared that until November 25th. So they gave him 15 extra days and he still could not put together a full Cabinet. I would say that is very telling.

Kat: I would argue the same. I would also point out that there is only one woman named and that is disgusting. I'd further note that not only did he get 15 extra days but since elections were held March 7th and since he's insisted he was the winner since that date, Nouri actually had months to put together a cabinet. His inability to do so is really shameful.

Wally: And he's named himself to several posts. Supposedly temporarily.

C.I.: There's been very little coverage of the SOFA -- two major articles bothered to mention it. Neither pointed out that Nouri has given himself the posts -- supposedly just temporarily -- that would presumably sign off with his post of prime minister on the US military leaving or staying. That's one of the factors the press hasn't wanted to tackle. Sorry to jump in, Wally.

Wally: No, that's fine. I was wondering about that, wondering why he couldn't fill these largely security posts. Didn't he claim that security was going to be his top priority?

C.I.: Yeah and then that was also the topic for Iraq's first Parliamentary meeting after they approved Nouri's partial Cabinet.

Wally: The other thing I would add about Iraq is that Barack Obama's silence on the persecution of Iraqi Christians is appalling. I was -- and still am -- home for the holidays and this is big news in Florida, everyone's talking about the targeting of Iraqi Christians and they're also talking about how Barack Obama won't speak out on the topic and that this is the man who's never at a loss for words or beer for any problem real or imagined.

Kat: I saw that as well. I went to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve -- so did Mike and Trina in Boston and they might have seen the same or different -- but here in the Bay Area, there was huge anger that Barack has still not spoken out on the issue. Hillary has, Joe Biden has. But Barack, always eager to add his two cents, always eager to speak on any attack, won't say one damn word about Iraqi Christians.

Trina: I did hear that. Mike actually heard it even more than I did. But I heard it often enough to know it was a problem for the White House that is not going to just vanish.

Mike: Yeah. There's real anger among Catholic men my age -- or was at our Church -- and there's more disbelief among older people. So people talking to my mother were more likely to be, "I can't believe . . ." while people my age, especially guys, were more likely to just vent the anger and there's a lot of anger out there over this.

Jim: And Trina is Mike's mother for any who don't know. And Trina, we come to the last question. I did have one for Ava and one for C.I. but we don't have time. So Trina, you get the last word. The question comes from chris in Wisconsin who wants to know: "What the hell are these so called economists talking about when they say there's been no inflation?"

Trina: Chris, I don't know what the hell they're talking about. I'm assumign taht the Krugmans don't do their own grocery shopping. Here we've done plenty of features and I my site I post on this issue frequently. But here, we've noted the increase in the price of name brand soda, fo rexample. Bread's up, the price of milk's up. I don't think these men actually have to make a grocery list. Equally true, they all have so much money that fifteen cent to a quarter more for everything on the list doesn't even make them blink wherease it's a huge difference for so many other people. Clearly prices have gone up. My friend Juantia was telling me about Ramen and I hadn't noticed that because I hadn't purchased any in a while but that's gone up as well. Inflation is taking place and anyone who denies that is uninformed or a liar.

Jim: And that's the last word. This is a rush transcript.
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