Sunday, December 27, 2009

Truest statement of the week

I don't want blood, I do want accountability.

-- C.I. on the Cult of St. Barack, "Iraq snapshot."

Truest statement of the week II

It was easy to champion single-payer when the Republicans were in power and health care reform wasn't on the national agenda, but the minute it was, with the Democrats in control of Congress and the Whitehouse, Conyers collapsed like a house of cards. Every now and again he howled about something. In one article he declared, "I'm tired of saving Obama's can" but it never occurred to the doddering old fool to stop.

-- Helen Redmond, "Beware The Progressive Democrat" (Old Elm Tree).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday, a long one. There was talk of some of us taking the weekend off; however, the problem (you know the one) developed. So we turned out in full force.

Along with Dallas, the following helped on this edition:

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),
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

We thank them all. We also thank Betty's kids for the illustration for the roundtable. But let's get there bit by bit. What did we come up with?

Truest statement of the week -- Kat led the charge mid-week for this to be a Truest. Even so, this might not have been picked if the writing edition hadn't lasted over sixteen hours. C.I. didn't even care at the end, "Let's just finish it."

Truest statement of the week II -- Helen Redmond on the 'progressive' Demcorats.

Editorial: 'Universal' health care -- There's no universal health care but when insurance companies pay your bills, we guess you'd be inclined to call it that.

TV: That fall season -- Ava and C.I. We had one big request (Dona and I), that Ava and C.I. write long. We wanted a major essay. We knew there was a lot to tackle and hoped to do as many short pieces as possible. Ava and C.I. tackled the fall season and so much more. This is epic.

Barack and Bush: Separated at Birth -- A short feature. As one of the very few sites to call out -- and to strongly and repeatedly -- call out Barack's broken pledge on public financing, we found it very interesting just how 'tight' Bush and Barry are.

Must see film for 2010 -- Stan and Ann are going to do some sort of a DVD feature this week which we may repost here. As a result of that, I (Jim) started saying we should kill our planned movie feature for the end of the year. Jess pointed out that it didn't have to be what we usually did. Which stuck in my head when Dona and I watched More America Graffiti.

Iraq: The War Continues -- A very short feature.

The Best Actress of the 20th Century -- We've been talking about this feature for weeks. Generally when another woman mentions, "Hepburn, she came on to me too!" We're not sure how successful she was, but she was certainly the pitcher. Sadly that doesn't come across onscreen where she's the eternal virgin and just gets worse year after year. The best actress in films? Not Hepburn. And we're serious that Joan Crawford was a better actress than Hepburn.

Ty's Corner -- Ty's mega piece that we all love. Except Ty. He'd planned to go back in and put in various links. Why spoon feed? And that last sentence? I thought it qualified for a "Truest" of the week.

Roundtable -- We roundtable the week's big issue.

Idiot of the Week -- He really is an idiot.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Wally, Cedric, Rebecca, Ruth, Betty, Kat, Marcia, Stan and Ann wrote this and we thank them for it.

And that's what we came up with. If you found something that made you laugh, great, ditto if made you mad. But, if you're not getting it, we don't support sexism. And we don't support silence in the face of sexism. And we don't support attacking your own readers (or erasing them) because they won't go along with sexism. See you next week.

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

Editorial: 'Universal' health care

Thursday, apparently wanting to stuff Barack's stocking, NPR actually hailed Barack's BigBusinessGiveAway as "universal health care" and gushed that he had managed to deliver "health care to all Americans." Really?

Well we would like to congratulate the United States government for ending murder.

If you are found guilty of murder in the US, you will go to prison and may get the death penalty.

That really hasn't stopped murder, however.

And Barack didn't 'give' health care to anyone.

He mandates that you purchase health insurance. He forces you to purchase the insurance or you'll be fined for breaking the law.

All he did was push a law that makes it illegal for anyone not to have health insurance.

Having delivered 'health care' for all Americans, we look forward to 2010 when the Congress will make all US citizens millionaires.

Through aid and subsidies? No. But they could pass a law requiring every US citizen to be a millionaire and fining those who 'refuse.'

It makes about as much sense as forcing Americans to buy insurance or pay fines.

What the Senate and the House are proposing is disgusting and if the insurance lobbies hadn't bought off the MSM (and if Panhandle Media wasn't still wet dreaming over Barack), you'd know that.

Americans are not being served by the Congress, the insurance companies are. And anyone who can't tell you that either has cognitive issues or pockets stuffed by the insurance companies.

TV: That fall season

Sometime ago, one of the many members of Terry Gross' all male harem was ripping apart Sandra Bullock and her massive hit The Proposal, leading one of us (C.I.) to call out that nonsense and to note how Terry rides (side saddle) with an all male posse. We had no idea what a breath of fresh air (the real stuff, not Terry's canned nonsense) that was for so many but Ty repeatedly would tell us about e-mails that came in wondering if Terry Gross' posse contained one damn woman? Of course not. Ugly girl can't be belle of the ball otherwise.

Terry decided to bring on one of her many male TV 'critics' (yes, she has more than one) and, as readers Sally, Cameron, Rico and Beverly all e-mailed to note, no woman accomplished a damn thing in 2009. The man was supposedly reviewing the 'year in television' and had much praise for many, many men (including men who had no programs on the air in 2009) but he had not one kind word to say about women.


Could it be true?

We called NPR friends and were informed that was incorrect. Along with the many, many men he praised, he worked in a bit of praise for the very tired Tina Fey.

Of course he did. Fey's been playing for the Boys Club for sometime -- not that it's helped improve the ratings of her awful sitcom any.

In terms of 2009, Tina Fey had nothing to offer. Not one damn thing. She was about as pertinent to this year in TV as Hal Linden. As we thought about the women doing outstanding work since the start of the fall season and grasped that, yet again, they were being slighted, we knew we had to write a look-back piece.

First off, two guest stars stood out in the fall. The first was Martha Plimpton who showed up for one episode of Medium (CBS, Fridays) playing Rosemary -- a woman Alison (the always amazing Patricia Arquette) befriended during her hospital stay whom Allison was now dreaming about. Rosemary dies early on which allows one more scene where Allison has to explain to her that she's dead. Though it was a very small role, the three time Tony nominee Plimpton not only stood out but meshed perfectly with Arquette's own amazing rhythms.

The other guest star who gave a performance worth noting also appeared in only one episode. This time the network was Fox and the show was Fringe (airs Thursdays). Walter Bishop (John Noble) is the 'mad scientist' of that show. He's harmed not only his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) but also FBI agent Olivia Duham (Anna Torv) whom he drugged when she was a child. It's a complicated part and bringing on a woman he had once drugged provided the show with another complicated part. As written, the woman was not upset about the drugging and had fond memories of Walter Bishop and a lasting attraction to him. On the page, the character offered a few laughs, none of them especially deep.

In a casting miracle, Rebecca went to the always amazing Theresa Russell who not only found every nuance on the page, she created a few of her own. She added nostalgia and regret to the underwritten role and, most of all, warmth. When Walter leaves her at her house, viewers are probably filled with more regret than the script intended but that's due to the fact that Rebecca was probably the most lived in new character Fringe came up with this fall.

In a just world, 2010 will see Plimpton and Russell both receiving Emmy nominations for their roles.

Fortunately, they were not the only women giving full bodied performances during the fall season. The best news for TV was that comedy was back. Julia Louis-Dreyfus continues to amaze on The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS, Wednesdays). So much so that two weeks ago a well known stand up comic called us to say he'd finally caught the show, that he'd avoided it (despite our praise) because he really didn't care for her as Elaine (on Seinfeld) but he was amazed to "find something I could actually laugh out loud at" and praised Louis-Dreyfus for creating "a real character." In this decade, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has often been the only woman with the lead in a sitcom and, we'd argue, it's been her amazing work that has consistently reminded network execs that women can be funny and carried on the tradition of pioneering work by women in sitcoms -- women like Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance, Mary Tyler Moore, Marlo Thomas, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Sally Struthers, Jean Stapleton, Bea Arthur, Marla Gibbs, Nell Carter, Susan Saint James, Jane Curtain, Roseanne, Laurie Metcalf, Rue McClanahan, Betty White, Candice Bergen, Shelly Long, Jasmine Guy, Cybill Shepherd, Helen Hunt, Courtney Cox-Arquette, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Ellen DeGeneres, Debra Messing and Megan Mullally.

One of those women, Courtney Cox, returned to sitcoms this fall. Cougar Town (ABC, Wednesday) and like most good sitcoms starring women, she's not the 'token.' Jules has two close friends brilliantly played by Christa Miller (The Drew Carey Show, Scrubs) and Busy Philipps. If you haven't caught the show yet, it's hilarious and your first clue to that is the war conducted against it by a certain number of women (none of which are feminists, see Ruth's "Eilene Zimmerman Is No Feminist").

When TWO BIT Guttersnipes come out in packs, your gut should tell you some IDIOT at The New York Times is behind it. In this case it wasn't The Idiot Bellafante (whom ABC never does corrections for), it was The Idiot Warner. Judith Warner's a real piece of a work and, yes, a real Bitch. It takes a Bitch to rip apart a woman for things she never did. Zonked out on who knows what this time, Warner typed:

And, of course, we had Jules, Cox's alter ego, 40-ish, recently divorced, really pretty, really well-groomed, well-dressed and strikingly well-off for a woman paying alimony and selling real estate in bust-time Florida -- and, above all, eager to take her revenge on an unfair world by getting a pretty young man to call her own.
Getting such a man passes for some kind of empowerment on the show and is accompanied by all sorts of pseudo-feminist language. Which is why, I suppose, the temptation to find something meaningful in all the froth feels so compelling.

[. . .]
A woman like Cox's Jules -- visibly vibrating with self-doubt and thinly-veiled self-loathing, is, it's fair to say, probably the least likely figure of fantasy to be conjured by women Cox's age. In fact, she'd be more of a nightmare. But this Cougar beast -- sexually aggressive, ever-available, a woman beating a man at his own game -- is a fantasy that seems to be selling pretty well right now, at least to (mostly male) studio heads and TV execs and advertisers. Maybe that's because she's such a twit: so narcissistic, so superficial, so stunted emotionally,

Poor, Judith, we'll stop her raving there. See, the "Twit"? It's Judith. She's not describing Cougar Town. She's only demonstrating she didn't even watch the first episode (that would be the one she's 'writing' 'about'). Talk about superficial, talk about emotionally stunted.

The New York Times would do well to begin fact checking their TV pieces. Judith Warner would do well to issue an apology for LYING to readers that she watched a show she never watched. If we can't make it through a show, we'll tell you. We'll tell you, we found it so bad, we couldn't watch it. But Warner wants readers to believe she watched Cougar Town when she didn't.

Jules did not end up with a young man in the first episode because she went after him and took him home. Her friend dropped him off at her doorstep. As for being all the things that Warner's describing, Jules is a working woman, the mother and primary care-giver of a teenage son. If someone's life is empty, it may be Judith Warner's but it's not Jules'.

It appears to be 44-year-old Warner's own fears (yes, we've all heard talk about the marriage -- we just didn't know she was aware of the talk) and it's a real shame that she elected to take her own problems out on a TV show.

We don't see a great deal of difference between a hate monger like Judith Warner and one like Terry Gross. In both cases, they're all about hurting women.

Terry brings on 'critics,' 'experts,' in the arts -- including TV, movies and music -- and we're never supposed to notice that Terry can't connect with any woman, we're never supposed to notice that to be an expert in Terry's world is to be a man.

Judith wanted to write about TV and what did she offer? An attack on women.

At a time when women are fighting to regain the positions they had in the 90s on TV, Judith comes along to attack them. To attack with lies. Now she could have hated the show and we would have rolled our eyes but to lie about it? To write a piece that demonstrates she was unable to invest 24 or so minutes into watching the show she's ripping apart?

We slammed Two and A Half Men sometime ago and our warnings came true over the holiday. But we notice there's no cry of "Cancel the show!" And we're reminded that there never is.

Roseanne sings off-key and there are efforts to take her show off the air. Cybill Shepherd and Brett Butler and Lynn Redgrave (among many, many others) are targeted and demonized for being strong women while many of their male peers get caught drunk driving, busted for drugs and much more and it's never, "We must cancel this show!"

You better believe if Julia Louis-Dreyfus had been the one arrested this holiday season, CBS would already be whispering to the press (which would be amplifying it) that it might be time to end the show.

We're not saying Charlie Sheen should be fired or his show cancelled. We've got nothing against Kelsey Grammar or Tim Allen (to note two other men who got away with everything no woman would have) either. We're making the point that men get passes while women get cancelled.

And we're making the point that women who are not feminist -- especially at The New York Times -- repeatedly attack women on TV. Where have they been this decade as the networks followed Bully Boy Bush's lead and 'machoed' up? As women were absented from leads (except the 'straight woman' in a comedy)? Judging Amy, a great show, was cancelled, and where were they?

Oh, that's right, they were picking on Patricia Arquette. They were attacking her and her show. It's really hard to figure out what The New York Times GutterSnipes want women to be because it's never good enough. To read Warner, they want something more along the lines of Patricia's Allison. But Allison was ripped apart. A working woman, a mother of three kids, she failed because it was 'supernatural.' Strangely, the paper's never gone after the show entitled Supernatural. But that show stars men.

And it's a different criteria, now isn't it? No woman ever meets the 'standards' of The New York Times. The character Judith Warner is describing, for example, isn't Jules. It does sound a great deal like Dr. Fraiser Crane but that show (and the lead character) never got ripped apart by the paper.

Jenna Elfman returned to sitcoms this fall with Accidentally On Purpose (CBS, Mondays) and it's a delightful confection. She's wonderful in it and hitting every note required. But the reviews of it were these awful, savage attacks.

For the longest time, we wondered if our own knowledge of the battle she and others with the show had to fight to get it where it is were influencing our judgment of it? Even grasping that opinions can differ, the show we saw and the ones so many critics described were worlds apart. But if you look at those reviews, you grasp they aren't addressing the quality of the show or its merits, the reviewers are all in the midst of their own panic. Which can be entertaining and might even qualify for enlightening . . .

Some other time.

Not now. Not when women are attempting to regain ground. Think about Saturday Night Live for example. This decade it's not considered alarming or appalling that they've done full seasons (including the current one) where only one woman is in the cast. The show that, when it debuted in the seventies, featured three strong women in the cast (Gilda Radner, Jane Curtain and Laraine Newman).

As we've documented here in countless pieces over almost five years, offline we have begged, pleaded, advocated, yelled -- done whatever we could to get various network suits to beef up women's presence on TV. Fall 2009 was probably the strongest fall season for women of the decade. And we watched amazed as critics -- including female ones -- ripped apart shows starring women. We watched amazed as everyone decided they were Maureen Dowd and that what happened onscreen wasn't as important as what it reminded them of from their own lives. Like Dowd struggling to write about politics and turning the entire thing into a joke, the Water Cooler Set demonstrated they couldn't write about TV.

Offline, before the fall season started, we picked the show we were going to support on each network. On ABC, it was Cougar Town and we went to lunches and parties with various ABC suits to talk that show up like crazy. At NBC, we did the same for Mercy. At CBS, we worked Accidentally On Purpose and The Good Wife. We'd go to lunches and parties and we'd talk 'shop' (we have no financial stakes in any of those shows) and, once the fall season began, there would usually be a guest who was passionate about the show we were talking up. We'd be able to point and say, "See, there's an audience. You just need to keep it on the air, you just need to give it a fair shot."

And while we're doing that, the GutterSnipes are going around trashing these same shows. Those 'reviews' would appear and there would be momentary network panic. We'd have to do a walk through on why the Water Cooler Idiot(s) didn't get it. And, in doing so, we probably undercut any power the Water Cooler Set might have had left (good!). At ABC, for example, in programming, they now rip the Water Cooler Set reviews apart worse than we ever have.

And for what reason did the Water Cooler Set attack?

We've already pointed out that Judith Warner's 'critique' of the character of Jules sounded like she was describing Fraiser (she certainly wasn't describing Jules). Why is there this need to rip apart women? Why is there this need to insist that a female character be just like you (Judith Warner)?

Maude never would have stood a chance in today's environment.


Now we chose four shows to champion that we thought held the most promise for women onscreen. If we'd been able to champion more, we would have. And it's a real shame that no one else did. Eastwick, for example, was a very solid show.

Our only negative critique of it (offline) was: "Cut Paul Gross' hair."

It was a fast-paced show with some strong writing and some stronger acting. It starred Rebecca Romijn (hitting all the right notes from her very first scene), Jaime Ray Newman (remember that name) and Lindsay Price. And the three of them not only held their own individually, they managed to get a group rhythm going as well. Our problem with Eastwick (other than Gross' hair -- which did get cut and he looked so much better after) was: Where is this going?

And that's the only thing that may have hurt it with audiences. Some viewers may have felt, "Well the women discover their power, all get pregnant by Darryl and then defeat him." In other words, it was probably necessary to make clear that this was based on the movie but it was not the movie. (It wasn't based on the bad book by the bad writer John Updike.) But viewers who gave it a chance would have quickly seen it was creating its own world.

It really was something to watch (ABC has canceled it) and it could have used support. It didn't get it.

We're not really sure what a Judith Warner or a Terry Gross believes they accomplished this year but we know they made life harder for women. They did that by consistently undercutting women. They did it by refusing to applaud or even note the amazing work of women in front of the cameras.

Along with Cox, Louis-Dreyfus, Elfman, Miller, Philips, Russell, Plimpton, Price, Newman and Romijn there was Julianna Margulies turning in an incredible performance and the Water Cooler Set really couldn't wrap around that, they were too busy dissecting the title (The Good Wife, CBS, Tuesdays). They were too busy telling you what the title meant in relation to their own lives. (Kind of like Warner with Cougar Town.)

Terry Gross and her Posse Don't Pee Sitting Down were trashing Sandra Bullock and The Proposal earlier this year. They were trashing it because they didn't think Sandra was playing a role model and they didn't think it was this or it was that. It's always so amusing to hear a man tell you what feminism is really about.

And as he wound down, smart people noticed that he never drags that same criticism out when he's reviewing the latest Tom Hanks film. He's never concerned about sexism then. He's not concerned about it with any film starring a man. Here's reality boys and girls, feminism matters. Sexism matters. And if you're going to sit there and trash a successful film starring a woman -- in a decade when few women were able to carry a film -- then you better be prepared to also offer a similar critique of the latest film you just loved, you know, the one where the man had a gun and he did this and he did that and the woman had three scenes, an overdeveloped chest and an underwritten role.

That's not how it works, though, is it? A woman's largely ignored unless she's successful -- at which point, she's ripped apart.

And it couldn't happen without a lot of women -- Terry Gross and Judith Warner are only two of them -- taking part.

Barack and Bush: Separated at Birth

The similarities between Bully Boy Bush and Bully Boy Barack just keep coming. The two War Hawks may as well have been conjoined twins separated at birth for all their shared qualities.

Then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush took the first step by rejecting public funds in the primaries. He said the system was old and underfinanced.
Last year, then-Sen. Barack Obama took the final step and became the first candidate to turn down public funds for the fall campaign.

Surprising only if you weren't paying attention.


Sisters Under The Skin, Barack and Bush.

Must see film for 2010

This time of year, we generally look back at films or DVDs of the last twelve months. At the last minute, we decided to go the other way.

Most film lovers have seen American Graffiti. Fewer are aware of More American Graffiti.

Mid-week, Jim and Dona were looking for something different to watch and found the DVD in C.I.'s collection. They'd love the earlier one, they'd read criticism that termed the sequel (at best) disappointing. But they were bored and they figured they'd give it a try. After watching once, they gathered as many people as they could to watch a second time.

American Graffiti, directed by George Lucas, is a one-of-a-kind classic and deservedly so. But More American Graffiti (produced by Lucas and directed by Bill L. Norton), is a minor classic. Norton directed and wrote the screenplay which attempts to update the characters from the first film. Candy Clark, Paul Le Mat, Cindy Williams Ron Howard, Charles Martin Smith, Bo Hopkins, Mackenzie Phillips and Harrison Ford return from the original film. Ford plays a new character (a police officer who pulls over Clark and her new boyfriend) while Phillips plays her original character (for one scene only) and a flower child named Rainbow.

Some wrongly state that the only major cast member who doesn't return is Richard Dreyfuss. Wrong. Suzanne Sommers, infamous as the The Blonde In The T-Bird in the first film, isn't back in the 1979 sequel.

The film covers New Year's Eve in 1964, 1965, 1966 and 1967. In 1964, the start of the film and the basis for the story for John Milner (Le Mat), Debbie (Clark), Terry (Smith), Steve (Ron Howard) and Laurie (Williams) show up at a drag strip to congratulate John on what looks like a lucky break. They can't stay long because Debbie, Steve and Laurie have to see Terry off -- he's going to Vietnam.

1965 is Vietnam where Terry and Little Joe (Hopkins) are in the same medivac unit and sick of being almost killed repeatedly so that their lying superiors can look better. Jim Houghton will join the team and express distaste for Terry and Little Joe; however, when Little Joe is shot dead and they're left stranded because their superiors won't rescue them, he'll realize how right Terry is. Terry will get his revenge on the higher-ups (and a US Congress member) as well as stage his own death while announcing he'll go off to Europe. This section is subversive and probably much too threatening for many in 1979 as the efforts to launch a wave of revisionary history on Vietnam was really taking hold. Too much truth in this section which is shot like the hand held camera news reports from Vietnam.

It's got humor and pathos and tension. And we've spoiled it for you because, early on, Debbie's explaining, in 1966, that two of her friends died on New Year's Eve -- one being Terry. She doesn't know he's faked his death.

In 1966, Debbie's living in San Francisco, in a crash pad with many other flower children and hippies -- including Phillips' Rainbow. She's got a boyfriend who plays . . . An instrument? We see that once and, no, he's not as amazing as Debbie thinks he is. But he does play the field. They're toking up as Debbie's driving along and talking about marriage when Harrison Ford's cop pulls them over. He busts the boyfriend for pot -- the boyfriend who needs Debbie to bail him out and is suddenly interested in getting married.

Terry picks Debbie up in the first film by telling her she looks just like Connie Stevens. In the sequel, she's adopted a flower child look to go with her existence. Her story is photographed like any musical sequence from a late sixties TV show (split screens, various angles -- think The Smothers Brothers for one example). Debbie ends up at a concert and spending all of her time trying to sell the band on using her boyfriend. At a performance at a dive in Oakland, she'll see her boyfriend dancing and romancing another woman. It's a major moment for her character and the scenes following her rage show a slow dawning that all the time she spent in promoting the deadbeat boyfriend could have been spent improving herself. The where-are-they-now ending will inform Debbie became a country music singer.

New Year's Eve 1967 finds Steve and Laurie furiously fighting over Steve's insisting that Laurie cannot work. Laurie is just as adamant that she will work for three hours each day at a doctor's office and she storms out to her brother's. Her brother's in the midst of a campus demonstration against the war. He doesn't want Laurie around but ends up needing her when he wants his wallet. She arrives on the campus and discovers he plans to burn his draft card. Appalled, she tries to talk him out of it. She can't understand his objection to the war. She can't understand anything going on around her. When the police charge and she sees them clubbing students, she begins an awakening. Steve will show up and say she can work . . . in a few years. Not good enough for her and she stands her ground but does so as the police rounds them all up.

The women are put on one bus and the men another as they're hauled off. On the women's bus, two young women sing the Supremes "Baby Love" which leads a police officer to club one of them. As everyone falls silent, Laurie's fury will spill over and she'll begin singing "Baby Love" and clapping along until all the other women arrested join in and the police officer, frustrated and angry, will be forced to let it alone.

In 1964, John learns his big offer from a major racing team is a joke. He'll be left to compete that day while also dealing with a foreign exchange student (Anna Bjorn, dumped on him by Mary Kay Place's character). He'll end up the big winner at the drag race and also successful at wooing the foreign exchange student. It's a big day for John Milner, one that ends with him being killed when a drunk driver hits his car.

Milner's dreams (and success) were simple and basic and can be seen to be the American Dream which dies in 1964. 1965 (Vietnam sequence) is the death of the American Youth. 1966 is about shaking off oppression and renewal. 1967 is the rebirth of Young America. The film works thematically while also providing four satisfying stories.

Paul Le Mat maintains John Milner -- no easy feat because now he's not only James Dean-like, he's, in effect, James Dean. But the film really belongs to four others. Though the opening credits imply that Ron Howard does a cameo, he actually has a major role and performs in multiple scenes. It's the finest acting of his career and Cindy Williams is far, far from Shirley and reminding you of how she came to work with Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola in the first place.

Charles Martin Smith and Candy Clark are just amazing and all the more so when you grasp how they do this without playing off each other -- after the opening, the two have no scenes together despite the fact that their chemistry carries over from the first film.

American Graffiti was art and was watered down to become bad TV (Happy Days). As with most TV ratings successes, more people saw the cheap knock-off than the actual art. And the backlash for More American Graffiti, no doubt, included some TV goers who thought they were going to spend two hours at the Drive-In. But equally true is that More American Graffiti attempts to capture a time that many work hard to deny ever existed and a great deal of the hostility towards this minor masterpiece has to do with the fact that it addressed those times.


Some DVD sets of American Graffiti contain More American Graffiti on the flip-side of the disc (if it does, the packaging will note that both films are on the set). However, you see it, make a point to see More American Graffiti in 2010. We think a rebirth, similar to the one charted in the film, is about to happen.

Iraq: The War Continues

Like the illegal war itself, the violence continued last week.

Sunday, 4 people were reported dead and 6 wounded; Monday 9 were reported dead and 18 wounded; Tuesday 6 were reported dead and 7 injured; Wednesday 8 were reported dead and 54 wounded; Thursday 36 were reported dead and 123 wounded; Friday 9 were reported dead and 25 injured; and Saturday 11 were reported dead and 36 reported wounded for a total of at least 83 reported deaths and at least 269 reported injured.

News emerged of various leaders (political, religious, educational) being targeted for death, of election workers being confined (for 'safety') to Baghdad, and much more. But everyone was supposed to pretend this was a new and secure Iraq. And, on Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera -- which began airing each Friday), it emerged that the new oil contracts may not be binding:

Jasim al-Azzawi: Issam, how dangerous is it for Iraq to sign these contracts and Memorandum of Understanding with no oil law in place.

Issam al-Chalabi: With all due respect, Dr. al-Shahristani seems to be moving on a shaky ground. I think he had fallen in his answers to your question, had fallen in the conflict between the Constitution and the existing laws. The Constitution says that, the two Articles about the oil and gas ought to be explained and there will be separate law to be issued. Until then, in a very clear, separate Article, it says that all existing oils will remain valid. Hence Law 97 of 1967 is valid as he mentioned and he ought to abide by it. That means, yes, the Minister of Oil is authorized provided they go and seek endorsement from the existing legislative body which is the Parliament for each case.

Jasim al-Azzawi: So far they haven't done that. Is that a reflection on the lack of oversight by Iraqi Parliament about this huge and overreaching contracts?

Issam al-Chalabi: No, the Oil & Gas Committee and many Parliamentarians have sought that and they have asked him, they have subpeoned him, that they should look into the matter. In fact, one particular member had gone to the federal court. And you asked about the dangers of these new contracts, I do say that it is very possible that in the future these contracts could very well be under questioning and somebody could question the legitimacy of these contracts and maybe they would be required to be amended or maybe anulled.

Iraqis make up the world's largest population of refugees. The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq released a wave of violence and economic instability and brought with it the destruction of key infrastructure and the near-collapse of basic services. More than 2.7 million Iraqis have been displaced within their borders and another two million have fled their country, largely to Syria and Jordan. Today we bring you a special FSRN documentary called, "Guests in the Waiting Room: Iraqi refugees in Jordan," produced by Hanan Tabbara and Salam Talib.

If you missed it, you can catch it at the link.

The Best Actress of the 20th Century

The Best Actress of the 20th century?

That's been an ongoing e-mail debate among our readers for nearly a year. At first we weren't going to touch it. We'd named the movie stars of the second half of the 20th century and offended a number of readers (and two of C.I.'s friends who were upset that they weren't named). So we weren't interested.

Except it coming up.

Over and over.

And if we narrowed it down to those who are dead and just zoomed in on the first half of the 20th century, it was a brief list.

In no particular order, the readers of this site felt the best film actress was Loretta Young or Joan Crawford or Katharine Hepburn or Carole Lombard or Bette Davis or Clara Bow or Mae West or Ingrid Bergman or Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn or Barbara Stanywick or . . .

Zooming in on the first half of the 20th century seemed like something we could do.

And it quickly came down to two women: Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn?

Davis won two Academy Awards for Best Actress, Hepburn won four.

That would seem to settle it, Hepburn wins . . .

Except it's not about awards.

And, if it were, Hepburn would still be the loser. Three of her awards come after she's a parody of herself (starting with the 1967 award for Guess Who's Coming To Dinner). And while an argument can be made that she deserved the Academy Award for 1940's The Philadelphia Story, that's really the only time she was nominated and lost that can be considered an injustice.

Bette Davis

Bette Davis?

All this time later does anyone really believe the best performance from 1950 wasn't her turn in All About Eve? That it was Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday? Holliday's a charming comic actress but that's not a best actress role (nor has the film held up). Davis' work in 1939's Dark Victory was as strong as Vivian Leigh's in Gone With The Wind. Her work in 1940's The Letter was far, far superior to non-actress Ginger Rogers and the embarrassing Kitty Foyle. 1941's The Little Foxes performance was stronger than Joan Fontaine's in Suspicion. 1942's Now Voyager was far superior to the hammy theatrics of Greer Garson in Mrs. Minerva.

We're not attempting to say that Katharine Hepburn had no talent. Certainly any actress who lived as long as she did and convinced so many that she was interested in men should be awarded a Best Closeted Oscar or two or three. But the fussy, prissy Hepburn was only believable in that one role. And she played it over and over and became fussier and fussier. People (wrongly) slammed Doris Day for virginal roles when Hepburn's the one who so often played it as if her 'maidenhead' was the her most prized possession.

With the start of the 1950s, she'd play one emotional cripple after another, still with all the fluttering mannerisms and apparently all emotional cripples are exactly the same -- at least when portrayed by Hepburn. There's something very sad and very perverse about about her role in The Rainmaker -- at 49-years-old, you'd think both she and her father would stop worrying about marrying her off. After 1950, Hepburn delivers one solid performance and only one solid one: Desk Set. Joan Blondell (and the script) force her to go beyond the usual mannerisms and she plays drunk delightful.

But the bulk of her films after 1950 were all about her mannerisms and fluttering (Spencer Tracy was correct to verbally attack her for them) as they increased and increased until, by the time she's performing On Golden Pond, you wish someone would drown her in the lake. She won an Academy Award for . . . her pedigree. Not for the performance. She's dreadful in the film. She marvels over Jane Fonda's character as if she's her lover, not her daughter (watch when Fonda's doing the dive into the lake). She has no connection with Henry Fonda and tends to interact with him onscreen as though he were her agent and not her husband. (Contrast Hepburn's bad performance with the excellent one Diane Keaton gave in Reds and you'll know who should have won the Academy Award for Best Actress that year.)

She became more and more of a joke with each role in her last years and, by 1967, she was already a joke. While Hepburn played herself in film after film, Bette Davis created characters. It was that desire and talent that made her a star, that made her fight to get the lead in Of Human Bondage when every other actress ran from the part. Bette Davis leaves behind some of the most fully realized characters onscreen: Margo Channing, Mildred, Gabby, Julie, Judith, Regina, Charlotte and, yes, Baby Jane.

Hepburn had a 'pedigree' -- that's what the press told you repeatedly. Worst in their attempts to shore up her non-performance in On Golden Pond. Well what did that get her? Joan Crawford started out with nothing and Joan Crawford created more memorable and varied characters than did Hepburn.

There's a place for The Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby, Desk Set and a few others in film history. But let's not confuse Hepburn's limitations and sameness with acting. As Dragon Seed and The Sea of Grass so perfectly demonstrated, this was an 'actress' who couldn't stretch. Dorothy Parker infamously said of Hepburn's performance in Jed Harris' The Lake, "Katharine Hepburn delivered a striking performance that ran the gamut of emotions, from A to B." Parker was a wit because wit requires truth and she remains the critic who best captured what Hepburn offered.

Ty's Corner


It seemed like such a simple request to me. I wrote Riverdaughter of The Confluence asking her to delink, "Riverdaughter, We're getting nonstop complaints about you. Please delink from our site immediately." Simple and easy to do.

If someone were to write us and ask for a delinking, I'd do it. Immediately.

The plan on my end was we'd get delinked and I'd delink here and just note in this edition, "There was a problem, it's been addressed. We no longer link to that site and it no longer links to us." And that would be all I would say. I wouldn't even identify the site, most readers were already aware of it.

But Riverdaughter . . .

What a strange e-mail relationship we've had.

I've asked for two things from her. The second was the delinking to which she replies immediately. I didn't work on the Thanksgiving edition here and thought Ava, C.I. and Jess did an amazing job so I e-mailed Riverdaughter hoping that, since she was allegedly a feminist, she would agree and pick up on an article they'd done by tossing in a link to it.

Riverdaughter couldn't reply to that one.

It was a bit like our earlier e-mail exchange. Where she seemed to want to play dumb (or maybe wasn't playing) so I tried to be as patient as I am with Los Angeles Times and New York Times writers and my thanks for that was getting blown off. You ask a question, I try to answer it. It's usually Dona and me working the e-mails here ( and, trust me, I have better things to do.

So when she dropped out in the midst of an e-mail conversation she initiated, I wasn't under any impression that she had good manners.

Still I was shocked to find out when I ask for a delinking that she not only refuses but she insists that I give her and her 'fellow' (how very feminist of her) bloggers a reason for it. And, on top of that, The Confluence, a website that came along in 2008, wants to give me tips on how to run a blogroll and how to deal with e-mails. Riverdaughter who doesn't publish her e-mail address online wants to tell me how to handle e-mails.

To her long-ish e-mail, I replied, "I'm done being nice. I'll be writing about this at Third in a 'Ty's Corner.' I believe it's all over the internet already at community sites posting tonight."

And it was.

Why was that?

Blame Ava and C.I. or credit them.

Unlike certain posers, the two of them actually are feminists. And they're the reason Third Estate Sunday Review has an online presence. They're the hook for this site and they always have been. Their feminist viewpoint and feminist humor is what people responded to from the start. It's why we quickly handed off the group writing of the TV commentaries to just them. And they've done amazing work there.

While faux feminists at The New York Times wanted to tell you that damsel-in-distress supporting roles for women were 'feminism,' Ava and C.I. told you the truth. Always.

For five years now next month. We have a reader in Idaho who makes me feel old (and I graduated college just a few years ago) by e-mailing about how she "grew up" on this site. She'll tell you how Ava and C.I. have informed her thinking and made her see that there's nothing she can't do.

And that's a new one on the e-mails. I'm used to the men who write that they didn't get it and didn't get it, but, okay, now they get it. Writing of some piece Ava and C.I. contributed. Or the women who e-mail about recovering from abuse and abusive relationships and how they take strength from Ava and C.I.'s strength.

And they do have strength, they're two of the strongest people I know.

For example, they both know and love Gloria Steinem. One of their things from the start was, "We don't want to be involved in anything that would pick on Gloria." We heard that over and over. There was a guy (in independent media) who used to e-mail wanting links and they'd say no because he prints a false rumor about Gloria in one article and they didn't want to be seen as endorsing that rumor.

But Gloria was part of the women lashing out at Sarah Palin and though they never wanted to call her out, when they had to step up to the plate, they did.

C.I. thinks the world of Danny Schechter. Schechter wrote a piece minimizing (that's my call) the daily terrorism that Tina Turner lived with under Ike. And Ava and C.I. had to write a response piece to that and the other men who were taking part in that. Their original position was they'd pass on that. Then I showed them an e-mail from a reader who had survived an abusive relationship. They put their own wishes and desires on hold and wrote the piece that needed to be written.

And they do that time and again.

They step up to the plate.

They don't run from their responsibilities.

They're feminists first.

Before anything else, they are feminists.

Ask Jim. He'll tell you that. He'll complain about the many good jokes that they've nixed because it might be taken the wrong way. They're very aware of what feminism means to them and what means to so many others and they try to live feminism as much as anyone can while always noting (longterm readers will recognize this phrase), they offer a feminist view, not the feminist view.

Because there's not one feminist view.

But one thing that feminist generally agree on is that it's not okay to bully women. And it's not okay to bully women and then turn around and post nudie pix to your site.

But Riverdaughter's okay with that.

There's a pig who I'll just call Willy Pig for this corner.

Willy Pig thought it was okay. And Riverdaughter obviously agreed because three days after, she's praising his 'artwork.'

Now the illustration in question is attacking Ms. magazine. A man who never found time to praise the magazine making time to attack Ms. magazine?

I'm not saying Ms. doesn't need to be called out. We've called it out many times here. (And I've read all the e-mails from Ms. staffers begging Ava and C.I. not to go further with the internal problems of the magazine. Ava and C.I. didn't back off, they just lost interest. They might regain interest tomorrow, in which case Ms. is in serious trouble.)

But why did we call out (we've also praised it here many times, just FYI)? We called it out because of things they actually did. We called out the cover, to be sure. But we'd noted Ms. before that -- many times, good and bad.

But what does it say about a man who consistently ignored Ms. magazine until he could do an illustration to slam it?

And what does it say about Riverdaughter who could have used an illustration of the actual cover and not the insulting cartoon Willy Pig did?

See we slammed the cover last week. And we talked about the illustration for the article. Should we use the cover? No, we already had two illustrations to run with the article.

But what went through Riverdaughter's head? "Run the actual cover? Or this drawing that makes everyone look like an Oscar Meyer weiner?"

(And has no one else noticed the phallic nature of all of Willy Pig's bad drawings?)

Last week, among other things, we were calling out 'left' website/newsletter CounterPunch for raising money by selling a T&A calendar. Because we don't see that as left, liberal or progressive. Making money off women's bodies?

And we've gone over this repeatedly here.

It's not about being a prude.

You can exploit women's bodies and we'll never say a word . . . provided you also exploit men's body. Baywatch has never been mentioned at this site until right now. There was no reason to. It's hard to accuse it of being sexist when you've got David Charvet and countless others running around shirtless. They were equal opportunity exploiters.

An actress friend of C.I.'s brought up an objection to Pig Willy's posting of a still from a film that I hadn't thought of. The woman did a few topless scenes in the 70s (and a few were actually her and not a stand-in). She said when she did that, she knew it would be in the film, she knew people paying money to see the film would see it. But she also was under the impression that was it. Her contract stipulated that no stills would be provided of that to any publication. But she could be up at Pig Willy's site tomorrow.

She explained how the early 70s were. You didn't have HBO. You couldn't show nudity on TV. If they couldn't release stills to "High Society or some other rag," then the only way anyone would ever see it was in the film itself, surrounded by the scenes and not out of context.

Her big objection to Pig Willy's move is that it rips the actress out of the context. The actress was delivering a performance "she was not posing for a photograph. That's lost in that pig's web" post.

And she makes a good point.

There are many strong points to be made.

But, and here's how it became a huge problem and required that I ask for a delink, Riverdaughter wanted to praise Pig Willy. And then one of her readers objected in the comments. And then others objected. At this point, if we know of it, it's as by-standers. Marcia's boss, for example, saw the post on Monday and read through the comments. She showed it to Marcia. She copy and pasted the comment thread and e-mailed it to a number of us.

But, funny thing, comments started disappearing.

The one where the woman explains she finds Pig Willy "piggish," for example, is gone. All of the comments by women objecting to Pig Willy are gone.

That's when we started hearing from strangers. Women -- including women who are longterm posters at The Confluence (we checked) -- e-mailing us to complain that The Confluence was deleting their comments (and immediately closing off comments).

That's when I actually became aware of the problem.

I don't read The Confluence. It's a little too weak for me. And I tend to cringe over the many factual errors. (In fairness to Riverdaughter, I'm not speaking of her posts.)

And as I read over the e-mails, responded to them, heard about how Pig Willy had already forced a huge number of Confluencians to leave (and how Riverdaughter was 'creative' in her history of that problem), checked out to see that comments by these people did exist as far back as the summer of 2008, I saw the problem.

And then I had the big problem. Martha.

Our own Martha.

Of Martha & Shirley. They read e-mails at the public account of The Common Ills. Each year they do a books in review post at The Common Ills.

Martha called me Wednesday morning. She said she was angry and she'd waited to make a comment. She explained she'd objected at The Confluence "when other women were stepping forward" and that she'd left two remarks both of which were deleted the day after.

Martha: "I seem to recall Riverdaughter playing the ultimate victim and bragging about how at her site no one would be deleted and you could have a free flowing coversation as long as you weren't mean to each other. But I wasn't mean to anyone. I voiced that it was wrong to post nudie pictures of women at political sites and that gets me deleted? She's a joke. She wanted to whine about Kos and people like that doing similar things and it's what she now does or what she's allows to be done."

And that was Wednesday morning. By Wednesday afternoon, it was the only topic in the e-mails here. Ava and C.I. asked why I was so upset and I told them what was going on.

"We delink," said one of them. (I think Ava. But it could have been C.I.) The other nodded.

We delink, they explained, because (a) feminism doesn't allow for silence on this issue and (b) by linking to them and being linked from them, it implies we're in some sort of a state of approval.

"We need to be very clear on this issue. We've spoken out against exploitation and sexualization and to go along with this now would mean we were hypocrites," said C.I.

And it would.

Because it's Riverdaughter's problem.

Until we link to her and until we're linked to from her.

Then there's some sort of relationship that the casual eye can't figure out.

We have no relationship with Riverdaughter.

I -- and only I -- have exchanged e-mails with her.

She began by writing this site. I replied. She replied. I replied. She replied. I replied and she didn't have the manners to reply back. I then wrote her at Thanksgiving and she didn't have the manners to reply back. I then wrote her Wednesday saying to delink.

That's the extent of our 'relationship.'

Ava and C.I. have never spoken to her, have never e-mailed her. They have had no contact with her.

This site was not part of PUMA. Ava and C.I. defended PUMA but made very clear that they were not part of it. Before some PUMA-ers suddenly discovered feminism (we called out the 'feminist' who forgot she'd presented as a lifelong one only to later confess in an online comment that she'd never been a feminist until a few months prior), Ava and C.I. were paving the ground that the meek faux feminists now skip across.

Long before the first group of women staged a Kos walk-out, Ava and C.I. were already presenting a feminist view online and not in the do-me way. Not any of that defocused, did you pick up a magazine today, let's talk celebrity gossip, and can I tell you about my party?

They presented themselves as functioning adults with critical thinking abilities who would take on the tough subjects. And they did. They tackled sexism and racism while covering TV. They called out efforts to demonize those who suffered from autism and all other attempts at "the other." They called out the Iraq War so much that for the longest time, before C.I. proposed the short Iraq feature we now do, we'd ask, "What do we have on Iraq this edition?" and Jim would reply, "Don't worry about it, Ava and C.I. can cover it in their TV review."

And they always could. Covering a bodywash operetta, they managed to cover the Iraq War.

And they write strong, and they write witty and they write funny.

And that's why so many men who dismissed feminism would still rush to read them every week. They have had an impact. We could shut down tomorrow (which would thrill Ava and C.I.) and they could walk away knowing they had an impact. Knowing they touched people's lives for the better. As Dona has said here before, when this all ends, she'd save some of the editorials we wrote and she'd save everyone of Ava and C.I.'s commentaries.

"We don't whore."

I believe I first heard that from Ava but it could have been C.I. They were fighting with Jim over something. He wanted them to write something or the other and they weren't doing it. It went against everything they believed in.

And they don't. And they don't back down.

"I was still a girl when I met Ava at college," Dona told me for this article. "With the example she and C.I. provided, I became a woman. I completely understand the girls and women who e-mail and feel like they know Ava and C.I. and feel like only Ava and C.I. can understand what they're going through. Because you read them and it feels that way. You read them and it feels like no one is going to rip apart another woman and just walk away while everyone falls silent. They are the avengers, they are Catwoman here her roar. They are the women who take no s**t. We're talking about the two who, in the midst of the most sexist years of my lifetime, 2008, managed to write 'The Vagina Strikes Back!' which charted some of the accomplishments women had and made you proud to be a woman, proud of the strength and courage that four women had shown in 2008. And so filled with truths, like pointing out if Hillary or Cynthia just wanted praise from the media, they would have dropped out immediately because 'A woman always knows the way to garner the easiest applause is to stop fighting.' That's just so true and that's the entire piece. It's just amazing. And when you factor in that while they were writing this woman-affirming piece all of the feminist 'leaders' were busy ignoring Cynthia's presidential run and ripping Sarah Palin apart."

And that is their job and that is their role. Avanadc.i. The two-headed monster, Jim used to call it. The first weekend, Ava felt on her own. C.I. didn't know anyone (Jim snagged C.I. after she was done speaking on our college and asked her to help us start our site). The two of them ended up completing each other's sentences, backing each other up. It would later turn out that Ava's aunt was one of C.I.'s closest friends (and there's a picture of C.I. and other women with Ava at her ninth birthday party). It would turn out they knew many of the same people. But all of that would emerge later on. They bonded immediately because?

"C.I. saw I was out in the cold," Ava says. "And I was. Jim and Dona were interested in each other. You and Jess were roommates with Jim. I barely knew any of you and my ideas were being shot down and C.I.'s the one who ended up saying, 'Woah, stop. Are you listening to what she's suggesting?' Why? Beause she knows women can be shut out very easily. And I know that too. And our role is to see that it's combatted."

"Is there not a woman that we can cite?" In the early days only Ava and C.I. would be asking that question. Now you're apt to hear it from any of us during the writing session. As much as Ava and C.I. have impacted our readers, they've also impacted our lives. We've changed even Jim -- even Jim -- is now a feminist.

So no, we can't be silent. Everything we have stood for for almost five years online goes against silence.

Riverdaughter wants to endorse Pig Willy posting images of naked women? That's her dance and she'll have to dance it alone. There was no reason to post that image. Supposedly Pig Willy is writing about the films of Stanley Kubrick. Women don't really register in Stanley's films or did anyone miss that point? Whether it's Nicole Kidman with a meager walk-on or Shelly Duvall, Kurbrik was more likely to give huge chunks of dialogue and huge numbers of scenes to a talking computer rather than a woman. Stanley Kubrick has no image of women from any of his films that immediately leaps to mind. Next month, Pig Willy posts stills from Straw Dogs!

Feminism, for Riverdaughter, is something you toy with it. Something you grandstand about and finger point at Barack Obama over, you decry his refusal to fire a speechwriter who groped a cardboard of Hillary or maybe you slut shame the speechwriter's girlfriend for doing an underwear shoot. But you never, ever call out Pig Willy for posting nude images of women -- as grotesque as he can find, mind you.

Riverdaughter treats feminism as a fad, this site has always treated it as a fact of life.


Jim: We have several topics that may come up or we may end up just sticking to the big one. Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. This is a rush transcript. Ty, we've delinked from The Confluence. You explain about that in a piece this edition, but give us a few remarks right now.


Ty: You stand for what you believe in or you don't. It's that basic and, Jim, I'm sure many others can talk about that aspect. I work for a director, I work for an Academy Award winning film director and we discussed this last week. So let me talk about Pig Willy's website that The Confluence is so fond of, specifically, let me talk about his choice to illustrate a story -- one on Stanley Kubrick -- with a nude woman. The most iconic image from Kubrick's films would either be the red dot on the screen or the simians from 2001. Neither image would have provided female nudity, however.

Ava: Agreed. Agreed on the images, agreed on everything. Pig Willy wants to insist that anyone objecting has a problem. Riverdaughter wants to play dumb and her little minions want to delete comments objecting to Pig Willy trying to market his bad writing with lurid T&A photos. If you're writing about Kurbrick, you're obvious image would be one of the director. You also can go to an iconic image. Neither was good enough for Pig Willy who just wanted to show some tits and then wants to pretend like everyone else is a prude and has a problem. No, you ugly piece of s**t, no one's a prude, we just don't care for dirty old men exploiting women. I've read Ty's piece and I'll just note he spoke to one of C.I.'s friends who did do nude scenes in seventies films and who really puts this into perspective in terms of the women who are doing those scenes and what their understanding was then. Pig Willy has no right to try to 'enhance' his bad, little writing on the backs of women. And he acknowledges that this is what he's doing in his comments when he whines that no one would want to see him naked. The obvious implication is: "I can increase my web traffic by using nude women." He's a purveyor of filth and a user of women.

Jim: In last week's "Editorial: Women's rights thrown under the bus," we touched on this topic. It's not a new one, in fact, this site's more or less been built on topics like these. In November, we were calling out The Nation for accepting a series of T&A ads, see ""The Nation endorses and amplifies sexism." The response to that, from one woman at The Nation, was laughable and Dona handled the response in "Hypocrisy here at Third (Dona)." I want to Dona to talk about that because, if you disagree with Pig Willy, you're a "prude," according to him. If you don't think his post on films by Kubrick needed a photo of a topless woman with erect nipples jutting out, you're a prude. Dona?

Dona: That's really a hilarious accusation and a lot of dirty old pervs have taken to that one over the years. At Third, we called out The Nation for taking a series of ads from a company that was allegedly 'socially responsible' -- no surprise the two people running the company were major Barry O Kool-Aid drinkers which, right away, tells you their ideas of 'socially responsible' were hugely f**ked up. The 'socially responsible' ads, used clothed T&A. Used women asses -- more so than their breasts -- to sell their bad product. And when we objected, a woman at The Nation wanted to e-mail to insist that we were hypocrites because we have an illustration that's a painting of a man in a bathing suit with a stamp -- for "Mailbag" -- and that proves blah blah blah. That proves nothing. That's an illustration, built around a pun, it's not a T&A photo. And, as noted there and many times elsewhere here, we really don't make an issue of this unless you exploit women. If you're running T&A and Pec & Ass or maybe Cock & Ass photos of men too, then you're an equal opportunity offender and we don't really fret over it. However, there is a long history of the exploitation of women's bodies and that long history includes not just the profiting from them but also the denigration of women through this exploitation.

Stan: And let me jump in here to note that Pig Willy is a White man, a Rage-aholic, who can't stand being a White man. He feels he's being gypped as a result. That was came through loud and clear when he ripped me apart online and started screaming that Affirmative Action wasn't needed. So a man who doesn't see a need for Affirmative Action isn't a man who's going to give a damn about exploiting women.

Wally: Stan said several things there but the one I want to emphasize here is: Rage-aholic. I have no idea why someone so unbalanced and so hostile would be embraced by Riverdaughter and her minions but I damn well know that men like that are to be called out, not apologized for, not ignored. Mike did a thing on this last week -- pretty much everybody did -- and he highlighted the sewer that Pig Willy runs where comments include 'punchlines' like this: "A woman who won't do what's she's told." This is a sewer and it's filled with women hating puss. It needs to be drained.

Rebecca: Yeah, the thing is, a visit to that website is a -- frequently the web equivalent of a strange man exposing himself to you if not attempting to rape you. Cedric and Wally chose to address it last week ["It's not complicated" and "THIS JUST IN! THE GIFT OF LOGIC!"] by quoting Gloria Steinem, "A woman reading Playboy feels a little like a Jew reading a Nazi manual." And I don't feel that's hyperbole. Pig Willy will try to insist what he's done is completely natural but it's not. And it's not about nudity. Let's clear that lie up right now. It's about power. It's about Pig Willy trying to rob women of power to make his own pathetic self feel empowered. So he does that by reducing women to nude boobs and nipples. There were many images he could have used, many infamous ones. Jack Nicholson -- clothed -- grinning crazily through the broken door from The Shining, for example. But it was never about, "This is an image you all know and it's from a Kubrick film." It was always about Pig Willy's own impotence and his need to feel better by humiliating women.

Betty: Support! We've talked about this forever. We've explored it so many times. But we'll do it one more time because Pig Willy's a damn liar. Here's reality for Black Americans. We surf the web, we think we find a website that we're welcome at, everyone's raving over some politicians, we leave a comment noting that so-and-so, a Democrat, did this or that which hurt Black Americans, and the same website that welcomed us prior quickly makes clear it's got a "No Blacks Allowed" sign ready to put in the front yard, or a "No Women Allowed," or both. Your website sends a message about who's welcome and who's not and when you're posting nude photos of women, you're making it clear that a large portion of people are not welcome and that, as Elaine said, you're running a locker room and not a website. And one more comment on that aspect, how many people use computers at work to surf? And because of your perversions anyone of them can be written up for their mistake in landing on your website? That's irresponsible and it is irresponsible of Riverdaughter to link to that site.

Elaine: Betty's correct. And someone needs to sketch out the Riverdaughter aspect of this because it will be lost otherwise.

Jess: I'll grab that. Pig Willy runs his latest T&A on a Friday. The following Monday, Riverdaughter does a post that includes an illustration by Pig Willy and praise, from Riverdaughter, for him. This led to multiple comments complaining that Riverdaughter was endorsing the sexist pig. The Clown and the other idiot moderators went on the delete all the comments except one. We get drug in because we link to The Confluence. So we hear about it in e-mails -- mainly from Confluceans who are appalled that Riverdaughter's so weak-ass she can't stand up against a sexist pig.

Elaine: Okay, I'll pick back up now. Riverdaughter, as a former Conflucian e-mailing my site declared, presents herself as "the Betty Friedan of the PUMA movement." And that so-called movement came about in response to the sexist attacks on Hillary's and the refusal of the media and Barack Obama to call those attacks out. So it's even more offensive when Riverdaughter refuses to call out someone for sexism and goes out of her way to excuse him.

Marcia: I heard that. In comments at my site and in e-mails. People are outraged that 'Mama Puma' would rather cover up for a sexist than call him out. It's considered an utter failure on Riverdaughter's part and an indication that the PUMA movement, as led by her, is a joke. It can't even stand up to a sexist in its midst? And they want lecture the media about sexism?

Trina: It goes to hypocrisy. And you're only good as your name. If you can't stand up, you're not worth listening to. If sexism is wrong only from some people, then you really aren't consistent and you really are infantile -- either because you're too scared to speak up or, more likely, because you're so vapid you've never come up with a core belief system.

Ruth: The latter is probably true in the case of Riverdaughter. I want to go back to points Rebecca made at her site. I want to point out that a number of women were offended several years ago when The Daily Kos had an ad of clothed women for a reality show and the ad was completely T&A. This led to one of the first waves of exodus from that site. Especially when the owner of the site dismissed criticism as something coming from "women's studies majors." Now people -- men and women -- were right to be offended that an allegedly 'liberal' site was running T&A ads. And people are right to be offended by Pig Willy's stunts. And in terms of Riverdaughter, for her to not only praise Pig Willy but allow her moderators to kill comments, to disappear them? That is disgusting and she is disgusting. She whined and whined about how she had to create her own site because people online were so mean but she lets her little thugs go through and purify her threads? She is a joke. She is not a feminist. She is a weak-willed ninny who refuses to stand up to a rage-aholic man who trashes women and trashes Affirmative-Action. And then the ninny wonders why so many people accuse her of being a Republican?

Ann: Well I find it disgraceful that any alleged Hillary supporter would embrace misogyny. But that's the reality for both Riverdaughter and Pig Willy. They embrace it. You call it out or you own it. You have to behave by the standards you set out. That's why we don't take Norman Solomon and others seriously these days. We judge them by the standards they preached. We do similarly with the PUMAs.

Jim: Ann, I want to come back to you near the end, to you and Jess. Anyone else on this topic? Kat? C.I.?

Kat: Sure. First, when it was brewing, I missed it. We had the week off and I dropped out. But Pig Willy and Riverdaughter and all her little punkettes want to act like this is no big deal. Where the hell have they lived for the last decades? Feminist theory has long covered the objetification of women and they want to play dumb? They want to pretend like it's a hang up on the part of other people? It's just ridiculous.

Jim: C.I., how about grabbing the prude aspect.

C.I.: Sure. My list of lovers is lengthy, legendary and ongoing. And I've been nude in front of the cameras. So, tiny dick Pig Willy, I don't know who you're calling a prude but, as usual, you don't know what the f**k you're talking about. The beggar boy's always got his hand out and always offering some 'reason' that falls apart if you pay attention. If you connect the dots suddenly you're left with the impression that Pig Willy is always working the grift. So it's no big surprise that someone like that would attempt to use women. In terms of Riverdaughter, her bully tried to shame a woman for modeling lingerie. For modeling lingerie. It supposedly said something dark and evil about her. It said she took part in a professional photography shoot. That's all it said. There was no reason to 'slut shame' that woman but The Confluence allowed it, Riverdaughter allowed it. It was, "This woman posed in underwear! And it says something about her character!" Well, Riverdaughter, Pig Willy elected to post an image -- not a photograph, the woman didn't pose for a photograph, that's not her in the image, it's a character -- out of context and to perv over it. And you can't call him out? You can attack a woman who poses in lingerie but you can't attack a pig who takes nude images from a film and posts them? What a hypocrite. What a liar. I don't have any use for her and I don't have any sympathy for her. I have sympathy for women who are exploited, not for women who allow other women to be exploited. If you're in a position of any kind of power and you're a woman, it is an obligation that you stand up for other women. Especially if you have that position because you've represented as an advocate for women. Riverdaughter's a failure and will remain so until she can call out sexism -- not just call it out when it comes from Barack but when it comes from her friends. When she can stand up for the rights of women even if it means calling out her 'friend' or risking public attacks from sexists in her 'own camp,' then she'll prove she has some sort of fortitude but, at present, she's just a little girl shuffling around in Mommy's shoes, play acting at being a grown woman.

Jim: Well said. Okay, two e-mails -- this topic is for Jess and Ann -- two e-mails came in this week pointing out all the Greens, by name, who publicly ridiculed then-Governor Sarah Palin for running as a vice presidential candidate. And both e-mails pointed out the hypocrisy of that ridicule coming from Green Party members. Want to tackle it?

Ann: Because of Rosa? Rosa's one of the reasons I voted for Ralph Nader. Rosa Clemente was never qualified to be vice president which is why it was so funny to hear idiots like Kimberly Wilder work themselves into a frenzy over Sarah Palin and insist that she had no qualifications. Ralph Nader is the one who pointed out that Palin was the only candidate for president or vice president who had executive government experience. It's that sort of thing that led me to Ralph's ticket. And Rosa Clemente, honey, learn to speak English. Good Lord, my party -- I'm a Green -- never again needs to run someone who can't speak the language. But along with not grasping that subjects have to agree with verbs, there was always the likelihood that any question would leave her in tears. That trembling voice. And Greens wanted to make fun of Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin was clearly qualified to be vice president. She might even be qualified to be president. She'll never get my vote because I'm not a Republican. But she's qualified. She's more qualified than Barack. And it was hilarious to watch so many Greens rip apart Sarah Palin as unqualified while they stayed silent on Rosa Clemente. Rosa's held what jobs? Rosa's accomplished what in her life? Never elected to any office. Never accomplished anything as a member of the paid work force. Unable to speak out with out almost breaking into tears. Qualifications are not: "She agrees with me!" The candidate may or may not agree with you. You should certainly support a candidate who agrees with you; however, don't confuse ideology with qualifications.

Jess: Rosa Clemente was very weak at the start. As Ava and C.I. have pointed out, she got stronger as the campaign went along. That said, Ann's correct. Those Greens, Kimberly Wilder for example, who have ripped apart Sarah Palin repeatedly with the assertion that she's 'stupid' or 'unqualified' should have to explain their support for Rosa Clemente. Sarah Palin's qualified. I'd go further than Ann and say she's qualified to be president. Like Ann, I'll never vote for her. I disagree with her on every issue.

Jim: Now for Cedric and Mike. My question to you both: Are you prudes? You're both straight men, you're both involved with women -- Cedric's married to Ann, Mike and Elaine live together. Are you prudes? Pig Willy argues you're either for exploiting women or your prudes?

Cedric: I've looked at nude photographs of women before. I would never post one at my website. I would never disgrace women or myself by doing that. When it started, it was one thing and then it morphed into another as Wally and I teamed up for joint-posts but it's never been a sewer. Women can be the butt of the jokes, we do a joint-post that's usually intended to be comic, but we are very aware, Wally and I, that a number of people go to town on women and hold their fire on men. We go to town on men. And most of our joint-posts are focused on the male politician or male reporter that's made an ass out of himself. There is no reason now or ever that I would post any nude to my website. Members of my family, members of my church go to that website. Posting the image Pig Willy did? I'd feel dirty.

Mike: And I think that's what he needed, the way some people get a charge out of having sex in public. Pig Willy needed to get his jollies off via that post. The idea that he was going to humiliate a number of women with that post was behind his selecting that image and using it. In middle school and high school, we looked at porn all the time. If one of the guys got a copy of whatever, we shared it back and forth. And I know my youngest sister was the same with Playgirl and nude males from gay magazines because she and her friends got caught at school with them. And there's nothing wrong with being curious or turned on by the female form or the male form. And there's nothing wrong with writing about sex. But Pig Willy wants to use an outrageous image to increase his traffic, one that has very little to do with anything other than his own legs rubbing together frantically. If I throw a party, I'm not going to post a photo of a nude woman in the hallway -- Elaine wouldn't let me, but I wouldn't even if she did. What would that say to the guests arriving? And what did that lurid image say to people arriving at Pig Willy's website? There was no need for that photo. It divided the readers, it objectified women and it put anyone visiting the site from a work computer at risk of a write up.

Jim: Okay. Isaiah, you've participated in several roundtables recently and I've forgotten you twice. I'm going to give you the last word and the topic's going to stay with Sarah Palin. Isaiah's the community cartoonist. He lampoons and parodies. Isaiah?

Isaiah: I think Jess and Ann made strong points and I agree with [them with] regards to Palin's qualifications. I find people like Bob Somerby to be dishonest when they go around saying Palin's stupid and similar remarks. I don't think we've had a bigger idiot in the White House than Ronald Reagan and Bully Boy Bush. So the idea that Sarah Palin is somehow less smart than either of those men? That is funny. It's not true. It's part of the ongoing effort to strip her of her power. And if you think of 2008, you'll remember how immensely popular she was when she spoke at the RNC. You'll remember what followed was one effort after another to rip her apart, including Barack's comparing her to a fish. They launched non-stop attacks and the end result was crowds still turned out for Palin and a sizable portion of the country still voted for her. Such a sizable portion that I'd argue she could win the presidency. She's not a detriment to the Republican Party. What we've seen since the 2008 race is the media's continued their attacks and non-stop attempts to marginalize and mock her. And still the crowds turn out for her. Sarah Palin's a natural politician and a gifted one. She's not one I'd vote for but I won't deny that she's a natural and one of the few the right-wing can point to.

Jim: And on that, we'll wrap up. This is a rush transcript. Our e-mail address is and we've called the pig "Pig Willy" because we don't want to give him any publicity. [Added Jim note: To Brenda and others who e-mailed asking where Mike and Cedric's comments were, I typed this and rushed typing and there was an issue that was raised that we needed clearance on. So I left that out "rush transcript" while I waited for Trina's call back to know if her youngest daughter, Mike's sister, was okay with what he was mentioning? She was and is so the full transcript is now above. I've gone back and added their comments.]

Idiot of the Week

Mr. FIDELL: Really the question is, is there a military purpose served by such an order? You can't have an order that doesn't advance some military purpose. That's sort of black letter military justice. And this, I think, does. I don't think the name of the game here is, how many courts martial can we try for violations of this regulation? The real question is, is it going to have a deterrent effect on behavior? And I have to assume around the edges it probably will.

CONAN: Around - so, the deterrent affect is what's - that's the military affect here?
Mr. FIDELL: Yes.

That's military 'expert' Eugene Fidell flaunting his ignorance yet again, above on NPR's Talk of the Town to Neal Conan who should have pursued the above but didn't.

When the hell has there ever been a deterrent against sex?

The AIDS crisis didn't deter sex. Abstinence-only didn't deter sex. Chastity pledges didn't deter sex.

Eugene Fidell is no expert on the military and he's even worse when it comes to other topics.

Before he's next allowed to speak of the 'deterrent' effects of prohibitions, we suggest he familiarize himself with Prohibition. Better yet, just don't ask him to speak.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"Ruth's Report," "Like the illegal war, the violence continues," "Still no safety in Iraq," "Cross-post," "Merry Christmas, Peace on Earth," "The news today, oh boy," "It's not complicated," "THIS JUST IN! THE GIFT OF LOGIC!," "And the killing continues" and "Veterans kept waiting all these months later" -- The holiday didn't shut down the community.

Isaiah The World Today Just Nuts "Super Model President" -- Isaiah's latest comic.

"Men are sexist coz women like Riverdaughter enable it," "Late to the party, where's the punch?," "It's not complicated," "THIS JUST IN! THE GIFT OF LOGIC!," "The KKKonfluence?," "I don't link to women who promote sexism," "Don't enable sexism," "the confluence = sexism," "Riverdaughter Runs a Sewer of Sexism," "I'm a prude?," "Hillary is 44 and community notes," "The Confluence can go f**k itself," and "Trash of the week: RD and JC" -- The big topic of last week.

"C. Clinton Sidle, the "C" stands for Kiss Ass," "Women's Media Center (radio program)," "Real news doesn't pop up on KFPA's Morning Show" and "KPFA's Dull and Sexist Morning Show" -- media criticism.

"The Glass Bottom Boat" -- Stan offers a weekend movie post.

"The tyranny of the 'independents'" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this comic.

We have less than usual on highlights in part because of the holiday but also because we think the above were the strongest
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }