Sunday, September 13, 2009

Truest statement of the week

I am tired of supporting organizations that don’t support me. How about supposed anti-war organizations stop sending messages out from Democrats who support a pro-war President? How about they stop going underground every time a Democrat runs for President?
UFPJ and Code Pink have not been friends. They have wanted Green Party bodies and dollars, but not our voices. We will not stop these wars until the peace movement is ready to directly confront the politicians, Democrat and Republican. And that includes confronting them [on] the campaign trail and in the voting booth.

-- Ian Wilder, "Code Pink and UFPJ just Don’t Get It: Tom Hayden edition" (On The Wilder Side).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday. Another Sunday. Some Sundays it's very difficult.

Let's start with who helped. Dallas and 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),
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

We thank them all. We also give a special thanks to Ava and C.I. and you'll understand why if you look at what we've got.

Truest statement of the week -- Ian Wilder's never had a truest before. He earned this one.

Editorial: Delivering the lambs to slaughter -- Thank you to Trina who came in to help with this editorial. We all wrote this and this was our seventh attempt at an editorial. Our seventh attempt? Yes, it was a very difficult, difficult edition.

TV: The Suckers -- Ava and C.I. wrote this as a bonus. They're addressing The Vampire Diaries and Bill Moyers Journal. And covering Iraq. This is funny, pointed and you'd swear it was the piece they had planned to write. That's not the case. We begged because four articles went down the drain. One of which was a roundtable that said practically nothing. If we're being honest, we could have reduced the roundtable to just a monologue by Betty. Jess even suggested that: Pull out everyone else and make it a piece by Betty. Betty felt we were overrating her contribution (we weren't) so we didn't do that. But we had nothing. Could they do another TV article? Yes, Ava and C.I. could. Did. It's wonderful.

Iraq -- Our Iraq feature. This is a weekly piece on Iraq. We keep track of the injured and dead and note some of the week's significant events.

TV: The Fall Season -- Ava and C.I. had written two articles already. If they could do one more, pretty please? Okay. They'd do an overview of the fall season. To mix it up a bit, they interviewed those of us here in California (which includes Betty, Kat and Wally). I (Jim) had begged and begged them to do something with the fall preview since Rolling Stone and TV Guide were.

TV: Specials -- This is the only article they intended to write. It's the first one they wrote. As Dona points out, it's the perfect time for a TV edition. As Ty points out, we've only once before leaned so heavily on Ava and C.I. (Once before we asked them to do three articles.) Again, we thank them.

Nanci Griffith: The Complete MCA Recordings -- This was written by us (Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess) and Betty, Wally and Kat. Ava and C.I. were working on the TV piece on Moyers and Vampire Diaries. We had one piece besides the editorial we liked. Liked. Not loved. So we quickly wrote this.

Pet Peeve (Dona) -- Noting that we were really, really leaning on Ava and C.I., Dona expressed disappointment in others and herself. She was really angry and said she might as well have spent the last few hours cleaning out her purse, it would have been "more productive." I said something idiotic (that I don't even remember now) and she grabbed her purse, threw it on the coffee table and began cleaning it out. At some point, when she saw the stack of business cards from the hair salon she frequents, she had an idea for Pet Peeve which could be a regular feature where we all step up and do an article by ourselves. (Ava just groaned. Okay, everyone except her and C.I. They already gave at the office and then some.)

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

And that's the edition. Ty says, "Repeating, we say a big thank you to Ava and C.I." We'll see you next week.

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

Editorial: Delivering the lambs to slaughter

Wednesday, Barack Obama tossed a lot of vague words in the latest attempt to sell ObamaInsuranceCorporationGiveAway. He decried those who used fear as he . . . proceeded to do just that.

We are, he said, at "the breaking point" and then he told horror stories. Despite being at the broken point, he insisted the US couldn't take "a radical shift" and have single-payer health care. No, that would "disrupt" and, again, be "a radical shift."

He acknowledged that there were five bills in Congress -- apparently it was supposed to be understood that they're all different. He had time to finger point at others and say, "And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned."

Uh, no, Barry, if confusion reigned it was because there was no plan -- there were multiple plans -- and you, Barry, did nothing to inform the people of them. You were happy to meet with the insurance lobby in the White House and discuss your plan. It was just the people you serve that you wished to leave in the dark.

He insisted we were at "the breaking point," he maintained "the time for bickering is over" and, golly, even the "times for games has passed."

Wow, sounds like there's a real sense of urgency. Except . . .

Except he said, "This exchange will take effect in four years, which will give us time to do it right."

Four years. But we must act now. The "times for games has passed." We must rush to . . . stand in line and wait.

His most honest line resulted in laughter. The room erupted after he said, "And while there remain some significant details to be ironed out . . ." (Doubt us and missed the broadcast? Check the official transcript where the laughter is noted.)

Even after all this time, he has nothing concrete.

So why are we all supposed to be rushing into something?

Something that's lousy and useless unless you're Big Pharma or an Insurance Corporation.

Mandatory. People will be forced to buy insurance or face stiff fines. What Barack will be doing is creating a new pool of consumers for the insurance companies by forcing people to purchase policies. The insurance companies will still be running everything. Nothing will be fixed. But that's really not the point, is it? The points is for Barack to deliver the lambs (the citizens) to Big Pharma and the Insurance Corporations.

That may have been the only thing made clear in his speech.

TV: The Suckers

Do you babble on? Not just talk to yourself, mind you, but have an indepth interior monologue going on? If so, you could be either of the leads in the CW's The Vampire Diaries. And though Julie Plec shares creator and executive producer credit with Kevin Williamson, the whole thing plays out like he still hasn't forgiven Miramax for cutting his ode to Grant Goodeve's possible eight inches from Scream. He worked very hard on that monologue for Tatum and he found it highly revealing. The lack of appreciation awarded to his analysis of the theme song to Eight is Enough and how it might have applied to (or commented on) Grant Goodeve's genitalia would have, he just knows, been a cinematic moment: Rose McGowan and Neve Campbell in the grocery store, Rose saying, "Watch the show, Sid, his basket is bigger than the one you're pushing."

Now, like a disfigured comic villain, he's determined that we will all pay for his loss and, therefore, no scraps land on the cutting room floor. Instead every "and" and "uh," every meaningless line of blather, gets used -- either as dialogue or as voice over. Once upon a time, graffiti was just what people scrawled on walls, now it's also the scripts to The Vampire Diaries.

The hour long romance and semi-drama got green lighted quickly -- as quickly as Twilight proved there was an audience for visuals about Young Vampires In Love. The TV show is loosely based on a series of books of the same name, however, details like hair color, best friends, countries of origin -- you know the things that help make us who we are? -- have been altered and changed by Williamson and Plec.

What we're left with is Dawson's Creek With Eye Teeth. In other words, in the near future, Nina Dobrev may end up married to Rupert Everett, Paul Wesley may quickly vanish from all our lives, Katrina Graham may become one of America's most talented but underappreciated actress and Steven R. McQueen may star in Fringe: The Movie. But before those real life events take place, we're still stuck with many, many episodes of this bad show.

Nina Dobrev plays Elena and Steven R. McQueen plays her brother Jeremy. Their parents died in a car accident and now they live with their aunt so they're all "table for three" if not exactly Party of Five. As if to convince viewers that the two are related, the only two talented performers were cast as siblings.

That becomes a huge problem whenever Elena's in a goo-goo eyes scene. Dobrev can't act in a vaccum but they've got her attempting to emote to a wall. His name is Stephan Salvatore and the last time we knew a Salvatore, it was Cher's first husband. Sonny Bono actually projected more magnetism onscreen than does Paul Wesley who has Bob Paris' chin and lips if not his muscles. He scrunches his brow a lot while looking far too old to pass for the teenage high school student (he's 27) Stephan's supposed to be and he's also supposed to be a vampire -- he's only convincing at scrunching his brow.

He's in love with Elena who looks just like the love-of-his-life who died in the Civil War. Robert E. Lee? Oh, honey, Kevin Williamson may be gay but he always writes straight (anyone remember the incredibly square Jack who never got near Dawson's crack?). While that might have actually made the show slightly different, Kevin's just going to keep cranking out the same-old-same-old every chance he gets.

Which makes him a lot like Bill Moyers who, come to think of it, is a lot like the undead himself. We're still laughing over his scrotal kiss two Fridays ago which seemed to exist solely for him to swallow the dangling Y and to prove how foolish the elderly can get. "The editors of The Economist," he said attempting to look serious and thoughtful, "say America's health care debate has become a touch delirious, with people accusing each other of being evil-mongers, dealers in death, and un-American."

With barely a pause, he would continue, "Well that's charitable. I would say it's more deranged than delirious and definitely not un-American. Those crackpots on the right . . ." And that's when he was off down the street, snarling and barking like an angry dog, at the right-wing.

Bill catn reed weel guud. If he could, he'd have grasped The Economist was criticizing both sides (it was, for example, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid who called opponents to ObamaInsuranceGiveAway "unAmerican"). No, in crackpot Billy's mind, that was a slam at the right and only the right and, when it's time for fistacuffs, a Geritol or two later, there is Moyers.

What an idiot. What a fool. What a liar.

Heaven save us all.

Especially journalists.

AP had a photograph of a dying soldier from the Afghanistan War. It became the topic de jour because it was a US soldier. (This was addressed in Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot.") Should the AP have distributed the photo or not? Some blowhards like Thomas E. Ricks (already a joke for defending the US military's use of the Rendon Group to 'vet' reporters) have said it was a 'moral' outrage for AP to have published that photo in a newspaper. Thing is, AP owns no newspapers. It's a wire service. Each newspaper could and did make the decision of whether or not to run the photo.

Friday, Bill decided to tackle the issue which mainly meant he was on top of the dog pile and feeling up everyone beneath him. The grope-fest was remarkably fact free. Oh, he got the basics of what AP did correct. It was just the basics of journalism that Bill struggled with.

After yammering away about how difficult it must be for parents and family members, Bill finally got to what he thought was journalism: "But as a journalist, I know that one reason Americans tolerate wars as long as we do is that most of us look the other way while others do the suffering in our stead. Our soldiers have been fighting in Afghanistan longer than we fought in the first and second world wars combined, but just try to remember the times you've actually have seen one of our fallen there." Uh, Bill, that may be your 'journalism,' but it's not journalism. It's activism.

The reason the photo should be published is that it is news. Violence took place and someone died. That's news. That's always news. It's news if it happens down the street, it's news if happens overseas. It's news. Many things in between will be ignored but births and deaths will always be covered.

One of Bill's guests Friday was McClatchy Newspapers' Nancy A. Youssef and she blew it as well. He raised the issue with her twice and she blew it both times.

Here's Nancy 'commenting' on journalism:

You know, when that photo came out, I talked to a friend of mine, she's a Colonel in the army. She served in Iraq and many years ago, she'd lost her daughter, who was a toddler at the time to an illness, so she could speak to it as a soldier and as a parent. And she was really angry about the photo. She said, "No one has the right to tell me what my last memory of my child should be." And it really stayed with me. And so as I could have empathy for the family, and I felt a lot of pain, because I can only imagine having that image seared in your mind. But I'm conflicted, because as a journalist, and as someone who has to go out and see this war day in and day out, it's hard to say that these photos shouldn't be seen. In a way, I feel like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been sanitized. And that photo, as gruesome as it is, captures the reality of war. It's ugly. And it's what these troops are facing day in and day out. So, I always-- this is my ultimate objective in all of this is to maintain the humanity in the coverage of war. And so, I'm conflicted, because that part of me wants to preserve the rights of that family. And at the same time, I want the general public to know what's happening.

That was at the start of the segment. At the end, he asked her about the AP photo again.

BILL MOYERS: So, since you know what you know, and since you say we have to know, where do we come down on showing the photograph?

NANCY YOUSSEF: It's really hard. Because as I said, you know, you can't lose your humanity in war. And I feel for that father. I can't imagine that image being foisted upon me of my son in that position. I just can't imagine. But sometimes I feel like we as a public need to be hit almost violently with the reality of war. And that's what that photo does. So, I'm really conflicted about it. You know?

Somebody tell Nancy that the public's not going to necessarily know the press position. Anyone could and should be able to relate to feelings of the parents. That's well and good if we want to live in a circle of empathy and not in a democratic republic. If we want to live in a democratic republic, with free speech, it's important that free speech is defended. Translation, when journalism is under attack, your concern isn't making yourself look good to your critics, your concern is in explaining journalism to those who may not grasp it.

One sentence on the pain of the family was more than sufficient. After that, a journalist needs to immediately move into what journalism is and why it's important that it address issues like death.

Bill thinks journalism is to end the war (whatever war). That's activism, Moyers, it's not journalism. Nancy thinks that journalism is one side of the coin and personal needs of a few individuals are the other side of the coin and, based on your empathy level apparently, one side wins out. That's touchy-feely, it's not remotely about journalism.

A real journalist should immediately grasp that a large number of people have come of age during a period where coffins returning to the US were hidden from sight. A real journalist should grasp that, should grasp the assault journalism is under and find a way to answer questions so that they enlighten viewers as to what journalism is supposed to be about and why.

Iraq was briefly touched on.

NANCY YOUSSEF: My biggest fear from the military perspective is that Iraq doesn't fall apart quickly, but that--


NANCY YOUSSEF: Iraq. That Iraq falls apart slowly. And that we find ourselves in a place where we're doing this with troops. That as we're slowly bringing down troops in Iraq and slowly building up in Afghanistan, we find ourselves in a really difficult situation in both countries.

BILL MOYERS: So, you fear we have to reengage in Iraq?

NANCY YOUSSEF: I fear that we're going to find-- I don't know that the United States will. I mean, the Status of Forces Agreement makes it very clear that the United States is not going to engage.

BILL MOYERS: The Iraqis want us out.

NANCY YOUSSEF: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: There's a legal agreement to get out.

NANCY YOUSSEF: That's right. But what happens when the violence starts to escalate in Iraq and starts to escalate in Afghanistan, and we're say, at 80,000 troops in both countries? What is the United States role at that point? Is the plan to sit aside and do nothing? Will the Iraqi Government still feel that way? Depending on what the violence is? That's what keeps me up at night. Is that fear of that point where the United States finds itself engaged in both wars or at least heavily committed to both and not quite out of one, not quite in the other.

Legal agreement to get out? There's no such thing. And it's hilarious to hear Bill Moyers misrepresent what a contract binds you to and what it doesn't -- Bill Moyers of all people (our CBS friends are laughing out loud right now). The United Nations did not authorize the Iraq War. They did do an authorization of the occupation -- after the invasion -- and that authorization is what gave the legal cover for foreign forces (including US troops) to be on the ground in Iraq. That expired twice with Nouri al-Maliki renewing it (over the objections of the Parliament). He was faced with renewing it for the third year in a row but the White House (Bully Boy Bush administration) decided to bypass the UN. Staying under UN authorization bound the United States to certain obligations (which the US was not living up to). Bypassing the UN to create a treaty between Iraq and the US was the way the White House elected to go. That treaty replaces the UN mandate. It can be replaced with another treaty, it can be extended or renegotiated as any contract can be.

And Nancy grasps that. She'd have to be brain dead (or Bill Moyers) not to. If the contract means the US leaves (that's not what it means) then why even talk about the possibility that increasing violence might result in the US remaining in Iraq? If the contract means the US leaves, that's what the contract means. But that's not what it means and the public has been repeatedly lied to about this.

And liars and fools like Tom Hayden are the problem. Barack's been hailed as a man of peace. Really? His Iraq 'plan' is not what he promised in those crowd pleasing campaign speeches. Ten months, he said in Houston, Texas in February 2008, ten months after being sworn in, US troops would be out of Iraq! It's nine months after he was sworn in. Over 130,000 US troops remain on the ground in Iraq.

And his 'plan' that Nancy and Bill and so many others discuss? That's Bush's plan.

Now what the treaty (Status Of Forces Agreement) does is what it was meant to, ease heat in the US over the illegal war. It's done that. It's led to so many fools and liars proclaiming the Iraq War over or almost over: Tom Hayden, CODESTINK, Raed Jarrar, throw a dart at the fringe radical and you'll draw blood from a fool swearing the Iraq War is over or about to be.

A few people grasp that. One who does is US Senator Russ Feingold. On Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard from US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill. From his exchange with Feingold (see Friday's snapshot for full exchange), we'll note this section:

Russ Feingold: The Iraqi government intends to hold a nation-wide referendum on the bi-lateral Status Of Forces Agreement and while there's been a lot of speculation about how this could impact a redeployment timetable, I'd like to also point out that both the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi people will have had a chance to vote on the agreement even though the US Senate has not. Can you assure us that any potential modifications to the Security Agreement will be submitted to the Senate for ratification?

Chris Hill: Uh, the issue of Senate ratification goes beyond my write but I will certainly take that question to the State Department and get you an official answer on that. I can give you my personal opinion on that.

Russ Feingold: Would you please?

Chris Hill: -- that you would not want to be changing this uh we would not engage in changing this security agreement without uh considerable consultation but as for the actual relationship between the Senate and the executive [branch] on this, I'd like to defer to our lawyers at the State Department.

Wow. If that treaty is the end of the Iraq War Treaty, Russ Feingold must have just wanted to waste time. But Feingold doesn't waste time. He doesn't speak just to enjoy his own voice. A contract that prolongs your presence (the SOFA prolonged the US presence by three years) does not mean that you leave.

Let's make it real simple. Paul Wesley, for example, may have signed a five-year contract with The Vampire Diaries. That doesn't mean he leaves in year six. If the show lasts that long (and it may -- its attempts at pathos will irk functioning adults but pre-teens and the overgrown pre-teens will lap it up), he may be smart enough to grasp that he's really got nothing in the works after this show. So he may decide to sign on for another year. Or two. Or three.

The SOFA only says the US will stay in Iraq for three years. The 'withdrawal' everyone pretends is an obligation is the same thing that was inherent in the UN mandate. If the UN mandate was not renewed, US forces had to leave Iraq.

Unless . . .

A new agreement of some form was reached. Enter the SOFA. But to read that mandate, you would think that when it was scrapped, the US and all other foreign forces had to leave.

When will The Vampire Diaries leave? It's a really bad show. But parents are non-existent and the trauma-drama dial has been turned to broil. As awful as it is to anyone who's already lived through the first 90210 or Dawson's Creek, for unformed minds, it's fresh. And for undeveloped minds who do remember the earlier shows, it's simple enough for them to handle. Sarah Jessica Parker's character breaks it down in the film Strangers With Candy when she says, "My point is, Gerri, somebody's always got it worse." That's what shows like The Vampire Diaries (or, for that matter, Bill Moyers Journal) sell. And for four years, as its core audience navigates real life high school, the melodrama swirling around Mystic Falls should make the audience grateful for what they see as their own comparatively dull lives. Shows like these don't run out of things to do or lose their steam, their audience just grows up.


Thursday, US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill offered testimony to the House Foreign Relations Committee and to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In the past, that would have garnered some serious press attention. When Ryan Crocker was US Ambassador to Iraq and he testified, it was big news. But for Hill?


Very little press coverage.

So his statements that Iraq's external refugees had to return, that the country needed them, that Iraq's stability depended on it? Not covered. Now the external refugees left for a reason with the bulk of them fleeing the country during the 2007 genocide. They left and many do not plan on returning. Payment's been offered, travel arrangements, nothing has tempted the buk of the refugees into returning.

But Chris Hill thinks he can force them into returning. Thinks they must be forced into returning.

That's pretty scary. The refugees have already suffered enough but, if Hill has his way, they'll be forced into returning.

For other things covered in the hearings, see C.I.'s reporting here and here and Kat's here.

Last week, the US military announced: "A Multi-National Corps – Iraq servicemember was killed today when an improvised explosive device targeting the patrol detonated in southern Baghdad at approximately 10: 30 a.m. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of servicemembers are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the servicemember's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." And they announced: "Three Multi-National Corps -- Iraq Soldiers were killed today when an improvised explosive device targeting their patrol detonated in northern Iraq at approximately 11:40 a.m. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. [. . .] The incident is under investigation." The four deaths brought the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4343.

That was not the only violence.

On Sunday, there were 24 reported deaths and 7 reported wounded, Monday 26 dead and 44 wounded, Tuesday 27 dead and 42 wounded, Wednesday 13 dead and 38 wounded, Thursday 31 dead and 75 wounded, Friday 4 dead and 7 wounded and Saturday 11 dead and 27 wounded. That's 136 reported dead and 230 reported injured for last week.

Camp Ashraf remains under assault. Friday Amnesty International released the following:

Amnesty International has written to the Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki expressing its deep concern about killings and other abuses committed by Iraqi security forces at Camp Ashraf this summer.
On 28-29 July a large number of Iraqi security personnel seized control of Camp Ashraf in Iraq's Diyala province, north of Baghdad, a settlement that has been home to some 3,400 Iranian exiles for over 20 years. At least nine camp residents were shot dead and others sustained serious injuries during the storming of the camp, during which vehicles were driven into crowds of protesting residents and live ammunition used, apparently without adequate justification. Since July, 36 camp residents have been held without charge or trial.
In response, fears for the thousands of Iranian nationals - many with a long history of political opposition to the government of neighbouring Iran - have been raised by numerous supporters around the world. There have been protests around the world, including a long-running vigil and hunger strike outside the US embassy in London. Protestors say the withdrawal of US forces to military bases in Iraq earlier this year has left Camp Ashraf residents newly vulnerable to Iraqi security forces, a concern shared by Amnesty.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
'There are numerous reports - including shocking images - of the Iraq security forces using what appears to be grossly excessive force in their seizure of Camp Ashraf and this must be properly investigated. So must reports that detainees have been abused in detention
'The fear now is that Iraq may force Camp Ashraf residents to return to Iran, where they could face imprisonment or torture. No vulnerable residents of Camp Ashraf must face this fate.'
Amnesty has made clear to both the Iraqi and US governments that it strongly opposes any forcible returns, either of those at Camp Ashraf or of other Iranian nationals who currently reside in Iraq having left Iran for political reasons or to escape persecution. In its letter to prime minister al-Maliki, Amnesty urges him to immediately establish a full and independent investigation into the methods used by Iraqi security forces during the Camp Ashraf operation, making its findings public as soon as possible. Amnesty also urged him to ensure that members of the security forces and other officials found responsible for using excessive force and of committing serious human rights violations are immediately suspended from duty and promptly brought to justice.
Meanwhile Amnesty has expressed particular concern over the fate of the 36 detained men, not least as there are allegations that they have been beaten and otherwise ill-treated. They are currently held at a police station in al-Khalis - a town some 15 miles from Camp Ashraf -- where they are reported to be in poor health and to be maintaining a hunger strike in protest at their detention and ill-treatment.
On 24 August an Iraqi investigative judge ordered the release of the 36 on the grounds that they had no charges to answer, but local police refused to release them, in breach of Iraqi law. A public prosecutor in Baquba, Diyala province, is then reported to have appealed against the investigative judge's release order, apparently as a means of justifying their continued detention, and the appeal is now awaiting determination by the Court of Cassation.
In its letter Amnesty urged the Iraq prime minister to intervene and ensure that the 36 detainees are released immediately and unconditionally unless they are to face recognisably criminal charges and brought to trial fairly and promptly. Amnesty also urged Mr al-Maliki to order an investigation into the failure by police at al-Khalis to comply with the judge's order for the release of the 36 and to ensure that any police officers responsible for unlawful detentions are held to account.

And Cindy Sheehan posted the International People's Declaration of Peace which includes:

We the undersigned responsible citizens of this planet declare:

We will recognize, first and foremost, the intrinsic value of each and every human being;

We will recognize that even though we are individuals with both unique talents and needs, we are also one in the community of humanity;

We will vigorously proclaim that no
person is better than any other person irrespective of: race, religion, occupation, income level, gender, marital status, age, or national origin;

We will not allow ourselves, or our children, to enlist in, or be forcibly conscripted into our nation’s armed services recognizing this is never an option whether it is for economic reasons or false patriotic fervor.

We will remove ourselves as far as ideologically possible from our governments when war is proposed, or promulgated;

We will actively protest against wars, violence or economic oppression no matter
who, or what, governs our nations;

We will not allow the fruits of our labor to be used by our governments to finance wars;

We will boycott news sources that promote war and not buy into the culture of violence that is promoted by certain movies, video games and other popular culture;

We will boycott products and/or services from companies that profit from war and to the greatest extent as possible, we will not work for companies that profit from war;

We will proclaim to our nations, families, friends, co-workers, neighbors and strangers that using violence to solve problems is infantile and barbaric and we will not use violence in our own lives and we will teach our children peaceful conflict resolution.

TV: The Fall Season


Currently on new stands, TV Guide and Rolling Stone both explore TV. Which had Jim insisting we needed to do a piece on it. "The fall season!" he hollered at us. "How can you not cover the fall season!"

Well, we could be like Rolling Stone, for example, and plug a show as airing this fall (Better Off Ted) that is, in fact, not coming back until mid-season. Relenting, we finally agreed to do some form of overview piece.

Betty: The one show I'm most curious about is The New Adventures Of Old Christine. That's in part due to the cliffhanger where New Christine apparently left Richard at the alter and Barb being jailed. But it's also because Wanda Sykes (Barb) gets her own Fox talk show and I'm wondering if that will mean that she's out of the show? She and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are the best comedic team on television.

New episodes start Wednesday, September 23rd. Supposedly iTunes will have episodes this year. They somehow missed all of last year's. Of all the returning sitcoms, The New Adventures Of Old Christine is the one to watch. Consistently laugh-out-loud funny. It will again be paired on Wednesday nights with Gary Unmarried which many have written in ( to ask, "Where's the review?" We'd intended to review it in the spring but it was already going to be renewed so we thought we'd review it over the summer and, ideally, right before the new season started. But? In June, we learned the format was being scrapped. Gary's now hanging out at a radio station. We hope it works, we really hope it does. Seems to us, enough's already been scrapped and changes like these don't generally improve a series. On CBS Mondays, How I Met Your Mother returns and would be as funny as Christine were it not for those Bob Saget in the future bits. The Big Bang Theory is supposed to begin acknowledging the biggest TV surprise of the decade: Sheldon's become a dork stud. Sheldon (Jim Parsons) was never intended to be a heart throb but audience response indicates that, despite the odds, that's what he's become. Also on Mondays is Jenna Elfman's Accidentally On Purpose (CBS) which almost became her second failed follow up to Dharma & Greg but problems with the initial concept were quickly worked out and what was veering towards cerebral instead went for the land of zany that audiences first embraced Jenna in.

Kat: NCIS is pure crap, I know it's crap. But there is something comforting, when you're on the road, in knowing that any Tuesday night, in any city, you can turn on CBS and there it is.

Wally: What Kat said. Plus, I understand it's on Ion now as well.

Kat: And Michael Weatherly slimming down added a whole new level to the show.

CBS' Tuesday anchor remains and returns with 90210 it's only real competition. This year Melrose Place (revamped) follows 90210 and, as though out of fear, CBS adds NCIS: Los Angeles to the schedule. The show that everyone should be talking about follows, The Good Wife -- the only new drama this fall that you can't miss.

Jim: What's Courtney Cox-Arquette's new show like?

The question everyone will be asking if ABC's Wednesday night sitcom line up doesn't take off. A two hour bloc and an ambitious move at a time when scripted shows disappear only to be replaced with 'reality' or worse (Jay Leno would be worse). Hank, The Middle and Modern Family all lead up to Courtney's Cougar Town. If nothing else, ABC has spent money for billboards to promote the show. (Too bad that the billboards do little to get across that the show's a sitcom.)

Dona: It's a shame they couldn't cancel the cellar dweller 30 Rock and, Jim's correct, Jami Gertz could do a good Sarah Palin. Tina Fey never got beyond dowdy. Maybe her efforts to sexualize Palin were really a reflection on her own lack of sex appeal?

30 Rock returns in October. Sadly. Look for it to repeat (on a smaller scale) what happened last year (and the year before and the . . .) which is the highest ratings of the season are for the premiere and then, week after week, each episode drops further and further.

Rolling Stone structures its TV survey around 50 reasons to watch TV and, if you were a post-middle-aged gay man, like Jann Wenner, you might be nodding along with all 50 reasons. Yes, folks, he stayed in the closet for so many years because he was afraid the magazine would become . . . what it is today. We bring that up because reason 45 to watch TV is that Chevy Chase returns to TV in the Thursday night sitcom Community (NBC) -- he returns to TV for the first time since "his ill-fated six weeks as host of The Chevy Chase Show in 1993." Hmm. 1993? Strange. We could have sworn Chevy Chase turned in a layered and outstanding performance as a villain on Chuck last year. Hmm. Guess that was Dan Ackroyd. Our bad.

And Rolling Stone also tells us we can cheer for Christian Slater to have a major comeback because he's doing a TV series (The Forgotten, Tuesdays on ABC). "Speaking of forgotten . . . welcome back," writes Rolling Stone in a piece so bad that no writer was brave enough to pin a byline to it. Welcome back? You mean from last fall? My Own Worst Enemy? Yeah, Rolling Stone's just making one mistake after another. But, hey, this issue really exists just for the nearly shirtless photo of Neil Patrick Harris sporting nipples in the bathtub. Well that and to say F you to Jon Stewart whom Jann doesn't feel has treated the magazine with the proper respect. That's how Stephen Colbert's show ends up the number one reason to watch TV and The Daily Show doesn't even make the top fifty. Bitchy, thy name is Jann Wenner.

Thursdays also see Fringe return with new episodes on Fox.

Jess: It airs Thursdays? Did it always air then? [No, it aired on Tuesdays last year.] Who knows? I always caught it on Hulu anyway.

Hulu was the brainchild of NBC and Fox. They now have added ABC to the mix. In fact, the only real network they don't have is CBS -- the network that, instead of going forward, has gone backwards online. Once upon a time, for example, any article we did mentioning The New Adventures Of Old Christine would have a link that went to the CBS webpage where you could watch episodes of the show. That changed last fall. The season opener was Barb and Christine getting married and that never made it up at the website. We wrote that off as their not wanting to give some conservative group an easy way to slam them. And, sure enough, the second episode did pop up and the third and the . . . All the way through October, episodes were there. Then suddenly, they vanished and all you had were brief little clips. Hate to break it to CBS, but the sitcom fills a half-hour. 2 minute clips? They do nothing to promote the show. If you've already seen the episode, you're longing for more. If you haven't seen the show, the clip only confuses you.

While everyone else faces the future, CBS retreats. It's not a happy portent at a time when the medium is being forced to reinvent.

Ty: I want to know about Medium. NBC cancelled it. That was a shock. You [Ava and C.I.] didn't think it would be cancelled and said, if it was, CBS would pick it up. NBC cancelled it and CBS did pick it up and now they've got it on Fridays in one of the worst hours.

We did say CBS would pick it up if it were cancelled but we didn't think NBC would cancel it. Look, we knew it was between Crossing Jordan and Medium not all that long ago. (Crossing Jordan got the axe.) And we knew the little punk running (ruining) the network (until recently) hated women. But we also knew that Medium got better ratings on Mondays than Heroes or Chuck -- both of which were renewed. A show that improves on its lead-in is always worth keeping around. Unless hating women is more important to you than making money. Emmy winner Patricia Arquette tells TV Guide, "It didn't occur to me that we wouldn't be picked up, so their decision to cancel us was a shock. I was, like, 'Wow. Didn't see that coming. I guess I'll have more time with the family now'."

The punk now off the throne declared that Medium was cancelled because no one came up with a good gimmick. The writers of the show? No, the fans. The fans didn't, as with Chuck, come up with a Subway tie-in. Those little stunts are meaningless. They generate a little water cooler talk, they do not translate into ratings. Case in point: Jericho. We called that piece of crap what it was. And CBS cancelled it. And then turned around and brought it back because fans were sending peanuts or something to CBS in the mail. Well the show came back and it flopped all over again. That catchy little stunt that all the reporters on the TV beat were treating as though it meant something actually meant nothing. Because it was a publicity stunt. Having attempted to trick the viewers for years with publicity stunts, you'd think the networks would be immune to them but, apparently, when it's done to them -- and not by them -- it's all very confusing.

As Ty noted, it's on the worst night of television: Friday.

It follows Ghost Whisperer which would normally be a good thing. But who knew everyone was going to decide to program on Fridays? CW's moving Smallville to the first hour of prime time on Fridays. ABC opens with the hideous Supernanny as usual, NBC with Law & Order, Fox with a new sitcom entitled Brothers (we know many people with this show and we may hold off reviewing it for that reason -- a returning 'Til Death follows Brothers). CBS has Jennifer Love Hewitt who will continue to more than hold her own. But then there's the second hour of primetime. That's when CBS offers Medium, Fox offers Dollhouse, NBC tries to counter program with Southland but ABC's the wild card as they move Ugly Betty to Friday nights.

On the plus side, forgetting the quality of the scripts, Fridays serves up a record number of actresses in major roles: Jennifer Love, Patricia Arquette, Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse), Regina King (Southland), Joley Fisher ('Til Death) and America Ferrera, Vanessa Williams, Judith Light (Ugly Betty).

Saturdays? Please, the networks downgraded. CW never had a Saturday line up. Fox did years ago for a very brief time (repeating Cops endlessly is not a line up). ABC, CBS and NBC have thrown in the towel. Which just leaves Sundays. You've got the CBS soap Three Rivers and a new animated half-hour on Fox (The Cleveland Show) and, otherwise, its the same line up it's been for most of this decade (and the exact same as last year).

We'll try to help steer you to some choices throughout the fall and, as we like to repeatedly point out, if you consistently disagree with us, a pan should be a heads up that you'll love the show. If you want to find out more about the fall season, we recommend TV Guide. They've got a nice little run-down with some interesting facts. (Other than the quote from Patricia, we didn't use any information from the magazine, so it'll all be fresh to you.) Rolling Stone should be avoided -- unless you want to look at Neil's nipples and, goodness knows, sometimes nipples (male or female) are reason enough to watch a show. On such minor details, whole networks turn.

TV: Specials

Each Thanksgiving, we brave the offerings. In 2005, we discovered Faith Hill is a very down home and pleasing TV friend while Kenny Chesney is best left to the failed gypsies of Broadway. Since then, we marveled over NBC's incredible poor taste in offering the very stale Madonna in a raunchy and dull two hours while reducing Tony Bennett's talent to a brief hour. Somewhere in there, we endured Rod Stewart's lost voice and barely made it through Live Earth. Last year, the turkey was served again by NBC, home of all turkeys, via Rosie O'Donnell. More recently CBS offered an amazing special by Barbra Stresiand.

Of all the specials we've caught in the last four years and nine months, only Faith Hill's and Barbra Streisand's truly lived up to the term "special." From time to time, we wonder if we remember wrong and maybe specials always pretty much sucked? Last week we decided to check and see if memories came equipped with automatic updates that transformed drek like From Justin to Kelly into classics?

We had two specials to examine. One a special for British television that a friend sent us a DVD of after he enjoyed "The Joni Roundtable" and the other just-released on DVD for the first time. We'll start with the just-released one.
mama cass

The Mama Cass Television Program, taped January 18, 1969, was hosted by the one and only Cass Elliot and featured as guests: Joni Mitchell, John Sebastian, Mary Travers, Martin Landau, Barbara Bain and Buddy Hackett. Cass had just begun her solo career, after leaving the Mamas and the Papas, and a close viewing suggests that ABC was attempting to kill her.

We're not joking. ABC, for those late to the party, was the struggling network that Aaron Spelling and Fred Silverman saved. Silverman in the 70s, Aaron from the late sixties on. With the exception of Desi Arnez productions, ABC had little to show for itself prior. Very little. Onscreen, anyway. Offscreen, back then, its news organization pretty much existed to provide a front for CIA agents in other countries. (Furthering the CIA connection, Chuck Barris was the executive producer on the Cass special.) Right-wing owners thought that's what a broadcas network did (provide cover for CIA agents) and, as a viewing on any given night tended to indicate, they thought that was all a broadcast network did.

Peggy Lipton emerged in the fall of 1968 on Aaron Spellings' The Mod Squad which was among the shows that finally gave the network cachet. Into this environment strolls Cass. And for the first few seconds, all is well in the world as she sings "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" and it's even okay during the uptempo musical number that plays under the opening credits that Cass (and three female background singers) begin singing. It continues after the first commercial break as Cass sits on the stage and speaks to the audience. And then?

Buddy Hackett? Buddy f**king Hackett? Not since CBS saddled Judy Garland with Jerry Van Dyke has a second banana been so poorly picked. And the outfit she wears in the opening is the worst outfit we can think of. Tight around the top in a fabric that can only be described as Christmas gift wrapping with a train that starts below the breasts and has folds in it plus a line pattern in which the lines go every way imaginable.

The first half of the special contains one obstacle after another. Cass, an Olympian talent, manages to overcome each one. Sitting down on the stage with Hackett, she takes his standard TV corn lines and adds weight to them. She does that by listening with an intensity and responding not in yuck-yuck manner but softly. A wise choice and not one that others planned or intended. (Listen to the lines Cass recites. They were meant to be yuck-yuck, vaudeville.) She underplays allowing the exchange to have a weight that would otherwise be missing.

Then comes the second half of the first hour and she's joined by Joni Mitchell and Mary Travers onstage. Sitting, Cass introduces her two friends. Joni then performs (singing and guitar) a strong "Both Sides Now" (which she wrote) with Cass adding some harmonies. (The sound is poor during many music numbers. That's not a DVD issue, that's an ABC issue.) Mary follows with an upbeat version of Laura Nyro's "And When I Die." Watching today, you'll mainly notice Mary's bangs and wonder if she was the inspiration for the Muppet Janice because she looks like Janice's mother.

Mary plays to the audience present and her singing is up to her usual standards (she's "Mary" of Peter, Paul and . . . -- for any who don't know) but it's the still emerging Joni Mitchell that steals the attention. The three women join together on Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" and it's really a magical moment. If you don't know better, you'll assume the special is about to really soar.

But after the commercial break, we're at the next half-hour mark and gone are Joni and Mary but Buddy's back. At least Cass looks lovely -- even if she's required to say she and Buddy make a "lovely couple." They're quickly joined by then-husband-and-wife Landau and Bain (who were then-starring in CBS's Mission Impossible). Though the couple knew Cass long before the special, there's nothing onscreen to indicate that. Bain frequently looks around at everyone but the people on stage with her (she also avoids looking at the camera) and Landau frequently appears to be only physically present. The four-some launch into a bad number entitled "Meeskite" which appears to exist -- like that gaudy dress in the opening -- only to say to America, "Can you believe this woman got her own TV special?"

You wouldn't get that kind of crap in any of Barbra Streisand's special but she had management that gave a damn and also a real network (CBS). Cass had the struggling ABC and it's obvious the network wanted to make a quick buck off the 'freak.' The second half of each half-hour allows Cass not just to overcome the trappings, but also to really shine.

If you're confused by that, you don't grasp life in the days of three big networks and, if you were lucky, an independent station or two. Five choices was considered a plethora of viewing choices. So with many artists (Lily Tomlin is an example of one) that the networks wanted to make a buck off of but never understood, they'd insist on the first half of the show being done to their satisfaction and then give in to the artist's demands for the rest of the special. If you're not following, back then, before cable and satellite, or Tivo or VCRs, the thinking was that if you could get them watching in the first fifteen minutes of each half hour, you had them hooked and they'd stick around for thirty minutes regardless of how much the program (whatever program) sucked.

So in the second half of each half-hour, Cass gets to be Cass and you have to wonder how ABC could have ever wanted anything else from her?

Following a non-funny skit of Barbara Bain and Martin Landau Buddy -- then the most famous TV acting couple and considered very hot -- in which they are prematurely grayed to play two people who have to resort to computer dating for romantic company, Hackett returns for a skit and you start to wonder if ABC is ever going to stop presenting Cass as a freak?

She and Hackett play two patients in a hospital. Hackett's eyes are wrapped from some surgery and he is about to have the bandages removed. He can't wait to see Cass who wonders if he'll still be interested when he can see. The performances are strong and redeemed by the ending when its revealed that Cass' character is blind which might indicate that was her concern about Hackett getting his sight back and not that there was something wrong with her.

There's nothing wrong with Cass. She not only was immensely talented, she was also a very pretty woman. In most of the special when she's wearing clothes you associate with Cass, she looks fine and dandy. John Sebastian shows up to perform "She's A Lady." Then he and Cass share an early story from the NYC days together before performing "Darling Companion." Cass will finish things out performing onstage with her band and backup singers. A sign of how third-rate ABC was, they don't give a damn about the sound quality. They've miked the backup singers louder than Cass, not only that, when it's on the microphone stand, her mike is too low for her. Were the technicians sleeping through the rehearsals? Following "California Dreamin'," she takes the mike off the stand and holds it allowing her to project better on the next three numbers (two she recorded with the Mamas and the Papas plus "I Can Dream, Can't I?") and then "Dream A Little Dream."

By the point John Sebastian (emerging from the Lovin' Spoonful then) has joined her, you've either forgotten the first part of each half hour due to all the good vibrations or else you're wondering why the whole special couldn't be something special?

The DVD explains it somewhat. The special aired with commercials. So the DVD has put commercials from back in the day in the commercial breaks. You'll notice women constantly worried about their looks -- including a young Bernadette Peters being instructed to wear a padded bra -- who are often paired with men that can best be described as "gruesome" (check out the band leader in the Listerine ad) and you'll get what a breakthrough and threat Cass was.

In an era where marketing ruled supreme, Cass refused to be like anyone else, she was who she was and she just was. It was the most natural thing in the world for her and that's what made Cass so very revolutionary. The last half of each half-hour gets that across.

DVD extras include Cass and Sammy Davis Jr. singing Peter, Paul and Mary's hit "I Dig Rock & Roll Music" -- with new lyrics that really don't have a great deal to do with rock and roll -- and, most importantly, John Sebastian remembering Cass which includes the story of how she introduced him to his future bandmate Zal Yanovsky, "And I'm not the only person who met a really pivotal person at Cass' houses. Obviously Crosby, Stills and Nash, you know, heavily motivated by Cass to be joined together. And I would say that what she had was a sort of like what they called 'salons' in the literary field. That's what she had in this -- what'd we call this? Folk rock neighborhood."

That neighborhood was global. A friend sent us a copy of a BBC special that aired in September of 1970, Joni Mitchell Sings Joni Mitchell.

It's only a year later, but Joni's bangs are gone and she's stopped using an eyebrow pencil (and she looks about five years younger). The amazing bone structure remains. As with Cass' special, Joni is onstage in front of an audience; however, Joni's allowed to just be Joni. It's like the second part of each half-hour of The Mama Cass Television Program in that Joni's just expected to entertain, not mingle with various comics and TV stars.

She uses the special to showcase her gifts. Opening on the guitar with "Chelsea Morning" and "Cactus Tree," she moves over to the piano for "My Old Man" and "He Played Real Good For Free." In one of the few moments when she speaks to the audience, she'll and explain of the first song, "This is a song that isn't really finished. It, you know, needs another verse to it still. But it's got a little bit of it there. And when I go home late at night this is a song I really like to sing right now, so I'll play it for you." She never came up with another verse for "My Old Man" but she'd record it the following year, on Blue, with the chorus following the second verse (the only real change to the song other than slowing down the tempo a bit more).

After the piano, Joni moves on to another instrument, a dulcimer, and she'll give a brief background of it and also show the details of the one she had made (by Joellen Lapidus). She'll talk about the song she's about to play, terming it a "letter back home," with the first verse written in Paris, the second in Spain and the third "when I got back home." The song is the classic "California."

Sittin' in a park in Paris, France,

Readin' the news and it sure looks bad.

They won't give peace a chance.

That was just a dream some of us had.

Still a lot of lands to see,

But I wouldn't wanna stay here.

It's too old and cold

And settled in its ways here.

Ah, but California . . .

She'll grab the guitar again for "Big Yellow Taxi" (with an additional verse: "Late last night, I heard that screen door slam, and a big yellow tractor came and took away my house, it took away my land") and "Both Sides Now" and, in the process, put together an incredibly charming special. We loved the disc and wish it were released with some bonus materials but you can watch the special online via Google video.

The Cass special is part of a Cass resurgence intended to showcase her amazing talents. As part of that resurgence, her self-titled RCA album and The Road Is No Place For A Lady have been released on a single CD. Kat reviewed them Labor day ("Kat's Korner: Cass Elliot's buried classic surfaces"). Both the DVD and CD can be purchased online at Collectors' Choice. Joni Mitchell's forever in a resurgence and this November sees the release of a new boxed set. At the end of her special, Cass says, "From my mouth to his [looking upward] ear, peace." She then makes the peace sign. It was 1969. It was the intensely conservative ABC. You can't talk about her talent without talking about her guts because they really went hand-in-hand and, in its best moments, that's what her special captures.

Nanci Griffith: The Complete MCA Recordings

A few weeks back, Ava and C.I. were listening to the new Nanci Griffith CD (The Loving Kind) and quoting her in their TV commentary and we quoted her in our editorial. Kat's response was she loved the album and to then groan because she's already got a ton to review. Kat does music reviews for The Common Ills. Counting her yearly year-in-review, she has agreed to 12 pieces. In 2008, between speaking out against the Iraq War, campaigning for Hillary and then Ralph Nader, running her own website, helping out here and trying to have a life, she did not meet the 12 and did she hear complaints from community members. By contrast, this year she has surpassed the 12. This morning, she posted her latest review (her nineteenth this year), Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs' Under The Covers Vol. 2. She's got a number of albums on deck for the rest of the year. To help her out, we decided to do a download piece on Nanci Griffith.

The Texas-born singer-songwriter was popularizing Julie Gold's "From A Distance" long before Bette Midler recorded it. Whether interpreting a song by another writer or performing her own songs, she's a true original or, as one of her albums was entitled, The Last Of The True Believers.

MCA was Griffith's label after Kathy Mattea hit big with Griffith's "Love At The Five And Dime." She had already recorded four albums by then (There's A Light Beyond These Woods, Poet In My Window, Once In A Very Blue Moon and The Last Of The True Believers) so she was already a developed artist. She would record four studio albums for the label (Lone Star State Of Mind, Little Love Affairs, Storms and Late Night Grande Hotel) and one live one (One Fair Summer Evening). Her MCA years are represented in two collections: From A Distance: The Very Best of Nanci Griffith and The Complete MCA Studio Recordings.

We recommend the latter.

Nanci Griffith

Jim made the mistake of buying From A Distance: The Very Best of Nanci Griffith. Now if that's all that's available to you, you're not going to regret it. It's a strong introduction to her work, twenty-two tracks. Jim just knew the new album (The Loving Kind), loved it and thought he should explore more by Griffith. He saw both albums at our local Borders and Complete cost a few dollars more. So he went with the cheaper version. When he listened, he couldn't stop raving and that's when Ty pointed out two things: 1) He could have grabbed a copy in the music room if he was just attempting to explore and 2) He could have gotten The Complete MCA Studio Recordings online, $14.97. (We're referring to the download; however, currently it is also onsale in CD format for that price at Amazon. We have no idea how long the sale will last.)

While From A Distance has 22 tracks, The Complete MCA Studio Recordings is a 46 track compilation. A lot of overlooked tracks don't make From A Distance. And anyone who's ever heard Nanci Griffith's "You've Made This Love A Tear Drop" (written by Griffith ) will wonder how you do a "very best" of Nanci without including that song?

What have you got to say for yourself now, baby?

Now that I am leaving you what have you got to lose?

The truth you tried to keep from me,

Well it nearly drove me crazy.

I have grown weary

From sleepless nights with you.

Is that a broken heart in the corner of your eye?

Something to remind you?

You made this love a teardrop waiting to fall

There are those who can't love right,

I just can't love wrong.

When you're lonely in the night,

I hope you will recall.

You made this love a teardrop waiting to fall.

That's from her album Storms which contains many classics including "I Don't Want To Talk About Love," "Drive-In Movies and Dashboard Lights," "Brave Companion Of The Road," "Listen To The Radio" and . . . Well the only way you could get them all was to buy The Complete MCA Recordings or the Storms album itself.

So what you're getting, for less than fifteen dollars, is all four of Nanci Griffith's MCA albums. Tracks that you know and love -- or quickly will -- like "It's Just Another Morning Here," "Anyone Can Be Somebody's Fool" (the track the Everly Brothers should have recorded) and "Hometown Streets" (the track the Eagles should have recorded).

Mainly you'll have an overview of a strong artist and 46 tracks you can't stop listening to. A bargain at any price but especially at $14.97.

Pet Peeve (Dona)

So I'm cleaning out my purse and find not one, not two, but six business cards from the hair salon I frequent. Nikki wants me to use a product. What product? I can't read her writing. Something like Aquage Gelade. Arthur, Kim and Simon apparently just wanted me to know their name. That and schedule my next appointment.

That's why I have these stupid cards.

I go in for an appointment I've scheduled, by phone, and just when I'm checking out the damage done in the mirror, I'm being pressed to figure out when I want to come in next, I'm being ordered to commit to deadline.

My hair color is natural with no highlights or streaks. I wear it long. I don't have bangs. Point being, I don't have roots to touch up, I don't require a trim by X date. My hair is one of the few things in my life that actually has flexibility.

So their efforts to force me, as I've just gotten one hair cut, to schedule another really tick me off.

Somehow "I don't know, I'll call you," isn't a good enough answer. So to get them off my case, I generally just grab whatever date they're 'suggesting' (insisting), toss the business card in my purse and head out the door.

That used to be it. But after a few times of this, when I called to schedule an appointment, I was informed that I'd missed a number of appointments. Only the ones scheduled in person, I pointed out, not the ones I scheduled on the phone. But it was obviously a problem.

So now, I have to take the card and have to call back to cancel the appointment I didn't want but the stylist scheduled over my objections.

And it can be a real hassle.

So much so, that I'm considering changing salons.

All I'm trying to do is get a hair cut. Every four to six weeks. Seems there ought to be a salon that could do that and not try to strong-arm you into immediately booking your next appointment.


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

"Iraq snapshot," "Wonderful Carly Simon, Creepy Chris Hill" and "Iraq snapshot" -- Thursday, US Ambassador to Iraq, Chris Hill, appeared before Congress. C.I. and Kat report on it.

"I Hate The War" -- The most requested highlight by readers of this site.

"Dam Alito" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for Alito.

"Salsa in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a recipe and talks the economy.

"David Corn, crazy ass David Corn?" & "Todd Chretien, sit your ass down" -- Betty gets shocked and she gets offended.

"Next up, the Double Date""New Carly Simon CD""school problems""carly simon, dean powers health care recommendation""Sam Ritchie and marrigae equality""Someone tell Mr. Clyburn and Mr. Hoyer to cool down""McGovern scores, Levy whores""Wonderful Carly Simon, Creepy Chris Hill"

"ACORN falls far from the tree" -- Marcia covers the latest on ACORN.

"WTF????????????" & "The Offensive Todd Chretien" -- Stan gets shocked and he gets offended. (Yes, these are companion pieces to Betty's.)

"Kat's Korner: Cass Elliot's buried classic surfaces" -- Kat's review of a Cass Elliot reissue.

"Labor Day post" -- Mike posted on Labor Day.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barack Prepares To Talk To The Kids" -- Isaiah's latest comic.

"Music" -- Elaine goes for a music and memories post.

"Health care fines" -- Ruth on Barack's penalty phase of 'helping.'

"The non-news," "As usual, Michelle looked dreadful," "Cass Elliot," "the clues," "TV worth watching," "The dumb speech," "Yes, I watched," "Barack's bad plan," "Barack's contradiction," "Dems launch smear campaign on Charles Boustany!," "Barry O . . . vacuous" & "THIS JUST IN! HE'S A DUMB ASS!" -- community reaction to the bad, bad speech.

"But, but Joe Wilson was wrong, right?" -- Mike on the redrafting by the Senate.

"They had nothing else to do" & "THIS JUST IN! DEMS IN CONGRESS GOT NOTHING!" -- Cedric and Wally note the absence of any real ideas or proposals.

"school problems" -- Rebecca writes about the problems some students face.

"Next up, the Double Date" -- How much are you paying for Barack and Michelle's 'date nights'?
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