Sunday, November 06, 2011

Truest statement of the week

"The betting here is that thousands of U.S. troops in Kuwait and elsewhere around the Gulf will keep the lid on any Iraq explosion -- at least until after next year's U.S. presidential election."

-- Mark Thompson on the smoke & mirrors in "Bahgdad's Gone Missing" (Time magazine).

Truest statement of the week II

Along with the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown up a "Move Our Money" campaign pushed by a group calling itself The New Bottom Line. It takes off from a brainchild of that great exploiter of unpaid journalistic labor at her economist post, Arianna Huffington. Arianna's scheme would have those of us with money in large banks move it to small ones. This touches on a foundational populist fantasy that virtue and size are inversely related. When Huffington unveiled her scheme I took advantage of the gadget at her website that allowed you to enter your zip code and it came back with a suggested list of virtuous meaning small banks. I thought I'd look into some of the suggestions that emerged when I entered that zip code 11238. One suggestion was the Black-owned Carver Federal Savings Bank. In recent years, Carver has been a major financier of the gentrification of previously predominantly Black neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. "As those neighborhoods get richer," Carver boasts, it's been partnering with Merrill Lynch -- a subsidiary of the Bank of America, by the way -- to offer wealth management services to flusher new residents. Another one of Arianna's suggestions, Apple Savings Banks, has about 3/4 of its assets in US Treasury Bonds not local loans. They don't come much bigger than the US Treasury. And a third suggestion, New York Community bank, which even features that sacred word in its name financed a private equity group that bought up a lot of apartment building in New York during the boom in the hope of squeezing out the rent-regulated tenants and replacing them with more lucrative ones paying market rents with the real estate bust the private equity firm had trouble servicing its debts and the residents of the buildings that it bought are suffering as services are cut further and tenants harassed more intently.

-- Doug Henwood, Behind The News, November 5th (KPFA, 10:00 AM PST every Saturday).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another late Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

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 what did we come up with?

Mark Thompson showing the wisdom his peers so sorely lack.
Doug Henwood offering a powerful commentary.

Next week, we hope to explore the topic more. It was supposed to be the theme and Ava and C.I. wrote their TV piece to match up. When it did not become the theme, they had to redo their TV piece.
But that's for the best because this is actually better in their rewrite. They take on the press, two new shows and more.

A nuts & bolts roundtable. Remember we do include the e-mails when we can. So if there's something you want answered you can always e-mail and suggest it for a roundtable.

Dona did a piece on workout videos before. So she and Ann decided to team up to review Jane Fonda's latest (available now at Target stores -- physical stores -- but not available at Amazon until next month).

We pick up our ten most important books of the last ten years series.

A brief piece on Paul.

We've been meaning to note Adam Kokesh's show for awhile now (as I point out in the roundtable).
Doug Henwood had great opening commentary, a great first guest and . . . then . . . he brought on Dorian Warren who dumbed things down and Doug joined him in the dumbing.

From ETAN.

From Workers World.

Mike and the gang wrote this.

And that's what we got.

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

Editorial: Oh, the damn liars

Tom Hayden's ridiculous claim of 'success' for the peace movement had us laughing so hard and then thinking of a song.

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you.
-- "Honesty," written by Billy Joel

If we want to avoid revisionary tactics on the Iraq War, that's going to require honesty. If we want to learn anything, that's going to require honesty. And Tom Hayden just can't stop lying. Here's David Walsh (WSWS) on Hayden's lies about the Afghanistan War:

Hayden makes entirely unwarranted claims about the so-called withdrawal plan and then attributes the "de-escalation" to pressure from a "peace movement" that is largely the product of his imagination.

Obama made his deceitful speech last Wednesday in the hope of assuaging and diverting growing opposition to the war, at least through the November 2012 elections, with his claims that the "tide of war is receding" and "the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance."

In other words, Tom Hayden's really not needed.

The Iraq War has not ended and is not ending. If Bush were moving in thousands of contractors and placing them and US military members under the control of the State Department, we wouldn't pretend it was withdrawal. If Bush were using Kuwait as a staging platform for at least 4,000 US troops, we wouldn't pretend it was withdrawal.

We have no reason to pretend nor do we need liars like Tom Hayden.

While Tom Hayden was praising the 'peace movement' and its accomplishments, we were reminded yet again that United for Peace and Justice closed shop in November 2008, right after Barack Obama was elected.

Three years later, Tom was crediting them for 'ending' the war in 2011. They'd been inactive for three years. Not only that, have you checked out their website lately?


Yeah. They forgot to pay the bills, didn't they? Maybe next time don't trust Leslie Cagan around money. (Shh, no rumors about her actions while serving on the Pacifica board.)

They haven't done a damn thing in three years and they don't even have a website anymore and Tom Hayden wants to pretend a victory came about as a result of the 'peace movement'?

Here's the reality, even if negotiations for 'trainers' continues to fail and the US doesn't keep US soldiers in Iraq under that guise, the war goes on, the occupation goes on. Tom Hayden's just another pole dancer for the Democratic Party. Only a fool would drop a ten spot in the g-string. Get him off the stage already.

TV: Fairy tales for grown ups

As children, many of us rely on fairy tales. As adults, many are too lazy for anything else. And they're all part of the great American distortion. NBC and ABC wanted to have a go at fairy tales this season with both insisting the fairy tales were true. True or false, one show succeeds and one falters.


Grimm (NBC, Friday nights, second hour of prime time) stars David Giuntoli as police detective Nick Burkhardt and tries to bring the Grimm fairy tales to life. Except for worrying that his partner Hank (Russel Homsby doing everything perfectly in this role) will turn out to be one of the beasts from the fairy tales, we really enjoy this show. Nick 's always had the ability to profile in the extreme (even noting when some adult, just by looking at them, grew up with a single-parent) but now his gift has gone even further and he can see the beasts under some otherwise human faces. He's not sure what's going on and then his Aunt Marie (Kate Burton) shows up, losing a battle to cancer and desperate to explain to him that the family must battle the evil of those fairy tales, that they were true stories.

Each episode finds Nick with a stand-alone case to solve as well as adding to the long-range storyline where he becomes, in effect, the fairy tale slayer. What he doesn't realize is that the evil goes further than a stray criminal here or there but all the way up in the police force.

While Grimm is involving, Once Upon A Time is bad soap opera. The ABC series (second hour of prime time, Sundays) is uninvolving and plays like a lengthy commercial for Disney. In fact, anything that might be magical has been stripped from the series, the same way Disney handles its films. Although the dialogue and plots are highly simplistic, the backstory is rather convoluted. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised to see Jimmy Stewart and Harvey show up before the season ends.

For now viewers have to make due with Jiminy Cricket transformed into psychiatrist Archie Hopper and, since there's no Pinocchio around, he busies himself with framing people for crimes so they can be wrongly arrested. No, that's not the way we're remembering him either.

Jennifer Morrison plays lead character Emma Swan who we see on a blind date in the opener. The man she's 'dating'? He skipped bail. Emma's a bailbonds collector and she's quickly nabs him. Then she meets a young child Henry who tells her he's her biological son. (For those late to the party, we do not review or critique the work of child actors.) Henry is the son she gave up for adoption. She takes him back to his mother Regina Mills.

Henry attempts to convince her on the way to Storybrooke that the city is the result of the Evil Queen's curse on Snow White and Prince Charming. Oh, and his (adoptive) mother Regina is really the Evil Queen. Emma, he explains, is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming and she can end the curse.

Ginnifer Goodwin plays Henry's teacher Mary Margaret. And, with an ugly, long wig, she plays Snow White. As Snow White, she's rather bland looking and we had to wonder if everyone missed the part in Snow White where the evil queen wants her dead because Snow White becomes "the most fairest of them all"? Snow's not the only one with looks issues. Josh Dallas is supposed to be a coma patient and also Prince Charming. As the coma patient, maybe. As Prince Charming? Does he rule over the kingdom of Home Depot? Scruffy Dallas never seems either royal or regal and while he and his stubble can pass for good looking, handsome is a huge stretch. You wouldn't accept the two on The Bachelor, let alone as Prince Charming and Snow White. It's as though we paid to stream The Thin Man and ended up with Phyllis Kirk and Peter Lawford instead of Myrna Loy and William Powell.

The whole point of Once Upon a Time is that Emma will save everything, make time move again (she's started it), remove the curse and more. That really doesn't seem like a multi-season show and what's even worse is that it's not even entertaining for the few episodes it should probably last. Each episode seems to exist solely so Disney can stamp their brand on ever more characters and to test out potential Disney World and Disney Land attractions. Such a focus would explain -- although not excuse -- the dull proceedings onscreen.

But nothing explains the cast. The foreigner as Storeybrooke's sheriff (Jamie Dornan sounding alternately British and Irish), Lana Parrilla as the evil queen and Mayor Regina Mills to make sure no one misses the show's ugly message that powerful women are corrupt and most of all Jennifer Morrison who proves that, The Princess Diaries aside, Disney still doesn't know how to cast princesses in live action roles. Morrison has no sparkle, no humor and she's honestly a little too breasty to be a princess anywhere other than Dollywood.

She looks like no fairy tale princess we've ever seen. And most of us can recognize a fairy tale when we hear one. For example, Bill Clinton long ago recognized one and called it out:

"But since you raised the judgment issue, let's go over this again. That is the central argument for his campaign. 'It doesn't matter that I started running for president less a year after I got to the Senate from the Illinois State Senate. I am a great speaker and a charismatic figure and I'm the only one who had the judgment to oppose this war from the beginning. Always, always, always.' "
it is factually not true that everybody that supported that resolution supported Bush attacking Iraq before the UN inspectors were through. Chuck Hagel was one of the co-authors of that resolution. The only Republican Senator that always opposed the war. Every day from the get-go. He authored the resolution to say that Bush could go to war only if they didn't co-operate with the inspectors and he was assured personally by Condi Rice as many of the other Senators were. So, first the case is wrong that way."
"Second, it is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, numerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, 'Well, how could you say, that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war and you took that speech you're now running on off your website in 2004* and there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since?' Give me a break."This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen...So you can talk about Mark Penn all you want. What did you think about the Obama thing calling Hillary the Senator from Punjab? Did you like that?"
"Or what about the Obama hand out that was covered up, the press never reported on, implying that I was a crook? Scouring me, scathing criticism, over my financial reports. Ken Starr spent $70 million and indicted innocent people to find out that I wouldn't take a nickel to see the cow jump over the moon."So, you can take a shot at Mark Penn if you want. It wasn't his best day. He was hurt, he felt badly that we didn't do better in Iowa. But you know, the idea that one of these campaigns is positive and the other is negative when I know the reverse is true and I have seen it and I have been blistered by it for months, is a little tough to take. Just because of the sanitizing coverage that's in the media, doesn't mean the facts aren't out there.

A functioning society would have nodded along and even cheered the above. We don't live in a functioning society. We live amongst and amidst the Cult of St. Barack -- a land where adults want to self-deceive and live out the fairy tale of The Emperor's New Clothes. They're aided in that pathological embrace by the press. For example, Ben Smith (POLITICO) published this last week:

But as the president’s reelection team begins in earnest to attack Mitt Romney, Obama faces one of the most difficult tests of his political career: to tear down Romney without getting a single smudge of dirt on his own shirtfront -- a trick he has performed deftly in previous races.

Barak didn't get caught and called out on dirty campaigning in 2008? Well who's fault is that? We'll answer for you: The press.

The same press that protected time and again. The same press that worked -- either with Journolist or on their own -- to ignore nearly every mistake and error he made and then minimize the few that they bothered to note.

They were the Brothers Grimm (Disney-fied) enlisting into the ranks of the Cult of St. Barack.

They are the reason that people treat an official unemployment rate of 9% and higher (unofficial is at least 17%) as normal and never make the point that, by now, you should have addressed unemployment if you were sworn in back in 2009.

They are the reason that the fairy tale currently told is: "Barack has a jobs plan! Mean old Republicans won't let it advance in the Congress!" While the reality that the House has passed jobs plans written by Republicans but the (Democratically-controlled) Senate won't put any of those to a vote is ignored. (See Jess' post Friday night.)

Fairy tales work due to their simple narrative. And the press is nothing but simple and simple-minded. It's so much easier to repeat the narrative than to do actual work. Bob Somerby grasping that would leave him less puzzled by so much of the nonsense the press churns out.

Barack gives a speech claiming withdrawal from Iraq?

The easiest thing for the press -- official court scribes that they are -- to do is just write that down. Checking out what was said? Verifying it? That's actual work. So much better to just repeat "Once upon a time . . ." and doze off.

Though not beauties, they are our Sleeping Press and they are responsible for the state of this country, they are responsible for people foolishly believeing Bush left the White House and Guantanamo closed, or torture stopped, or the PATRIOT Act ended. They are lulled into this by a press that refuses to do its job because, quite honestly, it's a fat, lazy and declawed press.

And it's a lot like Once Upon A Time in that its many failures are no longer even entertaining. It's just a big mess, an ugly stain on the nation that wastes time and intelligence and, bit by bit, makes us all a little bit dumber each day. Once Upon A Time at least stands the chance of being cancelled, but the press you will always have with you.


Jim: It's roundtable time. This is the this-and-that roundtable based on your e-mails. 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. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): Gem e-mailed to note Kat had changed her website and wonder why Elaine and Trina can't or won't change their sites? Gem's referring to the templates. Elaine and Trina are both using the same templates that they were using when they started their websites. Kat's recently flipped. Before we get to that, Mike, you are using a newer template and were a few months back but had to switch to a different one. Talk about that.

Mike: I updated to the new Blogger templates. And I loved mine. It was a black background. But I started getting all these e-mails from people saying they couldn't read what was up there because it was like blue type on a black background. I don't go back and read my posts so I wasn't aware it caused a problem. The first e-mails, I really blew off. Then I heard from regular readers and knew it was a problem. I needed to flip immediately and needed a template that I knew would be okay on the eyes. I liked the one Stan was using and called him to check and be sure he was fine with me using the same one. He said he was and that's the one I went with. Once upon a time, I thought I'd look for a new template later but who has the time? I don't.

Jim: Kat actually ended up flipping by accident. Kat?

Kat: I took C.I. away from the writing edition when I flipped my template and don't think I didn't feel the wrath of Jim. I had an old template, I'd grabbed it in 2005. I was fine with it except for the mornings and for Wally and Cedric. What does that mean? C.I. and Wally and Cedric try to link to all the community posts. If blogger doesn't read the feed -- and it rarely does for my site -- then you have to go to my site to pick up the post and my titles -- like Elaine's currently -- weren't linkable. You had to copy and paste -- or type in the title -- and then add the link. That was too much time, to me, for people trying to promote my work. So I was playing around during a break early Sunday morning, three or four Sundays ago. And I say something like, "Oh, I like this template." And Dona says -- Dona?

Dona: I say, "Don't click on it!" Because she was going to get that template. And the switch destroys all of your links. And I yelled it too late because she had clicked and then you can't go back. You can go back to your old template, but your links are gone. By links, what I was worried about for Kat was that all of her reviews at The Common Ills had links at her own site. Let's put in those links so everyone can see how many I am talking about:

Dona (Con't): And those links are a lot.

Kat: And they were all gone and it was the start of 2009, I think, that C.I. did that for me as a surprise. I'd had her go in and look at my HTML because I was having a problem pop up on the links to some of the musical acts I like. So while she was in there, she went and grabbed all of my reviews from 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 -- this was January 1, 2009 -- and put them up. All I had to do after was just add as I posted a new one. And all of those were gone. And it's not easy to get them because I'd have to hunt them all again. Over the phone, Elaine said she'd noted them in February 2009 at her site, reposted the list, and that she'd see if she could find that post. Then C.I.and Ava came back in the room and C.I. said my site should still be on her laptop because we were going to do a roundtable that week -- we didn't end up doing one -- and she was planning on quoting me in it. So she logged in on her laptop, logged into my account, and was able to put in all those links that will be posted into this roundtable. It took over 40 minutes. I felt so awful because it was a headache. For her! For C.I. And also because that's 40 minutes we lost in the writing edition.

Jim: So Kat was playing around looking for a new template and ended up with that horror story. Trina?

Trina: I have the same problem on my links list that Kat was having. I've had it since I started the site years ago. I've known about it all that time. I'm really not that worried about it. I log on to write and that's it. Mike was saying he doesn't read his posts. Maybe it's a mother and son thing but I don't read mine either. The only time is when I get an e-mail about something like someone asking, "Did you forget a step in the recipe for ___" and I'll go back and look. Now I read Jess' guest post that he did Friday for me -- thank you, Jess. And I always read Ava's guests posts, thank you Ava.

Jim: Elaine?

Elaine: Like Trina, I don't read my own posts. A part of me feels like maybe I should 'repaint' my site but another part of me really likes that it looks the way it does. It's out of style or it's classic, depending upon your view. I have things I need to add to my links and that would be my concern before I ever got worried about switching templates. I understand what Kat was saying by the way but Trina and my posts are links on the side meaning you can run a mouse over them and copy and paste them and not have to type in the title and then add the link. That's probably too technical for someone who doesn't copy and paste regularly to understand. But the point is if either Trina or I felt, as Kat did, that we were making extra work for Cedric, Wally or C.I., we would do as Kat did and start looking at new templates. That's, in fact, why Betty switched.

Jim: Let me go there. Betty, you joke your blog is a nightmare. Talk about that.

Betty: My archives are screwed up and the 'search' feature really doesn't work for my site. Prior to 2008, you have a chapter in each post -- nearly each post -- and it's of the comic novel I was doing. But it's impossible to pull up the posts if you go to my own archives. I thought switching to weekly would help. But that's not the case. When people e-mail about the story of Betinna, my online novel, and they've read it and are looking for a chapter they read years ago or they're new to it, what I do is say, "Go to Wally's site." Because Wally started linking to all of our posts in 2005. So every one of his posts would note that. Cedric joins him in 2007 with joint-posts. But to go back as far as possible, you need Wally's. I also tell them they can refer to "Highlights" here at Third because the chapters were usually no more than two a week and Highlights would generally note both of them. But there's no way to search my site using the search -- not use it and get accurate results -- or to bring up the archives by the week and get all the posts from that week. It's a nightmare.

Jim: One more appearance question. Dorothy e-mailed to ask Isaiah why he no longer does expandable posts?

Isaiah: The same reason Third doesn't. People may not realize this but for like the first nine months of this site, the posts were expandable. You had the first two paragraphs or so and then you'd click "READ MORE." And at my site I was doing that with the "READ MORE" being right under the comic. But? It stopped working. I had a problem, technical. I brought it up after a few months and C.I. went into my template and added some new code and it worked for about two or three months and then it stopped again. And Jim was explaining that kept happening with them here and that's why Third dropped it. I would love to have expandable posts. But it's not as easy as you'd hope -- at least not in Blogger.

Ty: Noting Trina's good-bye to Occupy Wall Street post on Wednesday and quoting C.I.'s critique of the DC OWS on Thursday, Tiffany99 e-mailed to say you can't judge Occupy DC by one Adam Kokesh report.

Trina: I didn't. I knew there were problems before Adam's report. I had made phone calls before posting it. In fact, I posted about Adam's report a day before I posted about the problems with the DC crowd. I waited because I made calls. C.I. went even further.

C.I.: I had heard complaints from a lot of people and I had shared those with Trina. This didn't just happen last week. However, after seeing Adam's report, I did make a point to go to the Occupy DC Wednesday night. Wally went with me. We went around and encountered just what Adam did, a lot of empty tents, a lot of homeless people being used to give the impression of overnight camping by protesters. Trina was disturbed by Adam's report and I provided her with some numbers to call and told her I would check it out in DC Wednesday night. She called me before she posted to ask if I was seeing anything that would change her mind. We were still there and would be there for 30 more minutes but I hadn't seen anything and I told her I didn't think I would that would justify ignoring the valid complaints about Occupy DC. And, to be clear, the issue of the homeless being used is not just an Occupy DC thing. It's happening at other OWS around the country. Not at all, but at several. And Adam's report was a strong one.

Jim: We had an e-mail asking why we hadn't noted Adam's show here, Adam vs. the Man, since it moved to YouTube? C.I. tried very hard for the two previous editions to get it in the mix. We have to put things on hold from time to time. Right now, we can say there will be a short piece on Adam's show this week and it's very short but we already wrote it so it will be part of the mix. We're half-way through the edition. What else will we have? Of the not finished features, we can't be sure. We are trying to provide a mix. Ann and Dona hope to grab time to do a feature on a workout video. Will it happen? Maybe, maybe not. It'll depend upon time. Last week, in "A note to our readers," I explained we'd forgotten the book feature. That led to many e-mails about how we needed to do two this week or we needed to do this or that. We'll have one this week. Sometimes, there just isn't time. Sometimes things get forgotten. Sometimes things get planned and we even attempt them but they don't work out. That's the way it goes. Jess?

Jess: Eveyln e-mails to ask why sometimes we have new illustrations and sometimes we don't, and sometimes they're children's artwork -- done by Betty's kids when that happens, by the way -- and sometimes they aren't, etc. It just depends. Right now I've got several pieces that Betty's middle son did for school on my cell phone. I need to e-mail those so we can upload them. His art class had an exhibit and when we were walking around, he'd say, "That would be good for Third." I got about four pieces he did. Other times, they hear us talking about a feature or two and they draw something or paint something and we use it. Sometimes, Kat, Wally and Isaiah work on some stuff and we use that. Sometimes we have photos. Sometimes Rebecca wants to play with photoshop. There's nothing set in stone. In addition, we have set pieces like "roundtable" where we use an illustration done for that. The main point of any illustration is to break up the article so you're not just looking at text, text, text.

Jim: Jordan e-mails about TV and wishes we'd get Ava and C.I. to do more than just one feature each week. But he writes what he really wants to know is "will Marcia be covering Grimm, how did everyone choose the shows they cover and is anyone else planning to pick up TV at their site? I appreciate Elaine's explaining why she's not going to but what about the other shows?" Let's start with Marcia. Covering Grimm?

Marcia: I'm thinking about it. I watched, I liked. But I would really like to cover Whitney and 2 Broke Girls. So far I'm just covering Whitney. I have a feeling grabbing Grimm as well would be too much.

Rebecca: Mike's not grabbing it, right?

Mike: No. I'm doing Fringe and Chuck. I've been doing both for years. Now they're both on Fridays. Grimm's on Fridays as well. Don't have time for all that.

Rebecca: Well, if no one has a problem, I'll grab it. Based on Ava and C.I.'s piece this week, it sounds interesting and I just have Community right now.

Jim: Okay. Betty, I know you've covered this but could you explain again why you do Desperate Housewives?

Betty: Sure. There are so few shows on with a Black character. Vanessa Williams was added last fall to the cast and that's when I start covering it. My youngest is a girl and we watch together. She liked Wanda Sykes on The New Adventures of Old Christine and we watched that together. All Wanda had to do was speak one line -- funny or not -- and my daughter was laughing. I'm not saying Wanda wasn't funny as Barb, she was. But not every line was a joke. But my daughter just thought Wanda was the funniest thing in the world. There are many shows that I'll try out with her and she can't stand the woman. She didn't like the Black actress on Charlie's Angels or really any of them and felt they were "mean" and "bullies." Which goes with Ava and C.I.'s point in "TV: Charlie's Convicts" about how, unlike the original series, here the three were ex-cons who thought you 'investigated' by torturing people into telling you what you wanted. In addition to Desperate Housewives, I also cover Whitney. So that's Marcia, Ann and I that are covering that show.

Ann: Reading Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The perverts still drool over Shirley Temple" had us thinking and made us mad. A funny show? We checked it out. Whitney is damn funny. And it's being attacked because it's about a woman and because it's funny and because she's not a woman surrounded by men and only men except when there's a woman she can cat fight with -- that's The New Girl. So we talked, Betty, Marcia and I, and we just wanted to be sure that this funny show got a real chance to find an audience so we're trying to do our part by noting it each time it airs. It's a funny show. And, if I could quote Mike, "It's like the attacks on NBC's Whitney where a bunch of little frou-frous who can't make a show a hit -- all their listed favorites struggle for ratings -- attack Whitney and say it's not funny and that the laugh track is annoying and blah blah blah. The highest rated sitcom for years and still is Two And A Half Men. The small number of people attacking Whitney attack that show too. So networks should learn not to listen to the posers. The posers can't make a show a hit and listening to them has resulted in some very crappy, non-watchable TV."

Marcia: Amen to that. Whitney's getting better ratings than 30 Rock so people are watching it. It's a damn funny show but a small group of posers want to pretend it's not worth watching because it's taped before a live studio audience. Deal with it, you jerks. What whimsical sitcom have you made a top ten hit? My Name Is Earl? Not hardly.

Jim: I'm going to come back to Stan. But since we're talking funny and since Cedric and Wally do humor posts, I want to get their take on the whole Whitney thing.

Cedric: I watch it with Ann. We love the show. It's funny. The studio audience doesn't bother me. And I see Ava and C.I.'s point that they've been making since 2005 about how being before the studio audience can create a rhythm. It does. It also exposes how unfunny most of the 'sitcoms' are. I'll take 2 Broke Girls over The Office any day. And who's the guy I think is the funniest on TV? I'm forgetting his name.

C.I.: Oliver Hudson.

Cedric: Thank you! Yeah. Goldie Hawn's son. I'm searching. Just one second. Okay, when I read "Megyn Price remains wonderful but Bianca Kajlich has really carved out a character and the writers have steadied Adam Rhodes allowing Oliver Hudson to hit notes in that role which are among the year's best," I thought, "Huh?" That's Ava and C.I. back in 2009. But I checked it out and the whole show had improved but I really think Oliver Hudson's doing the best work of any male in a sitcom right now. That was 2009 so that means I'd say he's been doing the best work of any actor in a sitcom in the last three years.

Wally: I agree with that. We both think he's hilarious. In those early episodes, they weren't sure what to do with him but stumbled upon it in episode where he encounters a school bully who teases him about his eye lashes. And that really set the stage for the character that he's playing now. Cedric and I thought his work in the episode where Booger from Revenge of the Nerds becomes Adam's best friend was outstanding. And the two women have always been great but you really have to note Bianca Kajlich because with just the wrong inflections or the wrong reaction, Adam wouldn't be as funny. I love her character. She's really more like the two guys and tends to bond with them, on the other side of Adam. It's funny. As for Whitney. It's a funny show. What you've got is the Volvo crowd who thinks the whole world has to listen to their pronouncements. But none of the sitcoms they like are funny. And they really don't like sitcoms to begin with. They don't laugh. I noticed that in college. The people who laugh out loud while they're watching something funny? They don't mind the laugh track. Those that sit there stone faced throughout, turn it off, get off the couch and say, "That was very funny"? Those are the ones watching these crappy shows that aren't funny. They didn't crack a smile in high school and they can't stand anyone laughing today. They just don't have a sense of humor and laughter from a studio audience just reminds them that they're missing the joke.

Jim: Okay. Ruth, you're planning on covering Cougar Town which doesn't start until January. Anything else before then?

Ruth: With Solyndra -- thank you to Betty for grabbing that last week -- and John Edwards and, this past week, Herman Cain, I have a full plate. But I will think about grabbing something. Let me have this week to look around and I will grab something no one else is in the community is covering. I love Whitney by the way but with three people already covering it, I do not see how I would be able to add anything.

Jim: And Stan. This year you are covering The Good Wife -- which you started covering the first year -- and Body of Proof. How did you pick them?

Stan: The Good Wife? I really don't know. It might have been due to a review Ava and C.I. did. But I caught it and liked it the first year. I missed some of the second year because I had No Ordinary Family and The Cape to cover. But readers asked why I was ignoring the show so I picked it back up. Body of Proof? I liked Ava and C.I.'s piece "TV: Living Proof" and checked the show out. I like it. It moves at a different pace then a lot of shows.

Jim: Okay, that's going to wind down our this-and-that, housecleaning roundtable. We tried to get to as many topics in the e-mails as possible. This is a rush transcript.

Firm & Burn with Ann & Dona

"We're going to do three dance based aerobic routines that are simple and effective," Jane Fonda declares in the 35 second intro to her new Jane Fonda Workout Firm & Burn. Right away, we were both thinking of "The killing of a video industry (Dona)" and how dance intricate and intensive the Jane Fonda Walk Out suddenly revolved around when you switched from the beginner Walk Out to the advanced.

So we played around with the DVD first. We checked out the feature "About Aerobic Exercise" in which Jane provides you with a number of medical facts that explain why aerobic exercise is good for you.

"Do you know that the heart is a muscle?" Jane asks. "It's about the size of your fist. You exercise it by getting more blood pumping through it. This is what helps keep both the heart and lungs from becoming rigid. We must keep the heart, lungs and arteries from thickening, narrowing and getting less elastic so they can better transfer more oxygen into the blood and pump more oxygen carrying blood from the chest throughout the rest of the body."

There's a 22 minute, 45 second meditation section as well which has an introduction/overview of meditation and then Jane leads you in 18 minutes of meditation. In the extras, you get Jane discussing the Walk Out and her Fit & Strong. Those were the first she recorded for the DVD market (this is the third). Best of all, she provides subtitles. Subtitles say "welcome" to everyone and on our DVDs, they were available in English or Spanish.

Having explored the extras, it was time to get started. In the warm up, Jane introduced the six other people working out with her and noted the music combo performing live for the workout. The warm up included the mambo, warning us that Jane might get a little too dancey for our taste. But it was a basic warm up that wasn't overly complicated. Rating: A+

Jane Fonda's Firm and Burn

This is interactive workout in that you decide what you want to do. After the warm up, you may choose to do all three workouts -- Doo-Wop, Latin and Old-School Funk -- or you may choose to just do one or just do two. (Each of the three last ten minutes.) You can even choose to go into the cool down if you'd prefer.

Doo-Wop involves a step that one of us (Dona) could not get from the DVD. The other (Ann) knew it from her grandfather and was able to talk her through it. Which brings up several important points. First, when demonstrating a step, it's helpful to show it from more than one angle since the video is one-dimensional and not three. Second, when starting a new workout, it's always better if you have someone else to start it with you. Among the steps, you do the rocking horse which Jane, kindly, informs us probably wasn't done on many dance floors. We were picturing parents and grandparents doing this move in a dance hall and just not seeing it. It's a simple workout step that you can immediately feel toning in your hips, legs and buttocks. Not everything was so simple. When you take four steps forward, for example, you may wonder, "Does Jane think we all have a dance studio in our homes?" We both had to take it at an angle to cover the distance she and the others do in the video. (While the Walk Out was recorded on a set that looked like a living room, the Firm & Burn workout takes place in on a set that looks like an exercise set.) Then there was the hand jive. Our problem there? "Slap, slap, clap, clap, scissor, scissor." We instead just scissored. One of us was doing the DVD while her husband slept and the other was doing it while her husband and newborn were sleeping. Neither of us was going to be clapping and slapping. Again we had to wonder, "Does Jane think we all have a dance studio in our homes?" Those weren't major problems and we made easy adjustments for both. Rating: A-.

Latin is a pain in the ass. And we didn't realize why at first. C.I. told us: There's no beginners. There's not. The DVD doesn't have a beginners and an advanced section. A beginners section would have moved slower to allow us to catch on from the start. In the Latin section, we especially felt like we'd be thrown into the deep end of the pool. It took about three times doing this section before we felt we had it down. Adaptation? Jane loves the "cha-cha." You can simplify that by just stepping. And by the fourth and fifth viewing, we noted that from time to time, the other six working out didn't always cha-cha either. They'd just step. Especially true of the only man in the group. We felt like some people, Bonnie, for example, were doing a lower-impact version but that was never stated in any segment of the disc. The six joining Jane, by the way, were of various body types and that was encouraging. We especially loved Bonnie who struggled in the cool down section with a stretch making us feel better about the times we struggled. Rating: B+.

Old-School Funk was our favorite. There wasn't a step we struggled with. (And, to be clear, "struggle" means fancy footwork, not a move that left us winded.) This was fun and changed up often enough that we didn't wonder, "Are we almost done?" But it also reminded us how all three sections actually reminded us of dances Shirley MacLaine does in her night club act. Even in the first time doing the Firm & Burn workout, despite working up a sweat in the previous two sections and doing so in this one as well, the routine was so much fun that there was no temptation to cut our eyes to a clock or ask, "Is this thing almost over already?" At the end of the Old-School Funk, Jane says, "I hope you had fun." We did. Rating: A+.

Jane reminds you at the end of each of the workout sections (Latin, Doo-Wop and Old-School Funk) to be sure and do the Cool Down. Like the Warm Up, the Cool Down is five minutes. So to do the Warm Up, Cool Down and one workout will take 20 minutes. To do all three workouts with the Warm Up and Cool Down will take 40 minutes. These are hard times. Some videos tell you something is X but you do it and wonder why you're five minutes late for showering? How did you get behind? That's because the times aren't really what they tell you. There may, for example, be a ten minute workout segment but they talk at the beginning or at the end and tack on extra time.

When we told people we were hoping to review Jane's newest workout, we'd usually get a lot of questions. Which indicated to us both that there's a lot of interest in the workout and also that there's not been enough getting the word out on the latest DVD. That's a shame because the exercise and fitness set know about it but it's the group that may have stopped working out or may be using an older DVD or even a videotape that would probably really enjoy this workout. It's the most basic one Jane's done since her videotape days.

A number of friends and family ended up grabbing the DVD because they knew we were planning to write about it. The biggest surprise to us was a grandmother (Dona's) who did the Cool Down for two weeks and then added the Warm Up. She hopes to add one of the workouts shortly. But this has been a big deal for her and we're both very proud of her.

She asked us to point out that she had to adapt a step in the Cool Down. She has carpel tunnel in her left arm and tennis elbow on the right. She cannot intertwine her hands behind her back for the chest press without being in intense pain. So she does the chest press by not interlacing her fingers or her hands behind her back. The Cool Down works on balance and, honestly, we didn't give that much thought. But for a grandmother who was using the Cool Down to ease back into a more active lifestyle, the balance work was not just important, it was rewarding. She told us that she felt like she could feel a difference the morning after her first Cool Down in the way she carried her core but thought she might be making too much of it. After a week, she says, there was no mistaking that it was really making a huge difference.

"I really felt bad," she said, "just doing the Cool Down. I wanted to go straight to the workout but I knew I couldn't handle it right away and needed to go slowly. Once I really felt the huge difference in my core from the Cool Down, I knew I was getting results and didn't worry anymore about the rate at which I got to the actual workout." We give the Cool Down an A+ rating.

The music combo gets an A+ rating as well. How nice it was to hear music played by people as opposed to synthesizers or just beats. Jane Fonda Prime Time: Firm & Burn is available from Amazon on December 6th (as is her Trim, Tone & Flex). You can't order it online from Target right now; however, Target's been selling it in their stores since September. And Target has a better in-store price than what Amazon is currently listing it for.

Remember the subtitles? Those really are important. In this community, Hilda, who is deaf, does the weekly newsletter Hilda's Mix. And she e-mailed us with a thought she hoped we'd end on, "Yes, I can watch a DVD workout and learn the steps and be sort of a part of the experience. But only sort of because I have no idea what's being said. Firm & Burn's subtitles let me be part of the party. I wouldn't have known important instructions like not to raise my knee too high or that Jane's boyfriend is singing with the band or that we were doing John Travolta steps or anything. A whole conversation was taking place and without subtitles, those of us with hearing issues aren't fully invited to participate. I enjoy this workout but I give it an A++ just for having subtitles. That's nothing minor to me or to millions of other Americans."

CCR's Articles of Impeachment Against Bush


From 2001 through 2008, there was a call for accountability from the White House. Yes, boys and girls, once upon a time we weren't afraid to call out a War Hawk in the White House.

Many books were written on the subject. Some were just outright embarrassments like John Nichols who published on impeachment just as the 2006 elections were approaching. Why did the 2006 elections matter? Suddenly Democrats were in control. Of both house of Congress. Immediately, The Nation and others walked away from impeachment.

They used calls for impeachment to enrage the public and attempt to drive up voter turnout. They were never serious about it and would immediately begin insisting that there was no reason for it. Just like Nancy Pelosi, they took impeachment "off the table."

Along with bad books like the one by John Nichols, there were muddled books and tired books, a few inspired books, but only one winner.

articles of impeachment

The Center for Constitutional Rights published Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush.

They laid out a legal basis for why Bully Boy Bush should be impeached, citing the Constitution. In the Appendix, they dealt historically into impeachment. And throughout the book, they provided a common sense, involving read. From the book:

He has lied to the American people and the Congress as to the basis of the war with Iraq. He has involved the United States and its people in a devastating war that has killed thousands and cost billions. By doing so he has subverted the will of Congress, which alone has the right to declare war, and coerced them into doing so by falsities. He has undermined democracy by painting a false picture of the reasons for war to the American people. He has broken the law, both by committing a fraud on the American people, and by violating the fundamental legal precept prohibiting aggressive wars. He has attempted to end the system upon which our country was founded: that the president is a creature of the Constitution and law and has limited powers that are checked and balanced by the other branches. By issuing false statements and lying to Congress and the American people, he has induced Congress and the American people to enter into a war to which the people may not have consented had the true facts been known to them. By doing so, he has subverted the powers of the Congress that are meant to check presidential powers. He has undermined our republican form of government. He has violated the public trust and overstepped the bounds of his office. For these reasons, George W. Bush must be impeached.

Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush remains an important book for many reasons. It is a document against illegal war. It is proof that some people believe in accountability. It is a time capsule for the crimes of the executive branch as the new century started. It is also a powerful and provocative read.

Bully Boy Bush 'created' the power to arrest and hold people without charges and without having to provide any proof. Barack Obama took it even further and claims the right to execute anyone with a drone that he damn well pleases -- a power not written into the Constitution.

In a truly brave world, we'd see books calling for the impeachment of Barack Obama.

In this series of ten important books of the last ten years, we've, so far, selected "Manal M. Omar's Barefoot in Baghdad," "Susan Faludi's The Terror Dream," "Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price's Courting Justice," "Anthony Arnove's Iraq: The Logic Of Withdrawal" and "Tori's Piece by Piece." Articles of Impeachment is our sixth pick, we've got four more to note. Due to the Great Recession, your local libraries are both overtaxed (seeing more patrons than ever before) and underfunded. Make a point to check out your local library or local branch of your library and consider letting your local representatives know that you support increasing the budget for the library.

Ron Paul wins straw poll

RonPaulRCA2012 tweeted last night, " Ron Paul Wins First Place in 2012 Illinois Republican Pre-Presidential Straw Poll " and we have to wonder how much press attention the win will receive?

We're not talking about the wire services. AP's already noted that U.S. House Rep. Ron Paul won 52% of the vote and Reuters has added that the poll was in person and online and "Each voter was required to make a $5 contribution to the Illinois Republican Party to cover costs of the straw poll and to support state and local Republican candidates." And, of course, Chicago, Illinois is one of the few big cities that can still boast that they have two daily papers. Rick Pearson covered the straw poll for The Chicago Tribune but The Chicago Sun Times decided AP was the way to go on a story that they should have been putting their own stamp on.

1 ron paul

We're more worried about when Monday rolls around. Will it make the morning chat & chews? Or will they have moved on?

If it would help, should we insist we know someone who said Ron Paul had a big penis? And that she even had pictures of it?

If we hinted she might (or might not) come forward after a week of non-stop coverage, would the press go into overdrive and talk about Ron Paul non-stop?

That does seem to be what the press specializes in these days, doesn't it?

Solyndra explained in less than sixty words

"Solyndra was the solar company that epitomized the idea of government sponsored green investments when the politically connected got hooked up as the tax payers saw a half-billion dollar investment go belly up. Oh, and of course the campaign contributions from the beneficiaries kept coming."

adam vs the man unplugged

That's Adam Kokesh from his Adam vs. the Man unplugged (November 11th episode). Adam vs. the Man was a strong radio program which moved over to RT (Russian Television) until the program and Adam proved 'too hot to handle.'

You can now find his reports on his YouTube channel.

The Iraq War veteran doesn't dance like a monkey for anyone. Would that others could make the same claim. There may be times when you disagree with his take, there may be times when you're surprised by how strongly you agree with his take, but he's got a standard he works by and he applies it to all equally. That's needed in the best of times but in this age of the Cult of St. Barack, it's needed now more than ever.

Idiot of the week: Dorian Warren

Doug Henwood likes a good whore. Scream "racist!" without backing it up and Doug will book you. We were reminded of that on the latest Behind The News again as another great show got derailed when I-know-nothing-about-the-Tea-Party Dorian Warren began tarring and feathering. The assistant professor at Columbia reminded why Behind The News is no longer an essential: You don't need to know a damn thing to be on the show.

dorian t. warren

And you don't need to be honest. Warren offered one lie after another to explain away the White-ness of the OWS movement. It was most laughable when he declared, "I have gone to about three people of color caucus meetings [in New York]. They're very active, they're like 50 people at these meetings. If you look at Oakland, if you look at -- " He couldn't name another Occupy. And his faculty bio notes, "Warren specializes in the study of inequality and American politics, focusing on the political organization of marginalized groups." Again, laughable when he says he really doesn't care "if a bunch of White anarchists" started OWS or calls to stop using "Occupy" because it's offensive to groups like Native Americans. He cares about marginalized groups . . . except when they're standing between him and what he wants. Got it.

Warren likes Occupy Wall Street and sees it as all good and beautiful and he hates the Tea Party and sees it as racist and evil. Henwood chuckles, Henwood self-embarrasses. Explain to us how either Warren or Henwood thought they were talking about a 99% (of the people) movement when they repeatedly excluded those they disagree with politically -- excuse us, when they repeatedly demonized those they disagree with politically. As Bob Somerby pointed out last month, "People in Occupy see things are wrong. So do some people in the tea party. All are in the 99 percent. Or have we already discarded the math upon which this new movement is based?" Warren insisted, "I think we should try to take the 99% as far as it goes" -- while at the same time rushing to demonize others in the 99%.

We like Doug, but we're damn sick of the tribalism. As Bob Somerby has noted, you can cherry pick -- as some on the left did -- anything to make a group of people look bad. As Somerby has also noted, you should be very careful when applying any term to a large group of people. The fact that they are your political enemies doesn't change that rule.

Dorian Warren is part of the continued decline of Columbia University. It's a shame that he's also part of the continued decline of Behind The News. Doug would do well to book Bob Somerby as a guest and discuss tribalism with him -- and how it hurts We The People and keeps us from ever getting ahead. Many of Bob's points echo points Doug himself once made.

Historians Condemn Honoring of Kissinger (ETAN)

From ETAN:

Contact: John M. Miller, 917-690-4391
Tom Keough, 718-768-6171

Historians Condemn Honoring of Kissinger

Urge New-York Historical Society to Withdraw Honor

November 3 - In a letter sent yesterday, more than 110 historians urged the New-York Historical Society (N-YHS) to "withdraw the name of Henry Kissinger as an honoree" at its upcoming event scheduled for November 7, 2011.

In their letter to the Society's Board of Trustees, the scholars wrote: "Kissinger remains one of the twentieth century’s worst war criminals, and to pretend otherwise is to condone his crimes. It is difficult to understand how the New-York Historical Society could consider honoring such a man."

The letter with the list of signers can be found at .

"The failure to hold Kissinger to account for his myriad crimes has allowed him to continue dispensing recommendations for new wars and foreign interventions," the letter says. The failure to confront this record has facilitated the invasion of Iraq, the use of torture at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, the policy of rendition and the detentions at Guantánamo Bay, and other illegal actions of the 'war on terror.'"

Between 1969 and 1977, Kissinger served as National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State. He designed and implemented policies which led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, the overthrow of democratically-elected governments, and the invasion and occupation of sovereign countries. Examples include the invasion of Cambodia, the overthrow of the government of Chile and Indonesia's invasion and occupation of East Timor.

Should the N-YHS continue with its plan to honor Kissinger, protesters will gather outside the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Monday, November 7 to express their outrage. Demonstrators will gather from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 301 Park Ave. (between 49 & 50 St.) in Manhattan to condemn the honoring of the accused war criminal by the society at a $1000 a ticket gala.


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John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: +1-718-596-7668 Mobile phone: +1-917-690-4391
Email: Skype: john.m.miller

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