Sunday, December 26, 2010

Truest statement of the week

The recent repeal of the US military policy of "Don't ask, don't tell" is far from being the human rights advancement some are touting it to be. I find it intellectually dishonest, in fact, illogical on any level to associate human rights with any military, let alone one that is currently dehumanising two populations as well as numerous other victims of it's clandestine "security" policies. Placing this major contention aside, the enactment of the bill might be an institutional step forward in the fight for "equality"; however institutions rarely reflect reality. Do we really think that the US congress vote to repeal the act and Obama signing the bill is going to stop the current systemic harassment of gays in the military?

-- Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan, "Don't Go, Don't Kill" (Al Jazeera).

Truest statement of the week II

Among these are why did left media outlets such as commondreams, alternet, counterpunch Znet and others devote relatively little attention to the protest in the days leading up to it, even when it was already clear that it would be a major act of civil disobedience that needed, and deserved to be, reinforced by thousands of others. As for well known left writers such as Thomas Frank, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Katrina van den Heuvel why did they fail to write pieces in support of it, or even mention it, within the high profile platforms they have access to, thus getting the word out to many thousands some of whom were sure to have participated?

We can only infer the answers to these questions. But for at least two members of what might be called the "left establishment" we now have some grounds for making inferences. These are based on a recent initiative which attempted to move some of these figures from their prior positions of support, albeit highly critical support, of the administration into active opposition. Thus, in his reaction to the initiative (which he characterized as "weirdness") Tom Hayden described the demonstration as "somewhat jusfified" while expressing doubts as to whether "it was a smart idea to begin with." In short, an event of relatively little consequence, though Hayden did mention that civil disobedience could be "healing" for those participating in it.

In his reaction, Bill Fletcher made no comment on the demonstration confining his remarks to the observation that he was a strong critic of the administration.

It should be noted in this connection that while failing to mention the Dec. 16th event, even when specifically requested to do so, Fletcher has been actively involved in Washington demonstrations since the Obama administration took office, most notably the union- sponsored One Nation rally on October 5.

The differences between the two protests could not be more stark and are highly revealing.

First, one was a rally held at the Lincoln Memorial some distance from the White House while the other centered around civil disobedience at the White House fence.

-- John Halle, "Why Johnny Can't Protest: Reflections on Dec. 16th" (Corrente).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Yes, we're late but it's holiday schedule. Along with Dallas, here's who helped 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.

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

Another one for Peace Mom.
Censorship on the left doesn't exist, right? Right?

We're all for equality and, in fact, if equality had been written into the measure Congress passed, we'd be much more joyful. But it wasn't. It's another Plessy v. Ferguson, a way to extract money and work product from inequality.

Ava and C.I. This is the must-read this edition. When we started writing, I thought there would be a rival for Ava and C.I.'s piece but time ran out. Next week, Ava and C.I. steer the edition. For those wondering about Naomi Wolf, she will be addressed next week. Also, I'd guess that Ava and C.I. will post on time and then some.

I (Jim) like this roundtable. If your problem is the lack of Ava and C.I., I intended to come back to them but we ran out of time.

Rebecca, Betty, Stan, Ty and Marcia wrote this and we thank them for it.

Keep the news of Lynne alive.

An action in San Francisco that Cindy Sheehan's taking part in and we'll do our part to note it.

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

That's what we got. There will be a new edition next week. Some of us (me, Dona and Ty) will be off. Happy New Year.


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

Editorial: Don't Gush, Don't Praise

As Cindy Sheehan notes in her Al Jazeera column on the pulling of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, "While I am a staunch advocate for equality of marriage and same-sex partnership, I cannot - as a peace activist - rejoice in the fact that now homosexuals can openly serve next to heterosexuals in one of the least socially responsible organisations that currently exists on earth: The US military." And do you really think equality is what the defense industry was after?

Or, more likely, did they get on board to close another avenue to discharges?

For all of Barack Obama's talk, during the signing ceremony, of steps towards equality, reality, if you're straight and you die serving, your spouse gets benefits. If you're gay? Forget it. Even if you were married in a state that recognizes marriage equality, even if you married in that state and reside in it.

There's nothing equal about what Barack did. Now, true, once upon a time, Plessy v. Ferguson was praised too. Didn't promote or provide equality, but it was praised.

Even worse, Peter Certo (Foreign Policy in Focus) reports on how to push the removal through, the Congress agreed no Guantanamo 'detainees' would be transferred to US soil -- for trial or imprisonment.

Equality did not happen last week. The measure the Congress passed did not even mention equality. It did not affirm the rights of all US citizens. It only wiped Don't Ask, Don't Tell off the books.

That's reality.

Barack Obama and the Congress could have led. To the surprise of only the Cult of St. Barack, they elected not to.


If you want to applaud anyone, applaud Adm. Mike Mullen, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who went beyond band-aids and actually spoke about equality. He deserved applause and your sure sign of that was the clinging-bitterness of Barack that surfaced when Mullen's was being applauded ("He already has enough power. Don't -- ").

TV: Water Cooler Set Confesses and Kills

Tis the season for giving but who expected David Bianculli to remember us this Christmas? There he was, last week on Fresh Air (NPR), justifying everything we've ever said about today's predominately useless TV critics.


He'd included AMC's stale and sexist Mad Men on his list of 'greats' and was explaining why, how it really didn't have an audience, "But what it is that it's in the conversation, wherever you turn. If you turn to the Internet and you're reading Huffington Post, it's on there. If you're reading national magazines, it's there. If you're doing -- if you're on network television and the morning shows, it's on there."

We told you, kids, for years now, they're not covering what's good, what's entertaining, they're writing about the 'buzz.'

That's not a TV critic's role. A TV critic is not supposed to be enthralled with the buzz, a TV critic is supposed to puncture it, penetrate it. But such is our ineffectual Water Cooler Set that not only do they attempt to find an easy ('hot') topic to write about, they foolishly cop to it public, not realizing how much they're damning their own work.

David was on to look at TV and, still in a snit fit over our past criticism of how he refused to include women, Daves wanted to note The Good Wife and 30 Rock. He had 12 best ofs for 2010 (13 after Terry whined) and only those two shows could be described as female led. When listing his top 12, 30 Rock should come first if he says he's going by alphabetical order (and he did say he was going alphabetically) because the title is "30 Rock" and not "Thirty Rock" but, like a dee jay in the sixties afraid to play more than one 45 an hour by a woman, he buried it deep in the mix.

We listened bored as he listed all the Water Cooler Conventions and marveled over his bitchiness. Like many in the Water Cooler Set, David saw himself in 2009 as Conan O'Brien's wife (The Bad Wife) and he still feels the need to play that role and attack Jay Leno even if his statements contain no logic at all, "So am I happy that Leno is back on Tonight and more successful, you know, than CBS, which had Letterman, who was gaining on Conan when he was at The Tonight Show? No, because people had liked Leno and settled for Leno before, so they were settling for Leno again."

Okay, Conan replaces Leno and loses a portion of the audience. Leno returns and not only brings that portion back but brings in new viewers and, according to David Bianculli, the audience is "settling for Leno"? Uh, no, it would appear the viewers actually prefer Jay.

You may not like it (we personally don't care), but the verdict is in: Most viewers prefer Jay Leno. Those are facts. Established ones. Another fact is that Jon Stewart is a comedian. He is not a journalist. But David couldn't get that right either as he insisted that, because Jon interviews people, he's a journalist. Yeah, right up there with Merv Griffin and Arlene Dahl.

Then there was this, "It's not only one of the best family dramas on television now, it's one of the best family dramas that's ever been on television." Really? Is he dropping back to Gilmore Girls? What, do tell, is the best family drama ever on television? We're sure it's a representative show, right?

Of course not. He's talking about Friday Night Lights.

A show about high school football. That's universal in David's mind because he always wished he could have played football in high school and been a "normal" boy. Because of boys whose names were never called, we're all stuck with a bad, moralizing and, yes, sexist TV show presented as groundbreaking and "the best family drama ever on television." As David babbled on and on, listeners would be forgiven for thinking that women had no regular roles on TV since he never named even one actress on a TV series. Michael J. Fox, Dennis Leary and others may be well known; however, they are not three time Emmy winner, five time Academy Award nominee Glenn Close.

Close, for those who don't know, stars in Damages. Bianculli noted the show, if not the actress, "Yeah, Rescue Me and another FX program, which didn't make my top 12 or 13 or 10, or whatever this is was Damages - I mean, just really good shows that are not getting the attention that they deserve. Rescue Me with Denis Leary has done some really strong stories, some spectacular acting, and Michael J. Fox was one of the guest stars this year, and a great performance." Time and again, when an actress could have been mentioned, she wasn't. And then he whines that Damages is "not getting the attention" but he can't even be bothered noting Glenn or co-star Rose Byrne?

Terry wasn't just sitting there silent, as we noted. The woman who wouldn't have a career were it not for the then-emerging National Public Radio's efforts at gender equity, saw an omission on the list, didn't notice that she presented another year-in-review of TV hour which failed to mention one TV series actress by name. No, she had another 'concern.'

GROSS: I don't mean to sound critical, David.

BIANCULLI: It's okay.

GROSS: You stretched the 10 best to a 12 best, and yet...

BIANCULLI: And yet what did I not put in?

GROSS: "The Colbert Report."

BIANCULLI: Again, again, I know, and I should have remembered that last year you slapped me around for "The Colbert Report." I know. I know. But I sort of figure Jon Stewart is sort of like grandfathering a little bit the spirit of Colbert.

GROSS: That's not fair to Colbert. I'm sorry.

Her big concern was the same as it is every year: a man. A man being overlooked. Ten of Bianculli's 12 shows are dominated by males but The Good Wife and 30 Rock were two-too-many women for Terry. She needed another man in there and quickly. (As she books, so she thinks.)

If, like Terry and David, you think women do nothing on TV week after week, it may have been a semi-satisfying discussion. Especially if you didn't know facts. Facts would make you question David's claim that Friday Night Lights suffered because NBC didn't have hits to pair it with or promote (the same fall 2006 that Friday Night Lights debuted, so did Heroes and Heroes was an immediate hit).

Unlike David, we don't see it as a bad thing and worthy of whining about that people stream online. No technophobes we, online streaming is actually liberating. We also think 2010 was one of the better years since we started covering TV here.

The fall saw the debut of Raising Hope (a great cast headed by Martha Plimpton who is amazing), ABC has added Better with You to their solid Wednesday night comedy line up and The Event has only improved with each episode.

This when network TV already boasts the enticing Fringe, the amazing Cougar Town, Patricia Heaton's should-be-career-defining performance in The Middle, a rejuvenated Chuck, a refocused Brothers & Sisters, The Good Wife, Parks And Recreations -- the latter of which returns to NBC next month -- and a strong final season from Medium that found Patricia Arquette and company still refusing to coast.

That's eleven shows right there. Those aren't the only strong shows on network TV. We also think there are many non-network shows that are strong including Damages (which will now air on Direct TV's satellite channel The 101 Network), there's Eddie Falco's strong work in Nurse Jackie (Showtime), Toni Collette's Emmy award winning performance in The United States of Tara (Showtime), Archer (the best animated program, FX) and, most of all FX's Justified (returns February 9th) which should net Timothy Olyphant an Emmy.

TV has an impact. It's foolish to pretend otherwise. Whether you personally watch it or never turn it on, it still has an impact. It is where, even today, society gathers around the campfire to pass on ideas, dreams, fears, mores and more. Which is why Terry Gross and David Bianculli's are so damaging. You can't talk about 2010 without noting the year saw the loss of the decade's funniest sitcom.

Unlike Will & Grace or Friends, The New Adventures of Old Christine is a creation of the '00s. It began and finished its run this decade. When the laugh out loud sitcom got the axe last May, Kari Lizer (creator of the show) explained what had just taken place, "As far as what happened at CBS, we've suffered from a serious lack of support from them since the beginning. I hate to say it, but I'm afraid they don't care much for the female-of-a-certain-age point of view over there. How else do you explain them squandering the talents of Julia [Louis-Dreyfus] and Wanda [Sykes]?" Kari is correct. She'd be even more correct if she'd point out that the lack of interest was also to be found in the Water Cooler Set. For example, Entertainment Weekly is nothing but critics and their TV pages post updates multiple times daily; however, Ken Tucker couldn't note the show in all of 2010 until right before it got the axe.

To his credit, he did at least note it. Putting him far ahead of his peers. But this is why it matters what Terry discusses. She's listened to and her show could have impact. She chooses to ignore that and she chooses to serve up ten critics and only one of them a woman (she covers books and, no, Terry doesn't devote an hour to year-in-books). The masculine-identified Terry Gross is a huge part of the problem. This year, she saw an omission: Bianculli left a man off the list!

Women don't just disappear, they are disappeared. For an hour, Terry and David chewed the fat over TV and never once did they mention by name a single actress in a TV series.

It matters a great deal. In the spring of 2009, NBC had to pick what shows to keep and which ones to kill -- more pruning than usual was required due to the fact that in the fall of 2009, NBC would be turning over the last hour of prime time Monday through Friday to Jay Leno's talk show. Monday nights offered three hour long shows: Chuck, Heroes and Medium. Of the three, the one netting the biggest audience was Medium. Heroes was cratering and the creator was unable to accept the feedback for why the show was failing. (It would become an outright failure the following season.) Chuck was in flux. Which show did NBC cancel?

Medium. (CBS picked it up.) NBC was clear why the gave it the axe: Yeah, it had an audience, but it didn't have a "buzz." The Water Cooler Set just didn't care about it.

Nothing would give it "buzz" with the Water Cooler Set. Not astounding production values, not amazing acting, nothing. The series could -- and did -- feature notable guest stars and even that didn't mean a thing. David Morse, Kelly Preston, Neve Campbell, Molly Ringwald, Eric Stoltz, Jeffrey Tambor, Laura San Giacomo, Thomas Jane and Rosanna Arquette were among those doing outstanding work and Anjelica Huston gave an amazing performance as Cynthia in season four and season five. But even that wasn't enough for the Water Cooler Set.

You want to know a dirty secret that the Water Cooler Set doesn't? Network execs are in a panic more than ever before. Two decades ago, you axed a show and that was that. Today? You face an outcry online. So? So, if you cut a popular show and your new shows aren't performing, you really don't need the stockholders being reminded of what got the axe to make way for the new flops. A devoted following (no matter the size of it) have extended a show's life.

So it does matter when Terry Gross and her all male posse decide that women don't matter, it does matter when the Water Cooler Set ignores and dismisses women. And they contribute to the network suits inability to drive forward since they're always studying the rear view mirror instead.

For example, four new shows have been pitched to the big three network (one of which also was pitched to Fox). All four share a horror premise. The best of the four is best termed erotic horror and reads like an interesting gamble. But women are prominent in the story and it has no teensies. ABC's The Gates had teensies and they're sappy angst ensured that the show sank. The Vampire Diaries has yet to overcome its reputation of never-ending-foreplay (leading it to be dubbed in the industry "Thursday Tease"). By contrast, True Blood (Showtime) has found an audience via an adult take on horror. Whether or not it could be another True Blood, it surely could match the best in horror turned out by Hammer Films and yet the reservations over the project, the hesitation, stems from the fact that women are front and center. That's what it's come to, the Water Cooler Set and their built-in sexism mean that a project that all three big networks agree is "interesting" and "promising" can't get a greenlight out of fear that it just won't attract the 'buzz.'


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.

Fashion and Natural disasters

High Yellow and Gimp Eyed She-Hulk wanted to wish you . . . Well they wanted you to notice them at least.


Gimp Eye thought if she covered the right eye with her hair, she'd be perfect. Maybe if she were an 18-year-old attending her first Hugh Hefner party. Did she really think that nothing said class like a dress that rode so high she was sporting ass?

And what's with the bacon collar? Did She-Hulk sew up that little number herself from a set of Oval Office curtains? After grabbing some tree ornaments for ear rings?

That anyone ever thought Michelle Obama might be classy or rival Jacqueline Kennedy just goes to show how few know what class actually is.

And then there's Barack. Wearing a new shade of lipstick, with a darker hair color (a rinse or permanent?) and lisping "willy" for "really," he will always provide the laughs.

It's laugh or cry, right?

So when a US president declares he has "no greater honor than serving" as Commander-in-Chief and democracy and the public just took a hit, just laugh. Just laugh and say, "Oh, that idiot Barack."

And when Michelle's shocked to discover that some families are single-parents . . . in the military, just shake your head and laugh and think, "Oh, Michelle, Sears has a whole inventory of madras plaid slip covers with your name on it."

And, click here, laugh especially as you notice how, from 1:20 and 1:40, Michelle has to be repeatedly reminded to smile. For the bulk of the 'message,' she and Barry just purse their lips and wonder why some see snobbery in the class-free White House.


This piece written by Rebecca, Betty, Stan, Ty and Marcia.

They can't silence her, so they try and hide her


US political prisoner Lynne Stewart has been 'relocated' by the US government to keep her as far away from her family as is is possible. From her website:

Letter from Lynne 12/19/10

December 21st, 2010

12/19/10; 12:03pm

Dear Folks:

Some nuts and bolts and trivia

1 New Address
Lynne Stewart
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
53504 – 054
Unit 2N
PO Box 27137
Fort Worth TEXAS 76127

2 Visiting is very liberal but first I have to get people on my visiting list Wait til I or the lawyers let you know. The visits are FRI, SAT, SUN AND MON for 4 hours and on weekends 8 to 3. Bring clear plastic change purse with lots of change to buy from the machines. Brief Kiss upon arrival and departure, no touching or holding during visit (!!) On visiting forms it may be required that you knew me before I came to prison. Not a problem for most of you.

3. One hour time difference

4. Commissary Money is always welcome It is how I pay for the phone and for email. Also need it for a lot that prison doesn’t supply in terms of food and “sundries” (pens!) A very big list that includes Raisins, Salad Dressing , ankle sox, mozzarella (definitely not from Antonys–more like a white cheddar, Sanitas Corn Chips but no Salsa etc. To add money, you do this by using Western Union and a credit card by phone or you can send a USPO money order or Business or Govt Check. The negotiable instruments (PAPER!) need to be sent to Federal Bureau of Prisons , 53504-054, Lynne Stewart, PO Box 474701, Des Moines Iowa 50947-001 (Payable to Lynne Stewart, 53504-054) They hold the mo or checks for 15 days. Western Union costs $10 but is within 2 hours. If you mail, your return address must be on the envelope. Unnecessarily complicated ? Of course, it’s the BOP !)

5. Food is vastly improved. Just had Sunday Brunch real scrambled eggs, PORK sausage, Baked or home fried potatoes, Butter(sweet whipped M’God !!) Grapefruit juice Toast , orange. I will probably regain the weight I lost at MCC! Weighing against that is the fact that to eat we need to walk to another building (about at far as from my house to the F Train) Also included is 3 flights of stairs up and down. May try to get an elevator pass and try NOT to use it.

6. In a room with 4 bunks(small) about two tiers of rooms with same with “atrium” in middle with tv sets and tables and chairs. Estimate about 500 on Unit 2N and there are 4 units. Population Black, Mexicano and other spanish speaking (all of whom iron their underwear, Marta), White, Native Americans (few), no orientals or foreign speaking caucasians–lots are doing long bits, victims of drugs (meth etc) and boyfriends. We wear army style (khaki) pants with pockets tee shirts and dress shirts long sleeved and short sleeved. When one of the women heard that I hadn’t ironed in 40 years, they offered to do the shirts for me. (This is typical of the help I get–escorted to meals and every other protection, explanations, supplies, etc. Mostly from white women.) One drawback is not having a bathroom in the room—have to go about 75 yards at all hours of the day and night –clean though.

7 Final Note–the sunsets and sunrises are gorgeous, the place is very open and outdoors there are pecan trees and birds galore (I need books for trees and birds (west) The full moon last night gladdened my heart as I realized it was shining on all of you I hold dear.

Love Struggle


Ground the Drones (San Fran, January 4th)

From Cindy Sheehan's site:

JANUARY 4th, 7:00 pm

Where: AFSC, Quaker Meeting House, 65 9th St., San Francisco (Near Civic Center BART)

Everything you ever wanted to know about drone warfare but were afraid to ask.
As the Pentagon and CIA continue to wage endless war, the use of unmanned planes for
reconnaissance and missile attacks are increasingly the vehicle of choice. Since these drone
attacks and targeted assassinations result in no American casualties, in the short term they lesson
public outcry to our failed foreign policies. In the long run, because of high civilian casualties,
they create more enemies and ultimately a more insecure world, as drone technology is
being propogated around the world without serious oversight into the ethical ramifications.

- Find out about the current status of ACLU lawsuits on U.S. drone warfare,
- Learn the latest about drone technology and why we need to halt it in it's tracks.
- Discover all the many ways drone technology is an attack on our very freedoms.
- Hear report back from recent CodePink trips to Creech and Beale Airforce Bases and the Creech 14 Trial.
- Find out about the growing collaborative drone resistance and anti-militarism campaign
and be inspired to join us soon at a military base near you! Monthly Beale vigils/protest already in progress: Dec. 29, Jan. 18.
(Sponsors include: Bay Area CodePink, Grandmothers Against War, AFSC SF, Peace Center of Nevada County and Sacramento VFP)

Informative videos, slideshows

Singer/songwriter Betsy Rose will lead us with inspirational singing throughout the evening. Learn the latest drone
resistance songs and sing some of our old time favorites.

Speakers to include:

Michael Thurman, IVAW member and ex-military who was stationed at Beale AFB, the northern California control center
for the main intelligence gathering drone, the Global Hawk. Michael will give us a perspective from an insider's experience.
Cindy Sheehan, Peace activist and mother of Casey Sheehan, who was killed in the Iraq War. Cindy has been outspoken
and active in the citizen resistance to drone warfare. Cindy will discuss the need for collaboration in the peace movement to
build organized, ongoing, sustained protests at military bases to encourage war resistance and to halt drone warfare.
Other speakers still being confirmed.
Refreshments included, please bring something to share. Donations welcome.

For more info/questions:
Toby Blome, 510-215-5974
Martha Hubert, 415-647-1119


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.

"Iraq snapshot" -- when C.I. wrote in the newsletters that there wouldn't be an "I Hate The War" on December 23rd, a number of us wondered what would end up being the most requested highlight? Turns out it was still C.I. This one went viral among Third readers for C.I.'s discussion of what's needed and where it's at.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Not Quite There" -- Isaiah weighs in on Nouri and democracy.

"The silence of 'feminists' Law Professors and Guerilla Women," "Blogging and the hatred of women," "Betty's sister Faye," "fraudist naomi wolf," "naomi wolf gets called out," "Sin City Siren," "Dingbat Digby," "Iraqi Christians and Idiots of the Week goes to ...," "Links, rape deniers, sexist Terry Gross," "join the call to denounce naomi wolf," "Yes, Naomi Wolf has become Camile Paglia," "Thoughts on World Can't Wait," "No, Naomi Wolf is not an expert on sexual assault" and "Iraq snapshot" -- some of last week's coverage of the trashing of two women by Assange groupies.

"Who hired this man?" and "THIS JUST IN! THIS IS INTELLIGENCE?" -- Part of intelligence is knowing what just happened. This won't make you feel any safer.

"movies," "Comic and in general on movies," "Salt," "Brief," and "Action films?" -- Rebecca and Stan talk movies.

"Libbyliberal, stop being a DAMN FOOL" -- Marcia's must-read.

"Bully Mama" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this one.

"Truthout can't handle the truth" -- Kat explains too much truth is more than Truthout will let out.

"White Melissa Harris Lacewell tries so hard to be Black" -- White Like Melissa.

"Food safety" -- Trina covers the issue of food safety.

"Specter leaves the Senate (thank goodness)" -- As Ruth notes, Arlen is now out of the Senate.

"Free Press, Barack screwed you" -- Kat addresses the FCC outcome.

"John Halle gets banned" -- Ruth highlights John Halle's experience at Common Dreams.

"Greta Garbo returns!" and "THE RETURN OF THE ANGRY LITTLE BITCH!" -- Cedric and Wally chart the return of the I-Want-To-Be-Alone drama queen.
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