Sunday, August 15, 2010

Truest statement of the week

Well, you know I've learned in the last five years, I think I've learned -- I couldn't even measure how much I've learned. But I know in the last five years I've learned more than the previous years I lived put together. And I've learned, Republicans will be Republicans. And you know they're very unapologetically pro-war. Not every Republican but, you know, most Republicans are unapologetically pro-war. The faction that I learned the most about, I think, would be the anti-war movement or the so-called anti-war movement. The people who are supposedly on the left, the progressives. And, you know, it's just very disheartening that all of my -- my colleagues -- most of my colleagues, or friends or associates that I worked with before Obama was elected have basically fallen off the face of the earth or they support now what Obama is doing or they're not as energetically against it as they were when Bush was president. So the major thing that I've learned, I think, is that we have one party system in this country and it's the War Party. And it just depends on if you have an "R" or "D" after your name if you support what's happening or if you're against what's happening. So that's what I've learned. There's no noble cause for war, there never has been, there never will be. And, you know, we just have to stop being such hypocrites and such supporters of empire depending upon who is president. It doesn't matter who's president. The empire is what has the momentum, not political parties.

-- Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan speaking to Scott Horton on Antiwar Radio.

Truest statement of the week II

Preparation for the election, the vote and the negotiations on a new government have dominated the tenure of Mr. Hill, who took over the American Embassy at a time when Iraq was less violent and more stable, but only in comparison to the anarchic months of 2006 and 2007.

-- Anthony Shadid, "Much Still Unsettled as Ambassador Leaves Iraq" (New York Times).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday and not that difficult of an edition mainly because we decided to sleep in. Not joking. We started this at 5:00 a.m. PST and as I (Jim) type this it is 11:00 a.m. PST. I don't think we've ever had such a short edition. But we did a lot of prep ahead of time and Ava and C.I. dashed off their commentary pretty damn quick. Anyway, thank you to all who worked on this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And Dallas who hunted down links and was a soundboard and much more. And here's what we came up with:

Cindy Sheehan will have the most truests of anyone by the time 2010 comes to a close, that's even if she were not to get another one all year. But when you speak the truth, you get noted with a truest and Peace Mom's earned everyone of her "truests" of the week.
Anthony Shadid may need an explanation. For some time now, we've puzzled over how 2006 and 2007 became the guide for 'progess' in Iraq, specifically the violence level. It shouldn't be the guide but the military loves for it to be because it makes everything else look better. Shadid didn't just run with that US-created benchmark and so he got a truest.

This was an editorial I wish we'd had more time for. I'd set aside a public radio program during the week, told C.I. we could use it at Third, so she didn't note it at TCI. And then we didn't have the energy for it. So that's how it goes. Thanks to Isaiah for the use of his comic. The photo is not of Chris Hill. Originally, we were using a driving photograph and that walking photograph. But then it was pointed out that we should use Isaiah's comic. With the other photo, the one used might make more sense. Maybe not.

I really loved this one. We were trying to do our quickest edition ever and I told Ava and C.I. that they didn't need to grab politics -- as they often have to do because we have a weak issue (or think we do). But this issue seems strong and so they just focused on TV and this is really a great critique. When I read this outloud to everyone there was repeated laughter. Readers will enjoy this one.

A magazine survey. It's almost been a month since we did one. Political rags here.

Music mags here.

A quick roundtable. Everyone did speak, mainly due to naming an album they are currently listening to. There were older ones and newer ones. There was a wide mixture.
I'd noted before that we were trying to do more fiction after the response to our summer read a few weeks back. We made time for it this edition. The short story, however, did not work. I said, "If Ava and C.I. would take a crack at it and just turn it into dialogue, it might." They did just that, pairing it down to one essential sequence. The photo helps, I think. Establishing it's at a meal. But they made the piece work whereas before it was three times that length and meandering everywhere. Again, short story.

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


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

Editorial: Iraq -- no real progression, no real exit

In what can only be termed a "cautious understatement," The Delaware County Daily Times' editorial board today declares, "Many people are hopeful America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan will be over in the next two years, but if the latest news is any indication, the fight may last longer than expected." Meanwhile President of the United States Barack Obama declared, "We've got a long way to go, but we are beginning to see some of these tough decisions pay off."

Oh, wait. That wasn't his war speech. That was his economy speech, given in Detroit at the Chrysler plant last month. His war speech was remarkably like Bully Boy Bush's as he declared the end to all "combat missions" in Iraq at the end of this month.

What a crock. And probably best captured in Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Non-Combat Troops."

non combat troops

As The Financial Times of London's Daniel Dombey observed to Diane Rehm on Friday's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), "I have to say they talk a lot about the combat mission ending. I would say a large part of that is just semantics. They're still going to be involved in counter-terrorism, they're still going to be an essential part in terms of communication and logistics and transport -- all really difficult actions against al Qaeda or against insurgents are going to likely rely on US forces for some time to come, I would say." Or take Michael Jansen's (Irish Times) observation, "Iraq has just begun to receive some of the equipment it needs to defend the country. Eleven of 140 US battle tanks have arrived but crews will not be trained and the rest of the tanks will not be in service until mid-2012. Iraq has no independent air cover, an essential component of any defence strategy. Last March the government contracted to purchase 18 US F-16 fighter jets, but these are not set for delivery before 2013."

We're not saying no one's leaving, mind you. ABC left. CBS left. NBC left. The San Francisco Chronicle left. Just last week, Chris Hill left.


But most aren't leaving. A question was posed Thursday at The Common Ills: "Trivia question: Name the PRI program and guest that apparently will be the only ones to discuss the staging areas around Iraq that the US will continue to use 'after' the war? If that question is too hard, the guest was . . . Linda Bilmes. Is she going to be the only one to talk about it?" Apparently she is and you can refer to the August 4th broadcast of PRI's The Takeaway (excerpt in the August 4th snapshot) or you can refer to Bilmes' column in today's San Francisco Chronicle with specific attention given to this:

Second, even after the last U.S. troops leave Iraq, we still will have thousands of troops stationed in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar and on Navy ships in the region who are not being withdrawn. And while combat troops may go home, an army of contractors will be staying on. The American Embassy in Baghdad - already the biggest in the world - will be supplemented with five additional regional consulates. The State Department will increase its 2,500 private security contractors to 6,000 or 7,000 once the military pullout is complete. Other contractors will be hired to do medical evacuations, fly aircraft, drive armored vehicles, issue ID cards and do all the other functions that the departing military is transferring to the State Department.

Getting yet what a big liar Barack is? How he is, indeed, worse than even Bully Boy Bush -- and who ever would have thought that even possible?

Liars, fools and hopium addicts (hey, Jar-Jar Jarad!) are the only ones who insist the illegal war is about to end. And the same groupings also want to tell you Iraq has seen progress. Just last week, outgoing US Ambassador Hill was insisting that in an interview with Steve Inskeep on today's Morning Edition (NPR).

Steve Inskeep: As you prepare to leave Baghdad, do you leave Iraq thinking that this a country that still could collapse?

Chris Hill: Actually, I look at this in pretty optimistic terms. Its obviously a complex country. Its where the Shia world meets the Sunni world. Its where the Turkmen world meets the Arab world. There are a lot of complexities here. And I think its a very important country to our interests, and I dont mean that from an ideological point of view. I mean that from the point of view of looking at a map. So I think there's a lot at stake here, but I think its also a place thats going in the right direction. They signed 11 major oil deals while I was here. I mean these are oil deals with all the major oil companies. Indeed, they are oil deals with all the companies from all the countries who are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. So Iraq is no longer just Americas problem; other countries have a real stake in its success.

Oh well, as long as they signed oil contracts then let's all call it a success! Because Iraq is populated with oil wells and empty of people, right? Iraqis live in Iraq? Goodness. You'd never know it to hear Chris Hill rattle away. (For an indepth critique of Chris Hill's crap, see the August 11th snapshot.)

There's been no progress. Violence continues, electrical outtages continue, the lack of potable water continues, the Iraqi refugee crisis continues -- It all continues. Months away from the eighth anniversary of the start of the illegal war and it all continues.

And as Chris Hill fled Iraq, the political stalemate continued.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board notes, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 5 months and 8 days.

Progress? Really? The second Parliamentary election's already taking longer than the 2005 election to seat a government. That would appear to be your first and most obvious indicator of a failed-state and a regression -- not progression.

TV: Midnight Blue

"Just don't compare it to Grey's Anatomy, please." That was the one request an ABC friend made when he passed on material for Rookie Blue, the network's summertime drama. Sure, no problem, we thought. Then we watched episode after episode last week and got him on the phone to ask why in the world we'd compare it to ABC's mega hit?


Apparently because everyone else has.

There's not a great deal of originality in TV and there's even less among the Water Cooler Set determined to pass themselves off as 'critics.' Rookie Blue does feature voice overs from a lead character. And so does Burn Notice. But no one's comparing Burn Notice to Grey's Anatomy, are they? This is how simplistic -- and, yes, knee-jerk sexist -- the Water Cooler Set is: Grey's Anatomy features a woman doing narration as does Rookie Blue and, therefore, they must be exactly the same because, after all, all women are all the same, right? The two shows have about as much in common as The Flying Nun did with Bewitched.

Grey's Anatomy, no matter what else takes place and who the additional players are, is the story of one woman. She is the focus, she is everything. In Rookie Blue, Missy Peregrym does the narration as rookie cop Andy McNally but, if you cut out her voice overs, she's really not that far ahead of the rest of the rookie pack. The pilot clearly featured Andi's point of view and that may have confused some in the Water Cooler Set or maybe they were just sloppy? What we're reminded of vaguely is another ABC series: The Rookies. In that show, routine crimes were mixed with soap opera elements as well as 'shockers' (Jill Danko -- played by Kate Jackson -- is being buried alive behind that brick wall!!!!). What we're reminded of mainly is a song:

I think we can make it, if we try
I think we can make it, if we try
Looks like we're going to make it

Looks like we're going to make it

If we try

Yes, Rookie Blue mainly reminds us of the Melissa Manchester and Carole Bayer Sager penned classic "Midnight Blue." The message of each episode is pretty much captured in that chorus and, like the song, some episodes are a little more triumphant and some are a little more bittersweet.

The rookie cops are supposed to captivate you as much as any stand-alone story or continuing element. In the case of some, that's no problem. Along with Peregrym, Enuka Okuma (as Traci) and Travis Milne (as Chris) are doing a strong job. Others aren't so fortunate.

The jury's still out on Charlotte Sullivan who plays the worst written character, Gail Peck. Sullivan's supposed to be a kiss up and teacher's pet. But, except for Traci, none of the other characters appear to notice. Not even Chris who's sleeping with Gail. In stand alone scenes, Sullivan does fine work but, overall, the character's not coming together and that appears to be a writing issue.

Writing is not the problem for either Ben Bass (plays Sam Swarek) or Gregory Smith (Dov Epstein). Ben Bass' main problem appears to be someone thought "rough trick" would play as desirable. Bass isn't attractive. Bass really isn't attractive. He looks better when he smiles but even then he's not all that. Andi's supposed to have a longing for Sam. In fact, during a blackout, they went far beyond flirting, got into heavy petting and were about to do it when the lights came on (revealing Bass' abudnance of lower back hair, by the way) and Andi wisely got out of there lickety-split. Ben Bass looks like a weasel and that's really how he should be cast.

Looks aren't something Gregory Smith possesses either; however, he has enough other problems. We don't critique child actors while they're children. It's really not fair. They've got enough on their plates, in our opinion. Gregory Smith was a child actor and he demonstrates how child acting can destroy an adult career. Now some child actors go on to be very skilled performers. But it's the difference between a Buddy Foster and a Jodie Foster. Conventional wisdom, for example, is that Jodie is hugely talented and Buddy just wasn't. That's not accurate. Both Jodie and Buddy were talented as children and both should presumably still have talent as adults. But while Jodie took chances with her role choice long before becoming an adult, Buddy didn't. You can spend a lot of time blaming casting directors but part of that blame goes to Buddy who, like so many child actors before him, paid attention to what expressions and line readings were met with approval and then proceeded to repackage them over and over into a 'performance.'

Gregory Smith's offering the same sameness that kills a career. His looks can best be termed "tepid" and his chops just aren't there. If he were still doing bit parts in Andre or Harriet the Spy, that might be okay. Even if he were still playing the whiny Ephram on Everwood. But ABC isn't the WB or even the CW. And no one needs simpering Smith trying to play a man. In his little-girl haircut (think Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon) that played so well on the WB, he tries to twinkle and sparkle and he just reminds you that leading men on the WB go nowhere. It's Joshua Jackson, after all, who has the career today, not James Van Der Beek. Jackson was second banana Pacey on Dawson's Creek while Van Der Beek essayed the title role. Pre-teens and pedophiles ate it up. But beyond that niche world, Jackson's an actor and Van Derk Beek's a pretty boy from a faraway time.

Gregory Smith probably would have benefited from taking a year off to study the craft. Not just because it would have made him a stronger actor but also because it would have given him time to reflect and that might have done something (maybe not) to wipe away the callow and shallow air he forever projects. It might have taken him out of the endless audition cycle and taught him something about the real world, allowing him to convincingly play someone who didn't appear to have been reared on the sound stages of Nickelodeon. Instead, he's rushed from project to project, 'playing' the same character over and over. It's beyond stale, it's mildew.

The thing about an ensemble show like Rookie Blue is that some "rookies" prove themselves and some don't. In terms of ratings, the series has demonstrated it can pull in an audience and ABC gave it a second season pickup last month. In terms of what's on screen, it's really not that hard to see Smith's Dov not being brought back for season two. While he's endlessly pouting (he's on desk duty in the pilot, at a high school he's just trying to find the spot where he copped a feel, whining when he catches Gail and Chris making out in a car, etc.), the others are doing actual work. In fact, it was Okuma's Traci who not only essayed a personal storyline in the high school scenes but also was attentive enough to solve the case that developed.

Okuma is probably the show's best find. We're told the critics loved Peregrym and, due to voice over duty, she is easy to notice. She's also doing a strong job. But we really think Okuma's the strongest performer the show has. Her character's grossly underwritten in each episode but the most interesting (she's a rookie cop, a young mother and trying to keep a relationship under wraps). She often gets the blandest lines but invests them with so much meaning in delivery. Were it not for her, you might wonder if you're crazy in finding kiss-ass Gail so irritating.

It was Milne that actually interested us in the show. Or rather, buzz about an outfit Milne wore in one episode. It stirred a great deal of industry talk. The rookies had to go undercover as prostitutes. Which meant the women. But, for a TV change, a man had to as well and it was Milne. Someone paired a *dark* tank top with the tightest white pants TV's seen since the seventies. And Milne appeared to be going commando.

Did ABC cross a line? Was it offensive? Since the show aired a few weeks ago, it's been endless chatter. Watching last week, we had to wonder if no one remembered Gary Sandy's pants on WKRP in Cincinnati? We also were surprised to discover that the women were in rather revealing outfits since none of the industry chatter had even noted that. Was it "jiggle TV"? Absolutely and Milne certainly added to it but so did the women.

In that episode, Milne is approached by a man who wants him to go somewhere else with him. Milne thinks he's about to snare a john but the man's looking for his son who ran away. It's a pretty standard story and was on paper. Chris takes the man's photo of his son. Later, Chris will find out he's a dead John Doe and break the news to the man who breaks down in tears. That Chris would be awkward in that scene was a given. But how Milne chose to be awkward and how he waited until the very last minute to let Chris show comfort were surprising and it's that quality that keeps Milne's characterization fresh and fascinating.

And in its best moments, that's what Rookie Blue has to offer. The show airs on ABC, Thursday nights, second hour of prime time and, as a favor to an ABC friend, click here to stream episodes for free at

Article corrected to "*dark*" from white when Ava and C.I.'s friend at ABC phoned to inform that the tank top was dark. 8-15-2010, Ty.

Those trashy political rags

So many trees killed to express so very little. As we flipped through one lefty and 'lefty' mag after another, a horrifying thought emerged: "This trash is killing the rain forest!"

Poli mags

First up, Mother Jones which continues to be a cesspool. Stephanie Mencimer's August cover story demonstrates how very shallow the cesspool is: Glenn Beck. How stupid are these beggars? If you don't want someone to be popular, you ignore them. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. Try grasping that especially when choosing a cover and maybe it's past time for the left to realize they need to use their covers to advance ideas in the public square?

Mencimer article includes this descriptive sentence: "How Glenn Beck and other right-wing talkers use paranoia to talk fans into entrusting their savings to shady gold dealers." How Glenn Beck and others use paranoia to fleece people? Mother Jones really wants to go there? Not only is ever lefty and 'lefty' mag on the newstand selling fear (especially on the covers) but this is the same Mother Jones we were calling out in April:

In fact, the cover of the April 2010 issue alone gave us pause. "AGE OF TREASON" screams the headline. Is this Mother Jones (named after the muckraker who herself was accused of treason) or The National Review? The subheading continues, "THIS SOLDIER IS READY TO TAKE UP ARMS AGAINST THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION. HE'S NOT ALONE." This is what keeps the Mother Jones crew too busy to write corrections? Staff meetings where they dream up these fear mongering covers?

Just holding the cover leaves you feeling unclean, as if Lucianne Goldberg had cornered you in an elevator while insisting did she have a boy for you!

Mother Jones offers nine pages of crazy passed off as a cover story. We'd first point out that MoJo wasn't interested in 'exposing' (or covering) resistance in the military under Bush. But if it has to do with loverboy Barry Obama, they just will not abide it

In search of further useless crap, we picked up the July issue of Extra! from FAIR and couldn't stop laughing as Ava and C.I. did dead-on impersonations of the CounterSpin on-air staff reading the articles. Peter, Janine and Steve are so very ripe for parody. As a humor magazine, as a spoof, it works. But the laughter dies away as you grasp these people are serious.

If nothing else, The New Republic can claim to be serious in that they devote the August 12th issue to Afghanistan with nine writers weighing and only one having anything remotely worth saying. At least they tried for smart. International Socialist Review's July-August issue is probably the worst thing they've ever published. While ISR usually has many things worth saying, not in the issue.

Things get off to a bad start early on, page two in fact, when Sharon Smith crosses a line that Honkey Mama might want to check herself on. Whatever you think of the Arizona law (most Americans favor it), it is not the "new Jim Crow" or, as Sharon tries for pith, "Juan Crow." In fact, that's really offensive to compare Jim Crow laws to the Arizona one. You can feel it's xenophobic or any other thing you want. But when you compare it to Jim Crow, you're grasping for a comparison that doesn't exist but will likely offend many African-Americans.

Sharon Smith needs some homework assignments on Jim Crow. It's such a disgusting comparison, that even the Noam Chomsky interview can't save it. Then again, maybe David Barsamian might try remembering the Iraq War. Page after page and scan in vain for Iraq -- the ongoing, illegal war. Does the Iraq War bore David? Really, because David bores us.

The only magazine that remembers Iraq is Fifth Estate. In their summer issue, they offer "Q&A with Dahr Jamail, Resistance to Iraq war inside the military." It's amazing to grasp how many magazines we made it through (more than are mentioned here) and how only Fifth Estate weighed in on the Iraq War.

For that reason alone, it's worth purchasing; however, there are many other articles in the issue worth praising. Outside of that magazine, the only other thing we'd praise is Washington Monthly. We don't often encounter original thought in Washington Monthly and we certainly don't expect it but the July/August issue was a real move towards independent thought and original thought. This was best exemplified by Malcolm Gay's article; however, it's true of so many of the articles and, please, make a point to read John Gravois's "The Agnostic Cartographer."

Two magazines worth reading, one not even worth wrapping a codfish in (that would be the current issue of ISR). The Progressive should be very glad that ISR sucked so bad or they'd be the worst of the current cycle.

As if it's not bad enough that Robert Redford's trying to (yet again) play Paul Bratter (Barefoot in the Park), he's trying it in print. As Legal Eagles demonstrated, he can no longer carry off that role. He's not believable in it. And that sums up the story.

Actually, the entire issue. If Matthew Rothschild wanted to get smart, he'd start hiring his readers (not us!) because they continue to be the only bright spot. Take Steve Burns of Madison, Wisconsin who writes:

While the lunatic ravings of Glenn Beck provide good fodder for magazine articles, we should remember that it wasn't Beck who nearly tripled the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
And it's not Sarah Palin who claims the right to assassinate anyone in the world, including U.S. citizens, without even a pretense of due process.
And it's not Rush Limbaugh who causes millions in our nation's immigrant communities to live in daily fear of raids by agents of Immigration and Custom Enforcement.
Yes, there is the potential of violence coming from the right, but we shouldn't allow the fear of rightwing violence to distract us from the greatest instigator of violence in the world today -- and the greatest threat to our civil liberties -- a nice, well-spoken liberal Democrat named Barack Obama.

Someone send that letter to Mother Jones.

Those wacky music mags

Music mags

In the world of music mag publishing this cycle, sexy sells apparently and sexy and dead sells even better. Or maybe dead is sexy?

UNCUT's August issue serves up cover boy John Lennon and zooms in on "1970 HIS YEAR OF REVOLUTION & REBIRTH." Pages 26 through 28 will probably attract the most attention. Courtney Love puts herself forward for questions from readers and "stars." Reader Sergio wants to know the amount of "plastic surgery you had?" Best question from musicians?

Meshell Ndegecocell: What's this about you and [Venezuelan president] Hugo Chavez?

Courtney Love: Oh yeah, Chavez has a huge crust on me. No, seriously! He's been sending me flowers. I'm not sh**ting you. I met him at a screening of Oliver Stone's movie, South of the Border, which is about Chavez and [Aregentine president Christina] Kirchner and [Brazilian president] Lula Da Silva, all that crew that Oliver calls "The Axis Of Good". Oliver sat me in the front row, and I'm wearing this red dress, and it's quite short. Chavez had no idea who I was. Anyway, his aide -- this gay guy who's totally into me -- comes up and introduces me to Chavez, and I say "El Controversial!" and then he kisses me and says, "I love America! I kissed a girl in a rock'n'roll band!" We talked about Caracas and stuff for a while. And now he sends me flowers, and he told Playboy magazine that he'd only do an interview if I was there. Oh, he's a cute little fat guy. But can you imagine how Bill O'Reilly and the guys at Fox News would crucify me if I did that? Jeez!

After Courtney, the big story is "50 more great lost albums." Best photo in the issue? Page 35 features John and Yoko (Ono) from 1970 both with the same short hair style and both looking very pleased and in love. Another striking image is the cover of waxpoetics July/August issue, a black & white photo of Gil Scott-Heron. But gorgeous photos are all over inside. Not just the vintage James Brown photo but new photos as well such as the ones of D'Angelo for "In the Raw" or the page 57 photo of Eryka Badu with pink rimmed eye shadow. From the Gil Scott-Heron interview:

You're finishing up a book called Last Holiday about Stevie Wonder's work to get Martin Luther King's birthday declared a national holiday. How important do you think Stevie's tour was to make that holiday happen?

I think it brought a lot of attention to it. It was Stevie's tour and his campaign, and he allowed me to participate, and I was glad to do it. If you want to change America, you have to change the law. That's the only way to do it. You can burn down a lot of s**t. You can tear down a lot of s**t. You can go crazy and riot or whatever you want to do. Until you change the law, you haven't really changed the country. Stevie Wonder wanted to change the law to make it a national holiday and that's what happened. I don't feel Stevie has received enough credit.

Q features cover boys Kings of Leon on their August issue with the tag "Tight pants, dying young and us . . ." Let's stay with the cover boys. Caleb Followill talks about spending time with a prostitute:

That's actually about a terrible story during our heyday. Me and Nathan decided to have some fun. There was talk of a brothel in the desert somewhere. It's not a lavish tale about being with a prostitute. It broke my heart when I walked in and saw this really pretty girl. She could've been doing anything with her life. Something must've happened to make her think all she could do was sell herself. I ended up leaving without having sex. [. . .] I did go in with a girl but I couldn't perform. He [Nathan] was with the girl that broke my heart. I barely got my boots off. It had killed the vibe of the night for me. That was the saddest thing I've ever seen. Still is.

Q is doing their hot issue and topping the list is Kasabian. Rolling Stone tries to be hot by putting Katy Perry on the cover in pink bra and panties. A little more time on the face (the head looks smaller than the body due to the pose and the lighting) would have resulted in an image that lived on for many years. Instead, it's all a bit embarrassing with the sort of muted tones we expect in a TV coffee commercial. Page 43 is actually what should have been the cover. If Rolling Stone had the guts.

And that sums up the Katy Perry issue so we move on over to Spin and cover boy Eminem. Is it 1997 all over again? Eminem shockingly informs readers, "If I learn how to work a computer, I'm going to be on that bitch all day looking at comments about me, and it's going to drive me crazy." What???? Eminem can read? Who knew? His quotes are as tired as his face (major air brushing for the cover photo which set a new cost record for Spin).


Jim: Roundtable time and we've got some news topics and some e-mail topics. Our e-mail address is Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); 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): Janie e-mailed to ask, "What's the deal with Pacifica? It's got nothing on the air but endless fund drives?" I'll grab that. As Ava and C.I. have repeatedly pointed out, Pacifica Radio walked away from Iraq. It was their calling card. As Ava and C.I. have repeatedly pointed out, Pacifica Radio became an echo chamber. That was in 2008 when, despite Hillary Clinton being the most popular Democratic candidate running for the party's presidential nomination, you couldn't find anyone on Pacifica talking about supporting her. A number of columnists and Congress members supported Hillary including those from the so-called Progressive Caucus. But they couldn't get on the air. It was an echo chamber to elect Barack and it's now just a Barack fan club. Of course they're in trouble now, of course they've bled listeners. Of course no one's going to contribute one thin dime for that s**t. Dona?

Dona: I'm the one who argued we needed visuals. In our first four months, we really didn't, we were purely text. So when an e-mail on visuals comes in, it's usually referred to me. Michael e-mailed to note several that he enjoyed and also that he enjoys it when the photos don't "necessarily have a connection with the article or an obvious connection." Michael also asks if someone is uploading visuals to Flickr right now?

Jess: I am. That's what I'm focused on right now.

Dona: And regarding Flickr account, it's accounts. We have to go over this about twice a year due to new readers. Community wide, we had the DIY experience. Do It Yourself. Anyone can do it. We didn't necessarily have a ton of computer skills or what have you. At various times, we've considered leaving Blogspot and going somehwere that would provide us more visual options. However, Blogspot is DIY and anyone can have a Blogspot account. By the same token, we use Flickr. And when we switched to that -- we had to, Hello! ceased to be -- a number of bloggers wrote us with "lots of luck" type e-mails because they didn't like how quickly Flickr filled up. It's a Yahoo e-mail account to have a Flickr account. What we've done is used various e-mail accounts to show that you didn't have to stick to one. So our photos are spread out -- like Isaiah's comics -- over many, many accounts. Again, we're trying to keep the DIY spirit. If we thought we'd be doing this for years to come, we'd have switched to something else.

Jess: Can I speak to that and I won't have anything for the rest of the roundtable. DIY used to mean something. I think it will again shortly. But for a lot of us participating, DIY was a movment when we were in high school and college. You've got a lot of online creeps now who try to think they're 'professionals' and all they are is embarrassing. We've always felt like the Mamas and the Papas were the template, to be professional without being "professional." We've been DIY all along and will remain so because it is important to the person stumbling to this website for the first time who really loves it or really hates it and thinks "I could do that" or "I could do so much better than that." Yes, absolutely. And you can get a free account at Blogger/Blogspot. Just scroll up to the top of this page and click on "Create account" and there you go. Get your voice out there because there needs to be more voices and especially more diverse voices.

Jim: Thank you, Jess. Okay, the vacationing Obamas are basically taking their 1700 vacation of the presidential term. At this point, I think it's actually news when Barack does some work. But they did a layover in Florida while enroute to Martha's Vineyard. Thoughts anyone? Let's give Wally first crack since Florida is his home state.

Wally: Okay. First off, Florida has had tar balls. But Florida's really not the most damaged in the Gulf Disaster. So the visit's a joke. And even more of joke was Barack getting in the water and using his Don't-talk-about-my-child as a prop.

Ann: Which one was it?

Betty: Baby Sykes. The one Ava and C.I. have noted looks like Baby Wanda Sykes.

Wally: Right. And so Barack took the opportunity to whip off his shirt again. It's like, dude, keep your clothes on. You're supposed to be the damn president not a Blueboy's model of the month.

Betty: Rebecca and I were talking earlier about the golfing outing in Florida and Michelle Obama's latest bizarre outfit. Did she think she was Doc Savage or just a pirate?

Rebecca: Exactly. First, she seemed intent on wearing the ugliest colors, then she added to disaster by having some sort of below the belly foundation garmet that preceded the pants. Those 'captive' sandals that hook around the big toe looked ridiculous as well. She has no fashion sense.

Jim: Robert Gibbs, White House spokesperson, is in the news for his big mouth. Weeks after declaring it likely that the Democrats would lose the House and enraging Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, he's taken to launching grenades at what he calls "the professional left." That's a group he defines as not happy unless the US gets Canadian health care and sees the end of the Pentagon. Any thoughts?

Ruth: Robert Gibbs has a press problem that goes far beyond his quoted remarks. He really needs to step down because Barack Obama does not have the guts to fire him.

Trina: I would agree that he is a continued disaster. However, I'm fine with him continuing in his role because I'd argue his level of competence is on par with those of everyone else in the White House. I also tend to laugh at all of his mistakes and his snotty attitude. It turns off voters, Robert Gibbs turns off voters. For that reason alone, I hope he remains through the term, through what I hope is Barack's one and only term as president.

Jim: You think he'll face a primary challenge in 2012 or that a Republican will be in the White House in 2012.

Trina: I think a Republican's in the White House right now. Will Robert Gibbs call me a part of the "professional left" now? I'll be so flattered. But I think a Republican occupies the White House currently. So it really makes no difference. Rebecca had a post last week entitled "good for now" which quoted from Erin Matson's "IS OBAMA PRO-CHOICE?" which asks the important question. Gerald Ford was more pro-choice than 'fierce advocate' Barry.

Jim: Was anyone really offended by the remarks?

Ty: I think I'd have to take Gibbs seriously to be offended and he's like the drunken uncle that you always know will say something embarrassing.

Elaine: He's the Billy Carter of the administration.

Ty: Perfect. Yes, he's the Billy Carter of the administration.

Rebecca: Well, while I see Ty's point, I do think what Gibbs said was offensive and I think it really says a lot about the administration -- that and the fact that he wasn't forced to issue an apology. They not only insult the liberal base of the Democratic Party, when they do, they make a point to stress how damn little they care.

Jim: Elaine's happy. We've got music playing in the background and Graham Nash's "Military Madness" just came on.

Elaine: I am happy. I love the album Songs for Beginners.

Ty: Kat, thoughts on when you'll do your next review?

Kat: I thought I'd do one of the two I have planned this month and then I realized we had Labor Day coming up. So what I'm thinking now is that I'll do two reviews over Labor Day weekend. With one to go up Labor Day. What I'd like us to do here, I'm thinking of Songs for Beginners because it's playing and because I think it's a great album, is to do a list article where we pick the three best albums of each year.

Jim: That groan was Cedric.

Cedric: It sounds like fun but it would be a ton of work and a lot of hurt feelings. Three? We'd never be able to agree.

Kat: You may be right.

Jim: Okay, well what about this, quickly, everyone pick an album they feel would be a real treasure for a reader to discover. There were groans. Okay, just suggest an album you listened to this week.

Kat: I'll go with Graham Nash's Song for Beginners just because I was noting that. I hope that's okay with Elaine.

Elaine: Sure. I'll go with Aimee Mann's The Forgotten Arm.

Ruth: Joanna Newsom's Have One On Me.

Marcia: India.Arie's Testimony Vol. 2, Love & Politics is what I'm listening to the most these days.

Stan: BAMBAM's The Strong Survive.

Rebecca: I'll go with Carly Simon's The Bedroom Tapes because that's what I've been in the mood for lately.

Isaiah: Band of Horses' Infinite Arms.

Trina: Joni Mitchell's Greenpeace concert, Amchitka.

Mike: Beach House's Teen Dream.

Ann: Sade's Soldier of Love.

Cedric: Toni Braxton's Pulse.

Wally: Gorillaz' Plastic Beach.

Ty: Xiu Xiu's Dear God, I Hate Myself.

Jess: Melanie's Crazy Love.

Dona: Elaine and Rebecca's posts last week had me digging out some Cher and I think I listened most to If I Could Turn Back Time: Greatest Hits.

Betty: I'll go old school. Aretha Franklin's Sparkle. I really enjoy her high notes on that one.

Ava: Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More.

C.I.: Wavve's King of the Beach.

Jim: And Biffy Clyro's Only Revolutions will be my pick. That's going to please a lot of people who keep e-mailing asking for music lists. And that's also going to be it for this roundtable.

The 2012 Strategy

"You'd make a great president."

"No, I wouldn't," she replied. "You'd stand a better chance than I ever would. Who'd even vote for me?"


"Lots of people!"

"Like who? I'm having an affair with a married man!"

"Exactly! You'd be the working woman who was non-threatening to men. And! And you'd get the single woman vote. And since he hasn't left his wife, you wouldn't be seen as a home breaker --"

"I think you're high," she said. "I really think you're high."


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 by readers of this site.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Non-Combat Troops" -- Isaiah's latest comic.

"Lynne Stewart" -- Ruth continues to cover Lynne Stewart.

"Cher and peace" -- Elaine on two of our favorite subjects.

"Tales from the men's room" -- Mike with a horror story.

"Celebrity cat fight!" & "THIS JUST IN! IT TAKES A SNOOKI!" -- Cedric & Wally on the cat fight Barack started.

"Science Monday" and "Our brains" -- Betty and Marcia serve up science.

"War propaganda" -- Ruth on the lies of war.

"True original" -- Kat weighs in on Stevie Nicks.

"He really is that dumb" -- Stan offers some obvious truths.

"Barry does Dallas" & "THIS JUST IN! BARRY O DOES DALLAS!" -- Cedric and Wally on Barry's big trip to Dallas.

"Easy Cheesy Pasta and Bean casserole" -- Trina offers a recipe Sunny loves.

"Maxine, Science Friday, Hillary Is 44" -- Betty stands with Maxine.

"good for now" -- Rebecca applauds NOW.

"Invisible Iraq" -- Ruth notes the lack of coverage of Iraq.

Ann offers both radio and travelogue:

"Condi Rice for LIAR-ALL Bully Products" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this 2006 classic.
"Head" -- Stan's movie night post

"Friday! and a great magazine" -- Mike suggests a reading.

"Maybe we should have asked for snow cones?" -- Trina's post which received 35 requests from readers of this site.

"let's give erica payne a time out" -- smutty campaigning from Erica Payne.

"Road tales" --Kat offers some tales from the road.

"Thanks to Ted Olson and David Boise" -- Marcia offering thanks.

"Harry Reid's troubling racial remarks" -- Stan goes to pattern.

"Follow This You Bitches" -- Elaine issues the challenge.

"Resignation" -- should he have resigned?
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