Sunday, November 22, 2009

Truest statement of the week

"I'm always interested in hearing about the war and the images were great to see, but I think that the news organizations are in trouble if they don't start covering this war more thoroughly."

-- Betty Nordgren, from from Kerry Feltner's "Through 'embedded reporting,' photojournalist gets inside look at Iraq" (The New Hampshire).

Truest statement of the week II

It's really unusual to get a first-hand report of the war. You'd think by now it would be our duty to have major news organizations over there to write about the war . . . that really surprises me. I feel like it's the media's responsibility."

-- Gretchen Forbes, from Kerry Feltner's "Through 'embedded reporting,' photojournalist gets inside look at Iraq" (The New Hampshire).

Truest statement of the week III

Obama needs another glossy cover like he needs, well – another Glenn Beck. Does his staff not understand the problem, the appearance of utter narcissism? He’s the president; he easily could have gotten GQ Editor-in-Chief Jim Nelson on the phone and said, "Thanks a lot, but no thanks this year. That’s an order."

Mr. wOw's "Political Cover Stars? Spare Me!" (wowOwow).

A note to our readers

Hey --
One more Sunday. We can't believe we're finally through it. We had six articles that hit the kill pile, they just weren't in any position to be posted online.

We plan to discuss David Solnit and Rebecca Solnit's new book next Sunday, by the way. We had special ordered it at a local book store and it did not come in yet.

In the meantime, we had 'help' from The Nation in selecting a theme this week. As Ava and C.I. would say, "We'll get to it."

First let's talk who helped with 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 and we thank everyone.

What did we end up with?

Truest statement of the week -- A typical citizen and we're glad to highlight them. It doesn't have to be the press or a politican or an activist. These are some very true words.

Truest statement of the week II -- And we couldn't note the first woman without noting the second woman whose remarks were also spot on.

Truest statement of the week III -- Lastly, Betty brought this in and was looking during the week for truests. We agreed this one was strong enough to be one even though it meant we had three truests in one week. It's happened before, but not very often.

Editorial: It's a power grab -- We have no idea what the Parliament's doing right now. We just want to eat lasanga (C.I. whipped up some), watch a movie and go to sleep. We're starving and we're tired. It was a long, long edition.

TV: The excellent and the nutty -- Elsewhere in the edition, C.I. mentions that she and Ava have to do two TV pieces. I (Jim) had asked for that. C.I. really did have an awful headache and when I realized how bad it was, I told them to forget the other piece, that we could all live without -- which we can. This one is the long awaited Melrose Place piece. Heather Locklear is back as Amanda. If you checked it out earlier and hated the show, you might want to give it another chance. If you avoided it because you weren't thrilled with old fans being 'honored' by having Sydney dead and floating in a pool, the show did bring back Amanda.

Birth questions are wrong! Sometimes! -- But sometimes. Only sometimes. That's from Carly Simon's "Just Not True." Dona just pointed out that she and C.I. had put that in this piece and, at some point, it got pulled. (Carly Simon's new album is Never Been Gone, be sure to check it out.) This is about how one side feels questions are wrong . . . about Barack . . . but okay . . . about Palin. Reality for the confused, the only known is generally who your mother is.

Hypocrisy at T-Mobile -- This was a fun one to write but, at the end of the research, I did complain that C.I. grabbing the phone had resulted in the problem being solved when, in fact, that's not what we were attempting with this feature. But it spun it into another direction -- one Jess called "more consumer friendly." This was written by Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself, by the way.

The hypocritical Congressional subcommittee -- this was largely written by Ava, C.I., Kat and Wally who were at the hearing and Mike who read all of C.I.'s notes on the hearing.

Roundtable -- If we'd done this at the end, people would have spoken more because they'd known the six pieces got killed. They'd have brought those hypocrisy topics to the roundtable. I'm sorry that they weren't aware of it (I wasn't either). But I do think this is an interesting roundtable though I agree with Kat that it really is more of a roll call than a roundtable.

Hypocrite of the Decade: Andrew Sullivan -- We had hypocrite of the year and of the week (two of the six killed pieces). Only Andy Sully worked. Because he is the hypocrite supreme.

Hypocrisy here at Third (Dona) -- This is how The Nation helped us come up with a theme. We say, "Thank you." Dona wrote this.

Barack's a bastard (Ava and C.I.) -- Ava and C.I. wrote this at my request. I asked them what they've held back on, what would they have tackled and maybe should have tackled but had refused to do? They offered Barack's status at birth. I loved it and asked them to write it up. They did a wonderful job.

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

And that's what we got. Hope you found something that made you laugh, made you angry or made you think. If we managed to run all three bases -- clear the way, we're sliding into home! See you next week.

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

Editorial: It's a power grab

Wednesday Tariq al-Hashemi pissed in a lot of people's Post Toasties. Not ours but a lot of people were enraged by al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's two vice presidents, vetoed the election law.

At the time, he explained that he was doing because the efforts to expand the number of members of Parliament did not adequately reflect the number of Iraqi refugees. Speaking to Al Jazeera (link is video), Tariq al-Hashemi explained:

Kamahl Santamaria: Why is five-percent, the sticking point of five-percent for Iraqis in exile, Iraqis abroad, why is five-percent not enough?

Tariq al-Hashemi: Well five-percent, in fact, if you just -- if you just reflect it to a number of seats -- we are talking a number not exceeding, in no way, seven seats. Seven seats according to Article 49 of the Constitution doesn't mean anything. According to the text of this article, we have to ensure that each 100,000 Iraqis, whether they are living inside or out -- or outside Iraq, they should be entertained by one seat. So seven seats doesn't entertain the least figure which ministry of migration has maintained time being. The number of Iraqis outside of-of Iraq which has been recorded as per Ministry of Migration is one-million-five hundred. If you're talking NGOs, international human rights, this figure could reach to 4.5 million. So if we are allocating only seven seats, this means that we are entertaining 700,000 Iraqis and ignored 800,000.

Speaking to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! last week, our pal and buddy Raed Jarrar insisted, "We’re just splitting hairs regarding that issue, between five percent or ten percent or whatever the number is." Splitting hairs? If the Constitution requires something, then that's what you do. We grasp that someone with no academic background in political science who grew up under Saddam Hussein may not comprehend rule of law, but the Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

The effort to expand the Parliament is being done because of Nouri al-Maliki. He's been vocal (not that most of the press has paid attention) about his disdain for seats being set aside for various minorities, he's complained of that in the Parliament and on his cabinet. He's maintained that the new, broader Iraq political scene he 'commands' will demonstrate that in the upcoming elections. They will certainly try to demonstrate it in the Parliament as they expand their 'lead' by increasing the number of seats in the Parliament.

48 seats are being added. Supposedly due to a population explosion. Which areas have had a population explosion in Iraq? Only one are: the Kurdish north. Not due to a huge increase in birth rates but due to a huge influx of internal refugees. Out of the 48 seats, how many are being awarded to the KRG?


The claim is that the bulk of the population growth/shift has been outside of the KRG.

Well . . . if that's what the census says, then that's what it says. We can't argue with a census after all and . . .

Oh. Wait.

There was no census. Despite a census being mandated by the 2005 election, there has still been no census.

So what is the basis for this claimed increase in population?

The food-rationing registry. This is the program set up by Saddam Hussein to provide Iraqi families with staples. The program has been repeatedly cut since the start of the illegal war (with the US officials repeatedly calling for it to be ended)? Many on the registry get nothing because they no longer live in the same area and the system is too complex for them to update or alter their registration.

Even more problematic is that this registry is overseen by the Trade Ministry. Until the middle of May, that ministry was headed by a member of Nouri's political party, Abdel Falah al-Sudani. Did his term expire in May?


Did he die in office?


Did he leave for 'family issues'?


He resigned in disgrace as the Parliament was calling him out and demanding he appear before them. Back then, Bloomberg News reported that al-Sudani "acknowledged cases of corruption and said the system needed to be revised" and that "Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity earlier this month charged nine trade ministry officials with financial and administrative corruption related to the country's food import program."

Financial and administrative corruption. Having to do with the registry. The very registry that is now cited as proof of expansion in Nouri's favor?

A power grab is taking place. Iraq's Communist Party grasps that. al-Hashemi may as well. But the press damn sure should grasp it. If it wasn't about a power grab, the easiest thing to do would be to remove the efforts to add 48 seats to the Parliament. Drop that and al-Hashemi's objection vanishes.

But it's about a power grab and that's apparently going to take place with little attempt on the part of the press to document it -- let alone call it out.

TV: The excellent and the nutty

Last week, TV finally got something right as Heather Locklear returned to her role as Amanda Woodward for the revamped Melrose Place (second hour of prime time each Tuesday on the CW). While Ella (Katie Cassidy) and Caleb (Victor Webster) waded through another scene the writers had written twelve times to many, the camera kept cutting to a pair of legs walking through the office.


As the legs finally arrived in Caleb's office and it was revealed to be Amanda Woodward, the show actually had life -- possibly for the first time since it began airing September 8th. And we're not the only ones who thought so. An actor from the original series, one who does not plan to join the revamp, pointed out to us how badly written so much of it was, but how "she just makes it work."

And indeed she does.

"And why are we spending so many man hours on a denim campaign?" Amanda asked Caleb. "And I think we both know what I mean by man hours. You could have been a leader, Caleb. But your focus shifted from your client's assets to your client's ass. You're fired."

Yes, Amanda was back.

And Heather didn't coast.

She also pulled everyone in her scenes up a level. Katie Cassidy is not a bad actress but her Ella's not been the diva or the bitch the show has long promised. A lot of the blame for that falls on the writers who constantly undercut the character's motivations. But some of that has been Cassidy's fault. Working opposite Amanda jazzed Ella up and, opposite Heather, Cassidy turned in some of her finest work so far on the show.

Early on, Amanda told her, "Good work, Ella. Maybe you're not as useless as I said." Cassidy made the choice to play the scene in a slow dawning of the insult that was just uttered and it worked perfectly making the bare moment on the page much more vivid.

There were things that worked in full and in part throughout the episode. And there were, of course, things that didn't work at all.

Connoisseurs of bad acting should be informed that the feast ends in two episodes. That's when Ashlee Simpson-Wentz departs from the show. Despite the circulating rumors, the final episode will not reveal that Violet is a robot -- though that would certainly explain the performance Simpson-Wentz has given. "Wow, cops really messed this place up," Simpson-Wentz decared last Tuesday in a voice that offered neither surprise nor life.

As we watched Simpson-Wentz struggle with pronouncing the word "totally," we remembered she had the Jessica Simpson stamp of approval. Of course, big sis's big claim to acting fame is making Catherine Bach appear to be an actress of Meryl Streep like dimensions. It was only after America saw Jessica struggle (and fail) to play Daisy Duke that Bach's skills were truly appreciated.

Simpson-Wentz has been fired. So has Colin Egglesfield who plays Auggie. And while the first firing makes perfect sense, the second's a head scratcher. Egglesfield is actually convincing in his role and he's also attractive. Shaun Sipos, by contrast, is as bland as a Ken doll. He's playing David (son of Dr. Michael Mancini). The part's an embarrassment on the page so it's hard to judge how awful Sipos is or isn't.

David's supposed to be the bad boy but, as with Ella, the writers repeatedly undercut the character by inserting soggy little moments that do nothing but weaken the character.

Weak characters? Disastrous performances?

Did someone say Raed Jarrar?

Everyone's favorite air lifted coward was still out of Iraq last week and, as usual, talking it crazy with fellow loon Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!

It was a conversation so factually challenged, it took two lunatics to pull it off.

Wednesday, Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi had vetoed the election law. Nut job Raed (click here for our previous online history with Nutso) had no knowledge base to speak from so he repeated a lot of accusations and charges and generally made calling him "dumb ass" seem redundant.

For example, take this statement from Raed:

Now, the real reason behind Mr. al-Maliki's veto might be the fact that all of the parties in the presidential council -- Mr. al-Hashemi, the Sunni; al-Hakim, the Shiite, and the two Kurdish parties, Talabani and Barzani -- they have been very vocal against this new law because of internal reasons in Iraq. They are against the open system that allows Iraqis to vote for individual candidates, rather than the old system that allowed these four parties to take a free ride on the expense of other big coalitions.

If you nodded along in agreement, we beg of you, "Put the bong down!"

"Now, the real reason behind Mr. al-Maliki's veto"? Who vetoed it? It was Tariq al-Hashemi who did the veto, Raed.

And then there's this curio: ". . .all of the parties in the presidential council -- Mr. al-Hashemi, the Sunni; al-Hakim, the Shiite, and the two Kurdish parties, Talabani and Barzani . . ." Does Raed not know that the presidency council has only three members? He's listing four. Barzani may refer to Massoud Barzani who is the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government. We say "may" because who can solve a riddle like Raed? Massoud Barzani is not a member of the presidency council. There are three members: al-Hashimi, Iraq's other vice president Adel Abdul Mahdi and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Talabani is of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) while Barzani's political party is the Kurdistan Democratic Party -- the two are bitter rivals and, no, Talabani does not represent the KDP on the presidency council. We could delve deeper into this passage but there's so much nuttiness Raed was spouting that we have to try and note just a little more.

For example, Jabbering Jarrar went on to say, "Other speculations indicate that these four parties in the presidential council are actually using this issue to try to sabotage the plans of the US withdrawal. These four parties, the series and Shiites and presidential council have been against the US withdrawal. These four parties -- the Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds -- in the presidential council have been against the plans of the US withdrawal."

Four parties?

The presidency council is composed of three people and, repeating, the president of Iraq is not a member of the KDP. The PUK is a bitter, bitter rival of the KDP. (Only more so after the July provincial elections in the KRG.)

But Raed continues to repeat his false claims and Amy Goodman's apparently too busy attempting to decide whether or not she should get a teeth cleaning (YES!) to notice that she needs to correct him.

As for this claim that all 'four' members opposed a US withdrawal, al-Hashimi has long advocated for a withdrawal and stated that just the announcement of one would help lessen violence somewhat.

Raed foolishly declared of the Status Of Forces Agreement, "That agreement has two major deadlines. The first one has already passed successfully. It required all combat US troops -- all US combat troops to leave Iraqi cities and towns and villages by June of this year. So this did already happen." June 30th, Raed. For reality on that 'successfully' met deadline, we'll go to Dahr Jamail:

We have passed the June 30 deadline that, according to a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on November 17, 2008, was the date all US forces were to have been withdrawn from all of Iraq’s cities. Today, however, there are at least 134,000 US soldiers in Iraq -- a number barely lower than the number that were there in 2003. In addition, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified on June 9 that the United States would maintain an average of at least 100,000 troops in Iraq through fiscal year 2010.
The SOFA is a sieve, and the number of US military personnel in Iraq is remaining largely intact for now. Add to the 134,000 US soldiers almost the exact number of military contractors (132,610 and increasing), 36,061 of which, according to a recent Department of Defense report, are US citizens.
While the military and most corporate media would like you to believe that from now on no US soldiers will step foot in Iraqi cities, US military patrols in them are ongoing and will continue.
In addition, there has been an assumption that all US military bases within Iraqi city limits would be moved. For example, US Army Forward Operating Base Falcon, home to 3,000 US troops, is clearly within the city limits of Baghdad. But US military officials, working with Iraqis in the US-supported Iraqi government,
have other ideas. "We and the Iraqis decided it wasn’t in the city," a military official told the Christian Science Monitor. Thus, city lines are redrawn, to the convenience of the US military, to render certain bases and forward operating bases "outside" of Iraqi cities.
While military commanders claim to have handed over 142 military outposts around Iraq to the Iraqis, US troops
will continue to occupy 320 other outposts around Iraq.

But Raed hails it as a success. Poor, stupid Raed. We could go through more of his errors, lies and spin but doing so leaves us feeling as cheap as Raed looks. (Click here for Thursday's "Iraq snapshot" which notes other of Raed's insanities.) Raed lives in a pretend world and he's due back any minute, just as soon as he can bounce off the padded walls.

Banging her head against the walls is what we assume Stephanie Jacobsen has spent the last weeks doing. If you ever doubt how bad the writing's been on Melrose thus far, look at Lauren. Last week's episode, the tenth of the reboot, found Lauren sweet on David, just like Riley (Jessica Lucas) claimed to have always known! OMG! And it was off to Lauren returning home after David texted her. He'd decorated her apartment (that she shares with Ella) to look like fall.

And as you watched all leading up to that, you may have had to ask yourself, "Wait, Lauren's the one turning tricks, right?"


Lauren, a medical student with tuition problems, was forced to become a prostitute. And, in fact, still is one. But the writers remember that detail and forget that detail repeatedly.

In less capable hands, Lauren would be another Violet but Jessica Lucas actually can act. Michael Rady can also act and he plays Billy Campbell Jr. or, as the scripts say, Jonah Miller.

Can the bad scripts be overcome? Heather and Katie Cassidy managed to do so last week and Lucas and Rady do it every week.

What apparently can't be overcome is hair and wardrobe. As we watched the last half of the episode, a big party that was supposed to prove Riley was a fashion model in the making, that Ella could handle p.r. and that Amanda was back, we puzzled over the decision to outfit Ella in what appeared to be a costume from Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! From the ugly silver fabric, to the tying off on one shoulder, the dress screamed: "Don't take me off the hanger!" But someone did. Someone stupidly thought this was what Ella would wear to make a (favorable) impression.

And that's when it hit us how this Melrose still hasn't managed to differentiate the characters in looks. Everyone dresses the same. And when they do go for something different, it's a huge mistake. Like Ella's party dress. Or David's decision to wear a shirt in his romance-Lauren-scenes that had the collar ripped out. Tip to wardrobe: When the actor already has overly narrow shoulders, you don't draw attention to them.

Amanda's back. She's planning who knows what but, whatever it is, it's big. She hired a woman to make out with Ella and offer her a job to test Ella's loyalties to the company. What she's up to will unfold slowly and, hopefully, give viewers reason to be patient a little longer.

The first nine episodes did not offer much for viewers which is why ratings sank each week and Melrose was coming in the last week with less of an audience than the cancelled TBL. Heather Locklear (whom we know) is amazing. She's one of the most underrated actresses on TV. And she can work miracles and has many times before. If she saves Melrose this year -- well it wouldn't be the first time.

But we worry that for some viewers, Heather's return comes too late and we especially worry that the show lacks Darren Starr's touch. Specifically, Michael Rady needs a stylist real quick. But more importantly, they're hauling a weak actor out of mothballs to play a love interest for Amanda. A weak actor who was already looking long in the tooth (and sick) back in 1999.

If you're looking for a reason to watch, Heather Locklear's offering plenty but one thing about the shows Heather's saved in the past: They brought her on as they got better. Amanda's return has people talking. If the show runners are smart, they'll serve up the best they can offer during the period of this renewed interest. If not, they'll not only have wasted a lot of money, they'll have wasted Heather Locklear and, to us and a lot of other TV watchers, that's a felony that should come with hard time.

Birth questions are wrong! Sometimes!

Andrew Sullivan
On November 19th, Andrew Sullivan (The Atlantic) offered yet another of his posts where he asserts Sarah Palin is not the mother of her youngest son Trig ("Deconstructing Sarah, Ctd"). Since Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain's running mate at the end of August (2008), Andrew Sullivan's been tossing out charges that Palin faked her pregnancy. In the early days, he was far from alone and you could find the same insanity all over the internet. Some have walked away from it, some have, like Sullivan, continued it.

Here's reality for all the idiots out there: Short of DNA testing, the only thing that's ever likely "known" is who someone's mother is or was.

Despite the fact that Sarah Palin and her husband Todd Palin maintain that Trig Palin is their child and despite the fact that no one else has come forward to claim to be the mother or father, Andrew Sullivan's been allowed to make these charges repeatedly for over 14 months now with no one at the left 'institutions' uttering a peep.

You may, as we're sure they would, insist that it's not a topic they'd 'cover.' However, they've covered a similar topic repeatedly: Barack's birth.

Let's start with The Nation. Leslie Savan's "The Birthers of a Nation" (July 24, 2009) who insisted that questions about someone's true parentage revealed racism: "Of course, the Lady in Red couldn't scream the N-word in a townhall meeting (which, by the way, was called to discuss healthcare reform), so she screamed about his birth certificate." July 23rd, they posted "Jon Stewart Slams the 'Birther' Movement," July 29th they posted "Will the Birthers Ever Back Down?" (text and video of Howard Dean and Chris Hayes ridiculing those who have questions about Barack's birth), August 12th found the 'poet' Calvin Trillin serving up "Where Were the Birthers Born?" and, of course, for all around nutty, no one could top Joann Wypijewski and her "Red Scare, Black Scare" (November 18th).

The Progressive had to roll around in the topic as well. The always daffy Ruth Conniff included the following in "Ugliness on the Right" (September 30th): "From the 'birthers' who question the President's U.S. citizenship to the town-hall-meeting shouters stirred up about creeping 'socialism' in health care reform, we now arrive at the wingnut suggestion on Newsmax of a possible military coup." Forgetting that White gay males are often targeted and bashed, Kate Clinton flashed her ignorance in "White Whine" (September 12th) which also managed to include, "Once again their worldview is being rocked - demographically, racially, economically, politically -- and the Birthers, Deathers and Everything in Betweeners are not behaving well at all." And Ed Morales (one of the magazine's multiple male hires following the death of Molly Ivins) had to share in "Lou Dobbs must go" (September 22, 2009): "Dobbs also peddled the discredited claims of the so-called birthers, who contend that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen, even though his own network aired a segment proving the president’s citizenship last year."

In These Times appeared the least concerned with only Susan J. Douglas 'tackling' the 'issue' while flaunting her own homophobia in "Women Reach a Breaking Point" (October 13th), "How tired are you of seeing a tiny minority of wingnut Americans -- 'birthers,' 'tea***gers,' Obama-haters--get so much coverage in the news?" [Not being homophobes, we've edited out the term Douglas used.]

Cleary, anyone questioning Barack's birth was a prime target for The Nation, In These Times and The Progressive.

It becomes very clear that 'birth questions' are more than fine with those outlets . . . as long as they're aimed at Republicans.

It's situational ethics that allow all three outlets to look the other way while pretending to be outraged that anyone's paternity would be questioned.

Andrew Sullivan is slime and, for the bulk of big boy's career, he was right-wing slime. The left wrongly let him in the gate this decade and, despite the fact that he's crapped all over the garden, they've allowed him to stay.

And they've remained silent about his allegations about Trig while insisting that any allegations about Barack's birth must be racism. It's cute little con-game they play but all they are is con-crafters (don't call 'em "artists").

If they truly were offended that anyone's birth was questioned, they would have long ago loudly called out Andrew Sullivan. They would have demanded that The Atlantic cut him loose. They would have insisted that anyone like Sullivan didn't belong in the mainstream.

Instead, by their silence, they've offered him tacit approval and a blanket of cover.

Hypocrisy at T-Mobile

"Don't worry," Maybelline was telling us, "I'm from the pre-paid department and I'll get you fixed up right away."


We were talking to Maybelline right now. Earlier we'd been on the phone with George. In between, we'd been on the phone with countless people. We were following up on a complaint by longterm reader Darcy -- a complaint a few others had made in the past year as well. The complaint was against T-Mobile. Specifically, against their pre-paid phones.

Actually, there were two complaints. The first was about setting up service, the second was about the 1661 model.

So we purchased three on Saturday morning and began attempting to set up service for one, then the other and then the third.

We'd talked to a cast of characters -- and "cast" and "characters" are the right terms. Take George who introduced himself but, half-way into a heated call, forgot that he was using the name "George." At which point, he became "Mike." When his name change was pointed out to him, he insisted that he'd always said it was Mike. We wondered if he'd like to hear himself saying he was George?

At which point, he became indignant insisting, "You are not supposed to record a call!" We found that interesting since T-Mobile's automated system, before transferring you to any human being, tells you that your call may be "monitored" for quality assurance.

We'd called with the first phone, to activate it, after there were problems online. We were told the phone would be activated shortly and we'd get a text message advising us that it had been activated.

We waited. After two hours, we'd entered the T-Mobile customer service labyrinth where we were forwarded here, there and everywhere and it was insisted that, in fact, our phone didn't have to be activated for 24 hours, that it might take T-Mobile that long to activate it.

Getting nowhere, we began work on phone number two.

Similar problems. But this time, in the labyrinth, Joe (or "Joe") emerged. Some step, on their end (and before activation), was not working. Was our phone charged? Yes. Could we turn it on? Yes.

"No sims card" was the message.

But the SIMS card was in it the phone.

"What's the model?" Joe asked.


"Yeah, there have been non-stop problems with that phone. About half of them don't even work. What I'd tell you to do is put the SIMS card into another phone. Chances are, this thing's never going to work. But if you put the card into another phone, that one will work."

Joe, we advised, not only did we buy this phone on sale, but the store was full of them. How long has this problem been known?

"I'd guess a year," he told us. "Look, they manufactured it and they're going to keep selling that piece of crap until they're all out of the warehouses."

We thanked Joe, Ty ran to the store to buy a different pre-paid phone card and the rest of us (Jim, Dona and Jess) got to work on phone number three.

With the exception of Joe (or "Joe"), no one was ever helpful and few were even nice. We were in the labyrinth again when Ava and C.I. (along with Wally) arrived. What were we doing?

We explained the premise. We explained the results and that Dona was on the phone with Hector or "Hector" at the moment and he was telling her that the phone might not be activated for 24 hours.

"Phone," C.I. said as Dona passed it over.

"Hector, is it? I'm looking at the box," C.I. declared while waiving for the box, "and tell me where on there it says that you have 24 hours to activate this phone?"

Hector stated that when people called to activate the phone they were told that it could take 2 to 4 hours for and "if the account is not yet activated after four hours, we will need to wait a day."

"Yeah, you're telling me what you say after people have paid good money for a phone, after. If you're unable to help me give me your supervisor."

Two people later, Elise (or "Elise") was telling C.I., "The whole point of buying a phone isn't to talk to us, it's to talk to other people, believe me, I understand. Now if you'll hang up and try to make a call, it should go through and I'll call you in five minutes to check on that."

And it was that easy. You confront T-Mobile with the fact that nowhere on their package does it say you will have to wait 24 hours, you confront them firmly, and they find a way to activate the phone that they told you wouldn't be active until the next day.

Jim called T-Mobile back about the first phone (still unactivated) and followed the example C.I. set and no problem. The same when Dona called after about the second phone.

T-Mobile sells pre-paid phones in stores. People see them and purchase them only to struggle through the activation phase. Then, after they've spent money, they're told it will be active a day after they've gone through the activation process. Over 24 hours after they've purchased the phone. In addition, they know they have problems with the 1661 model, according to Joe (or "Joe") but continue selling it.

Our problem with the SIMS card?

Ava popped the back off the phone when Ty was getting ready to swap out the SIMS card and put it in the new phone.

"Who told you to put it in like this?" she asked.

T-Mobile. The booklet offers a magical world where the SIMS card apparently pops into place on its own.

Ava shook her head and explained that it didn't need to just slide under the arm that holds it in place, it also needs to slide under the gold square and not rest on top of it.

We're not sure, but that may be the problem with the 1661 model. If it is, the problem includes the T-Mobile support staff because they are the ones who instructed us on where to put the SIMS card when we first had the message about no SIMS card being detected. (They also wrongly told us that the SIMS card would be in the right place when you couldn't see the "T" on T-Mobile but for all three phones, the "T" has to show if the SIMS cards are in their proper place.)

We felt good about the process after Ava fixed the SIMS cards and C.I. walked us through how to handle T-Mobile. Then Jim made the mistake of asking, "Hey, what's with this you have to call within 48 hours of the end of the month to get any remaining dollars on your account refunded or you lose them?" In the groans that followed it became obvious why we don't use pre-paid phones.

The hypocritical Congressional subcommittee

andrew f. krepinevich, jr.

"Also I wouldn't rule out the consequences of what happens in Iraq," declared Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr. (pictured above) on Tuesday. "If for some reason our position in Iraq really begins to erode, I think that makes things just all the more difficult in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Krepinevich was one of four witnesses offering testimony to the The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. The other three were Wesley Clark, Kim Kagan and Gilles Dorronsoro. His remarks (quoted above) qualified for the most in depth statements on Iraq the entire hearing.

If that doesn't disappoint you, then maybe we should tell you the title of the hearing: "Iraq and Afghanistan: Perspectives on U.S. Strategy" . . . "Part III."

There's Iraq . . . in the title if not in the actual hearing.

You might think, "Well part three and all, they must have exhausted Iraq discussions in the other two hearing." You would be wrong. As we noted October 25th, "Last week, the US House Armed Services Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing entitled 'Afghanistan and Iraq: Perspectives on U.S. Strategy' and yet, somehow, neither the witnesses nor the subcommittee members remembered Iraq." A November 8th article here included:

While the violence continued, the disinterest from the US House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation continued. October 23rd, the subcommittee held a hearing entitled "Iraq and Afghanistan: Perspective on US Strategy" and managed to ignore Iraq. November 5th, they held part two of the hearing and they continued to ignore Iraq -- once more focusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan. In passing, a moment of interest may have taken place as US House Rep. Duncan Hunter spoke of a troop 'surge' taking place in Afghanistan and asked a witness, "What do you recommend if we do want it stable and we do want it so that we can leave in the next two to five years, leave it relatively stable, not abandon it totally and we'll probably leave troops there like we will in Iraq. But so what now?"

So, no, they did not exhaust the topic of Iraq. They, in fact, relegated it to an aside to pant over the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. No, the Pakistan war doesn't officially exist in the eyes of the White House. But, as Kat reported earlier this month, in the eyes of this House Subcommittee, it does, "There was something very disturbing today as we sat in the US House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing and heard witnesses and representatives speak of our war with Pakistan."

Last week, the Subcommittee (AGAIN) did not want to talk Iraq.

It's a pity that others -- especially Iraqis -- do not have the luxury of just ignoring the war.

Last Sunday 1 person was reported dead in Iraq and 8 were reported injured, Monday's numbers were 28 dead and 36 wounded, Tuesday's were 4 dead and 14 wounded, Wednesday's numbers were 2 dead and 5 wounded, Thursday's numbers were 4 dead and 6 wounded, Friday's numbers were 2 dead and 10 wounded and Saturday's numbers were 3 dead and 14 wounded. The total of reported deaths (not all deaths are reported -- the majority aren't) for last week was 44, total reported wounded was 93.

In addition, Monday the US military announced: "Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq -- A Soldier, assigned to Multi-National Division -- North, died Nov. 16 from injuries sustained in a vehicle accident. Members of the Soldier's patrol immediately performed medical treatment and evacuated the Soldier to a nearby U.S. medical facility where the Soldier died of injuries. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website [. . .]. 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 under investigation." Did you catch it? M-NF announces a death, DoD identifies the dead. That's how it's supposed to work. Yet on Friday, the Defense Department issued a release noting "the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Petty Officer 2nd Class Brian M. Patton, 37, of Freeport, Ill., died Nov. 19 in Kuwait in a non-combat accident." The death was never announced by M-NF.

The number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war currently stands at 4363.

Again, how very fortunate for members of a US Congressional Subcommittee to be able to forget Iraq. Many others aren't so fortunate.

Last week was supposed to be progress on the election front. Instead, the election law was vetoed by Tariq al-Hashimi, Iraq's Sunni vice president, when it was sent to the presidency council.

And there was a lot, lot more going on in Iraq.

But the Congressional Subcommittee has no interest in Iraq.


Jim: Webster's defines hypocrisy as "1: the feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; esp: the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion 2: an act or instance of hypocrisy." This week is the hypocrisy edition and this is our hypocrisy roundtable. Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. In this edition, which we're only half done with as we start on this roundtable, we're addressing hypocrisy. In 2006 or 2007, when we talked about hypocrisy, we would have been pointing across the aisle at the right wingers. These days, hypocrisy plagues the left. So the thought here was a quick roundtable where we could talk about hypocrisy -- either our own or examples from outside that we doubt we'll be able to do a feature on. Betty actually asked that we kick things off with her. Betty?


Betty: Yeah, I'm going to talk about me. Cynthia McKinney used to be my Congressional rep and anyone who reads my site knows I'm a huge supporter of Cynthia. Last week, I saw a really stupid thing she wrote and if someone else had written it, Ralph Nader, for example, I would have ripped him apart. Because it was Cynthia, I first told myself I'd get calm before I blogged about it, so I set it aside for two days and then, when Wednesday rolled around, I just didn't want to bother with it. "Mr. President: Turn Away From War" is the title of the piece and it includes lines like, "We supported your candidacy because we viewed you as the best chance for ending the wars of the Bush era." There is something very disturbing about a line like that coming from a woman who ran for the presidency in 2008. You can say, "She means 'we' but she's not counting herself." Really? Did anyone else feel Cynthia hit hard against War Hawk Barack? I didn't. I was repeatedly bothered by that and repeatedly blogged on it at my site. Ralph Nader called out Barack. So now we learn, by Cynthia's words, that she ran such a tepid, timid and crap-ass campaign because she was, in fact, supporting Barack? That's how I'm reading that column and I'm really souring on Cynthia PDQ -- pretty damn quick. I'm remembering how there was supposed to be an independent presidential candidate debate and how Cynthia was the one who nixed that. I'm remembering all the ways Cynthia ensured that her campaign got very little attention and that other independent candidates did as well. And I'm remembering that in 2004, the Green Party refused to run a real campaign and am beginning to think that they selected Cynthia, and she them, as their 2008 presidential candidate solely so she would lose and not threaten Barack's chances. I called home repeatedly this week to get the pulse from my family and I don't really think Cynthia should be going door to door in Atlanta right now. Her column has enraged a lot of people who saw her as ethical. And I should have written about it at my site but I just didn't want to touch the subject.

Jess: If I could go next, I think I'd tie in with Betty. Jim's nodding. I'm a Green. And I know how weak and ineffective -- on a national level -- my party is, how craven. How we let non-Greens like Medea Benjamin into our 'big tent' at the same time she's a member of Progressive Democrats for America, for example. We don't, as Betty just noted, run real presidential candidates, we're a pathetic joke on the national level. And I share Betty's outrage over Cynthia McKinney's column and am damn proud I voted for Ralph Nader in 2008 -- I also voted for him in 2004 and remain proud of that as well. I know all the problems and then some. But last week, I saw "Greens blast the anti-choice Stupak Amendment in the Democrats' health care bill, predict voter anger and defections from the Democratic Party over the amendment" and for about fifteen seconds, I was high on my party on a national level. Then I read the press release and was reminded of what a joke it is. For example, "Feminism is one of the Green Party's key values. Until Greens gain seats in Congress and state legislatures and we end two-party control, women's rights face compromise and repeal." Really? Feminism? Have you checked your bloggers? Check your bloggers, please. The ones who attacked Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin with sexist remarks? They know who they are -- for example, the sexist pig who delinked from this site. We noticed. We haven't had time to delink from you but we will at some point this weekend. Sorry your rank sexism being called out was too much for you. But then, you walked away from the Green Party to put your mouth around Barack's balls, right? Still tongue bathing them? Anyway, despite knowing how pathetic my party actually is on a national level and despite repeatedly calling it out publicly, I was a gullible fool and idiot for about 15 seconds when I saw that headline.

Jim: Okay. Mike?

Mike: Yeah. I can think of several ways. I'll give one example. My big fan Dave Zirin thinks I'm so mean and awful to him and hold him to a standard I don't hold others too when, in fact, I actually go easier on Dave than I would on anyone else. In part because I know how sensitive he is, in part because I know he reads it and in part because he can probably write two pieces a year that I think are actually worth reading. But I always find it funny that he feels he's savaged when pretty much everyone else -- certainly Norman Solomon, for example -- gets treated more harshly than he does at my site.

Jim: Okay. I'm trying to involve the people participating by phone -- Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Ruth, Stan, Marcia, Cedric, Trina and Ann, I may have forgotten someone. So Rebecca, point to someone and get them to go next.

Elaine: She's pointing to me. I really don't have an example of a hypocrisy at my site. Not because I'm perfect but because I don't put that much time into it. On a personal level, I'm sure there are many but I really don't talk about my personal life online.

Jim: No, you don't. Rebecca, you gave me a dud. Do better this time.

Trina: She's pointing to me. Actually, I feel like a huge hypocrite. I explained at my site a two or three weeks ago the problems I was having with e-mails. We're all having this problem by the way. A right wing group is swamping us with e-mails and has been doing that for over a year. For me, it was as many as 12 a day on average, I know Elaine had even more.

Elaine: Sunny counted after Trina's post went up and she said the most on any one day was 24. Sunny runs my office, FYI. She enjoys reading the e-mails about the blog so she reads those but that's not part of her job duties and she doesn't have to if she doesn't want to.

Trina: So for me it was more like 12. And I felt really bad because I was missing all these e-mails. I'd check three or so times a week and I'd have to wade through all those e-mails to fish out my actual readers. So I've just made them spam. I said I was going to do that and, after I said that online, I did. And the hope was that I would now be able to read all my e-mails so much more quickly. However, I feel so guilty -- I'm not joking here -- about marking those e-mails as junk mail -- so that they go to that folder and not to my inbox -- that I am checking my mail even less.

Jim: Interesting. But in terms of the problem, I think everyone knows what you're talking about. Any organization sending out more than two e-mails a day on a regular basis is, my opinion, really risking pissing people off. In this case, the guy who started sending us those things never even asked if we wanted them. He just swamped us and it is a pain in the butt. And if even one of the headings sounded interesting, the group's killed the interest by sending so many each day.

Stan: I think, in terms of hypocrisy, I have a lot in me and that's been one of the great things about the left meltdown. It's forced me to confront a lot of things I would have ignored otherwise. If we -- our side -- had our act together, I wouldn't need to examine myself for the hypocrisies I'm seeing in others. But we don't. And I look today back at myself two or three years ago and I'm really surprised. On the plus, I can call it growth, I guess.

Marcia: I would agree with what my cousin just said -- and I'm jumping in before Rebecca pointed to anyone -- because I find that to be true. Who I was in 2004 or 2006? I was so very sure of myself and so very sure of every opinion I had. Now I've grasped just how many liars and spinners I mistook for truth tellers. And how I based my opinions and actions on propaganda presented as unbiased news. The left meltdown, as Stan calls it, has really forced me to do some inner reflecting. I really feel like in 2004 or 2006, I thought I had my eyes wide open but I only had one eye open and now I have them both open.

Ruth: I listen to NPR now, over Pacifica, in most cases. And I feel hypocritical about that. I do not believe NPR has gotten any better. But I've grown to notice how the same voices on Pacifica that scream and hiss about a left distortion eagerly turn around and distort the right. I really cannot stomach the hypocrisy and I find myself unable to listen to most of them. I will, for example, here a report on NPR which plays some idiotic remark made by a Republican in office and the remark is already bad and outrageous. But then I will catch it on Pacifica a few days later, being discussed, the remark will never be played, and despite the fact that it was outrageous as it was, they will work overtime to pad the remark, to stretch the truth. It is like watching the child of a next door neighbor lie. It is just frustrating and you know there is nothing you can do to stop the lying.

Rebecca: That just leaves me. On blogging and hypocrisy? I probably feel like a hypocrite every day of the week when I'm blogging. If you asked me any Sunday night, "Rebecca, what are you going to blog about?" I'd tell you something and then, once I started blogging, you'd never see that topic all week. Now sometimes there are worthwhile topics I emphasize instead, like abortion last week. But sometimes, they aren't worthwhile. They're just something that caught my attention that day. I have a very loyal and patient readership and I'm very lucky to have that.

Jim: Okay. I think most of us would disagree with Rebecca about that because there are common threads to all of her posts but okay. We still have Cedric and Ann participating by phone. So what about you two?

Ann: I'm a hypocrite because I have a deep, dark secret I've never told my husband. Not really! I just wanted to joke and freak everyone out. I should have gone with that for a little bit more. I don't think I'm a hypocrite online but I'm not doing really in depth posts. Most of the time, I'm just doing a photo post. I also haven't been doing it that long. In terms of private life? I really can't think of anything although if I could, I'd probably follow Elaine's lead and refuse to discuss my personal life online.

Jim: Cedric?

Cedric: I can't think of anything. I can think of things I'd wish I'd done but didn't do, lots of them. But in terms of hypocrisy? I really can't think of anything. Doesn't mean it's not there, just that I'm not registering it right now. In terms of our political side, the left, I can echo what everyone else has said and I'll add to that one point: Those who used the illegal war to make money -- Norman Solomon, Amy Goodman, etc. -- and who now can't even write about Iraq are the supreme hypocrites. The war didn't end, but they made their bucks and they cleared out. They profited from the war as surely as KBR did.

Jim: I'd agree with you 100% on that. Okay, let's go to Cedric's writing partner, Wally?

Wally: Early on, I'd worry, this was when I was writing solo posts, before Cedric and I started writing together, about taking on or making fun of some people, and it carried into the posts Cedric and I co-wrote. I'd worry especially if they were friends of C.I.'s. But I always test the jokes out on C.I. and would usually hear, "Uh, why didn't you go for ___ or ___?" So I got the point that you can't pull punches in comedy. And that remains my b.s. detector so I think that's why I can look back and say that I don't see any in my posts -- solo or joint -- online. I think, also that, along with Isaiah, Cedric and I are among the few doing humor online who can claim that they never treated Barack easier than they did Bush. We've had a "we ridicule those in power" practice across the board. I don't think most can make that claim.

Jim: Kat?

Kat: This really hasn't been a conversation, has it? Trina and Elaine tried to but instead it's just roll call. Just making an observation. Okay? Hypocrisy? Absolutely. My job online -- certainly in my music reviews -- is to have an opinion. Opinions are not facts. With facts, they're concrete and shouldn't be changing. Opinions? If you are exactly the same as you were four years ago, my question for you is, "What happened to you?" No event changed you at all? Nothing on the national or international level? Nothing in your personal life? I've experienced deaths and marriages in my family and my circle of friends and I've deepened and shallowed in the process. So I could probably list a string of things. I'll leave it at that.

Jim: It is what it is?

Kat: Oh, don't you try to start a conversation now, James.

Jim: That leaves Ty, Dona, Ava and C.I. I'll go to Ava.

Ava: I'll grab an example. And C.I. and I take the notes for transcript pieces that are then typed up in what is a rush transcript. That's what you're reading. In case that's not mentioned later on. For this edition, when we got back to California yesterday, Jim asked C.I. and me to think about something we have avoided writing here, some topic. And then he wanted us to write it. So we've got a piece called "Barack is a bastard." And he is one. We're referring to his birth. It's not something we wanted to write but it goes to why there are questions about him and we have danced around that issue for ever and a day so there's an example.

Jim: And I really like that article. I'm going to jump over to Ty.

Ty: Here's where I feel like a hypocrite. Each week, I tell myself -- it's kind of like Rebecca's point -- "Next week, I'm going to be all over some LGBT story. I'm going to pitching it and I'm going to be leading on it." Then it comes, the weekend comes, and I do no such thing. As a gay man, I don't feel like I do enough online for the community. I feel bad about that and do wonder, "Am I a hypocrite?"

Jim: In fairness, you've suggested two stories this month that we did end up writing but that just didn't make it in the writing stage. We'll work harder on that. By the way, Thursday, C.I. will post entries online and Mike will post something and that's it.

Kat: I will either post a review on Thanksgiving or the next day. And if there's big Iraq news that demands C.I. does a snapshot on Thanksgiving, we'll all be posting that day -- as we did last year when the SOFA was approved by Parliament on Thanksgiving day.

Jim: Thank you for correcting me on that. Okay. C.I.?

C.I.: I have nothing to say. I've got a killer headache and Ava and I still have to write two TV pieces.

Jim: And I've asked --

C.I.: Why I don't take something? Because the second it kicks in, I'm going to fall asleep. I'm sure I have a million hypocrisies. I don't deny it.

Jim: Okay, well let me get in an e-mail question. Not this past week, but the week before, you wrote something about the Kurds and it was about how people accuse you of siding with the Kurds and, Damien e-mailed, it appeared you weren't denying it.

C.I.: I wasn't denying it. What would be the point? Those believing that aren't going to believe a denial. It would be wasting my time to deny it to those who believe it. There are others who think I'm not fair to the Kurds. I do care about what was agreed to and it was agreed that Kirkuk would be resolved by a referendum and, despite the fact that the date for that long ago passed, it has not happened. If that promise hadn't been in the Constitution, it's doubtful Iraq would have passed it in 2005.

Jim: Okay, that just leaves Dona.

Dona: I'm trying to think of something and really don't have anything. It's probably the hour. The late, late hour. In terms of the media, I think it's amazing how many journalists feel no embarrassment over their constant need to declare their love for Barack. I remember when they all lined up behind Bush after 9-11 and how a small number of journalists did object to that and note the need for a skepitcal press. I don't hear anyone noting that need these days. I do, however, see the idiot Thomas E. Ricks making nearly weekly declarations of his love for Barack.

Jim: And that'll be it on the hypocrisy roundtable except for one thing. We thank The Nation magazine. If one of the people from the magazine hadn't e-mailed us last week -- an idiotic e-mail -- we wouldn't have had a theme this week. Our e-mail address is and this is a rush transcript.

Hypocrite of the Decade: Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan

For plus-size 'bear' Andrew Sullivan, the decade began with sex just as it ends with it. For over 14 months now, Andrew Sullivan has continued his nutty crusade to 'prove' that Sarah Palin's youngest child, Trig, is not, in fact, her own child.

Despite the fact that Sarah and Todd Palin say Trig is their child, Pandy Andy thinks he knows best or at least better.

And the whole thing screams of the way he started this decade: Advertising for sex.

The HIV-positive Andrew Sullivan could be found all over the net advertising for a bareback experience.

Here he is bragging about his accomplishments:

I take loads in my ass.

I take loads in my mouth.

I give loads in asses.

I give loads in mouths.

Now you don't see that every day on the old resume. He went on to explain he was looking for: "One-on-One's 3-Ways Groups/Parties/Orgies Gang Bangs" -- if there's a process of coupling that he's left out, we can't think of it.

While he was explaining turn offs ("shaved bods; fems; fats; over 50"), we were suddenly snagged by a notion: Does Andy know a thing about sex?

We know he knows where to place things -- obviously, we read his "loads" litany. But maybe his obsession with Sarah Palin's pregnancy has to do with the fact that Andrew Sullivan lacks in sexual education? Maybe he really doesn't understand basic concepts such as sperm fertilizes egg?

If so, that would explain why he would think HIV-positive sperm is just the thing America's dying to hook up with. (Sullivan maintained -- after he was exposed -- that he would have/was only hooking up with HIV-positive men but the ad does not make that clear -- an ad which tells you he's almost eight inches when erect, which tells you he has a "killer muscle ass that loves to milk loads" -- somehow left out "HIV-positive only" instead substituting "I prefer you to be: POZ.")

Hypocrisy here at Third (Dona)

She had me, dead to rights, or whatever hackneyed phrase from long before I was born that she was using. Little Ms. Nation magazine took it upon herself to call me out for The Third Estate Sunday Review calling The Nation out in "The Nation endorses and amplifies sexism" Why? Well, if you've read The Nation, you know, as I do, that they don't spend a great deal of time actually writing anything. So why not do dopey e-mails?

And I had written "Mailbag (Dona)" last week.

So clearly, we (or at least me) were hypocrites!

According to Ms. Nation.

Katha and butt

For those late to the party, The Nation magazine is (still) running ads allegedly selling a canteen which really just show off a woman's ass. Now maybe they think humans, like camels, store liquids and maybe they believe the "hump" is the "ass"?

I have no idea. But we called them out last Sunday and they didn't like that.

Right below that article, right below!!!! Ms. Nation wanted me to know, was a feature I wrote (she's correct) and I drew (she's wrong) an illustration of a man in a "speedo" (she's wrong) so I was selling sex as well.


First, the illustration (above) is not a drawing. I'm not surprised, however, that someone with The Nation wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a drawing and a painting. They've long confused War Hawks with people of peace so their liberal arts education is clearly lacking.

Second, I didn't do the illustration. Ty and Kat did the illustration.

The illustration was done for "Mailbag."

The illustration is a play on "Mailbag." ("Male" "bag.")

I made a mistake. The mistake was that I ran the illustration too big. When it's normally used (by Ty -- and it's also been used in roundtables that are e-mail roundtables), it's used in its smallest form so that it more resembles a stamp.

Other than the size, I made no mistake.

Ms. Nation thinks that a canteen company using a woman's body to sell their product is the same as my running an illustration for an article. It's not.

I didn't sell anything and one is commerce, the other is art.

We're not opposed to the male or female form. We're not opposed to nudity. We are opposed to women's bodies being used to sell cars, booze or, yes, canteens. We're opposed to it for many reasons. One of the primary ones is the message that it sends: Women are for sale.

The guy these ads are aimed at, on some level, is being encouraged to believe that if he buys the product he will get the woman, in other words, the woman is for sale the same as the product. You can see her as "thrown in" or as a "bonus," but the message is cash will get her for you.

Is that the message of Kat and Ty's drawing?

No. They were doing a joke on a stamp and on "Mailbag."

Did I use the illustration to sell something?


And, in fact, I wasn't even planning on calling it "Mailbag" but I was asking, "What illustration do we have to run with this?"

Jim suggested a cigarette scan we'd used a few years ago. (Back when Rebecca was still smoking, so quite a few years ago.) I said no to that because an article (largely) on why I stopped smoking and how I did it might be undermined by a cigarette illustration. We were at a loss. It was a last minute piece. C.I. had been suggesting I write it for weeks and I'd said no repeatedly. Last week, the edition fell apart and we needed as many features as we could pull together quickly. When C.I. again suggested I write on this topic, Ty reminded that a huge number of e-mails have come in on it. At which point, Jim said I could call it an e-mail piece and include two things in the e-mails that we hadn't had time for elsewhere (which I did) and Ty said I should use the "Mailbag" art.

Not only was there no selling, there was no pre-planning. The whole thing was hastily tossed together (like every issue of The Nation).

I asked Kat and Ty to talk about the illustration.

Kat: I honestly don't even remember it.

Ty: It was the summer of 2008 and I don't remember what was going on otherwise. We needed an illustration for mail bag and Jim was going through old papers -- bound -- from the turn of the century to see if he could find anything in that we could use. Kat and I were at the table and joking around about how it was a mail bag and who was the mail man.

Kat: That's right.

Ty: And so we started talking about the 'package' and ended up with the idea that we quickly did in water colors. I think the most time we spent was in determining whether or not we wanted hair on the guy's chest. If [Ms. Nation] thinks that's a sexy picture, she may need help because we wanted the body to be out of focus and we went out of our way to avoid defining it. We spent the most time -- and that's really Kat all by herself -- painting the postage stamp over his crotch.

And that's how the illustration came to be and, studying it after talking to Kat and Ty, I noticed that the man was, in fact, undefined. For example, his inner legs are missing. Certainly, his penis shape is concealed by the stamp. It's a man in a bathing suit (Kat and Ty both reject the notion that it's a speedo) and he's not that well defined. Presumably Ms. Nation's active imagination filled in the missing blanks and allowed her to have a lustful fantasy.

For most of the week, I was puzzled by the fact that The Nation continued to run the sexist canteen ad. Then Ms. Nation e-mailed. The fact that she would liken an illustration with an advertisement using women's bodies to sell a product went a long, long way in explaining to me how The Nation could have accepted that ad in the first place.

Barack's a bastard (Ava and C.I.)

Barack Obama is a bastard.


That is linguistically correct.

We've avoided using that term and reject labeling children as "legitimate" or "illegitimate" but these people (largely on the left) who don't understand anyone asking questions about the birth of Barack (or more likely pretending not to understand) require that we call it the way it is: He's a bastard.

As he himself has admitted (before campaigning for president), he doesn't even know if his parents were married. It wouldn't matter, his parents weren't legally married because his father arrived in the United States already married to one woman, long before he met Stanley "Ann" Dunham.

Did they really get married?

There was no wedding photo, there was no known ceremony and the general consensus of friends of Stanley and Barack Sr.'s that we spoke with beginning in 2007 is that there was never any wedding ceremony.

That's why no one has ever been able to unearth either a wedding certificate or a divorce certificate.

Barack Obama's a bastard.

That's what children born out of wedlock were called back then.

The fairy tale of Barack Obama never allowed for much reality. But not everyone rushed to snort the Kool-Aid and among the reasons to distrust him for some people was his murky beginnings. (That's not "racism," though it may be "classicism" or just suspicion as a result of an attempt to trick the public.)

Barack was adopted by his mother's only husband. (Lolo Soetoro).

Barry Soetoro was Barack's name in Indonesia.

Some dispute the adoption. They try to insist that Barack just had "Soerto" attached by his mother and his step-father and he really wasn't adopted.

Barack's very lucky that times have changed as much as they have. Were it not for that fact, his peculiar (and it a peculiar one) life would have led to many more questions than it already has. In a touchier-feelier world, Americans are hopeful that, to help a blended family, a school would allow a child to use a last name that was not his or her last name. It's debatable whether most schools would or would not allow that to happen but when Barack was born, that just wasn't done. You were your legal name.

Barack was born in 1961. As late as 1968, films could show children of blended families being called by the surnames they were given at birth with no peep of protest or disbelief from the audience. (See, for example, Yours, Mine and Ours where Lucille Ball begs the school to just call her son Philip North "Philip Beardsley" to no luck.)

Or do we just assume in our xenophobia that Indonesia was 'backwater' and anything went?

We have never claimed Barack was born outside of the United States. From everything that was shared with us by people who know either (or both) Ann and Barack Sr., Barack (Jr.) was born in the US. We've never made fun of those who believe that he was born outside the US and have never stated, "We're right! You're wrong!" We believe what we believe based upon what we've heard from people we either trusted or didn't. We could very well be wrong.

Anyone could be.

And that's because what is a very complex childhood has been simplified for public consumption. But that's always been the way when it came to the selling of Barack, hence the need for a fairy tale.

The realities of Barack Obama's life are so much more interesting than the Little Golden Book currently on display. And until the realities are told, no one should be surprised that people sense something isn't quite correct about the popular narrative.

Barack Obama could be (even now) a transformative figure. He could return to using bi-racial, as he has for most of his adult life, and be a beacon for the country's future. He could get honest about the realities of his own life and allow children growing up in similar circumstances something to relate to.

We doubt he'll do the latter because, long before 2007, Barack rejected reality. He did that when he decided to write the fairy tale Dreams of My Father.


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," "House Veterans Affairs," "Iraq snapshot," "House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia," "Iraq snapshot" and "Senate Veterans Affairs Committee" -- C.I. and Kat report on Congressional hearings they attended.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Gesture" -- Isaiah's Sunday comic -- hugely popular.

"Iraq snapshot" -- That's the most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site. We asked Ty if they gave a reason for picking Tuesday's snapshot? He said they repeatedly pointed out that on Tuesday C.I. was going through the issues of the election law and why their might be objection to it and that it might be vetoed by the presidency council ("at length") while the media had "their thumb up their ass. The next day, it broke and was the Iraq story. Readers noticed who was paying attention and exploring it before the press came running."

"Feinstein questions at the NSA hearings" -- Isaiah reaches into the archives to pull up this one on Dianne Feinstein.

"Easy Enchilada Bake in the Kitchen" & "Economy, abortion, mammograms" -- Trina explains the economy and health 'reform.'

"Top 10 reasons Oprah's quitting" & "Bye Oprah, don't hurry back" -- Ann & Stan cover the departure of Oprah.

"THIS JUST IN! BARRY O DOES EMPLOYMENT!" & "Barack finds some jobs" -- Wally and Cedric on Barack's creation of jobs . . . for his big donors.

"An underrated 80s classic" & "The Pirate" -- Betty and Stan offer Friday night movie posts.

"nancy pelosi's a moron." -- Rebecca explains how Nancy Pelosi knowingly attempted to slash reproductive rights.

"Baha Mousa Inquiry" -- Elaine works from the transcripts to report on the case in England.

"Isaiah, Silly Solomon, Third" -- Mike offers a critique of Norman "Bates" Solomon.

"Iraq snapshot""About those 'intended' January elections""Military suicide rate""Not in the mood"

"Katha Pollitt, alleged feminist" -- Ann offers a critique of scary Katha Pollit.

"don't become 'the battered woman of the house'" & "Stupak" -- Rebecca and Ruth tackle the assault on women's rights.

"Reading on the road" -- Kat offers a reading post.

"Danny Schechter, the eternal idiot" & "Jayne Lyn Stahl strikes again" -- Marcia offers media critiques.

"Arnold visits Iraq" -- Ann weighs in on Arnold's visit to Iraq.

"Truest?" -- Betty's always working.

"Parking garages" -- Ruth offers a shout out to a radio segment she enjoyed.

"Just not into it" -- We love it for its honesty.

"CRR (yea!), CCR (boo!)" -- Elaine explains which organizations stand and which kneel in the Time of Obama.

"I feel just like Elizabeth Edwards" -- Mike says it all in the headline. :D

"He can't even do his own Tweets!" & "THIS JUST IN! BILL AYERS IS THE GHOST WRITER!" -- Cedric and Wally on the Tweeter in Chief.
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