Sunday, April 24, 2011

Truest statement of the week

There is an obvious "blackout" in mainstream media and press on the freedom movement and revolution in Iraq. Even AlJazeera is shying away from giving true coverage of the events. Help break this scandelous silence . Support our sisters and brothers who are risking their lives for a truly free Iraq. Spread the word... Iraqis want to be free of the US imported and Iranian fostered "Democracy".

-- Ahmad H Al-Shaibani, at The Great Iraqi Revolution.

Truest statement of the week II

where are the media? there is not one news channel wicht reports abut that.. wehre is the world..

-- Lamya Källner, at The Great Iraqi Revolution.

A note to our readers

Hey --

We thank all who participated this week 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.

What did we come up with?

This week we went with Great Iraqi Revolution which does a lot of truth telling but we emphasized the silence on the protests here . . .
And here. Because we're not really sure if most news consumers in the US are aware of how much is not being covered.

Those who aren't aware can start here on their reading. Ask yourself which was news and why it didn't actually make the news.

Ava and C.I. do a long walk through on Paul Reiser using him as a template for why Bad TV repeatedly happens. As the point out, in this space last week, I mentioned that they were so determined to note a break through last Sunday that they put on hold the worst sitcom. Today they tackle it.

Our e-mail roundtable. We tried to cover as much as we had room for.

If you're not visiting The Great Iraqi Revolution, chances are you are not informed. Reject ignorance, go visit the site right now. We'll still be here when you get back.

I (Jim) don't toss this around often but I do think Barack has become the worst president in the US. This effort to railroad Bradley took another turn last week.
A protest that Cindy Sheehan, Peace of the Action and others are getting the word out on.

Mike and the gang did this and we thank them for it.

And that's what we got. Next week, we plan to do a feature on movies that you can't find on DVD. We'll try to include any readers' wishes we get. Our e-mail address is


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

Editorial: The press covers up Iraqi protests

al nujaifi

That screen snap above? It's of a Mosul protest. And there's a notable there.

Let's circle him to make sure we're all on the same page.

al nujaifi 2

That's Atheel al-Nujaifi. He is the brother of Osama al-Nujaifi who is the Speaker of Parliament in Iraq. That would be called news worthy in and of itself.

Guess what else?

Atheel al-Nujaifi, pictured above, is also governor fo the province. And he broke through the military barricade, with people piling in behind him, to join the protesters in Ahrar Square. "The notorious Nasser Al Ghannam could not put a stop to the Free of Mosul -- after imposing a curfew last night starting at 1.00 a.m. this morning he proceeded with his troops to cut off all bridges and roads as well as arrest people who were marching to the Square of the Free -- HOWEVER, Atheel Al Nujaifi joined a huge demonstrations to the Square of the Free and broke the blockade. Well done Atheel Al Nujaifi! I wonder whether he has started seeing the light!"

Rizan Ahmed (AK News) reports, "Director of Information department of Nineveh province said Thursday that a force of the Iraqi army clashed with the protection forces of the governor of Nineveh Athiel al-Nujaifi after the prevention of a demonstration led by the latter to Ahrar Square to join the protest organized by groups from Mosul since 12 days demanding of the departure of 'occupation' and the implementation of government promises and the release of detainees."

It wasn't considered news by western outlets. What is news?

We'd argue the governor of the province having to go up against the Iraqi military to join protests is news. We'd argue that hundreds following in his wake is news. Today was day 16 of continual protests in Mosul. But that's not grabbing western outlets attention either.

The only thing that does, apparently, is what Iranian-based Moqtada al-Sadr orders his followers to do -- an increasingly small number of people judging by the turnout Saturday in which approximately .03% of his followers in Baghdad managed to turn out for a Baghdad protest.

Moqtada al-Sadr is a thug who was glorified by western media. The same western media that sold the illegal war. And now they ignore all protests in Iraq . . except for the ones Moqtada stages.

Are you being informed? Or are you being conned yet again? What exactly is the press attempting to sell you because when a sitting governor joins a protest that is news but to the press the only protest news is when the Iranian-based Moqtada orders his followers to turn out -- and a small number of them do.

As we note elsewhere, for the news of protests that the media just doesn't want you to hear of, visit The Great Iraqi Revolution.

TV: Why bad TV happens to good viewers

Last week we wrote about Happy Endings because it was such an important TV moment (and if you caught last Wednesday's two episodes, you know the series just keeps getting better). Jim wrote in his note to the readers last week, "Look, they explained, there's a new show that needs to be ripped apart. But even that got put on hold by them. Why? A stereotype got exploded last week and they had already decided that they would be writing about it." There was a new show that needed to be ripped apart. It was an offensive show and it was not a funny show. But the network swore they were sticking by it in one conversation after another two weeks ago.

If we'd known NBC was cancelling the awful show would we still have written about ABC's Happy Endings? Yes, because bad TV is eternal but break through moments often come only once a decade.


The awful show, if you haven't already guessed, starred celebrity Paul Reiser as celebrity Paul Reiser in The Paul Reiser Show. That's three helpings of Paul Reiser and more than enough to make most TV viewers insist they were already full, thank you.

In its debut outing, the show set a record for worst NBC sitcom debut ever. Ever. Nothing has ever done worse in the network's long, long history. Nothing. And this is the network that aired Four Kings, Double Trouble, Hello, Larry, My Mother The Car and The Michael Richards Show. But The Paul Reiser Show got worst ratings than every other NBC sitcom. Ever. We'd already told one vice president at NBC that the show was a turkey before it aired. But after it aired, he wasn't the only one assuring us it would run through May. There was a whole chorus of NBC suits insisting that (a) the show got better as it went along (were they watching the same episodes we were?) and (b) NBC had invested a small fortune in the show.

That was money wasted. That should have been obvious from the start. And that's the reason we're writing about the just cancelled, only two-episode airing series.

Paul Reiser is annoying. He is to be avoided. Ourselves, we figured that, outside of his being caught in a tranny scandal, nothing could make us stop shielding our eyes to avoid him. And, judging by the ratings, our reaction is fairly common across America.

In the industry? He is infamous for his on set tantrums, for his bitchy nature and for never, ever being happy. He is a nightmare to be around and most who have worked with him will tell you that in much saltier language. He began earning his reputation on the set of My Two Dads shortly after he felt the show was secure (it would run three seasons) and he felt Greg Evigan was no longer playing just the dumb 'dad' but also the sexy one. At that point, Paul Reiser taught NBC the meaning of the term "diva." And though NBC tired quickly of the antics, suits convinced themselves that the problem was Reiser was "too creative" to work under others directions. So he went off to develop his own project.

Which he more or less did solo. Danny Jacobson got a credit but -- ask Roseanne -- Danny was really good about getting credits that others didn't feel he'd earned. As originally developed, Mad About You was all Reiser. And that may seem like a compliment to some people. People with memory trouble or who never saw the show or only saw the show after the first season won't get what a problem that actually was.

Mad About You featured no attractive men in the original cast -- or in the cast at all (guest stars would sometimes be the exception). That's because Diva Reiser wasn't about to have another show where he competed with an Evigan (it was known as the "No Pretty Boy" edict).

"Too pretty" was Reiser's most used phrase when nixing men to play Mark (the role of Paul's best friend) until finally agreeing on Richard Kind.

Mad About You was going to be the story of Paul Buckman. Unlike My Two Dads, there would be no one to steal focus. He wasn't keen even on the idea of Paul having a wife but NBC made it clear that one was needed. Throughout the time it aired and long after it went off the air, My Two Dads was a gold mine for stand up comics who wanted to tell gay jokes or 'jokes.' While that image didn't really stick to Greg Evigan (possibly due to BJ and the Bear or due to the stereotypes we were addressing last week), it did stick to Paul Reiser. And he was informed really quick  that a sister for Paul wasn't going to cut it, the character needed a wife.

A lot of actresses read for the part of Jamie Buckman. Some were hilarious. Helen Hunt was not. Hunt gave a professional, albiet slightly distracted, reading. Not going for the obvious laugh lines was a lucky move on Hunt's part. The women who did were nixed by Reiser who set his sights on Hunt, then primarily known as a dramatic actress -- and a good one at that. Which meant, Reiser thought, that she'd be no competition in the laugh department and Jamie could be straight person and/or butt of the jokes.

For most of the series run, Paul (Reiser) and Jamie (Helen Hunt) didn't have a child. By the time they did, the end was already planned. If it hadn't been, there would have been no child because Reiser didn't want to exchange a dialogue with a child actor. He'd felt upstaged by Staci Keanan (the "my" of My Two Dads) and also didn't like the fact that she and Evigan had a natural connection on air while the Keanan and Reiser connection always felt forced.

All his ducks were in a row, Reiser just knew. But a funny thing happened, Hunt's distracted nature in the reading? It wasn't that she was distracted. It was how she saw Jamie responding to Paul. So she wasn't the nag the scripts were calling for. She was bemused when she was supposed to be a harpy. And Reiser could try the audience's patience as well so they found themselves identifying with Jamie. Jamie was a hit.

At one point, Reiser went to NBC trying to pitch the break up of Paul and Jamie (for good, not just toyed with as what aired did). NBC made it clear that audiences loved Jamie and that the only sitcom where the characters divorced and one disappeared that they knew of was Rhoda and that show (they felt) spent years trying to figure out what it was actually about after Joe was written off the show. Then NBC and Columbia-Tri Star (the studio producing the sitcom) made it clear that Hunt wasn't just staying, she was doing a lot more on the show. At which point, Mad About You got cooking and became a reliably funny show (and, in 1996, four years after the debut, Hunt would finally get a producer credit).

If you think Reiser took comfort in the fact that he was co-starring in a hit show and getting residuals as a co-creator, that he was set for life, you don't know Paul Reiser. He's never happy. And he was unhappy when Helen Hunt won an Emmy for Mad About You. And he was twice as unhappy when she won a second one, and a third one and a fourth one. But what really made him hopping mad was when Hunt became the first sitcom performer to win an Academy Award for lead performance in a film while appearing on a TV series. Nothing made Reiser happy and people took to calling him "Mad About Everything."

That NBC would want to work with Reiser again, let alone spend a ton of money developing a show for him, is only surprising if you don't know that "he would never do that to me" is an industry axiom. The "he" is why it's Paul Reiser whom the networks give more chances to instead of, for example, Roseanne. Men's bad behavior is forever explained away (it's why CBS is still attempting to come to some sort of understanding with Charlie Sheen). So the network that really should have been looking to some of their nineties female comedy stars to see if they wanted to develop a TV show instead went with Reiser.

Mr. Mad About Everything had no career in film (he had a run as a supporting actor that started before Mad About You and more or less ended with Bye-Bye Love) and nothing else to do. And he thought, "Maybe there's a show in that?"

There might have been. But he didn't put his real life up on the small screen. Whose life was that on the screen? Viewers didn't recognize it and we're not sure that if the year was 1952 anyone would have recognized it.

"No Pretty Boys" continued to be a Reiser edict. And, as a result, you got Reiser in a main cast with five other people, four of which were adult males, none of which would be considered a possibility at last call no matter how many shots you did. Reiser and four men. And the network wasn't alarmed?

No. And they insisted that Mad About You needed tinkering after it aired (to beef up Jamie) and that was what was going on here. No, it wasn't what was going on at all. Though underestimated at her audition, Hunt was an incredibly strong actress (in comedy as well as drama) with a long list of credits (she once played Murray Slaughter's daughter on an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show). She was not going to be intimidated or thrown by much of anything.

Reiser didn't want that again. So for The Paul Reiser Show, he cast Amy Landecker as his wife, an actress who would best be termed as "emerging" and not one with a lot of background in comedy or much else. What was she? Twelve years younger than him. Very agreeable in read throughs when Reiser insisted one of her lines didn't work (strange, wasn't it, how at all the table reads, it was Claire's lines that didn't work). We don't know Landecker but a friend who worked on the show swore she was "very nice, too nice, and doesn't even realize what he [Reiser] is doing." What he was doing was keeping his promise to NBC that his sitcom would be a "couple's show" by casting Landecker and then ensuring that the scripts gave her little to do and ensuring that even that got whittled down.

The jokes were supposed to come from, Reiser insisted to any who listened, the fact that, when you have kids, you end up best friends with the parents of your kids' friends -- whether you want to or not. And this, Reiser insisted, not only happens but is universal. If his book output didn't make you question his grip on reality, that observation certainly would. And for many parents -- especially divorced parents -- there was nothing to relate to. (Single parents were never going to relate.) But there was Reiser running with a 'pack' of four other adult men. And we were all supposed to find it charming and cute and funny. Only we didn't, obviously.

We're told that the saddest scene already aired. It aired on Thursday. The script gave Landecker a solid laugh early on about the cat in the backyard that was keeping them up but Reiser weakened it and weakened it. And, after that was out, he further weakened the character. All you were left with was a drip. A drip on the phone to Reiser. A drip asking him to do this. A drip asking him to do that. And you were supposed to feel for Paul and root for Paul but, this being a character played by Paul Reiser, audiences couldn't relate.

The first episode got the worst ratings ever for an NBC sitcom debut, as we noted before. The second episode, the one that got it the axe? It lost half the viewers from the week before. No one could stand the show.

Reiser is attempting to spin the failure and wants everyone to know that he was rushed. The show, he insists, was rushed onto air. He's lying.

A month before it landed on the schedule, he was informed it was airing. But he already knew it was scheduled for a mid-season replacement. He'd known that since late summer 2010. In May 2010, the show got a go and began filming its six episodes. There was nothing rushed about it. And, once it was scheduled, NBC promoted the hell out of it.

Maybe if it were The Helen Hunt Show more people would've tuned in? Maybe if it were The Lisa Kurdrow Show? It's really strange how NBC's male comedy alumni from prime time just keep coming back -- usually in one show that bombs after another. But NBC females end up on other networks. Courtney Cox ended up on ABC with Cougar Town. Julia Louis-Dreyfus ends up on CBS and now HBO. Meanwhile if you think The Paul Reiser Show was bad, you should examine some of the big spend development items that never made it on the schedule. We'd suggest you start with the money forked over to Larry Charles in 2009 for a sitcom that never aired. If you don't see reason to worry or how this applies to you, let us put you wise. Despite the huge bomb that was The Paul Reiser Show, NBC wants to continue their relationship with him. If you thought this one was bad, just try imagining what sort of sitcom can revolve around Reiser and attempt to see that he never gets upstaged. Ourselves, we're seeing him starring in a sitcom with a one-person cast: The Shut In -- about a recluse who sees the 'humor' (cranky observations) in the ever shrinking world around him.


Jim: It's the roundtable in which we answer all of your questions -- or at least the ones you e-mailed recently and that we have time to get to. 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. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): Of last week's "Poor Little Historian Uninformed At Last," Jonathan e-mailed to ask about the lines running together in parts. That's a browser issue. And that brings up an issue that effects us all.

Jess: The best browser to use with Blogger/Blogspot is Flock. The run together that Jonathan's talking about happens less with Flock. Flock announced last week: "Support for Flock browsers will be discontinued as of April 26th, 2011. We would like to thank our loyal users around the world for their support, and we encourage the Flock community to migrate in the coming weeks to one of the recommended web browsers listed below." They list Mozilla or Firefox and Google Chrome. Marcia?

Marcia: Google Chrome is a nightmare. All of the browsers are these days. Flock was the last solid one left. I use Firefox in a pinch but prefer Flock. With Firefox, what happens is I'm pasting some lines in from an article or sometimes just a link and I get "blogger gif" of so some code in my post. I don't even see it on my end and only hear about it after the post has gone up. Google Chrome just gets on my nerves. But Kat uses that pretty much exclusively.

Kat: Yeah. Mainly because on my laptop it loads the quickest. That is a big deal when you're doing wireless. Wally, Ava, C.I. and I are on the road and you're in your hotel room and just wanting to go to sleep -- especially last week when I was sick for most of it -- so you want to be sure that it's going to load quickly so you know it posted. So I do use Google Chrome. I don't recommend it for any other reason than the one I just gave. We all repost the snapshot each day and what happens there is that "Iraq snapshot" ends up in bigger letters. And let's say I'm posting an excerpt from WSWS or something with a different font than I use? It posts it in that font and you have to go through and fix it -- although I'm lazy and sometimes I just leave it as is -- or you end with all these different fonts in the same post. The only reason I recommend Google Chrome is because it does go quicker, it loads faster and that's important to me on the road.

Jim: The obvious question might be, "Why aren't you using Explorer?"

Trina: It's a nightmare. I have no idea what version it is now. It seems like a year ago -- maybe a year and a half -- that I had to stop using it. The problem was the last upgrade made it a nightmare for Blogger/Blogspot. Let's say it's a Monday and Isaiah did a comic on Sunday? For me, that means open with the comic and then talk about something and then close with the snapshot. Copy and pasting is a nightmare in Explorer and you frequently wipe out entire posts when you go to copy. There's a thing in tools -- C.I. showed me because at first, after the Explorer upgrade, I didn't think we could copy and paste anymore -- you have to go in there and change the setting. And that works. While you're doing that post. If your computer freezes up and you lose the browser and have to reopen it, you can type but you better not put anything else in there via paste because it will knock out everything in the post. There really was not another good one. I do use Google Chrome from time to time and what Kat was talking about is the only good thing, the speed. In the last month and a half, I've especially had trouble pulling up Flock -- I have no idea if that's related to their going out of business or not -- and on nights where it was really bad I would just pull up Google Chrome. But it was not my first choice.

Jim: So what will people use? That's us too. We don't know. Anybody?

Mike: I had browser issues about two or three years ago and C.I. installed all these browsers for me. Some are gone -- Netscape is no more. But I know Maxthon and Opera used to work fairly well and I still have them on the computer. But I really am shocked that Flock is just going away.

Dona: On Trina's comments, I believe it's Internet Explorer 8. We had an e-mail asking if we'd use Camino -- an e-mail from Rochelle -- and we've never used that one. And we had an e-mail from J.B. asking what broswer we'd recommend for his blogging because he has problems with Explorer -- the same problems Trina was describing? I would have said Flock but obviously that's not going to work.

Jim: Next up. Ava and C.I., you have an angry reader, Steve Henley, who is "appalled" that you haven't written about Hot In Cleveland.

Ava: We started this site geared to college students -- which Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and myself were. And Jim was the one who said we had to cover TV. And we had no rhyme or reason at the start but our readers e-mailed and we got to know them. The economy was bad in 2005 when we started but, in 2011, people are probably nostalgic for the comparative good times of 2005. Our core readers at the start were college students on a fixed budget and young couples on a fixed budget. In 2005, all the Water Cooler Set -- a species that replaced the TV critic -- cared about was HBO and FX. Our readers didn't care to read the Water Cooler Set because the Water Cooler Set obsessed over shows they couldn't watch -- they couldn't afford cable. They were newly married couples with a kid on the way or one just born. They were college students living on Ramen noodles. Everyone cannot stream but we did make adjustments in the last year or so and that is if you can stream it -- for free -- at Hulu or a network website, we'll cover it. We love Hot In Cleveland -- I'll let C.I. speak to the show itself, but we love it. We know a lot of the women working on that show. Season 3 starts in June. It's a great show.

C.I.: It's a great show. It's a great credit for everyone involved. The show's so successful that a spin-off is starting. For anyone who doesn't know Hot In Cleveland, it airs on TV Land. It stars Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Betty White. Behind the scenes, some of the wonderful people are Suzanne Martin and Lynda Obst. Valerie, Jane and Wendie are lifelong friends on their way to Paris when the plane makes an emergency landing in Cleveland and the recently divorced Valerie falls in love with Cleveland and sees it as a place to make a fresh start. For various reasons, Jane and Wendie join her. It's a hilarious sitcom which frequently surprises. I don't think anyone watching the season one cliffhanger expected the events of season two. Betty White wouldn't go to jail, right? As funny as season one was, season two was even funnier and one of the standouts was Melanie Griffith's guest spot. Season three is set to be even better and the show's a hit, TV Land's biggest ratings ever. The show returns with new episodes June 15th. Season one is available at Netflix for streaming. The show's performed before a studio audience and stars four comedic masters so it's just a treat to watch.

Ava: And it has additional energy that you're not going to find in Modern Family or something else because they are not taped before a live audience. One of my favorite parts is the fact that Jane's character and Betty's characters do not like each other and it's the sort of thing that the audience responds to and the audience response means it gets developed. With these canned shows, by contrast, a producer-writer has an idea and executes it and supposedly that's a great thing but as many, many seasons of My Name Is Earl demonstrated, a studio audience can turn a bad show into one worth watching.

Jim: My Name Is Earl didn't have a studio audience.

C.I.: Exactly.

Jim: Still on TV, last week's "Books: One writes, the other types (Ava and C.I.)" noted Tina Fey's new book and there was a great deal of e-mail on that.

Dona: And a review of Shirley MacLaine's I'm All Over That.

Jim: Correct. Then "Does Jezebel ever call out 30 Rock for racism?" by Betty went up Friday night and even more e-mails came in. The main thrust seems to be why is Tina Fey seen as left when she offers some of the most right-wing and offensive portrayals on her show? Betty?

Betty: Well in that post I was just focusing on the race issue. I don't think I'm the first outside the community to do so and certainly Ava and C.I. have noted Tina Fey's 'strange' portrayals of people of color before. I'd been sent an e-mail of some comments left at Jezebel where they were defending Fey, in the comments and one idiot was praising the 'mature' handling of an adult teacher sleeping with a male middle school student. So I just read that and thought, "These little groupies will justify anything." And then I wondered if Jezebel had ever called out the portrayals of people of color on the show and couldn't find any. But, in terms of people of color, where are the women? There isn't one -- and this includes Queen Latifah -- who's been on the show that couldn't have been cast in a "Mammy" role. Don't toss out the dancers, they're rarely on and a joke when they are, portrayed as sluts -- a step up? I don't think so. But we can get Jennifer Aniston -- a very pretty woman -- and countless others as guest stars. Do the names Viveca Fox and Halle Berry not exist in Tina Fey's racist mind? And what it is about treating it as funny that Liz is considered a racist by people of color on the show? Tracy and Angie are only some of the people who've noted Liz's racism and it's not all hidden or subjective racism, Liz has done and said some really racist things on the show. So that's my point.

Isaiah: I'll pipe up. I liked Liz when the whole "call her racist" thread emerged on the show with people calling her racist and I could take that storyline and enjoy it but, like Betty pointed out, then Liz exhibited actual racism and it wasn't funny and she wasn't likeable anymore because she wasn't being misread. I'd also add that Liz is jut pathetic now days in every regard. But, until Betty brought it up, I hadn't thought about how there are no hot Black women brought on the show. There is a type of Black woman Tina Fey apparently loves and that's the Mammy stereotype.

Ann: And I hate Angie. Angie's the most prominent Black female character on the show and she's just an idiot. Tracy, her husband, is supposed to be a multi-millionaire with more money than can ever be spent so this year, when she was suddenly worried about how she'd pay bills if Tracy died, that was like the final insult. She's fat and she's ugly and she's materialistic and only married to Tracy for the money that she can never have enough of because his doctor tells him he might die this season and Angie is immediatley meeting with Alec Baldwin's character to get a reality show because she needs to make money in case Tracy dies.

Rebecca: And Tina really loves to make African-Americans sound stupid -- beyond not getting what's happening around them, she really likes making them use English incorrectly and ridiculing them for that. She didn't do the same on the "Queen of Jordan" when she had a White woman who was illiterate, did anybody notice that? But Angie's running around, last season or maybe season three, yammering away about "I gotta get my hair did." And Tracy's saying, "Woman, you just got your hair did!"

Stan: There's just a real malice towards Black people on that show. Like Isaiah said, at first, with the "Liz is racist!" it was like she was being misunderstood -- the character Liz -- and you could still like her but when she starts saying and doing racist things? It's not funny and it's not cute. Maybe to a small group of White people -- which would explain 30 Rock's low ratings -- but it's just not funny. And the show's also anti-woman and it's tremendously homophobic.

Betty: And that was the thing that surprised me the most about Jezebel. In the comments, a few would note how "lesbian" was tossed around as a slur on the show repeatedly. But no one really seemed to get how insulting all the gay characters have been: Devon Banks, Liz's cousin Randy who was on one episode, Dfwan -- or however you spell Angie's hair dresser's name, Jenna's presumably gay entourage -- including Patrice, Tina Fey really loves putting effeminate Black men on TV. Just go down the list. It's just a vile and hateful little show and you have to marvel that this woman was supposedly representing left-wing values in 2008.

C.I.: Tina Fey is not left, she is very much the product of two Republican parents and that's what you're seeing on the show, all these examples that are being provided.

Marcia: And it's too bad because I really did like that show. But as the seasons piled on, you started to get more and more of these offensive gay stereotypes and racial stereotypes and it really forced me to question the person responsible for the show -- Tina Fey -- and her true motives. I don't find the show funny anymore, just really sad.

Jim: On racism, Ashley Judd has a new book coming out --

Dona: It is out. All That Is Bitter & Sweet.

Jim: Okay, thank you. And there was some criticism of her for the book --

Betty: For racism. It was misguided criticism in my opinion. She doesn't like rap music that races up the charts. I don't think you'd find me educated people in the Black community who'd disagree with her. Yeah, there is that small academic contingent within Black academy that wants our race to be at its most base and ignorant, but outside of that tiny element -- most of whom were raised middle class -- you don't find the embrace of hoochie and bitch and all the rest, let alone the materialism that corporate rap culture is built upon.

Stan: Support. And the excerpts that got printed of that, it was very clear what Judd was writing about. That's a point James Braxton Peterson made in his very intelligent take on the issue at The Root. And I like hip-hop, like Braxton Peterson does. But I have had to draw a line at some of the rap songs and it's so toxic that I don't listen to corporate rap anymore. I disagree that it's refelcted Black culture -- disagree with some of its defenders, I'm going beyond Braxton Peterson now -- because Black culture on the street level is not living P Diddy's life. There's not enough money. Instead it's a fantasy, it's Blaxplotation set to a beat. And I think a lot of people in my generation were led astray by it, given false values and a false worship of money that is very harmful to our culture.

Jim: Ruth, your take?

Ruth: 'Cause I am the rapping granny? No, seriously. I am old enough to remember Elvis being a craze. So let me just note that sex is always going to drive interest in music among young people. It was true of my day, it is true of today and it will be true in years to come. But music can be sexy and it can be graphic without resorting to violence. I wonder what it says about men who resort to violence -- regardless of their race -- against women in their music. Think W.A.S.P. -- a group targeted by Tipper Gore's organization in the late eighties -- for example. Where does such hatred come from? Fear? What are they afraid of? How weak they actually are so they have to lash out at women? I do not know. But music can be sexy, can be about sex, can be graphic and never have to resort to degredation. I do not claim to be a Prince expert. My two youngest sons were into him so I know his eighties output and a few things after that I picked up my own. He has done very sexual and very graphic and very sexy songs and I have not heard any need to resort to violence against women. Maybe that is because he comes across as someone comfortable in his own skin? I do not know.

Jim: Another popular issue in the e-mails is Cedric and Wally's "Barack is the queen of exclusion" and "THIS JUST IN! LOOK WHO GETS INVITED!" Cedric and Wally do joint-post, humorous posts. In this one, they call out the White House for what I'll dub a summit on immigration. Cedric?

Cedric: Barack promised the immigration issue would be addressed in his first year in the White House. Then he got to the White House and lost interest. Because he wants to be re-elected, he needs the Latino vote so he's trying to make a grand show of suddenly remembering the immigration vote. But as Wally and I point out of the meeting that took place, we're talking about a lot of non-Latinos attending and a lot of Latino voices on immigration not being invited.

Wally: Right. This was one of those issues that the press didn't give a lot of attention to in this country. Or the English language press in the US. But this came up when we were speaking to a primarily Latino high school group -- Kat, Ava, C.I. and myself. I was completely ignorant of the meeting, I hadn't heard about it or read about it. And so I was learning about it that day. Later, on the phone with Cedric, I mentioned it and he said we should write about it the next day and, in the meantime, we were looking for articles but couldn't find any with any critiques. So Ava and C.I. went through the Spanish language media and translated multiple articles for us. This is not a minor issue even if the English language press in this country hasn't picked up on it.

Trina: And I had heard about it in my church and among my friends and this isn't going away. When notable organizations working on the immigration issue are denied an invitation but Al Sharpton -- Al Sharpton? -- is invited to the White House for the issue of immigration? Yeah, it is a problem.

Jim: Okay. That's going to be it. I was going to try to squeeze in a question just for Trina, the only one who hadn't spoken, but she just spoke. This is a rush transcript.

Hottest site on the web

Last week, Lambert (Corrente) observed, "Something else our Beloved Leader destroyed. I mean, these day, the closest the access bloggers get to snark is 'Maybe somebody should do something'." Barack Obama -- and the Cult of St. Barack -- destroyed a great deal.

Once upon a time on the left, we appreciated real news. Did that get destroyed as well? If the ascension of the Christ-child didn't destroy it for you, the one site online that you have to check out, the one that's always happening and always informed is The Great Iraqi Revolution.

The Great Iraqi Revolution

You will get the occasional AFP report about the ongoing protests in Iraq. Otherwise, you'll garner very little information. Unless you check out The Great Iraqi Revolution which is documenting it all. The struggle will apparently not be televised or covered by most outlets but it will be available online.

If you want to know why Iraqis are protesting, how they are protesting, what they are hoping for, the one site you need to bookmark and check out is The Great Iraqi Revolution.

Barack finds a way to cut costs!!!!

Barack Obama's such a colossal disappointment to many of us on the left that some of us who never supported him fail to give him credit even when he achieves. Last week, Barack found a cost-cutting measure that, should he implement it across the board, will save American tax payers untold millions.

Please understand, it will not erase the deficit, it will not put America back on strong financial footing. For that, he would have to discontinue the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, the Drone War on Pakistan, the Libyan War, etc.

But President Obama said he would find waste and he thinks he did.

Last week, asked of Bradley Manning, Barack Obama did something novel, he convicted him. Right there on the spot. He declared a suspect guilty. That would be frightening enough in a civilian court case but Bradley's case will be heard by the military. The same US military that Barack presides over as commander in chief.

And the commander in chief just declared a finding of "guilty."

We think it's great that Barack's taking spending so seriously. He looked around at our court systems, we're guessing, and figured that if he just declared everyone guilty, the US could save a lot of money on court costs, on filing fees, on public defenders on judicial salaries, you name it. From now on, Barack will just pronounce all suspects guilty -- a huge cost saving step.

Of course, it does trash the Constitution. But Barack's been doing that since before he was sworn in. Never bothered him before and since most Americans have been bothered by his previous attempts at pissing on the Constitution, this latest move probably won't bother many very much at all.

The Gayle

Can't blame him, after all, he's "The Gayle."
Illustration by Isaiah.

May 9th strike in Vacaville, CA

An event noted by Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan and Peace of the Action:

For Immediate Release

Cindy Sheehan,
Gregory Vickrey,, 202.487.1201

March, Strike, Occupation Set for Sacramento

Vacaville, Calif. - Citizens and activists of all stripes plan to descend on Sacramento, Calif., May 9, 2011, for a prolonged strike and occupation of State Capitol grounds in response to budget proposals promoted by Governor Jerry Brown and California legislators.

The strike and occupation will follow a march from numerous parts of the state to Sacramento beginning May 1, highlighted by a thematic mass march from San Francisco to the capital led by prominent peace activist Cindy Sheehan, national organization Peace of the Action, Bay Area Code Pink, California Alliance for Retired Americans, Peace & Freedom Party, Veterans for Peace chapters, and several other entities.

To date, the action has been endorsed by more than 20 organizations around the globe representing a variety of fronts, including United Progressives, Canadians for Action on Climate Change, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, and the Arab American Union Members Council.

Cindy Sheehan states, “The savage austerity measures proposed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown are an attack on the vulnerable people of this state, and no amount of partisan politicking can hide that fact. Taxes should instead target California’s 650,000 millionaire households. Cuts should include moneys the state hands over to the feds for shipping our California National Guard Units to foreign wars of aggression. Since 2001, the illegal wars of occupation have cost Californians almost 150 billion dollars and US military recruiters are still allowed to prey upon our most vulnerable youth on high school and college campuses--save our economy and lives by no longer supporting war!”

The coalition of forces descending on Sacramento May 9 believes there is a better way to approach productive change for California and beyond. Those measures include steps to:

  • Close Corporate Tax Loopholes & Incentives
  • Fully Fund Education & Other Social Programs
  • End State Funding for National Guard Units Leaving California
  • Raise Taxes (Employ Austerity) on California’s 650,000 Millionaire Households
  • Employ Massive Prison Reform & Drastically Alter Criminalization Codes
  • Bring Single-Payer Health Care for All to California
  • Mandate and Create a Zero Carbon Economy to Mitigate Climate Change

Bay Area Code Pink activist and march organizer Xan Joi adds, "We will not allow the budget to be ‘balanced’ by continuing tax breaks for the rich while depriving poor and vulnerable people our basic rights and needs."

Peace of the Action’s Gregory Vickrey concludes, “There are meaningful fixes for California’s budget crisis. Governor Brown’s budget proposal doesn’t include a single one.”


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, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"I Hate The War" -- C.I. offers a grab bag that became the most popular highlight of the week by readers of this site.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Gayle" -- Isaiah explains it all.

"Does Jezebel ever call out 30 Rock for racism?," "The Event," "Drone wars and TV," "Desperate Housewives," "brothers & sisters," "Screwed up post, I'm not fixing it" and "Bradley Manning, Chuck" -- Betty, Marcia, Mike and Rebecca cover TV. Kat and Ann cover radio:

"Stuck up Terry Gross"

"St-uh-range" -- Stan brings you on the bus.

"Cucumbers in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a recipe for spring.

"Barack is the queen of exclusion" and "THIS JUST IN! LOOK WHO GETS INVITED!" -- Cedric and Wally tackle Barack's lack of inclusion.

"Trig" -- Betty takes on the disgusting Wonkette.

"bradley" -- Rebecca on Bradley's 'conviction.'

"He shows up sober today" and "Bob Somerby still blogging while intoxicated" -- Two in Ruth's series this week on Bob Somerby's bizarre online behavior.

"Oh Krugman" -- Kat tackles Paul.

"Damn sick of it" -- Marcia weighs in on yet another attack.

"Norbit" -- Stan at the movies.

"Bully Boy On the Job" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"The debt" -- Trina on the economy.

"How to lie like a rug" -- and those of us writing this pick C.I.'s critique as Reuters as our personal favorite of the week.

"CCR's case and, yeah, she was right" -- Elaine on trying to cover a court case the press ignores.
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