Sunday, September 28, 2008

Truest statement of the week

Nevertheless, many Obama supporters know well of his pitfalls, and no matter how disastrous they may seem, they’ll still vote for him. As respected columnist Norman Solomon recently claimed, "To some, who evidently see voting as an act of moral witness rather than pragmatic choice (even in a general election), forces such as corporate power or militarism are binary -- like a toggle switch -- either totally on or totally off. This outlook says: either we reject entirely or we're complicit ... Such analysis tends to see Obama as just a little bit slower on the march to the same disasters that John McCain would lead us to. That analysis takes a long view -- but fails to see the profound importance of the crossroads right in front of us, where either Obama or McCain will be propelled into the White House."
Solomon, who served as an Obama delegate at the convention in Denver and sits on the board of Progressive Democrats of America, has an agenda: to usher Barack Obama into the White House because he sees John McCain as leading our country closer to the sacrificial ledge. "Save the Country (read Empire) Vote Democrat" has become a common refrain among a certain segment of the left, one that echoes through progressive and even radical circles every four years like clockwork. Go ahead and acknowledge their faults, they sing from on high, just don’t you dare ditch the Democrats come Election Day, for the rapture will ensue.
Like others of his stature, Solomon has in the past dished out scare tactics in an attempt to threaten progressives into voting against their own interests, an approach not too unlike the Republican's who consistently undermine the concerns and needs of their base.
One typical threat that is often levied with fury is the prospect of future Supreme Court nominations. No question the most recent selections to the Court depict a rabid rightwing shift, just don’t forget that it was the Democrats who overwhelmingly confirmed both John Roberts and Samuel Alito despite the collective power to halt their confirmations. And remember, the two best judges serving today, John Paul Stevens and David Souter, were nominated by Gerald Ford and G.W.H. Bush, Republicans both.

-- Joshua Frank's "Oppose Barack Obama? How Dare Thee!!" (Dissident Voice).

Truest statement of the week II

"We have become too attached to a political party. Leaders in my movment have cozzied up to the party operatives in DC and we have lost what little power we had. This is the reason why we are having trouble gaining them back. There is no time like the present to detach from an abuser. I believe that political parties that take constituents for granted eventually end up abusing them more and more. This is what has happened over time. It is high time that we pull ourselves away and hold every single politician's feet to the fire."

-- Marcia Pappas' "NOW-NYS Presidents Message Prickles Some" (Women with Opinions).

Editorial: What a friend the left has in Barack

Remember the Sour Grape Girls and their embarrassing 'critiques' of Governor Sarah Palin? (Full of errors that no one has ever bothered to run a correction on, by the way.) Some just hissed, some pretending to be 'caring' while casting Palin as a 'victim' -- while they repeatedly tore into her with, yes, bitchy commentary. Well the one point the Sour Grape Girls all agreed upon was that Palin (and McCain) were the enemies of the choice but Barack was our great protector of abortion. Now Barack's running mate Joe Biden declared that life begins at conception -- a point the anti-choice crowd has long made.

Where were the Sour Grape Girls? Oh, that's right, it's not about empowering women, it's about being Handmaidens to the Democratic Party.

Which is why our feminist 'leaders' are strangely silent about what's currently going on.

That would be Barack's "Faith, Family, Values Tour." As Tom Tales (Pam's House Blend) explained September 21st:

The Christian Broadcasting Network is reporting that the Obama campaign next week will kick off “Barack Obama: Faith, Family, and Values Tour,” designed to woo the votes of left-leaning Catholics, progressive Evangelicals, and some conservative mainline Protestants. If LGBT people find the tour eerily reminiscent of the South Carolina gospel tour the campaign arranged last year with antigay "ex-gay" gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, their instincts may not be far off. CBN names Catholic legal scholar Douglas Kmiec as one of the religious surrogates who will hit the road stumping for Obama. Kmiec wrote a June 13 op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle supporting California's Proposition 8, the ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage, titled "On Same-Sex Marriage: Should California Amend Its Constitution? Say 'No' to the Brave New World." Kmiec's first two sentences in the piece read, "The California ballot initiative intended to set aside the state supreme court's judicial invention of same-sex marriage deserves public support. Maybe it is enough to say, as many do in conversation, that it merely re-secures a millennia of tradition and common sense."

As with the South Carolina tour, you don't find any 'leaders' speaking out even though homophobia is neither a feminist value nor supposed to be a Democratic Party value.

While Republicans are cast as the sole enemies of choice, it might do the Sour Grape Girls good to check out A14 of The New York Times, August 30th. That's where, top of the page, Peter Steinfels' "For Ex-G.O.P. Official, Obama Is Candidate of Catholic Values." The article is a Q & A with homophobe Douglas Kmiec. In it he agrees he wants to see Roe v. Wade overturned and he state he "fully accpets the teachings of the [C]hurch that participating in an aobrtion is an intrinsic evil." And this is who Barack has heading his battleground states, month long tour, this is who is comfortable having as a surrogate in states like New Mexico, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, etc.

Uh, Sour Grape Girls, what message is being sent?

Maybe first up to speak should be Kim Gandy, president of NOW. September 16th, NOW PAC endorsed Barack Obama for president. In doing so, they not only ignored Palin, they also ignored

Cynthia McKinney and her running mate Rosa Clemente on the Green Party's presidential ticket. It was the first NOW PAC endorsement where a woman or a ticket with a woman on it was not endorsed. That's NOW PAC, not NOW. NOW cannot endorse any candidate and keep their tax status. That is why NOW PAC was created. NOW PAC is a small group (and those forcing their decisions from the top are even smaller) so Kim apparently felt the need to repeatedly LIE and claim NOW was endorsing Barack Obama in interview after interview. (For example, check out this NPR interview on the day of the endorsement.) Kim thought she could have the attention and get away with it by saying she misspoke if anyone called her out on it or if the IRS came calling.

We're not sure that would fly should the IRS look into it. NOW PAC has been around long enough (it predates Gandy as president of NOW) and the line between it and NOW is supposed to be so clearly marked that it's not easy for Gandy to claim she misspoke.

She made that task impossible last Thursday when she elected to send out, to NOW membership -- not NOW PAC -- an e-mail entitled "Feminist? Lip-schtick?" That 10K e-mail is signed by her as "NOW president" and the e-mail has the official NOW letterhead (the graph and "NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN") across the top. That's a NOW e-mail and one, again, sent out to NOW's entire membership. That's an abuse and the sort that gets your tax status pulled. Throughout the e-mail, Gandy attacks Palin (funny, we didn't know Palin was the top of her party's ticket but apparently Gandy was just spoiling for a catfight) and begs for money so that Palin can be defeated "in November" ("Election Day," "Nov. 4," . . .) and "Obama/Biden" can be elected.

Again, that's an abuse and it is not allowed. Gandy could have sent the e-mail out -- with a NOW PAC letter head -- to all members of NOW PAC. She cannot, however, send the e-mail to NOW members.

Possibly Kim's too busy violating tax law to call out the Barack campaign for their "values" tour featuring an anti-choice, homophobe bigot?

Exactly whom does Gandy think her actions are helping?

She's far from the only one staying silent.

In four years, there will be another election. By refusing to call out Barack's repeated use of homophobia (including his debate 'joke'), the feminist 'leaders' have endorsed it. Their silence has stated it is fine and dandy to use homophobia if it gets you into office. 'Leadership' has failed and instead of instructing people whom to vote for, they should try doing the damn jobs they currently have.

They also better damn well grasp that their silence has hurt the LGBT community and it has hurt reproductive rights. Should NOW lose its tax status, that would be the perfect time to walk away from partisan politics and start standing up for women.

[See also Elaine's "Kim, pack up your office."]

A note to our readers

Hey --
Sunday. And we just want to get to bed. One and a half hour loading to Flickr and all the illustrations didn't even load. Ay-yi-yi.

Let's thank the ones who endured:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,

And Dallas who was a sound board a link locater and so much more. Let me (Jim) add in here that Dallas has some photos we'll be using next week for a feature we'll be doing. C.I. was discussing a topic we needed to address while we were brainstorming and Dallas said, "I've got photos of ____ taken in ____ which really drives home the point." So Dallas' help never ends. Thank you, Dallas.

Now here's what we came up with this edition:

Truest statement of the week -- Joshua Frank -- one of the few voices today who trusts your mature enough to decide how to vote.

Truest statement of the week II -- Marcia Pappas speaking from strength.

Editorial: What a friend the left has in Barack -- And Pappas words could be applied to our editorial this week. Before I go further, C.I. wants Elaine's "Kim, pack up your office" noted. Had there been more time, Elaine would have been linked to in the editorial. (She may yet be when do typo corrections on Tuesday.) NOW PAC and NOW are not the same thing and someone needs to explain to Kim Gandy that, as president of NOW, she really can't pretend to 'mix' things up. While Gandy abuses the tax status of NOW to cheerlead Barack, he 'repays' her by putting an anti-choice homophobe on the robe as his surrogate. (Something Kim Gandy -- and many others -- play dumb about.)

TV: Do Not Disturb The Propaganda -- The first of three Ava and C.I. commentaries this week.
In this one, they're tackling a number of topics including a show they weren't planning on reviewing: Do Not Disturb. They knew they'd have nothing nice to say about it. When it became the first series of the fall season cancelled, they had to play catch up and watch the three episodes. They were able to pair it up with Goodman, Moyers and the double standard (possibly the only 'standard' that most 'journalists' can claim these days). It's a very hard hitting commentary.

TV: One ticket gets a pass, the other doesn't -- A few Common Ills community members began e-mailing about Tina Fey's comments on Monday. I begged C.I. and Ava not to do a joint-entry at The Common Ills and to instead save it for a commentary here. As the phone rang all week with friends continuing to complain, I asked, "How likely is it that this point's going to be made strongly by someone else?" Their feeling was not very likely as all because it's a performer's point-of-view and spin meisters and political operatives won't grasp it on their own. With that call, I asked again for them to save it for this. At one point last week, they both got so many calls that this almost became a lengthy topic in an "Iraq snapshot." But they were able to hold off on it. This is my favorite of all three and I thank they handled it perfectly. You'll note that they use the word bitchy in it frequently. That's because Tina Fey's insulting 'parody' of Palin is bitchy. That's the only word for it.

The campaign with momentum -- Our Ralph Nader piece. Only three expressed a desire that we feature other buttons. (And Jonas knew which two he wanted so we used those for the first illustration.) Since the regular illustration (also included) is fine with everyone else e-mailing, we'll stick with that one. Nader's campaign is going places. Anyone paying attention can see he's fought an uphill battle and he's still standing.

Sexism and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- The topic was hugely popular in last week's e-mails with many stating either they thought they were the only one wondering about the sexism or that they hadn't noticed it before last week's article. Monday, the Hall released their latest list of nominees for induction. No surprise, it's yet another long list of men and only one woman. When the list was published, a large number of you e-mailed about stories you were reading on the nominees and your disgust that all the write ups ignored the sexism. So we're tackling the topic again. The illustration is 3614 Jackson Highway, a solo album by Cher that was released in 1969 and is, in fact, where we get our "dig it" quote at the top of the site.

TV: The 'debate' -- Ava and C.I.'s third commentary. I was pushing it in asking for two and I knew it. I didn't ask for this one. Dona did. We had to have a debate piece. (Ava and C.I. disagreed and still do.) Readers would expect it. It was one of the first suggested topics when we started the writing edition. But we had no time to write one. Dona presented it to them as there was no way a piece on the debate could be group written in a short period of time. She asked them to work on this while the rest of us worked on a transcript piece. They say with me, they would have turned me down but because Dona rarely asks them to do an additional piece, they agreed. (The truth is, with me, I would've worn them down, pestering and insisting. But it is true that Dona just had to make the case once.) They tossed this off quickly and said, "We're not even reading it to type it." So I typed it up. This is a very good commentary, a very strong one. But they never intend to read it and note that, thanks to Flickr problems, the promise that if they did it we'd all be able to go to sleep much quicker fell apart.

The New Adventures of Old Christine -- This is the transcript piece the rest of us worked on. We drew names for the order. The New Adventures of Old Christine is now airing on Wednesdays. We hope at least one of us managed to recall something that made you think, "I need to catch it on its new night" or "I need to watch that show for the first time."

MyTV's Fascist House: Princess Tiny Meat Chronicles -- In the brief text to this collage piece, it's noted we're not doing another one again this year. That's because we hate doing them. They're too time consuming. We (Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, C.I., Kat, Wally and myself) go through our clipping stack for possible photos. We then begin cutting. We then begin trying to figure out what works best and it just drags on and on. Ty pointed out (as he does every week) that you are asking for another in your e-mails and that you are also reminding that we promised another one months ago. So here it is and we don't plan another one for the year. When we used to MyTV's Fascist House, we were using Hello! and now we use Flickr. Point? You need to click on the collage to see it all.

Coming Up -- TV highlights for the week.

Highlights -- Mike, Kat, Betty, Marcia, Rebecca, Elaine, Cedric, Ruth and Wally wrote this and picked all highlights unless otherwise noted.

Speaking of highlights. Two things to note. Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Boys Do Cry" went up this morning. (Would have gone up sooner were it not for Flickr problems.) Two Sundays ago, Isaiah had a comic that didn't post. He'd done it Saturday morning and it was Barack on SNL. C.I. saw it and phoned to tell him Barack might not be on the program. So Hilda's Mix got that comic. (Barack wasn't on the program.) Wednesday morning he did a comic planned for Thursday about the debates. By Wednesday evening, McCain's participation in the debates were iffy. Isaiah took that comic over to the gina & krista round-robin. This one went up at The Common Ills. So be sure to check it out and the other highlight is Kat's latest CD review, "Kat's Korner: Chris Martin's cold play" -- which was supposed to go up Saturday. She forgot and so did the rest of us. It and another CD review were typed up by her Saturday morning. The next one will go up tomorrow morning. Kat hopes to do another one by next Saturday night.

So that's it. See you next weekend.

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

TV: Do Not Disturb The Propaganda

Last week Do Not Disturb became the first series of the fall line up to be cancelled. Do Not Disturb pretty much sums up TV these days and the only surprise is that so much more cannot be cancelled with it.

Do Not Disturb was a quick fix of many elements but somehow overlooked the important ones. In that regard, it's not at all unlike Pacifica's highly embarrassing Democracy Now! The alleged public affairs program is supposedly based (somehow) in journalism but finding any journalistic standards in the hourly Pravda on the Hudson is like attempting to find one good laugh in Do Not Disturb.

Last week it was time for Red Diaper Baby Amy Goodman to yet again deploy in her non-stop efforts to elect War Hawk Barack Obama (efforts began in 2007). In order to do so, her chief goal is to destroy the GOP ticket of McCain and Palin. Which means she repeatedly misled all week in the headlines on what The New York Times actually reported in their cover story on John McCain last week. It also means that she zoomed in on what she saw as embarrassing moments as long as it didn't effect 'her side.' Which is how she offered up this garbage on Friday:

In other campaign news, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has been caught in an apparent gaffe after claiming the US has achieved "victory" in Iraq. Speaking to CBS News anchor Katie Couric, Palin said, "a surge in Afghanistan also will lead us to victory there, as it has proven to have done in Iraq." Palin was also asked about her comments that an Israeli attack on Iran shouldn't ever be "second guessed."
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: "We don't have to second-guess what their efforts would be if they believe that it is in their country and their allies, including us, all of our best interests to fight against a regime, especially Iran, who would seek to wipe them off the face of the earth. It is obvious to me who the good guys are in this one and who the bad guys are. The bad guys are the ones who say Israel is a stinking corpse and should be wiped off the face of the earth. That's not a good guy who is saying that. Now, one who would seek to protect the good guys in this, the leaders of Israel and her friends, her allies, including the United States, in my world, those are the good guys."

As you read that, you're probably thinking, "Uh, what about Iraq?" Goody doesn't give a damn about Iraq. She loves her some Iran, so much so that she allowed its president to offer a homophobic diatribe on Friday while she nodded along and smiled. We'll get back to it.

Palin called Iraq a "victory." Amy Goodman didn't 'notice' it -- she failed to credit Howard Kurtz (what? you thought Goody did any damn work of her own?) who noted that Palin might have misspoke. Actually, Governor Palin probably didn't misspeak as noted in Thursday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Turning to the US presidential race. Yesterday The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric featured part one of an interview (link has text and video) with Governor Sarah Palin (part-two airs tonight), the GOP vice presidential candidate. Howard Kurtz (Washington Post) thinks he's found a mis-step in Palin's remarks, specifically in this section: "So, again, I believe that . . . a surge in Afghanistan also will lead us to victory there as it has proven to have done in Iraq. And as I say, Katie, that we cannot afford to retreat, to withdraw in Iraq." Kurtz offers, "The vice-presidential nominee may have misspoken in an attempt to say that President Bush's military surge in Iraq has been a success, but she did not qualify her remarks." While she may have misspoken, there's nothing in her remarks that indicates she has. In fact, her remarks are perfectly in keeping with top-of-the-ticket GOP nominee John McCain. In the last months McCain has repeatedly declared victory in Iraq but the press has rarely paid attention. There was some attention to his May 15th speech in Ohio which included, "The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a function democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced. Civil war has been prevented; militias disbanded; the Iraqi Security Force is professional and competent . . ." Speech in full (text and video) at the McCain-Palin 2008 website. Based on that and other speeches McCain has given over the summer, there is nothing inconsistent with Palin's answer. (I don't happen to agree with her or McCain. That's not the issue. The issue is did she know what she was saying? Why assume she didn't? No one assumed he didn't, now did they? McCain's repeatedly made those type of remarks and there's been no questioning of them.)

Get it? McCain's been saying that publicly since May. Palin says it and suddenly it's a 'gaffe.' Not when a man says it, only when a woman does. And that bulls**t was on display all last week. For example, Joe Biden is the vice presidential nominee on the Democratic ticket and he made a huge gaffe last week but, strangely, Amy Goodman didn't devote a headline to that. Goody was hardly alone in ignoring it -- even though it happened on TV, even though it also happened in an interview with Katie Couric. Friday evening, under pressure, The New York Times editorial board posted on Biden's gaffe at their blog (link has text and video) -- not in the paper:

In his own interview with Ms. Couric, Mr. Biden said: "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'"
There are, of course, a few historical inaccuracies there. First, Herbert Hoover was president when the stock market crashed, in 1929. Roosevelt did not take office until March of 1933.
When he did, Roosevelt communicated to the people over radio -- not television.

Everything Biden said was wrong; however, it was not time to mock him, now was it?

Goody's far from the only propagandist on the public airwaves and there was, in fact, another Biden incident last week. She ignored it which didn't surprise us. We were much more curious about how 'journalist' Bill Moyers would handle the other Biden incident? Would Old Man Fibber and Dr. Kathy gas bag again?

No. No the deadly dull duo hasn't gone there. The ones who ripped Hillary Clinton apart over her eyes watering as she spoke of how important America was (Bill called it her "moisty moment"), a moment Bill Moyers said he wasn't sure was genuine, a comment Dr. Kathy wasn't troubled by, a 'discussion' that required Moyers 'showing' America what he was talking about not by playing the videotape of Hillary but playing Jesse Jackson Jr.'s racist and sexist attack on her from MSNBC which, for the record, Chatty Kath didn't call out either.

In speaking about the country, Hillary's eyes watered. She did not shed a tear, she did not sob. But goodness if everyone didn't have to smear her for that moment (including Old Man Fibber Moyers). Last week, Joe Biden repeatedly choked up at a public event and you didn't hear about that, now did you?

Hillary's eye well and it's turned into a national incident, one that requires questioning whether or not the moment was genuine and whether or not she's fit to serve. Biden tears up in Pennsylvania and everyone rushes to act like it didn't happen.

ABC's The Note explained it Thursday:

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe reports: The story about the car accident that killed Sen. Joe Biden's first wife and daughter in 1972 is well-known, but in his speech today in Greensburg, PA, an emotional Biden described a gesture by the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers that left a lasting impression on him and his two injured sons.

[. . .]

"I'm sorry to take your time, but Mr. Rooney reminded of this, Dan reminded my by just seeing him," Biden said. "They wouldn't let me bring a Christmas tree in, understandably, into the hospital, because of concern about fire, so I went to K-Mart to get a synthetic tree that would, you know, so I’d be able to bring it in and have something there at Christmas for my kids."
"I don't remember precisely, it was either the 23rd or Christmas Eve Day, I’m not sure, I think it was the 23rd, while I was, one of the few times I was away from their bed for a couple hours," the Delaware lawmaker recalled. "I came back and they, they looked like they had lighted up like Christmas trees. My one little boy was in traction and the other little boy had a seriously fractured skull and they were happy, and they each had separately, they had a football in their beds…"
At that point, Biden paused, with the whole high-school gymnasium silent as the senator choked up behind the podium.
"Excuse me," he said, as the audience then filled the silence with applause.
"Anyway," Biden continued. "I said, 'Guys, where'd you get the ball?' and they said 'Daddy, Rocky Bleier gave it to us.'"
Art Rooney Sr., Dan's father, had sent Bleier, the Steelers fullback, to Wilmington to present the young Biden boys with a get-well gift.
"Mr. Rooney Sr., Dan's dad, had, without any fanfare, without, without any announcement, without anything other than his incredible decency…," said Biden, trying to continue but stopping again to wipe away his tears.
"I really apologize, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I shouldn’t have tried to do this, but anyway…"
More supportive cheers came from the crowd as the senator caught his tears with his handkerchief.

Did you get it? Biden cried. "Wipe away his tears." Now let's not be Old Man Fibber here. We know Joe Biden (a very decent person) and there's no reason to doubt his sincerity. But Hillary didn't cry (despite Jesse Jackson Jr.'s lying in the clip that Moyers played) and it was huge news that eyes welled. Biden breaks down on stage and that's not news?

Again, we will state outright that the moment was sincere. But we'll note how strange it is that not only are Palin's perceived gaffes non-stop news while Biden's aren't, but in this instance we're dealing with a man doing more than a woman (Hillary) did on the campaign trail and everyone looking the other way while the woman was called out and scorned for much less.

Dropping back to a thirty-six year-old, personal memory, Biden cried on stage. And, unlike with Hillary, there's no endless debate? There's no questioning of it? There's no effort to smear him as unfit for it?

We're not saying he's unfit. Quite the contrary, Biden's the only reason to vote for that ticket and the US would be damn lucky to have him as vice president or president. (We are not voting for the Democratic Party ticket because we will not vote for Barack. We are also not voting for the McCain-Palin ticket.) But we're pointing out the huge double standard that last week revealed.

Biden couldn't have made a stronger case for the sexism that Hillary was regularly attacked with if he had given a forty-five minute speech on the topic. In that Pennsylvania campaign incident, you saw one candidate's crying at a campaign appearance judged as no big deal, a huge contrast to Hillary's not crying in New Hampshire back in January.

The media can't even stick to their own relatively new 'standards' these days, let alone the established journalistic standards of the past.

Two examples of the way women are treated in the media. Palin makes a remark last week that's the same call McCain's been making for months in public and yet her remark comes under scrutiny. Hillary doesn't cry in New Hampshire and yet is vilified for "crying" at the start of the year, Biden cries onstage last week in Pennsylvania and, like McCain on Iraq's 'victory,' he's given a pass. There are no standards the media sticks to when covering women but they are happy to hand out one pass after another when it comes to men.

If a man does it, it's not questioned, it just is.

Do Not Disturb operated under that principle and that's among the many reasons it tanked. Jerry O'Connell was the nominal star as a 'ladies' man' hotel manager. Sexual harassment was turned into a joke and even that didn't provide laughs. But we were supposed to believe everyone thought it was 'cool' and 'cute' that Neil Danner (O'Connell's character) was delightful to co-workers as he came on to every woman. Having set up that offensive joke in the first episode (which required everyone attending a training on the issue), by the second episode, the writers had already decided "screw what we established." That's when a MTV starlet made a guest appearance and Neil bumps into her in the lobby. She has a request and as Neil eyes her up and down slowly, you assume that Neil will grant it. Instead, Neil asks her if she has a MTV crew with her? Finding out she doesn't, he tells her to forget it and hurries off.

No, it makes no sense at all. No, it wasn't in character but the 'creative geniuses' behind the show obviously figured that since a male character was doing it, everyone would accept it as 'normal.' And why wouldn't they when that's how the political 'coverage' has played out all year long?

Niecy Nash was the other nominal star and she's not learned how to do a sitcom. Broad sketch comedy she can handle. A sitcom? Not yet. She probably wasn't helped along by other characters who compared her character (Rhonda) and Neil to Sam and Diane or Rachel and Ross -- always quickly adding "if ___ was Black." Rhonda was nothing like Rachel or Diane as written. It made no sense. Rhonda was a lot like a bit character that worked at Ross' museum on Friends, in fact, she was exactly like that character who was also named Rhonda. If characters hadn't kept repeating the comparisons to other sitcom characters, you never would have guessed Rhonda was supposed to be a lead.

To make Rhonda a lead character, she would have had to have been written as such but that was apparently too much work for the writers. Instead, they gave all the good lines to Molly Stanton who actually carved out a character (the only one on the show worth rooting for) in Nicole. Stanton played a completely different character on Twins. Also getting plenty of air time (and crowding out Nash) was Jesse Tyler Ferguson who played Richie on The Class and played Richie on this show as well even if the new character was supposed to be (a) gay and (b) named Larry. Worst of all was watching Dave Franco recycle Dean Collins' performance from The War At Home -- naturally the Water Cooler Set tried to tell you Franco was good and, of course, the reality was that he flat out sucked.

In fairness to James Franco's little brother, there was no part in Gus. He was repulsed by gay sex, he was attracted to it. Repeatedly. Over and over. In the same episode. And not because it was supposed to say anything about Gus but because the writers couldn't get a handle on the character and used Gus for every cheap laugh there was with no regard to characterization.

And that was the entire show: grabbed elements from elsewhere, pasted together with someone praying a strong wind wouldn't blow it over. On no level did it ever work. On no level did it ever even sound like a hit. That includes putting Jerry O'Connell in the same slimey role he played on last year's flop Carpoolers.

If Fox is that devoid of taste and ideas, they should stick with spin-offs. Seriously. Grab Doris Roberts and put her in Marie. Newly widowed, she's in a retirement community where she makes the other retirees and the workers miserable. Can't get the rights to do a spin-off called Marie? Give her character a new name. We're not joking having sat through too many of Fox' bad sitcoms starring 'young' actors. Put Doris Roberts on the sound stage with them and they'll rise to her level. Put Roberts on stage and they'll have someone to play against, a character to bang their heads against the wall over because comedy is conflict -- a factor that recent Fox sitcoms have largely ignored.

Conflict is also news. But don't tell it to the public affairs and 'news' programming that has continues their slanting to Barack. As awful as the orgy passed off as news has been all year, Amy Goodman managed to scrape even lower in the gutter last week.

Apparently not content to have aired homophobe Bernice King's sermonizing about "perversion," last week Goody cozied up to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and allowed him to spew homophobia: "a very unlikeable and abhorrent act," "abhorrent act" (so awful he had to say it twice!), "immoral act," "against our values," "robs humanity," "brings about diseases," "It should be of no pride to the American society to say that they defend homosexuals and support it" and so much more.

But there was Goody making nice-nice and allowing such trash to be spewed on the public airwaves. Now Goody loves to play Last Journalist Standing and finger-point at the entire American press so here's a tip for her: When a guest is trashing the LGBT community, you don't just sit there smiling, soaking it in.

A real interviewer might have declared, "You seem to know a great deal about homosexuality. How did you learn about it?" A real journalist might have asked, "Have you engaged in any immoral acts?" Anyone with common sense could have said, "Who the hell are you to judge?"

But with Goody, if your non-White and 'religious,' you can get away with anything (and always do). The woman is obsessed with Sarah Palin's religion just as she when it comes to any other White person. But apparently homophobia doesn't exist among non-Whites so when Bernice King (who has marched to deny the LGBT community rights) is blathering on about "perversion," it just flies over Goody's head and when the Iranina president is issuing a non-stop rant against the LGBT community, it's okay because he's a Shi'ite.

No, it's not okay. Intolerance is never okay and the Communists in the last century had a lot of explaining and apologizing to do when they repeatedly refused to call out intolerance in real time, when they ignored it as it went down. For everyone not grasping how that came be, they only need to check out Friday's Democracy Now! which found Goody offering up a 'guest' who was nothing but an apologist for the Iranian government. And, like most of the really good apologists of the Communist community in the 20th century, her guest was introduced by a name that was not in fact his name. "Kourosh Shermirani" does not exist. It is an alias. The fact that Goodman didn't feel her audience needed to know that goes a long way towards explaining how far into crap Democracy Now! has descended. Repeating, she introduced a guest by his alias and never felt the need to tell her audience that it was not in fact his name. That doesn't fly in journalism.

But we have about as much actual journalism today as we have actual laughs in sitcoms. In a fair world, Democracy Now! would be suffering the same fate as Do Not Disturb.

TV: One ticket gets a pass, the other doesn't

The stereotype is the Republicans don't have a sense of humor but Democrats do. (The stereotype leaves out all people who are not part of the two-party system.) Last week, one stereotype was re-enforced and another was debunked.


As we noted last week, Saturday Night Live did a classic sketch. After the election, it will probably join the canon of SNL great moments that did not involve a recurring character. But it will have to wait until then because some Republicans cried foul.

The skit had James Franco playing an assignment editor at The New York Times. He informed a large gathering of reporters that, for the next six weeks, they'd be going to Alaska and, basically, looking for dirt on Governor Sarah Palin who is the GOP's vice presidential nominee.

It was all too much for the declawed tabby's at The Times. One fretted repeatedly over Polar Bear attacks. Others assumed they'd travel around, as they do in NYC, by taxi. None could identify a snow mobile or a shot gun when shown photos of them.

The joke was that The New York Times is staffed by an inbred, elitist group of people who reinforce their own stereotypes, add a lot of rumor into the mix as 'fact' and generally miss the point in the bulk of what they cover.

As part of getting that across, one reporter in the skit repeatedly wanted to insist that Alaska was so 'backwater' that they must all sleep with one another, wanted to offer his belief that Todd Palin (the governor's husband) must sleep with his daughters. The skit ends with a headline noting that rumor could not be disproved and it was the perfect encapsulation of the paper that falsely smeared Wen Ho Lee among others.

But some Republicans took to their blogs immediately and insisted that Saturday Night Live was actually advancing a rumor of incest. They missed the point of the skit. In fairness to those who cried "foul," it needs to be noted that Saturday Night Live has long carried water for Barack Obama. With the show's history from last season and the indicators from this season, it's understandable that some Republicans might be thin skinned when it comes to sketches.

But in crying "foul," they denied themselves a viral moment that would have resonated with many. By crying "foul," Saturday Night Live not only pulled the skit from their website, they also demanded YouTube take it down. We're not voting for the McCain-Palin ticket so maybe we're missing some strategy on the part of those Republicans crying "foul." Maybe they've got some longterm plan in which SNL pulling a skit out of circulation (it's still a part of the full show hosted by Franco and you can download it at a price at the SNL site) means victory for McCain-Palin?

If so, lots of luck with that. But for two who are not voting for either the Republican or the Democratic ticket, we're scratching our heads over the move and having a hard time grasping how this goes down as a 'win' for the GOP.

Scratching our heads was what we did repeatedly Sunday night following the Emmys as we went from party to party and were repeatedly confronted with shocked performers asking did we hear what Tina Fey said?

The first time, we wrongly thought we had and offered that while it wasn't an earth shattering acceptance speech (Fey won the Emmy for Best Actress in a comedy), it wasn't anything that was going to end up on a reel of embarrassing moments.

Only the first time were we in the dark. Tina Fey, after winning her 30 Rock Emmy, went backstage and declared, "I want to be done playing this lady November 5th. So, if anyone can help me be done playing her on November 5th . . ."

That's actually the moment Republicans should be screaming about.

They haven't. All week we waited for the Republican 'thinkers' to get what actors and actresses (three of whom were once on Saturday Night Live) repeatedly found offensive post-Emmys.

Performers caught on because they have to inhabit to a character and, pay attention, to play the role as required, they have to find themselves in the role. It may be a serial killer, it may be someone vile. But to be successful, they have to find some way to identify with the character they play, some quality that makes the character likable to them. This is especially true if it is a character you will play more than once.

Dana Carvey did a wonderful George H.W. Bush on SNL many years ago. He did that by exploring the character. His amazing performance did not result from necessarily agreeing with the politics of George H.W. Bush, it resulted from finding the humanity of the character. During the war on Vietnam, Lily Tomlin was once asked why she didn't do a character based on Pat Nixon and she explained that she wouldn't know how to relate to that mind set. Tomlin, one of the most amazing comedians the country has ever produced, knew that if you can't find a way to relate, you can't do a character.

Tina Fey can't do Sarah Palin. Not only can she not do the character, she shouldn't. And Republicans crying "foul" last week would have been better off calling it on Fey who should not be allowed to portray a character she has now indicated she is out to defeat.

Tina's remarks were offensive and they offended apolitical performers and they offended Democratic performers. (We only spoke with two Republican performers on Sunday night. Their attitude was that Fey's remarks backed up what they always suspected, that SNL isn't about having 'fun,' it's about pushing an agenda. For the record, that is not how SNL has seen their role in the past but we do understand why the two Republicans felt that way.)

As two have who begun the slow walk away from Fey (starting with the release of Baby Mama when we agreed with suits at NBC that if 30 Rock can't get ratings this year it needs to be yanked off the schedule), her remarks were embarrassing. For her and for us.

As we've long noted, we've been called out by friends (especially with Mad TV) for praising and defending Fey. The strongest criticism of Fey (from a Mad TV performer) was that she wasn't a performer. The feeling was that she might be able to write a pithy line (he said "bitchy") but she couldn't do a character. Prior to 30 Rock, Tina's TV duties were as Weekend Update anchor. We praised Liz Lemmon (offline and online) as a strong character and proof that Fey was indeed an actress. Maybe, as the man insisted, Liz Lemmon just works because the character is Tina Fey with funnier lines?

The slow walk away began when Fey gave an interview to Reuters promoting her bad film in which she tried to walk it back from her "Bitches Get Stuff Done" sketch when she guest hosted Saturday Night Live. It was cowardly and hearing that the studio was really, really worried because Barack allegedly had the "youth vote" and young people are the ones who buy movie tickets and, oh my goodness, what will this do the box office if Tina doesn't walk it back . . . It was all so damn pathetic. Fey, at the height of her strength, decided to cower.

That's when we began the slow walk away.

Then came the season opening sketch of Saturday Night Live which was offensive for so many reasons but we were among the few calling it out.

Let's go over what was so offensive about that skit since it continues to garner false praise.

The most basic point to note is the SNL cast includes only two women this year. (An all time low and a featured player is not part of the cast.) One of the two women is pregnant and will be off shortly. That would be the one who plays Hillary. As we were told last April by a writer with SNL, the show believed they had comedy gold in skewering Hillary throughout the lead up to the general election even if she didn't get her party's nomination. So the female character they planned to utilize the most is played by one of the show's two female cast members and she'll be off the show shortly. That leaves Kristen Wiig.

Sarah Palin was not a character SNL planned for last spring. She became a character they were required to do once John McCain picked her as his running mate. In that role, she is ripe for portrayals on SNL. With one of the two women already playing Hillary, that was obviously the role for Kristen.

But Kristen didn't get to play her, did she? At a time when women are less than one third of the cast and are too often cast in the role of the girlfriend (who gets little to no lines), there was excitement for Kristen (who is very well liked by past SNL cast members). This was going to provide her with the character, it was thought, that would elevate her up with Jane Curtain, Jan Hooks, Molly Shannon, Cheri Oteri and a few other female SNL cast members. (Gilda Radner remains in a superstar class by herself.) One of the first calls we got the day after the announcement was made about Palin was from one of SNL's big name former male cast members who said, "Watch and see. This is Kristen's moment."

And it damn well should have been.

But Tina Fey, who has her own damn sitcom that she acts on and writes, decided to be a glory hog and play the part. Among former SNL cast members, it's compared to Audrey Hepburn stealing Julie Andrews' role (My Fair Lady) and Barbra Streisand stealing Carol Channing's (Hello Dolly). It has created a lot of ill will because cast members remember how hard they had to fight each week for air time. It was Kristen's role and it was stolen from her.

Considering the faltering ratings (as a 70s SNL cast member pointed out to us) for 30 Rock, Fey could better spend her time trying to promote her own show, which so few watch, instead of poaching roles on another show. That's the cleaned up version of his profanity laced critique. Thing is, we agreed with every word he said.

A male cast member who found fame in the 90s expressed the belief that even if Kristen had sucked in the role, "So what? Do you know how many times we sucked?" The feeling was that Kristen was up for the role but, even if she wasn't, it was her role. He began referring to how Tina was known as "teacher's pet" and the worst suck up the series had ever had.

Fey's really damn lucky that the Emmy voting took place before she stole the role from Kristen. Looking around after her name was announced, we were surprised by how many were not applauding (we applauded).

The competition for air time at SNL is intense and Lorne (unlike Dick Ebersol) loves pitting performers against one another. He's always thought it keeps them 'on their toes' and maintains the 'high energy' needed for a live broadcast. But performers tend to view it differently, especially after they leave the show for other opportunities and find out that the normal work experience is not so cut throat. But as any performer will tell you (male or female), the females in the cast especially have to fight. So for Tina to swoop in and pluck the strongest female character of the fall from a cast member is appalling.

Appalling was the first skit she played Palin in. Some women claiming to be feminists have taken to posting that garbage online and insisting it's funny. It's not funny at all. It's nothing but stereotypes of women. Hillary's so bitter she's ripping apart a podium? She seethes over Palin's nomination? Uh, where in the public record is anything indicating that? (Outside of the crackpot and fact-free rants of Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich.)

Women posting that awful skit on blogs in the name of 'sisterhood' should instead be asking why SNL portrayed two women as incapable? Palin was an airhead and Hillary's a jealous bitch. That's what the skit says. It's offensive as hell and does nothing but plaster over the 18 million cracks Hillary put in that glass ceiling.

Now let's deal with Tina's performance. Since she's poaching a role from a woman who doesn't have her own sitcom, Fey was required to be damn amazing. She wasn't. She wasn't even good. Your eight-year-old niece could have given that performance with minimal coaching. And what it really underscored was how bad a performer Fey was. At one point, she attempted to cock a shotgun which only drove home how she could not inhabit a physical space.

What could she do? Apparently Mean Girls wasn't just an idea she once had, it's the way she lives her life. It was the bitchiest portrayal of a woman -- of any woman -- that SNL has ever aired which is saying a great deal and you can include the nonsense David Spade and Adam Sandler did as 'girls' in the 90s.

There's this idiot refrain that Fey looks like Palin. Now all these years, we've always scoffed at the idea that Diana Prince or Clark Kent in glasses was enough to conceal that they were Wonder Woman and Superman. Apparently we were wrong because glasses is all it took for people to insist that Palin and Fey look alike. Palin's a beautiful woman. Fey can pass for pretty on a good day. Most days, she just passes for well scrubbed. Their eyes are nothing alike, their noses are nothing alike and Palin doesn't have Fey's lengthy face. In terms of facial shape, Palin more closely resembles Victoria Principal (another very beautiful woman). If you're missing it, Fey not only never entered a beauty contest, she couldn't have placed in one.

But the two wear glasses! So they must be twins!

We were appalled by the bitchiness so obvious in Fey's performance so we weren't all that shocked that Fey felt the way about Palin that she did. We were surprised she was stupid enough to express it publicly and, since she's done so, she should step away from the role. It was all snark, no character, and she's admitted why that is publicly. SNL needs to wish Tina all the best with 30 Rock and stop inviting her on the show to stand there reciting lines and pretending she's Palin. When you make a point of telling the world that you don't want to see Palin become the vice president, you're no longer allowed to play the character in the lead up to an election. You will always cheat the skit a little.

It's a problem made all the more evident when your bad head writer is in the tank for Barack Obama. (Pay attention, Seth, you'll get a cheat sheet before we end.) As Rebecca noted September 17th, an idiot writer for The New York Times (Brian Stelter) decided to tongue bathe the series with "SNL's Goals: Funny and Evenhanded." Stelter runs to Seth (among others) and then types up stenography and calls it 'reporting.' Not only is Stelter a moron, he's apparently illiterate.


We would strongly suggest that someone on staff at The Times grab the front page of the Tuesday, July 15th edition of the paper and read aloud (for non-reader Stelter) Bill Carter's "Want Obama in a Punch Line? First, Find a Joke." July 15th was when the paper finally discovered what we'd documented months ago: You can't make fun of Barack.

Barack exists in a bubble. Any embarrassing moment by his family members or friends never becomes a skit on SNL or even the basis for a punchline on Weekend Update. He can, and did, declare that the United States had 57 states and even that doesn't result in a joke. Last night, SNL felt the need to bring on 'Bill Clinton' and it was the same garbage they've long tossed Bill's way.

But (pay attention here, Seth), as awful as those skits are and as unrealistic, they flesh out a person. By keeping Barack in a vacuum, Seth Myers is as responsible for America feeling they don't know Barack as anyone else. During PBS' coverage of the Democratic National Convention, Senator Chuck Schumer tried to insist that the American people don't know Barack or where he comes from. Judy Woodruff rightly countered, "But he's been campaigning, with all due respect, for a year and a half."

Yes, he has been and he's been treated with kid gloves by the press throughout. SNL has followed suit. They've kept him in a bubble. While they had a field day with Bill Clinton during the Democratic Party primaries, they ignored Michelle Obama (who said she'd like to scratch Bill's eyes out -- the sort of statement that generally gets a full skit on SNL). Jeremiah Wright was Jermiah Who? to SNL. Barack was brought out and existed in his own little protective bubble whether Barack was playing himself or Fred was playing him.

Seth ran interference for his political crush all last season and intends to do so this year as well. How's that working out because last time we checked the polling, a significant number of Americans were saying last week that they had a hard time relating to Barack?

Barack refused to define himself, the press refused to attempt to pin him down and SNL (the most watched sketch show) regularly took a pass on presenting him as anything other than a reciter of lines. And you want to wonder why a number of Americans still have trouble relating to him?

In one of the worst skits last year -- naturally insisting Hillary was a power hungry bitch -- SNL did a 'spoof' of a 3:00 a.m. phone call. For that skit, they decided to peer into Hillary's brain. They decided to impose their judgments upon her and put their own motivations to her. They've never done that with Barack. And what the candidate failed to do and what the press failed to do, SNL could have. With Seth, it would have been a valentine to Barack but, please note, Idiot Meyers wasn't even smart enough to do that. While working overtime to push his candidate all last year, he wasn't even intelligent enough to create an inner or outer life for the Barack character.

Empty suit is the charge against Barack and it's been the charge for some time. We're not voting for Barack but if we'd hijacked SNL for a full season to promote him, we would have been smart enough to write a character. We would have been smart enough to give him a life off the debate stage. Seth's such an idiot that the joke around the entertainment industry these days is that Josh is the talented Meyers brother.

Though we're sure Seth will soon be hard at work trying to think of favorable settings to drop the character Barack into, it's really too late for that now. The impressions of Barack are now firmly set. That's Seth's fault at SNL. And it's a crime against comedy to refuse to be the class clown picking off all the targets. But that's what Seth does which is why there were no skits this week where Biden started crying while speaking or where he began saying things that were blatantly false. Biden was once a ripe target for SNL but that changed when Barack picked him as his running mate. That's what's hurting the show. If it's seen as a Democratic Party Saturday Night Live, it not only loses Republican viewers, it also loses the increasing number of people who are damn sick of both parties.

The death of SNL is elevating the Democratic Party up to sacred cow status. There was no concern, you may remember, about elevating when Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House. When that happened, it was time to trot out sex 'jokes.' Pelosi and her assistant (an apparently gay man into bondage and domination) were ha-ha funny. There were no concerns of "she's a first!" They went to town on her. But for Barack, its been kid gloves all along.

You can't comedically cover a political race when you only hurl invective at one side. We have long made that point to friends currently with SNL. As they begin assembling a clip show of election coverage, a few have started to get our point. One admitted he was "dead wrong" about our criticism last year. There's no crime in being wrong. There's crime in not admitting it. We were wrong ourselves. We thought Tina Fey was a performer and not just a "Mean Girl" dashing off bitchy, little lines. But a performer knows they have to like the characters they portray, they know they have to find some element to identify with. We were wrong because we also thought Tina Fey was intelligent. But an intelligent woman doesn't try to return to her old stomping ground after she's moved on in order to steal a role from another woman and an intelligent woman certainly doesn't add to the perception that SNL is in the tank for Barack by making the ridiculous statement that Fey did to the press backstage at the Emmys.

The campaign with momentum

First they said he shouldn't run. Then they proceeded to ignore him. Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, with no help from the allegedly 'independent' Panhandle Media, has proven them wrong.

Take the Nader Super Rally in Denver. What did we get from Panhandle Media? Amy Goodman's Pravda on the Hudson had two hours to fill the day after the Super Rally but no time to even mention it. Long time Nader hater Ruth Conniff wrote what she probably assumed was a 'pithy' post for her ("Last Day In Denver," The Progressive) but was as bad as the worst Elisabeth Bumiller "White House Letters" from the early days of the current administration. She scoffed, she scorned. She trashed Sean Penn (who spoke at the rally) and she trashed Ralph Nader. A little more obviously bitter than when she did her hit-job on Ralph in 2004, Conniff wanted everyone to know how marvelous she thought she was.

What she couldn't or wouldn't tell you is that the rally was a huge success. Unlike Conniff, Jess spoke with the Nader campaign the day before the rally. Ashley Sanders told him the goals for the rally and, guess what, the goals were achieved. Sanders? As Rebecca noted Friday, Ashley Sanders is another huge success from the Nader campaign.

Now might be a good time to talk about the 2000 election. After the Supreme Court decided the election, a number of Nader critics began asking what did Ralph build?

What was the point of his run? What did he build?

In 2000, Ralph Nader was the Green Party candidate. In 2004, he was not their candidate and, if that confuses you, Ralph isn't going to run a safe state strategy, he never has. He's not play acting at a run. He does not do "vanity runs." What did he accomplish?

Ralph challenge the two party dominance and provided the Green Party with their most viable candidate up to that point. (In November, we'll find out whether or not Cynthia McKinney's campaign garnered more votes than Ralph's 2000 run.) Asking, as Robert Scheer has, Ralph what he accomplished confuses Ralph with the Green Party.

It wasn't Ralph's job to build a political party. If the Greens seemed to Scheer to be in disarray in 2007, take it up with the Green Party which made a cowardly and craven decision to curry favor with the Democratic Party in 2004 by running a "safe state" 'strategy.' What that translates as is a national political party telling voters, "Vote for us . . . if you're state will easily go to the Democratic Party but, if not, don't vote for us." In other words, it says: We're not a real political party and we can't do damn thing -- including fight for ourselves -- but if you're not a battleground state, it sure would be nice to have your vote.

Again, Scheer needs to take up the issue with the Green Party. Ralph ran once as their nominee. It was the party's job to utilize the gains he made to advance their party. Ralph's not even a member of the Green Party. We're also not remembering Scheer ever asking what Al Gore did, post 2000 election, to build the Democratic Party or what John Kerry, post 2004 election, did? But somehow it's Ralph's job to build up a political party he's not even a member of and one whose nomination he hasn't had since 2000?

Time has not been kind to Scheer. If you doubt it, check out his current hairdo which makes him look like he should be sitting on the front porch of a southern plantation.

What did Ralph build?

He built a space.

Of those of us writing this piece, no one voted for Nader in 2000. Jess would have but he wasn't old enough to vote that year. But even if everyone had been old to vote in 2000, Jess is the only one who would have voted for Nader that year. It opened a lot of eyes. And it did have an impact. That eight years later all of us endorsing (everyone but Ava and C.I.) can proudly say we're voting for Ralph is a credit to his past runs.

Take Rebecca who voted Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. She scorned Ralph during his 2004 run only to have C.I. break it down for her. "It was the popular thing to do," she says now. "You had The Nation telling him not to run and his 'friends' like Michael Moore and all these other people. Who wanted Ralph to run? C.I. was very direct with me when I was making a joke about Ralph and it boiled down to that if I was making fun of Ralph for daring to run, I was making fun of the democratic system we're supposed to live under. After that, I didn't make any more jokes and I paid attention to the level of the commentary so many offered. It was an eye opener."

And that's one of the many accomplishments Ralph's runs have had.

To break with the two-party controlled system is a big thing and this election year, all of us will be doing so (including Ava and C.I.) and doing so for the first time (except for Jess who is a Green and voted for Ralph in 2004). You're talking about lifelong Democrats who could just avoid the presidential ticket and vote in the other races.

But though Barack's a corporatist War Hawk, it's not all about him. Katrina vanden Heuvel would like you to believe that's the case, that the election is all about Barack. She'd like you to also believe that you only have two voting choices (she doesn't even allow for the right not to vote -- a system that, incidentally, would have caused trouble for her "present" voting Barack when he was in the Illinois legislature) and the only right choice is to vote for Barack.

Panhandle Media has repeatedly scorned Barack. They have ignored him. Last week, Amy Goodman decided to ask him to consider requesting that his supporters in battleground states vote for Barack. Ralph's response to her nonsense bears noting:

I'm not at all impressed by Barack Obama's positions on this so-called bailout. It's just rhetoric. His Senate record has not reflected that at all. As we campaign around the country--we're now in forty-five states plus the District of Columbia, and we're running five, six, seven percent in the polls, which is equivalent to nine, ten million eligible voters--we are going to try to rouse the public in a specific way: laser-beam focus on their senators and representatives. When these senators and representatives, if they allow this bailout deal in this general, vague manner to pass, when they go back home, they're going to hit hornets' nest. This is a situation where it doesn't matter whether the people back home are Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, Nader-Gonzalez supporters. There's such a deep sense of betrayal, of panic, of stampede, of surrender, of cowardliness in Congress, that it's going to affect the election and the turnout. I'd like Barack Obama, actually, to support the Nader-Gonzalez ticket.

If Panhandle Media had done that, they might have more influence because their audiences wouldn't have shrunk. Like their candidate, they fail to grasp that the people expected information from them, not lectures and orders. As one reader noted in an e-mail Thursday on why she'd finally let her subscription to The Nation lapse, "I'm supposed to fork over nearly a hundred bucks for the magazine and also to be talked down to as if I'm a child who can't make a decision on my own?"

Ralph's achievements this year including raising the issue of ballot access which so many of us know so little about. The Democratic and Republican parties get on the ballot automatically. They don't have to fight for a spot and, judging by the decision of the Texas Supreme Court, they don't even have to meet the filing deadline. But an independent or third party candidate has to jump through hoops. It's not merely the filing fees or collecting the required number of signatures, it's also going over that number because as Pennsylvania's 2004 Ballot-Gate demonstrates, the Democratic Party will do anything they think they can get away with in order to keep others off the ballot.

Despite all these hurdles, the campaign set the goal at 45 states and they met it. Ralph Nader is on the ballot in 45 states and in DC. In addition, the citizens of four other states can write his name in when they vote. The only state he's not on the ballot for and cannot be written in is Oklahoma.

This is the most states that Ralph has been on the ballot for in any run.

That's not the end of his accomplishments. Marcia recalls, "The first time I heard him talking this year, I wondered, 'What the heck is Taft-Hartley?' I had never heard of it." The Taft-Hartley Act, as many of you know thanks to Nader's campaign, is also known as the Labor-Management Relations Act. It severely restricted labors right to organize and strike and it was vetoed by President Harry S. Truman but the Congress overrode his veto.

A big accomplishment for many is that Nader campaigned in Hawaii. In doing so last July, he became the first presidential nominee to campaign in the state since the 1960 election. Hawaii (and Alaska) have long been ignored in the presidential campaigns. At best, a name surrogate goes out. At worst, they get nothing. That wasn't the end of the campaign trail for Ralph. He continues to campaign state to state.

Along with ballot access, the campaign has also highlighted other ugly realities. There's certainly the silence from All Things Media Big and Small that most Americans wouldn't have expected in a country with not only an allegedly free press but a supposed thriving 'independent' one. There's the silence from many pollsters who don't even include him as one of the options on their surveys.

And there's the biggest silence: the debates.

The debates started on Friday and all Americans are supposed to be overjoyed and ecstatic that they have the opportunity to watch the two most covered presidential candidates stand up on the stage and say the same thing they've said in interview after interview. Apparently, the novelty is supposed to come via the fact that they're standing on the same stage.

Who are the debates for? Supposedly, the debates are to inform the voters where the candidates stand on the issue. If that were truly the case, then all the candidates would be invited. They're not invited. So it appears that "debate" has come to mean "infomercial for the Democratic and Republican Parties."

In one of the strongest moments of illumination, we notice that FAIR -- longtime champion of 'open the debates!' -- has not issued that cry this year and hasn't even registered an objection to the debates shutting out Ralph, Cynthia, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin. This is the same FAIR which not only advocated for Ralph to be included in 2000 but also advocated for Pat Buchanan to be included in 2000. Back then, they attempted to appear fair and non-partisan. These days, it's nothing but sweaty palms and hands shoved down pants in jubilation over Barack.

It's certainly not very fair.

Can Ralph win the 2008 election?

Yes. Until the votes are counted, no one has anything but a guess as to who will win the election. But he's already won a great deal this go round.

And so has America. They've seen a candidate who refuses to back down even when supposed friends stab him in the back. They've seen a candidate who gets shut out by All Things Media Big and Small and doesn't let that stop him. Hillary Clinton put 18,000,000 cracks in the glass ceiling and we do not underestimate that fact. She deserves tremendous credit and praise. But, as a Democrat, as hard as her road was, it was easier than if she'd been an independent or third party candidate. Ralph's putting his own cracks in the ceiling -- the two-party system ceiling.

Though he's lost a number of the 'big names' backing him in 2000 (if you pay attention, they aren't 'big names' anymore -- call it karmic payback for not having a spine), he's set for his best run ever. And, yes, it could land him in the White House. No one will be happier if that happens than us (including Ava and C.I.). But he's already accomplished a great deal in the lead up. He has fought political bigotry and he has widened the space for others who are not part of a two-party system.

What Hillary's run did indisputably and what Sarah Palin's current run does, is demonstrate to every American child that gender is not an obstacle. Ralph does something similar by pushing the country's notion of politics beyond the two-party limits.

Sexism and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


If Cher could turn back time, maybe she'd have a shot at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Maybe Carly Simon tells herself, "I know nothing stays the same, but if you're willing to play the game, it will be coming around again"? Linda Ronstadt is probably wondering, "When Will I Be Loved?" while Pat Benetar's insisting to the Hall, "Treat Me Right." Patti Labelle's probably decided forget it, "I've got a new attitude."

Women need something because they certainly aren't getting respect from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. As we noted last week in "Cock Rock Hall of Fame," there are 159 performers who have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and only 24 are women. That's less than one sixth. Such 'rockers' as Johnny Cash, Miles Davis, the Bee Gees and Bobby Darin have been inducted into the Hall. But obviously there are different rules for women.

Monday the nominees for 2009 inductee list were announced and, as we warned, women were hardly on the list. There was the expected sole woman: Wanda Jackson.

Wanda who?

Good question.

Here's a better one: When the US is at war is she really the woman to grab that spot?

Jackson's famous as a friend of Elvis Presley's and as a cute little cowgirl who played the guitar, sang and yodeled -- yodeled? There's hope for Jewel yet! She's a country singer. Or, rather, she was a country singer. Early in the seventies, she'd be recording Country Gospel. That's Ms. Jackson if you're godly. Presumably for her actions prior to becoming a gospel singer, she made the nomination list for inductees. (Worded that way because the list is not inductees, it is the list from which 2009's inductees will be chosen.) Her contribution prior to to moving over to gospel can really be boiled down to "Fujiyama Mama." In that 'gem,' Wanda sings, "I've been to Nagasaki, Hiroshima too/ The same I did to them, baby, I can do to you."

Oh, goody. Songs glorifying slaughter by nuclear bomb. Again, is this really the time to induct Wanda Jackson?

And should she be inducted?

If country musicians are going to be brought into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, induct Dolly Parton. She's meets all the qualifications and her impact on music is much more lasting than Jackson's plus we're not aware of Dolly ever 'finding the joy' in nuclear bombs.

Jackson had her pitiful "pop" hits in 1961 and 1962 (hitting number 37, number 27 and number 29 respectively). Yes, her biggest charting pop hit was number 27. What an influence in the age of singles. With all the women not inducted who qualify, why is the Hall reaching back to 1962 for the sole woman on the list this year?

With one woman a year, the Hall will have to do this every year. They will have to find some niche 'pioneer' that they've overlooked from forty years prior and it will prevent women who actually qualify from being inducted in their own lifetime. Forty-six years ago, Wanda Jackson finally wandered onto the pop charts. This year she's hogging the spot that should have gone to another woman. The rule is 25 years after your first recording (solo recording if you were also part of a group and are being inducted as a solo artist). So 1982 is the year that we should be at for women. It's the year that we're at for men. But because the Hall has so ignored women, the sole spot for a woman has to drop back to 1962 for a performer most people don't remember and for a performer's who's most long lasting 'hit' glorifies nuclear war.

Somehow the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame sees nothing wrong with that. But they're the same folks who think 24 women out of 159 inductions is somehow 'representative.' Please note that those 24 women were not all inducted individually. The induction of Talking Heads, for example, counts as one induction and it provides three men and one woman. If you want to do the actual number of men inducted into the hall, it is far greater than 159. But for women -- either as individuals or as part of a group -- its a pathetic number.

And the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a pathetic institution.

Laura Nyro has been eligible since 1990 but never inducted. She is among the many artists who have left lasting impressions and changed the nature of music. But it's not enough to do that if you're a woman. And, yet again, a woman from the field of country has a better shot of getting in than a woman who actually did rock. Does the Hall not grasp that there is already a Country Music Hall of Fame?

It may seem unfair to focus on Jackson. She wasn't the only nominee, after all. However, as we noted last week, the pattern was one female nominee a year. So she is wasting the spot that could have gone to many more qualified. And the other nominees for induction? Jeff Beck, Metallica, the Stooges, Bobby Woman, War, Little Anthony and the Imperials and Run DMC. In other words, there's no point in attending the induction because every one's career and cachet ended years ago. What a sorry, sorry list.

So Chic may get in following in the footsteps of the Bee Gees. A disco act. No doubt, KC & the Sunshine Band will be next and certainly they will get in long before Donna Summer who not only owned the disco idiom, she redefined it. Summer was the only artist truly making art in that genre. But Donna can wait -- even though she's been eligible all through the nineties and all through this decade. Run-DMC means that the "Rock" Hall is now inducting rap as well. Great, another excuse to ignore women as they work the next years to induct various rap groups.

If there's a more questionable nominee than Jackson on this year's list, it's Jeff Beck. Beck is a sideman not a performer. It is as a sideman (for Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, Tina Turner and many, many more) that his guitar playing is known. But somehow he's a performing nominee? Again, the rules are different for women. They don't just have to achieve the same things a male performer does, they have to achieve three times as much just to be considered. It's pretty damn disgusting but so is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Last week's feature article resulted in a huge number of e-mails which mainly asked why any of the press reporting on Monday wasn't calling out the sexism? Good question. We'd suggest you ask them why they continue to ignore it. Until they're pressed to address it, they won't.

TV: The 'debate'

The Friday debate?

We missed it.

We tuned in, we watched. We just didn't see much of a debate.

We heard Barack whine, yet again, that in 2002 he gave a speech against the illegal war and we grasped just how pathetic it is that he still points to a speech six years ago as qualifying him to be president.

"I was right! I was right!" he crows (even though he wasn't, read the text of that alleged 'anti-war' speech). But strangely, he considers the surge to have 'worked' in some way but can't admit he was wrong in 2007.

He wants to say he was right in 2002 but wants to pretend like 2007 didn't happen.

It was very strange.

It was very strange to watch John McCain bungle the flaw in Barack's meeting "without preconditions" with foreign leaders who are not considered 'friends' of the US: No preconditions, no human right advances.

On Iraq, McCain was correct that Barack was confusing a tactic with a strategy. But he scored no points for being right because most Americans were left as lost as Barack. (Hint to McCain, define the terms next time.)

Barack was a real kiss ass to moderator Jim Lehrer (PBS). "A testimony to you, Jim," cooed this century's Eddie Haskell when Lehrer noted that both candidates were "even on time." When not playing kiss ass, Barack acted like a punk ass, attempting to speak over McCain (this happened before Lehrer noted they were even on time and it happened after) and also hoping that the press love and his sucking up to Jim meant he could call on Jim to rescue him. If Barack needs help from Jim Lehrer to handle a debate with John McCain, how ready is Barack for the Oval Office? Or does he intend to take Jim to the White House with him?

Barack was fumbling all over the stage and that may have been noticeable when he insisted, "Jim, let me just make a point. I've got a bracelet, too!" Well good for you. But next time you tell us who you're wearing, Barack, how about knowing it ahead of time? ("From Sergeant -- from the mother of Sergeant . . .") One would assume the man who is yet again on the cover of Men's Vogue would know how to work that runway.

Possibly the most interesting exchange in the dull proceedings was over Afghanistan. If so, it was spread out over many, many responses. We'll excerpt it so that it runs together.

John McCain: Senator Obama is the chairperson of a committee that oversights NATO that's in Afghanistan. To this day, he has never had a hearing.

Barack Obama: Look, I'm very proud of my vice presidential selection, Joe Biden, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and as he explains, and as John well knows, the issues of Afghanistan, the issues of Iraq, critical issues like that, don't go through my subcommittee because they're done as a committee as a whole.

John McCain: You might think that with that kind of concern that Senator Obama would have gone to Afghanistan, particularly given his responsibilities as a subcommittee chairman. By the way, when I'm subcommittee chairman, we take up the issues under my subcommittee.

First, had Barack offered any objection to McCain's characterization, we'd include it. We're specifically thinking that Barack did, after the Democratic Party primary ended, finally hold a subcommittee meeting. Since he didn't correct McCain on that, we'll assume that either Barack didn't hold a meeting or he doesn't really care enough about the meeting to bring it up.

Second, Barack's either ignorant or lying. Work is done in subcommittees and, in fact, the entire point of Congressional subcommittees is to do the work that will then be brought before the larger committee as a whole.

McCain (rightly) pointed out, as a subcommittee chair, he has held meetings. That might have been a moment in the debate if it had played out as above -- instead it was broken by too many other exchanges. But Barack becomes that subcommittee chair just as he decides to run for president. So the point there should be, "You took a chair position and did nothing with it. Was it just to beef up your year book resume?"

The fact that the position was handed to him by the man who is now his running mate only makes it look even more like Barack was being given credits he didn't earn.

Third, tip to Barack, it's probably not a good idea to point your running mate, who is not top of the ticket, to shore up your own weak credentials. It only leaves the impression with Americans who are undecided that you really do not have the earned credits for the graduation you're so quickly attempting to make.

Fourth, Barack never addressed not visiting Afghanistan. He let the charge stand.

It was an embarrassment for Barack.

The spinners are out in full force insisting he did good. He didn't. (And despite all the prep, he still stammered and uh-uh-uh-ed his way through.) In the debate itself, no one won. We're sure Amy Goodman will use Monday's Pravda on the Hudson to reconstruct bits of the debate and insist Barack won. He didn't win.

In fact, he actually came off worse than McCain.

PBS' Washington Week found Gwen and the gang doing two live shows Friday. On the first, pre-debate, they offered what each needed to do (based on their own beliefs and on what the campaigns were saying). Dan Baltz (Washington Post) noted McCain's hurdles included the age difference.

McCain held up throughout the debate. He also didn't rush to Jim for help in dealing with Barack or repeatedly attempt to speak over Barack when it was Barack's turn.

Barack's turn. The debate seemed to exist to remind everyone of Michelle Obama's infamous words that Barack didn't need to wait his turn. She meant it another way but what it boils down to is that two years into his first US Senate term, he didn't feel he needed to wait to run for the presidency. And Friday night, he didn't feel he needed to wait his turn.

Combine his repeated attempts to speak when it was McCain's turn (before and after Jim Lehrer noted the two candidates were dead even in the amount of time they'd been given) and his being made a subcommittee chair by his running mate Joe Biden-- in some sort of "be chair, but it's in name only" formation -- and the impression Barack made was of someone who doesn't believe he has to earn a damn thing or that he has to wait his turn. The line starts with Barack, apparently, and, if he can't earn a position, a man will create one for him sort of like the stereotype of seventies husbands with money creating make-work 'careers' for their wives by setting them up with little shops to dabble in.

Jim Lehrer actually tried to play fair and, in fact, frequently encouraged the two candidates to speak to one another and not him. But it's hard to have a presidential debate without all the candidates.

On that, two points. First off the McCain decision that put the debate in question. McCain decided to return to DC mid-week and suspend his campaign. On Friday he announced he would participate in the debate.

Some are calling that a 'bad decision' on McCain's part. It wasn't.

It was a very smart decision.

For those acting like it was the end of the world, Barack walked out of two debates in the last 12 months. He walked out of a December debate involving all the Democratic candidates (the other candidates walked as well -- the writers' strike was going on and no one wanted to cross a picket line). In April, seven days before the scheduled and announced North Carolina debate with Hillary Clinton, Barack called it off.

It was hilarious to hear the college Friday's debate took place in whine about the money they'd spent and how they might lose it. No one worried when Barack cancelled the North Carolina debate.

But the college . . .

That's why it was smart on John McCain's part. The locale was chosen for Barack's benefit and he was scheduled to reap tons of positive press insisting he was historic. Maybe he could have claimed he wouldn't even be on the stage if his parents hadn't met at the groundbreaking of the campus all those years ago? They didn't but his mother gave birth long before the Selma March and that didn't prevent Glory Hog Barack from crediting the Selma March with getting his parents together originally.

What McCain did was steal the press.

By become an 'iffy,' he became the story. There was no time for the joyful stories about the campus and it's long history and what it mean for (bi-racial) Barack and blah, blah, blah. The week was supposed to be all about Barack and reporters from various news outlets were assigned 'historical' stories -- the bulk of which never ran because McCain stole the thunder. Hard to reflect on history when the entire debate is up in the air.

For that and many more reasons, we'd rule the McCain the winner.

The loser?

The viewers. A presidential debate needs to inform and, to do that, you need to include the candidates running for the office. Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin weren't present. (Links only to McKinney and Nader. We're tired and not in the mood to write this piece let alone hunt down links. We will note an update, Adam Kokesh is no longer supporting Bob Barr.) How are Americans supposed to decide which candidate they support when all the candidates are not present?

But of course the 'debates' aren't about Americans deciding. They're about corporations telling you there are only two choices and that you better fall in line and do so quickly. There was more spontaneity in the scripted Ralph Nader and Obama Girl YouTube video then there was on stage. Doubt it?

If there's one question McCain needs to answer on Iraq, it's why he says the US has won? He has made that statement repeatedly. It's an opinion statement and he may be able to defend it. (We don't believe there's a 'win' there.) But to know why he says it, he needs to be asked to explain it. After he's asked that, he needs to be asked when withdrawal follows 'victory'? Barack needs to be asked about reality. He gave a speech in 2002. Yeah, and by 2004, he was telling the press that he didn't know how he would have voted if he'd been in the Senate at that time and he was endorsing Bully Boy's illegal war. Once in the Senate, he waited until after he announced his run to finally vote against funding the illegal war. He's gotten away with crowing "I was right in 2002!" over and over. Being right in 2002 means nothing if you go on to back down from the position which, for the record, is what Barack did. Maybe he could explain that? To know if he could, he'd have to be asked to do so.

Ava note added 9-29-08. Community member Marci e-mailed to note this post at No Quarter. We (C.I. and I) knew that the parents weren't happy about Barack using their son -- which is why we did not even include the son's name in the bracelet comments above -- we did not know, as No Quarter has pointed out, that they had asked Barack to remove the bracelet.. W
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