Sunday, January 04, 2009

Truest statement of the week

In the Democratic Party primary, I supported Senator Clinton. When the nomination was stolen from her, I supported Ralph Nader. Throughout it all, I had admiration for Cynthia McKinney and Rosa McKinney running on the Green Party presidential ticket and for G.O.P. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. What a significant moment -- even though public radio was never interested in it or anything to do with women. Of all the photos during the election, this one made me happiest.


I did not vote for Governor Palin's ticket. But I could still smile with pride at the excitement of young women as they gather around the first woman to ever be on the Republican presidential ticket, only the second woman to be on a presidential ticket of one of the country's two major parties. Again, not a topic anyone wanted to explore. No program devoted a segment to Senator Clinton, the Honorable Cynthia McKinney, Ms. Clemente and Governor Palin. No program wanted to ponder the historic nature of those four women in 2008. Doing so would have required leadership. For all the talk of 'independence' and 'leadership,' public radio was nothing but a follower. A more high-brow version of the MSNBC cesspool in NPR's case. (There was nothing "high-brow" about Pacifica, it was pure cesspool.)

-- Ruth, "Ruth's 2008 Public Radio Report" (The Common Ills).

Truest statement of the week II

It really is amazing how little Iraq mattered to the alleged left after they had used the 2002 vote to tar and feather Hillary Clinton. They stayed silent as Barack immediately began backing off his 'pledge' in June. They stay silent today as Barack and Joe Biden -- two who grandstanded against the so-called SOFA throughout 2008 -- did nothing to halt the White House from ramming that treaty through or, in fact, even publicly offered a word of objection after the election.

-- Martha and Shirley, "2008 in books (Martha & Shirley)" (The Common Ills).

Truest statement of the week III

It was heart-ripping to watch the women like Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan repeatedly attempt to destroy Sarah Palin.
Now I understand why they did that: There was no way to make a case to vote for Barack.
When you have a candidate with nothing to brag about, you have to rip apart the competition to 'support' him.
I understand why they did it, it doesn't make it right.
And it's not something I will soon forget.
What Gloria, Robin and the gals of (Democratic) Women's Media Center didn't grasp was that what played with predominately male establishment that they were attempting to please appalled women.
It appalled and disgusted us.
And women in 'leadership' never looked so out of touch as they won praise from men for ripping apart a woman.

-- Betty, "Thinning out the herd (2008)" (Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Sunday. And we finished really quickly for us. First weekend of the new year as well. Maybe a good sign? (No, we'll be back to finishing at noon or three p.m. in no time.)

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,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

We thank the above. And here's what we came up with.

Truest statement of the week -- Ruth. This is from her year-in-review and we even included the photo which, for the record, was popular with readers here and not just with Ruth.

Truest statement of the week II -- Martha and Shirley nailed it. Iraq never mattered after they stole the nomination from Hillary. And the whiners never really gave a damn about Iraq even before, they just pretended in order to have another tool to attack Hillary with.

Truest statement of the week III -- Betty's year in review where she notes her huge disappoint in the so-called sisterhood.

Editorial: The bum works for you -- Don't forget it. There has been such a screwed up view long before Barack but it's going to be even worse with Barack if people don't grow the hell up. Barack is an employee. You are the boss. He works for you. Never forget it. If there is ever anything 'special' about him, it is the people who employed him. We do not have a monarchy. We do not have a King or Queen. The bum needs to get to work. And for those of us who remember 2005 and the WHINING about the inuagural balls at a time of war, what the hell is happening today?

TV: Head Games -- Ava and C.I. wanted to do one pure entertainment TV piece because they're not sure that's going to be possible again any time soon. Due to the holidays, things were slow TV wise and news wise. Grabbing the opportunity, they focused on a new show airing on Saturdays and they don't just document what's wrong, they explain how to fix it.

The attacks on Senator Roland Burris -- This article explores the racism against Burris, the sense of entitlement of Caroline Kennedy and a host of other issues. Burris is the Senator. He needs to be seated.

Boy, Did He Get A Wrong Number -- Dona said she wished there was one more short feature . . . We were finishing the typing and editing and gearing up to post. Dallas heard her. He found this and Dona, C.I., Ava, Jess, Ty and I quickly wrote around the photo.

Roundtable -- This is a roundtable revolving solely around e-mails. Ty and I picked some of the questions that were popping up and did so to try to address the increasing volume of e-mails. If you're issue wasn't raised, hopefully one that you found interesting was.

This week's Bronze Boobies -- Is this going to be a weekly? We're not sure. We actually have the Bronze Boobies and the Katrinas. Katrinas are for idiots. Bronze Boobies are for those caught acting foolish. Reader Jordan e-mailed to bring Scott Horton's nonsense to our attention, by the way. Thank you, Jordan.

Complaint Dept. -- This was another effort to address the e-mails and also to work in a book feature. And the book truly is hilarious.

Ty's Corner -- Jess asked Ty if he was planning to write a Ty's Corner? Ava and C.I. were off doing their TV commentary and we weren't sure what we had that was useable. Jess mentioned that it had been some since Ty did a corner. There were enough e-mails asking topics on one aspect that Ty was able to pull together a theme.

Idiot of the week -- Barack really has to work overtime to appear American? Is that what's going on? If it's not that, we've got a more jingoistic White House occupant than the shrimp from Texas (by way of Maine).

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty, Kat, Ruth, Cedric, Wally, Marica and Stan wrote this and selected the highlights unless otherwise mentioned.

Third Estate 2008 archives by week -- 2008 archives disappeared as a weekly listing on the right side of our blog (not "left" -- Dona says we referred to the left in something, we'll try to find it and correct it, she thinks it was Ty's Corner which she typed up) as soon as the first week of 2009 items went up. Refer to this (and it's on the blogroll also) when you're wanting to go throough the 2008 archives.

Third Estate 2006 archives by week -- And, thanks to C.I., we finally have the same for 2006.

Third Estate 2005 achive by week -- And for 2005. Prior to today, we only had our 2007 archives (and our 2008 which were displaying on the right side of the site).

And that's what we got. Hopefully, something to make you laugh, make you angry or get active. See you next week.

And happy new year.

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

Editorial: The bum works for you

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

So said Teddy Roosevelt, May 7, 1918. It's a famous quote, one Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson referenced in an August 2006 speech at an anti-Bush rally. And it's one worth remembering in a land of obsessive, overgrown teeny boppers who mistake their EMPLOYEE for their boss.

Bully Boy leaves the White House shortly. You can clean house or you can be sniveling cowards who allow Barack to abuse the process and system the same way his kindred did.

Barack works for you.

Barack 4

Not the other way around.

United for Pathetic and Injustice wackos think you work for Barack.

Tell Leslie Cagan and crew, "F** you!"

That's one aspect of how we are rendered powerless in our own country.

We confuse the relations.

We employ our elected officials. The bums work for us.

When they fail to do their jobs, we can get rid of them.

It's not difficult to do that. We suffer from the belief that it is (and have such a high rate of re-electing incumbents) because we fail to grasp the power we have and, therefore, fail to use it.

Barack's had another lengthy vacation. He didn't just win American Idol. He won the presidency in November. Time for Candy Ass to get to work.

You see him standing around, you should pull a David Spade Reality Bites, "You got time to lean, you got time to clean."

It is DAMN time to ask what your country is going to do for you?

JFK, the War Mongerer who couldn't keep it in his pants, really did a number on the country in between getting drugged up by Dr. Feel Good Max Jacobson. He shoved the government's responsibility off on to the people.


Other way around. The government is supposed to provide for the general welfare.

But it helped a lot of losers with empty, meaningless lives. Gave themselves at night to whack off to and finger themselves to. Some, like Katrina vanden Heuvel, still delude themselves into thinking the power-relationship shift was a good thing.

It wasn't.

The president of the United States works for you.

You do not work for him.

He is not a Saint.

He is an employee. He is your employee.

And he'll get his little Candy Ass into that White House and get to work, pronto.

Like the spoiled Deb he is, Barack's so busy rushing around planning one ball after another.

Word to SPOILED ASS Barack -- the country is involved in TWO WARS and facing a crushing economic recession. Umemployment is soaring. People are losing their homes.

Barack needs to turn the volume down. He's coming off like the greedy ass bastard he is and he needs to tone it down.

He's partying on our money and he hasn't done a damn thing to warrant the big, multi-ball party he's planning.

Never forget he works for you. He wanted this job. He sought it. He stole the Democratic Party nomination. So put the bastard to work.

Each day he needs to answer the following questions:

* What did you do to end the illegal war?

* What did you do to restore the Constitution?

* What did you do to ensure universal health care and not that punk-ass proposal you're trying to ram through?

* What did you do to make things better for Americans?

"And the world! "

Tell Medea I-Need-Attention Benjamin to shove that s**t back up her stanky ass.

The president of the United States works for the American people.

If he or she does his or her job, then making things better for Americans includes goodwill towards this country. That's what's known as "diplomacy."

But the president of the United States does not work for France or Australia or any other country which has its own leader. If the Rupert Cornwell's grasped that [see Cedric's "The Princess Tiny Meat Chronicles" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! SHOWER PRINCESS WITH PRAISE!") maybe they could get on with their own lives and stop looking like pathetic "Old World" hags desperately seeking a new royalty.

There's been little indication that Barack understands his job duties and there's been even less indication that his Love Slaves Katrina vanden Heuvel, Matthew Rothschild, Bitsy Reed, Laura Flanders, Norman Solomon, Jeffy Cohen, et al grasp that.

He works for you. Tell him to stop primping and preening and get to work.

TV: Head Games

Saturday saw a once-in-a-blue moon happening. CBS aired a new program. A non-repeat. The networks have largely abandoned Saturday night. Netlette Fox originally programmed a Saturday night -- years and years ago, featuring a pre-Friends Matthew Perry. It bombed and they ceased but swore, one day, one day soon, they'd be programming seven nights a week. And when that happened, they just knew, Geppetto would pronounce them a real network.


With ABC, CBS and NBC having given up on Saturdays and NBC planning to reduce prime time programming to two hours a night Monday through Friday (the third hour going to Jay Leno doing what he currently does on The Tonight Show), the pressure is really off Fox to ever expand to three hours of week night offerings (something they promised years ago). The Netlette has little reason to mature when the networks seems so damned intent on shrinking.

So we really wanted to like Saturday's program Game Show In My Head. (Disclosure, as noted before, we know Demi Moore. Ashton Kutcher produces the game show.) And after hearing from CBS execs that Chris Kattan had to be fired because he came off like a more mincing Rip Taylor and that Joe Rogan was just what the show needed as a host, we were curious.

Kattan could never have been as awful as CBS suits make out and Rogan is a train wreck.

You realize that as you grasp that, no, one of the fatties from fat-man-skinny-wife 'stardom' is not hosting the show, it's News Radio and Fear Factor's Rogan looking like Larry Love the Human Canary. He's losing even more hair, has packed on a ton and has more wrinkles than anyone his age should have. And, no, all the Max Factor in the world won't distract from that.

If Rogan didn't appear to be squeezed into his clothes (and a stomach girdle), he might not look so uncomfortable. But he looks and acts uncomfortable and did so in both half-hour episodes CBS broadcast last night. It's a bit hard to enjoy a game show when the host looks so damn queasy.

What's the show about?

CBS tries to lure you in with questions: "Do you consider yourself a daredevil, a risk taker, a great salesman? Can you get people to do things that any normal person wouldn't? These contestants think they can."

Each half-hour had one contestant. They go through a series of tasks and -- unlike on most game shows -- when they fail, they are not immediately ejected. That may seem more humane but it's honestly boring.

We'll come back to that. The two contestants were Shalisse and Craig. Shalisse's tasks including finding a woman on the street (all of the challenges take place on the street) who would let her pretend the woman's family was her (Shalisse's) family for photos; to find a woman who would let her put ranch dressing on the woman's face and a cucumber, ending with the woman dipping the cucumber in the dressing and eating it; find a man (with his girlfriend) who will say he knows you; stand people in line; get someone to cross the street faster than everyone else; and get a man to pose as your groom and marry you.

Now if the show had been thought out more clearly, someone would have grasped, it is more entertaining to see multiple contestants. For example, Shalisse failed at the task of getting people to stand in line in front of stairs (going up to a pier). Could someone have succeeded? If so, it would have been interesting to see how he or she did it, how they managed to accomplish what Shalisse couldn't. By the same token, people who find these shows amusing would have been rolling on the floor if, after Shalisse failed, three others had also failed in a row. By having multiple contestants, it comes off like a game show and not just someone desperate to be on TV.

Game Show In My Head's premise is that the people on the street do not know this is part of a game. Only the contestant does. Another plus to having teams of contestants is that the show doesn't have to think up as many stunts. If three or four contestants were doing what Shalisse did, they would have needed less than half the stunts used in the half-hour.

It might also give viewers someone to root for because we doubt most viewers rooted for Shalisse or Craig. If they rooted for the woman, they probably stopped doing so after her whine that, "These people . . . you put your hopes in them and they let you down." Oh, boo-hoo, you damn cry baby. You're humiliating people and they're not in on the joke and you want to whine? Craig -- who self-presented as a good time jester -- ruined any chance of good will by expressing homophobia before he tried to complete his first challenge. (Schedule a "bro date" with a stranger.) It was all so traumatic to alleged life-of-the-party Craig that he had to list as the most traumatic thing at the end of his half-hour. Oh, poor baby.

While this is going on, Joe Rogan is just annoying -- making remarks that are supposed to be funny but just waste time. Rogan declared in the first half-hour, "Now we have Shalisse's family here." Joe's grinning like he's got the most amazing comedic lines in the world but all he's got is the question of whether "it was a little uncomfortable to watch?" "A little bit, being a dad," answers Shalisse's father while Joe grins madly like he and Pops just scored with a roof raising rendition of "2000 Year Old Man." When Craig's seeking his bro-date, Joe will lumber over to Craig's wife in the audience and apparently try to bait her into making homophobic remarks similar to the ones her husband did. Maybe another "that's a little bit [fem voice] woo-hoo!"? Joe's leering as he asks, "What did you think about Craig trying to pick up dudes? Did it make you uncomfortable?" She handled it gracefully and told him "no." Too bad she didn't add, "But the way you're attempting to mince is scaring the hell out of me."

These bits are never going to work with Rogan. Joe Rogan is an attention getter (and the attention frequently gets him banned from comedy clubs) but he's not a laugh getter. Even as Joe on News Radio, he didn't get laughs from funny lines. He got laughs from the moment when Joe would realize he was a doofus and do a slow reaction. The idea that Rogan can handle patter is not one rooted in reality.

If they want patter, they need to get rid of Rogan and replace him with Kathy Griffin (the show is taped, not live), George Lopez or someone known for their comedic timing. If they want to keep Rogan, cut out the patter and use his natural gifts: when a contestant does something crazy, zoom in on Joe's reaction. And if you're keeping Rogan, get him a wardrobe that does not squeeze him in like a tamale casing.

The show could use Rogan's reactions to the various competitions. It could use reactions period.

And this is where the show really fails. In many ways, this is a riff on Candid Camera. The contestant does a goof on unsuspecting people. But it forgets the most important part, for Candid Camera to work, the trick has to be revealed at the end. Then whomever Allen Funt was tricking gets to prove that they're a good sport and the audience is comfortable laughing.

Game Show In Your Head never gives the audience the permission to laugh. The unsuspecting never learn what was going on. In fact, they look perfectly stupid as a result and we wouldn't be at all surprised if audiences found the game show cruel. In one bit, Craig has to find someone on the street whose shoe and sock he can remove. He finally gets a woman to sit down and removes her eye glasses telling her she looks stressed and leaving the impression that he's some sort of a therapist. Joe Rogan's telling Craig (who's wearing an ear piece) that he has only seconds left. Suddenly Craig's dropping to the woman's feet and telling her she'd be less stressed without her shoe and then removing her sock as well. He does that before the buzzer sounds and we watch him step back and start jumping around, excited to have won. This is all supposed to be in real time, so it's a little strange, as he jumps around, to see the woman walking off in the background -- with her shoe on. When did she manage that feat? Not in real time, there wasn't enough time.

So what happened there? Was she ticked and put her own shoe on? Did, as Craig jumped around, she grasp that this was some sort of competition? Or did she assume Craig had some sort of foot fetish and was in the midst of a leaping orgasm?

We don't know. And without knowing her reaction, this woman on the street, we really don't know what to make of it? The audience needs that "Smile, you're on Candid Camera" moment. They need to know that, having been humiliated, the person is okay with it, that the person is brought in on the joke.

Take the guy Shalisse 'marries.' In a wedding dress, she approaches a man who shoots her down, then another man sitting with his friend. She tells this second man that her fiancee just called off the wedding, points across the park to a ceremony waiting to be held with guests, musicians and a member of the clergy. To spare her humiliation, she lies, she needs someone to pose as her fiancee. Her family, she lies, has never seen him, so they won't know. Please, please. The guy's goaded into it by his friend and Shalisse is physically pulling him. He goes through with the wedding. They kiss. And then Shalisse runs off. What is he thinking? Does he realize he's been set-up? Does he feel in on the joke or humiliated?

You need that "Smile, you're on Candid Camera moment." It's surprising that we need to point that out because Ashton hosted and produced Punk'd which was another riff on Candid Camera and that moment when, for instance, Hillary Duff would learn the whole thing was a joke, that her driving instructor was not some bat-wielding terrorist, that she was not prevented from ever getting a license, that moment found the unsuspecting and the audience sharing a needed laugh/release. Without that moment, the tension just continues -- like stress.

Game Show In Your Head isn't a bad show. A few tweaks and it could actually be a gentle entertaining show for CBS that wins viewers each Saturday. And we'll certainly give CBS credit for finally programming something new on Saturdays. We'd also much rather see real game shows than another so-called 'reality' show. But, as is, Game Show In My Head is going to leave many viewers responding, "Yeah, well it should have stayed there!"

The attacks on Senator Roland Burris

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich exercised his duties by appointing someone to the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. His choice is Roland Burris and some people (including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) think they can refuse to seat Senator Burris.

Let's explore a little Illinois history via the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

*1950 Gwendolyn Brooks (b. 1917) becomes the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize; is named Illinois poet laureate in 1968.

*1959 Chicago native Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) wins the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for A Raisin in the Sun, the first play by an African-American woman to be presented on Broadway.

*1971 Chicago political and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson (b. 1941) founds Operation PUSH -- People United to Save (later Serve) Humanity.

*1979 Centralia native Roland Burris (b. 1937) becomes Comptroller, the first African-American to hold a statewide elective office in Illinois.

From 1950 to 1979, those are the highs, the landmarks for Black History in Illinois. And while there's very little to note for 29 years, Roland Burris has earned his place in that history, along side Rev. Jesse Jackson, Lorraine Hansberry and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Roland Burris is a trailblazer and a pioneer.

Senator Roland Burris

Announcing his decision, Governor Blagojevich declared, "Roland Burris was born and raised in Illinois. He attended school in Illinois, and has represented the State's people both as comptroller and as attorney general. He understands the people's needs. With his experience and knowledge, I believe there is no one better suited to serve as Illinois' next United States Senator."

Like many trailblazers, Senator Burris can point to Howard University, he's a graduate of their law school.

Is there anything wrong with his record? No one's found anything to object to. And as late as 2002, Barack was all on board with Burris -- Politico notes that in 2002, Barack supported Burris in his run for the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nominee. Wow. Barack - It's - the - judgment - Obama supported Burris in 2002 (same year as Barack's groovy speech!) to be the governor of Illinois and people want to pretend Roland Burris isn't qualified to be a US Senator?

White Harry Reid is making noises that he won't seat Burris.

People may not care for our noting "White" Harry Reid but race does play into it and we found it very interesting that, in covering this story, Monica Davey and The New York Times only identify race when it is "Black." If it's "White," that's apparently the norm and not necessary to note. Davey teamed with Rachel L. Swarns for one report last week where they noted:

On Wednesday, four black Democrats in the House said Mr. Burris should be allowed to join the Senate despite opposition to the appointment by Senate Democrats.
Some of those House members warned that black Democratic voters could be angered if Mr. Burris is prevented from taking the seat. Those who called for Mr. Burris to be seated were Representatives Maxine Waters of California, Donald M. Payne of New Jersey, Donna M.C. Christensen of the Virgin Islands, as well as Mr. Davis.
Senate Democrats said they were standing their ground in opposing Mr. Burris because he was chosen by Mr. Blagojevich.

No, they're standing with systematic racism in opposing Roland Burris.

No one disputes that Burris is accomplished and experienced. At the same time Harry Reid states he won't sit Burris, he's gabbing to the press about how he thinks Caroline Kennedy would be the perfect pick to replace Senator Hillary Clinton should Clinton become Secretary of State. Caroline has NO experience.

A Black man with experience, one who has stated he has no plans to run for re-election in 2010, isn't qualified? (Barack was elected in the 2004 elections. His term expires in January 2011.) There have been four Black US Senators in our country's history. Two were during Reconstruction (the time immediately after the Civil War when the country was 'reconstructed'): Hiram Revels was the first (1870, from Mississippi), Blanche K. Bruce (1874, Mississippi), Edward Brooke (1967 - 1979, Massachusetts) and Carol Moseley Braun, the first Black woman elected to the US Senate (1993-1999, Illinois). Since Braun left the Senate at the start of 1999, there has been no Black person serving in the Senate. Barack is not Black. While a person of color, he is bi-racial and not Black. Roland Burris would be only the fifth Black person to serve in the Senate.

Systematic and overt, direct racism is the reason there have been only four Black US Senators. There have been attempts to mind-read Blagojevich to determine why he appointed Burris. Another contender, also Black, came forward to say he was sounded out before.

So some have tsk-tsked that Blagojevich is trying to appoint a Black person just to save his own ass (there has been talk of impeachment for weeks now). Apparently, bored with panty-sniffing through Governor Sarah Palin's garbage, the same crowd now wants to mind-read Blagojevich. Maybe he just grasps the obvious: The US Senate is our Whitest federal institution. Maybe grasping that, he wants to do his part to change it?

What was really sad was to see some of the same people who insist that Hillary's seat must be filled by a woman turn around and attack Blagojevich for wanting to fill the seat of a person of color with another person of color. Ty exchanged e-mails with one such woman last week and, no, she never got it. And besides, she insisted in her e-mail, the press is reporting that Blagojevich is just doing it to save his own ass!

Would that be the same press that distorted Hillary Clinton? The same press that the female blogger spent months calling out for its lies?

It's really sad.

We have not taken the position that Hillary Clinton's seat -- if vacated -- must be filled by a woman. We haven't because C.I. and Elaine know (and like) Andrew Cuomo and are staying out of it for that reason. That's why we highlighted both Carolyn Mahoney and Andrew Cuomo -- both qualified candidates -- last month. We can see the logic in appointing a woman and we can see the logic in appointing the best candidate who might be or might not be a woman.

We know the qualified candidate is not Caroline Kennedy. So does Sol Bellel who is charting that at his site:

But we didn't make an endorsement in New York and we didn't make one in Illinois. We can see the need for more women in the US Senate and for more women and men of color. We're not making an endorsement now.

"How can you say that! This whole article argues that Burris should be the Senator!" Burris is the Senator. The governor of his state appointed him.

All we're arguing is that, having been appointed, Burris needs to be seated.

There is nothing illegal about Burris' appointment. Governor Blagojevich acted within the rights of his office when he made the appointment. If the legislature is not happy that Blagojevich made an appointment, they shouldn't have sat on their asses. They did sit. And maybe Blogjevich is innocent of what's whispered about him? Maybe he's not? He made the appointment.

To refuse to seat Burris is racist.

It's racist because the Senate has traditionally been a White zone. Immediately after the Civil War, two Black men finally made it into the US Senate and, after they were out, it would be almost 100 years before another Black person was a US Senator. Four. That's the 'big number.' Now the Civil Rights movement challenged these Whites Only zones and did so via many tools and methods. One of the most famous was the sit-in.

So when White Harry Reid starts threatening not to sit Burris, it does go to racism. It goes to the historical and systematic racism and it may very well go to racism on Reid's own part since he's made it very clear that the unqualified Caroline Kennedy should be the next senator from New York. That's only making him look more racist as he champions an unqualified White for a Senate seat and attempts to prevent a qualified Black Senator from being seated.

If Harry Reid doesn't like people wondering if he's racist, too damn bad. He brought it on himself by butting in. It is not Harry Reid's business whom New York Governor David Patterson appoints or whom Governor Rod Blagojevich appoints.

The Supreme Court already ruled that it was not the Congress' business whom the people elected. There are two ways to get into the Senate: Election or appointment. (Caroline Kennedy wants to go the third-rail: Buy your way in.) If the Court found that the Congress could not refuse to seat someone elected (Adam Clayton Powell -- funny how the efforts to refuse seating Congress members are always directed at Black people, just a coincidence?), the Court would have to twist logic to find that the second means of admission (appointment) could be evaluated by the Congress after a governor had made the appointment.

Burris is the US Senator. Barack's already resigned. That's why Burris could be appointed. And why this talk of "Paterson's about to announce Caroline!" is crap. If true, Paterson is the buffoon everyone says he is. Not because we'd disagree with the choice (though we would) but you do not appoint someone to a filled seat. Hillary may be the next US Secretary of State. She might not be. She might withdraw her name. Barack might decide he wants someone else. She might be nominated and the Senate might not vote to confirm her. Anything could happen. Her seat is not currently empty.

But Barack resigned. His seat is empty.

A point that did not escape the governor who explained last week, "This state has 12.8 million residents. During a time of economic crisis, they deserve to be represented by the two Senate positions to which they are entitled -- not just one."

Burris is the Senator. The governor has appointed him. The Illinois Secretary of State is attempting to monkey with the rules and avoid certifying the appointment. Ask yourself if anyone thinks they could get away with that if the appointee was Caroline Kennedy?

It is racism.

It's systematic racism and historical racism, absolutely.

But it's personal racism as well and here's how. With Burris, they think they can push him around. Harry Reid and the others think they can ignore him, think they can humiliate him, think they can boss him around and disrespect him. Never happens with a White Senator. It's past time it stopped happening with our Black Senators.

Mike Dorning and James Oliphant (Los Angeles Times) reported last week, "Should Roland Burris show up for duty in the Senate on Tuesday, armed police officers stand ready to bar him from the floor. This cinematic showdown is among an elaborate set of contingencies that Democratic leaders are planning if, as expected, the former Illinois attorney general appointed by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich shows up with newly elected senators to press his claim that he is the legitimate replacement for President-elect Barack Obama." Again, were Roland Burris named "Caroline Kennedy," you can be sure these threats would never be made. Are we going to need a sit-in to get Senator Burris seated?

While pondering Caroline's scant credentials, this is Burris' most recent resume:

Roland W. Burris, 70, Independent Director since 1996; Chairperson of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. Mr. Burris has been manager and chief executive officer of Burris & Lebed Consulting LLC since April 2002 and of counsel to the law firm Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan LLP since February 2007. Mr. Burris was of counsel to the law firm Burris, Wright, Slaughter & Tom, LLC from April 2002 to February 2007. Prior to that, Mr. Burris was of counsel to the law firm of Buford & Peters LLC from January 1999 to March 2002, and served as the managing partner of Jones, Ware & Grenard, a law firm, from June 1995 to December 1998. Mr. Burris concentrates his practice primarily in the areas of environmental, banking and consumer protection law. From 1973 to 1995, Mr. Burris held various governmental positions in the State of Illinois including State Comptroller (1979 to 1991) and Attorney General (1991 to 1995). Mr. Burris serves on the board of the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority, the Financial Accounting Foundation and the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. Mr. Burris also serves as president of the National Association of State Comptrollers and president of the National Association of State Comptrollers, Auditors and Treasurers. He is an adjunct professor in the Master of Public Administration Program at Southern Illinois University and chairman of a commission formed by the Governor of Illinois to study and recommend solutions relating to the State of Illinois pension funds.

Boy, Did He Get A Wrong Number

Voice: Directory assistance.

Bully Boy: Yeah, yeah, I need to call someone but I forgot the number.

Voice: Name?

Bully Boy: Mommy.

Bully Boy makes a call

In the hilarity that ensued, Bully Boy could remember neither "Mommy"'s first or last name and got very ticked when directory assistance suggested that he not operate a phone while intoxicated. Attempting to throw his weight around, he quickly found there is one thing less powerful than a lame duck: A cooked goose.


Jim: It's roundtable time and we're mainly focusing on e-mails that have come in. Dona looked at the ones Ty and I had selected and said there was no way it would be a mailbag so we might as well make it a roundtable. 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; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends. We're going to start out with something raised in an e-mail by ChazTiger97 who wrote to say that we are opposed to Caroline Kennedy being appointed a Senator and "yet you're not at all bothered or angry about a Biden dynasty. I smell favoritism."


C.I.: I'll jump in there because I know Joe Biden and I like him and if anyone's playing favorites here, it would be me. Chaz whatever doesn't know what he's talking about. Joe Biden is no longer a Senator, he is the incoming vice president of the United States. His seat has been filled: Edward Kaufman who has been his chief of staff. Kaufman is not planning to run for re-election and he's more than familiar with the needs of Delaware's constitutents. He doesn't need on the job training, he knows what he's doing. Beau Biden was not appointed to Joe's seat. Ruth Ann Minner, the governor of Delaware, has stated an election will be held for the seat in two years. So Kaufman is the perfect choice. There's no learning curve, he knows what he's doing. So in two-years, less than two actually, a special-election will be held for the seat. Now the concern by people like Chaz is that Beau, who alreadys holds office, will run in two years for the Senate seat. And that's what people are calling a 'dynasty' and falsely comparing to Caroline Kennedy's attempt to buy her way into the Senate. First off, Beau Biden is Delware's Attorney General. He was not appointed to that office. He ran in a state wide election and he won. He has been tested by the voters which, right away, puts him several up on Caroline Kennedy. Now he is deployed to Iraq and, I'm sorry, I'm going to speak out of school. Joe could have pulled Beau. Beau didn't have to go. Strings can be pulled if you're a US Senator, let alone if you're now about to become the vice president of the United States. A doctor suddenly finds an inner ear problem or what have you. Beau would never have stood for that. Beau signed up and is of the belief that he completes the service he promised. Would Joe have gone for that? If Beau had asked him, absolutely. He loves his children very much. So if Beau wanted to be appointed a US Senator, he could have it, he could have right now -- provided the governor went along. And Minner's no push over so I don't want to imply that she is. But in this "It's a grand conspiracy!" theory, Minner's rendered a push over. She's no such thing in reality. In two years, Beau -- unless he signs up for another tour -- may run for the US Senate. He may not. And it really goes to how ignorant people are about the Iraq War that they seem to think it's just a holding space. No one knows what's going to happen over there. Hopefully, Beau will make it home physically and mentally intact; however, this isn't a week at Club Med, this idea that everyone knows what Beau is going to do is just utter crap. Beau doesn't know what he's going to do. But if the "Grand Conspiracy" is true and this has all been doing because Beau wants the Senate seat and Minner wants him to have it and Joe wants him to have it and the entire political establishment in Delaware wants him to have it, Beau would still be running in an election and would require the people signing off by voting for him. There is no comparison at all between Beau Biden and Caroline Kennedy. Beau is not a spoiled brat, he is not asking to cut in line or be given anything. Should he become a senator it will be because he ran for the office and the voters picked him. Those partaking in the "Grand Conspiracy" should grasp something else. A GOP candidate for the senate has the next two years to run. The next two years to court Delaware voters and to form some bond of trust or increase a bond that already exists. There is no Beau Biden lock even if every piece of the "Grand Conspiracy" perfectly falls into place. I'm truly insulted that Beau, who is serving his country in Iraq, is being compared to the pampered, spoiled princess Caroline. That's deeply offensive to me. How did Caroline spend her youth? Oh, that's right, running around the Big Apple with various married men and no one was supposed to talk about it because little princess needed her privacy. Except for other women's husbands, Caroline has never given her all to anything. And photos exist. Why aren't we seeing any of them? Jann Wenner squiring Caroline to this Broadway play and that. She wants to be a US Senator. Why isn't the limited public aspect of her life being explored?

Elaine: Exactly. Jann Wenner was twice her age and married. That's just one example, by the way. Why isn't Caroline's fondness for married men being explored. Why, for that matter, aren't the people who knew her as the spoiled brat at The New York Daily News being interviewed? I spoke to one last week and he said no one had tried to contact him. She interned there and did damn little work. Not unlike her record as an 'educational czar.' But the real difference between a Beau Biden and a Caroline Kennedy is that if Beau had crashed Elvis' funeral, it would have been because he cared about the man's music. He would not have lied to the family, he would have not studied Lisa Marie -- a child -- to turn her heartache over her father's death into cheap tabloid fodder which is exactly what Caroline did. She was such a lousy journalist -- which is no one's ever believed the 'co-author' actually writes those books -- that everyone passed on her eye witness article. She managed to interested her 'steady' Jann and he fobbed the article off on Rolling Stone's editor who had to do a top to bottom re-write to bring life to Caroline's bad writing. Caroline's never apologized for that. Her attitude is that her 'birthright' allows her to prey on others' tragedies. It's the same attitude on display where she thinks her record as a socialite with make-work charity hobbies qualifies for the experience needed to be appointed a US Senator.

Jim: Okay, and I'm going to toss to Ty for the next one but I think it's been clearly established that there are no similarities between Caroline begging to be appointed to a job and the prospect that, in two years, Beau Biden would run for an open Senate seat. Ty?

Ty: Bracee e-mailed with a question for Stan. Since Stan's the only reason that the community sites are continuing through at least April, Bracee wonders if Stan feels pressure from that "or guilt?"

Stan: Not until now. I hadn't thought of it like that. I started my site not that long ago, I just got my 40th post last week. And I was wanting to but told C.I. I didn't want to start it if everyone else was about to shut down their sites. So C.I. said, "I can make it to April." As Bracee points out, I should feel pressure or guilt or both. I hadn't really thought about it.

Ruth: Well, to be clear, other than Elaine and C.I., we are all more than willing to go on for a bit longer. My site is not that old. I started doing reports at The Common Ills in 2005 but my own site is not that old. Do not feel pressured or guilty on my part.

Betty: I agree with Ruth but let me ask a question here. We know how Elaine and C.I. feel and we know how Ruth feels which is similar to the way Mike, Cedric, Rebecca and others feel. But do we really know how Third feels? I feel like we assume we do. But I'm not sure that we do.

Ava: I'm with C.I. I would have been happy to fold tent the day after the November election which was the plan as far back as 2005. We agreed to hold our review a show for a friend working on the show, agreed to hold it until mid-season. We weren't thinking at the time or we would have said, "Mid-season? We'll be done by then." But we agreed and we included that in one of our commentaries. Jim reads it aloud and points out that we just extended the life of Third. We hadn't caught that until Jim pointed it out. So, in terms of Stan, we were already going through January or February for that one show. Don't feel any pressure or guilt. I'm also pretty sure that, come the end of April, C.I. will extend for six more months but I wouldn't bet on much more than that.

Jess: There are times when I have the time to really participate and there are weekends where I'm lucky just to keep my eyes open. I don't know. We've been doing this since January 2005. I'm not sure what it would be like to have weekends off at this point. My attitude is, as long as everyone else -- Dona, Jim, Ty, Ava and C.I. -- want to do this site, I'll be here. I'm not going to argue for it to extend or for it to end. Dona?

Dona: Well, here's the thing for us -- for Jim and me. We are engaged now and we do have a wedding planned and a honeymoon. If this site is still going then, we'll be off for some time. A minimum of three weekends. I'm not trying to end things, my attitude is similar to Jess' attitude, and I'll be here working as long as everyone wants to do it. Now if Ava or C.I. walked -- and I think if one walked, they'd both walk -- we would probably end it. If Ty wanted out, we would consider ending it or Jim or Jess. But if Ava and C.I. walked, we would absolutely end it.

Ava: Because?

Dona: Hilda's Mix subscribers will get to enjoy the appalled tone in Ava's voice. [Note: Hilda's mix audio subscribers get the roundtable in audio form.] Because of the fact that you and C.I. do the calling card. Your TV commentaries have always been the biggest hit each week, always the site's calling card. If you leave, what are we going to do? Someone else is going to grab TV? Oh, that'll go over well with the readers. So we just leave TV out of the mix? I think the readers would be outraged by that as well. It's a no-win situation. So if you two left, we'd shut down. I think Ty, Jess, Jim or me could leave --just one of us -- and the site could go on. It would be different and maybe better but it wouldn't be as noticeable.

Jim: I agree with Dona and I was doing some math while she was speaking. Ava and C.I. take over the weekly TV commentaries solo two or so weeks after they start here in 2005. In 2006 and 2007, they frequently did more than one commentary a week -- also true in 2008. So they have easily done over 206 TV commentaries here at Third. Now if our little magazine lasted 10 or 15 years, yeah, we could bring in a replacement for Ava and C.I. and then a replacement for the replacement and it would be like Vanity Fair going on after Dorothy Parker was no longer their theatre critic. But we don't plan to go that long -- not even for Stan! -- so Dona's right. That would be the end. And she's right that it wouldn't be one of them leaving. We all squared off that first weekend all those years ago. And it really was all of us and Ava until C.I. started saying, "Wait, wait. Listen to Ava's suggestion." Or "that was a funny line." And that's just because Ty, Jess, Dona and I are more than happy to fight for ideas and mix it up and Ava wasn't really like that. But my point is that those two bonded and if one decided to leave, the other would as well. And Jess is playing like it wouldn't impact him but he and Ava have been a couple for how long now? If Ava wanted to go, then C.I. would go and, I bet, Jess as well. So Third would be Dona, Ty and me. We'd have to shut down. Do I want to shut down? I have a blast every weekend and sometimes feel like I'm the only one with Third that does. I love it all. The frustration, the stress, the tempers, you name it. I don't mind the arguing. I eat it all up. But not everyone agrees. Were it up to me, I could see this site going through 2010 easily. Ty?

Ty: I don't know. In the summer of 2005, we were all working on an edition and C.I. said, paraphrase, 'The Common Ills goes dark after the November 2008 election. I can't go on and on. I need a date to work towards.' And we didn't shy away from noting that or noting that we were shocked. There weren't as many sites back then. I think it was just Rebecca, Betty, Kat and Cedric. Ruth was already writing for The Common Ills but hadn't started her own site. But she was helping out that weekend. But I didn't understand it. I got that C.I. was tired but that's all I got. Now I get it a lot better and I'm like C.I. in that I would prefer to commit to small blocks of time. I can do six months. And then, at the end, see about six more. And the whole thing could well take us up to 2011, like Jim's talking about, but I couldn't commit to 2011 right now. That's way too much. If I thought we were going to 2011 right now, I'd be thinking, "Two more years! Two more years!"all the time. I'd be very unhappy. Six months I can agree to. I can't pin myself down for more than that. So Stan shouldn't feel guilty, to get back to the question. And to get back to Betty's question, we've covered it now in terms of Third. Is there anyone who is ready to shut down besides Elaine, Ava and C.I.?

Jim: Let the record show no one spoke. Speak now or forever hold your peace. Okay. Kat, Katherine e-mailed to complain that you only wrote 9 CD reviews this year and wanted to know if you intended to do more than that in 2009?

Kat: First, I wrote at least 10 CD reviews. I believe I wrote more than that, but I did at least ten. I also did my end of the year piece ("2008 in music"). I don't think it was a good year for music, 2008. I also have some people I will never review as a result of their 2008 actions. I plan to write about that next week at my site, hopefully on Monday. But I should only be doing 12 pieces a year and I believe I went over that this year. If I didn't, I missed it by one. Considering that the music sucked and that there was so much more to do, I think that's more than enough. I would like for my next review to be a double disc set and like it if that could go up this coming weekend. But that doesn't mean it will. I'm not going to say what it is because if I don't go on to review it, some will think there's a problem with it. That's not what it means. It just means I didn't have a way to write about it. I will say that if 2009 is as sucky as 2008, I will probably drop back to review some of my favorite older albums. If so, I'll be grabbing a Stevie Nicks' solo album for sure. I should also add that I'm now downloading more than buying CDs in the store. That's in part due to all the store closings -- including my beloved Tower -- but also because we're on the road during the week and it's so much easier when I get back to the hotel just to download an album than to try to make plans to stop somewhere and get it or order it online to have mailed to me.

Jim: Do you want to explain any about 'some you'll never review again'?

Kat: I'll write about it at my site. C.I.'s asked us to just never mention one person in particular here again and we never will. There are several like that and they can kiss my ass.

Wally: I'll toss mine out. Bright Eyes, go f**k yourself. Never need to hear your adenoidal whine again. Bruce Springsteen, punks like you were born to R-E-T-I-R-E. You realize, don't you, Bruce, that you've got two generations of music buyers to whom you mean nothing. Go do another "wee-wee" lyric, old feller. On the other hand, my opinion of John Mellancamp has soared and I'd love it if he could get a link. By September, Mellencamp was the only one I was buying and I bought up all his stuff on CD between September and December. "So you went to a party with Jaqueline Onassis, if you're so cool, why don't you wear glasses . . ." "Between A Laugh & A Tear" is another great song. There are so many and all I knew of him before March or so was the song he did with Indie Arie. Then he started speaking truth when others were acting stupid and C.I. turned over several live recordings to me to listen to on the road. There's a really great duet on "Pink Houses" between him and Maria McKee from a Farm Aid. For those trying to figure out what was going on when he caught my attention, he announced he would do a benefit for Barack and he announced he would do a benefit for Hillary. I respected that. And respected him for it. He only continued making sense throughout the year and I started buying the CDs in the fall.

Marcia: If I could weigh in on what Wally's talking about, it needs to be noted that John Mellencamp is a lot more advanced than Bruce who is a reactionary musically and one of the stiffest of all the performers. Bruce has two tricks, Phil Spector wall of sound or Woody Guthrie pose. The Lonesome Jubilee is an album Springsteen could never have done. It required too much stretching musically and the person had to be comfortable in their own skin.

Rebecca: That's a very good point. Mellencamp can get loose but Springsteen? I'm thinking of the 'dancing' in the video for "Dancing in the Dark." His 'dancing,' not Courtney Cox. He sort of embodies Billy Crystal's joke about the dancing abilities of White men, doesn't he? He really has no sense of rhythm which is why his non-acoustic numbers tend to clod-clod along.

Dona: Mike and Cedric have not spoken. Am I missing anyone else? We've got two more e-mails and I know one of them is really going to be an Ava and C.I. response. So Jim, save the question on movies and let Ty ask his question.

Ty: Ginger e-mailed wanting to know the biggest hope for 2009 and the biggest lesson of 2008. As Dona pointed out, Mike and Cedric have not spoken at all so we'll let them grab this and if others want to add after, feel free.

Cedric: Mike?

Mike: You start.

Cedric: Okay, I'll grab hope. My hope for this new year is that people will grow the hell up and stop believing that deluding yourself is a positive sign. Foolish is foolish, no matter how many times you try to put in a t-shirt with "HOPE" written across the front of it. Trust but verify. I think we could all use a lot more realism in our lives and my wish is that we get some reality back into our lives. I'm really sick of grown adults acting like saps. It's embarrassing. If there's any benefit to growing older, it's being able to have a sense of perspective. Perspective needs to be valued. 2008's disappointments are many. I agree with Betty's "Thinning out the herd (2008)" about Grace Lee Boggs and hope Mike will address that but I grabbed 2009, so I'll toss to him on 2008.

Mike: Well Cedric really called it on what we need this year: Perspective. I'm sick of seeing people older than me -- and I'm a grad student -- acting moon and cow-eyed. Grow up. As for 2008, Grace Lee Boggs? Does she have dementia? She might as well. She embarrassed herself and no one needs to bring on her radio or TV anymore. She's not getting any younger. She can't speak near a microphone without you hearing smacking from her dry lips and her constant clearing of her dry throat. I can't imagine she has many more years left in her. So it was grossly embarrassing that she refused to hold Barack accountable and just hopped on the bandwagon by public declaring that kids like him. She shirked her duty, she embarrassed herself. She destroyed her legacy.

Betty: She really did. I am so intensely disappointed in her. There aren't enough words to express what a grave disappointment she was.

Jim: Okay, last one. Solomon e-mailed that he loves Stan's Friday movie posts and he notes that Stan's "Michael Winship and Bill Moyers stumble upon the truth" and Ruth's "UNAMI, Bill Moyers, Janis Ian, Michael Winship" both highlight an essay by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship where they pick the 'best' films of 1933. He's wondering if "the cultural critics would agree with those choices"? And in an e-mail reply -- to me -- he stated that, yes, he meant Ava and C.I. and he was intending "cultural critics" as "a sign of the esteem I hold their opinions in."

Ava: What were the movies Moyers and Winship picked?

Ruth: King Kong, 42nd Street, The Invisible Man and Duck Soup.

Ava: Well, we'd agree on Duck Soup.

C.I.: That really is it. The other three are not the 'best of' period. The most glaring omission -- and telling -- is Mae West. Does Mae West threaten the PBS boys? Is she too much woman for them? Mae West single handledly saved Paramount. 1933 saw two classic films by mae West. First up was She Done Him Wrong, a classic, designated as such by the Libary of Congress. A famous comedy that establishes Mae as a lead actress in film. I'm No Angel was her follow up film. Cary Grant again co-starred. The film was a huge success and variations of her line "It's not the men in your life that counts, it's the life in your men." still exist today. West had already triumphed on Broadway as an actress and playwright and she was one of the few performers -- male or female -- to be the writers on their films. It's not just a curious oversight on Moyers and Winship's part, it's a telling one. Mae West was the biggest thing of 1933 movies, go back through the real-time coverage, and those films are classics. Not just classic Mae West films, they are film classics period.

Ava: C.I. and I have toyed with writing a piece on Mae West films for some time. I believe Kat noted that here back in June. But in addition to Mae West, 1933 is a strong year for Katharine Hepburn. Her Little Women is still considered the filmed version of the book. And that year's Morning Glory teamed her up with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The film is still considered a classic and its the film that she won the first of four Best Actress Oscars for. C.I.?

C.I.: Bombshell with Jean Harlow is a classic screwball comedy. Harlow had many hits that year but Bombshell and Dinner At Eight are the ones that are acknowledged classics.

Ava: Garbo's Queen Christina.

C.I.: Miriam Hopkins and Gary Cooper in Ernst Lubitsch's Design For Living -- and I wasn't aware that Lubitsch ever fell off the best of lists.

Ava: So Moyers and Winship ignore all those films that women played a role in. They do pick King Kong, famous for Fay Wray's breasts being exposed. Did we really need that? Do we really need the rank racism of King Kong? Today, can anyone avoid calling out the sacrifices of the women or the idea that White Fay was worth six Black women? It's a disgusting and disturbing film and that those quacks would pick it as one of the best says a great deal.

C.I.: Jean Harlow, Mae West, Miriam Hopkins, Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn. All making classic films in 1933 that remain classics to this day and it just sails over the boys' heads. Mae's apparently too strong for them and Little Women too 'girly.' So they choose Fay Wray's breasts and a horror film whose special effects have not aged well. They don't choose a single film that a woman is an equal or, heaven forbid, the lead. 42nd Street? Women are objectified. At least they get to keep their breasts covered.

Ava: For all those wondering how 2008 never resulted in Bill Moyers taking a moment to note the historic nature of Hillary, Cynthia or Sarah's runs for office, there's your answer, in his best of film picks. He doesn't give a damn about women unless he can see their legs or their breasts.

C.I.: And to be really clear here, Joan Crawford and Loretta Young and Barbara Stanwyck had hit films in 1933. We're not grabbing hits of the time. We're talking about classic films that have held up. And possibly Stanwyck's Baby Face qualifies as a minor classic. But the ones we went with are the ones established and agreed as classics. It's amazing how they all get ignored in the best of 1933 offered. It's amazing how much objectifying and violence aimed at women you can find in the selections Moyers and Winship made.

Jim: And on that note, we'll end the roundtable. The illustration is by Betty's oldest son. This is a rush transcript.

This week's Bronze Boobies

The Katrinas are awarded to the extreme idiots. For the foolish we have the Bronze Boobies. This week, two strut forward eager to bag a Bronze Boobie as they 'cover' Iraq.

First up, Scotty Horton. One of the gravest disappointments of 2008. So bad that we truly wish he'd kept his word to STOP BLOGGING. He said he was done. He posted his 'goodbye cruel world' post at Harper's. And there he was, back again. Scott, how can we stop flipping you off if you never park your car?

Scotty showed up Saturday (1:37 p.m., according to the Harper's time stamp) with "Bush a 'Total Failure' Says Former Iraqi PM." Oh, was that news? Noting the same Saturday morning Reuters' report hours earlier, C.I., knowing the entire world hated the Bully Boy and that it took no courage for Allawi to critique the outgoing Bully Boy, reduced that to an aside and zoomed in on the savage critique Allawi had for the SITTING PRIME MINISTER Nouri al-Maliki. But Scotty skipped that part. Apparently Bush Hatred trumps everything.

Bronze Booby Prize

Grab a Barack Boobie, Scott, and grasp this: If the entire focus of your life is going to remain the outgoing Bully Boy, you're going to have a very limited social circle and even less to talk about. The actual news -- and maybe you'd have to lose the xenophobic idea that only the US matters to realize this was the news -- came when Allawi slammed al-Maliki.

Scotty's attached himself to Barack's right nipple which means the left one's available for Leila Fadel. Fadel is Baghdad bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers and is damn determined to ruin the chain. Jess exchanged e-mails with a former colleague of Fadel's two weeks ago and even the colleague voiced dismay over the s**t Leila's shoveling these days.

Fadel seems damn determined to white-wash everything going on in Iraq. Friday's "Iraq snapshot" explained, "Leila, thinking 'happy thoughts' might have allowed Peter Pan to fly, but there's no evidence to suggest it will do the same for a news outlet." The point was lost on Leila. Friday saw a bombing that took approximately 30 lives (plus the bomber) and wounded over a hundred. So you just knew Leila and that crack bureau she runs in Baghdad would be all over this story, right? Wrong.

No article. If you were McClatchy and spending all the money on a Baghdad bureau (at a time when broadcast networks are leaving Iraq), we think you'd ask, "Where the hell was the f**king article? How the hell did you miss that?"

The Washington Post had their story on it, The Los Angeles Times had their story, The New York Times had their article. And McClatchy? Off yammering about commercial flights. It's the sort of thing that should lead to a sit-down review of job duties.

Other outlets covering the bombing included CNN, The Times of London, and McClatchy's Kansas City Star. Yes, we're aware of that. We're aware that yet again a story has made it into some McClatchy's paper, by McClatchy staff, but a decision was made to keep it off the McClatchy Iraq page. That's another job duty that should be reviewed in a sit-down.

The bureau has serious problems. McClatchy was hoping to syndicate pieces by Iraqi correspondents but that fell apart the minute the thing finally got going because Iraqi correspondents began posting less and less to the paper's Inside Iraq blog. Right there, you had your first indication that there were problems with the bureau and they were hurting the chain (and its reputation). But that got ignored.

Leila has serious problems and her former colleague shared with Jess a theory Jess has since adopted as well: Leila did a s**t poor job covering the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. And instead of admitting that, she has backed herself into a corner and can't move forward as a result.

There's also her determination to take part in a wave of Operation Happy Talk and ignore bad news out of Iraq. A real bureau chief, for example, would have long ago noted that McClatchy's daily violence report has suffered for months now, that the roundup that once trumped Reuter's FactBox is now regularly trounced each day by that wire service. That's the sort of thing a competent bureau chief would notice and would move to rectify. Immediately.

The fact that Leila Fadel no longer appears to give a damn about anything other than continuing to misinterpret the treaty means she can grab Barack's left one and Scotty doesn't even have to slide over.

Complaint Dept.


This e-mail came in Tuesday from longterm reader Jessie:

I enjoyed the look back features this week (12/28 - 01/04) a lot but ... I like to laugh and it was a really a surprise to me that there was nothing including a good humor book. On film, at least you included House Bunny and that is hysterical.

I come back each week because you keep me focused and because you keep me laughing.

Since you do both, I know you value humor.

I do too and I've found damn little of it in books in 2008.

Matthew Honan's Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle: 366 Ways He Really Cares seemed like it would be a funny book but it wasn't. It was an embarrassment. "Barack swam across the channel with you." "Barack Obama arranged flowers in a vase and left them on your doorstep." It was a piece of crap and the laugh was on me because I didn't want to spoil the laughter by reading it in the store. So I paid twelve bucks and tax for this thing before I ever opened it up.

Then there were the priss-pots Christopher Cerf and Victor S. Navasky who are about as funny as they are young. Bill Moyers raved over this book, Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won The War In Iraq. It's crap and a clip-job at that.

Even the illustrations by Robert Grossman sucked and I thought the illustration of Jessica Lynch was both unfair to her and sexist.

So I was really hoping for a book recommendation, one that would have me laughing.

Maybe next year,

Jessie [edited out]

It is the next year now, Jessie.

We racked our brains for a book to recommend. 2008 didn't bring a funny one and we'd advise you not to pin your hopes on Tina Fey's offering this year. So we racked our heads for something to recommend. What was funny?

What was funny and something Jessie hadn't seen?

C.I., "Ty, e-mail and ask, 'Do you read cookbooks?'"

Answer came back no.

Recommendation: James Lileks' The Gallery of Regrettable Food. The book was published in 2001 and Lileks has a website for it.

The book jacket describes the contents as "a simple introduction to poorly photographed foodstuffs and horrid recipes from the Golden Age of Salt and Starch." Jessie went to a Half-Priced Books store and found a copy and "can't stop laughing." You won't stop either.

Lileks work is best in book form because it lulls you in. You know it's going to be funny and, sure enough, after the intro, you'll smile at the the wacky things they did (page 18), you'll laugh at "wriggling, erect wieners" joke (especially with photo, page 19) and then you get to, "If your guests are as drunk as you are, just shove stuff in a glass and dump sugar on a plate. They're just going to throw it up anyway."

If you're not laughing non-stop and out loud by page 59, you either don't have a sense of humor or you misplaced it in your rush to leave a New Year's Eve party.

Ty's Corner


A number of e-mails came in during the last three weeks from readers we picked up in 2008 and there seemed to be various questions about the weekly writing editions. So this corner is just going to go over the basics of that.

Third Estate Sunday Review is Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself. We are very fortunate to have many people helping out each week but we are the ones responsible for the content. Dallas gets a special thank you each week and is mentioned on the left side of the site because he does so much and has for so long. We have repeatedly offered to include him as part of Third but he is fine with his current status.

Each week, everyone (not just Third people) working on the edition gets together. Generally speaking these days, Third is in California as are Kat and Wally. Others participate by phone. We are pitching ideas. We're tossing out what we have. It may be some elaborate pitch or just a sentence. Sometimes it's less than a sentence. "Roland Barris." I don't know who tossed that out this weekend but we all knew we'd be covering the topic long before the weekend rolled around. So there are things like that which we know we'll cover. (Though sometimes the features turn out badly and we end up shoving that into the print edition that goes out on our campuses.) Then there are the things that are maybes. This is a very in-depth process and time consuming.

B.B. wanted to know if Ava and C.I. truly are in charge of their space? Yes, they are. Jim will make suggestions before they start writing or ask them to work something in but that's their call. They do the weekly TV feature themselves, it's their beat and they can cover what they want. While Jim makes suggestions or requests, Ava and C.I. also generally give us an idea of what they're doing if it's out of the norm. This week, for example, they wanted everyone to know ahead of time that they were focusing on a game show and only a game show. This wasn't going to be a hard hitting piece. They outlined their reasons (which they didn't have to, they don't owe anyone an excuse). First, Saturdays are ignored by the networks and CBS was finally programming a new show on Saturdays, they didn't want any other topics to dilute from that. When we started up, we quickly became aware that our core audience included a lot of young couples who couldn't afford to go out on the weekends. So a Saturday show is a big deal to our longterm readers. Second, due to coming events, things are going to heat up in the real world quickly and Ava and C.I. wanted to do just an entertainment piece before that happened. There are readers who prefer them. There may have been a third reason. If so, I've forgotten.

Highlights? Why is it not written by Third?

When we started doing highlights, what we did was completely repost. The way it works now is you get a link to something and a description in "Highlights." The way it used to work was all of those things in "Highlights" would be reposted in full here. Near the end of that, I remember C.I. and I getting so frustrated by the whole thing and Mike saying he'd take care of it. We gladly slid it over to him. But to repost, you need to watch the spacing and do this and do that and it's time consuming and a pain. When Mike realized that, he started doing a form of the "Highlights" that now goes up each week. So that's their feature and Jim always lists Mike first due to the fact that Mike's the one who came up with how we currently do that feature.

Jim's note to the readers. It's always Jim typing it up unless he's taking time off. Dona used to joke (or not joke) that Jim wanted to play publisher while she got stuck with the grunt work of editor and that's why Jim wanted to do the "A note to our readers" each week. The note offers an overview of the week's edition and, on good weeks, a lot more than just that. Jim's note has fans and the few times we've said, "It's too late, we just want to go to bed" and convinced Jim to forget doing a note, the e-mails have come in complaining.

Kyleen e-mailed on the editorials and wanted to know "is it normal to feel outraged after reading one?" Normal or not, that's the reaction Jim wants. The editorials. Ay-yi-yi, as Ava would say. That's generally the last thing written. By that time, it's often Jim, C.I., Mike and Rebecca who are still functioning. And it's generally Jim and C.I. doing this back and forth with Jim really pressing buttons trying to get anger or sadness out of C.I. From that, we write up the editorial. Last week's editorial was just not working. Everyone was tired. Jim was off. Rebecca came up with an idea to save it and it worked. It gave it a different flavor, which Jim's not used to, and in his note you can't tell he's unsure of what to make of that editorial. This week's editorial will call Barack Obama a "bastard." As in "Make the bastard work for you." It's eye catching. It's supposed to make an impression. And we've discussed that editorial more than many we do -- discussed in advance. There is a lethargy with regards to political action and we went over a list of terms and a list of issues we especially wanted to raise. This will be an editorial that hopes to snap you to attention. Or that's the plan. It's not written yet, so who knows how it will end up? But Jim does want a reaction. In the original notes back in the day, he'd always write that he didn't care if you laughed, screamed, cursed us or the topic we were covering as long as something here grabbed you. And back when we had time to reply to e-mails, Jim would only reply to the ones disagreeing. He really enjoys those who disagree. His goal with this editorial (provided we're not all sleepy when it gets written) is to splash cold water on people's faces. It's okay to read it and say, "I hate Third Estate!" That's not the issue. But even if that's your initial take-away -- or especially if that's your initial take-away -- you're going to find yourself thinking about the topic. We throw St. JFK on the fire in it too, or that's the plan.

"Truests," was Olivia's issue. She wanted to know why it took so long because we'd mentioned that it can take forever. When you add six or more people and everyone's got a suggestion of what they believe was the truest thing said last week, there's going to be discussion, there's going to be debate and it can take forever. FOREVER. This week, I know C.I.'s pushing for Betty, Ruth and Martha & Shirley. I am going to be pushing for them as well as is Kat. I don't anticipate it will be a problem. The only problem is that I know Mike and Stan have several things they want for truest that come from C.I.'s "2008: The Year of Living Hormonally (Year in Review)." C.I. won't go for it and the sooner Mike and Stan drop it, the better. Three is pushing it for Truest and Kat, C.I. and I think the three pieces mentioned did something amazing and really deserve an extra bit of recognition. (That's not me saying I don't think that C.I.'s deserves extra recognition. I think it does but I know C.I. will nix the suggestions.)

Seven of you wanted more book features. Book roundtables are out. They are just too time consuming. Between now and April, we'll probably do one and no more. But we are trying to find ways to do more on books and we have a short piece this week that is on a book.

Larken feels that "sometimes the mix works better and sometimes it doesn't." No one working on these editions would ever disagree with you. We try to get a variety as much as possible. Some weeks it works, some weeks it doesn't. We're under no mistaken belief that each weekend is a home run. When we started, the first three months it killed us if everything wasn't perfect and it was never perfect. We have enough of a body of work behind us now that we're used to it. Also true is that stuff we all hated has gone up because it had to. If it didn't, we'd have only half an edition. So it's gone up with us hating it and some of that stuff has resulted in e-mails from people happy with it. Which just underscores how everyone's personal taste isn't the same.

Cliff was among those e-mailing to express how much he enjoyed last week's short story, "The New York State Annie Riots." He wishes we could do more of that. Each summer, we do our Summer Beach Read edition. That includes Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary plus fiction. It might be poetry, it might be parody, it might be anything. But we do that each summer. I would love to do it more often. Not a full edition but just tossing in a short story every now and then. Why don't we? Jim. If I pitched a short story idea this weekend and Jim loved it, he would tell me it was perfect and he would write down a note for us to work on it in June or July for that fiction edition. Jim hordes that stuff, afraid we'll do it and nothing will come up to replace it so we need to hold onto it. The reality is Jim's little note, read this summer will not jog my memory much and, if it does, I won't have the same enthusiasm. So I disagree on the waiting. Last week's short story made it to the writing process because Dona and C.I.'s friend (the Broadway composer) were both telling Jim it was too good to hold on. Cliff, I will convey your wishes to Jim again (I've already done so once) the next time any of us have a short story idea and he asks us to table it until this summer. Can't promise it will do much good, but we'll see.

Les wants to know how he can get his blog linked in an article here? E-mail. If you'd mentioned the blog's name (or provided a link), I'd be saying right now, "Check out Les at ___." Like Sol Bellel who e-mailed and he's following Caroline Kennedy's attempt to buy a Senate seat:

See, just like that. (We don't link to pornography. We're a site for the left so keep that in mind as well.) Sol actually linked to us and e-mailed to let us know (I believe he reposted one of Isaiah's comics). And he linked to Elaine. Who didn't see the e-mail he sent her. (Sunny, Elaine's assistant who runs her office, reads Elaine's e-mails. Sunny was on vacation last week. Elaine didn't see the e-mail until Sunday morning when I mentioned she might want to check. She plans to note Sol on Monday at her site.)

Andy e-mails asking not to "ever change" but he worries about our future journalism careers. I guess our sidebar sketch still isn't good enough. Here's what's what. C.I. was never a journalism major. C.I. was not in college with us. C.I. holds multiple degrees, none are in journalism. I have a bachelor's in journalism. I am not using it. I work in the film industry. Dona and Jim have their bachelors and are currently in grad school. Jess has his and is currently in law school. Ava has her degree (journalism) but she's on the road with C.I., Kat and Wally each week speaking out against the illegal war. She's put work, college, on hold to do that. Like C.I., Ava has money. That doesn't mean everything's easy because of it. (But, they'd both tell you, it does mean you don't have a panic attack when something breaks down or an unexpected bill or crisis emerges.)

Andy's fear is that we'll never be able to work in the MSM. We're not really trying to except maybe Dona and Jim and I'm not really sure what they're planning to do. They're engaged so they're planning to marry but, beyond that, I don't know. Andy notes that we don't play favorites and we don't. And that's fine. We're not trying to kiss ass. And especially these days, we have to hit hard. We are frequently the hardest and harshest critics. Let me offer a comparison. Paul Street is systematic in his criticism. And he will hold Barack accountable. He deserves much praise for that. But -- outside of his comments at ZNet -- he could be considered 'reasoned' or whatever. We're not trying for that. We're making the strongest case in our editorials, for example, and we hopefully make those few brave voices like Street seem less extreme as a result. We move the playing field to the left. The real left, where the actual people are. Which has me thinking of a feature so I'll stop there.

We really do not have time for personal replies. I'm sorry about that. But e-mails are read and we are trying to find ways to work them in each week ( And Elaine has noted a feature C.I. should do, a short one, and Jim noted it here recently. The film's a bomb. It's an obvious bomb. I can't believe papers are insisting otherwise. Your first day isn't all that and it drops each day after? You're a bomb. But C.I. can't say that. Couldn't before the film opened. Couldn't after it opened. Was hoping to do so this week but the Water Cooler Set is still claiming it's going to be a hit. It's not as this weekend's box office will demonstrate. We hope to get C.I. to do that feature next week. But if you're e-mailing on that, it wouldn't hurt to e-mail a reminder closer to the end of the week. In a busy news week, things can get forgotten very quickly.
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