Sunday, November 13, 2005

A note to our readers

Sunday, Sunday.

Again with losing people on the phone, some posting problems. The smartest decision was made by Dona early on: "Lose the news review." We all enjoy it, the readers enjoy it, but on a night/morning when technical problems abound, we might end up stuck on that forever.

Brenda e-mailed to ask that we please not forget "Five Books, Five Minutes." For Brenda, we didn't. Another e-mail came a long distance from someone who won't be celebrating Thanksgiving with his family but wanted us to talk about Thanksgiving food. "Let's Do The Turkey Trot" is for ____ and hope it helps.

One thing that's come up repeatedly, usually from Ty, is why don't we do an online, ongoing novel. Yeah, right after we work out the fine points on that cure for cancer. But Ty was serious about this and came up with an outline and some character sketches. "Miss Swanson Regrets"
is the title and you have the first chapter, the introductory chapter, in this edition. "What if we're not able to finish it? What if we get bored with it or what if we decided we were bored with the whole website?" That was Dona's concern. Then it ends where ever it was at. Okay, we can handle that. But Dona wants it noted that this is not something that will appear on any set schedule. If there's time for it and there's inspiration, you'll find another chapter. Jess' concern was length and agreed only after it was decided any chapter, each chapter, would be a short one.

Knowing how people like to polish and knowing that it could become a black hole that sucks up all of our time as we end polishing and repolishing, Jess had a good point. It's a media commentary. Ty felt it fit in with an unplanned theme which is this more of a creative commentary than we often do. That theme was aided by C.I. bringing over a healthy chunk of what became "Bully Boy and the Thirteenth Confession." The title is a play on Laura Nyro's Eli and the Thirteenth Confession album. Friday was Veterans' Day and Bully Boy used that occassion to launch an attack on America yet again. C.I. came up with the idea of it being the latest release for Bully Boy when hearing bits of the speech on the radio. The plan was to pull something together for The Common Ills. Then a friend drops by with episodes of a current TV show, some episodes aired, some not yet aired, and insists that Ava and C.I. need to take a serious look at the show. Ava will be watching the episodes this week and, if they both want to write the review, that will be their TV review next week. But watching all the episodes, left C.I. wiped out ("and gave me a headache") so although the piece was started, C.I. felt it was going nowhere.

Saturday morning, C.I. mentioned the work in progress at The Common Ills. Later it was noted that if there wasn't time, the piece would be shopped over here. Of course we lept at the chance. First of all, it was an idea that just needed to be executed, so less work. Second of all, it was funny. Third of all, it had a point. We could keep numbering and numbering. But the other thing that resulted from it being noted at The Common Ills was Isaiah contacted C.I. about the upcoming The World Today Just Nuts. Isaiah had two ideas he was playing with. One of which was the Bully Boy's speech. When the title was set, Isaiah set out creating his latest The World Today Just Nuts which complimented the "Bully Boy and the Thirteenth Confession" because it acted as the "album cover." It's similar to Laura Nyro's Eli and the Thirteenth Confession cover. One difference is where that cover is dark and shadowy, this one is bright. Isaiah felt Nyro is plumbing her soul and that her cover conveys that. For Bully Boy's latest spin, Isaiah felt no indication of heavy lifting (thought) should be implied.

We thank the following for their contributions to the above features:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty 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
Wally of The Daily Jot.
and Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts.

So there's no TV review? Is that what you're saying?

No, there's a TV review. Ava and C.I. tackle Navy NCIS and be prepared to laugh. There was a problem just as we were about to start the book review. When that came up, Ava and C.I. said "Fix it, we're going to work on the TV review." They tossed it off with their usual speed but Ava notes that for a change, they weren't nodding off while they wrote.

Nodding off is what happened when the editorial was written. During one long lull, those sleeping were awakened to Rebecca giggling and wondering if she was the only one still awake.
We were wiped out. We'd had an hour of nonstop problems with posts not going up. Those who drink coffee could no longer stand the taste of it. Those who smoke had been hacking for hours. Those who exist during the all night sessions on chocolate highs had consumed an entire box of Dolly Madison Zingers. Those working on the editorial were: Ty, Jess, Ava, C.I., Dona, Rebecca, Kat, Elaine, Wally, Mike and Jim.

We'd pulled out every trick we had. Finally Ty said, "We finish this editorial and we write the note to the readers this evening." That idea, which we all liked, woke us all up long enough to finish the editorial. At which point, it was time to print up the print edition and get that out and for others to immediately go to sleep. Elaine was actually now fully awake and asked if it was okay if she went through correcting typos? Hey, sounds great to us.

So thank Elaine for catching typos (though she said not to expect her to catch all of them).

We thank it's a pretty strong edition. We'll thank Ty and C.I. for that since they came up with ideas that were already sketched out. As always, we thank Dallas for hunting down links.

Hopefully, there's something in this edition that you can enjoy -- either because it makes you laugh or it makes you scream.

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

Editorial: Bisquits and Ethics

Guantanamo Bay. Where the doctors and the interrogators play. Where seldom is heard an ethical word . . .

Jane Mayer told us of the Bisquit program -- Behavioral Science Consultation Teams. They share medical issues, these doctors, with military intel and advise them on how to make the "interrogations" more effective. Such as what phobia a detainee may have.

Mayer's article was entitled "The Experiment" and we think that's an appropriate description of what's going on in Guantanamo. Medical professionals aiding and experimenting . . . on human beings. The Nazis conducted experiments on those they imprisoned.

So how much can you take, America? How much can you tolerate and stomach to let Bully Boy continue his Terror on the World?

The SERE program developed these or similar techniques. The purpose then was to condition the military not to break under torture. Now the same knowledge is being used to harm.

Are you okay with that? What about when, as Laura Flanders pointed out on last night's The Laura Flanders Show, when these techniques migrate to our shore and our system of "justice"?
Don't think they'll migrate? They weren't supposed to migrate from helping to train our military but now they're being used to harm.

They'll migrate if America doesn't find the guts and courage to say "no" now.

There is no justice in Guantamo Bay. There's no justice in what we're doing to people including people who were not even legally adults when we imprisoned them there -- imprisoned them with no charges, no contact with the outside world, no trial.

"These things take time."

Bully Boy's had over three years. How long does it take for you to grasp that this isn't the American way, it's the Bully Boy way. It goes against every principle we believe in.

And the courts have tended to agree that despite Bully Boy's power grab, they still have a right to rule on his actions. Monday the Supreme Court decided to review the Bully Boy's claim to military tribunals. So naturally, certain Republicans moved quickly to subvert the Court. We're not surprised that, we've actually grown used to that reaction from the Republicans.

What did surprise us was the gang of five, Democrats who voted with the Republicans. Kent Conrad, Ben Nelson, Mary Landreau, Ron Wyden and the ever shameful Joe Lieberman. They've offered a vareity of lame excuses. Kent-o Conrad wants to offer that on Veteran's Day, he heard that a law to keep the courts out of this would be a good thing.

That's his excuse. That's what he offers. Friday conversations to justify Thursday votes.

It's going to come up for a vote again in the Senate (nine senators were absent when the measure passed).

What kind of message will be sent that time? That we're scared little babies prepared to turn over all our rights, sell out all of our beliefs and that we have no faith at all in the justice system that this country built?

The so-called patriots of the right seem intent on tearing down everything they can. While saying they love the country. What exactly do they love about it? They attack every freedom that this country is supposed to embrace.

So which are you? Someone determined to dismantal our constitutional government (or just starve it down to the size where you can drown it in a bath tub)? Or maybe you're part of the look-the-other-way crowd?

At some point, you have to face reality unless you want to live the rest of your life in denial.

In dark times of the past, what's saved the country has been the courageous voices determined to speak out. These days, we hear a lot of silence. Some might call it apathy but we call it cowardice.

It's time for Americans to look at what's going on and ask themselves if this is okay? If this three year plus detention is okay with Americans?

If you don't stand up and speak out, you're aiding in the destruction of every belief that people fought for. Fought on battle fields, fought in courtrooms, fought in work places, fought anywhere that a light could be shone on the destructive path we were headed down.

In the past we were usually able to righten the course. But seems like we had a lot more brave voices then. It's time for people to start finding their voices and to join in singing "Save the Country." What's going on in Guantanamo Bay isn't just a nightmare, it's an American tragedy as we allow what we're supposed to stand for and believe in to be destroyed, month after month, year after year.

TV Review: Don't Play? Don't Serve, Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service

The military has a Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, right? Bill Clinton tried to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military but thanks to road blocks from the likes of Colin Powell, the best that could be done, apparently, was the compromise that says you can be gay, just don't tell anyone. It would be bad for morale, argue the homophobes.

The reason we needed to check in on that is because Tuesday we watched CBS's Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service and all we can say is McHale's Navy it's not. If we didn't grasp that during the first scene where a male NCIS-er and a female NCIS-er pretended to have sex in bed, which involved a lot of the man sliding around on top of the woman, we certainly caught on by the second scene. They're simulating sex, Michael Weatherly's Tony and Cote de Pablo's Ziva. Over and over. They're undercover. This is how times have changed. Whereas in the seventies, Earl Holliman might have played Pepper's pimp when Angie Dickinson went undercover, while stripping several layers of clothes to pretend to be a hooker on Police Woman, these days, everybody has to show a little skin.

And the jokes fly as the NCISers watching them (yes, this is watched, both by the NCIS and by the FBI, it's as though the government's been staffed by a million Ken Starrs!) take a time out, from the long rolling all over the bed, to inform Tony that they can see him, they can see all of him, which leads him to finally close his robe. So he's apparently been naked in bed. And Ziva's kneed him in the groin when she's realized that the something firm against her wasn't his knee.

One of the times they're pretending to have sex (second? third? -- it was hard to keep track), Tony does push ups to make it look like they're having sex. He literally does push ups. If he was attempting to pretend to be a bad lover, he more than succeeded.

But we kept thinking, as they pretended to have sex over and over, exactly what is their country asking of them? Did they know when they joined the Naval Criminal Investigative Service that they'd basically be working vice? And how come no one's worried about this fraternization? Throw in Ziva cupping Tony's groin while hollering out "Package check!" and you've basically got Tailhook all over again.

Like many military shows and movies, they have a military adviser. The armed forces provide those because they think the entertainment makes for good recruitment posters. Apparently Tuesday night's episode was geared to young females considering a career in prostitution but willing to instead give it up for God and country?

Michael Weatherly's packed on a few pounds since the days of Dark Angel. But it looks good on him. So does the fur on his chest. The show's completely unbelievable but it could hold our interest when Weatherly was undressed. But, as Poison reminded us, every rose has it's thorn.

Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service has several thorns, yet only one real rose. Brett Michaels, how could you mislead us like that?

The first prick you get is from the thorn that goes by the name of Mark Harmon. Years ago, gather round kiddies, Mark Harmon actually was picked by People magazine as the sexiest man of the year. Apparently the judges that year had a thing for back hair as well as shoulder hair?
(Thankfully, Harmon did not remove his shirt once in Tuesday's episode.) Now granted, it's hard to fall from such a low perch, but the years have not been kind. We're sure some people will buy the Tom Skerritt vibe Harmon's attempting to work, but, to us, he looks like the fluttering aunt everyone's always avoiding. Like Paul McCartney, each passing year makes Harmon look more and more like Jean Stapleton.

Harmon plays Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs and he's the Barbara Stanwyck of this Big Valley sans koolots. He's got that sexless appeal that's perfect for portraying a TV dad, but the show wants to convince you that he's desirable. That comes off as convincing as "goth" Abby Sciuto which is to say, not at all. Sciuto is played by Pauley Perrette and comes off like Debie Mazar so we're not sure most people will see Sciuto as "goth" -- we're guessing they'll just think it's Long Island with a little extra make up. There are other characters, including a weird science type older man. But the cast really doesn't matter. Take away de Pablo and Weatherly and there's no show. Everyone else oozes "supporting cast" from every pore. That includes Harmon.

The episode revolved around a hit. A couple was hired to kill. Only thing is, they got killed!
Isn't it ironic? (Well someone must have thought so.) So Tony and Ziva have to pretend to be the couple. Someone's obviously spying on the couple so they have to pretend to be a couple beyond the usual holding hands in public. Couldn't they have just drawn the blinds in the bedroom?

We're not suggesting that they should have. Take away the sex scenes between Weatherly and de Pablo and we were pretty much bored. But did the writers set out to show skin or did they just not grasp that by closing the blinds, there would be no reason for Tony and Kate to roll around (repeatedly) on the bed by the window?

Across the street they're being spied upon by a man and a woman who also have sex on the brain and make frequent cracks about it and refer to a past affair they had. We already noted this, but let's mention it again, they're FBI. This is a very curious view of the people who serve the country . . . between humps.

But here's something that was realistic. The FBI didn't know that NCIS was involved. It's that damn Gorelick wall, we're sure. (We'll note, that was sarcasm. And note that it's sad that we have to note that but J-Ass' inflation of the so-called wall, and blaming it on Jamie Gorelick became a talking point that the right-wing really dug their teeth into.)

So NCIS busts into the FBI agents hotel room like Donald Rumsfeld on a tear through Europe.
"Oh my God! You're working for the government! We're working for the government! What are the odds!" is how to describe that scene.

The only thing to do is team up! Which just means that sexual tension between two sets of twos becomes sexual tension between four people and Weatherly's Tony gets to share, upon seeing the FBI agent dressed up as a maid, that he's always had a fondness for French maids outfits.
The female FBI agent, by the way. The writers go with the obvious at every turn.

At some point, it all got so boring once Tony and Ziva stopped pretending to have sex, they're going up and down in elevators and we're thinking, "We saw all this on Hawaii 5-0."

Then Tony and Ziva are captured by the team working for the man who hired the hit men (hit couple?) and knows that Tony and Ziva are not the ones hired. Are you yawning? We were too.

Then somone had a desire for a little S&M so Weatherly got punched in the face. Repeatedly. The sadism wasn't enough for whomever thought this up, they're also into bondage, so Weatherly was tied to a chair during this. He was dressed so we were even more bored.

Ziva gets out of the room (a disc is needed and they pull the usual con job of "it's in our room and only she knows where!" routine), she is rescued. Weatherly's still bound to the chair but this is CBS so, unlike a woman who can be rescued, it's important that he demonstrate he's never not in charge. He manages to subdue his tormentor (while he remains bound to the chair -- just to stress that one more time) and then to assault his tormentor repeatedly (ditto).

Someone goes to a gala. Some other things, offscreen, happen and finally (and mercifully) the episode is ending. Sadly Ziva and Tony don't again attempt to pretend to have sex -- or, for that matter, have sex for real. Weatherly's injured, remember? (He bruises . . . just like a little girl.) So the big issue is, remember this is CBS, who's going to drive him home in his car!
The thought that it might be Ziva (a woman) is postively shocking.

They really don't need the little CBS logo in the corner while airing this program. No one watching would ever think, "Wait, am I watching NBC? Honey, what channel is this?" That's because Navy NCIS has CBS written all over it -- and that hasn't been a good thing since Mary and the gang found out WJM was shutting down shop and Gloria & Mike told the Bunkers they were moving to California.

Album review: Bully Boy and the Thirteenth Confession

Bully's a comin
better hide
Bully's a comin
better hide your heart
your heart
Bully's a comin
hide your heart
You better better hide your heart
Bully's coming better walk
Cry but he's never gonna hear
never gonna hear
and he ain't gonna follow
I cried
at the corners of the square
and everywhere I go
Bully's a comin
Bully's a comin. . .

So Friday, Bully Boy dropped a new release, Bully Boy and the Thirteenth Confession. To us, it sounded like a remix of the same old song.
But damned if the release didn't get massive attention from the press.

We congratulate the p.r. people responsible for the saturation coverage and the generally unquestioning reviews. We just ain't sure America's going to buy it.

For those sitting on the fence, we offer an analysis of the thirteen tracks on Bully Boy's Veteran's Day release. Before we address the individual tracks, however, we should note that we're not real sure this isn't a comedy album. There's a thin line between comedy and confession. We think it was clever for Bully Boy to do portraits from time to time to express himself. And certainly, when he looks at the world, he sees only Bully Boy. This is naval gazing, we're just not sure whether it's intended to be taken seriously or not.

Track one:

Over a martinet beat, Bully Boy speaks in dramatic, hushed tones in a clear hommage to so much of Diana Ross' spoken work. (See the spoken passages in "Reflections," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Missing You.")

Bully Boy: "I've joined with the veterans' groups to call on Congress to protect the flag of the United States and the Constitution of the United States."

Bully Boy goes on to sing about the flag. In a very right-wing attempt to copy Madonna, Bully Boy is seen in the video for this song wiping his butt with the Constitution. He's hoping Ted Koppel will have him on Nightline since all but Fox "News" have banned the video under pressure from a public that's grown disenchanted with his scare tactics..

Track two:

This track features a way cool descending bass line laid down by J-Ass who, to avoid legal problems, elects to be billed as "The Origninal Mr. Bad Stuff, Get On With My Own Bad Self!"
As the bass lines descened, maraccas are heard and Bully Boy comes in slightly off the beat, singing.

Bully Boy: "Evil men obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience must be taken very seriously . . ."

Takes one to know one? Is he confessing here? No one can crystalize a moment of sheer evil quite like the Bully Boy.

track three:

On this one, Bully Boy's rushing the melody and we're wondering if he was nervous about invoking 9/11? Then we remembered he never stops invoking 9/11 to justify what he wants.

Bully Boy: "Some have also argued that extremists have been strengthened by our actions in Iraq, claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals. I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11, 2001."

No, they were not in Iraq on September 11, 2001. Any who are now are there thanks to the Bully Boy. It's really not good for him to smirk and brag,

track four:

It's simplicity at it's most . . . simple. It's Bully Boy singing while an acoustic guitar strums.

Bully Boy: "What this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that this is the road to paradise, though he never offers to go along for the ride."

It's as though he's set his Dewars profile to music!

track five:

He continues the mood with track five which is quite similar in topic and theme.

Bully Boy: "Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth, they have endless ambitions of imperial domination and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves."

As though he found his own journals and read each one out loud. Please note that the background noises you hear are not Bill Frist skinning another cat; it's James Dobson and Pat Robertson speaking in battling tongues.

track six:

Bully Boy: "They seek to end dissent in every form, to control every aspect of life, to rule the soul itself."

He's obviously going for a confessional feel on this track. He creates a portrait to sing of since the words would otherwise hit a little too close to hime. This is his bid to become the Joni Mitchell of the right-wing set.

track seven:

Bully Boy:"One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war."

This is the power ballad about what's been lost. He almost manages sincere as he reflects on the damage he's done to the country, what we once had in the days before Bully.

track eight:

This picks up the pace and lands Bully Boy squarely on the dance floor . . . on his ass.

Bully Boy: "The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges."

Listen to Lynne Cheney's mournful backing voals as she sings "To throw out false charges" over and over. The linear notes tell us this song is "Dedicated to Scoots with love.

track nine:

More than any other track, this is his self flagation number.

Bully Boy: ". . . it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began."

This song, though not officially released yet as a single, is proving so popular with the right wing that he just completed a video shot by Passion of the Christ cinematogropher Caleb Deschanel. In this one, Bully Boy is goaded to sacrifice himself or anything to a more noble cause. He stares at the empty cross for a long time and just when you think he's going to step up on it, Deschanel's daughter, the stringy haired Emily, shows up quicker than anyone can say, "Lie, lie, he told another lie" -- so it's left for Dickie [Cheney] and Donnie [Rumsfeld] to state the obvious which they do in a metronome-like manner throughout via their backup performances.

track ten:

he gets some help with the lyrics from the AP on this one:

"Defending the march to war, Bush said foreign intelligence services and Democrats and Republicans alike were convinced at the time that Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader, had weapons of mass destruction. "

This is the call and response number that harkens back to some of the fine work of the girl groups in the sixties. On the chorus, he sings "Everyone thought so" while backup singers Randi Rhodes, Molly Ivins and Maureen Dowd retort, "No, Bully, it's you -- sha-la-la-la . . ."

track eleven:

Bully Boy has described this song to the press as the anti-Tears for Fears and enlists an all male background group, composed of Alberto Gonzales, Jay S. Bybee and General William Boykin, who chant, "Sewing the Seeds of Hate."

Bully Boy: "If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery while radicals stir the resentment of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger in our generation and for the next."

The title of this tune is "Sewing the Seeds of Hate" and there's a crazy, mad harmonica solo from Blind Man Ashcroft.

track twelve:

This is probably the most shocking of all the tracks because, on it, Bully tries to broaden his base.

Bully Boy: "Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision, and they end up alienating decent people across the globe."

Attempting to appeal to all markets, this is a spoken word performance. Bully Boy's calls it "southern rap" and Dick Cheney can be heard singing the chorus to Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" throughout. Listen for the piano solo done by Condi Rice after the second chorus and note that you can add "session musician" to the long list of jobs she can't handle.

track thirteen:

The final track attempts to tie together the larger themes of the album, but in a playful manner.

Bully Boy: "Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure, until those societies collapse in corruption and decay."

This is a jaunty, retro number that calls to mind Cole Porter's "Anything Goes." It's just the sort of up tempo number you'll remember as the Bully Boy economy sends us all to a soup kitchen. Don't miss it when No-Soul Brother #1 calls out, "Work Wives, Sing!" From out of nowhere, the voices of Condi Rice and Harriet Miers start singing, "Tyrants and would-be tyrants, tyrants and would-be tyrants . . ." while Bully Boy boasts repeatedly, "Can't touch this!"

Rating: *

A must have only for masochists. Avoid at all costs.

[Note: "Bully's Comin" is a parody using Laura Nyro's "Eli's Comin." Isaiah's illustration originially appeared at The Common Ills.]

Let's Do The Turkey Trot

"Let's Do The Turkey Trot" is the title of a song recorded by Little Eva (famous for singing the original hit version of "The Locomotion"). We're going with that title because we have an e-mail from a reader who asked to be unnamed but will not be home for Thanksgiving and asked us to write about our favorite Thanksgiving foods.

Betty: Chess pie. There are a ton of things I enjoy, but the holidays always mean chess pie. My mother makes the best one in the world. She's taught me how but, honestly, I'm too lazy to make one. Even if I cut corners and used ready made pie crust, I still wouldn't have the time or energy. But at Thanksgiving I have the time and energy to grab as many slices as I can. She makes one pumpkin pie but she makes several chess pies because we all love that pie. It wouldn't be a Thanksgiving in my family without my mother's chess pie.

Ava: I'll go with the cranberries. I don't care if it's out of can or if it's cooked. My mother makes a big production out of cooking it from scratch and, to me, it tastes pretty much the same either way. But when I think of Thanksgiving, that's what I think of. I'll usually grab a roll, put a little bit of turkey in it, put a little bit of cranberry sauce in it and that's Thanksgiving. My mother will be saying, "Eat something else" but that's really all I need.

Jess: I'm not sure what to pick. There's a green bean casserole that I really like and there's also a squash dish that my mom makes. The food's always nice but it's really just that we're all around the table together that stands out to me.

Cedric: My favorite thing isn't lunch. Lunch is good and the food's all warm and all that. But my favorite thing is a few hours later. When you're hungry again and you go back in the kitchen and everyone makes their own plate. People are more relaxed then. Usually some weirdo that someone's brought over as their date has left and a beer or two has quieted down one uncle who's always too loud, plus no one's worrying about how their dish tastes because everyone's already sampled it. You make your plate, you head back to the living room and it's just a quieter version of the lunch.

Ty: Mashed potatoes and gravy. My favorite food all year round and at Thanksgiving, there's so much you can have thirds and fourths and there's still plenty left over. It's from real potatoes and not the instant stuff. And the gravy has some of the turkey drippings so it's really good. That's what I'll be thinking about when we all grab our plates and start piling the food on.

Jim: For me the big thing is that my dad and I go out with my grandfather to the trees in his yard and pick up some of the pecans that have fallen off them. We go inside and crack them open, enough for grandma to make a pecan pie for Christmas, but I don't think they last for that because my granddad eats them all the time but that's what he says we're doing it for, and we just crack them open and snack on a few as we go and talk about whatever. That's what really makes it Thanksgiving for me.

Rebecca: I'm going to go with pie, like Betty. My favorite pie is apple pie and my grandmother makes them from scratch. Slices the apples, rolls her own dough, all of that. For years, I was always one of those people saying, "Well, how about colas? I could bring colas. Ice?" Everyone in my family is an outstanding cook. I'm an okay cook, I'm not outstanding. But male or female, everyone in my family, except me, has a dish they can make that's amazing. So, hat tip to C.I., I mentioned this one year as Thanksgiving was approaching and C.I. said, "Rebecca, I'm going to teach you to make a Key Lime pie." I didn't think so. C.I. asked if anyone else brought a Key Lime pie and I said no. So I get told, by C.I., that this is going to be my signature dish and everyone's going to love it, that on holidays when I don't make it, I'll hear, "Rebecca, why didn't you make that pie?" I didn't believe it. But I played along and it is now my signature dish. And everyone loves it. "Rebecca, you're bringing the Key Lime pie, right?" I always get asked that. Now here's the secret, I never eat it. I really don't like Key Lime pie. So I'll grab some of my grandmother's pie.

C.I.: The turkey. Because it's a nightmare to cook and because it means using the giblets to make the gravy and it's just a nightmare all around.

Elaine: I'm going to add to C.I.'s story because I've observed the cooking process. C.I.'s turkeys can be photographed. They're golden. They look like something you'd see Martha Stewart pull out of the oven. How does that happen? By putting the turkey in at midnight and basting, basting, basting and more basting. Where does C.I. sleep through the night on the night before Thanksgiving? On the floor in front of the oven. I'm not joking. The turkey's cooked with green apples and I have no idea what else, onions and some other things, for flavor. One Thanksgiving, I actually attempted to cook a turkey and it was a nightmare. It looked ruined. C.I. brought it back to life with a ton of butter and a ton of chicken stock. But that's the only time I've ever cooked. My brother and I get together if he's in the country but if not, I go visit a friend or else just eat a turkey TV dinner.

Dona: Holidays can be rough. I feel like, and I'm not trying to bring up anything painful, that we should note that Elaine and her brother lost their parents when Elaine was very young. Geez. I'm not sure, I guess I'd say the stuffing. I love all kinds of stuffing provided it doesn't have raisins in it. I can't stand raising in the stuffing. I also prefer that it look like stuffing with bumps and all as opposed to losing like a sheet cake. My father's always in charge of the stuffing we make. Other relatives usually bring some with them, but the one that's made in our house is made by my father. He puts in celery and onions and I don't know what else. But no raisins. It's just the right blend of everything, whatever he uses and just thinking about it right now is making me hungry.

Elaine: I'll add that it didn't bother me what Dona added. I probably should have added it myself because the holidays can be difficult for a lot of people. I'll also add, to lighten things up, that C.I. can't fry worth ___. And C.I. can't make gravy. Except giblet gravy. In a pan, C.I. can make it. In a skillet, forget it.

C.I.: That's true. I can fry an egg and that's about it. I can't fry chicken or make gravy in a skillet. If I make "fried" potatoes, they're really baked because I can't fry. Which is now a good thing because fried foods are bad for us.

Wally: They may be bad for you, but I eat a ton of french fries. And wouldn't dream of calling them "freedom fries." Whether the electricity is back on or not, Grandpa knows we're going to Mom's. She has electricity. She keeps begging him to come up and stay with her but he's convinced that they'll get the electricity on at any minute. C.I. and Elaine were talking about giblet gravy and my mom uses all that in her gravy. I think that's the best gravy and wish we had more than just on the holidays. I'll put it on my mashed potatoes and on my dressing and on my turkey. I like the chunks of meat in the gravy. Guess I'm like the dork in the Sonic commercial talking about the "meat dressing."

Mike: I know everyone thinks turkey when they think Thanksgiving but I'm not rushing for the turkey. It's nice and I'll have a slice but what I always grab for is the ham. My mother makes this really great glazed ham. It's juicy and it's the thing I want. Day after when everyone else is making turkey sandwiches, I'm reaching for the ham. On our birthdays, Ma always lets us pick what we want and fixes it. I always ask for her Thanksgiving ham. One year, my brother broke his arm and we all had to go to the emergency room. When we got back, the ham was almost done and Ma was hurrying trying to fix some stuff to go with it and I told her all I really wanted was the ham. I meant it too. I wasn't trying to be nice. Just cut me off some ham, slap it on a plate and I'm happy.

Kat: Fudge. Fudge brownies are not the same thing as fudge. The only time I ever had fudge growing up was on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'd ask for it during the year and would usually get "fudge brownies." They're not fudge. I have one aunt who makes it each year. I do her like people do Rebecca about her Key Lime pie, "Aunt Paulina, you're going to bring the fudge this year, right? You are bringing the fudge?" I've pestered her every year since I was eight according to my father. But he says she loves it and is just thrilled that I ask for it. Everyone eats it and there's never any left to take home, but apparently I'm the only one who will request it. I think everyone else just expects her to bring it. And they should because she always does. (Laughing) But I have to check and make sure.

Five Books, Five Minutes

Brenda summed up the opinion of many readers when she wrote, "If you're pressed on time or having posting problems, please consider abandoning some other feature but keep the book discussion. It's one of the highlights of my Sunday mornings." Far be it from us to dampen the first day of anyone's week, so here is another Five Books, Five Minutes. Participating in this discussion are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty 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 and Wally of The Daily Jot.

Jim: We've got five books and we'll work our way through them. Longtime readers grasp that the title "Five Books, Five Minutes" is in reference to Folding Star who used to run the website A Winding Road and offered in depth critiques of books. We don't do that here. You've got a number of people addressing what stood out to them in the book. Sometimes the book itself will serve as a jumping off point to a discussion. We prefer that to book summaries which so many papers are fond of running and calling them "reviews." First up is Margaret Cho's I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight. Ty, set us up.

Ty: Margaret Cho is a standup comedian whose act addresses any and every topic. She shies away from nothing and that includes addressing the Bully Boy. Cho's an activist who blends her art within her activism.

Wally: Thank you to C.I. for the book. I'll say that first because there's really not time to run around looking for books at home [South Florida] right now. What stood out most for me was what Ty was just talking about, the blend of art and activism. Last week, we reviewed a book by The Onion. I laughed at the whole book and I still would. But while we were discussing it, the point was made that the aspects dealing with politics did so in a silly manner that really didn't deal with politics. Like if Bully Boy gave a speech on the economy, the joke would be that his tie strangled him or something. I'd laugh at that still if it was written humorously, but this is really the first time I've noticed the difference between being silly by itself and being silly to make a point in a book I've read. I really enjoyed this book.

Betty: Agreed. It was a pleasure to read this book. One of the points she underscores that I nodded along with as well laughed along with was how a person can be born in a society but still be seen as outside of it by the larger culture due to skin color or some other difference. She makes the point throughout the book, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly, that America is all of us. Eliminating one aspect of it, or one freedom, is declaring war on America and what the country is supposed to stand for.

Dona: What I admire about Cho's comedy, and this book, is the I'm-not-going-to-apologize-for-who-I-am-or-beg-you-to-like-me. Her persona is strong and she's not selling out or denying her own power.

Mike: I had a lot of favorite parts but the first one I said to myself "I've got to quote this" was on page 29:

Bush is a liar and a thief, and uses God's name like they grew up together in
the 'hood, like they got thug love. Bush still believes in the joining of
church and state, which is antithetical to why this nation was born in the first
place. Bush still is our own worst enemy, and now that Saddam Hussein has
been captured and photagraphed in his big baggy underwear, that shoots Bush up
the charts to Public Enemy #1.

Jess: Cho's a revolutionary comic, my opinion. She's paved her own way and I love her turn of a phrase. Writing about family dynamics, she notes the elephant in the room but adds to that phrase to make it fresh: "The are so many crimes left unpunished, debts unpaid, white elephants in the middle of the room that no one will even offer a peanut to."

Jim: Revolutionary comic sums up the book and her style to me. I enjoyed the Patty Hearst style cover --

C.I.: Patty Hearst from her Tanya period.

Jim: Right. Ty picked Cho's book. Ava picked our next book which is Joan Baez's And A Voice to Sing With.

Ava: To give credit where it's due, this was suggested by a reader in Ohio. This is one of the two books we read that were recommended in e-mails. Dona and I have been working our way through Joan Baez's music catalogue and are huge fans so this was a book that we were interested in reading. Jess, Kat and C.I. had already read this book but it was new to the rest of us. For those who don't know, Joan Baez is a singer who became famous performing folk music and was and is an activist who fights the good fight, as they say.

Kat: And who's new album is entitled Bowery Songs. Pick it up. It's a great album.

Jim: I'll be honest, I flipped to the chapter on Dylan first.

Dona: Bob Dylan. How very "enquiring minds want to know" of you.

Kat: Okay, I want to comment there because apparently the PBS "documentary" has put a number of myths in people's heads. Joan Baez and Bob Dylan were an item. He rode her star to his own fame. In this country, but he didn't return the favor for her in England. To argue, as some are doing, that Dylan gave us so many beautiful songs and Baez is an activist and that's why they fell apart is insulting and wrong. First, Baez gave us many wonderful songs. Both in songs she covered, the Child ballads for example, and later in songs she wrote as well as ones she covered. Like Cho, there's no line between the art and activism with Baez. Now Dylan wasn't an activist. He benefitted from being seen as such and he wrote some strong songs early on. Now let's deal with a reality that apparently many are unfamiliar with. Some of his earliest well known songs are using the melody of folk songs from years and years before. Dylan's melodies haven't been noted in years. There's a reason for that. If any artist was buried in the sixties artistically, it was Dylan although some critics continue to insist that the body be put on display.
As for why they broke up, that's a personal thing between them but since people seem to want venture guesses, they should be informed enough to know when Dylan got with Jakob's mother.
They should also realize that the attention he received came as a result of him being part of a scene and when he falls out of that scene and goes to live in Woodstock, he's far removed from any inspiration as albums quickly reveal. Our "brave" Bob Dylan has not only not produced any proof of songwriting genuis in the years that Bully Boy has been in office, he's had nothing to say about it in recorded song. A lot of people have stood up and been counted, Bruce [Springsteen], Bright Eyes, Patti Smith, Cowboy Junkies, Joan Baez, the Rolling Stones, Green Day, go down the list. But the "king" is dead and has been musically for years. There is no excitement around a Dylan recording and the last time there was excitement, it had less to do with the actual overly praised album and more to do with the fact that he had almost died. "Hurricane" was a bad song but it was the last time he tried to make any contribution. A Judy Collins can find a way to make something of his later work but let's not pretend that he's done anything of value in many, many years. The myth is insulting to anyone with a basic understanding of the period and you won't get a basic understanding from a myth making PBS "documentary."

C.I.: Kat was offended by something I linked to that argued a reason why Dylan and Baez split.

Kat: That was the most simplistic reading. As noted in this book, and noted plenty of places elsewhere, while Dylan and Baez are "a couple," Dylan gets sick, in London, and when Baez goes to his room, she encounters a woman she's never met before -- Sara Dylan, Jakob's mother. I didn't watch the PBS special, I sat through The Last Waltz when it played in theaters and felt that Martin Scorsce drained all the life out of the music. I wasn't in the mood for the "star making machinery" that would be on display in a documentary by him on Dylan. Between that and his "book" that we were all supposed to be thrilled by, I have no idea what people are smoking. But Dylan was supposed to be talented writer. Chronicles is neither brave in its disclosures or well written. Let's call crap "crap" and be honest about it.

Elaine: (laughing) Come on, Kat, tell us what you really think?

Kat: I'm sorry to go off like this but just because someone sees something on their TV does not make it reality. By now, you'd think we'd all be aware of that.

Dona: No problem. The differences between Dylan and Baez go to the point of Baez's life which is the subject of And A Voice To Sing With.

Jess: I enjoyed the whole book, I couldn't pick a favorite part if I tried. I thought she was forthright and far from full of herself. I enjoyed the discussion of the music industry, especially the problems with Portrait and CBS, as much as I enjoyed the discussions of performing in Spain and her work with Amnesty. There's no division -- art, activism, it's all a part of the life of Joan Baez.

Cedric: I'll note that she marched with MLK because that's important and should be noted. I enjoyed the book and especially enjoyed that she was able both to laugh at herself and to take responsibility for her actions. I don't like autobiographies generally because it seems like it's all fluff. This wasn't fluff. A relationship ends, she's willing to take whatever part of the blame is hers. I especially enjoyed reading about Ring Around Congress and found it dismaying that so many people worked to stop it. Read the book to find out about that.

Jim: Read the book period. We all loved it. Let's go with the book Betty picked next. Betty?

Betty: Ava and Ty compile a list of books that readers suggest we review here. It is a huge list and I doubt we'll ever get to all of them. There was a title "Wisecracker" and that was all. I found the title interesting and searched online to find out what it was about. It seemed like a book worth reading so I suggested that we go with it. William J. Mann is the author and the full title is Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines, Hollywood's First Openly Gay Star.
And the sticker on the front cover of my library copy says it won the Lambda Literary Award.

Wally: This was an interesting book that in some ways could have been fiction to me because I really knew none of the people in it for the most part. The story was interesting but the author told the story in such a way that it will pull you in even if, like me, you're thinking "Who's William Haines?" or "Who's Conrad Nagel?"

Rebecca: But there are famous names in the book as well. Cary Grant. Joan Crawford who was a good friend to William Haines. Just to clarify. It was really interesting and it honestly made me think of Ava and C.I.'s review of Freddie.

Wally: Me too!

Rebecca: It wasn't a big deal that William Haines was gay. I don't mean that he didn't suffer any prejudices and obviously he was a star --

Elaine: Of silent films.

Rebecca: Of silent films so that helped as well. But then the Code comes in and suddenly it is a big deal and you have these people marrying to further or save their careers. Which Haines didn't. He stayed with his lover. But back to the review, you really can see how gay comes to be portrayed as "nancy" or "nelly" onscreen as a way of Hollywood protecting its own ass. By portraying it as one stereotypical way, it allows for a lot of people to fly under the radar. Which is why, to this day in many cases, gays come off as stereotypes in films and TV shows.

Elaine: Right. Rock Hudson can do the stereotype in Pillow Talk when Doris Day is told, by Rock Hudson but don't ask, that Rock Hudson is gay. It lets everyone see the "normal" side of Rock Hudson and then the side where he pretends he's gay. Since Hudson isn't like that when he's not pretending, I know this is getting confusing, then Hudson's not to gay to the average American at the time.

Ava: In our review, we were talking about how Hollywood still relies on that stereotype and how, in Freddie, you're not dealing with the other stereotype of hyper, straight masculinity, largely because the peformers can't pull that off. But they also can't let go of the stereotype of "gay" onscreen. We both laughed at how Freddie Prinze Jr. and Brian Austin Green, bored and boring actors, rushed to hit the end of alphabet to show the extreme view that Hollywood has passed off as "gay" for so long. We did more things in that review, including some private jokes, but that was one of the points we were attempting to make, whether we made it or not --

Rebecca: (Laughing) Yeah, yeah, yeah, you both always hate your reviews, we know. But seriously, this book is really a road map of where we were and how we got to where we are in terms of portrayals.

Mike: It's weird to realize that William Haines was like the Tom Cruise of the silent films and yet we don't even know his name these days, or most people don't. Maybe it's because he did silent movies.

C.I.: Well Turner Classics sometimes shows them. As well as the films of Ramon Navarro who is of that period and was also gay. But, and I don't mean this to take anything away from Haines, it underscores that popularity and what lasts aren't always the same thing. There are many huge movies in recent years that will not be remembered thirty years from now. They don't hold up. On the other hand, a lot of the films that weren't blockbusters in recent years, will hold up and will find the audience that they missed in their initial release. Getting back to the book, we should note that Ronald and Nancy Reagan pop up in the book and that, at Nancy's urging, Ronald is actually comforting to Haines' longterm partner after Haines' death. I don't say that to humanize Reagan, whom I detest, but to make sure it's out there because I don't want to be unfair. He couldn't do a thing while the AIDS crisis raged but in their own lives, they did know gay people. Nancy's godmother was a lesbian.

Rebecca: Right, Nazimova. Did that make the CBS Reagan mini-series that the right was up in arms over?

Jim: Our fourth book was Ken Emerson's Always Magic In The Air: The Bomp and Briliance of the Brill Building Era. I'll let C.I. set us up unless Jess wants to?

Jess: How about I start and C.I. can grab whatever I miss? This is a book about songwriters in the fifties and sixties, chiefly in the sixties, from New York and the Brill Building and other publishing companies in that area. This includes songwriting teams like Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann who wrote "You Lost That Lovin' Feeling," Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich who wrote "Chapel of Love," Burt Bacharach and Hal David who wrote "Walk On By" and Carole King and Gerry Goffin who wrote "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." I just listed one song per team that I mentioned but they all wrote many hits. The book chronicles the rise of these songwriters and their publishers and how the arrival of the Beatles and the concept of artists writing their own songs would mean the end of the line for many. C.I.?

C.I.: Phil Spector is credited as co-writer, along with Mann and Weil, on "You Lost That Lovin' Feeling" so before any e-mails come in on that, let's note it. Spector has a reputation for taking credit he hasn't earned, actually he has a new reputation these days, so readers can decide for themselves whether he earned that credit. I don't know that I buy into the narrative.
I'm not talking about Jess' narrative, I'm speaking of the book's. It's popular, and it's certainly pleasing, but pop music, by it's nature, is full of changes and turn arounds, or was before Clear Channel got ahold of it, and I'm not sure that the writers wouldn't automatically have faced similar struggles had the singer-songwriter not emerged. Certainly Bacharach and Davis can't use that excuse because they were working with Dionne Warwick who did not write her own hits and when they elected to split up their partnership, at that time they were still writing for Warwick who was having hits. For that narrative to succeed, you have to put a great deal of faith in Gerry Goffin and depending on the month or day, Goffin's story changes. In this book, he sees Dylan and wants to write important lyrics and that leads to the crack up and is the end of the line. In other Goffin narratives, he comes to realize that those lyrics aren't what he can write and his later career is quite pleasing, such as writing the lyrics to Diana Ross' "Do You Know Where You're Going To?" A Rolling Stones is a rare thing. Most musical acts have a short shelf life. Not all. But most do. At any moment, look at the top twenty singles of a week and check back in ten years and see who's still able to make a living in the music business.

Kat: I found the writer insulting to Carole King. He always seemed to be down grading her talent or getting a jab in.

Jess: I felt that way too. And I'm sorry but he can have the hard on for Neil Sedaka all he wants but I've never been impressed with Sedaka and don't think he was ever all that talented.

Wally: I know the book lists his songs, but I kept wondering who Neil Sedaka was? I really didn't know any of the songs. I knew stuff like "Da Do Run Run" and "One Fine Day" and "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" but I was scratching my head anytime Neil Sedaka came up.

Rebecca: I felt like he was insulting to women throughout. He has a low opinion of the women involved in that time period and it comes through in the writing.

C.I.: I would agree absolutely. I would take that further in fact and am guessing Betty will.

Betty: We're talking about the treatment of blacks, right? Yeah, I felt like he was insulting to pretty much every black person in his book. I cringed at the Righteous Brother song that was performed to Darlene Love and didn't enjoy the author's excuse for it. I also didn't enjoy the continued put downs of Motown. HDH wrote a lot of strong songs that are still with us today.

C.I.: Brian Holland, William Dozier and Eddie Holland. Responsible for many hits but I'll note "Reflections," "You Can't Hurry Love," "Stop in the Name of Love" --

Betty: Don't forget "Baby Love!"

Cedric: Or "Baby I Need Your Lovin'" and "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)."

Rebecca: Or "It's The Same Old Song." And while his focus may be on one area geographically, he seems to be unaware that Ashford & Simpson have lasted a long time as well.

C.I.: You're referring to his comments on Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. They write songs together and are also a couple. When I read the comment, I thought about Valerie Simpson and Nicholas Ashford as well. His focus may be limited, but he writes as if he's unaware of other things. And while I can overlook a typo -- to repeatedly refer to the Drifters "On the Boardwalk" and have no one catch the error is embarrassing.

Mike: What's the error?

Kat: The Drifters recorded "Under the Boardwalk." "Under" not "On."

Mike: Okay, that song I know. I just assumed this was a song I didn't know about when I was reading the book and he was saying it was a tremendous hit for the Drifters. I was also confused by the song "He Hit Me And It Felt Like A Kiss." I thought that was a fifties song.

Kat: Where did you hear that?

Mike: Eric Stoltz says it on a making of extra on the DVD of Grace of My Heart.

C.I.: Eric Stoltz was probably told that while he was researching the film, and by a male writer from that period, song writer. No, that song came out in the sixties.

Mike: He also says, Eric Stoltz, that it was a hit.

C.I.: Again, he was probably told that while researching his role, loosely based on Gerry Goffin. But the song wasn't a hit. It was withdrawn and didn't chart nationally. It was briefly a single in 1962.

Cedric: I don't see "On the Boardwalk" as a typo. It's not "Undre the Boardwalk." It's an error. And it's part of the reason I didn't care for the book. It should have been caught. He had an editor. They should have caught it. I've had one error and multiple typos at my site and I think there's a difference and judge them as such. There is no reason for him to mention the song but he does, twice, and he gets it wrong both times. There's not an excuse for that. "Under the Boardwalk" is a famous song that's still known by millions. To me, it speaks of carelessness on the part of the publisher. I also wonder why he didn't catch it when he was reading over it before it came out. If it had been a typo, I wouldn't have thought twice. But to have an error with something as big as "Under the Boardwalk" left me questioning the entire book.

Kat: What's most scary about this book is that it will be a bible others will build upon and his attitudes towards women and African-Americans will seep through into later works unless writers who follow up on this period are very aware.

Jess: And nobody liked this book. Betty gave up on it.

Betty: It was so boring. He kept skiping here, there and everywhere and offering a morsel of gossip and then on to shining it on about Neil Sedaka or Burt Bacharach. I want to cite one specific example of how Carole King gets treated in this book. There's a passage where not only is it asserted that she wasn't a very good piano player before becoming a professional songwriter, this despite the fact that she'd had years and years of lessons and everyone knows that King can play a piano and then some, and at the same time we're told how she chased after Sedaka and how she wasn't "pretty" and was a "groupie" and had a long term relationship with Sedaka and this and that. Only after that long paragraph does he note that Carole King states, "It was one date." He presents claims and runs with them and always sides with the males involved. To him Neil Sedaka is obviously a catch. Not to me. Carole King, in the photos in the book, looks like Carole King does today only with period hair. I don't think she's unattractive. To me, she's always looked a lot like Debra Winger whom I think is very pretty. And let's be really honest here, men lie about who they "had" all the time. It's that whole "Summer Nights" dynamic from the musical Grease. I wouldn't normally pick on Sedaka's looks but since he wants to knock Carole King, I'll note that the Count Chocula widow's peak has never been a favorite hairline of mine.

Dona: We've gone over and I'm jumping in because we need to wrap up and do so quickly.
The fifth book, suggested by reader Jay, was Krist Novoselic's Of Grunge and Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy. Elaine, sum up the book.

Elaine: This is a list of ideas for "fixing" government. Mike?

Mike: I hated this book. I couldn't believe how much I hated this book. I talked to Elaine about it and asked her, "Are you hating this book as much as me?" and she was.

Elaine: I don't know what to say. It's a "list." It's not a book. It's a primer on some concepts.

Mike: This guy was in Nirvana so I was surprised by how boring and cut and dry this book was. List is more like it. I mean who's going to read this book?

Elaine: The topic is politics. So Mike and I doubted that many people not interested in politics would pick up the book. If you're interested in politics you already know concepts like instant run off voting and don't need a section of a book that just explains to you what it is. This is actually a glossary. It's not a book.

Mike: Even when he's briefly talking about Kurt Cobain, the book is boring. He might make a great politician but he's no writer.

Jim: We'll close on that. Hopefully you got a sense of the books we covered and whether we enjoyed them or not, you have some idea if they're right for you. We recommend Margaret Cho's I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight, William J. Mann's Wisecracker and Joan Baez's And A Voice to Sing With.

Miss Swanson Regrets chpt. I

One of the things that we've been discussing at The Third Estate Sunday Review is a possible ongoing novel. Ty especially enjoyed the idea and came up with a premise.

The title of this novel is Miss Swanson Regrets. Will you see a chapter every edition? Probably not. But if it captures our fancy or the readers, we will be continuing it.

Hilda Swanson, the lead character, is not based upon any woman. She will be a combination of various details of various real life people, some in broadcasting, some not. C.I. and Ava will be filling in details based upon one woman in particular ("Because we doubt we'll live to write her obit since she seems to have made some pact with the devil") but it's not intended to be a biography of one person, it is intended to be a commentary on the press.

This is the introductory chapter and, if we're inspired, you'll see more of it in the future. There was a debate as to whether Miss Swanson should be female or not. However, at a time when there is talk that Condi Rice or another woman might run for president in 2008, one of the themes we wanted to underscore was that a "first" isn't necessarily a "best." Kat just stated our intro was longer than our chapter, so we'll shut up.

Chapter One

"Goddman you," she screamed, her wig askew, "Don't be a f**king smart ass! Of course I lied! We all lied! We all agreed to! That's how it works!"

Staring at the "break through woman" who had "broken down" barriers against women in broadcasting, Randy couldn't believe the transformation in mere minutes from the sympathetic smile and gentle tones to the raging, out of control lunatic looming above him.

Hilda Swanson was a someone who "looked good for her age" -- a topic on which there was a considerable dispute. Though some records listed her year of birth as 1930, officially the line was she was born in 1935.

Five years may not seem a huge amount, especially for someone who was at least seventy, but they had prolonged her broadcasting career and forestalled the semi-retirement for a number of years. She was now in semi-retirement.

"Kept on moth balls until they need to pull at the goddamn heart strings!" she roared.

Randy's prof at J-school had suggested he interview Miss Swanson (always "Miss Swanson") for his semester poject. The prof had officially worked for Miss Swanson three decades prior and, unofficially, had a brief, five week fling with Miss Swanson.

Hilda Swanson had found the idea interesting since she was working on yet another book and her last few had been dubbed "PowerPoint presentations masking as books for the nonreading public" by Salon. The agreement was that Randy's notes and paper could be used by Miss Swanson for her latest book. Credit for Randy's contributions was something Miss Swanson felt was best dealt with "later, when we can see how valuable they are or not."

The first fifteen minutes had been without incident except when Miss Swanson admonished Randy for having made small talk with "the help." Randy had not known that Miss Swanson was infamous for staring right through the servants who attempted to engage her when she was visiting friends, especially one who lived on Fifth Avenue.

All Randy had known was that she had scored many interviews over the many, many years and that she was something of an institution.

Face to face, she was something of a nightmare.

Blog spotlight: Wally jots on Bully Boy and Chalabi

Wally does The Daily Jot. Ideally it publishes Monday through Friday and it offers a jot, a jotting if you will, about something on Wally's mind. From last week, we note:

"Chalabi clowns, Bully Boy clowns, the New York Times clowns . . ."
Think of Chalabi as a chef. He cooked and fed Judy Miller most of her "reporting" and he cooked and fed the administration most of their "facts." Over 2,000 Americans are dead and some of that can be traced to Chalabi's "cooking."

If that happened at McDonalds, they'd fire his ass. But even though the administration shares with McDonalds a love for clowns, it doesn't share the basic accountability. So it's no surprise that Chalabi's being brought back in "from the cold." (For more on this, read "Other Items" and "NYT has to promote the AP today because NYT has little news.")

But it is disgusting. And it's one more sign of how there is no accountability in the Bully Boy administration.

Equally amazing is the New York Times which wants to do a mea culpa for their lousy reporting (a lot of it by Judy Miller) and wants to push the administration's "we were all wrong" party line but at the same time wants to promote Chalabi without acknowledging their own relationship with him which included hiring his niece.

Isaiah called it right regarding the state of the world today when he named his comic strip The World Today Just Nuts.

Blog spotlight: Rebecca talking about the common ills

The Common Ills is coming up on its year anniversary. Rebecca wrote this reflecting on the anniversary.

"talking about the common ills"

mike just called. he and nina are already in line for the movie they're going to see but he asked me if i'd do something for him? surely.

he meant to note a favorite entry from the common ills tonight and forgot. he's trying to remember to do that and the reason for that is the first year anniversary of the common ills is coming up and he knows c.i. won't make anything out of it.

79,651 views of c.i.'s profile. pretty impressive. but i actually just pulled it up because they used to tell you how many posts you'd done (and they used to give a sample, a few lines, of about 4 posts and also tell your weekly average number of posts). i'm not sure when they stopped providing all that information. my plan was to note how many posts c.i. had done. i'm sure it's over a thousand by now.

and i should note that the posts includes members like ruth, isaiah, kat, gina, dallas, billie, shirley ... members make the common ills, c.i. always says that and it's true.

i log on and i get to write about whatever i want to. that's never the case for c.i. after elaine told me last thanksgiving that c.i. was the 1 doing the site she kept telling me to visit, i went there right away. that's what friends are for, as dionne, stevie, gladys and elton sang.

but before i started my site, i was pestering elaine to start 1. and i would talk to c.i. about it and how could we get elaine to do 1. i wasn't thinking about doing 1 then. but 1 thing that came up was the issue of water privatization and c.i.'s very big on that issue and how we need to pay attention to it. c.i. was hoping to write about that topic. it still hasn't happened. it will soon be a year and it still hasn't happened.that's because members (and i'm one) will write in and say 'c.i., no 1's talking about ___ and this is really important to me because ___' and that becomes the thrust of the entry.

c.i. planned a site and it's not anything like what it was planned. it was going to be common sense based and that's remained. but otherwise, the common ills is nothing like what was planned. in the original days, you could post comments. but back then, you had to be a member of blogger to post comments at the site. c.i. figured out how to allow anonymous posts and switched that but by that point, the community gathering had already decided no to comments.that was at least partly because idiots kept dropping by. 2 in particular who were 'centrist' dems and would say idiotic things like 'there's nothing more beautiful than a blue dog democrat' or some sort of nonsense.

1 thing c.i. believed firmly in was that it would be a work safe environment because a friend of c.i.'s got a verbal warning at their job for visiting a site - what site? the washington post. it was when the post quoted cheney using the f word.

keesha was 1 of the 1s saying 'lose the comments' the most loudly. c.i. was trying to figure out how to do that (you change it to 'do not allow comments') but new to blogger's program and to blogging. (back then, it was a blog.) then some 1 posted a comment that had nothing to do with the topic but was advertising a porn site with all these graphic terms and c.i. shut down the comments because something like that could get some 1 in trouble at work.members weren't interested in going through a ton of comments. they wanted to read a voice.

that was the other change. gina was especially fond of saying 'oh it's oprah time!' in the early days because c.i. would say something like 'i disagree with _-- in the times' and that was it. c.i. had let it rip a few times by this point and members knew it could be funny or to the point or both and that's what they wanted.

that is so not c.i. c.i. wants time to reflect. if you ask c.i. a question, expect the answer to be a question. that's a given. a lot of times those questions are too narrow down what you are asking because it may be a broad category and c.i. may be attempting to zone in on what you're really wanting.

but 'snap' analysis really isn't c.i.'s thing. but that's what the community wanted and c.i. listens to the community.

members see c.i. as the voice of the community and that's a huge burden. i wouldn't want that burden. i can write something here and if i piss you off i'm not overly concerned if it's something i really believe in. if c.i. upsets even 1 member, there's a back and forth of attempting to find a common ground and figure out how to address something better the next time it arises.

it's a huge responsibility and c.i. never whines about. i wasn't even aware of it for the longest time. it's something that would come up in discussions at the third estate sunday review. if a member had an issue that they'd e-mailed c.i. about, c.i. would say 'okay, you can do this but i can't be a part of it because ___ has an issue and . . .'i prefer saying it the way i say it, hopefully they'll get over it. but c.i.'s got to be the voice speaking for every members.

it's not all negative. members (and i'm 1) love c.i. and the closeness they feel (which is shared by c.i. towards them) is incredible bond. and members have c.i.'s back.

but along with that and other positives come a lot of negatives because that's how i see a year's around the corner and what has c.i. done?

i think the most amazing thing c.i. has done is be a strong voice against the war. after the election, you saw a lot of groups and people drop the war issue. you saw ... move on.

c.i. didn't. the common ills has spoken out strongly against the war and strongly insisted that the troops need to come home because this american led occupation only inflames the tensions. c.i. raised the stakes for others who might want to be mild.

and kids were looking for a strong voice. i think it was february 2003 when c.i. began speaking to student groups and that was as a favor to a friend who's schedule changed and c.i. was asked to fill in for 6 weeks. it was still going on during the election. and after the election, the day after, when we were all depressed, c.i. got up and gave the most inspirational speech that had us all jazzed. but because c.i. had spent about 20 months speaking to students all over there was no need for a focus group or a poll.

so when the common ills took off with college students immediately, it wasn't a surprise.and while c.i. cares about the feelings of members, c.i.'s not about to stay silent. we saw that when c.i. took on the myth of simon rosenberg is a shoe in for dnc chair and a hero and all the other crap that was all over the net.

it is hard to be an independent voice while also factoring in the issues of a huge community, but c.i. manages to swing it.

and day in, day out, the common ills has been there. c.i. might have to dictate entries over the phone to a few trusted friends and lord knows when there's time for sleep, but day in and day out, the common ills has been there.

the community has grown and grown. and even at the beginning it wasn't just college students. you've had eli, ruth and you've had other adults of various ages.

and it's the site that has spawned other sites. i was the first spin off. then came the third estate sunday review (jim, dona, ty, jess and ava), then a winding road by folding star who gave up on the hassles of blogging in july for a variety of reasons, then betty with thomas friedman is a great man, then kat decided to start kat's korner in addition to her cd reviews at the common ills, then mike started mikey likes it, then cedric started cedric's big mix, then elaine started like maria said paz, then seth started seth in the city and then wally started the daily jot. the common ills spawned 10 sites, 9 that are still going.

it also spawned the uk computer gurus biweekly newsletter and the gina and krista round-robin which publishes every friday as well as doing special editions when needed.

my favorite entry? that's always a hard thing to pin down but i think i'll go with 'should this marriage be saved?' and i'm sure that as soon as this posts, i'll kick myself and say, 'rebecca! you should have picked ___!'

that's it for tonight. i've spent a lot of time on this entry. i'll try to grab time to do a sex post soon. in fact, i know what i want. let's do 1 on sex and music. what i need from you is to know what your favorite make out song is. so weigh in if you've got 1.

Blog spotlight: Cedric: "It's not just the young people"

Cedric blogged Thursday on an issue that's often overlooked. The elderly. How do they feel about the Bully Boy? Are they excited about the new medical plans? For the answers, read this from Cedric.

"It's not just the young people"

Thursday. And I am posting. Three Cool Old Guys say hello to everybody. They were very vocal on wanting me to note an article C.I.'s noted at The Common Ills, Gareth Porter's "Witnesses Describe Ballot Fraud in Nineveh:"

Both U.S. military informants and testimony gathered by civil society leaders in
Nineveh reported that the Kurds had spread the rumour in Nineveh province that
voters who did not vote "yes" would lose their food ration cards. Many farmers
and their families were said by the independent informant to have voted "yes" on
the understanding that would ensure the renewal of their ration cards. The
picture of voting irregularities and fear in Nineveh sketched out in these
reports from non-Sunni sources collected by the U.S. military and civil society
groups support the complaints about electoral fraud by Sunni political figures.
And they belie the official portrayal of the referendum as a step toward
political legitimacy and democratic development.

That's "democracy" and "liberation" is what they wanted me to put in here. They wanted something else noted on this anniversary of Falluja, retired people aren't frothing at the mouth over Bully Boy. They see that in our church and at the nursing home they live in.
Our church is a Black church. Other races are welcome, but we're a Black church. And African-Americans haven't been big supporters of Bully Boy Bush (unless they were on the payroll like Armstrong Williams). But their nursing home is a mixture of races and the ones there who did support Bully Boy stopped as the war turned out to be lies and people kept dying.

Tuesday, they took me around to some of the former Bully Boy supporters. The thing I heard the most was that they were appalled that Bully Boy hasn't attended one funeral of an American military person who died in Iraq. This wasn't the thing that turned them against him but it was always the first thing that they noted. They'd name presidents who had attended funerals and they'd say it was shameful that Bully Boy hadn't attended even one. Then they'd usually follow that with their belief that he couldn't attend one because he knew he lied and he'd have to confront the costs of lies and deal with reality -- which he can't do.

Most of the people were white. One was a Hipsanic woman and one was a man whose parents had come over from Japan in the 1920s. These were the ones who had openly supported the Bully Boy and even voted for him in 2004.

Three Cool Old Guys know that this might be something that's just happening in their nursing home but they wanted it noted. This came from the network news. They weren't online. This came from just following the network news and feeling like they were lied to. Until Three Cool Old Guys got their laptops, no one in the nursing home had web access.

And this was another big thing they voiced. They feel the news people on TV lied to them and continue to lie to them. They feel like if this were any other leader, Carter was the one they usually named the most, then Bill Clinton, the media wouldn't soft peddle or make excuses the way they do for Bully Boy. I heard names I'd never heard of, TV journalists from long ago, and they'd talk about how they asked hard questions at press conferences and weren't sucking up and laughing the way they do today.

This one woman told me that she blamed her vote in 2004 for Bully Boy on the press.After Bully Boy and the network news, the third thing most distrusted was the AARP. They feel the AARP sold out the elderly when they got in bed with the administration to push the phoney programs. They said no one even talks about that anymore on TV and they can't figure out the new plans but can't believe that they will benefit from them. It was really interesting to speak to them because we'd go up and they'd be smiling and Three Cool Old Guys would explain to them why they brought me over and they'd stop smiling and launch into these long lists of the ways the Bully Boy was ruining the country.

I heard "He needs to fire Karl Rove" a lot. That was for outing the CIA agent Valerie Plame. But what I heard even more than that was that he needs to be impeached.
I went back to tonight to talk to some of the ones there wasn't time to talk to Tuesday night and it was the same message. (I had told my date about them on our first date and she wanted to meet Three Cool Old Guys, so Tuesday we spent an hour and a half at the nursing home before going out to eat.)

I've got to do laundry and go get some milk and other stuff at the stores so this isn't a long entry. But Three Cool Old Guys thought this was important and I agree with them. It's not just the young people that have turned against the Bully Boy.

Iraquí: "Los estadounidenses bombardearon todo, nuestras casas están destruidas"

Iraquí: "Los estadounidenses bombardearon todo, nuestras casas están destruidas"

Maria: Hola. De parte de "Democracy Now!" trece cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. Paz.Iraquí:

Iraquí: "Los estadounidenses bombardearon todo, nuestras casas están destruidas"
La mayor parte de las comunicaciones con los pueblos sunitas de Husayabah y Qaim fue cortada. Un periodista Iraquí en Husayabah dijo a Al-Jazeera: "La ciudad carece por completo de todo lo indispensable para las necesidades básicas de la vida. No hay combustible y el invierno está por llegar. No hay comida y no hay servicios de ningún tipo, ni siquiera servicios médicos". El periodista dijo que las ambulancias no pudieron responder a las emergencias debido a que no se permite la movilización dentro de la ciudad. Un residente de Qaim dijo a Reuters: "Destruyeron Qaim, los estadounidenses bombardearon todo, nuestras casas están destruidas, nuestros hijos son victimas y queremos una solución. ¿Qué debemos hacer? Necesitamos una solución". Los residentes fueron forzados a abandonar la localidad a pie. Associated Press informó que las fuerzas comandadas por Estados Unidos advirtieron por altavoces que dispararían a quienes se marcharan en vehículos. Estados Unidos dijo que la Operación "Cortina de Acero" era necesaria para evitar que combatientes extranjeros ingresen a Irak a través de la frontera con Siria. Mientras tanto, políticos sunitas criticaron los ataques dirigidos por Estados Unidos. El principal dirigente del Partido Islámico Iraquí, Mohsen Abdul-Hamid, dijo: "Rechazamos todas las operaciones militares contra civiles porque dichas acciones llevan a la muerte de gente inocente y a la destrucción de pueblos y ciudades".

Cinco soldados estadounidenses acusados de golpear a detenidos iraquíes
Mientras tanto, las Fuerzas Armadas anunciaron el lunes que se presentaron cargos contra cinco soldados estadounidenses por asestar golpes de puño y puntapiés a detenidos en Irak. Las golpizas ocurrieron hace dos meses.

Regresa a DC Ahmed Calabi, antes exiliado iraquí y desacreditado
El ex director del Congreso Nacional Iraquí, Ahmed Chalabi, llegará a Washington esta semana, en su primer viaje oficial en más de dos años. Planea hablar el miércoles en el American Enterprise Institute (Instituto de la Empresa Estadounidense) y se reunirá con la Secretaria de Estado, Condoleezza Rice, y con el Secretario del Tesoro, John Snow. Antes de la invasión a Irak, Chalabi tenía vínculos cercanos con el Pentágono y con algunos reporteros entre los cuales se encontraba Judith Miller, del New York Times. Chalabi fue acusado de proporcionar información inventada sobre las armas en Irak a las agencias de inteligencia estadounidenses y a periodistas, antes de la invasión a Irak. También surgieron preguntas acerca de sus cercanos vínculos con Irán. Durante el fin de semana, Chalabi estuvo en Teherán para entrevistarse a puertas cerradas con funcionarios iraníes de alto rango, entre ellos El Presidente Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. El año pasado, la Agencia de Inteligencia de Defensa concluyó que la inteligencia Iraní había utilizado a colaboradores de Chalabi para proporcionar información errónea a Estados Unidos.

La Casa Blanca recibió en 2002 advertencias de que Irak no estaba vinculado con Al Qaeda
El New York Times informa que el gobierno de Bush fue advertido en febrero de 2002 de que los informes de inteligencia sobre presuntos vínculos entre Irak y Al-Qaeda probablemente contenían datos falsos producidos por un integrante de Al-Qaeda detenido en Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, el gobierno de Bush ignoró las advertencias de la Agencia de Inteligencia de Defensa (DIA, por sus siglas en inglés) acerca de que el detenido, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, estaba mintiendo. Sus falsas afirmaciones fueron usadas reiteradas veces para justificar la invasión a Irak. Ocho meses después de que la DIA hizo esas advertencias, el Presidente Bush pronunció un importante discurso en Cincinnati en el que dijo: "Nos enteramos de que Irak entrenó a miembros de Al-Qaeda en la fabricación de bombas y venenos y gases." Este año, la revista Newsweek reveló que Al-Libi podría haber empezado a hablar en los interrogatorios luego de ser torturado. Al-Libi fue capturado en noviembre de 2001 en Afganistán. Fue entregado a la CIA para que lo interrogara y finalmente enviado a Egipto.

Corte Suprema decidirá sobre uso de tribunales militares en Guantánamo
La Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos anunció el lunes que decidirá si el gobierno de Bush puede utilizar tribunales militares para enjuiciar a los prisioneros detenidos en la Bahía de Guantánamo. En julio, un tribunal federal de apelaciones integrado por tres jueces decretó que un tribunal compuesto íntegramente por militares podía enjuiciar y sentenciar a Salim Ahmed Hamdan, un hombre Yemini acusado de ser el guardaespaldas y chofer de Osama Bin Laden. El lunes, el Presidente de la Corte Suprema, John Roberts, se retiró del caso debido a que él fue uno de los jueces del tribunal de apelaciones que dictaminó anteriormente en este caso.

El Senado votó para privar a prisioneros del derecho a impugnar su detención
El Senado votó el jueves en Capitol Hill para despojar a los prisioneros detenidos en la Bahía de Guantánamo del derecho a impugnar su detención ante tribunales de Estados Unidos. La medida, presentada por el Senador republicano Lindsey Graham, anularía una decisión de la Corte Suprema del año pasado. El New York Times informa que la enmienda dejará sin efecto las impugnaciones legales presentadas por 200 de los 500 prisioneros detenidos actualmente en Guantánamo. Cinco demócratas se unieron a 44 republicanos para aprobar la medida por 49 votos contra 42. Sin embargo, el New York Times informa que la victoria puede ser transitoria, debido a que nueve senadores estaban ausentes y presionan para que se realice una segunda votación el lunes 14.

Senado ordena a Rumsfeld que revele información sobre prisiones secretas
También el jueves, el Senado aprobó una enmienda a un proyecto de ley que ordena al Secretario de Defensa, Donald Rumsfeld, informar al Congreso acerca de los establecimientos carcelarios secretos administrados por Estados Unidos en el extranjero.

Lott sospecha que compañeros republicanos filtraron la existencia de las prisiones
Mientras tanto, el Los Ángeles Times informa que el Senador republicano Trent Lott dijo que senadores de su propio partido podrían ser los responsables de la filtración. Lott dijo que las instalaciones de las prisiones secretas fueron discutidas en un banquete republicano en Capitol Hill, que se llevo a cabo el 1 de noviembre, un día antes que el Post publicara su informe. El Vicepresidente Cheney asistió a ese banquete. Lott dijo: "No sé de dónde más pudo haber surgido... me pareció que al menos uno de esos informes surgió directamente de aquel lugar".

CIA advertida sobre procedimientos en los interrogatories
Según el New York Times, el inspector general de la CIA advirtió a la agencia que sus procedimientos en los interrogatorios podrían estar violando la Convención Internacional Contra la Tortura. En un informe, el inspector general dijo que las técnicas "crueles, inhumanas o degradantes" utilizadas en lugares secretos en el mundo podrían exponer a los agentes a responsabilidades jurídicas. Estas técnicas incluyen "el submarino", en la que se priva al detenido de aire, como si se estuviera ahogando. La Casa Blanca presiona en la actualidad por una enmienda del Congreso que exima a los agentes de la CIA de la prohibición por parte del Senado de utilizar torturas en los interrogatorios realizados en el extranjero.

Funcionario de la CIA revela presupuesto de la agencia
Otra noticia sobre los servicios de Inteligencia: una funcionaria de la CIA parece haber revelado el presupuesto de la agencia, que ha sido durante mucho tiempo un secreto nacional. En una conferencia de inteligencia en San Antonio la semana pasada, la subdirectora de Inteligencia Nacional, Mary Margaret Graham, dijo que el presupuesto anual de inteligencia es 44 mil millones de dólares.

Atentado suicida con bombas en restaurante de Bagdad
En Irak, dos bombarderos suicidas atacaron hoy un restaurante en Bagdad que es frecuentado por fuerzas de seguridad iraquíes, dejando un saldo de por lo menos 33 personas muertas y otras 19 heridas. Mientras tanto, un atentado con coche-bomba mató a siete reclutas del ejército en el pueblo de Tikkrit. En otras noticias sobre Irak, las Fuerzas Armadas estadounidenses admitieron el miércoles que causaron la muerte de varios civiles durante los ataques llevados a cabo esta semana en el pueblo de Husaybah, cerca de la frontera con Siria. Las fuerzas estadounidenses invadieron este pueblo el sábado, alegando que se había convertido en un caldo de cultivo de insurgentes extranjeros. El New York Times informa que aviones de la Marina destruyeron un hogar donde presuntamente se escondían insurgentes, matando a por lo menos cinco civiles que estaban adentro.

Judith Miller deja el New York Times
El New York Times anunció la renuncia de la periodista Judith Miller. Miller estuvo presa durante 85 días este año por negarse a testificar ante un gran jurado en el caso de filtración de la CIA. Fue liberada tras recibir autorización para testificar de su fuente, el asistente de la Casa Blanca acusado Lewis Libby. Miller, que fue elogiada al comienzo por defender la libertad de prensa, recibió críticas luego, cuando los editores del periódico la acusaron de haberlos engañado acerca de sus vínculos con la Casa Blanca. El trabajo periodístico de Miller también fue criticado por sus informes en el período previo a la guerra de Irak. Miller escribió una serie de artículos que afirmaban que Saddam Hussein tenía en su poder armas de destrucción masiva, afirmaciones que resultaron ser falsas. En una carta al editor publicada en la edición de hoy del New York Times, Miller escribió: "Decidí renunciar debido a que en los últimos meses me he convertido en noticia, algo que un periodista del New York Times nunca quiere ser". Un portavoz del Times dijo: "Se dejó claro a Miller que no podía seguir trabajando como periodista de ninguna clase" en el periódico.

Ali recibe la Medalla Presidencial de la Libertad
En Washington, el legendario boxeador Muhammad Ali fue galardonado el miércoles con la Medalla Presidencial de la Libertad. Ali es considerado el mejor boxeador de la historia del deporte. En su apogeo, apoyó el movimiento musulmán negro y criticó la Guerra de Vietnam. En 1967 fue despojado de su titulo de campeón de los pesos pesados por negarse a luchar en Vietnam. Las declaraciones de Alí que siguen fueron tomadas del documental "When We Were Kings" (Cuando fuimos reyes), sobre el combate de 1974 en el que Ali recuperó el título de campeón mundial, contra George Foreman en Kinshasa, que llegó a ser conocido como "La pelea en la jungla": "Si, estoy en África. Si, África es mi hogar. Maldito sea Estados Unidos y lo que Estados Unidos piensa. Si, vivo en Estados Unidos, pero África es el hogar del hombre negro, y yo fui un esclavo hace 400 años, y vuelvo a casa para pelear junto con mis hermanos".

Maria: In English, here are thirteen headlines fom Democracy Now! Remember that the headlines are provided daily in English and Spanish and please pass on to your friends. Peace.

Iraqi: "Americans Bombed Everything, Our Houses Are Destroyed"
Most communication to the Sunni towns of Husaybah and Qaim has been cut off. An Iraqi journalist in Husaybah told Al-Jazeera "The city is suffering a complete lack of all of life's basic necessities. There is no fuel and winter is upon us. There is no food and there are no services whatsoever, not even health services." The journalist said that ambulances have been unable to respond to emergencies because no movement is allowed in the city. "They destroyed Qaim, Americans bombed everything, our houses are destroyed, our children are victims and we want a solution," one resident told Reuters. "What do we have to do? We need a solution." Residents have been forced to flee the town on foot. The Associated Press reported that the U.S.-led forces warned over loudspeakers that anyone leaving the town in vehicles would be shot. The U.S. said Operation Steel Curtain was needed to stop foreign fighters from crossing the Syrian border. Meanwhile Sunni politicians criticized the U.S.-led attack. The head of the moderate Iraqi Islamic Party Mohsen Abdul-Hamid said "We reject all military operations directed against civilian targets because such acts lead to the killing of innocent people and the destruction of towns and cities."

Five U.S. Soldiers Charged With Beating Iraqi Detainees
The military announced Monday five U.S. soldiers had been charged with punching and kicking detainees in Iraq. The beatings occurred two months ago.

Once Disgraced Iraqi Exile, Ahmed Chalabi, Returns to DC
The former head of the Iraqi National Congress Ahmed Chalabi is heading to Washington this week for his first official trip in over two years. He is planning on speaking at the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday and will be meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary John Snow. Before the invasion of Iraq, Chalabi had close ties to the Pentagon as well as some reporters including Judith Miller of the New York Times. He has been accused of feeding fabricated information about Iraq's weapons capabilities to US intelligence agencies and to journalists ahead of the Iraq invasion. Questions have also arisen over his close ties to Iran. Over the weekend Chalabi was in Tehran for closed-door meetings with high-ranking Iranian officials including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Last year the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded Iranian intelligence had used aides of Chalabi to pass disinformation to the United States.

White House Was Warned in 2002 Iraq Had No Ties to Al Qaeda
The New York Times is reporting the Bush administration was warned in February 2002 that intelligence reports alleging ties between Iraq and Al-Qaeda were likely fabricated by a member of Al-Qaeda in U.S. detention. However the Bush administration ignored the Defense Intelligence Agency warning that the detainee -- Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi - was lying. His faulty claims were repeatedly used to justify the invasion of Iraq. Eight months after the DIA issued its warning, President Bush gave a major speech in Cincinnati in which he said "we've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases." Earlier this year Newsweek magazine revealed Al-Libi may have begun speaking to interrogators after he was tortured. Al-Libi was captured in November 2001 in Afghanistan. He was handed over to the CIA for questioning and eventually flown to Egypt.

Supreme Court To Rule on Guantanamo Military Tribunals
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will decide whether the Bush administration can use military tribunals to try detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay. In July a three-judge federal appeals court upheld that a tribunal made up entirely of military officials could try and sentence Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemini man accused of being Osama Bin Laden's bodyguard and driver. On Monday Chief Justice John Roberts recused himself from the case since he was one of the appeals court judges who previously ruled on the case.

Senate Votes To Remove Prisoners' Right to Challenge Detentions
On Capital Hill Thursday, the Senate voted to take away Guantanamo Bay prisoners' right to challenge their detentions in United States courts. The measure, put forward by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, would override a Supreme Court decision last year. The New York Times reports the amendment would nullify legal challenges currently filed by nearly 200 of the 500 detainees currently held at Guantanamo. Five Democrats joined 44 Republicans to pass the measure by a vote of 49 to 42. However the New York Times reports the victory may be short-lived as nine senators were absent, and are pushing for a second vote as early as Monday.

Senate Orders Rumsfeld to Disclose Secret Prisons
Also Thursday, the Senate passed an amendment to a defense bill that mandates Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to inform Congress on US-run secret prison facilities in foreign countries.

Lott Suspects Fellow Republicans in Prison Disclosure
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports Republican Senator Trent Lott said senators from his own party might be responsible for the leak. Lott said the secret prison facilities were discussed at a Republican luncheon on Capitol Hill -- one day before the Post published its report November 2nd. Vice President Cheney was among those in attendance. Lott said : "Information that was said in there, given out in there, did get into the newspaper. I don't know where else it came from…. It looked to me that at least one of those reports came right out of that room."

CIA Warned On Interrogation Procedures
The CIA’s inspector general has warned the agency its interrogation procedures could violate the international Convention Against Torture. This according to the New York Times. In a report, the inspector general said "cruel, inhuman or degrading" techniques used in secret locations around the world could expose agents to legal liability. These techniques include waterboarding, in which the detainee undergoes the experience of drowning. The White House is currently pushing a Congressional amendment that would exempt CIA agents from a Senate ban on torture for interrogations conducted overseas.

CIA Official Discloses Agency's Budget
In other intelligence news, a CIA official appears to have disclosed the agency's budget -- long a national secret. At an intelligence conference in San Antonio last week, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Collection Mary Margaret Graham, said the annual intelligence budget was $44 billion.

Suicide Bombing Hits Baghdad Restaurant
In Iraq, two suicide bombers struck a Baghdad restaurant frequented by Iraqi security forces today, killing at least 33 people and wounding 19 others. Meanwhile a car bombing in the town of Tikkrit killed seven army recruits. In other Iraq news, the US military admitted Wednesday it caused civilian casualties during this week’s assault on the town of Husaybah, close to the Syrian border. US forces launched an invasion of the town Saturday, claiming it has become a hotbed for foreign insurgents. The New York Times is reporting Marine aircraft destroyed one home where insurgents were allegedly hiding, killing at least five civilians inside.

Judith Miller Leaves The New York Times
The New York Times has announced the retirement of reporter Judith Miller. Miller spent 85 days in jail this year for refusing to testify before the grand jury in the CIA leak case. She was released after receiving a waiver from her source, indicted White House aide Lewis Libby. Initially praised as a champion of press freedom, Miller drew criticism when her editors accused her of misleading them on her contacts with the White House. Miller's work has also come under question for her reporting in the lead-up to the Iraq war. Miller wrote a series of articles alleging Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, allegations that turned out to be false. In a letter to the editor printed in today's New York Times, Miller wrote: "I have chosen to resign because over the last few months, I have become the news, something a New York Times reporter never wants to be." A Times spokesperson said "it had been made clear to Ms. Miller that she would not be able to continue as a reporter of any kind" at the newspaper.

Ali Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
And in Washington, legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday. Ali is considered the greatest boxer in the history of the sport. In his prime he was an outspoken advocate of the Black Muslim movement and a critic of the Vietnam War. In 1967, he was stripped of his heavyweight title for refusing to fight in Vietnam. This is from When We Were Kings, the documentary about Ali's 1974 championship bout with George Foreman in Kinshasa that came to be known as "the Rumble in the Jungle": "Yeah, I'm in Africa. Yeah, Africa is my home. Damn America and what America thinks. Yeah, I live in America, but Africa is the home of the black man, and I was a slave 400 years ago, and I'm going back home to fight among my brothers."

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