Sunday, March 11, 2012

Truest statement of the week

Attorney General Eric Holder was at Northwestern University Law School yesterday explaining President Barack Obama’s claimed authority to kill any American if he unilaterally determines them to be a threat to the nation. The choice of a law school was a curious place for discussion of authoritarian powers. Obama has replaced the constitutional protections afforded to citizens with a “trust me” pledge that Holder repeated yesterday at Northwestern. The good news is that Holder promised not to hunt citizens for sport.

-- Jonathan Turley "Holder Promises To Kill Citizens With Care."

Truest statement of the week II

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week attempted to explain how the U.S. Constitution allows the American president to be a law unto himself – to be judge, jury and executioner. Those are the powers that President Obama claims are inherent in his office: the right to kill at will, based on evidence only he is fit to examine and assess. This is a system of law without courts, without evidence that either the public or the condemned person has a right to see, or to contest. One man, with the power of life and death over any inhabitant of the planet, including citizens of the United States.

They used to call such people kings. But even the English kings of old – at least since the signing of the Magna Carta 800 years ago – were compelled to recognize the principle that free men could only be punished based on the law of the land. The United States Constitution is rooted in the principle of due process of law, with the courts as final arbiters of whether the law has been served.

With the passage of preventive detention without trail or charge, and President Obama’s claim to have sole power to target any human being for death, the rule of law has been eviscerated, abolished by presidential decree and congressional acquiescence. A pillar of civilization has been toppled, but most people in the United States appear not to have noticed.

-- Glen Ford, "Eric Holder Tortures The Constitution" (Black Agenda Report -- link is text and audio).

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
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?

Jonathan Turley gets this one.
And Glen Ford, both on the same subject.

We had a larger editorial on this topic. We decide it was too long and clipped it to leave the US out; however, we do feel the US government is responsible for this and may tackle that next week.

Ava and C.I. tackle the 'defenders' who attack when a dogpile exists but say nothing otherwise -- even when rape is repeatedly turned into a joke and sold as a form of love -- yes, Tina Fey and 30 Rock, they're gunning for you.

We haven't done a comic survey piece in awhile. And on the issue of the illustrations this week, we were going for a pastel type effect. We may not have pulled it off but that's the common thread for all the illustrations.

We go back to the kitchen to explore a macaraoni & cheese pizza.

A new piece we've often talked about. We offer a look at the week's funny. You may say, "I get that already." To a degree you do. If a man says something funny, you get it on the Sunday chat & chews and in Entertainment Weekly.

An update on Lynne Steweart.

Michael Ratner and Heidi Boghosian discuss secret grand jury indictments.

A repost from Workers World.

A video post on education.

A press release from the House Veterans Affairs Committee. If you expected a piece on Congress this week, you're out of luck. C.I. was not in the mood for Congress having reported on hearings in 4 snapshots last week.

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

That's it for this week.


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

Editorial: Leave the Emo youth alone

Today the Associated Press reports on the targeting of Iraq's Emo youths. Alice Fordham (Washington Post) reports, "Lists threatening named people with death unless they change their attitude circulated anonymously late last week in Baghdad. Prominent clerics, as well as at least one police official, have condemned the emo -- short for emotional -- craze for its gloomy music and macabre look, which includes tight clothes and styled hair. The trend began in the 1980s in the West but has only recently become popular in the Arab world."

If you followed the story last week, you most likely followed it with horror. Especially horror at the US government which never once had a comment on it and on the reporters who cover the State Department and the White House but never bothered to ask about it. Not even when Barack Obama was lecturing the country on what he wanted his girls to do someday -- those girls that no one else is ever supposed to speak of.

If you need background on the developments, you can refer to the following:

There was more than enough to cover last week and Iraqi news outlets were covering it: Al Mada, Dar Addustour, Alsumaria TV and more. The LGBT press was covering it last week as well. But for big media to cover it, it took Ahmed Rahseed and Mohammed Ameer (Reuters) to report on Saturday, "At least 14 youths have been stoned to death in Baghdad in the past three weeks in what appears to be a campaign by Shi'ite militants against youths wearing Western-style "emo" clothes and haircuts, security and hospital sources say. Militants in Shi'ite neighborhoods where the stonings have taken place circulated lists on Saturday naming more youths targeted to be killed if they do not change the way they dress."

And though, as the week drew to a close, the government of Iraq realized this was a problem for their image, at the start of the week, they had no such concerns and the police and the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Education were happy to share how they targeted Iraqi youth.

Some reality: As long as this crap takes place, Iraq's never going to progress. What you have are thuggish theocrats who want everyone to act and think the same. That would be conformity. As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, conformity is "the hobglobbin of little minds." Conformity gives you an Iraq solely dependent upon the whims of the oil industry.

Expanded minds allows Iraqis to look at the landscape and determine other areas that Iraq can make money from, other ways to leave an impact.

They might be able to make money off a thriving music scene. Iraq's been developing a heavy metal music scene (which is currently under verbal attack by theocrats) and the Emo scene could become even more productive and important because Emo is better suited for Iraq. And with neighbors like Egypt attacking Emo, allowing Iraq to own the genre could create a firm base for a regional music business.

Can you imagine America without the hippies?

They influenced the music, they influenced the literature, they influenced the films, the culture, the society. To this day, Madison Avenue uses that period to try to sell products.

Their clothes were considered 'funny' and, yes, 'depraved' at the beginning.

sonny and cher

Take Sonny & Cher. Consider them the original Emos. Kicked out of hotels due to the way they dressed, asked to, in fact, leave the eatery they frequented because their look was 'freaking out' some of the other patrons (actually, some bullies were starting trouble -- bullies exist around the world), they weren't trying to dismantle the world or society, they were just trying to find their way.

I got flowers in the spring I got you to wear my ring
And when I'm sad, you're a clown
And if I get scared, you're always around
So let them say your hair's too long
'Cause I don't care, with you I can't go wrong
Then put your little hand in mine
There ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb

-- "I Got You Babe," written by Sonny Bono, Sonny and Cher's 1965 number one hit

Smart people in Iraq would realize that what's taking place is a culturally significant moment. Iraqis are attempting to explore their place in their country, the region and the world. This is something that should be encouraged and applauded. If Iraq wants to return to being a cultural leader (they were once the cradle of civilization), they'll grasp how significant this moment is and allow it to flower.

TV: Exploring offensive

If you wanted to find the most offensive network, we think the easy choice would be NBC. No, we're not referring to Brian Williams attempting to sing along with "Super Freak" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last Monday. That was certainly scary, but we're not willing to call it offensive.


We think about that a lot, "offensive." In part because we saw a silly not-to-be-taken-seriously sitcom named Work It and didn't join in with NOW, GLAAD and other 'critics' in screaming our heads off about what an insult it was to transgendered people or transvestites. We didn't sing in that chorus mainly because there were no transgendered or transvestites characters on the TV show. Unlike NOW, for example, we didn't worry that the audience might confuse two straight men dressing up as women to hold down jobs with two transvestites or two transsexuals. We were focused on serious issues -- like NPR's exclusion of women when they provide live news (primary) coverage.

A few weeks later, we revisited the terrain to note that GLAAD had been happy to call out Work It (which hadn't exhibited homophobia) but refused to call out Tina Fey's longstanding homophobia on 30 Rock (which at that point had just included making homophobes lovable). GLAAD is useless. Every studio in California knows, if they come after you, make a donation and they go away.

They're seen as less of a political organization and more of a shake-down firm. So if, for example, you've got a Mel Gibson film shooting and your membership is angry about Mel's homophobia, you call up the studio pretending to be outraged, they offer some of your leadership intern positions on Mel's movie and instantly you're vouching for Mel's kind heart to the media.

NOW, however, is something we took seriously until 2008. We'd like to take it seriously again. But they make it so hard. Since their 'media criticism' of Work It (nothing written gave any indication that they ever watched an episode of the show), they've offered only one other media criticism: They roused themselves to call out Rush Limbaugh for calling a woman a slut. Sorry, gals, that's really not media criticism.

Media criticism would be calling out efforts to portray a teacher sleeping with a middle school student as an acceptable, first-step in a long-running and loving relationship.

Now we're feminists and we offer a feminist view. Not "the feminist view." Because there are many opinions and stances and frameworks in feminism. But we kind of thought everyone was in agreement that statutory rape of a 12-year-old child was wrong and that you didn't try to redeem the rapist.

TV has often pretended rape was just another part of courtship. Most infamously, in 1979 on General Hospital, Luke (Anthony Geary) raped Laura (Genie Francis) and, shortly after, they became the soap opera super couple Luke & Laura. In real time, Leslie Charleson (who played Monica) spoke out publicly against the love storyline and the romanticizing of rape. Her 'reward' for standing up? Then-producer Gloria Monty shoved Charleson's character into the background as retaliation. No women's group rushed to support Charleson. Which might explain why the show would wait until 1998 before it would try to get honest about the rape.

30 Rock has offered nothing but one-dimensional and stereotypical gay characters while using homophobia as a joke (and, yes, the term "gay" as a punchline). It's history on rape is no better. Melissa McEwan (Shakespeare's Sister) called out 30 Rock's season five debut noting it portraying rape as a laughing matter -- not once, not twice, but three times. We only caught one in real time (she's correct, it was three) but we did and do hold Tina Fey accountable for writing the episode. She's actually accountable for all the episodes whether she writes them or not. She can -- and has -- killed storylines, scenes and jokes. She's the creator, the star and an executive producer of the show.

Apparently she and many others were so giddy at the prospect of faded celebrity Susan Sarandon appearing on the show that they didn't think about the storyline they'd created for her? Or maybe they just didn't care?

By the way, did you ever hear the one about a roll of film? Child of a famous actress. A roll of film with the child on it. A roll of film the drugstore returned to a couple because the store would have to call the authorities if they developed it? Gore Vidal thought he was being coy when he worked it into an essay as a blind item but everyone knew exactly who he was writing about.

Tracey Wigfield wrote season five's "Queen of Jordan" where Sue plays Frank's former teacher Lynn Onkman, just released from prison. Why did she go to prison? Because she, an adult, slept with a middle school student (Frank).

Entertainment Weekly gushed, "Susan Sarandon guested as Lynn Onkman (Former Educator, Sex Offender). In this Mary Kay Letourneau-style story, Onkman fell in love with Frank R. during a scoliosis test. And the rest, as they say, is history a felony. When Lynn realized Frank was still the eighth grade boy she fell in love with, she began to rethink her feelings. Cue Frank R. dropping all of his toys into a deep fryer. Now that’s true love."

No, that's truly sick. And considering that females are more likely than males to be the victims of asault, it's very sad that any actress would go along with that storyline or that it would come from a show where the creative 'genius' was a woman.

Having gotten away with it once, you might have thought 30 Rock would avoid revisiting the offensive storyline again but that would be crediting Tina Fey with far more taste than she has. Which is why, March 1st, Sue returned to 30 Rock in "Alexis Goodlooking and the Case of the Missing Whisky" (written by John Riggi). Lynn was back and, it turns out, in a hot and heavy relationship with Frank that had been going on since her previous appearance. When called (rightly) a "pedophile," Lynn explains, "We prefer the term adult-a-phobe." CNN chose to use a photo of Frank and Lynn on bed together with the headline "30 Rock: A love like meatballs" for a lengthy post (by Mary Cella) that never addressed the issue of selling rape as love.

So there you have it, 30 Rock providing viewers with the message that victims fall in love with their rapists and that rapists love their victims. And adult teacher Lynn deciding to sleep with 12-year-old Frank? Perfectly normal. You sort of picture prison visits with sex offenders resulting in the imprisoned citing episodes of 30 Rock to explain just how 'misunderstood' they are. Maybe they too can be interviewed by Matt Bai and have a sympathetic portrayal in The New York Times Sunday Magazine?

What they haven't been, what they won't be, is called out by NOW.

NOW did call out Rush Limbaugh. And reading that 'alert,' we found ourselves agreeing with Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report):

Rush Limbaugh, a man who would have to have been invented if he didn’t exist, called law student Sandra Fluke, a “slut” and a “whore” after she testified in favor of religious institutions being required to include contraception in their health care plans. The liberals then lost their collective minds. There was no limit to their ire. One would have thought that Rush Limbaugh was killing Afghan children with drones, or torturing black Libyans, or planning to attack Iran. Of course, Limbaugh has absolutely no power to do any of those things. He is a celebrity, a media personality who advocates the right wing point of view. He is a sexist and a racist, but he has no power to take anyone’s life. That is Barack Obama‘s job.
Obama, like all American presidents, is among the slickest politicians of all time, but he is certainly no fool. He knew that Limbaugh handed him a political gift and he ran with it. Obama personally telephoned the aggrieved young woman while his liberal sycophants demanded that advertisers drop Limbaugh’s program

And reading Elaine's post Friday applauding Fox News' Greta Van Susteren for calling out the vile, misogynist and cruel Louis CK, we were reminded yet again how NOW fails repeatedly. That Louis CK thinks it's okay to call special needs children vile names doesn't surprise us in the least. We've called him out repeatedly here. And we've noticed that NOW never said a damn word about any of his sexist comments. They were silent on
Mad Men, they're silent on 30 Rock . . .

If you strike NOW as a show considered 'cool,' don't worry about a thing, they certainly won't call you out. But feminism is not partisanship, feminism is not whoring for a political party. When we reflect on how NOW's applied media 'criticism,' we think we've found the heart of that which is truly offensive.

Who's cartoony? Who's pulling it off?

This month's comics includes a one-shot from Marvel, Avengers Origins: Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver. It's worth again noting that Scarlet Witch, one of the most popular and long running members of the supergroup The Avengers will not make it onscreen in the film this summer. Our biggest question was what did Scarlet Witch ever do to Mirco Pierfederici to make him draw her so boxy.


Another question would be: What did gay people ever do to Enrique Carrion? Carrion likes to note that he's the only Black comic writer at a major comic house currently (none at Marvel, none at Dark Knight and none at DC) and that he's also Latino. He thinks he offers diversity in Vescell (Image Comics) and we'd be more likely to agree with him if it weren't so T&A and so homophobic. T&A? We're not talking clevage -- these are comics, after all. We're talking three shots of nude breasts with nipples and we're wondering why the hell we needed to see a fairy in a bathtub to begin with?

That's an actual fairy with wings. There's also full-on flamer and human Lee who is referred to as a "fairy" by hero Maruicio, Lee or is his cyborg male lover is referred to as "butt-buddy" by the winged fairy Short Wings and more. Of course, Batan also calls Lee "ruby red slippers" but that one might be understandable since Lee is wearing ruby red high heels. Which are displayed most obviously when Lee does a high kick dance step in his apartment. He makes reference to The Wizard of Oz, as well. And calls cyborg Batan "Tin Man." Which Batan hates. Batan is indifferent and distant to Lee throughout. So apparently there was self-loathing involved when the blond, human Lee picked out a 'muscular' robot who would only be happy when Lee was going down on him. Though Lee gives the robot blow jobs, we never see any reciprication.

It's obvious Enrique Carrion is highly familiar with stereotypes but has he ever spoken to an actual gay man? There's no indication he has and there's something deeply disturbing about a writer who is forever preaching the need for diversity also resorting to homophobic stereotypes and language.

Fortunately, Kate Kane is nobody's stereotype. Batwoman has quickly become one of our favorite comic titles. In issue five, Batwoman appears to have vanquished the Weeping Woman but the missing children are still not found and something or someone named Medusa is now said to have them. Meanwhile she's given an offer she can't refuse: Join D.E.O. Yes, it's a mistake, even Batman shows up to tell her that. But the alternative? They'll go after her father and court martial him. In issue six, we find out that she at least got a new (bullet proof) costume out of it.


In her kitchen, she is surprised to find Director Bones and Agent Cameron Chase waiting for her there. Kate attempts to attack Agent Chase, but the Director jumps between them as Chase reveals that they already know that she is Batwoman. They inform her tha her cousin Bette gave up the information while she was near death (Bette was attacked by a Medusa henchman with a hooked hand). Director Bones explains that due to Chase's actions, Bette's life was saved, and they will take her to her if she agrees to make a deal.

They offer her a job with the DEO. Coincidentally, they want her to dismantle the organization known as Medusa. As an additional bonus, Director Bones informs her that unless she takes the offer, her father will be put in prison for stealing military hardware, funding a vigilante, and covering up a terrorist act in order to hide his own illegal activities. If she agrees to take the job, Jacob Kane will be left alone.

Resigned, Kate accepts the offer. She visits Bette in the hospital, and tells her unconscious cousin that she has turned down Batman's offer to join Batman Incorporated. Batman had, until that point, been stealthily hiding in the room already. He steps out of the shadows and warns that working with the DEO will be a mistake that will eventually put her at odds with him. Kate responds that she is just using them to get the children back, and that she knows which lines must not be crossed. Before leaving, Batman warns that Director Bones will challenge that knowledge at every opportunity, and eventually, she will be forced to make an impossible decision.

Later, Batwoman visits the parents of one of the missing children and promises that while the Weeping Woman is gone, she will find the missing children at any cost. It turns out, a man named Marco behind things explains to his partner, that the Weeping Woman was only one part of the plan. The goal is to harness superstitions to allow them to control Gotham City. While Jacob Kane stays at the hospital with Bette, Maggie and Kate get closer until Maggie comments on the fact that Kate mentioned her father for the first time. She also notes a bad bruise on Kate's shoulder (from fighting Medusa henchman while patrolling the night as Batwoman). Kate doesn't like personal questions. You'll love the work J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman, Amy Reeder, Richard Friend and Rob Hunter are doing with this title.

From Batwoman to Batgirl, Barbara Gordon spent over two decades paralyzed. But that was before DC launched their "THE NEW 52!" line. Gail Simone's steering the relaunch with Adrian Syaf and Vincente Cifuentes doing pencil and ink. Barbara was still shot by the Joker in the spine; however, she's now had spinal surgery and, after a year to recover, is back as Batgirl. While being shot from behind in the back has left her insecure about her crime fighting worth, it's also given her an empathy that Barbara never had before. When Bruce Wayne (and others) are mentally controlled by a new super villain, Barbara solves it in part due to her own recent experience. It would be really great if this was a consistent trait for the character. (Conversely, we'd be just find without Barbara's mother popping in.)

After discovering the villain Gretal started out as reporter Lisly Bonner who was shot and left for dead by crime Boss Whittaker, Batgirl tries to reach out to her as she Gretal insists she'll kill before anyone kills her. Batgirl tells her, "You don't have to die at all. Look, a bad man turned your life inside out. I know what that's about. He's dead. His crime family, it's all gone now. You saw to that. Let that be the end of this life for you." As Batgirl attempts to reason with her, Batman grabs Gretal from behind and soon she's falling to her death before Batgirl rescues her at the last minute. And as you absorb the ending, grasp that "NEXT: THE JOKE REVISTED!" indicates it may be time for a Batgirl versus Joker rematch.


BOOM! comics has brought together two longtime favorites in Grant Morrison and Ian Gibson's Steed and Mrs Peel. Yes, it's John Steed and Emma Peel from the 60s British TV classic The Avengers (played on TV by Patrick McNee and Diana Rigg). Issue one, "Crown & Anchor Part One:" finds the British spies missing for the first five pages which are devoted to a confusing storyline involving Admiral Foggy Fanshawe and a woman named Tara King. For those following the story (or thinking they are), let's toss in the monkey wrench. Diana Rigg left the TV show and they needed a new partner for Steed, Linda Thorson joined the cast as . . . Tara King. Where this title is headed, we have no idea.

Head scratching was our reaction to Wonder Woman issue six and, as we came to the end and discovered the convuluted story was an illusion meant to trick a foe, we quickly added disgust to it. Brian Azzarello, Tony Akins and Dan Green have turned in the worst issue of Wonder Woman since we started covering comics back in 2008. Everything is wrong about this issue -- from a story that's hard to follow (and turns out to be meaningless), to coloring so bad it's like you're watching Hanna-Barbera's Super Friends, to a refusal to draw full panels over and over (by full panels we're referring to no background in many of the panels of the strip -- it's like how The Young and the Restless used to provide one key item -- a plant a table -- as they shot against a black backdrop to save on set costs).

Speaking of soap operas, we last covered Frenemy of the State in February 2011. Picking up the latest issue, it was as if this was the next issue and we were struck by how slowly time moves with this title. Turns out, it is the next issue. We reviewed issue five a year and a month ago, The most recent issue is issue six and was published in December 2011.

On the plus side, this title by Rashida Jones, Christina Weir, Nunzuio DeFillipis and Chris Johnson has a cinematic feel. As we tried to remember what happened last time, we were struck by how the previous issue played out in our minds not as static panels but as live action film (there are plans to turn the title into a movie).

From the TESR Test Kitchen

mac and cheese pizza

Tony's Pizza
has a new flavor: Macaroni & Cheese.

Tony's Pizza, if you're not in the no, is a smaller pizza. It's better than Totinos which has the soggy crust in the microwave and which burns quickly in regular oven. But it's not a high-end brand -- or even Tombstone. It generally retails for two bucks and the only time most of us grab it is when we need a frozen, plain cheese pizza to add anchovies to.

As for Macaroni & Cheese, we've been seeing that on buffets for the last year or so. We believe we first saw one at a CiCi's Pizza in New Jersey (East Rutherford). We've never been tempted because there were so many other choices.

But thrown one in the frozen food section and suddenly we're all on it.

mac and cheese 2

That's a photo of the pizza cooked. We weren't expecting much from this and so we were happily surprised. It tastes like a pizza with mac & cheese on top. It's a good quality pizza -- especially for the price.

There's not a great deal of sauce taste too and the cheese dominates so keep that in mind if you're not a cheese lover. Otherwise, just pop it in the oven (it tastes better out of the oven than out of the microwave oven and the square shape will make it difficult to cook in some microwaves) and then enjoy.

The week in funny

the singing lady

TV had some strong moments last week in the field of funny. We've narrowed down the week's best.

No, I don't wear scrunchies or short-shorts or tube-tops. You know what this means? Somewhere Heather Graham is naked.
-- Whitney (Whitney Cummings) going through a box containing items her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend left behind, Whitney (NBC, Wednesdays)

I thought we were having a successful business relationship! I thought the same thing with Suge Knight and Ira Glass! You guys are all alike!
-- Ava (Maya Rudolph) to Luke (Steven Pasquale) after he tries to come on to her, Up All Night (NBC, Thursdays)

Grayson: Okay, here, Bobby, go like this, purse your lips a little, like. What? It's what we did when I was an underwear model for Montgomery Ward.
Bobby: You just tried to slip that one in there, didn't you?

Grayson: There are two types of underwear models: Front guys and butt guys. I was both.
Travis: He said proudly. Alright, Dad, Grayson in bikini briefs, think about it.
Grayson: It's not a sad thing.
-- Travis (Dan Byrd) is attempting to take photos of his father Bobby (Brian Van Holt) that do not like staged while Grayson (Josh Hopkins) offers advice, Cougar Town (ABC, Tuesdays).

Tom: Damn, those pants look dope! Oh my God, those look great! And I bet they'd look even better on Ben's floor.
Ben: Are you hitting on Leslie for me?

Ann: Wait a second, just turn around.
Leslie: What?
Tom: Oh. It says "nympho" on the butt in silver sparkly letters. Nympho means you're addicted to sex. And since it's on the butt there's other implications as well. So those are a maybe.
-- Leslie (Amy Poehler) shops for a new look as Tom (Aziz Ansari), Ann (Rashida Jones) and Ben (Adam Scott) look on, Parks and Recreations (NBC, Thursdays).

Dee Dee: Stop playing with it and put it in your mouth!
Chelsea: It's not the first time I heard that.
-- A starving Dee Dee (Lauren Lapkus), in the midst of a cleanse, yelling at Chelsea (Laura Prepon) to eat the sandwich she is waiving around, Are You There, Chelsea? (NBC, Wednesdays).

Joy: You know between this and jail and zoo, we certainly sleep together a lot.
Elka: That thought is scarier than this book.
-- frenemies Joy (Jane Leaves) and Elka (Betty White) in bed together, Hot In Cleveland (Wednesdays, TV Land).

I didn't want to do this, but I will. Penny, we are not going out like this -- me crying about Grant, you crying about your stuff -- whatever, I wasn't paying attention. This is our John Hughes film and those guys are clearly the bad guys -- one being little and blond and fit, the other looking like Greg Kinnear. And they are so clearly not Jewish. I don't need to tell you this, Pen. You are the assistant curator to the original John Hughes Museum -- which, for the purpose of this pep talk, I will choose to believe is a real thing and not the first act of an after school special.
-- Max (Adam) to Penny (Casey Wilson) who is on the verge of dropping out of the scavenger hunt, Happy Endings (Wednesdays, ABC)

Judy: You're falling down that Elliot hole.
Fran: It's called acting, Judy. You forget what a good actress I was in college.
Judy: Frannie, I've seen you in West Side Story. And the audience yelled, "Forget Tony! Shoot her!"
-- Judy (Tichina Arnold) attempting to reason with Fran (Fran Drescher), Happily Divorced (TV Land, Wednesdays).

Energy secretary Steven Chu said his goal is to decrease our dependence on foreign oil but not to lower gas prices. When Chu said that, Republicans were like, 'Oh no, Chu, didn't.'"

-- Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC, late nights)

Alex: It wasn't a real engagement. She was always so needy and clingy and then her grandfather died and I wanted to make her feel better so I panicked and I proposed to her at the funeral
Whitney: I don't think Zales will be using that story any time soon.
-- Alex (Chris D'Elia) explaining his previous engagement to current girlfriend Whitney (Whitney Cummings), Whitney (NBC, Wednesdays)

Olivia: I had sex three times last night in a Ford Focus and my back is killing me.
Chelsea: Hatchback?
Olivia: No, missionary.

Rick: No, no, no, this is good. While we're on that subject, guys, no one has sex in the bathroom anymore.

Nikki: He's right nobody does have sex in the bathroom.
Chelsea: Don't worry, Rick, we're on it.
Rick: No, no, no. Guys come on, I'm serious. I don't want anyone smoking pot in there either.

Olivia: Well where are we supposed to smoke pot?
Chelsea: I'm not going in the alley. I am a lady.
-- new manager Rick (Jake McDorman) holds a staff meeting with input from Olivia (Ali Wong), Chelsea (Laura Prepon) and Nikki (Natasha Leggero), Are You There, Chelsea? (NBC, Wednesdays).

Max: You got to let the cart pick you. This one's telling me not to pick it. Ew, she's got a sweet ride but something bad happened in here.
Penny: Are you serious right now?
Max: A hate crime. A baby committed a hate crime on another baby. This one. This war horse is born to run.
-- Max (Adam) and Penny (Casey Wilson) selecting a shopping cart for the final leg of the scavenger hunt, Happy Endings (Wednesdays, ABC).

Grayson: See, this was my boxer brief pose [makes a forlorn face]. But if I was modeling racer briefs, I'd just arch my back a little and maybe pop the cheeks like so, boom! Hmm. Miss those days.
Ellie: You and no one else on earth.

Grayson: The male prisoners who keep my fan site active strongly disagree.

-- Grayson (Josh Hopkins) reliving his past glory to the dismay of Ellie (Christa Miller), Cougar Town (Tuesdays, ABC).

Political Prisoner Lynne

You all know honest Socrates Who always spoke the truth They owed him thanks for that, you'd think But what happened? Why, they put hemlock in his drink And swore that he misled the youth. How honest was this Socrates! Yet long before the day was out The consequence was clear, alas: His honesty had brought him to this pass.
-- Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children


Lynne Stewart is a political prisoner convicted for the 'crime' of issuing a press release (to Reuters news agency). For that 'crime,' the lifelong people's attorney is now in prison. The defender of those whom other attorneys ran from -- out of scorn, disdain, fear or whatever -- was sentenced to approximately two years. Lynne is over 70 and a breast cancer survivor so that was bad enough. When she stated publicly that she could handle the sentence, suddenly the Barack Obama administration wanted her re-sentenced to harsher one. They got what they wanted and Lynne was given ten years (for the 'crime' of stating she could handle the two year sentence).

Why is Barack so vindictive towards Lynne? A psychologist might probe areas such as: Does Lynne, a White woman married to a Black man, remind him of his own mother and dredge Mommy issues he's never dealt with? A Constitutional expert might just see Lynne as a pawn in Barack's continued effort to dismantle the Constitution. The American people should be demanding the release of Lynne.

February 29th, attorney Herald Price Fahringer argued before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that Lynne's sentence was unfairly increased, that she was being punished for exercising her First Amendment rights to free speech and that to allow the re-sentencing to stand would silence other defendants in court proceedings out of fear that they too would be punished for their remarks.

Last week, Ralph Poynter (Lynne's husband) discussed the latest developments with Glen Ford on Black Agenda Radio, which is hosted by Ford and Nellie Bailey and airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network. Excerpt.

Ralph Poynter: Lynne defended young Black and Latino drug dealers with a passion and the left lawyer says, "How can you defend these people who destroy your community?" And Lynne's answer was: "The whole American economic system is a criminal enterprise. And you defend these criminals -- the corporations, and you defend these criminals -- the mafia, you defend these criminals -- the corrupt unions -- all the time. But now it comes to some poor Black kid who can't read, write and count, because he doesn't tow the line of freedom and justice for all and you want to disenfranchise him? And no one has ever gotten a dime for slaving and until they do, it remains the product of a criminal enterprise. So now, early on, she becomes the enemy of the intelligentsia or the left. The blink Sheik [Omar Abdel-Rahman], he was an Islamist, he was a Muslim [. . .]. And, as Lynne says, he has a right to a defense as anyone else. And she said clearly on the witness stand, she said, "I would not change one fundamentalist philosophy for another fundamentalist philosophy." She didn't mince one word. She talked about old men wanting to control the lives of young women. Lynne is in jail and she has offended and will continue to offend the Zionists and those who suck up to corporations. And, as she says, they don't have to talk about the rights or the privelages, they already got it. Their job is to defeat law. And when Lynne tries to defeat the law on behalf of her clients -- the poor or people that the government doesn't like -- then she becomes the bad girl.

Glen Ford: What's the next step?

Ralph Poynter: The next step in the legal saga is to pray to Zeus or whatever God that you've got that this is a victory and then it goes back to the judge -- Judge [John G.] Koeltl -- and then to go before Judge Koeltl and then have the argument that he was right in the first place [with sentencing] and we want time served or bail pending appeal as she goes on to the Second Circuit [to appeal her conviction].

Radio Moment of the Week

Law and Disorder Radio

This edition's radio moment of the week comes from last week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights). Here they are discussing the possible secret indictment against Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. Excerpt.

Michael Ratner: But what brings us really and brings me particularly to focus on these documents is the Center for Constitutional Rights and myself are advisors to Julian Assanfe and WikiLeaks, legal advisors. And we've been particular advisors about the Bradley Manning trial [. . .] So in these documents, these Stratfor documents, there's one document from Fred Burton who is the vice president, former US official, a counter-terrorism official, that says, "We have a sealed indictment on Julian Assange. Keep this private." He did this in January 2011, just over a year ago. And, of course, WikiLeaks is analyzing documents and sees this document and says, "What's this? Is this true? Is this valid?" And, of course, until we see it and know it, we don't know that it's 100% valid, but what Fred Burton has done in the past has been very reliable. And he's very well connected. So, for example, in another e-mail he says, within 10 days after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, he said, "I can get the documents that were seized in that house from Osama bin laden." So these guys have very close connections with US intelligence. Other parts of these documents, in addition to this claim that there's an indictment, where they talk about Julian Assange, they talk about Julian Assange as a high tech terrorist, that's what Fred Burton says, and that we have to bring him down the way that we bring down al Qaeda.

Heidi Boghosian: No.

Michael Ratner: That's what they say.

Heidi Boghosian: No.

Michael Ratner: And the way we're going to do it, we're going to jail him wherever we can, we're going to cut off all his finances and, of course, that's exactly what happened. They cut off Master Card contributions to WikiLeaks, they cut off Visa donations to WikiLeaks, they cut off pay pal to WikiLeaks, and they're obviously going after them any way they can. So there's a lot of accuracy in this. But, lookit, from my point of view, the fact that there might be, or it looks like there is, a sealed indictment against Julian Assange is just incredible to me. I mean, first of all, it would be, I think it's the first time in US history that a US journalist has actually been indicted for publishing classified documents that he himself didn't have access to as a classified person. SO that's the first thing. The second thing that's amazing, the secrecy. If he's been indicted, it's by a secret grand jury sitting in Alexandria [Virginia], it's a secret indictment and it's secret to me, one of his --

Heidi Boghosian: Attorneys, legal advisors.

Michael Ratner: -- legal counsel, legal advisors, right. It's secret to Julian Assange, it's secret to WikiLeaks, but it's apparently not secret to a private security company that's like a back door for the US spy agencies.

Heidi Boghosian: Michael, how often are secret indictments brought and under what circumstance?

Michael Ratner: The normal case of a secret indictment is when a person is not in custody and they're afraid, if a person gets news of a secret indictment, they'll flee. Now, of course, Julian Assange is in custody. I mean, he sort of is in custody. He has a [monitoring] bracelet on, he's under court --

Heidi Boghosian: He's under house arrest.

Michael Ratner: He's under house arrest essentially in the UK -- not house arrest exactly, but he has to go back to his house every day at six o'clock [p.m.], he could meet people for lunch or something --

Heidi Boghosian: He's under supervision.

Michael Ratner: And he has a bracelet that he can't get off. So the normal case would be when a person -- not really Julian Assange -- but when a person doesn't really know about it and then they do it in the sealed way so the person doesn't flee. Now I think in this case, it may be --

Heidi Boghosian: I was going to say, could this be because he's enjoyed such broad support, especially in the online communities? That the government, with their private arm, is afraid that there would be such a tremendous outcry and more support? And perhaps more 'hacktivism,' as they say?

Michael Ratner: There's certainly going to be hacktivism as a result of this. I actually think the explanation may be differnent. Two things. One, let's hope it's not really an indictment and that the government isn't so crazy, Obama isn't so crazy -- and Holder, aren't so crazy to make their legacy to be the execution of a person I consider to have exposed -- along with Bradley Manning if it's true that he was the source --

Heidi Boghosian: Murder.

Michael Ratner: Murder. Serious War Crimes. Thousands of deaths in Iraq. The Collateral Murder video of the Reuters people being killed. So these people have done an amazing, an amazing piece of work. And the idea --

Heidi Boghosian: A public service.

Michael Ratner: A public service. And the idea, of course -- I mean this is what happens to whistle blowers. They first get -- You know the government in power or charge, Obama and Holder, go after them --

Heidi Boghsian: Retaliation.

Michael Ratner: Right. And eventually they're seen as what they really are, which are people who have played the crucial role in trying to change society in a positive direction.

Anna May Wong film pioneer (Edward Yudelovich)

Repost from Workers World:

Chinese-American actor stood up to Hollywood racism

Published Mar 9, 2012 9:07 PM

The U.S. motion picture industry has a record of advocacy of imperialist wars, racism, sexism and all forms of bigotry. This was the obstacle course through which Anna May Wong — star of more than 50 films and the first Chinese-American star of her own TV show — had to navigate.

Wong’s career was obstructed by racist laws prohibiting her from sharing an on-screen kiss with any person of another race — even if the character was Asian but being portrayed by a white actor. Tired of being both typecast and passed over for lead Asian character roles in favor of non-Asian actors, Wong left Hollywood in 1928 for Europe.

Interviewed by Doris Mackie for Film Weekly in 1933, Wong stated: “I was so tired of the parts I had to play. There seems little for me in Hollywood, because, rather than real Chinese, producers prefer Hungarians, Mexicans, American Indians for Chinese roles.”

Just as the great African-American entertainer and Civil Rights activist Josephine Baker received greater respect for her art when she left the racist U.S. for Europe, Wong became a sensation, starring in such notable films as “Schmutziges Geld” (“Song and Show Life,” 1928) and “Gro√üstadtschmetterling” (“City Butterfly”).

Wong began using her newfound celebrity to make political statements, including harsh criticism of the 1931 Mukden Incident and Japanese imperialism’s subsequent invasion of Manchuria. She also became outspoken in her advocacy for Chinese-American causes and for better film roles. In a 1933 interview for Film Weekly entitled “I Protest,” Wong criticized the negative stereotyping in “Daughter of the Dragon,” “Why is it that the screen Chinese is always the villain? And so crude a villain — murderous, treacherous, a snake in the grass! We are not like that. How could we be, with a civilization that is so many times older than the West?”

Wong returned to the U.S. in June 1935 with the goal of obtaining the role of O-lan, the lead female character in MGM’s film version of Pearl Buck’s novel, “The Good Earth.” Instead Wong was offered the part of Lotus, a character described as being deceitful because she helped to destroy the family. Wong refused the role because of the unsympathetic character she was asked to play.

Despite the fact that Buck had intended the film to be cast with all Chinese or Chinese-American actors, producer Irving Thalberg’s assistant, Albert Lewin, after testing Anna May and other Chinese actors, argued that despite their ethnicity, they did not fit “his” conception of what Chinese people looked like. Instead he selected German actress Luise Rainer for the role of O-lan, for which she won her second consecutive Academy Award.

In the 84-year history of the Academy, no female Chinese American or woman of Chinese descent has ever won the Oscar in the best actress or best supporting actress categories.

In 2007, Asian-American filmmaker Elaine Mae Woo paid tribute to Wong’s legacy and perseverance with the acclaimed documentary “Anna May Wong: Frosted Yellow Willows, Her Life, Times and Legend.” (“Frosted Yellow Willows” is Wong’s birth name in English.)

Who's destroying public education and how

Susan (On The Edge) noted this video and asked that it be spread around. We'll do our part.

Laborvote posted the video and notes:
Kathleen Carroll, an attorney and fired whistleblower at the California Commission On Teacher Credentials attended the March 5, 2012 rally for public education at the State Capitol and talks about the organized destruction of public education in California and who is responsible for this crisis. Included in her comments is the role of Apple and other online education companies who are draining funds from public schools. She also calls for the investigation and prosecution of illegal actions by lobbyists funded by the Gates Foundation and Broad Foundation who are illegally voting on public money to private schools in which they have an economic interest. She questions why California Attorney General Kamala Harris has refused to investigate and also whey Governor Jerry Brown is continuing to allow criminal activity at the Commission On Teacher Credentials. The California Commission On Teacher Credentials is under the direct authority of Governor Brown and his office. For further video on Kathleen Carroll go to:
Production of Labor Video Project

Veterans burials and graves

We'll note this press release from the House Veterans Affairs Committee about a hearing last week (see this March 8th Iraq snapshot by C.I. for a report on the hearing).

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) held an oversight hearing to examine the current state of our National Cemeteries. Testifying before the subcommittee were representatives from all of the agencies who have jurisdiction over veterans cemeteries.

The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) has come under fire recently due to a series of audits revealing, to date, over 240 mismarked or unmarked graves and 8 veterans or their loved ones buried in the wrong place at 13 cemeteries nationwide. Today’s hearing was used as an opportunity to review NCA’s progress in mending the harm revealed by the national audit, as well as to review measures taken to ensure greater accountability.

“I believe every person in this room agrees we have a solemn obligation to cherish the memory and heroic actions of our veterans by holding ourselves and our organizations to the highest of standards. I also believe everyone here is as passionate as I am about our mutual duty in honoring our fallen heroes as best as we know how, with all the resources we can muster,” stated Rep. Jon Runyan (NJ-3), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on the importance of fixing mistakes at National Cemeteries.

Runyan said, “VA needs to ensure they are holding contractors accountable for their actions; use more rigorous oversight practices; and move to a paperless system. When VA proves these serious long term changes have happened, then these horrific failings will cease to exist. It is the duty of this subcommittee to ensure no family will have to endure a second burial of a fallen hero.”

Today’s hearing also brought to light progress which has been made in other cemeteries, including Arlington National Cemetery. “The new leadership at Arlington has done a tremendous job in fixing the issues they were facing. NCA, too, has begun to make significant strides in remedying the problems that were revealed in the recent audit.”


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.

"Emo kids in Iraq targeted for death" -- Monday morning, C.I. hit the net with the Emo kids story, one she'd covered before. Al Mada -- an Iraqi publication in Arabic -- was reporting on the move to not just demonize the Emo kids but also to target them. By apparently being one of the few US online voices who reads Arabic (or follows Iraq), she was able to be one of the online leaders on this story as 459 of you reminded in your e-mails to this site voting for this post. You all pointed out that she would return to the topic throughout the week but felt that this one needed attention and praise because it was the first news in English of what was happening to the Emo kids of Iraq. There's talk of doing some sort of piece on this here but in case time runs out, Mike asked C.I. right away, "Why 'Emo' and not 'emo'?" In the US, we use "emo." For whatever reasons, the term has been capitalized in the Iraqi press since they first started noting it last month. C.I.'s followed their lead on that.

"Women of the one world" -- with 451 votes, this was the second most requested highlight by readers of this site. Melissa e-mailed to say, "I was really upset that there was not room in the Thursday snapshot to note some of this information. I appreciated the two paragraphs C.I. did include on the topic and I appreciate she was addressing other issues and reporting on a Congressional hearing and all. But I am really glad that this went up Thursday morning. I e-mailed it to everyone I know because it's so rare that we get this kind of honesty. This is my favorite of everything that went up at The Common Ills this week. And the closing with Carly Simon's song? I didn't get that at first. The Nyro and Near songs were obvious choices. But then the teamwork, the solidarity and the friendship of 'Libby' hit me and I thought it was near genius to include that song."

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Jim Moron" -- Isaiah takes on Jim I Hate Free Speech Moran.

"Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "The VFW," "The VA and education (Wally)," "Impressions"
"Iraq snapshot," "VA wants money but not rules," "VA refuses to take accountability," "US House Veterans Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations" and "Iraq snapshot" -- don't say this community just aggregates! If you thought C.I. knocked herself out lalst week reporting on Congresional hearings, you weren't prepared for this week! She reported on four hearings -- three veterans affairs, one Senate Armed Services Committee -- and also brought in information from two other hearings this week (brought into the snapshots) that she didn't have room to do a full report on. In addition to C.I., Ava, Wally and Kat reported on two veterans affairs hearings as well.

"Sit your tired ass down, John Conyers," "Gutless Barbara Lee" and "Schumer?" -- Marcia, Betty and Ann on members of Congress.

"Warren and Brown" -- Hey guys and gals, who's that Boston blogger who's told you what the polls now reflect about Big Mass' Senate race? Who's explained it to you for months now as the press -- with no polling -- has repeatedly told you Warren's a sure thing? Why it's Trina. And while the gas bags are full of beans, she's been full of facts. Trina writes about this race at least twice a month, usually more. As the latest polls demonstrate, her calls have been correct.

"Whitney," "Desperate Housewives," "Whitney," "revenge,""Cougar Town," "Cougar Town," "Whitney," "TV thoughts," "The Firm and this week's idiot," "Happy Endings," "The Good Wife," "Smash," "Desperate Housewives" and "US government cancels NewsHour interview" -- Betty, Ann, Rebecca, Ruth, Marcia, Mike, Stan, Elaine and Trina cover TV.

"The Possession of Joel Delaney" and "Netflix's crappy streaming inventory" -- Stan weighs in on movies.

"THIS JUST IN! THE PRESS FAWNS AGAIN!" & "Don't call them reporters," "US government cancels NewsHour interview,""Josh Rogin is an idiot and so is Foreign Policy," "POLITICO wallows in its sexism" and "Memo to AFP: Snark is not reporting" -- Wally & Cedric, Trina, Stan, Elaine and C.I. offer media criticism.

"The press looks the other way for Killer Barry," "Obama the Executioner" "The two of a kind," "Awful?" and "Martin Sheen's an ass who will rot in hell" -- Barack the executioner and his lackeys get called out by Betty, Ann,

"THIS JUST IN! NATURAL BORN LOSER!" and "Even with no real opponent, he loses" -- Oklahoma results attest to just how sad Barack is.

"Lonely Boy," "How Sad He Is" and "They want to distort Woody Guthrie" -- Kat and Ruth offer some music coverage.

"Boys Do Cry" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for 2008 when a politician sobbed in public. No, it wasn't Hillary. Her eyes welled up, but she didn't cry. The sobber was Joe Biden. And the press -- the same press that obsessed over Hillary -- looked the other way.
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