Sunday, March 18, 2012

Truest statement of the week

One woman who does activism to ban all nuclear weapons, including DU, said that now in Iraq, a woman’s first question after giving birth is not: "Is it a boy or a girl," but, "Is it normal?"

-- Cindy Sheehan, "Is It Normal?" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox).

Truest statement of the week II

Republicans would probably like to impeach Obama for any number of reactionary reasons. But, whatever their motives, Congressman Jones’ resolution is solidly grounded in both international law and the U.S. Constitution. The wording is impeccable, and should have emanated from the Congressional Progressive and Black Caucuses, rather than the Republican Right.
The resolution defines “the use of offensive military force by a president without prior and clear authorization of an act of Congress” as constituting “an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor,” a violation of Congress’s exclusive power to declare war.”
Jones says his action is a direct response to an exchange between Obama’s Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, and the far-right Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Regarding the use of military force against Syria, the Secretary said the “goal would be to seek “international permission” and then inform Congress – but not necessarily to ask permission from the other branch of government. In other words, congressional approval of U.S. wars is optional – not mandatory – for this president.

-- Glen Ford, "Obama Richly Deserves Impeachment for War Policies, But Only a Few Dare Say So -- and Most of Them are Republicans" (Black Agenda Radio -- 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?

Cindy Sheehan.
Glen Ford.

We had another piece planned that would have gone great with this. But maybe next week. A number of people were under the weather (C.I., Mike, Wally and Ava) so we'll take what we got.

Ashley Judd has a new TV show. It'll run for 10 episodes on ABC this season and hopefully be back next fall. Even I (Jim) love the show and I'm not big on TV these days. (More due to being a Daddy than to the quality of TV.) So if you missed last Thursday's debut, make a point to stream it online. And I really love this piece Ava and C.I. wrote. But I'll digress a bit to tell you a little story here. Ava and C.I. hated Prime Suspect. 'Duh,' you say, 'I read this and saw it.' No, they hated it before it aired. They got two episodes before the fall season started and were asked to push the show if they liked it. They called it Dirty Mary and found it disgusting. They called it many things. Week in and week out. They could have done the most hilarious take down of the show. And they refused to. They only mention it now because the show is dead. I am going to try to get them to revisit Prime Suspect because they have so much more to offer about why that show failed. We'll see if I have any luck.

Ava and C.I. are the ones. Not NOW, not Feminist Majority, not any of the do-me feminists. Ava and C.I. call out what needs to be called out. No one else noted the way PBS decided only men could make judgments during their DNC and RNC coverage. Ava and C.I. called it out. Soon PBS will be covering conventions again. Will women be invited on to share opinions? It'll be interesting to see -- just as interesting as it was to see Ava and C.I. do all the heavy lifting on this topic in 2008.

We planned this one awhile back.

We're not John McCain fans. We are fans of accountability.

We're not promising that we'll do this next week. But we are glad so many readers enjoyed this last week.

A brief roundtable. Ava and C.I. don't speak. By choice. They felt like s**t and motioned to Dona half-way in that they weren't speaking. They did take all the notes for this transcript piece.

Jill Stein is running for the Green Party's presidential nomination.

Amnesty International.

Repost of Workers World.

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


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

Editorial: It Takes A War Whore

really ugly

The ridiculous Michele Flournoy tried to suck it up and write "Iraq is a testament to Obama leadership" (POLITICO). Flournoy recently left the Defense Dept. and now holds a ceremonial post in Barack's re-election campaign. She left the Defense Dept. because she was not promoted to Secretary of Defense. A truth teller would be addressing that publicly and noting how she felt there was a glass ceiling at play. Instead, Flournoy plays the good foot soldier for the man who betrayed her and thinks that gives her 'one of the boys' cred.

It doesn't. It just makes her a joke.

The same way her ridiculous column does.

Iraq is a testament to Barack's incompentence. Violence has increased. Iraqis live in fear. The religious minorities are fleeing at a faster rate than they were in all of 2010. Human Rights Watch notes that Iraq "is slipping back into authoritarianism." Most telling is the targeting of Iraqi youth.

Iraqi Emo youths are being targeted by the government. They're being killed with cement blocks and with the approval and endorsement of Nouri al-Maliki. Nouri al-Maliki never nominated anyone to head the Ministry of the Interior deciding he'd head it 'briefly' (which has now lasted 15 months). Last month, a statement attacking and demonizing the Emo youth went up on the Ministry of the Interior website. It was only taken down last week. That's on Nouri.

As are his efforts to demonize his political opponents, demanding Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested for terrorism, demanding Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post. As former Ambassador Feisal Istrabadi explained in December ["Does Maliki Want to Become Unchallenged Ruler of Iraq?" (PBS NewsHour; text, audio and video)]:

What has been happening in Iraq in the last 24 hours cannot be seen in isolation. For the past 12 months, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has refused to appoint a permanent minister of defense. That was supposed to be one of the portfolios that went to the Iraqiya coalition. They have nominated six people for that position. Each one of them has been rejected. He has appointed a member of his own coalition, the prime minister's own coalition, as acting minister of defense. He is acting as minister of the interior. And one of his cronies is acting minister of state for national security. He has cashiered career officers and appointed cronies to senior officer positions in the armed and security forces in Iraq. In other words, the prime minister has under his control as we speak all the instrumentalities of state security in Iraq. I'll remind your viewers that, in the early 1970s, this is precisely how Saddam Hussein came to power at the time. What we -- I think Iraqis, with our history, we have to be overly cautious when we see similar actions occur as have occurred in our relatively recent past. Strength in the new Iraq must be through constitutional democracy, and not through harassment and intimidation.

And Nouri? That's on Barack Obama.

In March 2010, Iraqis turned out to vote. This followed weeks of Nouri insisting that this Iraqiya candidate was a terrorist or that one was and having them pulled from the list of candidates, Iraqiya candidates were even killed -- killings that never resulted any arrests by Nouri's government (you do the math), they were demonized and Nouri was supposedly going to overwhelming beat all opponents with his State of Law political slate. Quil Lawrence (NPR) was so convinced of that he went on air and declared Nouri the winner of the election. But you gotta wait for the votes to be counted, Quil.

First place went to Iraqiya. That was the people's choice. Iraqis used the ballot box to ask for a change. They made their feelings known.

And yet they're still stuck with Nouri.

That's Barack Obama's fault.

War Whores like Michele and Samantha Power made the decision that the US could get the oil draft passed and other things they wanted via Nouri and that it would be too much work to start over with someone new.

So piss on Iraqis, so f**k democracy, none of it mattered. All that mattered was what Barack Obama wanted.

Again to Iraq's former Ambassador Istrabadi, discussing Iraq with host Warren Oleny on KCRW's To the Point in December.

The critical mistake the Obama administration made occurred last year when it threw its entire diplomatic weight behind supporting Nouri al-Maliki notwithstanding these very worrisome signs which were already in place in 2009 and 2010. The administration lobbied hard both internally in Iraq and throughout the region to have Nouri al-Maliki get a second term -- which he has done. Right now, the betting there's some question among Iraq experts whether we'll ever have a set of elections in Iraq worthy of the name. I mean, you can almost get odds, a la Las Vegas, on that among Iraq experts. It's a very worrisome thing. What can they do in the future? Well I suppose it would be helpful, it would be useful, if we stopped hearing this sort of Happy Talk coming from the administration -- whether its Jim Jeffreys in Baghdad, the US Ambassador or whether it's the president himself or other cabinet officers. We're getting a lot of Happy Talk, we're getting a lot of Happy Talk from the Pentagon about how professional the Iraqi Army is when, in fact, the Iraqi Army Chief of Staff himself has said it's going to take another ten years before the Iraqi Army can secure the borders. So it would help, at least, if we would stop hearing this sort of Pollyanna-ish -- if that's a word -- exclamations from the administration about how swimmingly things are going in Iraq and had a little more truth told in public, that would be a very big help to begin with.

Iraq is a testament to Barack Obama's craven lies and desperation. It's not a shiny example but deceit and only a War Whore would claim otherwise.

"Why? I want to know why?" Michele cried months ago to Robert Gates when she learned she wouldn't be his replacement. While we don't celebrate the sexism of the Obama administration we take great joy in knowing that the War Whore whose actions have destroyed so many was reduced to tears by someone and that War Whores don't always get what they want.

TV: What people will watch and what they won't

ABC's Missing does a number of things right off the bat, including establishing the character and the series immediately. Those aren't minor points as any who suffered through NBC's Prime Suspect can attest.


That show was saddled with a one-note actress (Maria Bello) who appeared to have graduated from the Ali MacGraw Fine Acting Institute which she, no doubt, attended on the Candice Bergen Flared Nostril Scholarship. Prime Suspect was an attempt to remake a British series starring Helen Mirren and that could have made for an entertaining show were it not for the fact that Maria Bello was bound and determined to play her one-note tantrum in scene after scene and the writers had nothing to add.

In the UK version, Mirren was a victim of sexism in the first season. In the US version, they wanted you to feel for Bello while never really letting her be a victim of sexism. Her biggest problem when it came to getting along with her colleagues had to do (a) with her rude attitude and (b) with the fact that she may have slept her way up to the position of detective. Supposedly Jane was a talented detective but if she did sleep her way in (the sex wasn't in dispute, whether or not it got her promoted was), you're not really going to feel too sorry for her if co-workers aren't dying to go on assignment with her.

Apparently to explain the fact that Bello wasn't able to shade or subtext, we were told in the first episode that Jane was attempting to stop smoking, as if that would explain the angry cyborg on the screen before us. With her live-in lover, she was just as exasperated and angry. Near the end, this rating hemophilliac paired Bello with a small child -- an orphan who was being targeted for death -- and you still didn't get another side of the emotional iceberg.

Some wondered if the problem was that there was nothing feminine about Bello in Prime Suspect? The bigger problem was there was nothing human about Bello's character.

Missing kicks off with Ashley Judd's Becca on a morning run, passing friends to whom she explains her son and husband are out of the country. We cut to Vienna where her son Michael and her husband Paul (Sean Bean) are getting ready to return to the United States and Michael's trying to fit too much into a backpack. Paul agrees to carry the soccer ball. Then Paul dials Becca and they have what appears to be an interesting conversation (she's willing to try for a second child) when he hands the phone to their son and remembers or 'remembers' that he left the soccer ball behind. On the phone with his mother, Michael gets out of the car to get the ball and the car explodes apparently killing Paul.

Flash forward ten years later and Michael's off to Rome to study. A series of quick scenes with Becca and Mary (Aunjanue Ellis) as Becca receives text and calls from Michael follow and then nothing until she's informed he's been dropped from the program in Rome because he's missed three lectures and he moved out of his dorm two weeks ago. Becca realizes something's wrong and heads to Rome and we're ten minutes into the show.

It's at that point that we learn Becca was a formidable CIA agent. We discover that, thankfully, not from one long talky scene after another, but by what Becca does -- investigating, going head-to-head with what appears to have been an assassin, etc. A throw-away-line speaks volumes as the current CIA attempts to figure out Becca and what she's up to, "Those are the ones we've got to look out for, the thinner the file, the better the agent." It's in that scene that we're first primed for Keith Carradine who will surface in later episodes, he was her mentor Martin Newman.

Whether it's Richard Gere, Meryl Streep, Jack Lemmon, Sally Field or Harrison Ford, Americans are long conditioned to seeing the star go to great lengths to find a child. So there's no believability gulf. Equally true, the show's tailored for Ashley. No other American actress could pull this role off because no other American actress has starred in Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy, High Crimes and Twisted.

With Ashley, there's no need to play the Jodie Foster card -- the character had a father who . . . -- or to throw on a ton of backstory or, worse, explaining why a 'girl' would be interested in or know this or that 'manly' action. We accept Ashley as a woman of action because she's played that part successfully.

And part of the reason for her success is her own immense talent (never underestimate her, Ashley Judd's a powerhouse actress) but it's also because a long line of women came before including Monica Vitti, Diana Rigg, Pam Grier, Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kathleen Turner, Geena Davis, Bridget Fonda and Angelina Jolie are among the actresses of the last decades who've successfully tackled the notions of what a woman can do.

When Prime Suspect crashed and burned, there was talk that the country just didn't want to see a woman in strong role but as Missing demonstrates, the issue was the actress not the notion. In other words, Prime Suspect trapped you in an elevator with a crank snarling loudly into a cell phone while Missing takes you on an escape.

PBS, we don't want to see it in 2012

PBS fails when it comes to diversity. If you ever doubted that, you missed the 2008 convention coverage and Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The endless non-news" and "TV: More sexism, more self-promotion." It was in the latter that they really noted the sexism going out over the airwaves.

That point was driven home best on Thursday when the boys decided to again explore women. It was interesting to see so many speaking about women and notice that not one person speaking was, in fact, a woman. You had the three male 'historians' (will get back to them), you had Jim Lehrer, David Brooks and Mark Shields as 'analysts' and you had a man from PEW research plus Ray Suarez. Eight voices discussing women -- eight voices and all of the male. Don't count on the increasingly inept watchdogs to call it out. They didn't do a damn thing when women were sidelined by PBS in Denver and they're not going to do a damn thing now.

They were referring to September 4th but it applies to Septemeber 3rd as well. And since, as usual, Ava and C.I. were alone in calling out the sexism, we want to underscore what took place before PBS prepares to cover the 2012 conventions.

7 men

1 man

2 man

3 men

4 men

5 men

6 men


There were the eight men always weighing in and offering opinions.

These were the eight men who discussed topics like women's role in history. Eight men.

Always eight men.

Sometimes, there might be a toss to Judy Woodruff or Gwen Ifill but those two had to stick to facts and report. Opinions -- judgments -- came from the men.

PBS shouldn't have needed Ava and C.I. pointing out the problem in 2008. And they damn sure better have addressed before the 2012 convention coverage rolls around.

From the TESR Test Kitchen

Drinking can be fun. Making drinks? Not always. After the initial look-at-me-bartend moment wears off, the idea of a blender and ice cubes doesn't always seem bearable, let alone exciting. So it was with great interest that we tried Daily's Ready To Drink Frozen Magarita.


"ALCOHOL IS IN IT!" boasts the package. Indeed, 5% alcohol. Granted, that's not a great deal, but it kept you off blender duty, right?

First off, though it claims to be 10 ounces, consider it more like six. We're not even referring to the alcohol content, we're just noting that all 12 packages we poured made for a six ounce drink.

Second, do you like your margarita frozen or on the rocks?

Most of us prefer frozen. Two of us (Ava and C.I.) prefer on the rocks.

You do not get a frozen margarita from this package.

You're told to freeze "for about" 8 hours. We even tried freezing for 24. This was never a frozen margarita.

What about the taste itself?

Let's just review before we get to that. The "frozen margarita" never actually resembles a frozen one (or a "slushie" as Ava and C.I. sneer when we order frozen margaritas) and it's actually six ounces (we'll assume four are lost in freezing).

Now for the taste.

Do you like wine coolers?

That's what this actually tastes like (and smells like). Not surprising when you notice there's no tequila listed in the ingredients, just wine. It's a lime flavored wine cooler.

Our recommendation? Skip these quick fixes and prepare to operate the blender.

The endless cost overruns


If Congress focused on cost overruns more instead of trying to strip us of our rights, they might be more popular. That's especially true of Republicans who seem to think the whole world is awaiting their social counseling. Last week's finest moment in Congress was probably the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday when Ranking Member John McCain made clear to Secretary of the Navy Raymond Mabus and General James Amos that

Senator John McCain: As you know, Mr. Secretary, the reason why Senator [Jim] Webb, Senator [Carl] Levin, I and others have been concerned about the issues of Guam is because the costs have escalated dramatically. At least in one area, from six billion to sixteen billion dollars. There has been slow progress with the Japanese. So we decided after Senator Levin, Senator Webb and other of us, that we needed some outside view. An independent view of this situation. We passed the Defense Authorization Bill in December. It's now been two-and-a-half months. How long does it take to let a contract -- to get an independent assessment, Mr. Secretary?

Secretary Raymond Mabus: Senator, since this contract is not under my purview, since I don't let this contract --

Senator John McCain: I see, it's somebody else's responsibility. Well I want to tell you for sure that until we get that independent assessment there should be no concrete plans made by the Secretary of Defense or the Defense Department until we have a chance to examine the assessment and then go through the authorization process or any expenditure of funds that need to be made in order to get this redeployment issue into some kind of sanity. Believe me, we acted -- as is our responsibility -- because of our intense frustration about the lack of progress on this issue. And now, two-and-a-half months go by they haven't even let a contract to get an independent assessment by the way. And we wanted it to be completed by the first of April, the end of March, which obviously cannot happen. I'm not going to let you continue to slow walk us on this issue. Just to put things in perspective, on the F35, again, we started the program in 2001, cost estimates for a couple of thousand aircraft, 2456 aircraft were going to be $238 billion. We've now had additional costs of $150 billion. A hundred fifty additional billion dollars in cost. Block IV, as I understand it, please correct me if I'm wrong, General Amos, Block IV, 32 aircraft which are approximately fifty-percent complete are not $500 million over original estimated costs. Are those figures wrong?

General James Amos: Senator, I can't say whether the figures are wrong or not. Uhm --

Senator John McCain: Do you know what the original costs were supposed to be, General?

General James Amos: Oh, I do. I was the --

Senator John McCain: Alright, was [cross-talk] Is that fact, is that fact wrong?

General James Amos: That fact is pretty close, sir.

Senator John McCain: And there's been an additional $150 million cost overrun. Is that fact true?

General James Amos: I'm -- I'm not -- I can't comment on that. I-I don't know.

Senator John McCain: You don't even know what the cost overrun has been?

General James Amos: Well, I-I, sir, this is not a single point in time. I've noticed the program grow, I've witnessed the technical baseline review last year --

Senator John McCain: Let me interrupt you again. Do you argue the fact that there's been a $150 billion additional costs of the aircraft since the original estimate of $238 billion?

General James Amos: Sir, I can't comment on that. I cen't tell you whether it's a hundred fifty billion dollars. I know it's significant.

Senator John McCain: So, for the record, you don't know how much the cost overrun has been for the F35?

General James Amos: Not precisely.

Senator John McCain: Roughtly? [silence] Do you know roughtly what the cost overrun has been? Sir, I'm assuming since --

General James Amos: No, I don't!

Senator John McCain: That's remarkable.

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.

Neil: I don't know what this means, just yet, I'm not attracted to all men. And you don't have to worry, I'm not attracted to you.
Mark: Okay, well you don't have to be hurtful.

-- Neil (Maulik Pancholy) telling his friends he's attracted to a guy and Mark (Dan O'Brien) not taking it so well, Whitney (NBC, Wednesdays).

When I rank all the things that make me want to die, it goes: Books, snakes, PBS, a cappella.
-- Jules (Courtney Cox), Cougar Town (Tuesdays, ABC).

Penny: You guys, she's not going to do anything to the food if she's a professional.
Max: Yeah, well, when I was a waiter, I was a professional too. Unless you did something I didn't like. And then I introduced your eggs Benedict to my eggs and Benedict.
Brad: He's talking about his Sackman and Throbbin.

-- Penny (Casey Wilson), Max (Adam Pally) and Brad (Damon Wayans, Jr.) on whether or not a waitress might 'season' their food. Happy Endings (ABC, Wednesdays).

Sam: Wow that's a great smile.
Melanie: Oh, thank you! I use bleaching strips. Why do I say things like that?
-- Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli) meets a new guy (Reid Scott). Hot In Cleveland, (TV Land, Wednesdays).

I can't take this anymore, okay? I just had a baby. And I haven't washed my hair or taken a shower since we went to that stupid French food restaurant in the first place. And every time I go to the market she cries and people look at me like I'm a bad Mommy! And it's because I have no sleep, I have no sleep! And I feel like everything itches! And I have a hemorrhoid, I know I have a hemorrhoid!

-- Sloane (Chelsea Handler) explaining to Chelsea (Laura Prepon) that she needs to pull it together, Are You There, Chelsea? (NBC, Wednesdays)

Fran: Judy, talk to her. Tell her there's nothing wrong with me going out with Matthew.
Judy: I don't see anything wrong with it. I dated my sister's husband for a little while.
Fran: Oh? When did they get separated?

Judy: They're talking about it now.

-- Fran (Fran Drescher) wants to date her former brother-in-law and seeks advice from Judy (Tichina Arnold), Happily Divorced (TV Land, Wednesdays).

Roxanne: I got here as soon as I could. Alright, so tell me, what's going to blow my mind out my butt?
Whitney: We just saw Neil on a date.

Roxanne: Wow. That's huge.
Whitney: With another guy.
Roxanne: Wow. I played my huge card too early.
-- Roxanne (Rhea Seehorn) reacting to the news from Whitney (Whitney Cummings), Whitney (NBC, Wednesdays).

Laurie: Oh, I could really go for some hot wings. I love spicy foods so hard. I think it's because my mom gave birth to me after a night of pounding Bloody Marys at a Whitesnake after party. I was a jacuzzi baby -- born and conceived in one.
Jules: Books, snakes, PBS, a cappella groups, that story.
-- Laurie (Busy Philipps) sharing with Jules (Courtney Cox), Cougar Town (Tuesdays, ABC)


Jim: An e-mail roundtable prompted by Lenny's e-mail titled, "Where the hell are the roundtables?" Has it been that long since we did one? Our e-mail address is, we're making sure we do one this edition. 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): First up, Keelan is disappointed that Dona didn't do a piece on the same-sex wedding Archie comics just had.

Dona: Kevin Keller married Dr. Clay Walker in issue 16 of Life With Archie. C.I. covered it in "PTSD and other issues." Add in that I'd just covered the Archies the week prior and noted the equality of the series which really is behind an advance like the wedding or any other move that the characters have made previously. I did try to think if I had anything to add. But I didn't so there was no point unless I was just going to do some sort of, "Page one . . ."

Jim: On things that are covered, Lewis writes he's not sure what Mike's covering TV wise and what are the other sites covering TV wise?

Mike: I have a two week or so period where the two shows I was covering -- Fringe and Nikita -- were not airing new episodes. So I've offered during this time, to cover shows the readers like. Fringe and Nikita return with new episodes Friday, however, they're seven days behind when it comes to streaming so I won't be covering them next week. But those are the two I'm covering. Before that, I was covering Fringe and Chuck.

Rebecca: I cover Community and Revenge. I love Revenge. Community usually sucks. This has been the show's worst year and how long are they going to keep these adults at a two-year community college?

Betty: I cover Whitney and Desperate Housewives.

Marcia: I'm covering Whitney and Unforgettable.

Stan: I cover The Good Wife and Body of Proof.

Ruth: I cover Cougar Town.

Elaine: I cover Smash.

Ann: I cover Whitney.

Jim: And Ann, you've done some other shows too. That's part of the confusion on Lewis' part.

Ann: Oh, Sorry. I honestly planned to cover Revenge. Rebecca's done a great job covering it and made me really interested in the show. So I finally watch, love the show and then no new episodes for weeks. So I didn't see the point. I could cover Smash. I do like that show. Elaine does a great job covering it, by the way. But I'm in a state of flux right now. I'll most likely be grabbing Talk of the Town starting in April and I just want to relax before that comes up.

Ty: And, on the topic of TV, last week's "The week in funny" resulted in several e-mails. Most agreed with comments Jim made in his note, that the piece didn't just focus on the moments men had on TV "the way Entertainment Weekly does," Billy pointed out. Gretchen said she'd love to see that every week and most hoped it would be at least a monthly feature.

Rebecca: Well those things are always Mad Men, Mad Men, the males of Modern Family, Jon Stewart, 'oh what a funny week.' And that was true when Friends was airing new episodes. It has nothing to do with ratings even. It's just a bunch of men applauding male characters for saying things they wish they'd said. We actually had a big back and forth on that feature. It should have been easy to write and taken maybe six minutes. Instead, it was this major piece of, "Well is that as funny as . . ." Whitney was the easiest just because you have Marcia, Betty and Ann covering it and they're very strong advocates for what they believe in. But I do agree with the readers that this is a feature that should be a regular thing. And, yes, I know how hard it is.

Marcia: We'd toyed with it before in the last few years. And maybe before 2008 when I wasn't part of this. But Ava and C.I. pointed out that it's a way to note Whitney which is something Betty, Ann and I are really into raising awareness of. It's great that the show's a hit and one of NBC's few hits but there are still some people who haven't watched because of the sexist attacks on the show when it debuted.

Jim: Marc e-mailed asking when Kat is doing another album review?

Kat: I'll review Bonnie Raitt's new album in April. Other than that, I'm not planning on reviewing anything until then. If something special comes up, I will gladly grab it. I do write about music at my site.

Jim: And Charlie agreed with your "John Mayer and other trash" about how Mayer upping the price of MP3s is ridiculous. I think it's especially ridiculous, as you pointed out, in a bad economy.

Jess: Forget bad economy. What's the reason for the increase. With cassettes and CDs, they'd claim costs increased on reproducing the albums. Now it's an MP3. There's no excuse for an increase. It's nothing but greed. I strongly urge people not to download or buy John Mayer's new stuff. Send a message that we're not going to be bossed around and maybe this time they'll get the point. They wouldn't take this crap in England. Why are we always the suckers that end up paying huge amounts for our music?

Ann: And it's over 20 cents more per track. And we're talking about an artist who, instead of upping prices, should be begging for forgiveness. I wouldn't have that attitude if it weren't for his sense of entitlement. But that he thinks he can up the prices when, just months ago, he was in Playboy tossing around the n-word? I just can't get over that.

Jim: Isaiah didn't do a comic last Sunday at The Common Ills and that has several people upset because there was no heads up at The Common Ills or in the newsletters.

Isaiah: I usually take that day off every year. When we lose an hour due to the time change. After this taking place for years, I wrongly assumed it was a known. Sorry. I'll be doing one tonight and probably figure it out around 8:00 pm at the earliest. Losing an hour may not seem like a big thing but an hour can be a really big thing.

Jim: And, two or three weeks ago, we begged Isaiah to do a comic and he did it and the plan was for a series here, not a series of comics but using it for a series of articles. Then we didn't do it because we ran out of time. So I'll say I'm sorry for that and I'll note that we plan to pick that idea up next month. Theresa's bothered that Mike did not seem impressed with Modern Family.

Mike: I like Phil and his wife. I only watched three episodes. Gloria and Manny and Cameron are funny. So that's five that are funny. I can take Ed O'Neil or leave him. But Jesse Tyler Ferguson's Mitch is just a little bitch and I can't stand him. Always sneering at Cam, always thinking he's smarter than everyone else, it just gets old real quick. Ferguson's a one-note actor who has little to offer and will probably disappear when this show does.

Wally: And the other thing is that Christopher Lloyd and company really just rip off the work of Christopher Guest. Even in its best moments, you sort of feel like there should be a dollar amount in the corner of the screen letting you know just what a debat this show owes to the films of Christopher Guest.

Cedric: Right. Some would say, "No, no, it's like the Blumes!" And try to compare it to Arrested Development. But that treated comedy as a reality show each episode. That's not what Modern Family does. It goes ofr mockumentary in the way Waiting for Gufman and For Your Consideration and A Mighty Wind and Best In Show did. And those are hilarious films. I agree with Wally, Modern Family should be forking over monthly payments to Christopher Guest. And I agree with Mike about Ferguson. I can't stand his character and I can't stand the actor either. I couldn't take him in The Class when he was supposed to be straight but played the role exactly the same.

Jim: And the obvious question would be, is it because the actor's gay in real life?

Cedric: I thought they both were. Cam and Mitch. Wally told me Cam wasn't about three weeks ago. Until then, I'd thought they both were. And I love Cam. But Cam's someone who embraces life and Mitch is just a little priss with his nose in the air all the time. Unlike Mike, I've seen many of the episodes. We usually have the TV on now that we're in a house. Just because we're still getting used to so much space after being apartment dwellers. So the TV's usually on in the living room and we're taking care of this and that all over the house and meeting every once and a while in the living room. But I can't take Mitch. I've never been able to stand him. He's a priss and a snob and he's got no reason to be either. He's forever looking down on Cam.

Jim: There are some actors that people just hate. Stan's got one.

Stan: I can't stand Matthew Perry. He's supposedly coming on The Good Wife this season. I hope not. I hate him. He is the worst. He was the weakest on Friends. People don't get that but he wasn't funny in the scenes. The others interacted and he would sort of do this catty voice over, removed from it all -- kind of like what Cedric's saying about Ferguson's Mitch. So I'm really not in the mood for Chandler joins The Good Wife.

Jim: Anybody else?

Trina: I can't stand John Malkovich in anything. He always gets on my nerves. It's the same performance and it's always got an element of look-at-me-are-you-looking-at-me? to it.

Ruth: I loved George C. Scott, but I cannot take Campbell Scott. That voice. He sounds like a cartoon version of a TV anchor. If they made a film of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Campbell Scott would be perfect for the role of Tex Baxter.

Jim: Okay, Francis is thrilled with the rebirth of the sitcom and congratulates Ava and C.I. for pointing out, all these years, that the sitcom isn't dead. Francis wonders what sitcom meant the most to you. Let's start with Trina and everyone at her house.

Trina: Okay. I'll say One Day At A Time. That was a funny show and one I identified with. My husband and I are still together so I don't mean the divorced aspect. But Ann's problems with the kids -- Barbara and Julie -- were things I could relate to and I was relating to the adult on the sitcom, it was a real moment.

Marcia: Kate and Allie for me. But I couldn't watch the last season. They moved the show to Saturday and they married off Jane Curtain's character and what was the point? I couldn't watch that. That was a really important show for me because it was a show that I watched because I wanted to. Not because my parents did but because this was my show. And Susan Saint James and Jane Curtain were really something to see as Kate and Allie. They were funny and they were strong and they were friends.

Stan: Will & Grace. There's not a week that goes by that I don't remember something from that show. The cast was first rate and the writing was great. I can watch those shows over and over. Or just relive them in my head. The one where Grace meets the only woman Will's ever slept with? I know that one by heart.

Mike: I'd go with Stan and say Will & Grace. Friends made you laugh -- or made me laugh -- but Will and Grace was always bust-a-gut funny. Karen, Jack, Grace, Will, Rosario, they were hilarious. And Beverly Leslie and the other supporting characters were funny as well. The finale sucked but forget that and you've got a really solid, really hilarious TV show.

Rebecca: I'll go with The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It was a quality show with solid laughs throughout. If I ranked the best episodes, they would be the early ones before Rhoda leaves for her own show. After Rhoda leaves, you really need Sue Ann to bring the manic high to the episodes. Sue Ann was a freak with the hots for Lou and was brilliantly played by Betty White.

Kat: I'll go with Roseanne. That was a trail blazer show and so controversial that there's really not been anything like it. Even Raising Hope makes fun of the working class, treats them as idiots and ha-ha, they're stupid because they're poor. But Roseanne was a show about working class people, poor people, and they had integrity and they weren't a joke.

Betty: I think some really great things have been offered. I'll go to one that I watched all the way through, The Nanny. Fran Fine. How I loved her. And Val. Val and Fran were such great friends. And Sylvia and Niles. And CiCi. I loved that show. Fran was always getting into something. Like when Diahann Carroll was the guest star and Fran thought she might be her mother. That was hilarious as Fran began telling everyone she was Black. Or when she met the perfect guy and was so happy. Until they're making out and realize that they're cousins. That was Jon Stewart, in a guest spot, by the way.

Jim: And that's going to be it. We'll try to address e-mails again very soon. This is a rush transcript.

Obama betrays labor again, guts union rights

Jill Stein

Jill Stein is seeking the Green Party's presidential nomination.

Obama betrays labor again, guts union rights
President Obama's recent signing of the FAA Reauthorization Bill —over the protests of at least 19 major trade unions including the UAW, Steelworkers, Transportation Communications Union (IAM) and Teamsters— shows once again the current administration’s true nature, say supporters of Jill Stein’s Green Party presidential campaign. “A betrayal of working America,” is how Jill Stein herself described Obama’s approval of significant anti-union changes to the Railway Labor Act erasing longstanding protections for thousands of railroad and airline workers. Stein said she would have vetoed the bill.

Backed by a majority of congressional Democrats, the “compromise” legislation raises the percentage of workers who must sign cards authorizing a union representation election from 35% to 50%. In addition, the new rules make it harder for unions to win run-off elections, aids employers in delaying elections and collective bargaining and removes privacy protections for union authorization cards which means companies can identify and intimidate workers who might otherwise vote to unionize.

“This should be a real wake-up call for labor regarding where we are headed," declared Stein, noting that this is but the latest act in the administration’s ongoing disregard of working people’s rights and a 180-degree reversal of President Obama’s promise in March of last year to veto any FAA Reauthorization Bill containing anti-union provisions. Stein added, “Why should anyone give their trust and vote to a President who breaks his word to the men and women who work every day—sometimes at the risk of their lives—to keep our nation’s transportation systems operating?”

Stein placed the FAA bill in context of a history of White House reversals, stating that “The free trade agreements being promoted by the Obama Administration are already putting ever-increasing pressure on working America to make concessions regarding wages and benefits. For three decades, employers have pocketed the profits from increasing worker productivity, shortchanged workers on health benefits and pensions and are now bringing in two-tier wage systems in which younger workers are being paid a fraction of the wages paid to older employees. I’m running because working Americans deserve a President who will say ‘no!’ to legislative attacks on the right to organize.”

Says Chicago labor lawyer and Teamsters member Anthony Prince, a support of Labor for Stein, "President Obama won labor support in 2008 by saying he would advance the Employee Free Choice Act and other measures to help labor organizing. He dropped that ball. And he didn’t lift a finger to oppose the Right-To-Work law just passed in Indiana. Now this bill gets shoved down the throats of transportation workers. In my view, that’s why union members and all labor need to support someone we can trust, someone proven who’s not tied to the same corporations we go up against every day: Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, a real champion of working people.”

Iraqi authorities should 'unequivocally condemn' emo attacks

From Amnesty International UK:

Iraqi authorities should 'unequivocally condemn' emo attacks

Posted: 16 March 2012

  • Investigation needed, say three leading human rights groups
  • Two members of heavy metal band reportedly killed because of appearance

The Iraqi government should immediately investigate and bring to justice those responsible for a targeted campaign of intimidation and violence against young Iraqis seen as belonging to an “emo” subculture, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) said today.

The attacks have created an atmosphere of terror among those who see themselves as potential victims.

A 22-year-old gay man in Baghdad told the international rights groups that anonymous callers made death threats on his phone on 11 March. The callers described a friend of his whom they had kidnapped and brutally beaten days earlier, saying that was how they got his number. They told him that he would be next. He has since cut his hair and does not leave his house for fear of being targeted. He said:

“When the news started spreading about emos, the threats and violence against gays increased. They are grouping us all together, anyone who is different in any way, and we are very easy targets.”

The campaign’s victims appear to represent a cross-section of people seen locally as non-conformists. They include people suspected of homosexual conduct, but also people with distinctive hairstyles, clothes, or musical taste. In English, “emo” is short for “emotional,” referring to self-identified teens and young adults who listen to certain types of rock music, often dress in black, close-fitting clothes, and cut their hair in unconventional ways. People perceived to be gay, lesbian, transgender or effeminate are particularly vulnerable.

In an official statement on 8 March, Iraq’s Interior Ministry dismissed reports by local activists and media of a campaign against those seen as emos, saying the reports were “fabricated” and “groundless,” and that it would take action against people who were trying “to highlight this issue and build it out of proportion.” However, an official ministry statement on 13 February had characterised emo culture as “Satanist”, casting doubt on the government’s willingness to protect vulnerable youth, the international rights groups said.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said:

“At best the response of the Iraqi Interior Ministry is completely inadequate, at worst it condones the violence against emo youth. Iraqi authorities should unequivocally condemn the attacks, investigate any killings and protect anyone in danger.”

Human Rights Watch Middle East Deputy Director Joe Stork said:

“The government has contributed to an atmosphere of fear and panic fostered by acts of violence against emos. Instead of claiming that the accounts are fabricated, the Iraqi authorities need to set up a transparent and independent inquiry to address the crisis.”

Iraqi human rights activists have told the three human rights organisations that in early February signs and fliers appeared in the Baghdad neighbourhoods of Sadr City, al-Hababiya and Hay al-‘Amal threatening named people with “the wrath of god” unless they cropped their hair short, gave up wearing so-called “satanic clothing”, hid their tattoos and “maintained complete manhood.” Other names appeared on similar posters in different neighbourhoods. One such sign, posted on a wall in Sadr City, listed 33 names and was decorated with images of two handguns. It read:

“In the name of God the compassionate, the merciful, we warn every male and female in the strongest terms to stop their dirty deeds in four days before the wrath of God strikes them through the hands of mujahedin.”

Since February, the three international rights groups have received information from local human rights groups, community activists and media about the deaths of young people. Some local media reports have put the death toll as high as several dozen. The organisations have not been able to confirm that people have been killed as part of an organised campaign.

A 26-year-old man from Mosul told the rights groups that unknown assailants killed two members of his heavy metal band on 8 March because of their appearance. He said:

“We don’t know who is behind this now, but for a long time, people have been accusing us of being Satanists. So this is not new, but now it has become murderous.”

While it is unclear who is behind the anti-emo campaign, Iraqi media reports have fuelled it by characterising what they call an “emerging emo phenomenon” as Satanists, vampires, immoral and un-Islamic. Some clerics and politicians have also contributed to the demonisation of young emos. The Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called them “crazy fools” and a “lesion on the Muslim community”, though he also maintained that they should be dealt with “within the law.”

Documents received by Amnesty, HRW and the IGLHRC indicate that in August 2011 Iraq’s Education Ministry circulated a memo recommending that schools curb the spread of emo culture, which it called “an infiltrated phenomenon in our society.” In its 13 February statement the Interior Ministry’s indicating that it was seeking approval from the Education Ministry for “an integrated plan that would let them [police] enter all the schools in the capital.” On 29 February the Interior Ministry released another statement announcing a campaign against emo culture in Baghdad, particularly in the Khadimiya neighborhood, where they identified one shop as selling “emo clothing and accessories.”

After widespread media coverage of the violence and intimidation against emos, the Interior Ministry toned down its language in its 8 March statement. It warned against “radical and extremist groups attempting to stand as protectors for morals and religious traditions from any conduct against people based on a fashion, dress or haircut.” The ministry denied that any emos had been killed and threatened “necessary legal actions against those who try to highlight this issue and build it out of proportion.”

Meanwhile, on 14 March security forces in Baghdad detained the film crew of Russia Today’s Arabic TV channel, Rusiya al-Yaum for three hours as they tried to film a segment related to the attacks on emos. Security forces confiscated their footage even though the channel had a permit to film in Baghdad. Meanwhile, a report by Al-Sharqiya TV on 7 March said that men in civilian clothes brutally beat two young women in public in al-Mansour district because of their “fashionable clothing.”

On 15 March the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, a non-profit organisation that provides legal assistance and safe passage to Iraqis facing severe persecution, told HRW that in the past week it had conducted interviews with 23 young Iraqis, most of whom had cut their hair short and were in hiding after receiving death threats and harassment because they were perceived to belong to the emo or LGBT communities. The interviewees also reported that ten others perceived to be in those communities had been killed since mid-February.

IGLHRC Director of Programs Jessica Stern said:

“The government needs to ensure the safety of all Iraqis, not amplify the threats against those already being targeted. The Iraqi Ministry of Interior’s inaction and denial of the ongoing campaign to punish people seen as non-conformists threatens everyone who is different, including those who defy traditional notions of gender and sexuality.”

The killings and intimidation have generated strong condemnation within Iraq. A statement by Ayatollah Ali Sistani, a leading Shia spiritual leader, who referred to the targeted killings of emo youth in Iraq as a threat to the nation’s peace and order, was a positive development, the groups said. Ayatollah Sistani's representative in Baghdad, Shaikh Abd al-Rahim al-Rikabi, described the killings as “terrorist acts."

On 8 March several members of the Iraqi parliament demanded a police investigation into the killings and unequivocally condemned them. On 13 March the parliament speaker, Usama Najaifi, said the “phenomena of assassinating some young people - those who are described as Emo - by some groups in the name of reforming society, entrenches a culture of violence and terror … and is a violation of law and a crime.”

People perceived to be gay, lesbian, transgender and effeminate men told the rights groups that they feel particularly vulnerable. In 2009, Amnesty, HRW and the IGLHRC documented a pattern of torture and murder by Iraqi militias against men suspected of same-sex conduct or of not being "manly" enough. The Iraqi authorities did nothing to stop those killings and many members of the community have since gone underground.

On the picket line (Sue Davis)

Repost from Workers World.

On the picket line

Published Mar 16, 2012 9:54 PM

FDNY must hire people of color, payback wages

In a class-action settlement announced March 8, the New York City Fire Department, which has historically been 97 percent white, must immediately hire 186 African-American and 107 Latino/a firefighters. The FDNY must also pay $128 million, as well as compensatory damages and costs of medical coverage, to applicants who took the 1999 and 2002 exam but were not hired. Captain Paul Washington, past president of the Black firefighters’ Vulcan Society, said, “This is a great victory for those who have been excluded from serving our City because of their race. We hope the FDNY moves quickly to welcome the 293 Black and Latino applicants who are entitled to be hired.” He added that the Vulcan Society has been fighting for nearly 75 years to increase Black representation in the FDNY. The federal judge who issued the ruling noted, “It has been in the City’s power to prevent or remedy the need for damages proceedings for a decade, and it has not done so.” He added that paying damages now for all members of the affected class is a “consequence of the City’s decision to ignore clear violations of federal law.” In earlier rulings the court found that the FDNY test was racially discriminatory, the discrimination was intentional, and it was “a persistent stain on the Fire Department’s record.” (, March 8)

Columbia workers protest proposed cutbacks

Administrative workers at Columbia, Barnard and Teachers College, represented by United Auto Workers Local 2110 since 1985, held a rousing rally and march on March 7 in their fight for a decent contract. Columbia, with an $8 billion endowment — yes, $8 billion — and plans to keep expanding into the Harlem community, is demanding that the workers pay huge increases in health care costs, while offering zero increases in wages and reductions in pension and tuition benefits. No wonder about 700 union members, supporters and students turned out to protest these ruthless cutbacks, which represent blatant corporate greed in the guise of academia. Picketing on both sides of Broadway at 116th Street, the demonstrators, holding handmade signs, blowing whistles and chanting, let Columbia’s administration know they’re willing to fight for a just contract. Local 2110 President Maida Rosenstein told the Columbia Spectator, “We’re dismayed at [Columbia’s] proposals especially in light of the wealth of the institution. It makes no sense whatsoever. The ball’s in their court. … If there is not an agreement or substantial progress, then … a strike action is on the table. It’s not where we want to go, but our members are very, very serious about a fair contract.” Local 2110 has a militant history. In 1995, the union went on strike for six months to stop a two-tier system of pensions. Stay tuned.

Immigrant car washers organize in New York City

Immigrant rights, community and labor groups announced on March 6 that they are starting a campaign to organize the 5,000 mostly immigrant car washers at about 200 sites in New York City. The industry’s violations of workers’ rights include lower-than-minimum wages, no paid overtime and failing to supply protective equipment to those working with caustic cleaners that burn their eyes and noses. A coalition of Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change and the Department Store Union (RWDSU) plans to push for annual city and state inspections to make sure carwash companies follow labor laws, to set up a code of conduct for the industry and to hold government hearings to determine if legislation is need to safeguard workers. When the industry was last surveyed in 2008, 78 percent of carwashes in the five boroughs were in violation of minimum wage and overtime laws. (Crain’s, March 5) The NYC campaign follows the successful one in Los Angeles led by the Steelworkers union. Workers at two carwashes in South LA celebrated their first USW Local 675 contracts on Feb. 21. They are getting pay increases, safety equipment and on-the-job training to prevent injury and illness. (, Feb. 21)


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.

"Iraq snapshot," "Scott Brown (Ava)," "when do we get a citizen affairs committee?," "Glad someone's back, not impressed with hearing" and "Iraq snapshot" -- C.I., Ava and Kat offer Congressional reporting and we're including Rebecca's critique of the committees.

"Whitney," "Missing," "Whitney," "community," "Whitney," "Body of Proof," "Idiot of the week: TV By The Numbers," "Rob," "That awful NewsHour," "Cougar Town," "Smash,"
"Desperate Housewives," "Revenge episodes online," "why she's such a bad actress" and "The Good Wife" -- Ann, Betty, Rebecca, Stan, Mike, Ruth and Elaine cover TV.

"The White House's latest attempt to silence dissen..." -- most requested highlight of the week.

"THIS JUST IN! IT'S NOT LIKE HE'S PAID TO WORK!" and "If only he'd been hired by ESPN instead of America" -- it's always a snow day with Barack.

"Salad in the kitchen" -- Trina offers a simple recipe.

"21 Jump Street" and "It's not just the streaming . . ." -- movie coverage from Betty and Stan.

"Victoria Nuland owes the U.S. military an apology" -- Ruth calls out Nuland.

"Worthless Ani," "Old play" and "John Mayer and other trash" -- Kat covers music.

"The silence is deafening" -- Marcia calls out those who assist the tragedy.

"Private Dancer Bambi" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Demand accountability" -- what Elaine said.

"Flirting on the job" and "THIS JUST IN! THE BOMANCE CONTINUES!" -- K-i-s-s-i-n-g!
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