Sunday, December 21, 2008

Truest statement of the week

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Well, excuse me, excuse me, though, this is a serious civil rights issue in this country.
-- Harry Smith to Robert Jeffries who attempted to joke about an issue on Friday's The Early Show (CBS).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Sunday and consider this our holiday edition.

Dallas, as always hunted down links, was a sound board, a friend and a savior. We thank him. Others participating in this week's edition include:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's 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 Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

Jim and Dona are off this weekend as was Ty. However, Ty did join us for the roundtable.

Here's what we came up with:

Truest statement of the week -- We had no time to write about the disaster that is Barack and Rick Warren's love affair so fortunately Harry Smith had a Truest that had to be noted.

Editorial: The Pathetic and Shameful UPFJ -- A movement brings pressure, it is not a fan club. UPFJ is disgusting and along with owing African-Americans an apology, they owe the country one.

TV: Twins Anne Slowey and Gwen Ifill -- They really are two of a kind, Gwen and Anne. If Anne thinks we (Ava and C.I.) went too far she should know that when she brings on her underage niece to act like a total bitch, she's inviting strong criticism and we refrained from criticquing the niece. We bit our tongues even though we think when a child acts like she did, the child needs to be called out loudly and rudely so she grasps how far from 'all that' she is.

Roundtable -- Could we have a roundtable? Yes, we could! Ty passed on that there was a big request for it. (This was before Ty planned to participate.) We (Ava and C.I.) will note that Jess did a wonderful job of moderating and that Betty rounded up Ty and Stan who were planning to take the weekend off.

The Ultimate Tina Turner Collection -- We enjoyed writing this feature and this comes from Betty and C.I. who have worked like crazy coming up with their dream playlist for Tina over the last four weeks.

An indictment of the 'New' Iraq goes unnoticed -- Our Iraq feature. And, no, we're not saying that people couldn't laugh at the video of the shoe toss, we are saying that if it ended there, if everyone's needle got stuck on that and didn't go beyond it (which happened), that was very sad and very telling.

DVD release of The Women (Ava and C.I.) -- Jess saw an e-mail from Belinda (community member) wondering if a DVD feature could be done? Either last year or the year before we all did some DVD feature at Third and Belinda was hoping for something like that. We didn't have time to, sorry. But two of us had seen The Women recently and were more than willing to write about that.

Hmmm . . . -- Continues the short features that Dona has drilled into us to include. Always.

The Princess Brat Chronicles -- This was a planned feature and we address everything needed in it.

Carolyn Maloney works her ass off for New Yorkers -- But this wasn't planned. We were surprised by how much this person did last week and how little attention the press gave it.

Andrew Cuomo works his ass off for New Yorkers -- See above.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty, Kat, Cedric, Wally, Marcia, Ruth and Stan wrote this. Thank you! This was the last thing written. The writing edition went very smoothly. We started six hours later than usual so everyone could get some sleep. And we then turned out the edition in about eight hours. It moved quickly because everyone brought so many wonderful things to the table. By everyone we mean: Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty, Kat, Cedric, Wally, Marcia, Ruth and Stan. We thank them so much.

So that's it. Happy Holidays.

-- Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: The Pathetic and Shameful UPFJ

For two years, United for Peace and Justice has done nothing to end the illegal war. If you like the faux radical fringe, you could find many of those in 'leadership' on various rag-tag Pacifica stations whoring themselves and the peace movement out as the booed and hissed at Hillary Clinton while insisting Barack Obama was a divine spread, perfect for a sacramental wafer. They all but smacked their lips into the microphones as they insisted "Heavenly delicious!"

So it was no surprise that United for Pathetic and Juvenile issued a purile statement on November 7th that was at once self-stroking and racially offensive. For the record, Barack Obama is bi-racial. We've covered that here. At the allegedly 'progressive' (no one loves that coded word moe than the multitude of political closet cases hiding out at UPFJ). For the record, Barack was never about ending the illegal war in Iraq. But UPFJ was so eager to spread like slutty cheerleaders (male and female) that they ignored that the same way they ignored their own alleged committment to ending the Afghanistan War. Yeah, Afghanistan, the war Barack campaigned on continuing.

So it was not surprising to discover United for Pathetic and Juvenile could sink even lower.

Eric Ruder and Ashley Smith (US Socialist Worker) provide a disturbing look at the recent 'strategy' sessions for UPFJ earlier this month where 'leaders' offered such 'insight' as Barack is 'our' "quarterback" and our role is to "block for him." That's so insulting on so many levels.

First of all, why is a peace movement utilizing a predominately male sport, an aggressive sport, for analogies? Strikes us as violent and sexist. Or possibly, this is part of the Let's Water Everything Down Until It Means Nothing and we'll get a few more (lukewarm) supporters 'strategy.'

Second, since when is it the responsibility of a peace movement to provide protection for any elected official? A movement is supposed to bring pressure on those holding the reigns of power.

It's all so embarrassing. But so were the speakers who all sounded like the most despearte odd ball in high school, praying, praying!, that today would be the day Barack said hello to them in the hall, pretending that they knew him -- not in the real sense of the word but "know" him in the, "We can see into his soul!!!!!"

You really need to read Ruder and Smith's article and you really need to laugh at almost every 'leader' quoted in it, you need to laugh at how stupid and, yes, slutty they all come off.

UPFJ is disgusting. And they have staged their little turf wars with A.N.S.W.E.R. and so many others as they've tired to control the peace movement. Time for Leslie and other gals and guys to retire. They can't stand up for peace, they've got no right to pose as 'leaders' of the peace movement.

Debra Sweet (World Can't Wait) noted of UPFJ's recent session:

Not to directly challenge Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan is shameful. On the anniversary of "Shock & Awe," and under a new president, the anti-war movement needs to be in Washington. And many of us WILL be there.
World Can't Wait wrote a
letter to the anti-war movement. We posed:

"We in this country, and those of us in this movement, have a choice. We can side with our government, with the "good war" fought in our names, and act like American lives are more important than anyone else's lives.Or we can show the people living in the Middle East, and the world, that in the U.S. there is a difference between the people and their government, and that the people are taking responsibility to end an unjust war and the war crimes that have been carried out in our name. We can act like we care about the whole planet."

That's really what it's about. Are you going to work end the illegal war or are you going to rush to cheer on the 'quarterback' in the White House?

UPFJ did their part to set back the peace movement. It's not just the brakes they slammed on the peace movement for the last two damn years. Now they're trying to throw the movement into reverse.

That's not leadership, that's shameful, craven behavior.

TV: Twins Anne Slowey and Gwen Ifill

Some times, people have no idea what they have or, more importantly, what they don't. As Stylista wrapped its run last week on the CW and as Gwen Ifill was . . . well, just being Gwen, it became very obvious that some people work with a highly distorted reflection from their mirrors.


Let's start with Stylista because it was just so much cringe-inducing fun. Anne Slowey has been paid to work in fashion for more years than the rings around her neck. And yet, despite the fact that ever damn one of those years shows, they all seemed to have passed without ever introducing Anne to style or class.

Anne wants to be a star. She's always wanted to be a star. But with that nose, she had to go into fashion. Maybe Stylista will turn a pig into a swan?

We know Tyra Banks who produces this show. A mutual friend asked us why we still hadn't reviewed Tyra or any of Tyra's shows? We think Tyra's a natural talk show host and always have that as our back up should everything else fall through. A review of her talk show is our safety school, you might say. Then there's America's Next Top Model which we've never watched because it all just seems like way too much drama to us.

At that point, and this is early November, the mutual friend suggested Stylista. It's about a fashion magazine. Well that sounded interesting. We love the film Funny Face. Then we were told the magazine was Elle and we love Roberta Myers who is as sweet as she is gifted. What could go wrong?


We'd heard of her. We hadn't met her because, honestly, we don't mingle with her kind. But we had heard about her and, for a change, reality TV apparently offered some reality. Every thing ever whispered about Upholstered Anne is apparently true and then some. ("Upholstered Anne" is how she's known at the other fashion mags and don't blame Nina Garcia for that.)

Anne was supposed to be a judge and she thought she could clomp-clomp those excessively large feet of hers into Simon Cowell-type stardom. In that she succeeded but at what cost?

Fashion is about looking good.

That's a basic point.

Those involved in fashion attempt to make themselves look good.

That's a given.

Not Anne.

The big rumor in 1995 was that she had to be taught to sit with her legs crossed. While wearing a dress. While wearing a really short dress.

Whether it's true or not, it certainly will feel true to anyone who caught Stylista.

She is the most graceless woman in the world. She also has Suburban Mom hair. She would insist she has hair like Madonna. Like we said, Anne, you have Surburban Mom hair: Madonna circa 1997. Too old for current and too recent for retro. So Anne just looks like another aging woman who didn't have the sense to grasp it was time to cut the hair (and knock off about ten years in the process). There is the facial structure which we'll just describe as "brutish" and move on to the teeth which could be fixed. Could be and should.

Find another person in the world with teeth like Anne's who wants to appear glamorous on national TV but doesn't have the sense to get braces. You never will.

The body is decidely peasant stock. In fact, hearty peasant stock would be the term. If you've ever wondered what a sack of potatoes would look like if it sprouted legs, meet Anne. Legs? When you insist upon putting your legs on TV repeatedly, you might want to consider wearing pantyhose. You surely would want to do something about tone, if everytime you cross your legs, they flap. In fact, she has what are known as curtain thighs: they drape over everything around them.

Tranlsation, none of it adds up to a "Steal This Look!" look.

Cutting her hair to shoulder length with a side part would not make Anne pretty nor would it make her Anna Wintour. It would make her appear younger and begin to give her a look. Or does she plan to spend the rest of her life in Madonna's faded discards?

Week after week, Anne made Stylista riveting television. We will give her that. The show zipped quickly through less than ten episodes and ten contestants to declare a winner. None of the contestants really became a name or a standout. The reasons was they had to compete with Anne. Anne thought she was the show and, on that, she was correct.

As a reality TV star, Anne Slowey is like a tugboat finally pulling into the harbor. You can almost see her winking at the camera and, through her many facial skin folds, exclaiming, "Home again, home again, jiggety-jig, jiggety-gee."

So why is any of the above a problem? Well, for starters, Anne still has a day job. At Elle. A fashion magazine. And while people may enjoy pointing at -- and laughing at -- a freak show, do they really want to seek out a freak show for fashion?

The model who had the "cocaine honeymoon" saw all the big campaigns dry up as her life became a freak show and, no, big name models don't dream of becoming catalogue models. You go freak show, you lose your luster. So while Anne's wonderful for Tyra Banks, she's lousy for Elle.

Gwen's her own kind of lousy. The loons at Women's Media Center (now trojan ehanced!) were lamenting Gwen being passed over by NBC for Meet The Press. Gwen never stood a chance and we say that as two bound and determined to ensure that reality; however, we were quickly informed, "Don't worry, she's not getting it." She was never on the short-list and she ensured 2008 would not be her year. How did she do that? By refusing to disclose an appearence of a conflict of interest. You know, the story Women's Media Center never said a word about. NBC could not have Gwen as the host, even if she were qualified, because of that little scandal which would find every week resulting in calls of favortism on display by Gwen.

But of course, Gwen's not qualified. She's going to think on her feet with world leaders and not stumble repeatedly?


Gwen participated in an online chat at The Washington Post on Thursday. Here's one example of Gwen responding 'off the cuff:'

Saginaw, Mich.: Gwen,
I love the show, and I would vote for a full hour.
But sometimes I'm busy on Friday nights, and the rebroadcast on Sunday seems like old news by then.
Can I get the whole show online these days?
Gwen Ifill: The entire things is online and available by video podcast. check us out at

So a person in Michigan explained that it's difficult to catch the show on Friday nights from time to time but, by Sunday morning, it's old news. Which leaves us with when? Saturday. Gwen, the question was "Can I get the whole show online these days" and the day needed was Saturday. But Gwen tells Saginaw that the episode is online and "available by video podcast" -- the latter means "also you can get a podcast" to any who know the show's website.

Gwen doesn't even know her own show. You can subscribe to a podcast (it's easiest to do by using iTunes and selecting PBS on the podcast options) and get the show on Saturday. But the video? Video and transcript get posted the following Monday. Monday afternoon in fact. So that point needs to be made. It especially needs to be made, we checked, when those going to the website late Friday or anytime Saturday or Sunday will see the following:

Friday Dec. 19
President-elect Barack Obama's latest cabinet appointments;
The race to fill coveted Senate vacancies;
Updates on the state of the economy;
Why the larger Democratic majority in Congress next year won't guarantee smooth sailing for Mr. Obama.
More on topics and panelists l Podcast -->
Transcript Video Podcast

Oh, great! Click on video and you can watch! (Or transcript and you can read!) Nope. Clicking on those will take you to the December 12th episode.

And if we can stay with the technical for a moment, the podcast? Though Gwen says it's video, there are two options. You can get the audio podcast (which downloads so much faster) and there is the video podcast. Gwen should be able to converse about both. (24.7 MB is the audio podcast for December 19th and 263.5 MB is the video podcast for December 19th.) For those who have never podcast, DSL will allow you to do it quickly. Wireless in most cases will be almost as quick. If you're on dialup, you're looking at a lengthy wait. That's another point Gwen should be able to converse on when deciding to chat on the topic of podcasts.

She's never equipped with the knowledge she needs and the bulk of her answers are facile. Again from her online chat at The Washington Post:

New Albany, Ohio: It seems amazing to me that even as we are suffering a huge financial crisis Caroline Kennedy is promoted as a very attractive candidate because she can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Demorcratic table if she is appointed to the Senate. Does money rule in politics regardless of what is happening in the rest of the world? If we get helpful legislation because of it, is it worth it?
Gwen Ifill: Yes, money rules in politics regardless of what is happening in the rest of the world. Have you checked lately on how much Barack Obama raised and spent to get elected President?

Check out the EZ gas baggery Gwen spits out to one question (she avoids the second). First, she expresses, "Yes, money rules in politics" and she probably feels so proud of herself for that bromide. But note what happens next, when it's time for her to back up her claim. She turns it into a question because she can't make it a simple statement without being expected to provide some hard numbers. Gee, Gwen, you're the news woman, how about you tell us "how much Barack Obama raised and spent to get elected President"?

One of Gwen's topics on Friday's show was, in fact, Caroline. And she and her guest really didn't go any deeper than she did above. Hillary Clinton may get confirmed as the US Secretary of State in January. If so, her Senate seat becomes open. Not only was her seat accepted as up for grabs without question by the gas bags, it was also accepted that Caroline Kennedy would grab the seat. Gwen and the gas bags felt no need to discuss women who have been elected to office and would like to be appointed Senator. It's a done deal, to hear them tell it. And they wouldn't have even mentioned Andrew Cuomo were it not for the fact that they could laugh and giggle about the soap opera.

This is an educated discourse? A refusal to explore women like US House Rep Carolyn Maloney who, yes, is in the running for the seat. A refusal to discuss anyone seriously and passing off 'oh messy divorce for Cuomo and the Kennedy cousin!' as an informed conversation? It was beyond shallow. Access Hollywood offers more penetrating analysis of their subjects.

Discussing the budget issues, a question was asked, "How about near universal health care?" How about it? "That's a whole 'nother subject," Gwen insisted, dismissing it as she rushed to move to the Caroline segment she so wanted to gas bag on. And if she hadn't rushed to that topic we might have missed John Dickerson's gem that Caroline was "campaigning in the proximity of collard greens." That was so funny -- to the panel. It was offensive. It was racist. So, of course, no one laughed louder than Gwen.

In her online chat at the Post, Gwen was lamenting that she would like to expand the show to an hour but "that decision is the hand of the 300+ PBS stations that air us." Pray the three hundred plus scream "NO!" Should she get an extra thirty minutes, know that Gwen would not use the additional time to go deeper. Deeper is as beyond her as attractive and stylish are beyond Anne Slowey. Gwen would merely add four more 'topics' -- tidbits really -- and a lot more gossip.

Gwen goes on TV to play a journalist and Anne goes on to play fashionable. Neither is even remotely credible. To her credit, Anne does hold your attention, but train wrecks generally do. She is, as Anne herself might put it, "a little more hard-core, a little more androgynous, a little more butch." That was Anne explaining why dresses would be dead by last September. Yeah, she's also about as accurate as Gwen.

Her prediction never came true. Bad gas baggery, another trait she shares with Gwen.


Jess: Roundtable time and we have a number of topics but first, who's participating? The Third Estate Sunday Review's 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, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends. Jim and Dona are off this weekend. Others were scheduled to be as well but a number of 'hot' topics for this feature resulted in that changing. Ty, for example, is participating in this feature at Betty's request. I'm going to toss to Betty for the first topic.


Betty: C.I.'s Iraq snapshots are always a wealth of information and Friday's was no exception. In it, a link was provided to an article by Ashley Smith and Eric Ruder in the US Socialist Worker. Because of what C.I. wrote and because it was Ruder, I clicked. We can go into why I wouldn't have bothered otherwise if anyone wants to. But the article is a report on United for Peace & Justice's recent meet-up for non-planning. Let me be clear that Ruder and Smith's report is distrubing. It's awful -- what they're reporting is awful. Their own reporting skills aren't awful, to be clear. And this is a topic we hope to do a feature on, maybe an editorial. But I wanted to pull out one disturbing section and roundtable it. I asked Ty to participate and confirmed with Cedric, Marcia and Stan that they would be because of the topic. I want to be sure I'm not trying to speak for Black America and so you've got a shot at three other Black voices in this roundtable. I'm going to zoom in on this section of the article:

UFPJ's leadership didn't respond to this call for unity, and instead proposed local actions on March 19 and a spring national mobilization in New York City on April 4. Asserting that the antiwar movement alone isn't capable of mobilizing sufficient forces and would risk alienating the Black community if it directly confronted Obama, the New York City march will have a slogan "Yes we can...End the war"--but will emphasize a broad range of issues, such as corporate crime on Wall Street, the financial crisis, health care and environmental justice, among other issues.

Betty (Con't): Now I have very strong feelings when I read that but I'll let anyone else jump in.

Marcia: I will. Bulls**t UPFJ. The "Black community" is not all on board with Baracka Obama. He can kiss my ass and that's been the case for the whole year. It's also true of many others. And how insulting is that crap? We -- African-Americans -- are so weak that if a president is bi-racial, BI-RACIAL you f**king idiots, us African-Americans get all trembly in the knees and wez just not able to be thinking. Save us, you wonderful Whiteys, save us! Oops. I'm sorry. Ty's participating for this feature so I shouldn't have jumped in. Ty?

Ty: I agree with what you said, Marcia. And let's get something else straight, 100% of African-Americans are not against the illegal war, and of those who are, not all of them would work with UPFJ to begin with. Those that would aren't going to be scared off by Barack being called out. How insulting, that really is insulting and UPFJ owes the African-American community an apology.

Cedric: Yes, they do. How dare they suggest that we're so childish that we can't handle criticism of a sitting president. My God, that's insulting. They're saying we're immature and child-like and must not be told Santa doesn't exist. Do you get how patronizing that is? It's disgusting. United for Peace and Justice owes the African-American community a big apology, a big one. That is so patronizing and reeks of White entitlement. It says, "Unlike us evolved White people, them darkies just can't handle criticism so we have to be careful." UPFJ just basically called us children and savages in the same breath.

Betty: Thank you! That was my attitude as well. I found this to be such an insult. They're meeting -- a predominatley White crowd -- and they're deciding -- they are deciding -- that Black people can't handle reality, that they have to curb criticism for the Black folk because "we just so soft and mushy brained, we'll go and get all confused. You know wez really juz be good fur picking cotton and beans. Only a few of us even be good enough for house slaves, Miss Leslie." This is enraged me when I read it. It was so insulting, it was so condescending and my blood was boiling. There's a poem by Maya Angelou I wanted to bring into this but I couldn't think because I was so mad.

C.I.: "Mean old Mother Goose, Lions on the loose"?

Betty: Yes!

C.I.: It's "Life Doesn't Frighten Me." Which section did you want specifically?

Betty: Frogs and snakes.

C.I.: Again, this is from Maya Angelou's "Life Doesn't Frighten Me:"

Don't show me frogs and snakes

And listen for my scream,

If' I'm afraid at all

It's only in my dreams.

Betty: Thank you. "Life doesn't frighten me at all, Not at all, Not at all." But Leslie Cagan missed that memo, I guess, and she grew up believing every pop-eyed, 'Oh, Lordy!' Steppin Fetchit stereotype of my race and thinks she can infantilize us and be applauded for it.

Cedric: It's insulting, it's just disgustingly insulting. And it goes a long way towards explaining why they still have so many problems with people of color. Do we want to talk about that? Ty, kind of touched on it.

Ty: I'll grab it. And thank you to Betty and C.I. because that poem -- as usual Maya Angelou said it and said it before most people were even thinking about it. Like Cedric said, I was referencing that a second ago -- but, you know what, I'm going to stop and I'll pick back up in a second. I'm stopping because Stan's not said a word. I know Marcia will jump in --

Marcia: You know I will! All on my own!

Ty: That's right. But Stan's the newest to roundtables, this is only his second one, so I'm going to shut up and toss to Stan.

Stan: Well, Betty called me Friday and she was really upset. She started off talking about another topic just to try to calm down. And after that, she brought up the article and the UPFJ attitude and I told her my thoughts on it, which are basically the points everyone else is making, and said I'd be taking part in the roundtable. Did we need all that backstory? No. Which is why it's better for me not to talk. But Ty was saying earlier that only a certain number, X, of African-Americans are opposed to the illegal war. It's a high percentage, no question, it was before the war started. But out of X, only a certain number, Z, will do more than gripe for two minutes a month. From Z, only a smaller number are willing to participate with UPFJ. So this idea that they're going to be scaring off African-Americans -- 1) We don't scare so easy. I think that's been established by everyone's remarks here. 2) The small percentage willing to engage with UPFJ isn't going to go running because Barack gets called out. And, in my area, it's a really silent percentage. UPFJ has a really bad image in my area. Sorry, I know it's Elaine's favorite group.

Elaine: Was. No need to apologize, Stan. But what is the image in your area of the organization?

Stan: They're just seen as posers. C.I. said in the snapshot yesterday that they took 2 years off and, if you know UPFJ in my area, that really is your attitude. You think they're worthless. The peace movement as a whole has fallen big in the African-American community.

Ty: In your area.

Stan: Thank you, in my area. I can't speak of the entire US. You've got the idiots of CODESTINK and their focus on "End the war with Iran!" --

Marcia: The one that never started.

Stan: Correct. And people laugh at them. They are ridiculed.

Cedric: And they should be. I mean, it's five or six years of CODESTINK and they're still all about the White woman? They have yet to elevate a woman of color to prominence? You've got Jodie Evans, I-Need-Attention-Benjamin, Diane Wilson, and just go down the list. All these White women. After five years, you'd think they'd have found one African-American they could put on the stage with them.

Betty: True that!

Stan: So that's CODESTINK. I may hurt some feelings with what I'm about to say --

Jess: Go for it. Speak your mind.

Stan: Well, IVAW seems to be a group that wants cheerleaders. I think that was always a danger. Sorry. I know a number here support them but that's their image. And I want to zoom in on one aspect. White people are thrilled by Barack pledging more war on Afghanistan. I'm not hearing that in my own community. I'm hearing the opposite. And, how this pertains to IVAW is that a lot of people were raising that issue when IVAW was cheerleading Barack. It was, "Hey, I thought they wanted to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?" They took a big hit on that in my African-American circle.

Rebecca: I appreciate that you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings but let me jump in and say that C.I.'s not going to be upset with you or argue with you. You're talking about your feelings. So if you want to talk some more about the cheerleading aspect, do so. You seemed to stop real quick on that point.

Stan: Okay. And, again, sorry if I'm offending anyone here. But it plays out like, "Come to our trials, give us money, do this for us, do that for us," and, like my uncle said last week, "They're saying 'Support the Troops!' only it's on the anti-war side." He was just really offended by that, by what he saw -- and I agree to be honest -- this sort of hero-worship nature. I'm sorry if I offended anyone.

Jess: C.I.'s groaning. I know why. I'll add right here that Ava and C.I. both rejected the moderator position for this roundtable. I am not the moderator because I have a cock. Ava and C.I. didn't want to be talking throughout so they passed it over to me -- same reason as this time last year and we noted it then. So C.I.'s groaning is because --

C.I.: I've got to speak. First, Stan's sharing is observations and opinions. There's nothing wrong with that. As Rebecca said, I'm not offended. In terms of just one of the critiques he offered, the hero-worship being asked for, I think he's right. I don't think that's intentional. I think that it has to do with the fact that very few other organizations have done a damn thing in 2008. Now if we had a vibrant, diverse peace movement -- active peace movement -- it wouldn't seem that way. But they are the only ones doing anything most months and weeks. And IVAW's membership does require that you have served in the military. So it's not an open, anyone-can-join organization. That restriction automatically sets up a wall. And when others in the movement -- UPFJ, CODESTINK, etc. -- are doing nothing, that barrier can make it appear that the peace movement is made up of a small set of doers and the rest of us are supposed to be on the sidelines cheering. Stan's point is valid even without what I've added to it. But I've added it because Stan sounds really worried that his opinions and observations are going to bother someone and I'm assuming it's Elaine and me he's worried about.

Stan: Yeah, but less so Elaine due to the fact that she spoke just a little bit and initiated this section we're in right now. Okay, well, let me repeat one more time that I'm not trying to be disagreeable or insulting to anyone participating. And I do understand what C.I.'s saying. Those are good points but the issue of the Democratic convention, of IVAW getting punked, is not going away. And I won't say "sorry" on that because I know Mike and C.I. have both written about that.

Mike: Yeah and they did get punked. That was pretty embarrassing. They're protesting, and Rebecca, Ava and Kat can tell you this because they were there, and getting attention and they get punked.

Rebecca: I'll let Kat or Ava talk.

Kat: Ava's pointing to me. Remember that Ava and C.I. take the notes that the transcript's typed up from. Okay, well Ava and C.I. spent a lot of time the night before that protest planting seeds with friends in the press. When we're getting ready to go, the press is showing interest, and we're inside at this point. Ava and C.I. are saying goodbye to several friends, reporters, producers, etc. And they'd planted seeds the night before and word was starting to build inside about the protest. So they weren't having to plant seeds at this point, just note the protests. And they did that and we all leave for the airport. And I'm talking to Wally and telling him how my expectation is that IVAW is going to be the day's big story.

Wally: Right. Kat's happy, she's flying. She thinks they'll lead all three network's evening news. And that's because the interest was so high among the press as the protest was just barely started. But the punked part comes in here. See, they're protesting the Democratic convention and they have some demands. So here's how it's a story, and I'm stealing from Ava and C.I.'s pitch the night before: "The 'anti-war' candidate, on the day he officially wins/accepts his nomination, is protested by veterans against the war." And, yeah, that was an irrestiable news hook and it could have led to a deeper examination of Barack's actual position on the Iraq War. But that never happened because as the press is asking the campaign what's going on outside, the campaign realizes there's a huge p.r. problem. They hadn't be too worried about it until the press was asking them. So they send out someone, some Texan --

Ava: Benjamin Barnes.

Wally: Thanks. And he goes out there and does a song and dance and just hypes IVAW and they fall for it. They call off their protest. The press was ready to make that the story of the day and they halt the protest. They get nothing for halting the protest. They should have said, "We want X, X, and X and when we get it, we'll stop." But they didn't. They halted it and counted on Barack to be so fair and loving that he'd just bring them onstage that night out of the goodness of his heart. They were punked so bad an they have never owned up to that publicly and it's not just hurting them in African-American circles. They long ago needed to issue some sort of statement.

Cedric: But -- and I agree with Wally, we've talked this topic over and over into the ground on our own -- to do that would probably also require them explaining why they refused to call out Barack when he was not anti-war. And they don't want to touch that. They think they can keep their heads down and no one will notice -- my opinion, Wally's too -- but in the meantime, they're hurting their own credibility with this silence. It's the sort of b.s. you expect from CODESTINK but not from IVAW which prides itself on speaking frankly. And they can be offended by that or not. I don't care. The smart thing for them to do would be grasp they need to own up to the problem.

Kat: Well it is an issue. It comes up many times when we're speaking. Stan noted that C.I. has written of the punking. Anytime that pops up in a snapshot, you can be sure it's popped up that day in some group we spoke to. And C.I. plays it really diplomatic and fair but doesn't deny that they got punked. There's no way to deny it, that's what happened. And their pretending that it didn't is hurting them.

Jess: Okay, explain how because we're not all on the road. Every week, Ava, C.I., Kat and Wally are on the week speaking out against the illegal war to student groups, women's groups, veterans and those still serving, and labor groups. Rebecca and Ruth frequently join them on Fridays and sometimes for a full week of speaking. And Ava's waving at me which is reminding me that they're also now speaking to older people as well. Retired persons. Wally's grandfather set up the first one of those awhile back. In Florida, which is where Wally's from. And that's gotten very popular. So for those of us not on the road, Kat, explain to us what's being said.

Kat: I will word this as kindly as I can and note that isn't my strong suit but there are comments -- and this is especially true among veterans groups -- about, "Well now you get how they could sign up in the first place." Cedric's point is valid. This issue isn't going away. It's like if Britney Spears was trying to pretend she'd never shaved her head. Everyone would be saying, "That crazy idiot shaved her head! Why she's denying it!" But because she'll laugh about it now, she can have her life and her career back.

Jess: Okay, thank you. Alright, we're off of the topic Betty wanted to address. So let's reset. Betty, do we need to address it some more?

Betty: No. I think we did address it. To recap, Black people are not children, we are not savages. We have brains and can use them. Don't insult us with your patronizing nature and, UPFJ, apologize.

Jess: Okay, let me toss a question to Kat because Susan e-mailed asking about music.

Kat: Right now, we're listening to Under The Covers Vol. 1, Susanna Hoffs and Matthew Sweet. If you're not familiar with that album, you should really make a point to check it out. When the roundtable started, we were finishing listening to an Erykah Badu concert that's a bootleg.

Jess: And if you don't know the Hoffs and Sweet project, you can find "Different Drum" on YouTube. Okay, Ty had a question from an e-mail he wanted to work in. Ty?

Ty: A woman wrote wondering if Ruth would rank the best Jewish fiction writer? The woman is a junior in high school and had a cultural project in English. She picked someone other than Isaac Bashevis Singer and she writes that her teacher told her he and Philip Roth were the only choices.

Ruth: Just so anyone who missed it knows, I am Jewish which is, I am sure, why the woman directed her e-mail to me. Jewish writers in America are a rich tapestry and it goes far, far beyond Singer and Roth. I would be very curious to know if her teacher was even Jewish? Best is subjective, especially on fiction. My own personal choice would not include either men, not even on a top ten list. My personal favorite is Cynthia Ozick. For a good sampling of her short stories, I would recommend The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories. Grace Paley, who died last year, is another who would make my list. E.L. Doctorow would easily make my top ten but Roth and Singer wouldn't. And thank you for e-mailing the question.

Ava: I'm very glad the question was e-mailed and asked because Dona always keeps track of who speaks and who doesn't. I can't do that and take notes but I believe that's the first thing Ruth's said this entire time.

Jess: I think you're right. Mike and Elaine also have a low participation thus far. Ty's got another question and I think Ava can grab that to up her own participation so I'm going to toss my own question to Elaine. The peace movement is in shambles. Let's not pretend otherwise. As someone active in peace today and active back during Vietnam, do you see any analogies?

Elaine: Hmm. You know what I'm thinking of? I'm thinking of a section from Gloria Emerson's book Winners and Losers: Battles, Retreats, Gains, Losses and Ruins From The Vietnam War. Emerson was one of the Vietnam correspondents for The New York Times, famous for her nasty interview of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, but in the book, she's writing about how the real battle became the one between Americans opposed to the war and Americans supporting it. More so than the animosity between the American soldiers and the Vietnamese. C.I.? Can I access your computer brain?

C.I.: Oh . . . geez. Is it, "Each year that it lasted Americans who took opposite sides on the war seeme to hate each other more than the Vietnamese who opposed us. The quarreling was fierce; sometimes it did not seem as if the war alone could be the reason for the hatred." Is that the section you're speaking of?

Elaine: Yes, thank you. And she goes on to explore hate mail that Sy Hersh received for his work detailing the My Lai massacre. And, to be honest, that Emerson was puzzled Hersh would receive that kind of mail goes to how insulated The New York Times was then and is now. She passed away about three or four years ago. The book came out 1977. But, for example, someone whose son was involved in the My Lai massacre is not going to be thrilled with Hersh's work. That Emerson found that surprising goes a long way towards explaining how out of touch and insulated some people can be.

Jess: You're not saying Hersh did something wrong by reporting on My Lai?

Elaine: No. But I am saying that certain reactions are so normal that are predictable. To be surprised, as Emerson writes she was, by something so obviously expected to anyone paying attention is a rather shocking confession. But I think about that, about the animosities within America, and I would argue that the pro-war troops are winning just because they want it so badly. They are not letting go. By contrast, the other side throws in the towel and Mike's eager to speak on that so I'll pass to him.

Mike: Right. You know there have been so many stories this month so far that could have and should have resulted from serious Iraq covergae. We didn't get it. Because the left always has something else to do. Look at how many refused to wade into the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. It was C.I. and Chris Floyd. Am I forgetting anyone else who had the guts to speak up? Then you had idiots like Patrick Cockburn applaud the thing. We covered that here last week "Editorial: The treaty's not that confusing." But Cockburn shows back up this week and thinks he can pretend like he didn't lie and didn't get caught lying. And he's back this week, playing Tony On A Pony, and falling all over the place again.

Jess: You cover that in "Debra Sweet and return of idiot of the week" -- and pick him as idiot of the week. But "Tony On A Pony"?

Mike: Tony On A Pony. That's what we called it. Maybe because my best friend is Tony. But you break up into to sides and each team is seeing how many kids can be carried. See one team is the rider while the other is the pony and then you switch and its to see who can carry teh most. "Tony Ride A Pony! One! Two! Three!" No one else ever played it?

Jess: Nope. Sorry, Red Rover, I know. Tony On A Pony? Nope.

Mike: Well he shows up, Patrick Cockburn, and as usual doesn't have his facts straight and he falls over. It's like he can't even take one rider. But that treaty, it's going to be one of the biggest stories of the illegal war and, let me just point out in real time, everyone pretty much ignored it and those who didn't tended to get it wrong.

Jess: And I'm tossing to Ty for a question.

Ty: And Jess pointed out that Ava can grab this. Friday's snapshot, which Betty mentioned at the start of this roundtable, included that we were all delinking from Women's Media Center and that there was a trojan. Kevin e-mailed to note he went to the site as soon as he saw that and seconds after clicking on it, he got the warning about a trojan.

Ava: Yeah, well that happened to a number of people. They were e-mailing to complain about it. C.I. heard about the e-mails and pulled out the laptop. We were crowded around on Friday to see what would happen and, like Kevin described, as soon as the page started loading, the warning came up about the trojan. It's just not worth it. Even if the site was worth it -- which it isn't these days. The second we saw it, we knew it would have to be pulled from all the sites. To link to a site when you know it's attempting to install a trojan isn't taking into account the community. There was no debate about, "Well what if we don't link to it in entries or posts but leave it on the list of links," right, Rebecca?

Rebecca: That didn't come up. I think about three hours after the snapshot was dictated, we were at Trina's and Ava and I were hitting the margaritas when we both wondered for a second, "Gee what if it was left on the links but just not utilized." But if it was left on the links, as Kat pointed out to us, it could be accessed by anyone visiting our site. So it was pulled. There were no tears over that decision.

Jess: We're about to wind down so if anyone needs to add something, now's the time.

Marcia: I wanted to add something. Betty's "No use for Margaret Kimberley" says a lot and Kat and I were talking about and also talking about how Ruder and Smith's article has one huge, laughable error.

Kat: "No one would deny the enormous impact that Obama's election has had, inspiring workers and minority communities (especially African Americans), raising expectations for change and creating a climate in which a new movement for gay marriage is taking root."

Ty: Yeah, that's ridiculous. He's creating a movment for gay marriage to take root? How? By promoting homophobia? Proposition 8 and now Rick Warren at the inauguration. That's just idiotic.

Marica: And Betty pointed out that some people aren't helping the African-American community. I want to go on record as stating I agree with her --

Betty: And I was backing up Stan's "Margret Kimberley, The Black Apologist."

Marcia: Yes, and I want to go on record stating I agree with her and my cousin. Margaret Kimberley, you're not helping anyone with your minimizing, your excusing and your avoiding calling out homophobia. We -- African-Americans -- do not have the luxury of embracing bigotry. Anyone who encourages us to do so, which is what Kimberley's justifications do, is not helping us as a people and she's certainly no friend to me as a lesbian either.

Jess: Alright. This is a rush transcript. Enjoy the typos. Betty's oldest son did the illustration. We expect Jim and Dona to be back next weekend. We thank Ty for participating in the roundtable and he's otherwise off this edition.

The Ultimate Tina Turner Collection

At the end of September, Tina! was released with Turner looking too wonderful for words on the cover and 18 tracks on the disc of this collection. The good news was two tracks ("It Would Be A Crime" and "I'm Ready" were making their CD debut on the disc. For some, that's great and it's groovy and it's all they'll ever need. And for the collectors, it's another disc to add. For those of us who love the kick ass Tina, it leaves much to be desired.

And until the digital age you could be a BMW until the all night diner Denny's lost its racist reputation and nothing would ever change. But today, you can hit Amazon's digital downloads for Tina Turner and make the collection album you've long been waiting for -- the one that that Simply The Best, All The Best, the boxed set (The Collected Recordings), etc. didn't manage to satisfy you with.

For many, the first purchase will be off the Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome soundtrack.

No, not "We Don't Need Another Hero." "One of the Living," the hit single and Grammy winner for Tina that never, ever makes a collection (not even the boxed set). The soundtrack version is the extended version which comes in at 5:58.

As you search for that track comes the shocker: there are over 1,500 Tina Turner tracks. You may be searching for your favorites for some time if you just scroll through; however, if you don't scroll, your memory may fail you and lead to a "I should have downloaded ___!" about five minutes after you've got the playlist all set for your Turner collection.

We knew what we wanted and set about making our own collection.

The only problem we encountered was our thirteen track collection dropped to a twelve track collection. Why?

The 1,570 Tina Turner downloads include Tina's solo work (post-Ike) and the work credited to Ike and Tina Turner. With that vast amount of tracks, we were expecting that we'd find all the better known and loved songs. That was not the case.

The Rolling Stones "Under My Thumb" not only requires the female interpretation Tina Turner gave it in her Ike & Tina days, it needs it. Tina's version rocked harder (some would just argue: "Tina's version rocked" due to the fact that the Stones recorded the Jagger & Richards song in a very poppy production). When debating what to include from her Ike & Tina years, this was second only to "River Deep Mountain High." So we were disappointed to discover Amazon didn't include it.

As noted, we grabbed "River Deep Mountain High" and if you're trying to grab it, use the preview function before purchasing. The version we love is the one produced by Phil Spector, featuring the Wall Of Sound and Tina. (Ike was not invited into the studio for that recording.) Ike and Tina (and Tina solo) recorded that song many times. If you're looking for a live version and end up with a studio, you may not be happy and vice versa. So use the preview to be sure you're getting the one you want. If you want the Spector version, we suggest you download it from Tina! because, to our ears, that has the best (remastered) sound quality. It's the original version, the one that charted huge in England back in the sixties and it sounds sharp without mucking around with the wall effect Spector was going for. (Some remastering has worked hard to bring out individual instruments -- doing that really undermines the sound Spector was going for.)

Two other Ike & Tina songs were on our must-have list: "Let It Be" and "With A Little Help From My Friends." Both are Beatles covers and on "Let It Be," you want to grab the version from Workin' Together for the digital remaster (if you want the studio version of "Let It Be"). As for "With A Little Help From My Friends," you've got no choice. The only version Amazon has is from Ultimum Maximum.

And you may end up feeling compelled to purchase another track after downloading: "Come Together." Why? At 2:42, the three minute download of "With A Little Help From My Friends" -- having finished the song and finished the audience applause -- begins playing the opening of "Come Together."

So we were back to thirteen tracks, which was fine. And debating sequencing because that really does matter. Our final playlist looked like this:

1) "A Change Is Gonna Come."

2) "With A Little Help From My Friends"

3) "Come Together"

4) "Let It Be"

5) "Honky Tonk Woman"

6) "Johnny And Mary"

7) "When I Was Young"

8) "Games"

9) "Total Control"

10) "One Of The Living"

11) "Let's Pretend We're Married"

12) "Don't Turn Around"

13) "River Deep Mountain High"

Tracks 5 through 12 -- excepting track 10 -- all came from The Collected Recordings: Sixties To Nineties which provides the best sound for "Honky Tonk Woman" (another Stones cover). You could also grab a studio version of "A Change Is Gonna Come" there, however, we prefer the live version and grabbed the Tina Live In Europe recording.

All but tracks 2, 3 and 4 we already have compact disc and our goal for our personal collection was to pull together tracks that usually aren't to create a collection that didn't play like Simply The Best or one of the other compilations already out there.

During the entire CD revolution, we refused to purchase any Ike and Tina Turner discs. He's dead now so the man who terrorized Tina will not profit from the purchases. And, for us, that realization is like the end of the Wizard Of Oz when the Good Witch Glenda beckons everyone to come out because it's finally safe. We could see going back at a later date and making a compilation of Ike & Tina recordings -- paying close attention to the late sixties and their seventies days when Tina re-invented the duo musically.

"Tina Turner: A retrospective" and "Ike Turner (Ava and C.I. feature)" are two examples of previous Tina coverage we've offered at Third and we are huge Tina fans. We'll assume there's a good chance you are as well and, furthermore, that you completely disagree with our playlist. Where is ____????? How did we forget _____!!!!!! Exactly.

Because for Tina fans, The Ultimate Tina Turner Collection is the one they create themselves. Get over to Amazon and, at 99 cents a download, get to creating. And may you be more fortunate than we were. About twenty minutes after burning our playlists on CDs, we realized we'd forgotten the amazing vocal Tina lays down on Herbie Hanckock's "Edith And The Kingpin." (From Hancock's River: The Joni Letters, his album of Joni Mitchell songs.)

An indictment of the 'New' Iraq goes unnoticed

Is the Bully Boy of the United States a Kansas fan?

Bully Boy and Puppet

I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment's gone
All my dreams, pass before my eyes, a curiosity
Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind.

Last Sunday Bully Boy made a trip to Baghdad and the immediate spin (once he landed) was, "Look at the progress in the New Iraq! He can visit during daylight!" No one was supposed to point out the obvious, "Yeah, if his trip is unannounced!"

He and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki signed the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement and held a press conference as Nouri's palatial palace.

It was then that the feel-good photo op became mere dust in the wind as Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi enters the picture.

Muntader has risked much to report realities in Iraq including being twice imprisoned by US forces and being kidnapped. On Sunday, as Bully Boy prattled on ("The war is not yet over -- but with the conclusion of these agreements and the courage of the Iraqi people and the Iraqi troops and American troops and civilian personnel, it is decisively on its way to being won."), Muntader threw first one and then another shoe at Bully Boy.

With the first shoe, he declared, "This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss, you dog." And with the second, "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."

The incident became a cause for joy around much of the world including in the United States, became an online game, a never-ending joke and one of last week's most talked about incidents. And in all that water cooling gas baggery you saw the failure of the media and the failure of the American people.

The moment was treated as if it were a clip on America's Funniest Home Videos.

A number of people should be deeply ashamed.

Because while they were yucking it up, Muntader was injured and imprisoned. On the former, you didn't need to wait until last Friday for that news.

Last Sunday, press accounts noted that Bully Boy was hailing the event as proof that Iraq was a "free society." So it wasn't that difficult to note: "One-shoe, two-shoe. Neither a weapon. But the cries of the journalist could be heard even after he was drug away? Free society?" Monday's "Iraq snapshot" included:

Steven Lee Myers and Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) report, "Mr. Maliki's security agents jumped on the man, wrestled him to the floor and hustled him out of the room. They kicked him and beat him until 'he was crying like a woman,' said Mohammed Taher, a reporter for Afaq, a television station owned by the Dawa Party". Reuters notes: "The journalist was leapt on by Iraqi security officials and U.S. secret service agents and dragged from the room screaming and struggling."

But there was little time for that in all the funnin', in all the treating it like video of a shot to the groin, so damn funny, ha-ha. And all last week Muntadar's family was denied visitation. A court appearance was scheduled for Wednesday and Wednesday his family learned, uh, that took place Tuesday but the court will tell you what happened . . . kind-of.

A man threw two shoes -- not bullets, not knives, not bombs -- at someone. And he was beaten for that. And he was imprisoned and disappeared for that.

Somewhere among all the s**t eating grins and self-satisifed laughing, the non-stop yokel 'goodness' that Comedy Centeral seems to have infected the nation with, there should have been outrage and their damn sure should have been discussions about what the treatment of Muntadar really said about the so-called 'New' Iraq.

Not only was it appalling that so many Americans were living it up over Muntadar's actions with no apparent grasp of the fact that he had been beaten or that he was disappeared into some pseudo-legal hole, it was appalling that the press refused this moment to explore Iraq. The United Nations had already issued an alert about Iraqi 'justice' this month as had Human Rights Watch. And here, before the world's eyes, you had a perfect example of the warnings that had been made and, in fact, you had an indictment of the so-called 'New' Iraq.

But all last week those realities were avoided. On Friday, an Iraqi judge spoke so journalists apparently finally felt they had permission to tackle the abuse Muntadar suffered. From Friday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Meanwhile in Iraq, Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) reports, "Muslim preachers from both sides of Iraq's once-bloody Sunni-Shi'ite divide appealed to the government on Friday to release the journalist who threw his shoes at U.S. Preisdent George W. Bush." The latest voices calling for Muntadar al-Zeidi's release sound out as his injuries become less of a whispered aside and more of a central issue. Nico Hines (Times of London) reported early this morning that Judge Dhia al-Kinani has declared "he would find out who beat" Muntadhar and that al-Kinani "said that Mr al-Zeidi 'was beaten in the news conference and we will watch the tape and write an official letter asking for the names of those who assaulted him'." Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes "bruises on his face and around his eyes" and, as for the alleged letter, adds: "A spokesman for al-Maliki said Thursday that the letter contained a specific pardon request. But al-Zeidi's brother Dhargham told The AP that he suspected the letter was a forgery." Timothy Williams and Atheer Kakan (New York Times) report, "The government did not release the letter, and a lawyer for the reporter said that during a conversation with him on Wednesday the reporter did not tell her about it. But the lawyer, Ahlam Allami, also said the reporter, Muntader al-Zaidi, had told her he had never meant to insult the Iraqi government or Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki when he hurled his shoes at the president during a news conference with the two leaders on Sunday." CBS and AP note, "CBS News Baghdad producer Randall Joyce says al-Zeidi has been kept completely out of the reach of his legal representation and his family since the show-throwing incident late on Sunday - a fact which typifies a deeply flawed Iraqi justice system."

A judge acknowledges the bruises and only then can the issue be raised at any length. That's how it works? Well that's a failure of journalism. All the more appalling when you grasp that this silence took place as the Committee to Protect Journalists released their end-of-year analysis which, yet again, found Iraq to be "the deadliest country in the world for the press". A 'win' for the sixth year in a row! What an 'honor.'

And what an embarrassment for so much of the press and so much of the public that it was tee-hee time and they couldn't be bothered with interrupting their giggle-fest long enough to be outraged by the treatment of Muntader.

Starting Monday, protests spread throughout Iraq. And Campbell Robertson and Timothy Williams (The New York Times) report that Friday launched "an overnight-sit at a Baghdad park" with at least 400 participants who continued their sit-in even as Nouri al-Maliki launched a military response on Saturday: "Heavily armed soldiers surrounded the small park, and Iraqi Army helicopters circled overhead as the demonstrators were told to leave." Again, this is the so-called 'New' Iraq. A protest is greeted with military helicopters and armed soldiers.

Everything that followed the shoe-toss said a great deal about the installed regime in Iraq. It's a damn shame that so few bothered to even pretend they were interested. At least they had the heavily watched video to amuse themselves with -- to amuse themselves to death.

[Those new to the story can refer to "And the war drags on . . .," "Fly in me face (De George Bush mix)," "Iraq snapshot," "Shoe madness continues!," "Iraq snapshot," "The continued journey of the traveling shoes," "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Muntader's 'letter' & Mary Chapin Carpenter's NPR concert" and "Iraq snapshot" for more on the topic.]

DVD release of The Women (Ava and C.I.)

The Diane English directed, written and produced film The Women is now available on DVD. The release Friday offers Americans another chance to see the film.

A large number of critics slammed the film and, knowing over half the women involved, we avoided seeing it so that we could repeatedly respond, "Oh, I'm sorry, I haven't had time to see it yet."

We have now.
The Women

Is it worth renting?


It's not worth renting, it's worth buying; however, if you're unsure about the film or can't afford the $28.98 list price (it's on sale at most outlets), go ahead and rent it.

We watched with drinks at the ready prepared for many cringe-worthy moments and assuming we'd need the hard stuff to get through it. We never had a drink until after the film ended.

It was a pleasure to watch, a joy.

Are there things we'd have done differently?

Sure. Three specifics in fact.

1) In an early scene where Annette Bening insults a woman's outfit, the camera should close in on the woman who should register outrage. That's really needed because (a) it adds weight to the line (a reaction makes it real and not just something cleverly recited) and (b) a reaction from the woman would have extended the laugh.

2) In the first party scene at Meg Ryan's house -- Meg is badly lit, badly, badly lit -- and the camera angle is too low. This true only of that first scene.

3) If you're going to show a male in the final scene (a newborn baby), then you could have made time to show Mary's husband at the end, if only the back of his head.

Those are minor quibbles. The film works and critics who complained it didn't were apparently hoping for a bitch-fest, the sort of meow-catty thing the original film offered.

Bette Midler films should rejoice over her strong cameo and, if you already enjoyed the film in the theaters, there is a bonus scene with Bette, Meg and Annette on the DVD.

There is also a making of featurette which really deserves the disclaimer DVDs have started adding where the film companies say they're not responsible for the statements made during the commentaries or on the extras. For example, Diane English 'explains' that she just learned Joan Crawford didn't want to play Crystal in the original. WTF?

Joan Crawford fought for that part and, pay attention Diane, won it for the same reason you give for casting Eva Mendez in the role of Crystal. Diane tells people it has to be someone strong in the part of the woman who steals Meg Ryan's husband. Crawford convinced Louis B. Mayer to cast her by arguing that the part of the woman who steals Norma Shearer's husband can't be played by a little nobody.

For those who are wondering who's right, we are. We damn well are. We know what we're talking about. For example, Joan Crawford is not first billed in The Women. If Crawford didn't want to do the film, that's where she could have gotten out of it. Her contract guaranteed her top-billing. When previews of another film shortly after found Clark Gable billed above her, Crawford told Mayer he was in violation of her contract. Mayer explained to her that Gable was coming off Gone With The Wind and it would be good for the film to have Gable top-billed. And besides, Mayer pointed out, she hadn't been first billed in The Women. Crawford responded that the difference was she needed the role of Crystal. For the other film, Mayer needed Crawford and, she explained, Crawford always gets top billing. The credits were changed so that Crawford was listed ahead of Gable.

We were also bothered by English's recounting of the history of The Women. Meg's not mentioned in the history. But the project originates not with English as she maintained. The project originates with Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan and the two women's respective film boutiques. That's how English is brought on to the project. Roberts dropped out of the project early on -- after the reading of the script (with Candice Bergen) that English does remember. Meg's been attached to the project more or less throughout. This decade, the film briefly had Sandra Bullock attached to it as well as Meg.

Directors love to claim credit for everything and Diane English clearly establishes herself as a director -- both by rewriting history and by what she's done with The Women.

Find another director working with such a large cast who could get wonderful moments out of every performer. You won't. Many of the actresses are doing their best work in this film. Jada Pinkett Smith, for example, is an actress who has been wasted this entire decade but she shines in The Women. Debra Messing is so wonderful you forget some of her film misfires and she ends any speculation that her talent couldn't transfer to the big screen. Debbi Mazar is hilarious and touching.

Meg Ryan and Annette Bening are the anchors for the film and they both strut their stuff and then some. Solo in the film, they are something to watch. Together, they're providing film heaven.

So why did the film fair poorly?

A number of critics hated it. It also had an awful, awful marketing campaign. No one needed to see Candice Bergen's tired face in the commercials. (That's not an insult to CB, she's made up in that scene to look tired. Her character will have a face lift later in the film.) In the commercial, that scene is sliced and diced to make it appear that upon learning her son-in-law is cheating on her daughter (Meg), she offers her daughter the advice to start drinking. It's not funny and it makes her seem brutal, not brittle. In reality, her line about drinking is in response to learning her daughter just lost her job.

That scene with Candice shouldn't have been used in the commercials and trailers to begin with because Candice looks bad and people aren't thinking, "Oh, it's for the part." They're thinking, "She's lost her looks." And restructuring the line about starting to drink turned off a lot of people. The marketing was a huge mistake.

S**t is said in a scene and it could be deleted, replaced or bleeped in a commercial.

That's how the film should have been marketed. The scene where Meg and Eva come face to face. For TV, the ad could have started with Meg walking into the dressing room and exclaiming, "Oh! S**T! Are you kidding me, are you kidding me?" The way it would have worked was with Meg's entrance and exclaiming "Oh!" Then the film freezes and announcer asks, "Why is she so upset?" The film moves again with Meg asking, "Are you kidding me, are you kidding me?" And it runs right through -- for thirty seconds -- of that scene. It would have filled the seats. Both women are 'packed' into their tops (they're shopping for lingerie). They both look wonderful and the scene's not giving anything away. Eva and Meg have no relationship in the film (and only share that scene).

It's a shame that yet another film has been destroyed in marketing. But maybe DVD can give The Women a new life? It deserves it. Diane's done an amazing job directing. Meg's created a full blown character and uses everything -- her voice, her face, her body and her hair -- to bring the character to life. (Her hair? When Meg's character finally 'awakens,' the actress straightens her hair. And looks so much better.) Most of all, it's a film you really need to watch with a friend. If you're not able to, be prepared to call friends after. What was a catty, bitchy play in the thirties has been turned into an ode to friendship.

Hmmm . . .

Bully Boy entertains

In his final days at the White House, Bully Boy offers his greetings to Satan yet again while pretending it's "Hook 'em horns."

The Princess Brat Chronicles

Princess Brat Caroline Kennedy is not an author but she is a whore.

Princess Brat

We'll address the last one first because Ty (off this edition except for the roundtable) passed on that "'Whore' is a fitting word" has resulted in a few e-mails asking for more detail and a few complaining (and a lot agreeing).

"Whore is the word for her," C.I. explains. "I didn't propose it on the previous feature but I didn't object and I didn't because it fits. It's used as an insult. It has nothing to do with how many sexual partners Caroline has had or her being paid for sex. It has to do with her whoring out beliefs. Specifically, her mother protected her. Caroline's entire childhood and early adulthood were protected by her mother who did not allow the press to pry. So when she decided to invite herself to Elvis funeral -- and she was not invited, she invited herself -- and to pretend she wanted to pay respects on behalf of her president. She lied. She whored her family's good name to crash a funeral -- repeating, to crash a funeral. That goes beyond unacceptable, it goes beyond tacky. It is whorish behavior. As an adult, she has insisted upon her zone of privacy -- the one her mother created for her. But she crashed a funeral, the funeral of a young girl whose father had died. And she crashed it to write about it. That's whorish behavior. There is no -- and never will be -- forgiveness for what she did."

Elaine adds, "It's disgusting and it is so typical Caroline. There are always rules for everyone else and then special rules for Caroline. That's why she wrote that dithering Newsweek column calling for Bill Clinton to resign over an affair and yet no one is ever allowed to ask Caroline about her father's affairs. It's just like she can interject into that situation in the nineties and yet today all the chatter is about her alleged affair and no one can ask her about that. She's a spoiled brat and she has always been a spoiled brat. And the lack of maturity involved in this two sets of rules -- one for everyone else and one for herself -- also goes to her hostility towards democracy. Her funeral crashing? Trashy. Trashy and embarrassing. Whorish is a kind way of describing it. She invaded a family's privacy to write about it. She lied and pretended she was paying respects on behalf of her family in order to get a trashy byline."

Moving over to the issue of "Caroline's an author!" . . . No, she's not. And all the idiots can repeat that lie until 2020 and it still won't make it true. Caroline is a 'co-author' of two books and the books in question are best described as Constitution For Dummies. Her other 'books'? She was the 'editor' who cobbled together poems by others, stories by others, etc. Caroline Kennedy has never broken a sweat in her life (which, yes, does explain those flabby thighs).

The sad little mind under all that orange hair produces 'writing' like: "Last summer during the debate on the Patients' Bill of Rights, I took my daughter, Rose, to see her Great-Uncle Teddy at work in the United States Senate. . . ." Was she writing the introduction to Shameless Name Dropping.

Now the hypocritical lazy ass wants to be a United States Senator. She doesn't want to run for the position because that requires actual work. Princess Brat wants the job given to her -- as a gift. And she likes it, she may keep it and if she doesn't, well she's done with it.

See, Caroline's not willing to disclose her finances. That's why she depends upon appointments and not open elections. Caroline will audition the job. She will not, however, audition for the job.

A lot is made of the fact that Caroline has nothing to offer but her name and, while that is true, we wonder if people really get that fact?

We're not just talking about the experience -- which we'll get to. We're talking about the fact that no one knows a damn thing about her politics. In 2008, she made a presidential endorsement. What else does anyone know? Not a damn thing. They invest her with these positions because her last name is "Kennedy." No one knows what she stands for. And they could be in for the same shock Californians got when assorted Kennedys descended to campaign for Republican Ahnuld. No one knows what she stands for and she hasn't even saw fit to sit for a hard hitting interview that would probe her positions on various issues.

Experience? Princess Brat has none. Which is why the press had to work overtime inflating lunch with Al Sharpton into a MidEast peace talk. By contrast, US House Rep Carolyn Maloney worked her butt off last week. The New York Congress woman has actually run for office. So has the state's Attorney General Andrew Cuomo who also worked his ass off last week.

And Marcia raised a point last week that needs to be repeated: Where is the demand for the first African-American governor of New York to appoint a woman -- or person -- of color to the Senate seat? That question should be right up there with: Exactly what message is sent when an inexperienced, spoiled rich kid is appointed to an office?

Illustration is Isaiah's "Princess Brat."
For more on Princess Brat -- including that she manages to vote in elections about 1/2 the time -- see "Park Avenue Prisoner Edwin Schlossberg" & "THIS JUST IN! EDWIN SCHLOSSBERG, PRISONER OF PARK AVENUE!"; "THIS JUST IN! PRINCESS BRAT DOESN'T LIKE VOTING!" & "Princess Brat continues power grab"; "THIS JUST IN! DON'T ASK CAROLINE ABOUT HER HUSBAND!""Basic questions cause Caroline Kennedy to run"; and "Caroline Kennedy recommends avoiding the public and sex" & "THIS JUST IN! CAROLINE SAYS PUBLIC IS LIKE SEX!"

Carolyn Maloney works her ass off for New Yorkers

While Caroline Kennedy was garnering 'news' coverage for lunching with Al Sharpton, US House Rep Carolyn Maloney was working her ass for New Yorkers.

Carolyn Maloney

As with Andrew Cuomo, Carolyn Maloney's hard work didn't result in front page coverage of The New York Times. Do you have to date a publisher for the paper to cover you?

Apparently hard work doesn't cut it. But Maloney, who holds elected office, worked hard all last week.

New York State Unemployment Spikes to 6.1 Percent
Maloney: “We need an economic recovery package that puts people back to work and gets our economy back on track.”
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, issued the following statement regarding the New York State Labor Department’s November 2008 state employment data. The data show that the New York State unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent in November and that private sector employers shed 23,500 jobs last month, the largest one-month decline since October 2001.
“Across the Empire State, workers are having a tough time holding onto and finding jobs,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “The recession will only exacerbate New York’s unemployment problem in the months to come. Estimates show that New York stands to lose nearly 150,000 jobs in a year if the Detroit Three automakers are allowed to fail. We cannot afford to lose these good middle-class jobs, so President Bush must act quickly to use Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to rescue these companies. We also need an economic recovery package that puts people back to work and gets our economy back on track, so Congress will have one ready early next year for our new President. By providing aid to the states, we can preserve health care for families, maintain vital services such as education, and create jobs by investing in our crumbling infrastructure and developing new energy sources.”


Highlights from the November 2008 state and metropolitan area employment release:

Unemployment is on the rise. In November, New York State’s unemployment rate rose 0.4 percentage points in November to 6.1 percent, up from 4.6 percent a year ago. Compared to a year ago, there are 145,300 more people unemployed in New York State, an increase of 34.4 percent.

Job losses are mounting. Over the past year, New York State employers have shed a total of 32,300 jobs. Leaving aside the 9,400 jobs created in government, job losses in the private sector totaled 41,700 over the past year, with most of the losses occurring in the past 2 months.

Financial activities and manufacturing continue to shed jobs. The largest losses in this recession have been in the financial activities and manufacturing industries. Over the past twelve months, New York employers have cut 15,800 jobs in financial activities and 17,600 jobs in manufacturing. Other sectors with major job losses include retail trade and professional and business services. However, employers in industries related to education and health services and government continue to add jobs.

Nearly 115,000 New Yorkers applied for unemployment insurance in November. Over one million New Yorkers have filed for unemployment insurance so far this year, and more than 215,000 have filed for extended benefits made available in the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008.

Unemployment in New York City grew especially rapidly, possibly fueled by job losses in the financial services sector. The unemployment rate in New York City jumped from 5.7 percent in October to 6.3 percent in November. This was a faster rate of growth than in areas of the state outside New York City, where unemployment went from 5.7 percent in October to 5.9 percent in November.

Caroline Kennedy knows what about unemployment? The economy is in the toilet and a spoiled princess wants to be gifted with a Senate seat?

Rep. Maloney: New report shows auto shutdowns could cause largest one-year job loss in NYS in last 17 years
The "Big Three" Automakers Directly Employ Almost 3,000 Production Workers in New York State, but "Ripple Effect" of Shutdowns Could Cause 144,600 Job Losses in One Year, Estimates Show
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released a report today entitled "The Ripple Effect: The Impact of a Big 3 Failure on New York State." Collapse of the big three U.S. automakers would lead to nearly 150,000 jobs lost both directly and indirectly, taking into account the serious negative spillover effects in industries in the auto production supply chain.
"The news that Chrysler and Ford are closing plants for at least a month should be an indication that President Bush needs to act quickly to get aid to the automakers so they can reopen these plants as quickly as possible," said Congresswoman Maloney.

"We cannot allow any of the Big Three automakers to fail because we cannot afford to lose the millions of jobs at risk, including the nearly 150,000 we stand to lose right here in New York State. The tremors from their collapse would be felt far and wide. We need to preserve our domestic manufacturing base for the future prosperity of our nation and because it is an important source of good paying middle class jobs. I think it's in the best interest of American families to use funds from the Troubled Assets Relief Program to rescue these companies in order to avoid an economic earthquake."

Highlights from the report include:
• The "Detroit Three" automakers directly employ almost 3,000 production workers in New York State. The plants are the Tonawanda engine plant owned by General Motors, which employs 1,447 workers, the Massena powertrain plant also owned by General Motors, employing 348 workers, and Ford's Buffalo stamping plant, which employs 1,116 workers.
• Estimates by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) show that New York State could lose 144,600 jobs in one year due to a "Detroit Three" shutdown. This estimate includes direct job losses in auto manufacturing, losses of supply chain jobs at firms that provide necessary goods and services, losses of jobs at dealers, and also the indirect job losses created by spending declines among workers who lose their jobs.
• The effect of the auto shutdowns alone would be sufficient to cause the largest one-year job loss in New York State in the last 17 years, according to EPI. Unfortunately, in 2009 the state can expect numerous additional job losses from the current national recession, even beyond any job losses from automaker shutdowns. The addition of the major job losses from the automaker shutdowns could easily propel New York State to the worst one-year job loss in its history.

The full report can be found
here .

Carolyn Maloney was working on the economy, she was addressing it, all last week. Where was the press? Teasing out a luncheon Al Sharpton hosted for Caroline Kennedy? How very society pages.

Maloney: Fed’s Bank Overdraft Rule Still Lacking
Today, the Federal Reserve issued a new proposed rule governing overdraft fees and programs, and withdrew an earlier proposed rule issued jointly with the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) that had been criticized by many observers as too weak. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Chair of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee and author of the Consumer Overdraft Protection Fair Practices Act ( H.R. 946), noted that the new rule represented an improvement but was still not as strong as her bill.
“This new rule is certainly better, but still not good enough,” Maloney said. “It’s the customers’ money – they should get to decide whether they want to pay for overdraft coverage or not. Banks shouldn’t be allowed to stick customers in overdraft programs, or charge for covering an overdraft transaction, without the customer’s say-so. This proposed rule does not protect bank customers from those abuses, but my bill would.”

Maloney’s bill, the Consumer Overdraft Protection Fair Practices Act (H.R. 946 in the 110th Congress), would require notice to customers when an ATM or point-of-sale debit card transaction was about to trigger an overdraft and would give consumers a choice to accept the overdraft service, and the associated fee, or not. This legislation also requires full disclosure of the terms and charges associated with an overdraft program and an opportunity for account holders to opt in-- that is, to choose to have an overdraft plan or not. Also, it prohibits manipulation of the order of posting deposits and withdrawals so as to maximize overdraft fees.

In the proposed rule, the Fed asks for public comment on whether banks should be required to offer customers opt-in to overdraft programs or whether an opt–out mechanism is sufficient. The proposed rule deals solely with electronic fund transfers [ATM withdrawals and point-of sale (POS) transactions]. It does not address deposit manipulation or pre-transaction disclosure of potential overdrafts at ATMs and stores.


Background: The need for reform of overdraft fees is becoming more urgent, as several government and independent reports and actions this year confirmed. In November, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation released a study of bank overdraft programs showing, among other things, that over 75% of surveyed banks automatically enroll their customers in an overdraft program and some do not allow customers to opt out.

Last August, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report showing that consumers are not told about, and can’t avoid, many overdraft fees. In 2007, the nonpartisan Center for Responsible Lending released a report showing that customers are paying $17.5 billion annually in fees for overdrawing their bank accounts, up 70% from the $10.3 billion they paid in 2004.

The public may submit comments, identified by Docket No. R-1343, by any of the following methods:

• Agency Web Site: Follow the instructions for submitting comments at
• Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
• E-mail: email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it Include the docket number in the subject line of the message.
• FAX: (202) 452-3819 or (202) 452-3102.
• Mail: Jennifer J. Johnson, Secretary, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 20th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20551

For more information, please visit Rep. Maloney’s overdraft reform web page
Carolyn Maloney has clear plans for addressing the economy.

Author of “Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights” Hails New Credit Card Rules
Rep. Carolyn Maloney: “This is a good first step, but consumers can’t wait.”
Washington – In response to today’s release of a final rule by the Federal Reserve (Fed), Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to ban certain unfair or deceptive acts and practices related to credit cards, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), author of the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights (H.R. 5244) and Chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit released the following statement:

“As one who’s been working for years to bring consumers the protections they need, I’m delighted to see the regulators take substantive action. Finally, these practices have been declared what they are: ‘unfair’ and ‘deceptive.' But while these new rules are a strong first step, I’ll be working with my Subcommittee and Chairman Frank to fill any gaps in protections for cardholders. These new rules aren’t scheduled to take effect until 2010; Congress should act sooner to protect American consumers by giving credit card protections the permanence and force of law,” Maloney said.
“Credit cards are an important financial tool and are a vital part of our economy, but we must allow consumers to make informed decisions regarding interest rates and fees related to their credit cards, and allow competition to drive the credit card markets,” Maloney continued.

“I agree with President-elect Obama, who repeatedly campaigned on this issue by saying ‘…Americans aren't falling into debt because they made an irresponsible decision; they're falling into debt because credit card companies are pushing them over the edge. For too long, credit card companies have been using unfair and deceptive practices to trick Americans into signing agreements they can't afford.’,” Maloney said.

“I’ll be introducing a new Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights in the House in the first days of the 111th Congress, along with Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) in the Senate, who was a vigorous advocate of my bill in the House this session. With the regulators finally acting, and the new Administration’s support, Washington should do more for Main Street,” Maloney concluded.


Background: H.R. 5244, written by Rep. Carolyn Maloney after a series of roundtables with industry and consumer stakeholders and six public hearings, had 155 bipartisan cosponsors. It passed the House Financial Services Committee with all Democrats supporting. It passed the House on September 23, 2008 on a vote of 312-112; the majority coalition included the support of 81 Republicans. It was not brought to a vote in the Senate. The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights goes further than the new rules promulgated by the Fed, OTS and NCUA by:

• Empowering cardholders to set their own limits on their credit
• Prohibiting the marketing of cards to minors
• Allowing consumers to reject a card before activation without harming their FICO score
• Requiring issuers to provide more data to allow better regulatory oversight of the industry

Sen. Barack Obama, June 11, 2008:

"...Part of why our debt crisis is so bad is that some folks are making reckless decisions -- racking up big credit card bills by purchasing flat-screen TVs and other luxury goods that they know they can't afford. And they should have to face the consequences of those decisions.
But many more Americans aren't falling into debt because they made an irresponsible decision; they're falling into debt because credit card companies are pushing them over the edge. For too long, credit card companies have been using unfair and deceptive practices to trick Americans into signing agreements they can't afford. The contracts you sign when you get a card have gone from being one page-long a few decades ago to more than thirty pages-long today. And they're often filled with traps and fine print that only a credit card executive could understand. These companies have been crossing the line to boost their bottom line.
But rather than stop this outrage, Washington has let them get away with it…"

For more information please visit Rep. Maloney’s
Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights web page
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