Sunday, April 19, 2009

Truest statement of the week

The Obama mantra on crimes of the Bush administration since before he was elected has always been, “We're looking forwards, not backwards.” This is why people think Obama is arrogant, because he must think we are all idiots. Pointing out the logical absurdity of this statement is not enough when the intent is clear: Obama is arguing for immunity for his own continuation of the crimes he is trying to cover up.

-- Adam Kokesh, "Obama Looks Forward, Sees More Torture" (Revolutionary Patriot).

Truest statement of the week II

If the CIA agents and other responsible for torture are not prosecuted, then the message is sent to the whole world that torture is ok. And if torture is ok, then God help us all. What kind of monsters have we become?

-- NLG member and GI Rights Attorney James M. Branum, "Why I regret voting for Obama" (

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another edition completed. First up, last week's note had this added:

Ava, C.I. and Ty: We have added "Truest statement of the week III" Monday, April 13, 2009 because we thought Wally and Kat's comments qualified. We missed those until Monday morning just because we were tired. Be sure to check out their truest.

We were all okay with that. The reason it's Ava, C.I. and Ty is they were the only ones up that early in the morning (it was around five o'clock -- Ava and C.I. are up that early Mondays because they're getting ready to hit the airport to fly out and hit the road). Jess would have sided with Ava even if he didn't agree (Jess and Ava are a couple). So that's four votes (Jess, Ava, C.I. and Ty) and even if Dona and I (Jim) had disapproved, we would have been outvoted. But, for the record, we were asleep (as was Jess) which is why our names weren't on it. C.I. and Ava had to act quickly because they'd be leaving for the airport shortly and, short of waking us up, a decision had to be made. Ty was up and the three of them posted the addition. We are all fine with it and we'll just echo C.I. in saying we wished we had caught Wally and Kat's remarks in time to have posted them last Sunday.

So with that out of the way, onto this week's edition. Along with Dallas, the following worked 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 everyone.

And our content?

Truest statement of the week -- Adam Kokesh. This was an obvious once C.I. and Dallas clued us into it. Which was good because we had huge debates over the truests this week.

Truest statement of the week II -- Jim Branum was among the ones we had debates over. Another statement by him was also up for truest. This one emerged and there was no more debate. However the other statement had tied in multiple rounds with an activist (female), a journalist (female), an attorney (male) and a journalist (male). We would probably still be debating this had the statement we went with not been noticed.

Editorial: Media Whores and Medea Whore -- This wasn't our planned editorial but then we were checking the e-mails and, oh no, she's bothering us yet again. We really do not make a point to think of her. And some said, "Don't even open it." But we did and ay-yi-yi. At least we got an editorial out of it.

TV: Broken or fixed? -- There's so much we planned to cover this edition and didn't have time for. The economy is one example, Social Security is another. By the way, tonight Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers: "401K Recession. Never created to be a mainstay of workers' retirement funds, 401ks became just that to millions of Americans who are now facing uncertain futures because of the devastating losses in the stock market. Steve Kroft reports." We had this as a topic and an illustration. We may write it up next week. But Dona wisely realized, while we were making our list of topics at the start of the writing edition, that there was no way we were going to cover everything. What could we farm out to Ava and C.I., she wondered? She took the list to them and they said they'd be happy to handle Iraq's LGBT community but noted that Marcia and Betty and Cedric really were vocal on that topic (which is why we have two features on that this edition). They looked over the rest and said torture and prosecution ("responsibility") would fit with what they were covering because (a) they could grab PBS on this and (b) it is about responsibility and imparting lessons so it does fit with the sitcom they were planning to tackle. But, they added, check and see if others are wanting to work on this topic before they grab it. No. Everyone that wanted to had weighed in Thursday and/or Friday at their own site. Ty, Jess, Dona and I (Jim) were happy to let Ava and C.I. run with it. And that was before we knew what they were going to write. They did not disappoint. This really is a must-read and it's hard, reading it (I've read it three times now), to grasp that they hadn't planned to cover torture all along. Who else but Ava and C.I. would catch that PBS was silencing dissent and silencing the American courts? Amazing. So strong I was tempted to pull out sections on torture and use them for our editorial (Dona said I'd be sleeping on the floor if I did that). Hats off to Ava and C.I. because I know when we were all discussing our torture feature at the start of this edition, we had nothing like this planned. I am truly blown away by this.

Tea Parties -- When everyone gloms on with an attack, Third tends to stick up for whatever's being attacked. That's not me speaking, that's reader Josie who e-mailed Thursday asking if we were going to cover the Tea Parties? She figured we would in some way because of what she'd detected. She was correct. We thank a Dallas community member for the long quote and we thank her daughter for the three photos. You need to look at the large version of the photos (click on them) to see the people between the trees, for instance, in one picture. It is a sizeable crowd.

Papers and David Carr Stuck In The Box -- The David Carr article ticked off C.I. and Ava and me (but me later because I read it after they had already left -- they had circled paragraphs three, four and five in red lipstick -- indicating they were pissed and I should read it). To all of you who have repeatedly complained about NYT's delivery services, we did listen. Dona and I took it into a roundtable for Polly's Brew last October. This was the first time we could work it into an article here but we have all discussed the e-mails and have paid attention to them.

Civil Rights history including 'Now!' -- I like this and I think we all do. We see it as one of the things we do, correct the record. And, honestly, none of us knew all of this (except C.I.) so it was really great. Betty called her father about the song, as we note in the article, and we were all saying, "Do you realize how late it is in Georgia?" She said he'd still be awake and, when he found out it was a musical and Civil Rights issue, he'd want to have been called. He did recognize the anthem once Betty gave him the first lines. Ty's grandmother read it when it went up this morning and has already called to tell us that "back then, everyone knew that song. You couldn't escape it."

The Shirley goes to . . . -- Marcia was the one who suggested this but we were all in agreement with her. Polis earned the honor.

Greta Garbo -- Elaine and Rebecca played around online Saturday and found these photos at the Library of Congress. They brought it in as a possibility. Dona went for it immediately because we have some readers (at least three) who are always asking us to write something about Greta Garbo. So we wrote some copy and tried to include less well known stories and details when possible. The photos are the real focus, however.

Lt. Muthana Shaad's Gay Boy Chronicles -- This is our serial. We probably won't do it every week but we will continue this. Iraq's LGBT community is under assault and we will do our part to draw attention to it and we will do our part to call out those who aid or add to the assualts. (In real life, Lt. Muthana Shaad is a presumably straight police officer in Iraq who is a homophobe.)

Yesterday's Morning Glory Naomi Klein -- We loved Information Clearing House's comments on a Klein article and wanted to include them so we wrote a quick wrap around. Thank Betty and C.I. for the wrap around if it works for you. They are the ones who can remember every line of a movie (in this case, Katharine Hepburn's Morning Glory).

Matthis Stands Tall April 21st -- PSA on Matthis Chiroux. Remember this Tuesday.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Kat, Betty, Ruth, Rebecca, Stan, Cedric, Marcia and Wally wrote this and picked out the highlights unless otherwise noted. We thank them for it.

I could go on forever but Dona says I already have. So that's it and we'll see you next week.

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

Editorial: Media Whores and Medea Whore

We truly try to avoid the attention seeking behaviors of Medea Benjamin who (along with Jodie) has turned a once strong organization into CODESTINK. We truly do. But she's so desperate for attention, it's near impossible.

We're going through the inboxes and see she's sent out an mini-opus on her latest 'brush with fame.' Seems Medea, the Foundation Queen and don't we all know about foundations and their actual links, decided to play reporter and show up at a press conference Barack was holding. He brushed her aside but she managed to tease it out. That's not surprising. She's an Attention Whore. And she lacks the talent to be a performer and the looks to be a model so what's left but town crank?

"The only way we will force Obama and Congress to change course in Afghanistan is if we are able to turn public opinion against this war, as we did in the case of the Iraq war," huffs Medea.

What has she been smoking?

Does that idiot actually want to stand by that?

She's saying that if 'we' (somehow she's never the one to do the grunt work, is she?) turn public opinion against the Afghanistan War, Barack and Congress will be forced to end the Afghanistan War "as we did in the case of the Iraq war." Notice that the chicken shit can't even make it "Iraq War." That's how little it means to her. What a pathetic closet case.

Medea, you make it so easy to hate you and we honestly don't until we hear from you and then the waves of repulsion start rolling all over again.

The Iraq War hasn't ended you fool. Do you grasp that? You're telling people to do what they did on Iraq -- not what you did because you dropped Iraq in the summer of 2006 -- and the Afghanistan War will be stopped . . . when the Iraq War continues.

What an idiot.

What a damn fool.

The Iraq War may end at the end of 2011 (more likely it will continue but Barack will tell people it's only 30,000 troops and what does it matter -- it matters to 30,000 US families and it matters to Iraqis). It may not. It sure is sweet of the supposed 'anti-war' 'leaders' to 'moveon' to other topics and allow Barack to do whatever the hell he wants.

Barack's 'promise' is nothing but the Status Of Forces Agreement. The one Bully Boy Bush, Condi Rice and John Bolton strong armed Iraq into taking.

So if Medea's fine and dandy with the dates of the SOFA, she ought to be fingering herself and calling out "George W.! George W.!" over and over.

Nothing changed (but the SOFA can be changed). So Barack presents Bully Boy's plan -- the same plan -- and suddenly it's acceptable? In what damn world?

That should scare the hell out of you regardless of which issue you rank as the most important.

Barack presents Bully Boy's plan on Afghanistan (and Pakistan) and it's acceptable?

Barack presents Bully Boy's plan on (destroying) Social Security and it's acceptable?

Barack presents Bully Boy's plan on war on Africa (it's coming) and it's acceptable?

This weekend, we learned the latest about Kristoffer Walker. He took a stand and found himself standing alone. He called out the Iraq War as illegal and immoral. He stated he wasn't going back. And where was CODESTINK? Where were any of the organizations? Kristoffer was left to stand alone.

He had no support from anyone. Not even from Courage to Resist despite the fact that (a) Kristoffer was demonstrating courage and (b) Kristoffer was resisting. A US soldier home on leave chooses to publicly resist and did you notice how quickly all our 'peace' orgs suddenly started humming, shuffling their feet and averting their eyes?

It was disgusting.

And, sadly, no surprise at all.

We have a lot of Media Whores desperate to get press on themselves. We have very few genuine leaders. One gets the idea that Medea and the rest are okay with the Iraq War lasting well into 2016 as long as they keep getting clippings for their scrapbooks.

Andre Shepherd

If you're not getting how pathetic it is, we've noted war resister Andre Shepherd here and he's been noted community wide repeatedly. For the first time in months, he has actual coverage and . . .

it comes from the BBC.

But, hey, Medea got close to Barack and isn't that what really matters?

TV: Broken or fixed?

Sometimes things just don't work. Sometimes they don't work and they never will. Sometimes they don't work but they fix themselves. TV watchers should be highly familiar with those two principles because they describe about 65% of any network's offering each year.


In The Motherhood is ABC's new sitcom starring Megan Mullaly (Karen of Will & Grace), Cherly Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Jessica St. Clair. The three play mothers in this six-week sitcom which may or may not be back next fall. The first episode was a nightmare and even resulted in complaints to ABC from angry parents upset over the 'realities' of Santa Clause being explored in the first hour of prime time. That first Thursday episode did not work and no amount of spin can hide that.

Another thing that really did not work was PBS' NewsHour Friday. Two consecutive segments really underscored this. The first segment was the 'reporting' on the torture memos. For this Margaret Warner sat down with NPR reporter Ari Shapiro for an alleged report. Warner introduced the segment by noting, "In the US and around the world, there was angry reaction today to the Obama administration's decision to release top secret memos authorizing extreme interrogation techniques during the Bush administration and to the decision not to prosecute any CIA operatives who used those techniques."

Despite referring to the anger over "the decision not to prosecute any CIA operatives who used those techniques" in the introduction, that aspect was never addressed. Warner and Shapiro would discuss how "former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey" objecting to the release "in a Wall Street Journal" column, they refused to note any of the domestic "angry reaction"s. Hayden and Mukasey are quoted but domestic groups are avoided. Yes, an international group was quoted. And we're not foolish enough to believe that some American presented with this topic would give equal weight to the opinions of an international organization most have never heard of: The International Commission of Jurists. The whole point of that unequal "on the one hand, on the other" was to present some international body 'interfering' with (US) domestic affairs versus the concerns of former US government officials. The segment was an embarrassment. We'll praise both the use of Ari Shapiro (NPR needs to be the first go-to for PBS when booking journalists) and the summaries of the memos he provided. However . . .

The segment opened with Warner telling us there was anger over the decision not to prosecute and we never heard about that. Warner and Shapiro did feel the need to lump Obama, Leon Panetta (CIA chief), Attorney General Eric Holder's actions were 'explained' and we also heard more about why the memos should not have been released. At no point did we get an exploration of why there was domestic objection to a lack of prosecution or what that meant.

That silence was not an accident. It was intentional and you grasped that in the crap-fest which followed. We don't generally term segments on The NewsHour a "crap-fest." There are many times when we feel it is to right-wing centered (many, many times). There are many times when we feel it misses the point in discussions. But "crap-fest" is the only term for what Judy Woodruff moderated following Warner and Shapiro's discussion.

Why is that?

It was now time for a panel discussion. As usual, the roundtable leaned right. Leaned right? It tipped over. But we expect that from The NewsHour. What we don't expect is a crap-fest.

A crap-fest, as we explained to two on the CPB when we complained about this segment over the phone Saturday, is a segment which staffs a panel with unqualified panelists.

Neither Ruth Marcus nor Micheal Gerson, two general interest columnist for The Washington Post, were qualified to speak of this issue.

Leaving aside everything else, they were not qualified to speak on this issue. They are not law professors, they are not experts in the field in criminal law or international law. They are two general interest columnists. Ruth Marcus is also a world class eater but this wasn't a cooking segment (though it ranked right up there with those CNN cooking bits for worst Judy Woodruff moment ever caught on tape).

Some might want to say, "Forget what they cover, do you know, for example, Ruth . . ."

Some? A CPB board member. Don't give us Ruth's CV, we're quite familiar. We're also familiar with the rumors -- rumors the press has ignored but which have been all over DC for six years now -- that the Federal Trade Commission had assisted in some form with illegal internet spying. And the illegal spying and the torture are not a la cart issues. They are a combo platter. The illegal spying turned up 'intel' which gave the go-ahead for the torture which turned up 'intel' that led to more illegal spying. The mistake, and any informed person in DC can tell you this, is treating the torture and illegal spying as two different issues when both criminal acts worked together and side-by-side. What does the FTC have to do with Ruth? Jon Leibowitz is her husband, he chairs the FTC.

That wasn't revealed. Wow, Ruth would be opposed to the prosecution of government workers who broke the law. Imagine that. And PBS viewers were never informed that Ruth, insisting government workers shouldn't be prosecuted, was in fact married to the FTC chair. That disclosure not only should have been made, it should have prevented Ruth from being booked on the show.

Michael Gerson was allowed to sit there without the audience ever being informed of his connections to the Bush White House. The Bush White House was the one that okayed the illegal torture so someone who wrote George W. Bush's speeches and advised on policy (and was a member of the White House Iraq Group) from 2001 through 2006.

PBS ignored disclosure but they also ignored the need to book informed guests. There was no excuse for it.

Michael Gerson didn't think the memos should have been released and that there should be no prosecution. Ruth waddled over to the right-of-center to agree with no prosecution but she was glad the memos were out.

Ruth wanted to insist that she was like Barack and to climb on the cross by declaring, "And he opened himself up to a firestorm of criticism from the left that he was -- I know actually how much criticism you can get for this, because I wrote a few months ago that I didn't think these folks should be prosecuted, and I was called a torture-enabler. And I don't think of myself that way. And so the left is very unhappy about the failure of prosecutions. They're latching on to this hope that maybe some of the higher-ups will be prosecuted, and I honestly do not think that that's going to happen."

That may have been the all time low: The torture memos reduced to Ruth's hurt feelings.

Viewers never got told why some domestic groups might object to a failure to prosecute but the program did make time for Ruth to whine and what's less attractive than a fat ass whining on TV?

You never heard the argument for prosecution and you never heard why the memos were released. You allegedly heard legal arguments, you allegedly heard informed discussions, but you really didn't.

This continued on Washington Week where Pete Williams (NBC News) was served up as the expert. Williams informed of the memos, "most of what they described we already knew." Really? Does Williams listen to himself? He doesn't appear to.

One of Gwen's gaggle of male guests (eunuchs?) brought up The Wall St. Journal column and declared that, "Hayden's point was that al Qaeda now knows what the limits of our interrogation policy now are and they can train to them. Is there anything to that argument?"

Pete responded, "Yeah, his logic is that uh that now the bad guys in essence know that we'll try to scare them, we'll try to pretend like we might hurt them but that we really won't. We'll just try to make it really bad and they'll prepare for that and they'll train for that. The -- the administration's argument to that is, 'Well, guess what? We're just not going to do that anymore. They don't believe that this is effective and they believe that it's illegal so therefore it doesn't matter if they train to it because we're not going to do it anymore. Hayden's point, however is that now by this action the Obama administration has tied any future president's hands who might want to do this."

The obvious question to ask after that is, "Pete, you just said that the memos described what everyone already knew. So which is it?" The obvious question is never asked on Washington Week. In fact, you might say Gwen's made her career out of never asking an obvious or needed question (those who doubt it should check out her 2004 and 2008 vice presidential debate moderating).

"The ACLU, which is the organization that sued, their lawsuit caused these documents to be released," Pete said in passing and that was time for someone to holler, "Stop!" No one did.

It was more important that we get Pete Williams offering the CIA's argument, waxing on about how releasing some documents mean others will be requested: "This is the same thing by the way that the intelligence community warned against. They said, 'Once you open this door it's going to be very hard for you to suddenly say no more'."

Despite devoting over six minutes to this topic, Washington Week couldn't broadcast reality. Their web extra (six minutes and two seconds) did a bit better by responding to "Robin in Ohio" who wrote in wondering what the "real reason" for the release of the torture memos was? Pete gas bagged, "I think partly transparency and partly to show that there's a new sheriff in town."

He continued gas bagging at length before winding down with, "Now the other thing is that they were sued by the ACLU so this was in essence a court order."

Yeah, it was a court order.

We'll come back to it. First let's note some of the domestic objections.

Debra Sweet (World Can't Wait): "And, given that Obama is releasing these memos AT THE SAME TIME as he is officially announcing he won't prosecute those who carried all of this out means --in my view - - that nobody familiar with the release of these memos can any longer claim honest confusion about whether or not Obama represents 'change'." The Center for Constitutional Rights president Michael Ratner: "In making the decision not to prosecute, President Obama is acting as jury, judge and prosecutor. It is not his decision to make. Whether or not to prosecute law breakers is not a political decision. Laws were broken and crimes were committed. If we are truly a nation of laws as he is fond of saying, a prosecutor needs to be appointed and the decisions regarding the guilt of those involved in the torture program should be decided in a court of law." National Lawyers Guild member and GI Rights attorney James Branum: "President Obama and AG Holder are in my opinion now complicit in these crimes. Their argument that the CIA agents were relying on legal advice is a crock of ****. I'm sure Nazi lawyers said the holocaust was 'legal' too." When laws are broken without punishment, what message is sent? What precedent is set with Barack's decision? Will future criminals working for the government point out that the US allowed and later admitted to torture, refused to prosecute anyone and, therefore, no government employee or official can now be prosecuted for anything? And Adam Kokesh (Revolutionary Patriot) looks to the immediate future with his observations:

Please consider for just one second why Obama would not seek accountability and establish precedent that torture will not be tolerated. It is because he plans to continue the same basic policies! Obama is working to deny detainees at Bagram their right to habeas corpus. Obama is keeping open secretive prisons within the US called Communcation Management Units in Indiana and Illinois which inmates refer to as "little Guantanamos." Obama has declared his intent to continue the practice of rendition of victims to other countries to be tortured. His largely symbolic closing of the facility at Guantanamo will do nothing to change our image around the world when our travesty of a justice system continues to produce torture victims. Perhaps Bush did not know better, but as a scholar of Constitutional Law, Obama must know that he is crossing numerous lines.

And Adam Kokesh may be correct and is certainly correct to worry. If you're not worried you must have lived somewhere other than planet earth for the last eight years. The American Civil Liberties Union encourages people to "demand accountability for torture" and it's a one-click way to register your objections.

The domestic objections are about the law -- about the need to follow the laws. It's really funny how domestic objection to prosecution was avoided by both The NewsHour and Washington Week but they had time to be the voice of the intelligence community over and over. It's really strange how the actual broadcasts over PBS stations failed to address the fact that a court of law had decided these memos would be released.

Pete Williams whined for the intelligence community as did Ruth and Michael. No gas bag represented the people (but that's a given on PBS) and no gas bag spoke for the people and organizations objecting to the failure to prosecute; however, even more shocking, PBS rendered one branch of our federal government silent: The judicial branch.

The memos were released because a court of law determined they needed to be released. In other words, their release was THE LAW.

It's a point alleged law abiders Ruth, Michael and Pete never thought to address. The rule of law was never explored or even mentioned.

And yet they wanted to pretend they actually had informed discussions, that they actually presented anything of value. As we noted at the top, "Sometimes things just don't work. Sometimes they don't work and they never will." Last week that appeared to describe PBS and its news and public affairs programming.

"Sometimes things just don't work. . . . Sometimes they don't work but they fix themselves." That actually describes In The Motherhood. After a lousy first episode, it's already improved.

Along with the three lead characters, the cast is rounded out by RonReaco Lee and Horatio Sanz.

Megan is Rosemary whose friend Jane (Cheryl Hines) has a manny-nanny (Horatio) and whose sister Emily (Jessica St. Clair) is married to Jason (RonReaco Lee). After the first episode, you'd be forgiven for wondering how and why Jessica St. Clair was hired? It was not a good showcase for anyone but St. Clair came off the worst.

Fortunately, episode two found her on stronger footing and she's also benefited by the fact that stay-at-home Mom Emily now has a strong nemesis. She'd benefit even further were Jason given more time since the two have a realistic chemistry. The character of Jane was weakly written and weakly performed in the first episode. Not badly, just weakly. Hines has found her footing and the writers are getting there. The best moments for her involve Jane in the work environment. Horatio Sanz has consistently been a standout and a surprise in a role that was written as a Murphy Brown cast-off (Eldon).

But the reason to watch from the beginning has been Megan.

Megan Mullaly created the character of Karen Walker who now resides in sitcom heaven and, knowing Karen, probably presides over sitcom heaven -- at least the fashionable parts. Since Will & Grace left the air, she's tried her hand at a daytime talk show and done some guest spots. This is her return. Rosemary is a character that the writers are attempting to feel out. That happened with Karen Walker as well and, as before, Megan had a handle on the role before the writers did. But the writers have proven to be amazingly quick studies. So much so that you have to wonder why ABC didn't just scrap the first episode?

Everyone is so far ahead of what they were doing then that the pilot seems now to have been for another show.

Rosemary is the breakout character. Unlike Karen, Rosemary's not wealthy. She is wild and it's been letting those moments out that have helped take the show from whimsical to gut-bustingly funny. Whether it was Rosemary's punk rock group showing up to play for a school benefit or Rosemary marketing herself as Rose Mommy, a sort of Child Whisperer for on edge mothers, the show has rocked it in a way that you rarely see on TV.

The punk rock group episode was a win all the way around. Jason actually got to leave the house. Emily, who lives a life of perfection, met her nemesis (and things will never be the same). Jane and Horatio had to work through her strengths and her weaknesses and audiences learned to she could snap as quickly as she could simp. If Jane has one weakness, it's being a bit of simp and she really requires Rosemary or Horatio to give her strength in those scenes. (Note, there are child actors in this show. We do not comment on the performances of children -- good or bad.)

This Thursday, Rosemary has a wonderful bit where she laments never being allowed to participate in the children's car pool. (She drives a motorcycle.) It's not the giddy high that her organizing the nannies to unionize was but it's got plenty of laughs. It's also probably the best of the six episodes for Hines. If you checked out the first episode, we'd understand you're being doubtful about giving the show a second chance. On the plus, few of you bothered to check out the show (judging by the ratings). Each week has seen less and less viewers until last Thursday which actually reversed the downward trend. We think that has a lot to do with Rosemary's punk rock band and Emily's nemesis. That strong episode actually resulted in some good word of mouth allowing last Thursday's episode to actually increase viewers.

That could happen every week if ABC would put some faith in this show. The suits are currently attempting to figure out whether to ditch it or fine tune it. We'd argue for keeping it and argue against recasting. The first episode was the problem, not any of the actresses or actors. If they want to fine tune, they can do the smart thing and put it in front of a studio audience.

Some of the fumbling in the first episode would never have taken place if the show had been filmed before an audience. As some of those moments dragged and dragged, writers would have been summoned immediately to create new lines and business would have been improvised. Instead, you had a flat, static pilot. The show reminds us a lot of season one of Newhart. They ended up switching the way the show was shot for the second season which improved things tremendously. They also had the good fortune of Julia Duffy guest starring in the first season and everyone grasping her character (Stephanie) was much more interesting than at least one regular character. As a result, season two opened with a two-parter on Stephanie's return to the inn (and Bob Newhart's character attempting to ghost writer a famous actress' autobiography) which turned the show around. It established the Newhart America would love.

In The Motherhood doesn't need to go in search of a Stephanie character or a Julia Duffy. They actually have everything they need for a hit show except for a studio audience. Comedy really requires an extra spark and one of the reason 'droll' and 'whimiscal' abounds so in all non-CBS comedies these days is because they're insular worlds where the writers perform for one another, for back slaps over how clever they were, as opposed to actually attempting to make the people at home laugh. In The Motherhood needs a studio audience and ABC needs to grasp what it actually is and end its identity panic.

Tea Parties

"It was a great day! While the controlled-media did everything in its power to ignore or ridicule the hundreds of Tea Parties across America, their disdain was only matched by ours for them. They had no effect," declares Adam Bitely of the conservative organization Americans For Limited Government. What's Bitely talking about?

Wednesday, around the United States, rallies were held. Prior to the rallies, professional idiots/propagandists (just don't call them journalists) such as Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann attempted to trash the rallies with ridicule -- while allegedly on air to provide information and not juvenile and lame attempts at comedy. Bob Somerby's called out that nonsense for nearly two weeks now at The Daily Howler.

You didn't have to watch the gutter sewer of MSNBC to hear or read the slurs. (And few watch MSNBC. As Rebecca noted last week, Rachel Maddow is not a TV star, she's a media-created one, propped up by easy, glossy press that fails to note how many MSNBC viewers switch stations the minute she comes on.) "Tea bagging" was suddenly the rage. The morning of Friday, April 10th, 5 US soldiers were killed in Iraq. By the afternoon when C.I. was dictating the snapshot, community members had already e-mailed in about how allegedly left web sites weren't even mentioning the deaths but they were tossing around "tea bagging."

Tea bagging, for those not in the know, is largely a term from the gay culture. Picture a mouth as a tea cup, if you will, and the male 'hang down' as a tea bag and you'll grasp the picture. Were "tea bagging" parties due to be staged? No. The organizers didn't use that term.

But some 'manly' man (trace down that closeted homosexual) on the faux left thought it would be "funny" to use the term. Because gay men are conservatives? Because protesting is inherently gay? Or just because our alleged left leaders love to mock gay men as much as they do all women? (We'll guess the latter. But never forget lesbian Rachel Maddow was cheering the homophobia on.)

And if you're a self-loathing lesbian like Laura Flanders -- one who never said a peep about Barack putting homophobes on stage at the end of 2007 or using them in the general election to scare up votes in the swing-states -- you join in with attacks on the American people. Not attacks on the powerful, as Marcia pointed out, attacks on the American people.

The tea parties, Lying Laura (whose really getting the face she deserves in middle age and that nose is looking more and more like a pig's snout) wanted you to know that the tea parties were about . . . racism. Was she there? Hell no. Was the idiot Arun Gupta there? No. (Arun Gupta is the biggest waste of money and why most donors gave up on the Indymedia movement. But that's another story.) Laura and Arun want you to know the tea parties were about Obama "talked about as not really American, a closet Muslim, a 'sub-prime' president." 'Sub-prime' president would fit because this is the sub-prime era like calling Jimmy Carter the "oil crisis president," for example. Not really American? Doesn't sound like a right-wing slogan, does it?

Because it's not. It's Political Closet Case Laura Flander's idea of what Americans talk like it. Belonging to a political faction that never even sprouted in this country and having been born and raised outside the US, Laura doesn't know the first thing about America or Americans. It's really past time for someone to buy her a ticket home. She and her cats will be very happy back in England.

Laura wanted to insist, "Crazy talk comparing Barack Obama to Hitler went mainstream April 15th." That is so laughable. On The Laura Flanders Show (her radio show prior to RadioNation), she took calls constantly. Any caller comparing Bush to Hitler was not called out. And, thing is, Laura would make those comparisons herself.

She didn't think it was crazy talk when she said it. But she'll be damned if she'll let anyone else operate within the same framework she does.

It's called hypocrisy and when you add that to the rest of her tired bag of tricks, you start wishing one lonely night real soon she'd pull a Judy Garland. She's trashed her mind, she's trashed her image, her pudgy body is all that she has left. For Laura Flanders, the last eight years were about hating George W. Bush and, with him gone, she's transferred her hate onto ordinary American people. Yeah, that'll pull people over to whatever her next pet-cause is.

Trying to find out what the tea parties actually were was near impossible for most Americans.

At wowOwow, Liz Peek explained the basics in "Obama Ignores Tea Parties at His Peril:"

More than 250,000 feisty Americans took to the streets this week to protest high taxes and rising government spending. Curiously, the media -- and the White House -- treated this outpouring of anger as insignificant. Though we are supposed to take seriously Barney Frank's outrage over AIG bonuses, apparently ordinary taxpayers are motivated by some "special interests." Yes they are -- their own interests!
Americans are not stupid. They fear the huge deficits stemming from the budget proposed by President Obama, and they know that someone is going to have to pay for them. Moreover, they recognize that in all likelihood the numbers will only get worse. Indeed, only weeks after the budget was released, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that total outlays would exceed Obama’s projections by $2.3 trillion between 2010 and 2019. And that was before Congress axed some provisions that would have raised revenues.

How big are these future deficits? According to the CBO, the cumulative deficit under the president’s proposals would total $9.3 trillion in that time period. Boiling this down -- really, who can deal with trillions? -- the CBO reports, "Debt held by the public would rise, from 41% of GDP in 2008 to 57% in 2009 and then to 82% of GDP by 2019." Eighty-two percent! According to a Rasmussen poll out today, 85% of Americans are worried about rising inflation -- are we surprised?

A Dallas Common Ills community member was taking her daughter to the public library downtown for a school project and they rushed there arriving a little after 5:15 p.m. The main library in Dallas (it has many branches) is right across from City Hall and they parked beside City Hall ("at the meters because no one checks them after 4:30 p.m.") and were surprised by the crowd in front of City Hall. They had no idea what was going on and the daughter snapped some photos as they headed to the library.

Tea Party Dallas

"When we arrived, 'Jesse's Girl' was playing on the stereo system," the mother explained to us, referring to the Rick Springfield hit from the eighties. "We didn't know if it was a picnic or what. All these people were gathered in front of City Hall and there were more coming. As we moved on down the sidewalk towards the library, we saw people in t-shirts and with signs and I realized it was the tea bag thing. I was, honestly, a little scared. I hadn't been following the story but had heard so many outlandish things that I was thinking my daughter and I might be targeted or something [due to race, both are African-American]. We crossed the street and had to make an L to get to the library. As we were waiting to walk, two women and a man, probably in their forties, asked us if we were going to the rally and I explained that we were doing research for my daughter's school project. They were really nice and invited us to come over after we were done. I thanked them and assured them they'd be done before we were because this project is a huge part of the grade for this six weeks period. But it turns out that they were wrapping up when we left. In the library, we were on the third floor because she was researching poetry, we could hear the crowd chanting and roaring. We weren't by the windows. That's how big the crowd was. When we were done it was about 8:15 p.m. and we headed back to the car and the rally was still going on. Some man, I couldn't see him, was making 'jokes' about whether to call their website person the 'webmaster' or 'webmistress' since she was a woman. I thought that was kind of lame. Especially because he had to get in his p.c. dig. But it was a huge crowd and a couple on our street, they may have been the only African-Americans there, walked up to us and asked if we'd attended the rally as well. They were really excited about it and they voted for Barack Obama. I voted for Ralph [Nader]. I asked them, because they're kind of yuppies and really into the Democratic Party events locally if there were others like them attending and they reeled off about 10 names which isn't a lot considering the crowd. Then again, that might have been all they knew. They said they were there because of TARP."

Tea Party Dallas II

We thank her for her comments and we thank her daughter for the photos. FYI, we attempted to get comments from 15 right-wing bloggers with no success.

Tea Party Dallas III

Our own thoughts on the event have to do with the critique or 'critique' being offered by a number of idiots.

1) They're in bed with Grover/Karl/whomever!

Who the hell cares if it is true? If Karl Rove sponsored these events (we don't know that he did), who the hell cares? The events weren't "Let's love Karl!" We've never bought into that cowardly crap that we can't go to this peace demonstration or that rally because one of the co-sponsors is ___ (whatever). Who cares? The event was the event. That's why people were there.

2) It was astrorfed!

How idiotic has the left gotten? Or is that what's coming out of the White House's 8:00 a.m. Echo Chamber meetings? Astroturf refers to when a small amount of people flood someone (often a news outlet) with tremendous amounts of e-mail, letters or calls to give the impression that a large number of people are offended. An event can't be astroturfed.

3) Fox 'News' promoted it!

Like Pacifica radio promoted peace rallies once upon a time? Like Air America promotes every fart and giggle from elected Dems? Who the hell cares if Fox 'News' promoted it? They promoted lots of things that flopped. "Promotion" or coverage? We'd love to see our causes get attention and we're sure they'll never get a word of praise from Fox 'News' but we won't begrudge an event that Fox covered and promoted.

4) It was a small turn out! Ha ha!

250,000 people is not a small turn out. 250,000 is an amazing turnout especially on a weekday when you're asking people to show up after many have already worked 8 hours and expecting them to stay for hours and still wake up the next morning and go to work. 250,000 is an amazing number. Good for the people who planned and participated. Congratulations to them on their successful event.

Some may wonder where our criticism of the event is? We think it's been mocked and ridiculed and distorted. That's the main reason this moved onto our topic list mid-week. We think the events were grassroots and that the people participating did so with the best motives. We're far more troubled by the intolerance and ignorance being exhibited by the likes of Laura Flanders, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann.

IVAW's Adam Kokesh never drank the Barack Kool-Aid so you should trust him. He offers his take on the Tea Parties here.

Papers and David Carr Stuck In The Box

There's a kind of stupid . . . all over the web. But never more so than when a Docker Boy weighs in. As happened Monday on page one of The New York Times "Business Day" section where the last of the goofy Docker Boys (we pray he's the last) David Carr was yammering away about news models and profits and things that were way over his head.

NYT paper woes

"Faced with an ad market that no longer supplies enough revenues to meet costs, many newspapers are now considering putting up pay walls on their Web sites, long an anathema in Internet culture," declared David before following up with a run-on sentence and then one whining about 'poor' AP. The reader might think (and Carr appeared to) that ad revenue was how the AP makes money. Wrong. The AP makes money by charging its members. Not a standard fee, in fact. They can (and frequently do) increase fees when they feel an event (sporting, political or war) will require more money.

AP's business model (long a monopoly) is based on what AP wants it to be and there was no reason for Carr to include AP in an article which repeatedly touched on advertising (including the decision by The Los Angeles Times to run an ad on their front page which many could and did mistake for reporting).

Sidebar, AP really doesn't want to piss off the blogosphere. March 31st C.I. (and Ava, Kat and Wally) attended a Senate Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on Iraqi refugees which C.I. wrote up (we say "reported on," C.I. says "wrote up") for the March 31st snapshot. April 1st, AP 'reported' on the hearing but, as C.I. noted that morning, "AP misplaces 1.1 million Iraqi refugees." As C.I. points out, the number was established in the initial round of questioning and was then used repeatedly in the hearing. It's also true that AP grabbed a copy of Senator Bob Casey Jr.'s press release which used the correct number throughout. Even so AP couldn't get the figure correct in their 'report.' Point? That's no uncommon. And just yesterday, C.I. included this in an entry: "Contrary to a really bad AP report (we're not linking), Kristoffer Walker did not make a stand in January and announce he was not returning. That was in February and you can see this Feb. 23rd snapshot for more." The Associated Press has cut back on positions and a lot, A LOT, of mistakes are making it into their articles repeatedly. If they really want to go to war on the blogosphere, they may piss off the wrong group of people who may decide to start monitoring their 'reporting' and creating a score card. If that happens, watch AP's 'brand' plummet because who wants to run stories by a national laughingstock?

We're done with AP for the rest of this article.

David Carr's article was based on the woes. The woes of the every day whiner.

Back before he started mainlining Barack's Kool-Aid, Norman Solomon was capable of making a coherent argument and one of them, in 2006, was how the newspapers were not in the trouble they said they were. That the profit many papers were turning was an acceptable profit every where but with Wall Street. He also dreamed daily of a sort-of combine, a journalist owned and operated newspaper.

These days, he's too busy wet dreaming over Barack to form a passing thought, let alone an argument. Which is too bad because before he became a Barack Junkie, he could have told Carr what's what.

Carr's article is based on the dwindling reader theory and it's real funny how newspapers never take accountability for their own problems. And that's especially funny with regards to The New York Times. As pointed out Monday, "For the New York Times, any article on the lack of newsprint being the first and last stop should include the names: Jayson Blair and Judith Miller. Among many, many others." Somehow those names escape Carr's attention despite the fact that both made the paper a laughing stock.

But let's talk the reality Carr wouldn't or couldn't because we've got various age groups, we've got people who were journalism majors (Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava), you've got two who grew up in news families (Ava and C.I.) and you've got some actual subscribers in the mix.

Does David Carr subscribe to a paper? If he does, that needs to be his next column. And it needs to be honest.

A number of us live here on the West Coast at C.I.'s and there are no problems with the deliveries of the various newspapers but only because C.I. no longer uses The New York Times (and others) paper service. C.I. cut deals with local distributors and gets the paper promptly each morning at the same time. If you have a ton of cash to waive around, it could happen to you as well.

But for most of us, that's not the case.

Which leads to the "Will the paper get here before I have to leave for the day?"

That wouldn't be a problem for C.I. and it's not one for Elaine (it's left with the doorman of her highrise) or Rebecca ("It's a small island, we all know each other). But for many people, a paper tossed on the yard or near the door needs to be snapped up within ten to fifteen minutes of hitting the ground -- otherwise a neighbor's grabbing it.

How many time this decade has the paper switched contractors? And we're not even talking about the delivery contractors, we're talking about their contracted 'customer service.' By February 2008, the problems were non-stops. We heard about it from readers and were toying with writing about it back then. When The New York Times ever complains about their falling subscription base, they have no one to blame but themselves because they have NO IDEA how bad the situation is. As late as last January, we were getting regular reports from subscribers calling to complain about papers not being delivered (1-800-NYTIMES) only to be cursed out and hung up on by the 'cheerful' women (do they have any men answering the phone?) working for the contractors. (Anyone at the paper wanting to shop those phone lines should do so between five and six a.m. EST which is when most of the cursing and hang ups take place.)

One apparently universal complaint is that the latest round of contracted carriers (delivery) are no longer delivering to the door. Now they toss it on the yard, on the curb, sometimes in the street. There is no quality oversight. And the paper wants to whine when subscribers walk?

People like Carr like to pontificate about how cities used to have an afternoon and morning paper. Yes, and cities also used to have multiple papers. That actually encouraged buying a newspaper because if one had lousy service, you could switch papers and get a different carrier as a result in most cases.

The newspaper is no longer the primary resource for news and as they began to happen, they all should have started reconsidering their models and evaluating various services. The one service they never seem to improve on or even consider is the subscription one.

When people are being cursed out by 'customer reps' at the customer hotline, the newspaper business has a problem. And The New York Times can claim that it's not them, that they contract it out. Doesn't make a damn bit of difference. That number (1-800-NYTIMES) not only has the paper's name it, you only call it when you can't get a paper.

And it takes a long time before most subscribers figure out (or are told) that the employees they are speaking to (the ones who answer "New York Times") do not work for the paper.

In one of the worst cases we've heard of, a subscriber of the paper has been complaining about one delivery issue since February 2008 and has repeatedly been told that he will be called by someone. He has never been called by anyone. And when he calls to complain again (and again) about the same problem, the customer rep will usually bring up, "I see on my screen that this was passed on up and ___ was supposed to get back to you." And ___ never does. Never has. Never will. That's over a year with the same problem. (The subscriber is giving it until July and then cancelling.)

David Carr wanted to whine which is all the Dockers Boy are ever good for but, notice, with them it's always a self-whine.

So David Carr stitched together a really bad column of the same factoids and bromides that have been talking points for about three years now. He had nothing to add and, most of all, he forgot the customer.

That is the problem.

He does grasp that, right?

When he's whining about lost revenues, he does grasp that the amount of readers determine advertising rates, right?

And he does grasp that for-profit newspapers are in the business of selling papers.

So when he wants to ponder the state of newspapers next and fret over dropping circulations, maybe he should get off his fat, candied ass and try speaking to some of the paper's subscribers and some of their former subscribers.

That might be too much work for a Docker Boy but that's another thing. Once upon a time, when newspapers paid columnists, they paid them for doing something other than gas bagging with the same talking points. They expected the columnists to interact with actual people and to never forget the public as part of the story.

The refusal to continue to do that may go a long way towards explaining the continual decline of circulation. But that's the point, it's not one easy reason and it didn't just start yesterday. It's a longterm process of driving your readers away and a number of papers have worked overtime to do just that.

Civil Rights history including 'Now!'

While working on this edition, as we waited for Jess to put on some new tunes, C.I. was humming a song which Ruth guessed was "Hava Nagillah." Yes and no. It was that melody but Adolph Green and Betty Comden had put lyrics to it. As C.I. was explaining it, Jim pulled up Crapapedia to see if it was noted. It isn't (hence Crapapedia). Here's their section on Civil Rights and Lena Horne:

Horne also is noteworthy for her contributions to the Civil Rights movement. In 1941, she sang at Cafe Society and worked with Paul Robeson, a singer who also combated American racial discrimination. During World War II, when entertaining the troops for the USO, she refused to perform "for segregated audiences or to groups in which German POWs were seated in front of African American servicemen" [5], according to her Kennedy Center biography. She was at an NAACP rally with Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi the weekend before Evers was assassinated. She was at the March on Washington and spoke and performed in behalf of the NAACP, SNCC and the National Council for Negro Women. She also worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass anti-lynching laws. [6]

They leave out a lot. But they do have a good photo by Carl Van Vechten.

Lena Horne

They can't get her family correct. (Two relatives of Lena Horne's maternal grandfather would pass for White, one an actress, the other a singer.) They can't get the pressure on her correct either. (Early on, while trying to establish herself in the New York theater, she was advised to pass for Latino by agent Harold Gumm and producer George White -- Horne refused).

Most significantly, they leave out Horne's signing with MGM. Horne didn't want to make movies and was quite happy in New York City. So happy she was turning down an offer from the Trocadero in Los Angeles when the NAACP's Walter White explained to her that not only could this lead to a break in films for Horne, it could lead to a huge advanced for African-Americans. She took the town when she opened at the Trocadero. After MGM offered a contract, Horne went to speak with Walter White. They discussed the roles African-Americans were relegated to -- servants and native caricatures. It was for this reason that Horne refused to play demeaning roles and had that written into her contract. In her autobiography, Lena, Horne explained of the roles offered to African-Americans at the time, "They were mainly extras and it was not difficult to strip down to a loincloth and run around Tarzan's jungle or put on a bandanna and play one of the slaves in Gone with the Wind."

Crapapedia leaves out that and they also tell you that Lena Horne never starred in a film while under contract to MGM. Apparently they missed Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather (the first was for MGM, the second was made by Fox with MGM loaning Horne out for the film).

During one section of the conversation Dona nodded to Ava who jotted this down.

C.I.: Betty rightly likes to bring up Katha Pollitt's nonsense dismissal of the NAACP speaking out against the lack of TV portrayals of people of color. That's Katha showing not only her xenophobia and snobbery -- yes, Katha is a snob; no, no one knows why -- she's also flaunting her historical ignorance. Cabin in the Sky was made, and all the studios tried to turn or churn out one all African-American film during that period, because FDR's administration was asking them too. 1945, FDR dies and Harry Truman's not interested so the studios feel they 'did their part' and the flurry of FDR-requested African-American films are over. As a result unemployment rates skyrocketed for African-American performers which led the NAACP and others to pressure and led to a motion, introduced by Betsy Blair -- not yet blacklisted and married to Gene Kelly -- to introduce a motion in the Screen Actors Guild calling on the Guild to fight back against discrimination. Though the motion made no real difference in the immediate time, it did pass unanimously. But what did happen was a push back of stubbornness on the part of the studios. And that's either followed with a push-back from advocates or with a backlash. Bringing that up to the present, so for Katha to write that bad column where she felt it was her 'duty' to tell the NAACP what to focus on, and to include that bad column in her bad Virginity or Death was not just insulting, it was historically ignorant and racist. Racist even if she was completely ignorant because it's really not her business to decide what issues an organization should focus on and I've never seen her call out the ACLU or any other organization. Only the NAACP, which is an African-American organization, was she comfortable bossing around. Strikes me as racist. Historically ignorant because instead of attacking the ACLU, she should have been applauding it and standing with it to call out the absence of African-Americans from TV. By refusing to join the call and slamming the NAACP, she was siding with the forces that opposed Lena Horne and that traditionally held African-Americans back. That she did so from the pages of The Nation is very telling. And Betty has rightly focused on the issue of the message it sends to the youth. She's a mother of three and she's very aware that her children rarely see characters of their race onscreen. That hurts them, that hurts all children. Equally true is that there are many people who, like Lena Horne at MGM, are repeatedly held back, repeatedly prevented from a chance to utilize their gifts and talents. Katha regularly re-writes her whine about the small number of women writing columns for The New York Times -- while ignoring her own magazine's miserable record. Maybe she just thinks bad columnists need opportunities? But someone needs to ask her why she wants equality in a bad newspaper but thinks it's 'wasteful' for African-Americans to object to being excluded from roles?

We did not know about FDR's request or the studios rushing to execute it. We also didn't know, as C.I. would continue to explain, that Lena Horne was dubbed "the female Paul Robeson" because she was very active politically -- with the NAACP and the Hollywood Independent Citizens Committee for the Arts, Sciences, and Professions. That she was blacklisted for her politics and not just from film, but blacklisted from TV and radio (Ed Sullivan helped get her off the blacklist). She protested the KKK, advocated for the rights of Japanese-Americans and much more. She was highly active politically, especially for that time period.

C.I.: And The Nation pops back into Lena Horne's life before the blacklist. She refused to do an MGM-backed Broadway play because it was flat-out racist. As a result, MGM started screwing her over by refusing to let her do night club work. [Joan] Crawford advised her to get a bigger agency and she went with MCA. They did the bare minimum. That's in terms of getting 'permission' for her to work in nightclubs and in terms of 'representing' her. They were more than happy to take her money. But MCA was a highly racist agency and Lena would find, in town after town, that while a White star or White personality far less famous than her, raising far less money than she did, would be greeted immediately by MCA, receive congratulatory telegrams on opening night, MCA would mosey on over to see her when they damn well felt like it, maybe three, maybe five days after she opened. The telegram would arrive on the second or third night. They were racists, they were damn racists. Even for the time. They were also cowards. And of course Jules Stein ran MCA. That would be Katrina vanden Heuvel's racist grandfather -- the only person in the family who ever made money, the money she still lives off of. And that money, like her little Harlem mansion, comes at the expense of African-Americans. That family made their money off modern slavery and racism.

So remember that each time you buy a copy of The Nation, you reward a family with a long legacy of racism. A family that built its money treating African-Americans like second-class people (at best) while gladly taking commissions off their work -- work that they didn't even get the performers. Performers whose career they were happy to profit from but refused to build.

Lena Horne's Civil Rights work including raising the profile of African-Americans in film and in clubs, ending segregation in New York City clubs as well as clubs outside of NYC. It includes joining James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Jerome Smith, Rip Torn, Dr. Kenneth Clark, Lorraine Hansberry and Dr. Brewton Berry for a meeting with then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to discuss the segregation and violence in Birmingham (the violence included police sicking dogs on the marchers and fire fighters turning the hoses on the marchers on May 3rd, which followed the April arrest of MLK and other assaults on peaceful protests). Her activism found her traveling to Jackson, Mississippi to speak and sing at an NAACP rally -- which is where she met Medgar Evers for the first time. Horne was booked on NBC's Today Show June 13, 1963 to talk about the Civil Rights movement and learn, shortly after arriving at the studio, that Medgar Evers had been assassinated the night before. Horne would manage to compose herself and go on live TV to discuss Evers life and legacy. She participated in the August 28, 1963 March on Washington. She would do a Carnegie Hall benefit for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

At that performance she would debut two new songs. "Silent Spring" was written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg about the September 15, 1963 Birmingham 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham in which four young girls -- Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Diane Wesley, Carole Rosamond Robertson and Addie Mae Collins -- were murdered. The second song was "Now!" which is a Civil Rights anthem and was a hit song. Like "Kumbaya" its role in the Civil Rights movement seems to be forgotten by many today. The bulk of us had never heard of it when C.I. was singing it and still didn't recognize it when C.I. put on Lena Horne's recording. (Crapapedia is, not surprisingly, unaware of "Now!") Betty insisted on calling her father and though he didn't recognize "Now!," when she sang the first lines of the song, he immediately recognized it.

In an effort to reclaim and pass on history, below are the lyrics Adolph Green and Betty Comden wrote for Lena Horne's anthem:

If those historical gentlemen came back today --
Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln --
And Walter Cronkite put them on channel 2
To find out what they were thinking,
I'm sure they'd say,
"Thanks for quoting us so much
but we don't want to take a bow,
enough with the quoting put those words into action
and we mean action

Now is the moment,
Now is the moment ,
Come on,
We've put it off long enough.

No more waiting,
No hesitating,
Now !

Come on
Let's get some of that stuff!

It's there for you and me.
For every he and she.
Just want to do what's right

I went and took a look
In my old history book.
It's there in black and white
For all to see.


Everyone should love his brother.
People all should love each other.
Just don't take it literal, mister,
No one wants to grab your sister

Now is the time!
Now is the time!

Now is the moment,
Now is the moment,
Come on,
We put it off long enough.

Now no more waiting,
No hesitating
Come on,
Lets get some of that stuff.

It's there for you and me
For every he and she
Just want to do what's right

I went and took a look
In my old history book.
It's there in black and white
For all to see.



The message of this song's not subtle.
No discussion.
No rebuttal.
We want more
Than just a promise.
Say goodbye
To Uncle Thomas.
Call me naive,
Still I believe
We're created free and equal now!


Everyone should love his brother.
People all should love each other.
Since they say we all got rhythm,
Come on, let's share rhythm with them.

Now is the time!
Now is the time!
The time is now!

The Shirley goes to . . .

Shirley Chisholm

The highest honor we hand out is "The Shirley" named after the late, great Shirley Chisholm. It's such an honor that this is only the second time this year we're handing it out.

Who's receiving it?

US Rep Polis

US House Rep Jared Polis.


Last Sunday a Denver Post's editorial cited him: "Killing of gay Iraqis shouldn't be ignored: We applaud Rep. Jared Polis for his efforts last week to shine the spotlight on the killings of homosexuals in Iraq."

Polis is speaking out for Iraq's LGBT community and not just here in the US. He made a trip this month to Iraq and, while there, raised the issue repeatedly including in a letter to Patricia A. Butenis (Charge d'Affaires ad interim of the US State Dept) [PDF formart warning] which Polis made public here:

Dear Ms. Butenis:
Over the past week, I have become aware of egregious human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqis being carried out by Iraqi government officials from the Ministry of the Interior called "Magaweer al-Dakhilya." The information I received was derived from two separate testimonials of gay and transgender Iraqi men that were detained, tortured and sentenced to death for being members of an allegedly forbidden organization in Iraq called Iraqi LGBT. One of these individuals was able to escape, while the other was subsequently executed by Iraqi Ministry of Interior Security Forces.
While I do not know if these executions are being sanctioned at the highest levels of the Iraqi government, it is nonetheless disturbing that government officials and state-funded security forces are involved in the torturing and execution of LGBT Iraqis.
Even more disturbing was that the United States government appears to be largely unaware that the executions of gay and transgender Iraqis have been able to occur in Iraq given the enormous American presence. After reaching out to State Department officials in Washington, I was disappointed by their unwillingness to seriously consider these allegations and examine the evidence given to our office by international human rights watchdog organizations.
I urge you to use every channel at your disposal to properly and promptly investigate these grave human rights violations. Please know that I will continue to monitor this situation and hope to be of assistance in this investigation."

The United Nations, the White House and the US State Department have been silent throughout all of the targeting, all of the assaults, all of the murders. (Yes, one State Dept staffer spoke this week but it completely contradicts what another said earlier this month, see last Friday's "Iraq snapshot.") At his Congressional website, Polis is quoted stating, "The United States should not tolerate human rights violations of nay kind, especially by a government that Americans spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year supporting. Hopefully my trip and letters to US and Iraqi officials will help bring international attention and investigation to this terrible situation and bring an end to any such offenses." And hopefully in the next few weeks we'll hear the White House and the State Department following Polis' lead in condemning these attacks. For now he stands alone.

And that's how you earn a Shirley. By showing the bravery and determination that were hallmarks of Shirley Chisholm's life and remain her legacy.

[See Marcia's "Jared Polis" for more.]

Greta Garbo


I love to waltz with a man in a dark linen suit
All alone -- at a party with someone I knew
From a time gone by -- turned to stone
You could be Garbo or even Marlene
You could be Marilyn...
Or you could forget

-- "Garbo," written by Stevie Nicks (originally the B-side to "Stand Back," available on the boxed set Enchanted)

Greta Garbo was a film star who died in April of 1990, 48 years and five months after her last film (the flop Two Faced Women) was released. By then she had already been among the few stars of silent films to crossover and remain a star in the 'talkies.' Some might argue she never recovered from being labeled box-office poison in 1937.

Greta Garbo 3

"Don't make an issue of my womanhood. We're here to work, all of us. Let's not waste any time. Shall we go?" asks Garbo as Comrade Nina Ivanovna Yakushova as she makes her entrance in Ninotchka.

The 1939 comedic gem directed by Ernst Lubitsch was a blockbuster and saw Garbo nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Actress category (her third nomination in the category, she lost all three times, in 1939 to Vivian Leigh for Gone With The Wind). The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Story and Best Screenplay. Melcior Lengyel would garner the Original Story nomination while Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder and Walter Reisch would receive the Screenplay nomination (all lost -- Best Picture and Screenplay to Gone With The Wind; Original Story to Lewis R. Foster for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington).

Billy Wilder would co-write many successful screenplays and move on to directing them (such as the classics Some Like It Hot and The Apartment). For 1999's Conversations With Wilder, director and writer Cameron Crowe (Jerry McGuire, Say Anything, Almost Famous, etc.) spoke with Wilder at length. Pages 110 through 111 find Crowe asking about Garbo and Ninotchka:

Billy Wilder: We were just writers -- that was at MGM -- [and] I was on the stage one day, and Garbo was playing a love scene. So she went up to somebody, an assistant, and she came out and started rehearsing the scene, but in between, they put up a blackboard right in front of me. She had eyes in the back of her head. She saw me there. "Throw that man out!" So they threw me out. And then I met her later at a party at Salka Viertel's, the grandma of the German circuit. She was here in twenties. I met her there and now knew Garbo a little. The one day years later I saw her running, exercising, up Rodeo Drive. Rodeo then had a track in the middle where you could run. So she was running up Rodeo and she was very sweaty, and I stopped her and said, "Hi, how are you? I'm Billy Wilder." And she said [imitates her smoky accent:] "Yes, I know you." "Would you like to have a martini, something to drink? I live right around the corner, Beverly Drive." She said. "Yes, I would like to." I lived right around the corner, so I took her home.

It was in the afternoon, and she collapsed in the chair and I said, "I will tell my wife, she is upstairs, to come and fix us a drink." And I said, "And come on down, guess who we have here." She says, "Who, Otto Preminger?" -- somebody like that. And I said, "No, Greta Garbo." And she said, "Oh, go on, go fuck yourself!" And I said, "No, honestly." So she came down and I introduced her, and Aud [Audrey Wilder] fixes a martini, really strong, bit and [Garbo] had that thing in one gulp, and then another one and another one. They drink them like beer, those Swedish -- martinis. She lived on Bedford Drive, the house of [Jean] Negulesco, North Beverly, across the street from the house of [MGM executive] Joe Cohen. And we started to talk about pictures and she said [does accent], "I would like to make a picture about a clown." I said, "Oh, that's fine." "I always am a clown, and I am wearing a mask, and I will not take the mask off. I will only be in the picture as a clown." She never made a picture again. She made one more picture after Ninotchka, and that was it. So she wanted to play the clown, and not show her face. A clown who grins all the time. I said, "That might be difficult."

She stayed on a while. Then she walked out. I wanted to drive her, but she said, "No no no no no no. I walk a little bit to cool off."

Cameron Crowe: Did you discuss Ninotchka?

Billy Wilder: I mentioned Ninotchka, but she did not want to talk about the old pictures. She just said, "I would like to make another picture." That's when my ears perked up. Then she said, "I play a clown. I always play a clown [in life]. I will always be a clown in the picture." I only saw her there that one time, running. And then I saw her arm in arm with Salka Viertel, going down a street in Klosters, Switzerland. She was always there. She was a great friend of Salka Viertel. So that was my only long encounter with Garbo, that was kind of a half hour. "I will play the clown."


Wilder's being iced out on the set of Ninotchka was nothing new. Joan Crawford was a co-star of Garbo's in Grand Hotel and looked forward to meeting Garbo.

She showed up for rehearsals December 30, 1931 determined to make a grand entrance with her dog (Woggles) only to discover that Garbo did not rehearse with her cast mates (which included John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone, Wallace Beery and Jean Hersholt). Not only did Garbo not rehearse with the cast, the bulk of her scenes were filmed another soundstage which was closed to "visitors" (cast mates qualified as "visitors").

Garbo Greta

For the entrances and exists through the hotel lobby, the entire cast used the same soundstage; however, Garbo had dibs on the post-lunch period. The never-back-down Crawford feigned illness and had her scenes rescheduled from the morning in order to meet Garbo.

Garbo poses

Crawford and Garbo 're-teamed' May 30, 1937. That's when they and others -- including Mae West, Katharine Hepburn, Edward Arnold, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis and Kay Francis -- starred in an Independent Theatre Owners print 'production' which opened, "The Following Stars are BOX OFFICE POISON". Crawford, Hepburn and Davis would go on to have long film careers refuting the poison label, many others would not.

Greta Garbo 2

In the film that returned to her to the list of moneymakers, Ninotchka, Garbo's is asked, "What kind of girl are you anyway?" She responds, "Just what you see: a tiny cog in the great wheel of evolution."

In 1954, Garbo would receive an Honorary Oscar. By that time, she'd been nominated three times . . . for four roles. Yes, you read that right. Along with Ninotchka, she was nominated for Camille (1937) and for the 1929/1930 Academy Awards (you read that right, held November 5, 1930) her single nomination was for two roles: "Anna Christie {"Anna Christie"}; and Romance {"Madame Rita Cavallini"}".

Greta 2

The first line Garbo spoke onscreen was, "Give me a whiskey, ginger ale on the side, and don't be stingy, baby" from the 1930 film Anna Christie. In the early eighties, Nancy Frangione would utter the line as Cecile DePoulignac on NBC's Another World. But Garbo's most quoted line is from Grand Hotel, "I want to be alone." From Saturday Night live skits to Lisle von Rhoman (Isabella Rossellini) in Death Becomes Her, it is the most quoted of all Garbo's lines. Some are done as homages, some as parodies. The most insulting imitation took place in April 1932 following a Grand Hotel preview held at Grauman's Chinese Theater. Garbo's contract with MGM had lapsed and they had threatened to drop the re-shoots Garbo had done and hand Grand Hotel over to Joan Crawford. As the animosity grew on both sides, MGM decided to the way to 'cap' the LA preview was to have 'Garbo' appear, introduced by Will Rogers. Beefy Wallace Beery stumbled down the aisle in a frizzy wig and dress while those assembled laughed and applauded. Reaching the stage, Beery declared, "I think I go home now."

Photos are by Arnold Genthe.

Greta Garbo

Another lady...another time...

Another heartbroken state of mind
Alone in her chambers...she dreams of her home
Outside...she's got a movie star view
Outcries...well where will the kings go...
Where will the kings go now?
She's got her eyes wide open...
And she's ready to stare you down
She says in words unspoken...she's from out of town
Well some cry...well I really don't dance down
Stormy cuts like a knife
-- "Greta," written by Stevie Nicks and Mike Campbell (available on Nicks' Street Angel).

Lt. Muthana Shaad's Gay Boy Chronicles

Last night I cornered a 'puppy' in Sadr City. It felt good to beat him. I did so repeatedly. He moaned. He cried. And still I continued.

He told me tales of being Nouri al-Maliki's rent boy and threatened me with punishment from Prime Minister al-Maliki himself. That only made me madder and made me beat him harder.

As I kicked him repeatedly, I realized that beating up gays was the best way for me not to feel so badly about being a 'puppy' myself.

While he lay bleeding and barely breathing, I went through his jacket for pocket change. Along with a few small bills, I found a postcard.

Ramon Navarro

He swore it was a movie star from the United States that Nouri al-Maliki was obsessed with. An actor named Ramon Navarro. Supposedly Navarro was gay and Prime Minister al-Maliki has all of his films and screens them regularly, especially Ben-Hur, when having 'Boy Parties.'

That only made me angrier.

I think it is because no one has ever asked me to work security for such a party, let alone invited me to be a guest at one.

I kicked the young man a few kicks harder and thought about how he was probably no more than seven years younger and no more than sixty pounds lighter.

A scary thought crossed my mind: Had I aged myself out of gay beauty?

Was I undesirable?

Yes, I was in the closet but I would like to think that if I weren't, other men would find me attractive and desirable.

Looking down, I saw the young man had passed out from the beating. Unzipping my pants, I quickly pulled out my engorged member and tugged repeatedly until it exploded on the face of the puppy.

[This is a regular series. "Lt. Muthana Shaad's Gay Boy Chronicles" ran previously.]
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