Sunday, January 16, 2011

Truest statement of the week

Should the press reveal the names of complainants in rape cases? In the Guardian, Naomi Wolf says yes—beginning (but you knew this was coming) with the two women who've accused Julian Assange of forcing his attentions—his condomless attentions—on them. The same women she previously mocked on HuffPo as jealous whiners, and on Democracy Now!, accused of giving mixed messages to an ardent bedmate. No "let's wait until the trial," for her.

Anonymity, Wolf argues, is a relic of the Victorian era, when raped women were seen as damaged goods; permits stereotypes about rape victims to flourish, since people don't see that "ordinary women" get raped; harms women by treating them as children rather than moral agents; and impedes law enforcement. This last point is a little bizarre: doesn't Wolf realize that anonymity applies only to the media? Everyone in the justice system knows who the complainants are. Wolf also, as she often does, gets her facts wrong: Anita Hill, whom she cites as bravely volunteering her name and thereby spurring a great wave of "equal opportunity law," was not a complainant in a legal case. She was subpoenaed as a witness in the Senate hearings. Anonymity was never an option for her. Furthermore, Hill's allegations against Clarence Thomas had nothing to do with rape, so why is Wolf even talking about her? Hill is in fact, the only real-life modern woman Wolf mentions in a piece that name checks Virginia Woolf, Coventry Patmore and Oscar Wilde.

-- Katha Pollitt, ''Naomi Wolf: Wrong Again On Rape' (The Nation).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Very late edition. We finished the bulk of it by 9:00 am this morning but agreed to regroup this evening for the editorial and anything else we needed to add.

We thank everyone who helped with this edition. The credits for it are 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?

Katha Pollitt was in serious consideration a few weeks back but got bumped due to a theme edition. This week, she gets her first truest.

"Short and sweet," was Dona's edict. We were attempting to figure out, at 9:00 a.m. this morning, whether to plow through or not. I (Jim) was all for it. The editorial would be brief and we could figure out the rest since the bulk was already written. But others felt differently. A vote had us agreeing to regroup late tonight which is what we did. We did follow the edict. Sometime, the least words say the most.

When we regrouped, we had computer problems. And we'd posted a number of articles when they came up. This wasn't among them leading several angry readers to e-mail and state that we were burying Ava and C.I.'s TV article. We weren't. They wrote two for this edition. How did we decide this was one we'd give primary focus to? All you e-mailing asking for more entertainment coverage from Ava and C.I.

When we were going to be posting in the morning, a group of us -- Ty, Jess and me -- decided not to participate in this so we could type up what was written and get it ready to publish. Others who didn't participate, as I understood it, hadn't yet read the book. We may not do another book discussion for six months, FYI.

A masterpiece from Ava and C.I. Had the e-mails not been coming in for entertainment coverage, this is the one we would have highlighted and given the prime slot. This is really something and wickedly funny.

An e-mail roundtable. Except for a topic Betty brings up, everything asked is from your e-mails.

When we regrouped, Rebecca, Betty, Ty, Stan, Ann and Marcia wanted to do this piece. We were more than happy to have it but insisted that since this was becoming a regular feature they think up a title we can use for the feature from now on.

When we regrouped, Betty and Wally noted that this needed to be covered in some form.

And we'd already agreed to repost this from Great Britain's Socialist Worker.

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

And that's what we managed.


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

Editorial: Thanks, Barack

"We want to end the war!" Barack Obama would thunder in early 2008 at those tent revivals of the Cult of St. Barack. "And we want to end it now!"

Now? He's starting on the third year of his presidency and the Iraq War continues.


Thanks, Barack.

He's starting on the third year of his presidency and the Iraq War may drag on past his first -- and possibly only -- term.

Thanks, Barack.

Yesterday, 3 US soldiers were killed and a fourth injured in that illegal war (or, as Barry called it, the "dumb war") that he promised to end if he was elected president.

Last week, Barack went to Tuscon to talk about civility. We don't need civility, we need honesty. But if we were a War Hawk who'd picked up a Nobel Peace Prize for little more than remembering to wipe his own ass, we'd probably run from honesty as well.

Thanks, Barack.

TV: Really can't be without you

"There is a pattern emerging with Julia where she deglams herself," explains Dave to Vance. "She's out all day dazzling clients, looking awesome putting on a show for the world but when she gets home, out comes the sweats and the makeup towel. Like the world's getting a 10, I'm kind of getting a 6.5." That's the least of Dave's problems.


His biggest problem? Airing on NBC. This week NBC is debuting two strong shows: Harry's Law during the last hour of Monday prime time and Perfect Couples which airs 30 minutes into the first hour of Thursday prime time. Harry's Law is David E. Kelley's latest show.

As we explained early on, December 2005, "Disclosure, we won't say anything bad about David E. Kelley so there's no point in asking for a review of one of his shows. We wouldn't be impartial and the most extreme criticism we'd ever be comfortable leveling would be that Lara Flynn Boyle should have been kept in the cast of what's emerged from The Practice." So what changed?

Far too many bad hour long programs. Yes, we know David, yes, we love David and, reality, TV needs David. We've high roaded it and then some. We can't do it this time. NBC is giving Kelley six weeks to garner a hit (actually two weeks but official story is six weeks). You need to check the show out immediately. It stars Academy Award winner Kathy Bates. And, yet again, David Kelley is showing you how to do hour long TV -- take notes Jerry Bruckheimer and Dick Wolf. Actual writing, actual characterization and a show that thought went into. Mondays, last hour of prime time. You miss it, blame yourself for the state of TV.

Perfect Couples is not an insta-out-of-the-box hit. Few sitcoms are. That's reality. One of the best sitcoms of the last 15 years is Will & Grace. To watch the first season is to see an amusing sitcom which moves quickly, has promise and nails it with a Halloween episode but offers no classics. Airing on Monday nights as part of a comedy bloc and allowed to find its own voice, the show grew stronger and stronger so that the second season found instant sitcom classics like "Das Boob" (Grace and the water bra), "Home For The Holidays" (to Will, Grace and Karen's shock, Jack's mother has no idea he's gay) and so much more.

Perfect Couple's only real problem right now is finding the rhythm. That could be fixed with one move: tape it before a studio audience.

Are the geeks still calling these one camera 'sitcoms' "edgy"? Strange, if so, since the majority of them have glommed on to Big Bang Theory which is taped before an audience. More importantly, why is NBC trying to ape losers? What were the two highest rated sitcoms since Friends (taped before a studio audience) went off? That's right: Everybody's Loves Raymond and Two and a Half Men.

None of the single camera insipids have gotten close. You can think you're cutting edge all you want but, as Bronski Beat, Husker Du, Butthole Surfers, Jesus and Mary Chain and so many others once featured on MTV's 120 Minutes finally realized, there's just not a large enough audience for you. In other words, maybe it's time for NBC to stop pulling it out and measuring it against the other networks and instead give viewers what they want?

Since Will & Grace left the airwaves, NBC has not had one breakout sitcom hit. That's reality. For seven seasons now, they've kept the audience losing program The Office on the air. No one likes The Office but a few geeks who most likely are unable to reproduce and therefore will take their 'taste' to the grave with them doing the country a huge favor. NBC has offered a ton of excuses for their awful programming. At one point, they were insisting that The Office and My Name Is Earl, for example, were not flops, it was just that no one wanted to watch comedy anymore and certainly not on Thursday nights.

It's that kind of stupid that, in fact, leads to programming shows like The Office and My Name Is Earl -- the latter of which was especially effective as a Thursday night colonic cleanser -- flooding viewers over to other networks. But a funny thing happened on the way to spring 2011, CBS moved The Big Bang Theory to Thursday nights. It is already garnering six million more, six million more, viewers each week than The Office pulled in last year.

It's not that people don't want comedy, it's that they do want comedy. And 'whimsical' one-camera shows just aren't cutting it. Which one of these half-hour programs has broken the top ten for the season? How about for the week?

So how about the execs start listening to the viewers and grasp that people like the sitcom format Desi and Lucy developed and pioneered all those years ago? How about networks start grasping that these one-camera 'comedies' for people who don't like comedies are a waste of time and serve no real audience because people who really want to come home and laugh aren't going to do so watching the to-the-camera 'ironic' whinings of Steve Carrell.

NBC has renewed 30 Rock for another season. This despite the fact that last season's average was a little less than 6 million viewers and this year's average so far is 6 million viewers. By contrast, The Big Bang Theory, having to grab viewers on an all new night once it was moved to Thursday, is grabbing 13.6 million viewers each week. See the problem?

Of course, you do, you're not ruining NBC. Sadly, a lot of suits are.

With a single-camera show -- as even the best attempts at comedy demonstrate (see Cougar Town) -- you're going to have to go from a frantic comedy scene to one of reflection. Why? You can't maintain the rhythm. In film, actors work very hard at maintaining the comedic rhythm and have the time to really work at that since a film is shot over many, many weeks while a sitcom is shot in one week. What happens too often is someone decides a scene is 'quirky' (not funny) and, since no lines were flubbed, that's good enough. Next set up!

No, it's not good enough. And a studio audience would make that more clear. In addition, actors feed off the energy of the audience which also helps the rhythm. Comedy depends upon it and many actors in the last ten years have been lost without it.

Perfect Couples revolves around three couples. Dave (Kyle Bornheimer -- formerly of Worst Week) and Julia (Christine Woods) are married. Her brother Rex (Hayes MacArthur) is married to Leigh (Olivia Munn, formely Greta on Chuck). They're all friends with engaged to be married Amy (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) and Vance (David Walton). All the actors already have a grip on their characters and you've got six unique ones, not six of the same. Even if it doesn't switch to a live audience, this is already showing more promise than the bulk of what NBC has tossed on Thursday nights in the last five years (Parks and Recreations being the only exception and that laugh-out loud sitcom returns to NBC Thursday night).

Dave is upset that when Julia comes home from a hard day of work (he beats her home because he tends to knock off early for activities such as napping and bowling), she immediately wants to switch into sweats and take off her make up. Vance tries to offer feedback, "So troubling, man. I mean comfort's great but we must require excellence from others or the spark goes out. Amy wears an array of sexy bras and underwear sets. I return the favor by rocking tighty-whiteys and western footwear."

Footwear figures into Amy's problems. To look sexy, she wears high heels non-stop and now has stage-five clicky feet which she demonstrates to Julia and Leigh by walking. Obsessive Leigh tops her with the revelation that the entire reason she has a gym membership is to avoid using the toilet at her home. They explain to Julia that, somewhere between the two of them, is her own comfort level.

In bits and pieces, each episode almost acquires the rhythm of Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You" but the biggest obstacle to achieving that remains the lack of a studio audience. A studio audience would send this solid show flying.

Chris Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class

Dona: Back in the old days of 2005, we used to do book discussions all the time. We don't do them all the time these days. So to kick the year off right, we'll do one this month. Chris Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class. The book came out a few months ago and it was the number two choice of The Common Ills community for 2010 book, see "2010 in books (Martha & Shirley)." Trina has written about it at her site, most recently Friday. If you're view is that a book is a sacred test and a god wrote it, you can stop reading right now because that's not how we approach books. You have been warned. Our e-mail address is Participating in this discussion are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava, with me moderating; 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; and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Isaiah, can we get an overview of the basics?

chris hedges

Isaiah: Sure. Chris Hedges is a journalist who used to report for The New York Times -- where he won a Pulitzer -- NPR and other outlets. Now he writes a weekly column for Truthdig. He's a Socialist. Like everyone participating except for Ava and C.I., he voted for Ralph Nader in 2008 -- Ava and C.I. will only allow that they voted for Ralph or for Cynthia McKinney. His most famous book is War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning. His latest book is 217 pages.

Dona: Thank you, Isaiah. Elaine, I'm going to start with you. What stood out to you in the book? Positives and negatives about it.

Elaine: I guess I'd go with chapter three and specifically zoom in on the section about plays. Both the federal works program which allowed art to flourish and the attacks on it where even Marlowe was considered a Communist. Negative? I disagree that the theater was dead from 1939 until Amiri Baraka emerges. That sort of leaves Death of a Salesman and many other plays forgotten, doesn't it? Arthur Miller and Lillian Hellman are mentioned in the chapter, in a sentence noting their politics, not their art or the politics of their art.

Dona: You and C.I. knew Lillian Hellman. Anything you'd add on her specifically?

Elaine: Her plays were political plays, her stands were political ones. I would have expected more than one sentence on her in this book, especially when it deals with the McCarthy era. Scoundrel Time remains -- her book Scoundrel Times -- remains the definitive account of that era.

Dona: Rebecca?

Rebecca: I agree with Elaine's point. I also have to wonder about the criteria by which he awarded praise to plays. Was it based on politics? If so, where's Waiting for Lefty? Clifford Odets isn't even mentioned in the book. I found it confusing, the section, because I had no idea what the criteria was.

Dona: Okay. Mike, Betty and Kat, you put "Liberal Defectors" down as your favorite chapter. What are your thoughts, why did it stand out?

Betty: Mike, why don't you go first.

Mike: Sure, thanks. This is the chapter that outlines how it's okay to be wrong, it's just not okay to be right. You can be on the left or 'left' and cheer on the Iraq War and claim it's going to be great and wonderful and then show up -- like Lawrence Gelb -- after saying, "Woops! What was I thinking?" But if you're opposed to the Iraq War and your opposition ends up being backed up by the events, you are shut out. You have to support the War Machine, from the right or the left, you have to support it or get shut out of the conversation.

Kat: Betty's pointing to me now. The whole thrust of the book is how elements on the left striving for respectability sell out the left and, in terms of this chapter, it's not even that they believed the Iraq War was the right thing, it's that they knew what was accepted and what wasn't and tailored their remarks and opinions. They play a game and delude themselves that it allows them to sit at the decision table and influence the programs and practices.

Betty: And Hedges point is that nothing gets accomplished to help people. The corporatists steer things to their own interests and leftists deluding themselves that they're somehow helping but all they're doing is collaborating in the destruction -- in fact, giving it bipartisan cover. We'll probably see that play out in the attacks on Social Security which are about to start.

Dona: Ann and Cedric, what stood out to you about the book?

Ann: For me, I'd have to say it was the same as for Trina. The Ralph Nader section at the very end sort of pulled together all of the threads and acted as a singular example of how we get defeated. To explain, Ralph Nader's doing exposes, doing the press work for them, all they have to do is write a review of his work basically, his work is also leading to Congressional committee hearings and that all comes to an end as money controls the press and the Congress in ever greater concentration and it's not enough to turn Nader into a non-person, he also has to be ripped apart.

Cedric: I would agree with that. I also liked how Trina used political prisoner Lynne Stewart to make that point. It doesn't take great courage to say, "I support Lynne." Watch: I support Lynne. See the sky didn't fall down, I'm still breathing. But instead of defending her strongly, the left in magazines and in colleges chose to be silent or else to offer the weakest of defenses. I doubt Chris Hedges would but I'd include a large number of academics. I say "I doubt" because I'm thinking of one woman in particular and I'm sure Ava and C.I. will touch on that. So I'lljust include my two-cents in the roll out for their remarks.

Dona: Okay, we can go there now. Ava?

Ava: Cedric's talking about Frances Fox Piven. Francy. We write about Francy this edition, C.I. and I. We have no problem with Communists, Socialists, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, whatever. As long as you are what you state you are. For example, don't pose as Democrat or "independent" if you're a Communist. Closets are for gorgeous clothes, not politics. And we would argue that closet cases like Francy do more damange than anyone else.

Dona: How so? And Ava's nodding to C.I.

C.I.: If you're tricking people, you're not getting a message out. Francy's a Platonic type scholar, not in the question and answer, the seek inquiry sense, she's Platonic in that she feels she's a philosopher-king and should hold all the cards and trick the masses into following along. If you believe Communism -- or whatever, but let's stay with Communism -- you're not going to trick people into it. People aren't stupid. Now you might be able to make the case for it publicly. But this idea that you'll call it something else and you'll pretend your real aims are this or that? You're not only not helping Communism, you're hurting it. Ava.

Ava: In the Ralph Nader section, it's rightly noted by Ralph that he wasn't invited on Bill Moyers Journal the way you'd expect. We'd certainly agree because we made that point here in 2008. Equally true, when Bill has on a Communist or Socialist guest and Bill and the guest work overtime to conceal that, they're not helping anyone. I'm watching Bill Moyers speak to Jane Haines and I'm thinking, "She's so smart." If she's a Communist and that's hidden, it's defeated my heading down the path to a politics that speak to me. Closets do no one any good and it's damn sad that so many in academia took to them and have remained in them. Again, Communism is a valid political theory and it doesn't need to be hidden. Those who do so are a bit like 60-year-old gay men still trying to pass for straight.

C.I.: And we think Chris Hedges did a wonderful job in this book and Trina's going to give the wrap up. But we would add a footnote to it which would read something like: "Also destroying the radical left were th radicals who were too scared and decided that subterfuge and lies could trick the public." You can't trick the public into a movement. It doesn't and has never worked that way.

Dona: Alright, as noted, we're letting Trina have the last word.

Trina: Thank you. What stood out so much was how enjoyable the book was. Granted, I was very sick when I started it, but there were times when I'd flip back a few pages to re-read a section I'd just finished not because I didn't grasp it but just for the joy of the words. This is a really strong book that has an important argument to make and one that applies to today and, as Betty noted, that we can probably apply to coming moves on the part of the administration, such as the attemtps to cut away at Social Security. One more time, we've been discussing Chris Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class.

TV: She wants you to fight her revolution

Last week, when we wrote "The Hysteria Beat (Ava and C.I.)," we didn't think it would change much but we hoped people would take a hint. Staunch Communist Amy Goodman never takes a hint. Though she should, she really, really should.


Over twenty years ago, in a review of Carl Bernstein's memoir Loyalties, Walter Isaacson (Time magazine) wrote:

For all his honesty, Bernstein upholds the honor of his parents. They were never subversives, never disloyal to their country, he says. His sensitivity to Alfred and Sylvia (both still living) means that he never quite penetrates the deepest questions: Exactly why did people like them join the Communist Party? Just what did they do at their cell meetings? Was there in fact some danger in having people working for the Government whose loyalty was also to the Communist Party? And, on a more personal level, does he feel he has betrayed the father he clearly loves very deeply?

Those are all worthwhile questions. It is especially true when you're dealing with a type of Communist who feels that she must destroy the system by any means which, yes, does include lying repeatedly. That type of person would be Amy Goodman.

An attack took place in Tuscon, Arizona two Saturdays ago and if you scratched your head over Amy Goodman's coverage last week on Democracy Now! it was only because you have still not grasped that she's the type of Communist who lies repeatedly and feels that is justified because she just knows she's bringing down the system. Before she even opened her yap, we'd already stressed that people were rushing to conclusions that no evidence yet supported.

Notice how that didn't deter Amy Goodman who spent a week on hysteria and did her best to really get the country boiling.

"Terror in Tucson," she was insisting on Monday when, we were on the ground, what we saw was a lot of sadness, a lot of reflection. From Pravda on the Hudson, Goodman could see "terror in Tuscon." And she brought on Sheriff Clarence Dupnik who became a hero of the non-thinkers when, shortly after the shooting, he began politicizing it just the way they wanted to. Asked about gun laws, the 'intelligent' sheriff wanted to talk about how "we can't get the legislature to pass a law against texting while driving." As the week would continue, an obvious pattern would emerge: Alarms were sounded about the suspected shooter repeatedly and those calling the sheriff's office were told it was under control. Goodman was so thrilled to have someone who would say what she wanted said that she never thought to ask, "Should law enforcement have stepped in sooner?"

She was also so in love with the sound of her own tribal drum that she never thought to discuss Dupnik's record. Christopher Beam (Slate) provided some highlights:

In 1981, Dupnik sent a message to all residents: Arm yourselves. Police couldn't adequately protect the populace, he said, because they didn't have sufficient manpower: "Not only are things not good, they are going to get worse. For those who are so inclined, it's time to start protecting yourselves."

[. . .]

Dupnik provoked the Hispanic community again in April 2009 by suggesting that public schools should check students' immigration status when they enroll, even though the Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that denying enrollment to the children of illegal immigrants is unconstitutional. "It's wrong for the taxpayers in this country to spend the millions and millions and millions of dollars that we do catering to illegals," Dupnik said, including providing free education to their children. Rep. Raul Grijalva and 10 other prominent Democrats signed a letter requesting an apology. Grijalva even called Dupnik "Arpaio light." Dupnik refused to apologize and downplayed the backlash: "If you read the blogs, and I don't know if you do, I think you'll have a different opinion."

A journalist would have explored that. But Red Amy's not about illuminating, she's about forever attempting to create a crisis, create a war of citizen on citizen. So she lies a lot every day. Then she brought on Chip Berlet to talk about "moral cupability" -- a subject he should know something about having stabbed the Christic Institute in the back when the right-wing was already attacking them and the MSM was working to undermine them. Chip Berlet as a reliable and trusted source? That's as funny as the thought of Chip naked.

It was a full hour of speculation which always drew the worst conclusions about Goodman's political enemies and it didn't matter that she had to spit polish (with her tongue) a xenophobic sherrif in order to do so or to bring on the full crazy with Chip Berlet and Jeff Biggers or I-wasn-t-there-but-I-must-testify US House Rep. Raul Grijalva.

The not so-hidden subtext of every segment was "Those Damn Right Wingers." Which made Tuesday's first interview segment all the more hilarious as Goody interviewed a former classmate of the suspect -- a brown haired man who had dyed it pink and purple. Because what? Right-wing, conservative men are dying to hang out with guys sporting multi-colored shag haircuts? Even more hilarious was watching Amy Goodman work overtime to use Steven Cates to connect the shooter to the right wing. There was, she said, an abortion poem read. And the suspect was offended. To know how right or wrong that was, you'd probably need to read the poem but Goody wasn't having any of that. She wanted Cates to tell her about it. Cates who says "I was absent that day." But that didn't stop him from yammering away or Goodman from asking him, 'And what happened after saying something like that?" He knows how? He wasn't there. Then Goody wanted to talk mental illness with H. Clarke Romans, then gun laws with Matt Heinz and then "nonpartisan solutions" with a former Bully Boy Bush appointee, Richard Carmona.

On Wednesday, she turned the hour over to Haiti. With a full hour on Haiti, you might think she'd have time to come clean that she never should have spent so much time in 2009 and 2010 pimping Wyclef Jean who is not part of the people in Haiti but part of the US-supported ruling class that forced out Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Oh, but corrections, like facts, just get in her way so she dispenses with both.

Thursday, she was airing Barack's remarks and pretending like they weren't aimed at people exactly like herself. No sooner had she aired those remarks, then she was pressing Tavis Smiley to 'dish' on Sarah Palin. He noted he didn't even mention her on his programs. But Amy Goodman's obsessed with Sarah Palin. She was hoping that Tavis would attack Palin (he disappointed her by bringing in Dick Cheney's telling Senator Patrick Leahy to go f**k yourself and Barack's saying he needed to know whose ass to kick). So Goody had to bring up blood libel all by herself. Many argue that "blood libel," by the definition Goodman gave, is what she does in her so-called 'balanced' 'reports' on Israel.

And then there was her tribal interview with Eric Fuller about those bad conservatives -- Eric Fuller now known as "James Eric Fuller" by the press and, when you get three names from the press, it's never a good thing. Ask Mark David Chapman or, for that matter, Philip Michael Thomas. What did Fuller do? Get arrested yesterday, Reuters reports, for making threats and has now been "ordered to undergo a mental evaluation". Clearly, Democracy Now! is now attempting to book like The Jenny Jones Show. What a proud moment for Amy.

But what we were focused on was her efforts to hide behind Tavis Smiley. They reminded us of her efforts to hide behind a Marxist group of women in the UK who were not feminists but Goody wanted to insist they were. She needed feminists to slime two women who may have been raped. And, on Thursday, goodness if she wasn't attempting to use a woman to go there again. It did not, however, work out the way she had hoped.

AMY GOODMAN: Birgitta Jonsdottir, I wanted to ask, as the most prominent woman associated with WikiLeaks, about the -- I can't even say "charges," but the allegations against Julian Assange around sexual assault in Sweden. What are your thoughts on it right now?

BIRGITTA JONSDOTTIR: I don't want to be placed in the role of the judge in this case, and I don't think anybody should. None of us were present in the rooms where the incidents happened. So I just find it to be difficult to say much about it. I just want it to have its normal sort of process through the justice system.

If only Red Amy could do the same but, of course, someone who sees their role not in imparting information (certainly not truth) but in 'bringing down the system, must constantly stir the s**t.

So Friday meant two more segments on "terror in Tuscan" (again, when we were there last week, we saw no terror). But the thing that mattered even more to Red Amy was bringing on Red Racist Francy Fox Piven.

Francy Fox Piven is a confusing figure to many whose brains have not been turned into soft pate by the loft-liberal brigade of NYC. It's a rare week that we don't get a call from an under-40 left who's encountered Francy or one of her disciples. The call usually goes something like this, "Why does what she's saying sound so racist?" Because she's racist. That's the little secret about the Pravda on the Hudson types. It's why they instantly declare Wyclef Jean a hero -- he's Black! He must think just-just like them! Oops. He's conservative and from the property-class in Haiti? Just pretend like you never praised him. If forced, call him an "Uncle Tom" because he didn't match up to your racist expectations.

Francy's been a bigot for years and everyone knows it. Some pretend not to notice. But this is the White woman who felt she could order all Black voters around as she did everything she could -- from 1988 to 1990 -- to stamp out efforts to build a Black political party in the US. Why would White Francy give a damn?

Well, along with believing that Blacks are incapable of independent thought and need her 'wisdom,' there's the fact that Francy's been advocating the Trojan Horse Democratic Party Strategy since the fifties. The Trojan Horse Democratic Party Strategy is put forward by a number of closeted Communists and Socialists and argues that they can take over the Democratic Party from within. These Trojans stay in the closet because part of the takeover is in using people who have no idea what's going on. "Progressive" is a popular term these days because it's so very generic.

Francy will forever be infamous for her foot stomping in 1988 and 1989 at the though that Blacks might form their own political party. She needed this group she feels she can easily manipulate for her Trojan Strategy. She just knows that as "Miss Francy," all the African-Americans will go along with her wishes because she lives on the biggest plantation of all: The Academia Manor.

When Francy was facing real push back -- especially from African-American activists on the West Coast -- she began to tone down her strategy. So she started showing up in Black publications -- such as The Crisis -- insisting that it was fine and dandy for such a political party to be formed for local votes as long as they were still "voting for the Democrats [only] in presidential elections."

It's hilarious to hear 78-year-old Francy calling everyone else racist. We're talking about a woman who thinks the height of equality is a counter-top serving two races.

Amy (and Juan Gonzalez) babbled away about the attacks Francy's been under from Glenn Beck. Why oh why, they lamented, was Francy Pants being targeted?

We have a one word answer: Karma.

And there's not a serious left activist out there that's not laughing their ass off at the attacks racist Francy is finally facing.

Of course, these attacks have to be inflated because honesty doesn't run with the closeted Communists. So Francy was insisting, "[. . .] Ron Radosh, who recently headlined his blog 'The Second Time is Farce: Piven Calls for Violent and Bloody Revolution'." Not reading the right-wing, we'd missed that one and, always up for a good laugh at Francy's expense, we went in search of it.

Silly us, we forgot rule number one: Francy Lies.

Radosh did write a piece on Francy. At Pajamas Media, not at 'his blog' -- if and when dementia sets in on Francy, people will just think she's still caught in her own web of lies. It's entitled "The Second Time is Farce: Frances Fox Piven Calls for a new Cloward-Piven Strategy for Today." We can't read Francy's piece because The Nation feels they have to protect her (from the masses?) or hide her strategy (from the masses?) and doesn't allow her piece to be available online except to subscribers. But Radosh's synopsis of Francy's ideas ring true. ("In Regulating the Poor, Piven and Cloward argued that any advances the poor have made throughout history were directly proportional to their ability to disrupt institutions that depend upon their cooperation." Woops, that not's Radosh! That's Francy's own biography at FiveColleges.ed. ) And that's probably why The Nation hides it from all but the faithful.

Francy's entire career's basically been that way. She's a hidden pretending to be upfront. She's a freak pretending to be a puritan. She's a liar pretending to be a truth teller.

Which makes her the early forerunner of Amy Goodman. Neither woman could ever lead a movement because they're so busy attempting to figure out how to trick and conceal and mislead.

Back to Walter's questions, specifically, "Was there in fact some danger in having people working for the Government whose loyalty was also to the Communist Party?" The Communist Party, as Walter knows, was a political party and, as he'd be the first to admit, perfectly legal. Stating that, was there some danger in its members being in the government? The divided loyalty line (which Bernstein's book toys with even in its title) was the most often cited potential damage but equally true is that those secretly dedicated to destroying the system might not be the best ones to put in charge of it.

That's always a danger with any group -- Communist, Republican, Democrat, Socialist, Constitutionalist, Green, etc. And it's why honesty -- not civility -- is needed more than ever in the political discourse. We need to know where people stand, we can't afford to be tricked or hyped.

The Amy Goodmans, from their political closets on the left, cast stones at the right and are genuinely shocked that so many people remember their 2008 whoring and realize that there's not a damn bit of difference between an Amy Goodman and a Glenn Beck. Both want to trick you, both want to deceive and enrage you and to do so for their own political purposes.


Jim: We've got a lot to address this roundtable and many of it from e-mails. Our e-mail address is 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): First off, check out this year-in-review at Fork Party. I plan to do so later today or tomorrow. I'm the one who read that e-mail and I'm sorry that I haven't had time to check out the link. But, before it's two weeks after someone's e-mailed and I've forgotten all about it, I'm including it here. For the bulk of last week's e-mails, there were two themes emerging. First, Ava and C.I. are wonderful. And, second, is Third breaking up. I thought we'd spend this roundtable discussing how groovy Ava and C.I. are -- I'm joking. Ava and C.I. are wonderful. We all know that. Let's move over to the break up question. Last week's edition featured a number of individual pieces. Trina, I'm tossing to you, the only one present who didn't participate in last week's edition.

Trina: Okay. I was sick and I had begged off. There was a chance of an economic feature and I had told Jim I'd work on that but then, Saturday night, I called him to tell him I was begging off that as well. I was just too wiped out. During the course of our conversation, Jim mentioned what had happened that day in Tuscon, Arizona and how he was afraid that might weigh down on the edition, that people might second guess everything and nothing would get a complete draft. So I suggested it be like one of the Beatles' last albums,like Let It Be, where everyone basically worked on their own song. That was my only contribution to the edition and I then went to sleep.

Jim: And that's what we did. Dona had a piece she'd been talking about writing and I had been urging her each week, for the previous two, to write it. I'd already informed Robert Knight I'd be writing about his rude little e-mail. So that was two stories right there. We decided we'd do an editorial -- that was the piece we all worked on -- and Ty and Jess wanted to cover something to do with legal. They weren't sure what. Ava and C.I. were going to do their TV piece and, since they knew House Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, we asked them to consider writing a piece about Arizona. We did that not hoping they'd do an "I Know Gabby" piece. We know that's not their style. But we thought they could hit the important points that a lot of people were ignoring. Not only did they, I'd argue that "The Hysteria Beat (Ava and C.I.)" was, to quote an e-mail from a network correspondent, "set exactly the right tone." That's why we had the invidivdual pieces last week. We're not breaking up.

Dona: Though we are considering doing some editions which would only feature a truest, an editorial, Ava and C.I. with one TV piece, a roundtable and that's it from us. The rest would be reprints. Why? We're tired. We thought we'd just do this while we were undergrads. In the time since we started this, Jim and I have gone on to grad school, Jess to law school, and Jim and I have gotten married.

Jim: To each other.

Dona: Yes, to each other. So things have changed and will change. And I don't know how much longer we'll do Third. We never planned to do it this long. This is our sixth year anniversary. Trina's suggestion was a good one and it's one we will probably implement again. From a time stand point, it wasmuch smoother with everyone just being responsible for their own writing. I know that, as a group, we couldn't have written the piece Ava and C.I. did. It wouldn't have worked that way. One thing I am missing is our collages. Now that we don't do them, I'm glossing over how much time they took and just thinking of how, when we did them, that was two to three sentences of copy and a really strong visual.

Jess: My turn in the e-mails. Zuungar is billed as "The Holy Drum 'n Bass Duo." They're worth checking out and you can check them out on MySpace and Facebook and also at Terminal Station. They're different from a lot of music you hear and that's important especially if, like Dona, you're worried about a sameness creeping in. So give a click, give a listen and maybe shake up your own expecations.

Ty: Jim's pointing at me. George Kieta e-mailed to say he's one of Ava and C.I.'s biggest fans but doesn't feel they've covered enough entertainment television since the fall season started. He writes, "Reading 'TV: How to destroy your own show' really drove home how much they could be doing on TV if they weren't also addressing politics. As one of the longterm readers who remember when Ava and C.I. only covered entertainment shows, I just want to register that opinion." Ava or C.I.?

Ava: We're aware of that feeling. We were aware of it before it was ever expressed. And George isn't the first one to raise it. C.I. and I were addressing it in a recent roundtable in fact. Our pieces were always political but political about entertainment programs. I'm going to do a little six-years-in-writing comment. The first time we ever did a public affairs program, I believe, was one that had so many outlandish lies about the Iraq War, it aired on PBS, and no one was calling it out. Iraq is our issue -- and we'd repeatedly worked it into our entertainment reviews -- so that was one we grabbed, a public affairs program that we did. Jim had long been pushing us to and we'd said no for a very good reason. After we wrote that piece, it ended up at several websites. And that was why we had refrained from those pieces. We didn't like the idea that we covered a public affairs program so now we were 'serious' writers. We think our writing is more or less than same -- and don't rate it highly -- and we didn't want to get into a habit of going for the easy praise. Pieces about public affairs will always result in more 'universal' -- male -- praise than pieces praising the accomplishments of women or calling out the mistreatment of women. In terms of the fall season, the e-mailer's correct. But we've admitted that before. It's also true that some shows we've not had a good opinion of and people with the show have been more than happy to ask us to wait. Add in that each week Jim's trying to get us to cover public affairs and there's a lot going on. This week, C.I. and I were asked by Jim to cover Barack's speech. We have no interest in doing so. We also knew, when we caught Democracy Now! Thursday, that we'd have to cover it in some way. And we do. But we also do a piece on a new NBC sitcom. We can't write two pieces every week. But we have this week and those who feel like the e-mailer does will hopefully enjoy the entertainment piece and remember we made that effort if events tear us away from the entertainment beat.

Ty: C.I.?

C.I.: Ava said everything perfectly. The one thing I'll add is that we've expanded to Hulu with the permission of our longterm readers like George. So that's broadcast TV and Hulu. And that's still not a lot. We have to do 52 pieces a year -- at least. At a minimum. And we've been doing that for six years now. With Saturdays a write-off by the networks, that's one day of programming we don't have. The WB and UPN became one network, the CW, while we've been writing. What I'm trying to point out is that Ava and I also have to keep in mind that we need to have a few shows in reserve that we can grab during a slow week. Modern Family, for example, is our safety school. We've sat it aside for the week when we have nothing else to write about.

Jim: Recently, horror films were mentioned in a roundtable leading to this e-mail from Christopher: "I was wondering if Rebecca, Elaine, Mike and Marcia had a favorite horror movie?"

Rebecca: Rosemary's Baby remains the scaries for me. Everything, including that la-la-la-la theme spooks the hell out of me. Mia Farrow and Ruth Gordon are perfect in it. For those who don't know the film, Mia's husband's an actor who sells her out for success. The neighbors are devil worshippers and Mia ends up pregnant by Satan.

Elaine: I'd agree that's one of the greats. I also enjoy some of John Carpenter's late 70s and early 80s work -- not just Halloween but also Prom Night, The Fog, The Thing, etc. I like spooky films as well. Julie Harris in The Haunting, Nicole Kidman in The Others. Of the Draculas, I'm in the minority. I think Christopher Lee was the best Dracula.

Mike: I like the slasher films early on. But as the sequels pile up, they get less and less interesting to me. I don't like newer monster films just because I scratch my head at them and think, "Wow, I guess all the good monsters were created about fifty years ago." The most recent horror film that I really loved, not just liked, was Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in The Invasion. And I thought it was much better than Invasion of the Body Snatchers from the 70s which tried to play it sly and cute. This was actually scary. But I think the best scary movies were made in the thirties, the black and white classics with Dracula and Frankenstein and The Invisible Man. Marcia?

Marcia: I love scary movies and I love science fiction movies. Aliens, the second of the series, works best for me because it's horror and science fiction. I agree with Elaine that Christopher Lee was the best Dracula. And I'm surprised she feels that way. Those of us who do really are in the minority. But he's great in those films. In terms of atmosphere, his films largely made in England, have the atmosphere Mike's talking about even though they are in color. For US films, you really need to go back to the 30s to get the mists and the castles and the shadows. Surprisingly, I thought Mel Brooks captured it perfectly in his comedy Young Frankenstein. By contrast, that awful Frankenstein film with Robert De Nero was both boring and overblown and far more typical of the way modern film makers ruin the horror genre. 28 Days was probably the scariest horror film of the last decade for me.

Mike: And another good horror film of recent times was the British movie Jeckyll from three years ago.

Jim: Okay, Christopher also wanted to ask Stan if he'd consider writing a piece on a horror film?

Stan: I will put it on my list. It may be this Friday, it may be another Friday. No promises on when.

Jim: Still on Christopher, Ava, he notes your remarks about the kind of movie Sharon Stone needs to make from "Roundtable" in December. Christopher wants to know, "Why long hair?"

Ava: For the atmosphere. I said she needs to make a scary movie. A lot of darkness. Long hair can both blow in the wind and drape over and add additional shadows. I really do believe that's the type of film Sharon Stone needs to make. A psychological thriller or horror.

Jim: We stayed on that e-mail longer than on others because a number have come in during the last weeks noting that we really haven't done a great deal on horror in the six years we've been publishing.

Jess: Reda Diallo wants to know why some e-mails get picked and others don't? The answer is it depends on what you're writing about and on whether the person who happened to read your e-mail found it the most interesting. Ty reads the bulk of them and the ones he prints up as possibilities generally have a common thread because he's going for the topics that are most asked about. By contrast, Jim looks for the e-mail that asks a question or raises a point no one else does. Donna and I just try to bring in the best of the batch we read.

Dona: For example, Lisa wants to know: "Is there any reason Wally and Cedric are unable to do five posts a week? Are they afraid of cracking wise in the wake of Tuscon?"

Cedric: I believe Wally and I demonstrated last week that wasn't the case, that we were not going to let Tuscon intimidate or change us. Wally?

Wally: Last week, Kat, Ava, C.I. and I were in Arizona and Colorado. Speaking out against the wars. And Thursday night we were in the mountains and had great cell and WiFi reception. Cedric and I were going to write our joint-post Friday morning. I get up Friday, C.I. and I go for a run. We get back and neither of us has coverage. We also have to be on campus in less than an hour. And we're speaking one right after the other until lunch time. That's why C.I.'s entries went up so late on Friday and why Cedric and I didn't do one.

Cedric: Wally and I write them together over the phone. I had spoken to him Thursday night and, when I couldn't get him Friday morning, I tried C.I., Ava and finally Kat -- finally Kat because I know she tries to sleep in the latest. I couldn't get any of them so I knew it was an issue with coverage. But we're not going to be intimidated in the least when it comes to how we write or what we write.

Jim: How about you Isaiah?

Isaiah: Pulling punches? No. Not at all. I knew last Sunday that my comic would have to be Moqtada al-Sadr. I ended up working Barack and Nancy Pelosi into it because I wanted to make it very clear I'm doing my comics and doing them the way I've done them since Bush was in the White House.

Betty: I'm jumping in to bring up that WikiLeaks had donated $15,000 to Bradley Manning's defense. The organization raised over $2 million last year but could only scrape together $15,000 for Bradley. In addition, this donation, reported by Reuters, came only after an intense month of public shaming after Julian Assange had grand-standed for months claiming they were paying for Bradley's defense -- covering the costs. And never donating a cent. With Julian Assange now in need of legal donations, WikiLeaks' inability to donate to Bradley's defense was becoming a public relations nightmare.

Jim: Thank you for that, Betty. She found that and we couldn't think of a thing to do with it so it was decided to bring it into the roundtable. Gerald e-mails to say, "Thank you for the edition" -- he's talking about last week. "You treated me like an adult. You didn't need to play like Jon Stewart and stop your usual activities to deliver a sermon or act like movie critic Dennis Hartley and drop movies because America-has-a-ended-woah-woah-scary. If you've got a function, you should do it. Otherwise the crazy wins. Thanks for refusing to let them win." I have no idea who Dennis Hartley is. Anyone? Alright. No. Betty, you had another point you wanted to make.

Betty: I don't want to get into the Tuscon issue too much, I think it was the craze last week. In the community, Marcia grabbed it to offer critiques of and the rest of us pretty much avoided it -- Mike, for example, made a point to highlight news that was being ignored -- so that we weren't adding to the hysteria. But I want to point out something. Giffords is a woman. A woman was shot. And while all the crazies spent the week speculating, how telling it was that in a country where women are more often the victims of violence, no one wanted to examine whether there was a gender motivation. In a country where women are repeatedly attacked -- we've seen Amy Goodman, Naomi Wolf and Naomi Klein recently engage in attacks on two women who may have been raped, for example -- it was very telling that this was the response. As a Black woman, I'm fully aware that had the dead been Black, it would have been the big story. Had Giffords been Black, it would have been the big story. But gender never rises to that level in this country, does it?

Ruth: I would absolutely agree with Betty. Like Betty, I did want to go there all last week but tried to find other topics to write about because it was the endless blather. And, as Marcia pointed out, by the time you are 'live blogging' a memorial service, you're beyond tacky. It really was disgusting last week.

Jim: There was a lot of great work in the community last week. In many ways, we had the easiest job here. We just had to publish one edition the day after the shooting. The rest of you were publishing all last week and trying to stand up to the mob frenzy. I think Marcia offered some great criticism, but I think there was strong work done at all the websites. Kat, what stands out to you from last week?

Kat: A great deal. But I'm going to reduce it to C.I. because she's not going to let us give her "Truest statement of the week," I know. In Thursday's snapshot she took on Joseph Massad's grudge against Christians, ending with this hilarious line:"And, if no one ever told you, Joseph Massad, you have neither the body nor the sex appeal to pull off a grudge f**k." That still makes me laugh. And then there was Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot" where C.I. called out the claims by the GOP that, if given control of the House, they were going to work!!!! But, reality, the House Veterans Affairs Committee has no hearings scheduled for this month but, last year under Bob Filner's leadership, they held four hearings in January. And, I'll add, C.I.'s the only one who made time to notice that.

Jim: Has anyone not spoken? Ann? Okay, sorry, Ann, you're going to come in a topic you may have nothing to add. We had an e-mail asking why gay cinema is never discussed here. Ty, any thoughts on gay cinema?

Ty: Actually, this is a good week for that question. My boyfriend and I were watching a British film -- gay themed, not gay porn -- called Shank. It's a 2009 film directed by Simon Pearce and Cal's in a gang and hooking up on the side to keep everyone from finding out. He has two hook ups. In the first one, he sucks off a guy, pulls him into the woods, drops his pants and gets the guy to screw him. The second one -- both are met online -- hooks him by promising to top him extremely. And does. So then he moves out of the gang and ends up with Oliver, an art student, and -- apparently this is 'maturity' -- Cal's topping Oliver. And only topping. Now we've seen him beating off online to thoughts, porn -- including porn starring himself -- of bottoming but all the sudden he's a top? It made no sense at all.

Ann: Jonno and Nessa? That's the film, right?

Ty: Yeah, it is.

Ann: I've seen it. I saw that about a year ago with a family member who is gay. We had a movie night and that was one of the romance films we watched. Let me just note Nessa for a second. Nessa is Jonno's girlfriend. Jonno is Cal's best friend. The three are in the gang and Nessa really is the ringleader. She's got an obsese cousin that she goes off on and smashes her face up at one point, with glass, because her cousin is snorting coke off a photo of Nessa's baby that died -- her baby with Cal. At one point, she's in a grave yard spraying Nazi signs on tombstones and kicking over tombstones, she's just a terror. Cal meets Oliver when Nessa and Jonno are beating him up. And Jonno was attracted to Cal, that's what the whole shotgun pot in the car that is like a long attempt at a kiss was.

Ty: Agreed. Jonno was big time attracted to Cal. That's why he couldn't get up when Nessa wanted him to have sex with her in the grave yard. That's why, spoiler alert, he rapes Cal. But, the whole 'maturity means topping' subtext made no sense.

Ann: And we talked about it and wondered what the hell that was? As Ty's explained -- accurately -- it was very clear in Cal's encounters that he enjoyed bottoming. In fact, he didn't even want to get a blow job. He got pleasure out of giving and out of getting screwed. So it made no sense and seemed more like a writer or director had their own sexual anxieties which required that the lead character be a top. Other than that, though, I would recommend it. It was a very interesting film.

Ty: Yeah, I'd agree.

Jim: Ann, you never cease to amaze me. Okay, so that's gay cinema and on that note we're wrapping up this roundtable.


3rd Estate Fashionistas

It could have been a dorm poster from hell but the 3rd Estate Fashionistas (Betty, Rebecca, Stan, Ann, Ty and Marcia) saw something more. Look folks, it's how to dress when you Meet The Little People!


Though Barack's hair was back to black with specks of gray by the weekend, he was all gray in Tuscon. And instead of wearing one of her overpriced couch slip cover ensembles, Michelle picked up this little number at K-Mart. Note how the skirt matches nothing, how nothing matches anything. Note how a black dress, a simple black dress, was the required dress for a First Lady but, as Michelle's sitting posture demonstrates, she's no lady. Considering that posture, maybe we should award her credit for rolling her pantyhose up past the knee? We give the look a -5. Kids, don't try it at home.

For a single sentence

A new wave of violence targeting Iraqi Christians kicked off October 31st with an assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the violence in November, she was quickly followed by US Vice President Joe Biden. January 14th, President Barack Obama issued the following proclamation which finally -- for one single sentence -- noted the attacks.

Our Nation was founded on a shared commitment to the values of justice, freedom, and equality. On Religious Freedom Day, we commemorate Virginia's 1786 Statute for Religious Freedom, in which Thomas Jefferson wrote that "all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion." The fundamental principle of religious freedom -- guarded by our Founders and enshrined in our Constitution's First Amendment -- continues to protect rich faiths flourishing within our borders.
The writ of the Founding Fathers has upheld the ability of Americans to worship and practice religion as they choose, including the right to believe in no religion at all. However, these liberties are not self-sustaining, and require a stalwart commitment by each generation to preserve and apply them. Throughout our Nation's history, our founding ideal of religious freedom has served as an example to the world. Though our Nation has sometimes fallen short of the weighty task of ensuring freedom of religious expression and practice, we have remained a Nation in which people of different faiths coexist with mutual respect and equality under the law. America's unshakeable commitment to religious freedom binds us together as a people, and the strength of our values underpins a country that is tolerant, just, and strong.
My Administration continues to defend the cause of religious freedom in the United States and around the world. At home, we vigorously protect the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their religious beliefs. Across the globe, we also seek to uphold this human right and to foster tolerance and peace with those whose beliefs differ from our own. We bear witness to those who are persecuted or attacked because of their faith. We condemn the attacks made in recent months against Christians in Iraq and Egypt, along with attacks against people of all backgrounds and beliefs. The United States stands with those who advocate for free religious expression and works to protect the rights of all people to follow their conscience, free from persecution and discrimination.
On Religious Freedom Day, let us reflect on the principle of religious freedom that has guided our Nation forward, and recommit to upholding this universal human right both at home and around the world.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2011, as Religious Freedom Day. I call on all Americans to commemorate this day with events and activities that teach us about this critical foundation of our Nation's liberty, and to show us how we can protect it for future generations here and around the world.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

Bradley Manning

Iraq War veteran Bradley Manning is accused of leaking information. The government continues to imprison him but refuses to bring him to trial. As Bush did Jose Padilla, so Barack does Bradley. This is from Great Britain's Socialist Worker.

US tortures its own soldier over Wikileaks

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by Simon Basketter

Bradley Manning, a 22-year old US army private, is being tortured by the US state.

He is accused of leaking classified documents to the Wikileaks website. Manning has been held at the US Marine jail in Quantico, Virginia, for five months—and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait.

The US is torturing Manning to get him to say that he gave secret files to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. This will make it easier to prosecute Assange for espionage.

Assange is on bail in Britain as the Swedish government attempts to extradite him on charges of rape, which he strongly denies.

There were protests in defence of him and Wikileaks outside the court in London at the end of last year.

Manning is held as a “maximum custody detainee”, which is the most repressive level of US military detention.

According to his lawyer, “He is being held in intensive solitary confinement.

“For 23 out of 24 hours every day—for seven straight months—he sits completely alone in his cell.

“Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred from exercising and is restrained if he attempts to exercise.

“He’s being denied a pillow or sheets for his bed and access to news reports in any form.

“He is not allowed to have any personal items in his cell.

“If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop.

“He does receive one hour of ‘exercise’ outside of his cell daily. He is taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk.

“Private First Class (PFC) Manning normally just walks figure eights in the room for the entire hour. If he indicates that he no long feels like walking, he is immediately returned to his cell.

“When PFC Manning goes to sleep, he is required to strip down to his boxer shorts and surrender his clothing to the guards.

“His clothing is returned to him the next morning.”

Manning is sleep deprived and is now taking anti-depressants.

He was arrested after allegedly confessing in an online chatroom to leaking a video of a US air raid in Iraq.


The graphic and disturbing video shows the events of 12 July 2007.

As a group of men stroll down a Baghdad street, two US army helicopters open fire, repeatedly shooting at them and gunning one down as he tries to flee.

They killed 12 people, including two journalists who worked for the Reuters news agency. Two children were wounded.

One shooter says, “Ha, ha, ha, I hit ‘em.” Another comments, “Look at those dead bastards.”

“Nice,” another responds.

Later a van comes past and Iraqis stop to try to help one of the wounded.

The helicopter opens fire again. Two children inside the van were wounded and their father was killed.

When US ground troops arrive they discover the children.

One of the crew says, “Well it’s their fault for bringing kids into a battle.”

The army claimed the dead were all insurgents and that they had been killed in battle.

But a supposed rocket-propelled grenade was in reality a camera lens. What the US claimed was an AK47 was in fact a camera.

This is just one example of the violence of US imperialism.

The US has committed countless atrocities during its occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. But getting the information out has led to Bradley Manning being jailed.

The other information Manning is accused of leaking includes a video of a 2009 US airstrike in Granai, Afghanistan, which killed as many as 140 civilians.

The US suspects he leaked a cache of nearly 100,000 field reports from Afghanistan, about 260,000 diplomatic cables and as many as half a million documents relating to the Iraq war.

Politicians globally professed gradations of outrage at the publication of the material.

Some in the US even called for Wikileaks to be treated as a terrorist organisation.

The following should be read alongside this article:

Wikileaks reveals British government trained death squad

© 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.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "What Passes For Progress" -- Isaiah on the 'freedoms' of Iraq.

"Desperate Housewives (I cry again)," "The end of V for me," "V and Hillary is 44" "katha pollitt and brothers & sisters" and "Fringe" -- Betty, Stan, Rebecca and Mike explore TV while Ann explores radio:

"Sibling Rivalry" -- Stan goes to the movies.

"Bully Boy's Immigration PLan" -- Isaiah digs into the archives for this one on xenophobia.

"Cultural delusions" -- A self-deluding people -- hopefully a minority.

"Scraggles" and "THIS JUST IN! CELEBRITY IMPLOSION!" -- Cedric and Wally on Barack's new look.

"Book in the Kitchen" -- Trina explores Chris Hedges' latest.

"The ex-factor of Lauryn," "rolling stone: the worst mag website," "Stevie Nicks" and "The Mamas & the Papas and Fleetwood Mac" -- Betty, Rebecca and Kat explore music.

"the sad and sick naomi"

"The economy"

"THIS JUST IN! THE CRAZY NEVER ENDS!" and "The crazy never dies" -- Wally and Cedric tackle the crazy.

"The Health Post" -- Ruth digs around for some health news.

"Sexism is a-okay at Corrente! And other crazys" -- Marcia takes on the sexism and the tacky.

"A little late, Matthew Rothschild" -- Trina points out to Matthew Rothschild that after you've taken part in whipping up the frenzy, it's a little late to say people need to think.

"Destroying the internet" -- Ruth on Barack's latest plan.

"Guantanamo" -- Marcia on the Guantanamo anniversary.

"Chris Hedges" -- Elaine on peace and destruction.

"Haiti, Gulf Disaster and other stories being ignored" -- Mike digs for news not getting attention.

"THIS JUST IN! MORE THAN 1 QUEEN IN THE DECK!" and "The queens have spoken" -- Wally and Cedric on Barry O.
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