Sunday, April 29, 2012

Truest statement of the week

You're starting to see that, in the new and improved online Atlantic, the readers are also the editors!

--  spragued, commenting on Hampton Stevenes' "'30 Rock' Live: A Funny Reminder of Why Sitcomes Aren't Shot Live Anymore" (The Atlanic).

Truest statement of the week II

Supporters of these foreign interventions should not be allowed to get away with saying that "they got rid of Saddam and the Taliban, so how can any decent person oppose them?". But apologists have to explain why regime change was followed by bloody conflicts, almost immediately in Iraq, and after five years in Afghanistan.

-- Patrick Cockburn, "Christopher Hitchens made a cogent case for war -- but he was still wrong" (Independent of London).

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another 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),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
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. What did we come up with?

A media criticism that we all loved.
Cockburn on the War Hawks.

Oh how the whores lie.  (Sing it to Vanessa Williams "Oh, How The Years Go By.")

Ava and C.I. take on 30 Rock.  (They call the show "the beast that won't die."  The Friday 13th of TV shows, not even low ratings through the heart can kill it.)

Important report on who is ripping off veterans.  We utilized the reporting Kat, Wally, Ava and C.I. did last week as well as details they told us about the hearing while we were writing this piece.

C.I. noted this in real time.  Real time?  We were doing a roundtable.  One of the e-mails was that NPR's coverage of primaries was being picked on and we didn't do primary coverage because we couldn't do better.  C.I. took it as a challenge.  This section was stripped from the e-mail roundtable because we were going to use it as the intro to that piece.  It was going to be a transcript piece.  C.I. assigned Elaine to moderate/anchor and Kat wanted to be the other one so she could be "giggly'" like the NPR female co-hosts on that live primary coverage.  This led to Kat saying things like, "Huh, I'm a girl! Giggle giggle!"  I (Jim) forget who was doing what but it was all women.  C.I. was giving political analaysis.  Betty was doing media analysis.  Dona was strictly noting the results.  And I stopped it.   I said, "What?"  C.I. was doing a political analysis on the mocking of the GOP candidates and how this was going to help the eventual winner -- Elaine pressed for who and C.I. said it was Mitt -- because he was the normal one of the crazy bunch.  The Democrats had established an image that helped Romney.  The voters would be, "Can you believe they almost gave us crazy Newt? Or Santorum?"  I screamed stop and killed the piece.  I said this could change the tactics and asked if we wanted to help the re-election campaign? Was that our purpose?  No.  Alright, let's table this topic until the Dems drop that bit.  Now we can cover it.
The Obama campaign says there are ten battleground states.
This was our campaign edition.  We may tackle student loans next week but we didn't have time this go round.

Jill Stein is running for the Green Party's presidential nomination.
A Workers World repost.  If you see the 'war on women' post at WW, we saw it too.  We're not advancing that,  we're not part of the re-election campaign.  We find it humorous that a number of people and orgs in that article are suddenly pretending to care about women, now that 'war on women' is a DNC talking point.

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


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

Editorial: Barack's Iraq problem

The press has been so very good to Barack Obama.   When he was a candidate, they largely looked the other way about Iraq War reality and allowed him to lie that he was always against the Iraq War.  They ignored and buried, for example, his 2004 DNC remarks to The New York Times insisting, had he been in the US Senate in 2002, he didn't know how he would have voted on the Iraq War resolution   ("What would I have done? I don't know").

They vanished it and when he won the election, they continued to act as 'cleaners.'

Take his promise to pull a brigade a month out of Iraq removing all "combat troops" within 16 months of being sworn in.  Barack was sworn in in January of 2009.   And, oh, how the whores lie.  Take PolitiFact -- an alleged truth squad -- where they rate it true.  They do add, in their final paragraph, "Tehcnically, he's a few months over the deadline, but he often said 'about 16 months' on the campaign trail."  Really?  That's how you measure veracity?

What a bunch of stupid and trashy whores.

He also, on the campaign trail, left people with the false impression that he was saying all US troops out of Iraq.

The Whores of PolitiFact didn'g give a damn about that one.  Whores so very rarely call out their johns, they just take the money and smile.

Even now, all this time later, Special Ops remain in Iraq, 700 US service member remain as 'trainers,' the CIA and FBI are present, Marines are present to guard embassy staff and thousands and thousands of contractors remain.  It's why the US military refused to call it a "withdrawal" and instead use the term "drawdown."

The same lying press that won't tell you those details, works overtime to ignore the ongoing political crisis.

I see Ba'athists

Telling the truth about thug and criminal Nouri al-Maliki might not be good for Barack Obama's re-election campaign.  And isn't that what the press is supposed to be about? Whoring to get their man (gender pronoun used intentionally) into office?

No, that's not what the press is supposed to be about.

And as they lie about Nouri for Barack, a frightening image takes hold: 2022 and Nouri's still prime minister of Iraq.  Should that awful vision come true, don't listen to the press that tells you about lying politicians.

DOn't believe the dirty whores.

The politicians lied?  Yeah, some did.

But the reality is, the press lied too.  They lied over and over.  They whored for Nouri because the White House wanted him.

Here's reality about the 2008 Democratic Party primary, Barack didn't get more votes than Hillary.  When telling that truth made the press uncomfortable because it meant going against their F**k-me-hard-from-behind buddy, they chose to utilize new criteria Barack's people stressed.  We bring that upb ecause they do the same with Iraq.

Barack backed Nouri.  Backing Nouri after the 2010 vote meant going against democracy, going against the will of the Iraqi people and going against the Iraqi Constitution.

The press built Barack into a constitutional law expert.  They built him into Abe Lincoln and other heroes.  It didn't play well for them to tell the truth about what he was doing in Iraq.

So instead of noting that Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law lost by many, many votes to Iraqiya, they wanted to tell you that it didn't matter because Iraqiya only got two more seats in the Parliament.  That's not counting votes.  That's not about what the people wanted.  The votes were clear -- and much more than two votes -- that State of Law was second place.

But good little whores swallow and smile.  Take Quil Lawrence of NPR.  Two days after the people voted, with over 75% of the vote still not counted, Quil went on Morning Edition and declared Nouri the winner.  Not State of Law, mind you.  Quil made it seem as though Nouri was running for prime minister on the ballot.  He wasn't.  But Quil wanted to whore, wanted to swing that ass and advertise his going rate, so he declared that Nouri won the election.

The vote tally, much later, demonstrated whores can move their mouths but that doesn't mean truth comes out.

Iraq is falling apart.  And Barack's nominated someone supremely unqualfiied (who may or may not have engaged in public sex when in Iraq earlier), someone tight with Nouri (Iraqiya -- the slate that came in first -- has declared Barack's nominee unacceptable), someone who doesn't speak Arabic and who has no management experience.

The US State Dept is spending $6 billion a year in Iraq and Barack wants to put a glorified errand boy in charge of that mission and that money?

Only when a group of tired whores pose as the press do these issues not get raised.


Illustration is  Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I See Ba'athists."

TV: Factual distortions only 'honor' lying

More and more 30 Rock seems like an Erika Eleniak movie -- the TV listing demonstrates it's airing but no one's watching.


No we're not referring to the ratings.

Yes, 30 Rock has again cratered.  Each season it does, each season, fewer and fewer people watch.  They even joked about it Thursday night when Liz (Tina Fey) said of Paul (Will Forte) proposing to Jenna (Jane Krakowski) the TGS show, "Wow, 2.5 million people just saw that."  Guest star Kim Kardashian caught the proposal on her cell phone and Tweeted it, "Now 14 million people just saw it, you're welcome." Yes, the ratings are low, but we're referring to the so-called 'critical' reaction to the crap NBC aired Thursday.

There were two shows.  One was aired live in the Central and EST time zones, the other was aired live in the PST time zone.  Kim Kardashian guested on the West Coast version.  Thanks to Paul McCartney's awful performance (he was on the East Coast version),  Kardashian looked especially accomplished.

This was 30 Rock's second attempt at a live show.  They tried it last season as well.   It's a ratings stunt, that's all it is and it did help, the show almost got three and half-million viewers.  Almost.  In a real world, this show would be canned and, when NBC announces the fall line up, it may have to explain why certain shows that performed got the axe but 30 Rock came back.

Last year, the live show was all about Liz having a birthday and everyone forgetting.  It was so weak, it wouldn't have made for a minor Phyllis and Bess subplot on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  However, that was positively Marguerite Young-ian compared to what they offered this year: To save money, Jack wants TGS taped and not live and so they're about to do their last live show when Kenneth The Former Page locks them in the dressing room of Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) until they agree to keep the live format.

"That's the beauty of live TV," Tina Fey declares mugging at and looking towards the studio audience, "anything can happen!" Anything could have but what didn't happen was a tribute to live television or Tina Fey coming off like an actress.

Yet, oh, how they rushed to lie. Meredith Blake (AV Club -- we're told it's like Sam's Club  but less glamorous)Hampton Stevens (The Atlantic), Chris Harnick (Huffington Post) and Breia I-Hate-Women Brissey (who found the right place to take her sexism, Entertainment Weekly). [Stevens appears to have attempted to tell some critical truths; however, facts fail him.]

This was a tribute to live television!  The Water Cooler Set loves to lie and whore for Tina Fey.  The big news was that she (again) demonstrated she can't act.  Her comedy rhythms are created in editing.  Without the knobs to control her vocals, she comes off squeaky and high-pitched.  And she can't maintain character in a scene.  In a single-camera format (a film or 30 Rock's usual method of recording the show), editing can hide all that.

In a multi-cam format, she's exposed as very untalented.  Untalented and with a really bad habit of mugging into the camera -- into -- and an inability to pause during laughter or applause.  That was most evident when she declared (West Coast version), "Watch you get all red faced on TV, [audience begins clapping] that night I found [audience stops clapping] my calling, sticking it to the man!"  She also had a tendency to move on allegedly humorous lines that  she should have been still for.  In both the East and West Coast versions, she never could sell "stick it to the man" as funny.  Some might argue it wasn't.  She also flubbed a line ("Henna or Jay -- Hazel or Jenna will know that we're missing") and railroaded through it instead of mugging.  That might have been the only point at which her shameless mugging might have worked.

Bad acting, sadly, also came from Alec Baldwin reminding keen observers of why the film industry washed their hands of  the notion that he was a leading man  leaving TV  to come to his rescue.  This was especially notable when Baldwin was repeatedly and obviously reading his lines from the Teleprompter.   There was also his embarrassing shout-out in the first scene (both versions) of being "here in the greatest city on earth, NYC, wazzup!"  Years ago, Lily Tomlin appeared on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and she used to have to go round and round over the character of Ernestine and how, if she wasn't using her power as an AT&T operator on big targets, the sting of Ernestine's comedy went soggy.  Few have ever protected the character the way Lily did.  And it's that emotional honesty and that recognition of the character she plays that allows her, all these years later, to still know Ernestine and Edith Ann and to share them with an audience still overjoyed to see them.  It's hard to believe Lily would have 'good-sported' it the way Alec did.  He dishonored the character of Jack with that moment.

Along with bad acting, there was bad writing.  There were many lines that just weren't funny, for example.  Amy Poehler got stuck with a number of those lines but she managed to put them across and still get laughs.  Tina Fey was just miserable.  An acting career no longer really appears to be in her future so when NBC does finally pull the plug, look for her to fade quickly.  At one point, she could have continued on as a writer, but she's exposed just how limited her talents are there as well.  With Jack Burdtit, Fey co-wrote the awful live episode(s).

Unable to come up with a decent premise, they cobbled together bad SNL skits.  So you had not just flashbacks to things that happened, but lengthy 'flashbacks' that were just parodies of old TV shows.

You got Jon Hamm in Blackface with Tracy doing a parody of Amos & Andy (the TV show featured African-Americans in those roles, it was only for the radio show and the thirties film that White actors played the parts).  The whole 'joke' was that in one scene after another (time elapsing between scenes, with Kenneth narrating) that the Black actor beat up the White actor on live TV.  Again, there was no Black face on the Amos & Andy TV show.  How this revisionary nonsense honors TV or even captures it is anyone's guess?  If your point was to establish that fifties TV was racist, there are many ways to do so.  But when your 'joke' includes a Black actor attacking a White actor on TV repeatedly, you're really not capturing racism.  In fact, you're implying it was non-existent.

NBC was the network of controversy in 1968 when Chrysler was demanding Petula Clark use an alternate take for the broadcast of her special.  What offended Chrysler -- and NBC agreed with the corporation, no surprise -- was that while singing with Harry Belafonte, Clark and he had briefly held hands.  Belafonte is African-American, Clark is Anglo-White.  In other words, that's NBC and, no, they wouldn't have ever aired a show in the 1950s where  a Black actor repeatedly attacked a White actor.  We're sorry that we have to be sticklers for details and rain on Tina Fey's hi-jinks, but, again, if you're going to decry racism, decry it.  Don't toy with it and then ignore it.

Related, in another 'flashback,' a news reporter named Jamie is shouted down on NBC's Huntley-Brinkley Report (for context, that's now Nightly News with Brian Williams).  Jamie was played by Tina Fey, the news anchors were played (East Coast) by Alec Baldwin and Jon Hamm and by Alec Baldwin and Brian Williams.  This was a (thankfully) brief sketch.  Chet and David (Baldwin was David in both versions) refuse to believe that the woman (Fey) is reporter Jaimie. 

It wasn't funny.  And that's not just because the audience in the second broadcast applauded wildly when Brian Williams told Fey, "Look, honey, you have a dynamite shape but you're going to have to shut up and let a man tell us what happened there."

First off, that wasn't the moon landing, Water Cooler Set.  You seem confused.  But that's because history is factual and factual is beyond your grasp.  And, Hampton Stevens, that wasn't "a send-up of NBC's Nightly News in the 1960s."  Jamie was trying to report on an explosion on  Apollo 13.  That's an actual event.  It happened April 12, 1970.  That wasn't the sixties.

And that 'parody'  wasn't NBC.  That's what made Brian Williams' participation so awful.  There he was in a skit mocking NBC for refusing to realize that women could report on news in 1970.  Nancy Dickerson left CBS News for NBC in 1963.  She continued there until 1970.  Her work included covering MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech and other significant moments such as JFK's funeral: "Behind the casket is Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy.  To her right is her brother-in-law, the attorney general, Robert Kennedy.  They are helping her down out of that carrier that has just brought down the casket."  That clip and more was featured on NPR's Day by Day in 2006 when journalist John Dickerson was on the program to discuss the book he wrote about his mother, On Her Trail: My Mother, Nancy Dickerson, TV News' First Woman Star.  You'd think Brian Williams, anchor and "managing editor"  of NBC's evening news would know about the program's history.  You'd certainly think he'd know about John Dickerson's book.

It's really hard to see how distorting the factual record is in any way 'honoring' live television.

Other skits included a parody where Alec was apparently supposed to be Dean Martin.  Dean Martin was a nice man that no one has anything bad to say about -- not even Jerry Lewis, his former partner.  So the notion that they're going to play him as a sloppy drunk?

Seriously?  All we can say is, "Golly, Alec, we can't wait till you're dead and the parodists are utilizing those nasty calls you made to your daughter. And maybe they can play you drunk as well?  It would certainly explain why you didn't know your own daughter's age in that shrill phone call, right?"

Unlike what aired as 'parody,' Dean Martin would never have reached around or over Dusty Springfield while she was performing on his show.  Nor would he have been talking into the camera blocking her as she sang.  That was disgusting and calling the character  "Joey Montero" just went to the fact that while you're willing to trash, you're too chicken to use the dead man's name. 

Then there was The Gruber Brother and Nipsey,  a supposed send-up of  Laugh-In.  Here's a fun-fact, Rowan &  Martin's Laugh-In revolutionized television and did so with, in the words of co-creator George Schlatter, "a blinding burst of blackouts, sight-gags, sketches and one-liners."   It was the first show to really show what film could do.  Film.  It wasn't live TV.

But there was Kenneth insisting to Liz, "Think about your hero, Rosemary Howard.  She wrote for the edgiest live variety show of all time: The Gruber Brother and Nipsy."

It's amazing that none of the Water Cooler Set remembered Rosemary on Friday.  In the second season episode "Rosemary's Baby," Liz explains to Pete, as they wait in line for Liz to get Rosemary (Carrie Fisher) to autograph her new book I'm Only Laughing Because It's Funny, "She's the first female writer for Laugh-In.  She wrote all the political stuff for Donny & Marie.  I grew up watching her."

Then, in that episode,  we see Nixon walking into people (on the set of Laugh-In) saying, "Pardon me, pardon me."  What is supposed to be Goldie Hawn stops dancing to note, "You were already pardoned."

Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon after Laugh-In, but we bring it up for a reason.  30 Rock, in season two, established Rosemary wrote for Laugh-In.  She was still doing that when Nixon was pardoned, according to 30 Rock, so the Haldeman as a mail box joke from season two (established to be on Laugh-In) was suddenly flipped to The Gruber Brother and Nipsey?

When you stop caring about the world you've established, you're really not a writer.

And if you claim to be a critic, you need to stop gushing about how live TV was honored and celebrated because no such thing happened.  Doing TV skits really isn't about celebrating the golden age of live TV.  Getting the facts wrong really isn't about honoring the golden age of live TV.  Critics should grasp that.

They should.  But how can they when they write ridiculous 'critiques' that include this little gem explaining why they're not worried if their 'quotes' from the show are correct: "Why should I get to rewind to get a quote just right when Tina, Alec, and the rest of the gang don't get to?" Well maybe because you're a TV critic, not a performer on live TV?  How's that for starters?  Maybe, while exploring that, you can, somewhere in there, try discussing the need for accuracy?

The Water Cooler set is so far up its own ass, they can't see straight.    Which is how Hampton Stevens managed to write, "A spoof of The Honeymooners lampooned the sexism in 1950s sitcoms." The Lovebirds featured Tina and Alec.  We're not seeing the sexism tackled.

Now in the skit, Alec's character repeatedly resorted to threats of physical violence.  You can argue whether The Honeymooners Audrey gave as good as she got when it came to the verbals on that show.  But we're having a hard time seeing how that's sexism.  If you're afraid that these words will result in actions or that the words will terrorize, then we're talking about violence and we're talking about crime.

What they're not talking about, the Water Cooler Set, is Tina Fey's repeated use of homophobia.

We're not doing links on this, we've called it out repeatedly.  In article after article.  We avoid the show because, unlike the Water Cooler Set, we can't chuckle at homophobia, we can't even stomach it.  The Lovebirds?  The East Coast live broadcast had the skit end with the 'joke' of the actress playing the wife exclaiming she was a lesbian who was sleeping with another woman.  [On the West Coast, the 'joke' was she confessed to getting a venereal disease from Orson Welles.] Wait, we're not done.  The West Coast live broadcast featured a spoof of a 50s commercial for cigarettes that included the following:

Hello, I'm Dr. Harold Spaceman.  I'm known in the industry as the gay doctor because I always have a smile on my face because I have so many homosexual lovers.  [. . . ] 9 out of 10 doctors surveyed said, "You've got a lot of nerve, Spaceman, calling here after what you tried on my nephew." 

So the punchline for one skit  is that an actress is gay?   How is that funny?  Oh, right, it's funny like her "cat rodeo in a gay guy's apartment" 'joke' in previous seasons.  A woman being gay might be funny if she'd pretended to have been something else in the skit.  Or maybe if some man were coming on to her and they used that as a punchline.  But just being gay?  When people scream with laughter -- and the East Coast broadcast audience did scream with laughter (please note, both shows were live from the East Coast) -- they got your 'joke' but we're not invested in you, Tina Fey, and we don't have to laugh at your non-stop homophobia.

As for the 50s commercial?  Gay is not pedophilia.  It would be really great if Tina Fey could stop equating gay men with pedophiles.  There was never a reason for her to do that in the first place.  You would think, after all these 'jokes,'  someone would have corrected her homophobic assumption long ago.

We're considering doing a piece where we ridicule Tina Fey on her small, tiny number of lovers.  We figure since she's always making fun of gay men and lesbians for their sexual desires, we ought be making jokes at her expense.  We all are aware of her born-again phase, right?  Oh, that's right, we're not all aware of that late high school/early college period.  But if Tina and NBC want to continue to broadcast that homophobia on the public's airwaves, we're more than happy to write 'material' on that and we'll include when Tina first got fingered.

We don't normally make fun of people's sex lives -- especially sad cases like people in their forties who don't even need a full hand to count their lovers --  but we'll be happy to make an exception for Tina Fey since she finds the sexual desires of gay people to be so funny.  Thing is though, if we start writing about the real Tina Fey, her Water Cooler Cred goes right down the toilet.  [Tina, as you read this, keep that in mind.]

Both broadcasts played like the worst Saturday Night Live ever.  In fact, bringing tired Paul McCartney on to act and not even getting a song out of him sounds like the worst Saturday Night Live ever.   Only Jane, Kristen Schaal (Hazel) and Cheyenne Jackson (Danny) managed to be consistently funny, in character and not embarrass themselves.  [As with last season's live show(s), Jane sang the East Coast theme and Cheyenne did the West Coast.]  In the West Coast version, Bowden looked like an idiot when she was supposed to be Goldie Hawn on Laugh-In and she was making ridiculous sexual faces while dancing.  Goldie, pay attention, was sexy on Laugh-In because she wasn't trying to be.  How typical on this show that any attempt to recreate a natural moment comes off forced.

Judah Friedlander was on the East Coast episode as Frank.  On the West Coast episode, he was onstage at the end during the credits. Otherwise,  Fred Armisen played his dialogue-less role for the West Coast version.  Grizz Chapman (Grizz) and Kevin Brwon (Dot.Com) were also glorified extras as was Sue Galloway (Sue).  With all those skits, you might have thought they could do something with the cast.  But instead, you had Jimmy Fallon playing a younger Jack, you had Jon Hamm playing two roles, you had Donald Glover as a young Tracy Jordan and you had way too much Tracy Morgan and Tina Fey.

Live television is sacred, Kenneth The Former Page insists, and some idiots took that as the message of a half-assed live broadcast.  Live TV and the sitcom?  That's the story of a woman so the Water Cooler Set and Tina Fey will never get it right.

Live TV fell out of favor for sitcoms for a number of reasons, chiefly that the shows that were taped from the fifties did great in syndication and I Love Lucy lives on to this day while Your Show of Shows and others were live and they survived in kinescopes. [The Museum of Broadcast Communications: "The first and most primitive method of recording television programs, production, or news story, a kinescope is a film made of a live television broadcast. Kinescopes are usually created by placing a motion picture camera in front of a television monitor and recording the image off the monitor's screen while the program is being aired. This recording method came into wide use around 1947. Before videotape, this process was the standard industry method of creating a permanent document, for rebroadcast and for archival purposes."]  In last week's 30 Rock(s), Jack tried to insist that doing the shows on tape would be cheaper.  No.  It's actually cheaper to do a sitcom live. And doing it live Thursday meant the cast and crew had Friday off -- something that doesn't happen when they tape.

Live TV for sitcoms ended (and ended quickly) because of syndication -- specifically because of the money to be made in syndication.  Once it ended, that was really it for decades.

It was NBC that brought it back to sitcoms or, rather, that carried the program that did.  This is a story of someone with strong comic timing and great skill.  However, it's a woman so you know that means it's a story that's rarely told.  We warned you throughout the 00s that the sitcom wasn't dead and that this nonsense had been paraded before in the first half of the 80s.  At that point, there were few sitcoms on TV and few that got any kind of an audience.  One that did was Gimmie A Break! which starred Tony and Emmy Award winner Nell Carter.

NBC suits realized she was a star when she was stuck in a supporting role on the network's The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo.  She managed to shine in that and went on to shine, from 1981 to 1987, as Nell Harper on Gimmie a Break! -- earning Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.  Nell's story is not any different from most women in sitcoms.  Like Roseanne and Cybil and so many others, everybody 'knew' better than the actress playing the lead. Coleman Mitchell and Geoffrey Neigher 'knew' what was funny.  Often what they found 'funny,' Nell found sexist and racist.  She did not appreciate being given lines to make Nell Harper come off dumb or unintelligent.  She refused to say those lines.  She also didn't understand why Nell  was the only Black character in the whole town.  This was among the reasons the actress started using cocaine heavily.  She fought and resisted efforts to play women, and especially African-American women, as stupid.  She was right and she won in the end but don't for a minute think that it was easy for her.

Telma Hopkins would join the cast (after Mitchell and Nigher were gone) as Addy Wilson.  And from her first episode, where Addy and Nell clashed and then made up, it was obvious that Nell Carter and Telma Hopkins had that rare form of chemistry that Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance first brought to a large TV audience.   In one episode, Nell is upset that Addy's going to Hawaii without her.

Nell:  Look, I really want you to go to Hawaii.  And I want you to have a good time.  I want you to enjoy that beautiful room that we picked out together.  You know, the one with that beautiful view of the ocean.  I want you to have that view so you can get a good look at that tidal wave that I'm hoping will hit that hotel, knocking a palm tree against the door, trapping you in just before that volcano erupts blowing hot lava all over your open-toed shoes.

That's from "Cat Story" (written by Tom Biener, Mort Lachman, Ron Landry and Sy Rosen) which aired February 23, 1985 and which was the first live broadcast of a sitcom in decades.  Nell knew the move would attract attention to the show, she was proud of the work everyone was doing and glad that the changes she wanted had been incorporated into the show.  The show was on a winning streak (one that would continue through the end of season five) and she'd been doing interviews non-stop for months.  NBC was iffy on the prospect of a live show.  What if something went wrong, what if someone forgot a line, what if someone froze, what if, what if, what if.

Nell pointed out that she was a Broadway actress, she was used to live audiences and she'd just, the year before, put together a cabaret act that went over well.  She didn't see anyone having problems -- certainly not Telma who was use to live audiences from her time in Tony Orlando &  Dawn  and Dolph Sweet was not only a Broadway veteran, he'd also done live television. NBC needed to 'think about' the proposal.  Three months later, they were tentatively for it, but they wanted a simple show in terms of production.  The scenes of "Cat Story" all take  place in either the Kanisky kitchen or living room.

It was a funny episode, it was a strong episode, it drew new attention to the show and, more importantly, let more people know that 'look at the funny talking Black maid' wasn't what Gimmie A Break! was about.

It was a triumph.

Nothing about 30 Rock on Thursday could qualify as a triumph.

About the only thing Tina Fey shares with the late Nell Carter is NBC.

No, 30 Rock last week was more like ABC's The Drew Carey Show which also used live shows for stunt ratings.  (Though successful by 30 Rock standards, it should be noted Tina's ratings on Thursday were like The Drew Carey Show's . . . when ABC decided to burn off new season eight and nine episodes over the summers of 2003 and 2004.)  On Carey's show the live episodes had no coherent story and the actors mugged, broke character and interacted with the audience.

Drew Carey had a funny show.  It was often a very good show.  It was never a critical darling.  For example, over nine seasons, the program received only 7 Emmy nominations and no wins. Those nominations were never for writing and the only acting nomination was Charles Nelson Reilly for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.  By contrast, 30 Rock received 15 nominations . . . just  last year.

Here's another difference between the overly praised and petted 30 Rock and the actually funny Drew Carey Show.  When Drew's ratings tanked (early in season eight), ABC was stuck with the show because of a contract they'd signed in 2000 guaranteeing the show would air nine seasons.  NBC has no such contract with 30 Rock.  In a medium where ratings are supposed to determine whether you live or die, NBC has repeatedly brought this increasingly bad program back.  While  the renewal of shows such as Whitney and Community -- both of which get better ratings than 30 Rock --  are in doubt, 30 Rock always gets a smooth ride.  Of course, if either or both of  the shows get the axe and the chronically low-rated 30 Rock returns for season seven, expect even more viewers to flee.


Who's ripping off veterans?


Saturday, President Barack Obama wanted to talk about protecting veterans in his weekly address.  "The sad truth is that there are people out there who are less interested in helping our men and women in uniform get ahead and more interested in making a buck."

He might as well have been speaking about the VA.

Certainly, initial results of the Madigan Army Medical scandal don't appear to refute the accusations that fear of financial costs led to over 300 service members with PTSD being told they didn't have PTSD.  But that's only one of the many VA scandals.

The one we're talking about is the scandal where veterans seek treatment but can't get it because the VA lies and lies repeatedly, claiming to have enough staff, claiming to use community providers when they're overwhelmed, claiming to have reduced VA wait time to 14 days.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America released a statement  last Wednesday which included:

 Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, released the following statement expressing outrage over an alarming new report from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Inspector General. The report concluded that veterans’ wait times for mental health care far exceed that which the VA has previously reported and the VA’s mandates. According to the Inspector General’s findings, for veterans who did not receive evaluations within 14 days, the average wait for a first evaluation was 50 days -- nearly two months. Additionally, 71% of frontline mental health staffers said in an informal VHA survey that in their opinion their facilities did not have adequate mental health staff to meet current demand for care.

The VA lies and they lie again.  Let's drop back to a November 30th Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing:

Chair Patty Murray:  Dr. Zeiss, I wanted to ask you, when you testified before a hearing for this Committee May 25th, I asked you whether VA had enough resources to meet OEF OIF veterans needs for health care and you said the resources weren't the problem.  In light of what you've learned from last May, especially from your own providers do you stand by that statement from me?

Antonette Zeiss: I believe that we have unprecedented resources and that we have gotten them out to the field and that we have hired an enormous amount of staff. And at the time, I believed that they were adequate if used in the most effective ways possible. We continue to have an increasing number of mental health patients. We have looked at the FY'11 data and the numbers have again jumped from FY'10 and we are proactively predicting what kinds of increases there will be in FY 12 and we're working with the Office of Policy and Planning to ensure that those projection are embedded into the actuary model that drives the budget predictions so that I can say that we will be aggressively following all the data that we have available to ensure that we can make effective predictions at the policy level about what level of funding and level of staffing will be essential and we will be partnering very closely with Dr. Schohn's office who are responsible for ensuring that those resources are are used most effectively are used in the field to deliver the kinds of care that we have.

Chair Patty Murray:  So you still today do not believe that it's resources that's the issue?

Antonette Zeiss: I believe that we're at a juncture where we need to be looking absolutely at resources because of the greatly increased number of mental health patients that we are serving.  And some of that is because of very aggressive efforts we've made to outreach and ensure that people are aware of the care that VA can provide.  The more we succeed in getting that word across [. . .]

Zeiss continues babbling but any thinking person can grasp that the reality is she's avoiding answering basic questions.  When Committee Chair Murray asks her if the VA has enough resources, that is a yes-or-a-no question.  Zeiss can babble away all she wants but no one paying attention is going to be misled by all those words and think she bothered to provide an answer -- straight or bent.

And that's true of every VA witness that has appeared before the Committee.

On Wednesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held another hearing on this issue. 

Chair Patty Murray:  At each of the previous hearings, the Committee heard from the VA how accessible mental health care services were.  This was inconsistent with what we heard from veterans and the VA mental health care providers.  So last year, following the July hearing, I asked the Department to survey its own health care providers to get a better assessment of the situation.  The results as we all now know were less than satisfactory.  Among the findings, we learned that nearly 40% of the providers surveyed could not schedule an appointment in their own clinic for a new patient within the 14 days. Over 40% could not schedule an established patient within 14 days of their desired appointment.  And 70% reported inadequate staffing or space to meet the mental health care needs.  The second hearing, held in November, looked at the discrepancy between what the VA was telling us and what the providers were saying.  We heard from a VA provider and other experts about the critical importance of access to the right type of care delivered timely by qualified mental health professionals.  At last November's hearing, I announced that I would be asking VA's Office of Inspector General to investigate the true availability of mental health care services at VA facilities. I want to thank the IG for their tremendous efforts in addressing such an enormous request.  

 While the VA's Office of Inspector General did their job, they appear to be the only section of the VA that is functioning at present.

Senator Scott Brown filled in for Senator Richard Burr as Ranking Member in Wednesday's hearing and he questioned the VA's William Schoenhard.  On issue such as how many people needed to be hired and why the VA isn't using the referral process to send veterans to community providers when the VA's backlog means the veterans will not get an appointment in a timely fashion.

As Schoenhard refused to tell the truth, Brown composed a new song called "But they're not."  In fact, the song just has that one line.

Schoenhard claimed that they were referring (only 2% were referred last year -- despite Schoenhard's claims) and Brown replied, "But they're not."  Schoenhard insisted that veterans were getting immediate care.  Brown replied, "But they're not." Schoenhard insisted that the VA had an obligation and was meeting it and Brown replied . . . "But they're not."

At other points, Schonehard would admit to problems but dismiss them as being issues over "metrics" (measurements).  It was appalling.

Equally appalling was learning that while veterans wait and wait and wait for appointments, VA management is handing out bonuses, handing out $194 million in bonuses just last year.   While the VA is at best dysfunctional, how does management excuse giving itself $194 million in bonuses in 2011?

Committee Chair Murray noted a basic fundamental in the hearing, "As you well know, it's hard enough to get veterans in the VA system to receive mental health care. Once a veteran does take a step to reach out for help, we need to knock down every potential barrier to care. "  It's a real shame that Congress has to impart these fundamentals to a department that should already be following them.

Saturday, the president wanted to mount a high horse about diploma mills ripping off veterans but the VA's repeatedly been ripping off veterans throughout his term as president.  At what point does Barack Obama demand some action with regards to the VA, at what point does he exercise oversight?


All facts and quotes on Wednesday's hearings come from the reporting done by Kat in  "Fire everyone at the VA,"    Ava  in "Scott Brown: It's clearly not working (Ava),"  Wally in  "VA paid out nearly $200 million in bonuses last year (Wally)"and  C.I. in the Wednesday's snapshot. and Friday snapshot.

How the Democratic Party* Helped Mitt Romney

If there is even a 51% chance that someone is going to be your political opponent in an election, smart people know you don't build those people up or launch an effort to make them look good.

Smart people know that.

Smart people apparently left the DNC when the stench of Chicago clobbered in on fat pigs feet.

Those 'geniuses' -- party operatives and freelancers -- knew there was a better than 51% chance Mitt Romney would be the GOP's presidential candidate.  It's been obvious all along that only a huge scandal would kill his chances.  Newt Gingrich never had 'likeability' and Rick Santorum was turned into  national joke by Air America Radio in 2004 -- when it actually (and briefly) had an audience.  Those were the top three contenders.  Ron Paul's too much of a maverick (the real kind, not the press created ones) to get the nomination.  The rest?  Gary Fred Pawlenty Roemer Bachman Cain Jr.?  They all blur.

So it was always going to be Mitt.

mitt romney

But Democratic operatives and freelancers lost focus.  Worse, they got caught up in Gary Fred Pawlenty Roemer Bachman Cain Jr. plus Santorum and Gingrich.

And they wanted you to know, those people are crazy.  C-r-a-z-y!

Those people are nuts!  And, damn, let's laugh at how crazy they are! And let's tell America how freaking crazy they all are!  Man,t hey're nuts!

If, in November 2012, Barack Obama was going to be running against all of them, that might have been a good strategy.

But it appears he's running against Mitt Romney.

You know him, right?

The 'stiff.'  The one that really didn't seem as crazy as the jokes about the Republican field.  And all those people who laughed at those jokes and are seeing that Mitt Romney isn't Hannibal Lecter?

They're seeing him as reasonable.

That can change.  And very well may.

But the actions of the Democratic operatives and the free lancers made suer that Mitt seemed normal.  Painting the entire slate as crazy and ridiculous doesn't hurt him.  And to non-Republicans, it makes him seem like a reasonable and, yes, strong choice.

If Mitt Romney were a political genius, he would have prayed that the opposition do just what they did.  Next time, Democrats might want to consider that smarmy and snarky might get a laugh or two but they're really not campaign tools.

Election 2012: The Battle Ground States

"What is this? High school?" asked KJ (Teri Reeves) on last week's Battleground ("Nothing About Chile" -- the Hulu original series has a new episode every Tuesday).  If an insurgent campaign is high school, what's the press?  And what's the bloated, preening egos of MSNBC prime time posing as press?

Last week, Lawrence O'Donnell bloviated with the unfortunately named Krystal Ball and the unfortunate Ari Melber.   They had the story, they insisted, there were seven battleground states.

Based on what?

Their say so.  Excuse us.  MSNBC at night isn't a news outlet.  They based that on the work done by the news people of NBC.

However . . .


The Obama campaign declares there are ten battleground states and they do so on their donation page where they urge those who have maxed out with Barack to donate instead to ten states:  Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Iowa, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

Colorado through Virginia, NBC got.  CBS counts Iowa.  They, in fact, say there are 16 battleground states.  We thought about checking to see if ABC News had a prediction but were afraid we'd have to sit through another video the 'news people' saw on YouTube and found to be too precious for words.

He's not a celebrity?

For years now, Wally and Cedric have been hailing and mocking Barack Obama as "celebrity in chief."  The GOP grabbed the theme for a new advertisement last week.

And touring the websites this weekend . . .

Who's pimping the celebrity idea?

romney site

A visit to the website of presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney tells you first and foremost that he's prepared to "Fight For America."

A visit to Barack Obama's website?

george loves barry

He may not be willing to "Fight For America," but he's happy to offer you a three-way with himself and George Clooney.

And leave the splash screen and . . .

george still loves barry

You can't escape /Clooney!  Does Barack not get that movie goers have made a habit of doing just that?

 Does he not realize how many films Clooney's carried across the box office hit finish line?


The closest he came to 'carrying' a blockbuster was A Perfect Storm and wise souls would realize Mark Wahlberg and special effects carried that film.

Poor Barack, so determined to be a celebrity and forever surrounded by the (at best) second string.

At any rate, good job, Campaign Obama, helping to spread the Republican message.

Jill Stein would pardon Bradley Manning

Jill Stein

Jill Stein (above) is seeking the Green Party's presidential nomination:

Stein would pardon Bradley Manning

Dr. Jill Stein released a video statement today in support of Pfc. Bradley Manning, in coordination with today's Occupy the Justice Department actions:
"My name is Jill Stein and I’m running with the Green Party for President of the United States. If elected,  I will immediately pardon Bradley Manning,  the U.S. Army soldier accused of leaking classified material to the whistleblower website, WikiLeaks, while working as an intelligence analyst near Baghdad.Many people know some of the highlights among the 3 million pages of leaked cables. Probably the most well-know is the horrifying so-called “Collateral Murder” video of the Apache helicopter attack on Reuters journalists and then on the civilians, including the children in that van, who tried to take the wounded away for treatment.

Another revelation concerned a military night raid that killed six children, followed by a U.S. air strike to destroy the evidence and cover up the atrocity.
The overall impact of the leaked information has been huge, leading indirectly to the recent withdrawal of the U.S. military from Iraq much sooner than our government intended. That’s because these revelations compelled the Maliki government in Iraq to refuse to extend criminal immunity to U.S. soldiers. It contributed to the turn of American public opinion to overwhelmingly oppose the war in Afghanistan. And it added momentum to the Arab Spring uprisings against dictatorial U.S.-backed regimes.

The war criminals whom these Wikileaks cables exposed have suffered no consequences. The only one who is suffering consequences is Bradley Manning, the one who is accused of exposing the crimes.

Whistleblowers are indispensable for democracy. They enable the people to defend themselves against government malfeasance and tyranny. Those U.S. cables released to Wikileaks contained more information on the wars in Iraq,  Afghanistan, and other countries than all the media organizations in the world combined have been able to unearth. And they are all too filled with malfeasance, tyranny and war crimes.

So it may be that Bradley Manning was actually doing his duty, since he swore in his Oath of Enlistment to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” It is, after all, the duty of every citizen to bring their government to account when it violates the Constitution and the law, including especially laws against war crimes.

Regardless of these justifications, if Bradley Manning leaked the cables, he violated the law by committing what was essentially an act of civil disobedience.   For acts of civil disobedience,  a measure of punishment is accepted as a matter of course.  But the unconscionable violations of international law that have been exposed, and the war crimes that were revealed, all compel extreme leniency in this case.

Bradley Manning will have spent more than two years in detention before his court martial begins. For the first 10 months, he was held in solitary confinement, restricted to his cell 23 hours a day, and subjected to degrading treatment, including being forbidden reading material or the right to exercise, and being stripped naked while under constant observation. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, accused the U.S. Government of cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment in his report based on a 14-month investigation. It said that the U.S. might have violated laws against torture as well as Manning's basic right to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law.

Let me be clear. Defending Bradley Manning in this particular case, does not argue for  license for the release of classified information more generally. However, if Bradley Manning was the source of these leaks, he has served his country and the cause of liberty heroically by providing very disturbing truths to the American people that the Obama Administration sought to withhold. The time he has been imprisoned and the harsh treatment he has received are more than enough.  He should not be further punished.

In fact, the President should have brought Bradley Manning under the protections of the Whistleblower Protection Act. But the President, as well as the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have publicly stated that Manning broke the law. Those statements from the top of the chain of command constitute unlawful command influence that prejudices the proceedings of the court martial. It is one of many reasons why Bradley Manning cannot now get a fair trial in the military justice system.

The assault on Manning Bradley's basic rights for allegedly blowing the whistle on government misconduct comes at a time of an unprecedented assault on whistleblowers by the Obama administration. The Obama Justice Department has charged six people, including Manning, under the Espionage Act for leaking government information to a journalist. Prior to Obama, there were only three cases prosecuted under the Espionage Act since it was enacted in 1917.

If I am elected and have the opportunity to pardon Bradley Manning, I will do this as an affirmation that my country, the United States of America, strives to achieve the highest possible standards of justice, transparency, and honor.

We must strive as a nation to so conduct ourselves that we have nothing to fear if the truth of our actions should be revealed to the world. If we can aspire to that goal – to be beyond reproach – then we will earn the sincere respect of the people of the world. The cause of freedom and democracy advance through honesty and defensible action, not state secrecy and attacks on whistleblowers."

The video is as follows:

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Corporations causing wildlife abnormalities (WW)

Repost from Workers World:

BP oil spill, fracking cause wildlife abnormalities

Published Apr 27, 2012 11:04 PM
The potential environmental hazards resulting from the oil and natural gas industry’s drive for super-profits are becoming increasingly apparent and alarming. The evidence is surfacing from the Gulf of Mexico, two years after the major BP oil spill, to the waters of the Susquehanna River, heavily impacted by a decade of Marcellus Shale fracking.
Fishers off the Gulf Coast have reported that up to 50 percent of grouper and red snapper caught have large open sores, strange black streaks and lesions never seen before. Scientists studying deep-sea coral reefs in the path of the 5 million barrels of drifting oil released during the April 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform found “widespread signs of stress,” according to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Philadelphia Inquirer, April 20)
The scientists found much of the coral was covered with oil from the spill. Temple University biologist Eric Cordes noted the coral was in “an ongoing process of death. … [W]e could see that everywhere they had been covered, the tissue was either gone or completely degraded.”
Questions remain as to how extensive the damage to the deep-sea coral is and what other species have been impacted by the spill. Dolphins in the area are showing symptoms of lung and liver disease and are underweight and anemic. More than 75 percent of 8,366 birds collected by researchers since the spill were dead or died during rehabilitation.
Commercial fishers are finding horribly mutated shrimp with tumors on their heads. Some lack eyes and even eye sockets. Fishers also report finding clawless crabs “with shells that look like they’ve been burned off by chemicals.” At least 1.9 million gallons of the toxic dispersant Corexit was used to control the BP spill. (, April 18)
The amount of seafood caught in the Gulf of Mexico, which normally provides more than 40 percent of all seafood caught in the continental U.S., is also significantly lower than before the spill. Scientists are concerned that the BP spill killed off large numbers of killifish, a marsh fish that serves as a food source for larger fish.
Dr. Jim Cowan of Louisiana State University cites chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), used experimentally by BP to disperse the massive April 2010 oil spill, as the likely cause of the abnormalities in fish and other wildlife. PAHs are known to be mutagenic, carcinogenic and teratogenic — able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus.
The BP oil spill also threatens the livelihoods of a number of small Indigenous fishing communities, like Bayou Pointe-au-Chien on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, whose members have historically fished the coastal waters. Even before the 2010 spill, canals built by the oil companies to access wells caused flooding in these towns from coastal erosion.
Louisiana state officials continue to maintain that their seafood is safe. Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has been described as “an enabler of the oil industry,” stated, “Gulf seafood has consistently tested lower than the safety thresholds established by the [Food and Drug Administration] for the levels of oil and dispersant contamination that would pose a risk to human health.” (Aljazeera, April 18)
Marcellus Shale fracking waste water
Studies of aquatic life in feeder streams leading to the Susquehanna River — ground zero for Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling — are also reporting disturbing findings.
A survey conducted by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission showed 40 percent of adult small-mouth bass within a section of the river had uncommon black spots and lesions.
Concerned over these spots and incidents of intersexing in the fish studied, FBC Executive Director John Arway formally requested in an April 4 letter that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection list the Susquehanna River as “impaired” under the Clean Water Act. The request was rejected April 17 by DEP Secretary Michael Krancer, who has been described by Food & Water Watch, Pennsylvania as a “notorious defender of fracking.”
Over 15 water treatment plants in Pennsylvania had been accepting frack waste water, laced with brine and toxic chemicals, and dumping it into rivers and streams. In November 2008, the Sunbury, Pa., Generation plant, just upstream from an area where black-spotted fish have since been found, was authorized to treat up to 80,000 gallons of gas-drilling waste fluids daily until operation was suspended in April 2011. Treated waste water from Sunbury and one other plant was discharged into the Susquehanna River.


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, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"I Hate The War"  and "The VA hearing" -- two most requested highlights by readers of this site according to Ty -- C.I. on the NYT editorial.

 "Fire everyone at the VA,"    "Scott Brown: It's clearly not working (Ava),"   "VA paid out nearly $200 million in bonuses last year (Wally)"and the Wednesday's snapshot. and Friday snapshot -- Kat, Ava, Wally and C.I. report on a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing they attended.

"Tuna and Rice in the Kitchen," "Clothes,,"  "Miley Ray Cyrus (5 men, 1 woman)"  and "Barbies" -- Barbie blogging from Trina and Ann.

"Roberta" "The wonderful Janis Ian" and "Laura Nyro" -- Kat, Marcia and Mike on music.
 "America's Sour-Heart" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this classic.
"Annie," "To Have And Have Not" and "Tim Burton's Dark Shadows" -- Betty, Stan and Elaine on movies. 
"THIS JUST IN! GET THE DOPE A VOCAB LESSON!" and "Barry O is such a putz"-- Wally and Cedric on why Barack needs a dictionary.

"8 men, 1 woman" -- Ann's supporting Jill Stein.
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