Sunday, October 17, 2010

Truest statement of the week

You are going to become a lame duck Speaker early next month when your party loses its majority -- now don't think I am thrilled that the Republicans are returning to a majority, at least in your House, because I think your party and the GOP are just different sides of the same coin -- but you can't say I didn't warn you back in 2006 that if you and your party didn't end the wars and hold BushCo accountable that your euphoria would be short-lived.

-- Cindy Sheehan, "Memo to Nancy Pelosi from Cindy Sheehan" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox).

Truest statement of the week II

It's amazing, really, how much of a pass the left is giving President Obama as he sells out every single major platform plank that got them pumped up to begin with. Aside from his sellout on the domestic policy front, which I'll leave to others to cavil about, on the civil liberties and foreign policy front he's certainly taken a hard right turn. The promised reversal of Bush era civil liberties violations has itself been reversed; the pledge to get out of Iraq before 2012 turned out to be a shell game, and with the Justice Department going after antiwar activists in Minneapolis, Chicago, and North Carolina -- on charges of providing material aid to terrorists -- the sting of the administration's slap to its former supporters on the left must be smarting something fierce.

-- Justin Raimondo, "Obama vs. the Left" (

A note to our readers

Hey --

For us, this is early to be posting our weekly edition.

Thank you to all who worked on this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

Cindy Sheehan. Since Dalia Hashad left Law and Disorder Radio, Cindy's become the one to beat. (When the truest feature first started, Dalia seemed to get it at least once every month and usually more than that.)
Justin Raimondo has also had a good run this year.

This could have been longer but we were tired. In fact, we were half-way into the editorial when Dona pointed out we could take a left turn at the topic and end up somewhere else. Which we did.

The mammoth piece. Ava and C.I. wrote this. There was so much to cover that they didn't have room for. Next week, they hope to either cover The Event or a sitcom. They do not plan to write a piece as indepth as this one. So enjoy this one while you've got it.

This almost didn't get done. We were tired and rushing to finish the edition. Rebecca, Wally, Betty, C.I. and Ava really led on this piece. For another take on Parry's article, you can see John Halle's piece at Corrente:


This was an e-mail roundtable. We tried to grab as many topics as possible.
The story here is that we were watching it and many love this show so we decided to write baout it. Only after the bulk of the article was written, during the fact checking stage, did we discover that season two isn't available for purchase until November 30th. By then, we were so far into the process that the piece was going up.


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

And we thank you for reading. Our e-mail address is


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

Editorial: Media bites the people

Why do they keep doing it?

Why does the media keep playing the game of: "We don't know why no one talks about it?" They drop all coverage of an issue and then they're surprised that the public's not following the issue. That's what happened Friday on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) when a caller raised the issue of the Iraq War. Gordon Lubold, no longer with The Christian Science Monitor and now with Politico, declared:

Well I don't disagree but it's just that you are not hearing that as part of the conversation. Even the veterans who are running for seats in the House are not -- that's not resonating. People are not paying attention to the fact -- And this is different from two years ago, uh, when the surge in Iraq was-was topic A and everybody wanted to weigh in about it. It's just not as much of an issue.

"It's just not as much of an issue." The Iraq War vanished from TV. Most newspaper no longer have even a one-person Baghdad bureau. But somehow, Lubold wants you to know, the public just stopped thinking about the Iraq War.


How strange that is? That the media creates a vacuum and, after time, the public goes along?

Not strange at all.

In fact, it's so 'normal' that PEW has pretty much given up on their annual 'there's less Iraq War coverage' piece.

The only withdrawal from Iraq has been the western media.

That's both shameful and telling.

Before the next Gordon Lubold wants to blame the people of the United States, they might need to examine their own profession and its increasing lack of Iraq War coverage.

TV: Crazy Thursday

Last week, Jimmy Smits' Outlaw became the third series of the fall season to be given the axe. As the casualties pile up, everyone worries who's next but people with NBC worry less figuring how many slots can the network plug Dateline into? Besides what show runner could worry at all about their own livelihood after Crazy Thursday?


Crazy Thursday, for those who missed it, took place last week and was celebrated on two different networks, ABC had it in the morning and NBC had it at night.

"But it's like that's what Bill O'Reilly does, why would you book him?" asked former View host Rosie O'Donnell the same day on her Rosie Radio program referring to the incident but largely using it as a spring board for her to jab at Barbara Walters.

What happened? Bill O'Reilly was booked on ABC's The View. He has a new book entitled Patriots and Pinheads. He was invited on to discuss it. As Rosie pointed out, Bill's a known quantity. There are no surprises left with him. He does his shtick and people either like it or they don't. He's Henny Youngman still trotting out the same old jokes to an aging audience which embraces him out of familiarity. We're not taken with his act but there's no denying his act is a known.

So if you book him, deal with it. No one forced you to, no one twisted your arm and no one can claim to be surprised by anything Bill O'Reilly does at this late date. Now it is true that there are five hosts of The View -- Barbara Walters, Whoopi Golberg, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Point, there may well be some guest that one of the hosts just can't stand and can't pretend to. Fine. As we noted the last time we got a sniff of this daytime sewer, you can call off.

Hot topics was the usual crap fest that should have been subtitled "Only Female Politicians Make Mistakes." This was most notable when they discussed Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell at last week's debate. O'Donnell is running against Democrat Chris Coons for the Senate seat that Vice President Joe Biden was elected to. An entire debate was reduced to O'Donnell being asked what recent Supreme Court decision she objected to? She had no answer, asked for some input from the moderator (who explained that wasn't possible) and then promised to post an answer on her campaign website. (Which she did selecting three cases: Boumediene v. Bush, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and Kelo v. City of New London.)

Whoopi couldn't stop laughing even before the clip aired. Barbara did allow, "I don't know how many of us could pick a Surpeme Court issue --" At which point, Joy cut her off with, "We're not running for office." Then it got really weird as Barbara and Joy brought Sarah Palin into it and equated it with the Katie Couric question to Palin, two years ago, about what newspaper and magazine she reads? How was that the same? One's an interview, one's a debate, Palin has stated -- and it comes across in the Couric footage -- that she did not like Katie or Katie's tone and didn't answer because she was irritated. O'Donnell wasn't irritated, she drew a blank. Should she have or shouldn't she have?

Which brings us to the increasingly pompous Whoopi who seems to believe if she speaks slower she will transform into Maya Angelou or at least Mary Hart as she insisted that "there are some things you should know" as a Tea Party candidate. Though the question was about "recent" decisions from the Court, Whoopi said O'Donnell should have said Roe v. Wade -- a decision that is approximately 40 years old. And you better believe that if she'd cited that decision she would have been ridiculed for doing so.

Should O'Donnell have known? Maybe so. Surely Whoopi should have known some court cases that morning on the show because she knew what the hot topic was. But she didn't know any. So maybe she should stop calling other people stupid? Or maybe she should learn what it means to be a host? When Barbara introducing a guest, before they're even onstage, your facial expression doesn't need to make it clear that you hate them. Again, you have the option of skipping the interview. When O'Reilly, sitting down on the couch, would note her expression, Whoopi would insist, "Bill, I have a case of gas. It's not you." But of course it was.

They were probably on question two of the interview (so many starts and stops it's hard to tell in that gab-fest) which was Sherri wondering if Bill thought the economy was hurting Barack Obama's poll numbers. He replied there were two things and one of them was the economy. To applause from the studio audience, he stated there was "a statute of limitations" and that when you spend $3 billion dollars trying to fix the economy, it's on you. He then moved to the second part of his answer. His opinion was that the voters perceived a gulf -- "a widening gulf" -- between Barack and themselves. Barbara wants an example so he goes to the proposed Muslim cultural center that's taken far too much attention already (and you can blame all sides for that) in NYC which he called a "mosque." He stated there was a legal right to build it but that it was "inappropriate."

How does this apply to Barack? Bill states that the president weighs in that there is a legal right to build it and then, when asked about "the wisdom of it," Barack stated, "I'm not going to comment." To then apply that to a gulf perceived by voters between themselves and Barack Obama, we could draw a few lines. We can think of at least three ways Bill O'Reilly might have built his case. But we don't know because he wasn't given a chance to. That's all fine and dandy. When you go on a program, you're not going to be allowed to monologue. There is a give and take. But we're stressing this part of it because we're trying to point out that he was still on Sherri's question and he was never able to answer it because of all the cross talk, all the piping off, Joy putting horns up behind his head (and his thinking the audience was with him on joking or sniping at Joy when they applauded her putting horns up behind his head), all this was going on, this entire train wreck before the moment everyone was talking about.

Whoopi cuts him off with, "So let me ask you this, let me ask you this --" And, no. Let someone answer a question before you ask or badger them with another. She talked a lot -- is Queen Latifah really parodying her on 30 Rock? -- but she said little of value. She went into "70 Muslim families" dying on 9-11 in the buildings. Presumably she meant the Twin Towers and/or the Pentagon but we weren't aware those were families of workers? Seventy individuals, okay, but 70 families? Were they families of four?

She was totally unprepared, didn't know what she was talking about and determined -- and not just her -- to turn an interview into a filibuster. While Whoopi's trying to find a point, Joy snipes, "That's so unamerican!" Apparently at what Bill O'Reilly was saying but maybe she was just suddenly possessed by the spirit of Joseph McCarthy?

"We're Americans! I'm an American!" Joy starts snapping and saying that "most Americans" agree with Barack on the cultural center. She's such a damn idiot. Barack Obama has not weighed in on anything but the legal aspect. Joy should know that. Instead, she claims that Barack agrees with her and so do most Americans.

Bill O'Reilly: [. . .] 70% of Americans don't want that mosque down there [audience applauds] -- so don't give me the "we" on this.

Behar: So where's that poll? Where's that poll? I want to see that poll!

August 25th, Alex Sundby (CBS News) reported on CBS News' latest poll in which 67% of respondents across America stated there was a legal right to build the cultural center (the poll used "mosque") but 71% of respondents in the same poll felt that it was "inappropriate" to build it in the planned location. August 19th, Alex Altman (Time magazine) reported on Time's poll which found 61% oppose construction and over 70% felt it "would be an insult to the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center" to build it in the planned location. August 11th, Jordan Fabian (The Hill) reported on the CNN - Opinion Research poll which found 68% of Americans oppose the construction. These findings are consistent with the polling done since the start of the controversy. Joy's an idiot for not knowing of them -- especially the third one since she does also work for CNN -- and she only embarrassed herself.

Whoopi wanted to know why that was? Bill replied, "Because it's inappropriate." At which point, Whoopi raised her voice to shouting level and asked, "Why is it inappropriate!" And Barbara appeared to grasp for the first time how quickly The View could become just another chair hurling trash TV staple. Why, Whoopi wanted to know, and Bill replied, "Because Muslims killed us on 9-11."

Which lead host Whoopi to scream, "Oh my G*d! That is" at which point she was censored and ABC dropped out what she was saying. (We censored the use of God as we censor the use of any deity's name in vain.) There was yelling and screaming, Whoopi screaming about "McVeigh" over and over and Joy looking off to the side before rising and yelling, "You know what! I don't even want to sit here! I don't! I'm outraged by that statement!"

At which point Whoopi stood and she and Joy walked off the set. In the midst of an interview. Leaving Barbara to declare, "I want to say something. I want to say something to all of you. You have just seen what should not happen. We should be able to have discussions without washing our hands and screaming and walking off stage. [Applause from the audience.] I love my colleagues, but it should not have happened. Now let me just say to you [Bill] in a calmer voice, it was extremists. You cannot take a whole religion and demean them because of what some --" And that's as far as she got before being interrupted.

Joy and Whoopi walked back out onto the set at some point. Joy taking Whoopi's seat far to one side of Bill, folding her arms in a closed and confrontational manner and refusing to look at anyone but staring off to the side while Whoopi grabbed Joy's former spot next to Bill and gave him dirty looks as he spoke. During the break, they switched back to the original places. After the break, Whoopi continued to give dirty looks and roll her eyes as Bill spoke and Joy was smutty. (Smutty? The world didn't need her judgment of Marilyn Monroe.)

They were like two spoiled brats and both of them need to be fired.

As the host, you do not walk out on an interview. Many, many years ago, Lily Tomlin walked out on a talk show. Chad Everett was referring to his wife as "my property." Lily found it offensive. She walked out. We applaud her for that. The difference isn't that Lily was protesting sexism. The difference is the show wasn't The Lily Tomlin Show. (It was The Dick Cavett Show.) She was a guest. A guest can walk out.

A host? ABC pays all five hosts to be present and do their jobs. You don't have the luxury of storming out. They're very lucky -- as one ABC exec noted to us -- that Barbara was present because if she hadn't been, this wouldn't have been one of those moments when Barbara can show up the next day and smooth things over. They need to learn their jobs.

There's no excuse of they found Bill vulgar. O'Reilly is no more and no less vulgar than he always is. They knew what they were getting into. They refused to allow him to answer questions and that's the point that's really not being discussed.

Is The View going to be used as a Democratic Party organ to attack? If there's a reason to ask any guest a question, there's a reason to hear their answer. Badgering a guest? That shouldn't be allowed. Sherri asked a question and it was too much for Whoopi to wait for that question to be answered before cutting and demanding attention.

Joy and Whoopi need to learn, as two ABC execs noted, to shut up.

If a guest has been asked a question, allow the guest to answer. That's not just a basic courtesy in any host-guest relationship, it's important for the audience which expects that questions asked will lead to replies.

Crazy Thursday saw ABC air When Hosts Attack and it was not pretty. It also saw NBC air The Truly Not Ready For Primetime Players: 30 Rock.

Tina Fey. Tina Fey. How we'd love to be done with Tina Fey. We were grabbing something to eat right before 30 Rock aired on the East Coast and in the Central Time zone -- aired live. And our phones were going off like crazy. "Train wreck" was the most often repeated term. We tossed a few bucks to get the TV turned to NBC and train wreck was too, too mild.

First, the good news. There were two live episodes Thursday: the one we watched on the TV and the West Coast one. Currently, both are available for streaming at NBC's 30 Rock page. Good news? The second performance was much, much better.

In fact, if you saw the West Coast version only, you might think it did okay.

But the reality is that it failed on pretty much every level.

It failed as a TV show. Period. Unless we entered some alternate universe where Lillian Gish never existed, there's a little thing called the close up, a detail the thirty minute show never seemed to find. What the hell was that?

We asked and were told that people had a problem with their blocking? "People?" Tina.

And that's obvious if you watch both broadcasts.

In the first one, Tina's doing something but it's not acting. She is, however, semi hitting her marks. For example, she stops and then delivers a line to Tracy Morgan. In the second performance, she can't be bothered with blocking at any time and she steps over her own lines and the laughs that she should be getting.

So the second performance is Tina's worst?


See, apparently she can't chew gum and walk at the same time. By ignoring the blocking in the second performance, she finally manages to deliver her lines correctly.

She's not an actress and the first episode really drives that home. It is not until the first performance is almost over that she finds Liz Lemon -- a character she should know having played her for four other seasons. Specifically, it's at the end of a scene with Alec Baldwin where they watch Tracy's character -- dressed as Oprah -- disrupt the live broadcast of TGS. Prior to that, her delivery is off, her voice is off, she's not even sounding like Liz and she destroys every scene she's in.

As a performer on a single camera show, not filmed in front of an audience, she manages -- with a lot of help from editing -- to give the impression she's creating a character. That really came across. For the second performance, Tina was basically a voice actor. She spat out her lines with some semblance of delivery and the voice sounded like Liz -- even though she was marching around from scene to scene as though she were Candice Bergen playing Murphy Brown arriving for work.

Let's stay with acting for a moment. Alec Baldwin was good in the first performance. He was great in the second. Tracy Morgan, Jane Krawoski, Cheyenne Jackson, Maulik Pancholy and Rachel Dratch were consistently strong in both performances and the real surprise there was Pancholy who is so obviously underused on the show. While, for example, Jack McBrayer floundered as Kenneth in the first performance, Pancholy sparkled and came alive as Jonathan. In fact, the show -- both performances -- would have really suffered if he hadn't been on. Or if, like Grizz Chapman and others, he'd been given nothing to do or even a line to say.

Then again, considering the level of the script, some might consider themselves lucky not to have had lines. Was there a point to the episode? No. Not really.

It was a badly written episode that was weak and mediocre. Apparently scared to be doing a live episode -- in front of an audience -- the decision was made to include 'magic' and other nonsense. It was really sub-par to have Alec Baldwin stop being Jack and pull scarves out of Liz's mouth. (He was still supposed to be Jack but, no, Jack would never have done that.)

It was pandering over and over. It was playing to the lowest impulses. Every award the show's ever gotten for writing? They should all be stripped away after that episode.

Having no plot, the show basically revolved around the broadcast of TGIS. And Tracy and Jenna were acting up. Tracy wanted to break up laughing in his skits and Jenna vowed if he did it again, she would have a nip slip. For those reasons, twice Liz made the call for TGIS to immediately go to a commercial. The first one was for a bad collection of songs and the second was for hand transplants. Both commercials -- on both performances -- had to be interrupted with a 'technical difficulties' card. Because, are you sides splitting yet, they were getting graphic. Oh, it was so funny because heaven knows we all love those live commercials and it was just so --

What's that?

TV really doesn't do live commercials?

Yeah, we knew that. In fact, everyone pretty much does. It's just Tina Fey thinks viewers are stupid and that they'd never know that.


One inspired idea that they came up with was having Julia Louis-Dreyfuss play Liz in Liz's flashbacks. That gave Julia three scenes in each performance and the first performance especially needed her.

The first performance was so awful it shouldn't have aired. The script was weak, the performances were bad (other than the exceptions already noted), there was no strong camera work or even functioning camera work and did no one notice how poorly lit the thing was? (The lighting for the second one suffered in the early moments before Rachel and Tina were in the elevator together and the lighting went bad in the middle of the final scene of the show.) The second show still had the weak skit but it managed to reach at least a C-minus level.

Season five, which many are predicting will be the last of the low-rated show, is when this overly feted sitcom elects to show how bad it can be? This show won a Peabody for goodness sake. But watching Thursday night was like watching a bad episode of Married Without Children because -- No, that's too kind. It was like watching an episode -- any episode, they were all bad -- of Unhappily Ever After. That's how awful 30 Rock was. It could only happen on Crazy Thursday.

Revisionary, fear-based whoring

Friday, faded rose from days gone by Robert Parry decided to show America just how crazy he can get -- the kind of crazy that gets you kicked off the AP team, in fact. He penned and distributed a little ditty entitled "The 'Teach-the-Dems-a-Lesson' Myth." It was a journey through revisionary history and the dark, dark recesses of what's left of Parry's mind.


Parry's in a panic that some on the left have decided not to vote for Democrats or not to vote at all. That the American people might have a mind of their own is appalling to Robert Parry and, having issued sexist orders throughout 2008, he foolishly believes he's running something other than his own mouth.

In his non-scientific and highly revisionary history, Parry cites the elections of 1968, 1980, 1004 and 2000. Any one with a political science background can already see one 'design' flaw. Only 1994 is a mid-term election and 2010 will be a mid-term.

Facts, escape whores. Diseases don't. And it takes a really sick puppy to write, "Tragically, too, the Left’s sideline-sitting contributed to the unnecessary deaths of millions of people in wars from Vietnam and Central America to Iraq and Afghanistan." You didn't just vote wrong, America, you got blood on your hands.

Are you starting to grasp why Robert Parry can't work a real job? Yeah, that's why. It's called insanity, the sort that usually takes several decades of hard drinking to really spit-polish.

Parry's b.s. offers that elected Dems have moved more to the center since 1968 and that they refuse to call out Republican's "misdeeds'' (also starting in 1968).

In 1968, Parry tells you, Nixon wins because of that awful left. (Robert Parry's quite the hippie puncher, isn't he?) Really? Not the fact that Hubert Humphrey was a lousy candidate? Not because RFK Jr. was assassinated while trying to win the Democratic Party nomination?

From 1968, Parry rushes to 1980. Why? Because a real accounting of history won't back up his s**t poor hypothesis so instead he cherry picks. 1980's big lesson? That Ted Kennedy hurt Jimmy Carter by running against him for the Democratic Party nomination.

Was that really the big hurt of the Carter administration?

Strange, we think if you asked the people of Afghanistan, they could point to how the Carter administration deliberately turned their country into a war zone.

Then it's skip to 1994. But even with selective cherry picking and revisionary tactics, he can't build a persuasive argument:

Yet, even if the Left had worked on building a media infrastructure, it’s not clear that progressive voices would have done much to protect the Clintons from the right-wing attacks. To many on the Left, the Clintons were a couple who had long since sold out their principles to corporate interests.

So, with both American progressives and mainstream Democrats discouraged and demoralized, the Republican tsunami in November 1994 wiped out not only the fragile Democratic Senate majority but ended the long-time Democratic control of the House.

Really? That's the story the fool wants to go with? Midterm elections are notorious for shifting the balance of power. If a party controls the Congress and the White House, a mid-term is where voters tend to redistribute control. It happened most recently in the 2006 mid-terms. Then Republicans controlled the White House and the Congress. The voters put Democrats in charge of both houses of Congress.

To really fog up the car windows and try to scare the hell out of people, Parry writes, "In my view, Election 2000 may have represented the last real chance for the world to turn back from environmental devastation and from the dangerous political instability that will follow." Really? The last real chance?

Well, hell, give us plastic bags, let's return to aerosol sprays. If noted scientific scholar Parry is telling us its all over, let's just pack it in.

He then rushes to blame Ralph Nader for Al Gore's loss -- an assertion that has been repeatedly refuted by the facts. Now Robert Parry really begins to beat to beat his one-incher madly as he begins to insist on what he just knows that a President Gore would have done.

Like the damn, dirty, disease-ridden whore that he is, Parry insists, "Though Obama did begin winding down the Iraq War as he had promised[.]" Oh, honey, inject some penicillin into that one. Barack promised to end the war. The war is not ended. He said all combat troops gone in 16 months. "As he had promised" would mean that happened in sixteen months. Robert Parry's been lying for so long he really can't tell fact from fiction anymore.

The tired and scared Parry insists, "In other words, the Left's notion of 'teaching the Democrats a lesson' is a myth. It may make some progressives feel morally pure, but it doesn't work. And, the results of the last 42 years should make clear that the idea is not only folly but it is dangerous."

In a world of choices, Robert Parry thinks it all boils down to a t-bone or a rib-eye. He really is that simplistic and, honestly, that dull.

In a world of choices, Parry wants to throw a fit that everyone won't vote like him, won't think like him, won't shoot a ghost nut the way he does.

What the article really does -- after selling fear and rewriting history -- is reveal just how pathetic the Democratic Party has become: Even whore Parry doesn't think they're capable of change.

But note how pathetic he is, he still whores for them.


Jim: An e-mail roundtable addressing the topics you bring up in your e-mails. Our e-mail address is There are a number of topics and we'll try to address as many as we can. 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.


Jim (Con't): Okay, getting started with Allyson who asks why we all ignored the mining rescue. She notes that Stan and Betty both wrote about the miners during the ordeal but the rescue was ignored by one and all.

Stan: Betty and I talked about covering it and decided not to. We felt it was being over-covered and that it was being badly covered. We didn't want to add into that.

Betty: Stan and I are on the phone with each other before we blog each night. And Stan had done a much better job with the mining story than I had. But the coverage in the media shifted with the rescue and it was just embarrassing. We had no reason to cover it. There were other things we wanted to talk about.

Jim: Okay and anyone else? Allyson noted that no one covered it.

Ava: Let me jump in. I know Marcia and Wally and Cedric were hitting hard on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell decision and that there were other issues to cover. But C.I. and I do a piece this edition on what we're calling Crazy Thursday -- a TV meltdown that took place last week. There is not enough room in our piece -- and it's long -- to cover everything on the morning meltdown and on the evening meltdown shows. One of the things we don't cover about The View is the nonsense those idiots served up about the mining disaster. It was a disaster. Yes, all the miners are alive. That is good news. But to hear Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, et al tell it, it was a story of greatness and heroism and blah blah blah roll the Touchstone Disney logo already. The story is about mine safety and no one wanted to talk about that. They got very lucky, the company, because no one died. Very lucky. This was treated -- by the media last week -- as if Baby Jessica fell into the well. This wasn't anything like that. This is a safety story and safety was missing from the coverage. I completely understand why Betty and Stan took a pass.

Jim: Okay. That's good. TV coverage. Stan, we've got an e-mail about your coverage of the ABC show No Ordinary Family. Specifically, it's about the issue of the daughter. The reader says the character is weak and wonders why you're not using that to make a point since you're already pointing out that the wife gets trivial storylines while the husband gets to fight crime?

Dona: Jumping in before Stan responds. The TV show, hour long action and possibly comedy, is about two parents and their two kids who end up with super powers. The father's able to jump great lenths and is apparently indestructable -- meaning he got two powers -- while the wife can run fast, the son is a brainiac and the daughter is able to read minds. Stan, go ahead.

Stan: Okay. Honestly, I don't know if the actress is an adult or not, playing the high school daughter. I'm falling Ava and C.I. in terms of not criticizing actors who are children while they're children.

Jim: And Dallas informs that she's 20 years old. Kay Panabaker who plays Daphene is 20. And thank you, Dallas, for that.

Stan: Okay. Well, it's badly written part. Daphene's is horrified by her powers. While her father's trying to figure out how to use his for his amusement and heroics and the son's doing something similar. Why is it that this is happening? Rebecca, on Heroes what happened to the women?

Rebecca: NBC's Heroes started off a strong show but the women were repeatedly trashed. A woman with super powers was a danger. Sometimes to herself. When there was a 'cure' for super powers, the only hero who wanted to do it was a woman. A woman with strength was freakish on that show. Plus the women tended to have passive powers.

Stan: Right. It's a long, long way from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the crap that was Heroes and that I fear is No Ordinary Family. I'm trying to hang in for three more episodes. I'm trying to give it that but it's getting worse each week.

Jim: Alright. Still on TV. Mike, you're covering Fringe. Rebecca, you were covering Lone Star before it was cancelled. Betty, you're covering Desperate Housewives. Brandon wonders, "With all the good shows on this year, does anyone else plan to blog about one TV show on a regular basis?"

Cedric: Just to correct something there, Mike covers Fringe and he covers Chuck.

Jim: You are correct. My bad.

Ruth: Betty and I have talked about doing Cougar Town. A number of us wanted to do Parks and Recreation but of course it is being held until the mid-season for airing.

Rebecca: I'm thinking about finding a show I hate and blogging about that with the hopes that if I blog about it, it will be cancelled. That happened with Heroes and with Lone Star.

Marcia: Blog on Undercovers. That show needs to be cancelled. Even more so after the actor Boris Kodjoe started pimping last week that he adn Mbatha-Raw are African-American. She's British, he's Australian. And what is that? There aren't any good African-American actors who could've played these roles? That's really offensive when you grasp that both performers are from Europe but playing African-Americans. What is that? We're not smart enough to be cast in those roles? Back to the point, for me, and this is something that Stan, Betty, Ruth and I have all talked about, for me, what's the point? I loved The New Adventures of Old Christine and CBS killed that show even though it was funny, even though it was recognized as a solid show and even though it got good ratings. So for me, I'm just not into it. And I'll note The Ghost Whisperer as well. That show did great and it got the axe, so what's the point?

Mike: And what's the point with Matt Damon? I wouldn't bring this up if it were in Ava and C.I.'s piece but they ignored Damon's two scenes on 30 Rock this week so I'll note it here. Does he just sit around all day eating? He was overweight. Not chubby, overweight. He had multiple chins. What gives with that? I'm not real fond of either of my two shows after last week. Fringe is doing an episode in this reality, an episode in the alternate one, back and forth and back and forth. Olivia's trapped in the alternate and fake Olivia's on this one pretending to be Olivia. We don't care about fake Olivia. We're interested in Olivia. This is getting exhausting. As for Chuck, too much time is spent on non-essential characters.

Ty: Kyle e-mailed wanting to know exactly who is voting Green in the mid-terms.

Betty: I'm voting Green. Except for Lt. Governor. I'm voting for Gavin Newsom there.

Jess: I'm voting Green.

Mike: I am as well when there's a Green running. No Green? I may not vote.

Ann: Like Jess, I'm a Green. I will be voting Green.

Dona: I'm voting for Laura Wells for governor and I'll vote for Gavin but other than that, I don't know. I may not vote in some races. I can't vote for the Republican candidate but I can't vote for Barbara Boxer either so I'll probably leave that blank. I'm considering voting for John Dennis for House Rep. Ava and C.I.'s piece on a reality show peaked my interest, Cindy Sheehan noting he was against the wars also did and Jim and I went to one of his campaign events to check him out. He said a few things that resonated with me and I can't stand Nancy Pelosi and her lies.

Rebecca: I'll vote Green in races where there's a Green.

Ruth: I am going to vote for Richard Blumenthal. He is a Democrat and I am not pleased with the party but I feel that his remarks have been distorted by the media and I will be voting to reject the Chris Matthews of the world as well as because I do believe Blumenthal has served my state well as Attorney General.

Cedric: I'll probably vote straight ticket Dem. Does anyone else have something?

Trina: I haven't decided yet. I just wrote about that recently. I haven't heard anything to make me want to vote, to be honest. There's nothing positive that I'm hearing, no plans that I'm hearing that sound feasible to me and I am just not being reached in the current campaigns.

Cedric: Okay, I think that's everybody that's planning to weigh in. So my question is, Jim, are you thinking of voting for Dennis?

Jim: I don't know. He seems nice enough, he seems to have a few things worth praising. I don't know. I can't vote for Nancy Pelosi but I just might not vote in that race. My first non-Democratic vote, and only thus far, is in 2008 when I voted for Ralph Nader for president. That was a big step for me.

Kat: If I could add something, I haven't decided on my votes yet. I'll vote for Gavin but otherwise, I don't know. But we -- Wally, Ava, C.I. and myself -- are on the road during the week speaking and what Trina just said is really important because I hear that over and over regardless of the state we're in. People wonder where the plans are and where the positive message is? That's not me screaming, "Stop the attack ads! Don't call out your opponent!" That's me noting that people of all political stripes are expressing the opinion often that there is no positive message from candidates this election cycle. So I just want to really be sure everyone reading caught Trina's point.

Wally: I would agree with Kat. And we do hear that over and over on the road. The feeling is that it's ugly campaigning and that it's because nobody has any answers. Not everyone says that but a significant number of people are saying it and I'd say it's more often said by people who self-identify as independent. That's been my own personal observations. I think Trina's got a really important point there because it's probably not a sentiment a lot of us have expressed but it is a very common one.

Jim: Interesting. Trina, do you want to explain what you're talking about?

Trina: I think Kat and Wally have covered it but I'll just note that the attacks are all I'm hearing in the commercials. Attack, attack, attack. And the impression it leaves me with is that no one's got anything to present so they'll just keep ripping each other apart.

Jim: On elections, Brady e-mailed to note Mike was supposed to cover something -- a screw up -- Friday but he didn't. Mike?

Mike: Actually, that's something that C.I. pointed out to me, the screw up. I forgot Friday. I'll cover it Tuesday. C.I. can bring it up now if she wants. She's the one who caught it.

Jim: And she's shaking her head no. Ava and C.I. take notes for this transcript piece. Isaiah, I'll toss to you for a subject of your choice to close us out.

Isaiah: Okay. I guess, I guess I just don't feel it, the need to vote. In 2006, I gladly went to the polls to vote for people who told me they would end the Iraq War. They did not. In 2008, they again told me they would end it. They did not. And now they're whining that they need votes yet again. They were given control of both houses of Congress in 2006. In 2008, they also got the White House. Their excuses are hollow and tired and, honestly, I have a busy life and I don't see any need to go to the polls to keep liars in place so they can lie to me again.

Jim: Well said. On that note we will wrap up. This is a rush transcript. Our e-mail address is

DVD set to watch

"Oh, Ann. I always forget because you're so pretty you're not used to rejection."

Amy Poehler's Leslie says that to Rashida Jones' Ann on episode 10, season two of the NBC sitcom Parks & Recreation. They've gone on a hunting trip and Leslie wants to hunt with her boss Ron (Nick Offerman) when Ann reminds her that she promised the two of them would hunt together. It's a funny line but it's the interaction between Amy and Rashida that really gets the laughs out of that one.

Parks and Recreation

Season two is the first full season of Parks and Recreation (season one was only six episodes) and it's also when the show really comes into its own. Leslie's plans to fill in the pit and turn it into an empty lot and then a park finally get moving. Ann and Andy (Chris Pratt) remain broken up while Ann takes up with Mark (Paul Schneider) and Andy wonders if April (Aubrey Plaza) is too young for him and Tom (Aziz Ansari) and his wife divorce. Throughout all of this,nd Leslie's efforts throughout the season fall apart as the state sends in auditors to review the city's budget and to shut the city down. In the end, pretty much the whole season was destruction. So much so, in fact, that not only did Mark and Ann break up, not only did Mark quit working for the city, Paul Schneider is gone from the show.

Season two comes out on DVD November 30th and it will probably lead most to wonder: Why the hell isn't Parks and Recreation on already?

NBC decided the thing to do was to hold one of their funniest shows. No, it doesn't make sense.

But Parks and Recreation season two will make you laugh. And prepare you for season three. For example, Megan Mullally rocks the house in "Ron & Tammy" playing Tammy, one of Ron's ex-wives. A librarian who enjoys seeing exactly what she can make a man do, especially her ex-husband Ron. Tammy returns for an episode in season three and it's sure to be one of the highlights.

Another dependable should be the friendship of Leslie and Ann. Some of season two's best episodes revolved around Leslie and Ann such as when Ann instituted a practice date to try to ease Leslie's fears over her upcoming date with a police officer.

Ann: Just ask me the first thing that comes to your head.

Leslie: How big is it?

Ann: Really?

Or when Leslie learns that cuts are coming and Ann has broken it off with Mark, they end up at April's 21st birthday party.

Leslie: Want to get super drunk?

Ann: I really do.

And they really do. Including the funniest moments, when Ann attempts to navigate a straw with her tongue and when Leslie, being 'professional,' insists that the state auditor kiss her hand. The whole season is full of wonderful moments: Andy Samberg guest starring as a park ranger (who has no inside voice), Retta Sirleaf's Donna moving in to kill Leslie after her Mercedes is shot up,

But the show really works best when riffing on Leslie and Ann's friendship and providing a comedy duo in the best tradition of Lucy and Ethel, Laverne and Shirley, Mary and Rhoda, Kate and Allie, and Christine and Barb.

Spanish Civil War

Repost of Angeles Rodenas' "Spanish civil war veteran: Sam Lesser" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Sam Lesser abandoned his career in Egyptology for his ideals. While making the final arrangements for his first excavation expedition, at the end of the summer of 1936, a comrade from the Communist Party persuaded him of the importance of fighting in Spain.

Sam Lesser was among the first group of British volunteers that joined the International Brigade, the world force against the fascist leader Franco. “We did what we had to do,” he said. At the age of 91 his voice sounds steady and his memories remain intact.

Born to a family of Polish immigrants, Sam became involved in the Communist Party while studying at university. He had also joined the Officers Training Corps and participated in demonstrations in London against the fascist blackshirts before heading for Spain.

He crossed the Pyrenees by bus, pretending he was Raimundo Casado, a Spaniard returning from a holiday in France, even though he couldn’t speak a word of Castilian.

He went to Albacete, where the International Brigade’s headquarters was located. He recalls, “We saw Spain as it was then - primitive. I knew the country was a bit backward but the conditions in which people lived in small villages around Albacete were unbelievable. The only building of any size was the church.”

He spent the first few weeks training. He said, “The weapons were very few and the ones that were first distributed were a bad joke - the rifles came from the Austrian army of 1870.”

Sam recalls mingling with locals during the heat of the afternoon, “In that part of La Mancha there was a lot of saffron grown. We helped the local population, particularly the girls, to remove the stamens of the flowers. We soon discovered that each Spanish girl had a mother with her, so there was no funny business at all.”

His first experience of war took place in the University City area of Madrid. The fighting was very fierce and they had to retreat but not without having stopped the fascist advance in Madrid.

The number of casualties was considerable - from one unit of about 30 only six survived. Recounting this episode reminded Sam of the speech he gave a few months ago in Catalonia on behalf of British volunteers killed in the war and he started reciting it in faultless Spanish.

Several months after his first battle, Lesser was hit by two bullets - one in his foot and the second one in his back. He said, “I discovered that the wound in my back came from my own machine gun company.”

He is still moved by the “Spanish hospitality” he experienced while recovering in hospital: “You are lying there with the clothes you had on and these people came in with everything - soup, toothpaste, toothbrushes, a drink which I first discovered then, zumo de uvas (grape juice). I thought the only zumo de uvas that existed was vino tinto (red wine).”

One of the nurses taught him the ­language and introduced him to the adventures of Don Quixote but couldn’t do much for his worsening injuries.

Lesser was finally sent back home, taking the list of those who had been killed. After recovering, he travelled to Paris where he helped to organise the crossing of volunteers who were arriving from all over the world.

He said, “It was a job that had to be done, but I wanted to get back to Spain.” The opportunity arose when he was put in charge of an international group of women volunteers.

They couldn’t hike across the Pyrenees, but managed to get to Catalonia in a fisherman’s boat. But Sam wasn’t able to take up arms for the Republicans.

“When I went to have a medical examination in Barcelona they told me that I was unfit for human consumption,” mocked Sam. That was the end of his involvement in the fighting and the beginning of a long career in journalism. In July 1937 he started broadcasting in English for the Republican cause.

Lesser said, “The first part of the programme was the military communique and then from time to time we would get British volunteers who came on leave to Barcelona to try to get them to prepare something.” During this time Sam met Margaret, the woman who would become his wife. Margaret was a nurse working in the Spanish refugee camp of Argeles, France.

She was recovering in Barcelona from a broken leg. Lesser covered the end of the war as correspondent of the Communist Party’s Daily Worker newspaper. Sam said, “I covered our retreat. The border town of Figueras was packed with people on their way to France. The fascist planes started bombing.

“I went to the square and there was complete pandemonium. At the other side of the square I saw Pasionaria, the Communist leader, coming out of a small balcony window. Her words restored some sort of order.”

He was then sent to Paris, where he reported on the “abominable” treatment of the Spanish refugees by the French government. The outbreak of the Second World War brought him back to England to work as an inspector in an aeroplane factory through the conflict.

After the war, he resumed working for the Daily Worker as a correspondent in China, Russia, Cuba and several countries of Eastern Europe until he decided to retire in 1984 at the age of 69.

Lesser said, “Spain has remained always in our minds and in our hearts. If the Republican government had been given its rights by international law to buy arms on the market we wouldn’t have lost the war.

“The experience in Spain didn’t change me politically. The change came for me when I was in the Soviet Union, with Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev’s secret speech, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and Hungary.”

The conversation continued through other chapters of recent history that Sam has witnessed and that would make the memoirs that he regrets not having written.

The following should be read alongside this article:

The Spanish Revolution 1936 to 1939 Fighting the fascists, creating a new world in Spain Spanish civil war veteran: Penny Feiwel Spanish civil war veteran: Jack Jones Spanish civil war veteran: Alun Menai Williams Spanish civil war veterans: Jack Cummins and Tommy Nicholson Timeline of the Spanish Revolution Barcelona: the culture of revolt

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.


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.

"I Hate The War" -- most requested highlight of the week, C.I. on refugees.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barack Desmond" -- Isaiah's latest look at Barry O.

"Kat's Korner: Neil Young's Le Noise" -- Kat reviews Neil Young's latest release.

"Paycheck" and "Mrs. Pollifax" -- Kat and Stan go to the movies.

"when will kevin get a boyfriend?" -- Rebecca on a comic book character.

"Cornbread and beans in the kitchen" -- Trina offers some simple and inexpensive recipes.

"Laura Wells, Green Party candidate for governor" -- Betty on her choice for governor.

"Senator Kirsten Gillibrand" -- Ruth applauds Gillibrand.

"Stevie Nicks, Peggy Lipton, Joanna Newsom,"

"Nobel Peace Prizes" -- Elaine weighs in on this year's choice.

"THIS JUST IN! JUST DO NOTHING!" & "Even Barry O can handle this task" -- Wally and Cedric map out how easy it is for Barack to let the judge's ruling stand.

"Who asked you, Bob Parry?" -- Betty asks the obvious.

"truth tellers" -- Rebecca on those who showed some fortitude.

"Beth Marlowe shows up late to the party" -- Ruth explains that some subjects were already explored three years ago.

"DADT" and "The homophobe in chief" -- Marcia on DADT.

"Dumb Ass of the Week, Fringe," "No Ordinary Family," "Chuck and the Dems" and "Desperate Housewives" -- Mike, Stan and Betty cover TV. Ann covers radio:

"The economy and the anger" -- Trina covers the economy.

"It really is the new Confidential magazine" -- Elaine surveys a magazine.

"Slipping Barry" & "THIS JUST IN! BARRY SLIPS!" -- Cedric and Wally continue their coverage of the celebrity in chief.

"Talking Dick" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.
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