Sunday, October 04, 2009

Truest statement of the week

I know that you are only fulfilling your campaign promises to increase the violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan and I notice that not a significant amount of troops have been withdrawn from Iraq. However, even with your hostile rhetoric and promises to escalate the violence, many people voted for you because they believed you were the peace candidate.
Since the election, you have betrayed the progressive base that gave you victory on many occasions already, but the cause that keeps many of us motivated is the continued carnage in the Middle East. What bothers me even more, especially, is the fact that the so-called anti-war movement has given you a nine-month free pass and thousands of people have died, including hundreds of our own troops.

-- Cindy Sheehan, "President Obama: Give Peace a Meeting," (Cindy's Soapbox).

A note to our readers

Hey --

First, thanks to all those who 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.

And Dallas. We thank them all.

It was a hideous edition. Ava compared it to Fleetwood Mac (Rumors crew) being forced into the studio when they didn't even want to look at one another. Hmmm.

What did we come up with?

Truest statement of the week -- Cindy Sheehan won another truest. If she had any real competition this past week, I (Jim) didn't notice it.

Editorial: The ringing bells of justice -- Thank you to Ava and C.I. This was huge, lengthy and blah, blah, blah. They ended up taking the basic message of the editorial and restating it (our original version did not work at all). Credit to all for working on this but credit to Ava and C.I. for crystalizing it. And then some.

TV: Sister Honey -- Stevie Nicks on the brain. I actually love "Sister Honey" and, after reading Ava and C.I.'s review, thought that had to be the title of this one.

That so-called 'recovery' -- Trina worked on the editorial and this article. We thank her for her help. Everyone worked on this one.

What Odierno really said -- Ava, C.I., Kat and Wally worked on this primarily. Mike helped as well. The press? They were no help. They couldn't even report what happened.

Screwing the American music consumer -- All but Trina worked on this look at the too high costs of downloads.

Iraq -- Our Iraq piece.

Fads -- We liked this website and thought it would be good as a short feature.

Halloween (Ty) -- Ty's turn at bat with the Halloween essays.

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

And that's what we got. After way too many hours. We're tired to the point of being sick to our stomachs.

See you next week.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: The ringing bells of justice

Saturday morning on KPFA, Kris Welch encourgaed listeners to look online at various premiums offered in KPFA's most recent pledge drive and, oh, here's the kicker, the pledge starts back up this week for at least another week as the Pacifica Radio station desperately attempts to raise money.

Well golly, jolly, gee, why would that be?


Friday afternoon, KPFA aired Free Speech Radio News. Ehren Watada, the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq, was to be discharged on Friday. Friday afternoon, FSRN is telling listeners that . . . Ehren's scheduled to be discharged.

He'd already been discharged. But one phone call to Fort Lewis' Media Relations Department would have provided FSRN with that information.

FSRN didn't care and neither did Kris Welch who does her own 'headlines' on The Saturday Talkies -- she calls them "hot flashes." At 15 minute in, she still hadn't mentioned Ehren Watada. For a moment, we wondered if she even knew he was?

Some of her fan base will immediately insist, "She interviewed his mother!"

Well we know that, does Kris?

We have to ask that because Carolyn Ho was repeatedly referred to by Kris as "Carolyn Oh." That was before Ho joined the conversation and after. Carolyn Ho was kind and did not correct her on that (she kindly corrected Welch on many other things Kris was getting wrong). So, for all we know, Kris Welch thinks she interviewed Grey's Anatomy's Sandra Oh.

But KPFA is having trouble raising funds.

And that's supposed to be bad news.

To us, it sounds like justice.

TV: Sister Honey

CBS' Accidentally On Purpose is a sitcom on the Monday line up but, for us, it brings to mind a Stevie Nicks song.

Well I think you will like Sister Honey

She will help you

Make up your mind

Even if you don't need her

Tell her you need her

She needs you brother

She needs you brother.

A little over a third of the way into the pilot episode, Jenna Elfman's Billie laments she just got a boy toy and now she's pregnant: "I broke my boy toy." She explained, "I mean, I finally had a boy toy and I only got to play with him for a couple of weeks! And now my boy toy got me pregnant. And when I tell him, he's going to freak out. I broke my boy toy!" Prior to that?

One minute Billie's pinching her nipples at a bar so she'll catch former beau James' attention (no such luck, he arrives with Kate Moss on his arm), the next she's flashing back on James flying her to Paris and her wanting marriage. He tells her that when they started dating, she knew he didn't want to get married and she was fine with that. She tells him that people end up doing things they don't think they'll do all the time. And that's the break up. With James at the bar with a super model, Billie's attention turns to three younger guys who are hitting on her. Jon Foster's Zack is clearly the winner of the three and next thing you know, she's at Zack's apartment explaining she never does one night stands. Zack, of course, tells her people do lots of things they don't think they'll do. And they're off . . . to the futon.

That's a huge amount of back story for a pilot and the setup doesn't come until Billie gets the results of her pregnancy test.

Now between the futon and the pregnancy test, Billie and Zack make out multiple times. It's incorrect to say -- as some have -- that she's pregnant as a result of a one night stand. She's pregnant as a result of what she thinks is a fling.

When Zack accompanies her to the doctor, he learns she's 37 despite her telling him she was 32. It's the sort of detail you might not share with a fling.

And though some pretend to have such a hard time grasping the premise, that's what it is: A fling becomes a relationship.

But who needs to grasp a show when you're too busy conducting a war on women. Tom Shales (Washington Post) has been conducting a one-pig war on women for over 40 years. He continues it by insisting, "There's a bit of timeliness in the premise: a cougar on the prowl." A cougar on the prowl? Did he watch the show? She didn't go looking for a younger man to have sex with (that's what a cougar on the prowl would be doing). Calling her "Billie-kins," Shales continues his standard operating procedure of diminishing women. He then carps, "It's not easy to buy the notion that she's a film critic, however; the only cinematic reference she makes in the premiere is to Meg Ryan movies. She does have a 'Gilda' poster in her apartment, however, so that's a clue, almost." Again, did he watch the show? We saw numerous film posters (including a Greta Garbo film, An American Werewolf in London, etc. -- and only the one in what is now the nursery has been pulled since the show began airing). Maybe Shales is on yet another snack run every time a character walks through Billie's hallway? Somehow he also managed to fail to mention Billie going on about Gone With The Wind in the first episode.

Then there are those like Mandi Bierly (Entertainment Weekly) who insist that Jon Foster just isn't up for the show. That is both hilarious and ignorant. Dharma & Greg, the sitcom which made Jenna Elfman a star, teamed her with Thomas Gibson who was really best known in the industry as the guy who had no chemistry and was in-and-out as Sam Fowler on Another World for exactly that reason. He went on to a prime time ensemble soap/medical show (Chicago Hope) and got damn lucky when he was cast opposite Jenna Elfman. He now stars in one of TV's many cookie cutter crime shows. The way 'critics' like Mandi carp about Jon Foster, you'd think Elfman co-starred with Richard Dreyfuss in Dharma & Greg. (The two co-starred in the film Krippendorf's Tribe.)

Some of the 'critics' carping about Foster insist -- despite the storyline -- that he's a man-boy (the term would be "mannish" -- apparently the Water Cooler Set has a limited vocabulary) and it's part of an effort to be 'trendy.' Have they seen Foster?

If they wanted to be trendy, he'd have at least a few bits of chest hair. After years and years of the plucked chicken look being 'in,' Ed Westwick brought hairy back (eat your heart out, Timberlake). Meanwhile Foster's more shockingly smooth than anything since the 2006 ads for Haynes Underwear's Marvel boxers featuring an apparently well-waxed Wolverine.

Despite all the carping, Jon Foster holds his own as Zack. Maybe the 'critics' have confused acting with character? Zack is still finding himself (in the second episode, he gave up his dream to go to culinary school across the country because it would mean him being away from his child). That he can be onscreen with Ashley Jensen is an accomplishment all its own. Jensen (fresh from Ugly Betty) plays Billie's best friend and co-worker Olivia. On this show, she's Susan Sullivan in that every joke detonates and even the non-funny lines are made humorous by Olivia -- just as Sullivan made Kitty one of the main reasons to watch Dharma & Greg.

As she photographs the back of her head, Billie needs to know if enough time has elapsed for the results of the pregnancy test? "Was I supposed to be timing it?" asks Olivia. Told she needs to take the test more seriously, she responds with fake sincerity, "Your first pregnancy test, that's adorable." She will repeatedly ask "the hard questions" (such as is Billie keeping the baby) because, as she explains, she's a trained journalist. It's her life training that makes her most interesting such as when she finds out Billie and Zack didn't use birth control and counsels, "Billie, Billie, Billie. Always use a condom. And an alias." She can get a laugh with just a head turn.

That's not always for the best. There's a lot of carping from some 'critics' about the canned laughter. Canned? Jenna's big moment in the pilot, her only real dramatic moment, was when her character accepts that she's pregnant and going to give birth. Via Jensen's zany Olivia, the audience ends up laughing at that moment when they weren't supposed to. Just last week, we were talking about all the hoops women have to jump through when a show centers around them. Apparently "canned laughter" is a problem only for Jenna's show. Every other sitcom on CBS' Monday night line up uses a laugh track.

Between Dharma & Greg and Accidentally On Purpose, Jenna's had two high profile TV moments. On Two And A Half Men, she did a two-parter as a zany woman whose in-laws were attempting to take away her child. She also briefly starred in Courting Alex which was supposed to be her show but spent too much time on Dabney Coleman and too little on Jenna and Josh Randall. The romantic comedy her last series should have been is what Accidentally On Purpose is.

And like a good romantic comedy (Dharma & Greg, for example), the show's populated with zany characters. There's Billie's sister Abby (Lennon Parham) who is as inhibited as Thomas Gibson's Greg was. There's Nicolas Wright's Davis, best friend to Zack, who recalls Dharma's father in many ways. The really big surprise here was Grant Show -- or, rather, that Grant Show could be funny. We both know Grant and think the camera rarely does his looks justice. While we're not surprised when he manages to handle a dramatic role, we really were surprised that he could handle comedy and handle it so well.

Grant's playing James, Billie's ex and Billie's boss which makes him like David Letterman if Letterman were actually sexy. Billie belongs with Zack and that's obvious by the chemistry the two performers have with one another. But it's a real testament to Grant Show's skills that you do find yourself wondering what if . . .

Nobody's right, baby

All the time

And a fool only knows what he's leaving behind

So take some time to know the real story

Cause a soul that's true is your ride to glory

Don't let that golden hair get in your way, baby

Jenna Elfman's comedic talents really are suited for romantic comedy and it's great to find her back in one. The point we've tried to make in this review is that the show -- the one that so many pretend not to get or rush to lump into a 'cougar' genre -- is a romantic comedy. And a damn funny one. Check it out Monday nights on CBS or, for now, stream it online here and/or here. The network that Lucy built can now point to two funny women starring in their own sitcoms: Jenna and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. In the early seventies, it boasted three (Lucy, Carol Burnett and Mary Tyler Moore). It would improve on that number as the seventies progressed. The decade of regression being what it is, two shows starring funny women actually feels like a victory. May a third soon be added.


"Sister Honey," written by Stevie Nicks and Les Dudek, appears on Stevie's Rock A Little album.

That so-called 'recovery'

"One job lost is one job too many, and it's still too much pain," declared US Vice President Joe Biden on Friday. "There's still too many hard-working Americans without a paycheck, still too many families struggling to get by." Yesterday, Bob Willis (Bloomberg News) reported that September job losses "unexpectedly accelerated" and that "the unemployment rate reached the highest level since 1983". Really? Unexpectedly?

And what do they intend to say about October's unemployment rate. October's unemployment rate is going to be high and that's no more unexpected than last month's increase.

What's going on?

It's the fiscal year. 2009 ended September 30th and Fiscal Year 2010 started October 1st. Private sector employees found themselves cut as the fiscal year ended. October will show the results from the public sector work force. It's a point Trina's made repeatedly (most recently here). Last Wednesday, across the country, many government employees (especially city and county ones) completed their last days of work.

A large public works program might have avoided that but Barack Obama's no FDR. What little was put towards public works programs is not being utilized. Michael Grabell (ProPublica) reported Friday that though the CBO's estimate was the Transporation Department would spend $5 billion by September 30th of this year, "only $3.4 billion" was spent.


He did support Bully Boy Bush's TARP plan, however. And that program celebrated its one year 'birthday' yesterday. Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer wonders where the money went:

How the TARP money has been spent, and whether it's being repaid, are still largely mysteries.
Neil Barofsky, special inspector general of TARP, told Congress that the Treasury Department's "attitude towards transparency ... remains a significant frustration." The Obama administration needs to be reminded that taxpayers footed the bill for this massive bailout, and they are entitled to know where the money went.

Paul Kiel (ProPublica) observes, "Putting a dollar amount on the financial rescue isn't an easy task, as we've noted before [1]. Those looking for an answer can find estimates from a few trillion to as high as $24 trillion. That's mainly due to different judgment calls on what should count."

And the bank failures continue with three more on Friday. Before we get to the latest, let's drop back to our August roundtable to note that 2008 saw 24 banks closed, 3 closed in 2007, the FDIC states: "There were no bank failures in 2006," repeats that message for 2005, four were closed in 2004, 3 in 2003, 11 in 2002 and 4 in 2001. Adding it all together, 72 banks were closed from 2001 to the end of 2008. Friday the FDIC announced:

Southern Colorado National Bank, Pueblo, CO with approximately $39.5 million in assets and approximately $31.9 million in deposits was closed. Legacy Bank, Wiley, CO has agreed to assume all deposits. (PR-181-2009)
Jennings State Bank, Spring Grove, MN with approximately $56.3 million in assets and approximately $52.4 million in deposits was closed. Central Bank, Stillwater, MN has agreed to assume all deposits. (
Warren Bank, Warren, MI with approximately $538 million in assets and approximately $501 million in deposits was closed. The Huntington National Bank, Columbus, OH has agreed to assume all deposits, excluding certain brokered deposits. (

A total of 93 banks have been closed so far in 2009. Repeating, in the previous eight years, 72 banks were closed. More banks have shut down this year than in the previous eight years. The 93 are from various parts of the country but we'll note 16 of the 93 were Illinois' banks.

No jobs, banks failing and here come the holidays. Stephanie Rosenbloom (New York Times) reported yesterday that retailers are hoping that "this Christmas will be as bad as last -- which is to say, one of the worst on record." Holding the line is better than dropping below it. At least for businesses and Barack doesn't know the first thing about business (remember his laughable self-praise of his business 'skills' in 2008 when he referred to his campaign as a business?). Yesterday, his national address found him lying yet again about how he'll grow the economy:

It will require us to lay a new foundation for our economy -- one that gives our workers the skills and education they need to compete; that invests in renewable energy and the jobs of the future; and that makes health care affordable for families and businesses -- particularly small businesses, many of which have been overwhelmed by rising health care costs.
This is something I hear about from entrepreneurs I meet -- people who've got a good idea, and the expertise and determination to build it into a thriving business. But many can't take that leap because they can't afford to lose the health insurance they have at their current job.
I hear about it from small business owners who want to grow their companies and hire more people, but they can't, because they can barely afford to insure the employees they have. One small business owner wrote to me that health care costs are -- and I quote -- "stifling my business growth." He said that the money he wanted to use for research and development, and to expand his operations, has instead been "thrown into the pocket of healthcare insurance carriers."

And there's nothing in Barry's 'plan' that's going to stop money being "thrown into the pocket of healthcare insurance carriers." In fact, Barry's 'plan' encourages even more money to be tossed in those pockets. As Gore Vidal told Tim Teeman (The Times of London) last week, "He f***ed it up. I don't know how because the country wanted it. We'll never see it happen." We know how and Gore would as well if he'd bothered to study Barack's action in Chicago before becoming a US senator. But, like the media he castigates, Gore Vidal skipped out on doing that homework.

But grasp what Barry refuses to: (A) in a faltering economy, you do not add a new mandate requiring that every US citizen have insurance or be personally fined and (B) in a faltering economy, business growth is held back by 'plans' like Barack. Liz Peek (wowOwow) observed Friday:

Other than providing work for an ever-expanding number of speech-writers in the White House, the administration isn’t long on job-creating initiatives. [. . .] President Obama talks incessantly about creating "green jobs," which seems like a dandy notion until it turns out that much of our spending on solar panels and the like is actually zipping over to China and to other countries that are quickly outpacing us. I see considerable irony in the fact that the head of the U.S. trade group Solar Energy Industries Association is Roger Efird, who works for Suntech, China’s largest solar panel maker.

What Odierno really said

Wednesday, General Ray Odierno testified to Congress. Thursday, he held a press conference at the Pentagon. Neither even was closed to the public but it might as well have been when you consider how the press has distorted what was said.


To follow press 'summaries,' one is left with the impression that all Odierno said was: "We can speed up the draw-down." But he repeatedly told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday that the he could speed up or slow down the draw-down. On Thursday, responding to AP's Lara Jakes on just that issue, he stated if he felt the need, he would "make a recommendation back to Washington that recommends either we slow down -- slow down our reduction in forces. So that's always been part of the plan."

Asked to explain the election process in Iraq, General Ray Odierno declared, "I'll wal -- Congressman, I'll walk you through in general terms. First, the el - by the [Iraqi] Constitution, the election is supposed to occur no later than the 31st of January. Right now, it's scheduled for the 16th of January. Again, pending the passing of the election law. Once the election is completed, they take 45 days to certify the results of the election. And so what happens is we'll have hundreds of international observers -- maybe thousands, there's going to be quite a few international observers -- as well as the Iraqi High Electoral Commission will certify the results, they will take all complaints and then they will deem the elections to be credible, legitimate or not. That takes forty-five days. Once that happens, you then have thirty days to begin the formation of seating the Council of Representatives. You then have another thirty days to then select the leadership, the presidency, and then you have another time period to select the prime minister and then the Speaker [of Parliament]. So within that time period, we expect that it will take from January to June or so, maybe July, to seat the new government. In 2005, following the elections, the government -- the elections were in December and the government was seated in May of 2005 [he means May of 2006]. This is the Parliamentary system of government and it just takes time for them to do this. So it's -- there is timelines on it, they will follow those timelines strictly, but it will take time to seat that government."

At the press conference, he declared of US troops in Iraq, "what we'll do is we'll hold that in place through the elections and about 60 days after the elections. And depending on how that goes, it's peaceful, and then we will make a determination of coming down to the 50,000-transition force by the first of September." Then?

Repeatedly the press removed all caveats from his testimony to Congress and from his press conference. It was as though the press had turned into the Pointer Sisters and were only interested in "seeing what you wanted to see" ("Slow Hand").

Kurdish-Arab tensions didn't really make it into the press coverage of his Congressional testimony and maybe that's due to the fact that it's not stressed in the (heavily) distributed to the press. US House Rep. Loretta Sanchez raised the issue, noted he had been calling it the number one problem, but he hadn't listed it as the number one issue in his prepared remarks.
He immediately responded that he still believed it to be the most pressing.

But if you ignored the testimony and ignored the press conference and just went with the prepared statement, it was very easy for you to miss moments like those.

Odierno answered questions from Congress at length on Wednesday and from the press on Thursday. Despite that, so much of what he said was misconstrued.

For more on this topic, see "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "General Ray Odierno," "House Armed Services Committee" and "Iraq snapshot."

Screwing the American music consumer


Free All Music is currently registering for a new program not yet launched. The program? Watch an advertisement online and get a free download. The company hopes to 'go live' in December. In the meantime?

Look to the Brits.

While Americans were fat and lazy during the CD hey-day, Brits were not. Americans didn't really give a damn that the $8.99 albums on cassette were costing $16.99 on CD. The broken promise of how, once the format took off, the prices would fall registered with few beyond a few complaints between bong hits.

In England, they fought loudly.

There was no excuse for the high cost of CDs. The disc itself is cheap. The artist isn't making the money. The songwriter (if it's different than the artist) isn't making all that money. It's the label. And the labels screwed people over and begged for the creation of music piracy in the process.

Music Week just reported on a new survey of British music lovers, "Respondents were also quizzed on their views on music piracy and illegal downloads, with 74% believing that music is now too expensive, and 63% claiming they would buy more music if costs were lower. The high cost of music was the main reason cited for choosing pirate downloads over legal purchases, with one in four men admitting that more than 50% of their music collection was made up of illegal downloads."

The cost of downloads is too expensive?

Saturday, on a quick trip to Borders with Ty, Dona saw Bonnie Raitt's Streetlights which Jim had downloaded peaking her interest in the album, leading her to snag C.I.'s copy. It was on sale for $5.99 so she bought it. At iTunes, she'd pay $9.90, at Amazon, the more reasonable $6.97. But at Borders, she got the album for $5.99 -- cover art, plastic case, disc and all.

Last January, Steve Jobs wanted the world to kiss his butt yet again when he announced that, starting in April, iTunes would be offering a new pricing system "with many more songs priced at 69 cents". The pricing system was Jobs' way of pumping up the pricing to $1.29 a tune (from the current 99 cents).

And while the pricing has increased to $1.29 a tune (check iTunes pricing for Barbra Streisand's tracks from Love Is The Answer, for example), the idea that iTunes would be swamped with 69 cents downloads never really took off.

The three minutes and eleven seconds version of Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe" retails at iTunes for $1.29. A number one hit from 1965 is being sold at the highest price possible?

You think you're not being screwed as a consumer?

Go through the nearly 150 tracks by Sonny & Cher iTunes offer (nearly because they have a Debi Mazar podcast -- for free -- listed and, no, Debi didn't record with Sonny & Cher) and you'll find nothing for sixty nine cents.

Go to the Mamas and the Papas at iTunes and you'll see iTunes is selling "California Dreamin'" for $1.29 but search in vain for the 69 cent track.

We searched and searched for these mythical 69 cent tracks from iTunes before finally finding some. Judy Henske, a great artist. Some tracks from her early sixties folk albums are available for 69 cents. So maybe it's folk music only that are 69 cents? We checked out Joan Baez' 149 songs and found none for 69 cents. Donovan? 149 tracks, all for 99 cents.

Jackie DeShannon? Out of the nearly 150 tracks offered, we counted six that were for 69 cents. "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" was not one of them. That retails for 99 cents if you grab it via My Best Friend's Wedding (soundtrack) but the same recording by Jackie carried on other albums will cost you $1.29 to download.

We went with those choices for a reason. There is no overhead on any of the artists we listed. No label has not recouped recording sessions from those tracks laid down in the sixties. So where's the money going because this new pricing system won't be going to the artist or the songwriters or the musicians.

There's no overhead, there's nothing to recoup. So what's the deal with upping the prices?

99 cents a track was outrageous. But it was across the line at iTunes. It wasn't good enough for greedy Steve Jobs -- nothing ever has been and he's been screwing over musicians since the days of his early eighties music festivals. So he lied that iTunes would be able to offer many tracks cheaper -- only 69 cents a download! -- so he could turn around and raise the prices on many more tracks.

While Americans are just so thrilled to not be forking over $16.99 (or more) for a new album (downloading it for $9.99 instead), the British are wondering why when the labels don't have to manufacture a disc, the prices are still so high. Americans better be paying attention because this is how it starts, greedy Steve Jobs kicks the price up a little, then another greedy person does and, eight years on down the line, you're paying $3.50 to download one track.


The month of September ended last week and the death toll for Iraqis was 297 with 618 reported injured. Thursday (October 1st) saw 3 people reported dead and 7 reported injured. Friday saw 1 person reported dead and 10 reported injured. Saturday saw 1 person reported dead and 7 wounded.

September ended with the death of another US service member, Ross Vogel III. The US miltary announced: "FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq – A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Corps – Iraq died of a non-combat related injury Sept. 29. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The name of the service member will be announced through the U.S. Department of Defense Official Web site at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is currently under investigation." The month was just starting when the US military announced: "CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – A Multi-National Corps-Iraq Soldier was killed today in an indirect fire attack on Camp Liberty. Release of the identity of the Soldier is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin. The name of the deceased service member will be announced through the U.S. Department of Defense Official Web site at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is currently under investigation." The announcements brought to 4348 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

ehren watada

Friday saw Ehren Watada discharged from the US military. June 7, 2006, 1st Lt Ehren Watada announced he would not be deploying to Iraq stating that the war was illegal and immoral. With that announcement, Ehren became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. The military attempted to court-martial him [C.I.: "On Monday, February 5, 2007, Watada's court-martial began. It continued on Tuesday when the prosecution argued their case. Wednesday, Watada was to take the stand in his semi-defense. Judge Toilet (John Head) presided and when the prosecution was losing, Toilet decided to flush the lost by declaring a mistrial over defense objection in his attempt to give the prosecution a do-over."]; however, the prosecution was losing the case and Judge Toilet stopped the hearing and declared a mistrial. US District Judge Benjamin Settle found that Ehren could not be tried again on the same charges -- the Constitution is very clear on double jeopardy -- but the military dragged their feet on the remaining charges. Though Ehren's service contract expired in December 2006, he had to report on base at Fort Lewis every work day while the military sought ways to punish him.

And Wednesday, General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, testified before the House Armed Services Committee. But that's another story.


CafePress is an online retail store where consumers can buy merchandise and create their own. What's popular?


Associated Press quotes the company's marketing vice president, Amy Maniatis, stating, "When it comes to political or pop culture, we can become somewhat of a barometer of what's going on in the world. Our T-shirt sales now are much more reflective of the opinion polls -- about 50-50 pro vs. con."

Cafe Press
AP rushes to assure readers that Barack is no where near as unpopular as George W. Bush. That's the standard now? And let's remember that this time in his first year, Bully Boy George W. Bush was riding high, he was incredibly popular. Barack, by contrast, not so much.

Halloween (Ty)

I didn't Halloween in the Big City. We grew up rural and without much money. Which meant Halloween's required the inventive powers of Gilligan's Island's Professor but we generally pulled something together that was more Lucy Riccardo.

My first costume that stood out was when I was in first grade. I was a hobo. That meant I had a big do rag and a wooden tree branch with a nap sack at the end of it. It was fun in first grade. Less so when I had to repeat it.

Ghosts really weren't costumes we did. Not because we didn't care for Casper. If we had been able to get a store bought Casper costume, we would have gone as him in a heart beat. But African-Americans aren't generally going to put a white sheet on and poke eye holes in it -- no matter how cheap it might be to wear such a costume. "Are you Casper?" might be how we were greeted but it's just as likely we'd be asked, "Why are you dressed like the KKK?"

"What are you going as?" was always the big question at school in the lead up to the holiday.

And, for me, Halloween's always been more about dressing up than about candy. Even now.

I've spent countless hours trying to figure out what I'll be going as this year. To help whittle down my list of possibilities, I asked my boyfriend if we wanted to think about going in complimentary costumes?

The answer was "no" then a shocked look as he grasped he wasn't as into Halloween as I was. Few people ever are.


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," "Iraq snapshot," "General Ray Odierno," "House Armed Services Committee" and "Iraq snapshot"-- Kat and C.I. report on Wednesday's Congressional appearence by Ray Odierno.

"I Hate The War" -- Kat says C.I. literally fell asleep at the laptop writing this. That's why it's short. But it's to the point and the number one pick by readers of this site for highlighting.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "New 'Action' from 'We Forgot Iraq'" -- Also extremely popular was Isaiah's comic from last Sunday.

"Eilene Zimmerman Is No Feminist" -- Ruth's post was extremely popular. She takes on a 'critic' of a show -- a 'critic' who never watched the show. But did read a Judith Warner column on the show. Suck on it, Eilene, suck on it.

"Slate and Troy Patterson don't correct error" -- Stan notes another 'critic' with problems.

"Barack packed his speedo" & "THIS JUST IN! BARACK GOES FOR THE GOLD!" -- Cedric and Wally on Barry O's trip to Copenhagan.

"Bye-bye public option" -- Trina says it all.

"And all the bitches come out with their claws flying" -- Ann wasn't sure about the title but went with it. It got the point across and then some.

"Bob On Bob" & "Somerby, Rather" -- Betty and Stan.

"FSRN, WTH?" -- Elaine's extremely popular post on what FRSN judges to be 'news.'

"Sushi Tuesday" -- Mike loves the Sushi.

"Pizza in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers an easy recipe.

"Ehren Watada" -- Ann notes Ehren Watada.

"Barbra""Work-safe or not?""help barbra have a number 1 album 5 decades in a row""again with the barbra"

"Melanee Verveer, Barbra Streisand" & "Ambassador Melanne Verveer" -- Ruth and Marcia on Ambassador Verveer.

"Somerby strong, ACLU weak, very weak" & "The ACLU needs to get some guts" -- Stan and Mike tag-team against a meek ACLU.

"Food" -- Ann talks food.

"570 User Identification Failed" -- Trina would argue it's not much of a post. Maybe so. But if you have your own site, you know how frustrating it was.

"TV" -- Betty covers television.

"John Kenneth Galbraith's son fired" and "Grab bag" -- Ruth and Marcia on the firing of Galbraith.

"help barbra have a number 1 album 5 decades in a r...," "again with the barbra," "continue to call her barbra" and "barbra's latest masterpiece" -- get the feeling Rebecca's a huge Barbra Streisand fan?

"Screwing Americans, helping Big Business" -- Elaine on ObamaBigBusinessCare.

"Who's right, who's wrong?" -- Mike wonders why ethics blur for the allegedly 'left.'

"Tin foil super-star" and "THIS JUST IN! GOING FOR THE ALUMINUM!" -- Cedric and Wally on Barry O's big failure.
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