Sunday, April 22, 2012

Truest statement of the week

"The United States hasn't declared war on Pakistan. The U.S. has no right to rain bombs down from the sky on this country that it's not at war with. This is against the U.N. charter, against international law, against the Constitution, and it's doing us no favor in Pakistan, either, as it's been enraging the entire country. This is Obama's war. He's increased drone attacks by 600 percent from Bush's pace. In Bush's last three years in office, the U.S. launched 39 drone attacks in Pakistan. In Obama's first three years, that number jumped to 241."

--  Matthew Rothschild, "Stop Drone Warfare" (Progressive Radio Moment).

Truest statement of the week II

This administration has expanded the Air Force inventory of active drones to at least 7,500. Drones have joined Special Operations forces as the “tip of the spear” of U.S. power projection in the developing world, the “front lines” of the current imperial offensive.
Virtually all of the drones’ lethal missions are, in legal terms, assassinations, with or without “collateral damage.” They are also acts of terror, certainly in the broad sense of the word, and intended to be so.
As Canadian political scientist David Model points out in a recent article “Assassination by Drones”: “It is clearly evident that for a State to launch an attack by a UAV is a violation of international law and those responsible for such acts becomes suspects of war crimes.” Drone warfare utterly shreds the very concept of the rule of law. In killing those “suspected” of committing or planning actions against the U.S., Washington “precludes the application of due process,” writes Model.
Therefore, in the quest to make the entire world a free-fire (and law-free) zone, drone warfare requires that due process be destroyed everywhere, including within the borders of the United States. The Obama-shaped preventive detention bill signed into law this past New Years Eve is the logical extension of the international lawlessness called forth by drone warfare, and by the larger aims of full spectrum American dominance. Barack Obama is not just another “war president” – he is a destroyer of world civilization, the terms by which humans deal with one another as states, social groupings and individuals. It is not an exaggeration to describe this leap into depravity as a war against humanity at-large, and against the human historical legacy.

-- Glen Ford,  "Obama's Drones Threaten World Civilization" (Black Agenda Report).

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.

We thank them all. What did we come up with?

Matthew Rothschild on the Drone Wars.
Glen Ford on the Drone Wars.

The Drone Wars.
This is a really strong piece by Ava and C.I. which provides the context that made Revenge a hit.
Seriously, take a look at how little focus Marvel is giving Spider-Man.

Dona and Ty moderate a TV roundtable.

The White House needs to weigh in.

Jess and I (Jim) moderate a roundtable on music.

The Secret Service scandal.

Those are the recipes to promote?

Senator Murray press release.

Jill Stein press release.

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


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

Editorial: Stop the Drone Wars

the drone wars

During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the military conducted only a handful of drone missions. Today, the Pentagon deploys a fleet of 19,000 drones, relying on them for classified missions that once belonged exclusively to Special Forces units or covert operatives on the ground. American drones have been sent to spy on or kill targets in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Libya. Drones routinely patrol the Mexican border, and they provided aerial surveillance over Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In his first three years, Obama has unleashed 268 covert drone strikes, five times the total George W. Bush ordered during his eight years in office. All told, drones have been used to kill more than 3,000 people designated as terrorists, including at least four U.S. citizens. In the process, according to human rights groups, they have also claimed the lives of more than 800 civilians. Obama's drone program, in fact, amounts to the largest unmanned aerial offensive ever conducted in military history; never have so few killed so many by remote control.

So writes Michael Hastings in the latest issue of Rolling Stone ("The Rise of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret").  The Drone War, where the whole world can be picked off and killed by remote control.  The war that so many want to ignore but so many outside the US don't have the luxury of ignoring.

The government doesn't think it has to answer for the killings and deaths.  They aren't just hostile to transparency, they're arrogant.  None more so than the wife of neocon Robert Kagan.  How does the Iraq War cheerleader and even instigator end up with his wife as spokesperson for the State Department during the Barack Obama administration?  Because Barack likes to hang with War Hawks.  So the former glorified secretary to Dick Cheney moves to the State Department and makes clear, see February 2nd press breifing (link is text and video), that the US government doesn't feel they owe anyone an answer on their drones.

MS. NULAND: Please. Yeah.
QUESTION: Yes. The drone controversy, the drone controversy in Iraq?
MS. NULAND: Was there a question there, Said?
QUESTION: Yes. I -- about the drone controversy, that's my question. The fiery cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is saying that this is a breach of Iraqi sovereignty, that the U.S. Embassy is, by doing this spy drone thing, is breaching Iraqi sovereignty, and he's calling on Iraqis to resist and he's calling on the Iraqi Government to stop the U.S. Embassy from doing that, and in fact given you -- gave you a timetable, a deadline timetable. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. NULAND: I don't have any comment on that, no.

She doesn't have a comment.   She didn't have many comments when she was working with Dick Cheney to start the Iraq War, did she?  Now the War Whore was Cheney's Deputy National Security Adviser.  And somehow that qualifies her to represent the Obama White House?  Or the State Department?

War Whores should be shown the door not given high profile positions.

By making her a part of their administration, the current White House signaled that they were just as much in favor of eternal war as was Bully Boy Bush.

To talk about what Victoria Nuland and the White House doesn't want you to, there's no better place to be next weekend than at the International Drone Summit.

drone summit

CODEPINK explains:

The peace group CODEPINK and the legal advocacy organizations Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights are hosting the first international drone summit.
On Saturday, April 28, we are bringing together human rights advocates, robotics technology experts, lawyers, journalists and activists for a summit to inform the American public about the widespread and rapidly expanding deployment of both lethal and surveillance drones, including drone use in the United States. Participants will also have the opportunity to listen to the personal stories of Pakistani drone-strike victims.
  • Time: 9:00am-9:00pm
  • Location: Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001 
  • Register here!
On Sunday, April 29 we will have a strategy session to network, discuss and plan advocacy efforts focused on various aspects of drones, including surveillance and targeted killings.
  • Time: 10:00am-4:00pm
  • Location: United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20001
Sunday’s session is for representatives of organizations and individuals who want to be actively involved in this work. If you are interested in attending Sunday’s session, please email Ramah Kudaimi at
Topics will include:
  • the impact of drones on human lives and prospects for peace
  • the lack of transparency and accountability for drone operations, including targeted killings
  • disputed legality of drone warfare
  • compensation for victims
  • the future of domestic drone surveillance
  • drone use along U.S. borders.
Speakers will include:
  • Jeremy Scahill, award-winning investigative journalist
  • Clive Stafford Smith, director of UK legal group Reprieve that represents drone victims
  • Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control
  • Maria LaHood, attorney with Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Shahzad Akbar, attorney with Pakistani Foundation for Fundamental Fights
  • Amna Buttar, member of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab in Pakistan
  • Rafia Zakaria, Pakistani-American journalist 
  • Sarah Holewinski, director of Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC)
  • Hina Shamsi, ACLU national security expert
  • Jay Stanley, ACLU privacy expert
  • Tom Barry, drone border expert with Center for International Policy
  • David Glazier, law professor who served 21 years as a US Navy surface warfare officer
  • Amie Stepanovich, legal counsel at Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
  • Peter Asaro and Noel Sharkey from the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC).
Join us Friday, April 27 at 6:00pm to hear Medea Benjamin discuss her new groundbreaking book "Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control." She will discuss the menace posed by the proliferation of drones for killing abroad and spying here at home. The United States is the number one user of drones, but now over 50 countries have them, leading us into a world of chaos and lawlessness. The event will take place at Busboys and Poets, 1025 5th Street NW, Washington, DC.

The drone war turns us all into victims.  Even those flying them.  In March,  David Zucchino (Los Angeles Times) reported on a reality that shouldn't be so surprising: even by remote control, murder isn't easy, "Psychologically, they're in the middle of combat. But physically most of them are on another continent, which can lead to a sense of helplessness."

TV: Why Revenge resonates

Revenge continues to perplex commentators.  The secret to the ABC series, we're told one moment, to the show's success is that the men are the real lovers on the show.  They care about love.  They act on love.  While the women are ruthless.  Most recently, Emma Gray (Huffington Post) was on stronger ground by attempting to identify three reasons she loved the Wednesday night series.


It's not that complicated.  Revenge's attraction is in the title.  It's interesting that when a number of women write about the show for various publications and websites, they immediately go to the men.  Casting them as draws because they're supposedly into romantic love or some other nonsense.  Even Gray uses one of her top three to praise Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann).

The story is Emily and it's Victoria.  No, this isn't the tired Madonna v. Whore that fills so much entertainment.  Neither woman can be considered "good."

Both women are -- to use the word so many women writers are shying from -- powerful.

Revenge is the perfect show for the person who feels disrespected.  All the more so because the battle is between two people belonging to the most disrespected gender.  So little ever changes that much of what the Marquise de Merteuil writes in her letters (see Less Liaisons dangereuses) still seems likely.  If you're going to do a story about revenge, you need an underdog the audience can identify with and, in the US today, that's women.

Hilary Rosen went on national television to mock stay-at-home mom Ann Romney, to state that she'd "never actually worked a day in her entire life."  (See last week's article if this is news to you.)  Bob Somerby spent the week ignoring the further sexism his friend Bill Maher added to the mix and spent the week referring to the response to Rosen's comments as "silly."

At a time when White Bob Somerby would be hanged in the public square of opinion if he tried to tell African-Americans that they were "silly" to be outraged over some racist comment, it's still a-okay for a man to tell women they're "silly" to be outraged over insults to them.

And while pigs like Somerby and Maher call women's issues "silly," where are the high profile feminists?

Ms. magazine's blog was silent on the whole thing as was Women's Media Center.  And maybe we should be thankful for the silence because the alternative appeared to be whoring.

Newsflash, feminist issues have nothing to do with presidential candidates.  Presidential candidates come and go.  Feminism is about equality for women.  Housework?  It's a political issue.  Raising children?  It's a political issue.  Last week saw a few women and a few men (more men than women) rush to tell you what Mitt Romney wanted to do with stay-at-home mothers on public assistance.

It didn't register at all.

The reason was because it wasn't a discussion of women.  It was attempting to graft an issue onto the presidential campaign.

Now if we'd all been smart, feminists would have seized the discussion two weeks ago.  We would be making the argument that raising children is work.  We'd be making demands regarding childcare and public assistance.  But we have to make those arguments because they matter, because they effect women's lives.  Not because we're trying to elect some man or block another from public office.

In an era when women are the punching bags over and over, verbally and physically, and when feminist leaders silence themselves on our issues out of fear that it might hurt whatever male politician they're supporting, Emily (Emily VanCamp) and Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) own their power and put their needs first.

There's no raise your hand first or wait your turn for these women, they push forward and live like they have a right to.  For Victoria, that's protecting her children and her self.  For Emily, she pushes forward to get revenge (what she considers justice) for what Victoria Grayson's family did to her father (falsely framed him for terrorism leaving her to be raised in foster homes and her father to die a criminal).  These two women who stand up carry the show as they refuse to be sidelined or stopped.

That's very attractive and very seductive in a country where 'liberal' hero Keith Olbermann was able to trash Paris Hilton and call her a "slut."  There was no furious outcry the way there was recently when pig Rush Limbaugh called a woman a "slut.".  The left remained silent.  Publicly silent.  As The Daily Caller revealed in their expose on Journo-List, Olbermann's sexism was discussed privately.   Never called out publicly and the reason for  the silence was best explained by Luke Mitchell who was then with the sexist Harper's magazine, "Olberman is irritating and his obvious sexism is reprehensible. But yes, someone going on TV and saying that torture is bad is a net positive."

There you have the state of women on the left in this century: If someone says torture -- a crime -- is "bad," we overlook all their sexism and their non-stop encouragement of violence against women.

Because, after all, torture's serious and violence against women . . . Well, that's not torture.

It's in that climate that Revenge is embraced.

Or take The Office which lost Steve Carell as its lead.  Who did they toy with as a replacement?  Will Ferrell.  Who became the replacement?  James Spader.  It never occurred to them to cast a woman.

Or take the post of US Ambassador to Iraq.  Barack Obama has just nominated his third person for that post.  Like the other two, it's a man.  There's not even a pretense that Brett McGurk is qualified.  He doesn't speak Arabic, the political slate that won the most votes in the last parliamentary elections is against him and he has no managerial experience but may end up in charge of the State Dept.'s biggest budgeted item: The Iraq mission which has a yearly budget of  6 billion in taxpayer dollars.  If Barack were even half the things his Cult insisted while they trashed and cursed Hillary Clinton, he would have asked Ann Wright to head the Baghdad Embassy.  (Wright is a retired US Army Colonel and she went on to serve in the State Department for over 15 years.  She resigned from the State Dept ahead of the start of the Iraq War and in protest of that war.)

Sadly, we could go on and on.

It's that bad.

And that's why  Revenge is popular.

Emily has power.  Victoria has power.  Both use it and both abuse it.  Victoria fears Emily is a younger her and she's probably right.  If Emily continues down the path she's on, she will become Victoria.

But if Emily doesn't continue down that road, there's no series.

Emily was born Amanda Clarke.  Her father, David, fell in love with Victoria.  Victoria reciprocated to a degree.  David had money.  But not enough for her to leave her husband Conrad Grayson.  Not enough for her to refuse to frame David for terrorism when Conrad would otherwise be arrested.

Her father was sent to prison and died.  Now Amanda's Emily Thorne and she's back for revenge.  In Alexandre Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo, this story was told using a commoner wrongly convicted due to lies as well as the social caste system.  That system's largely vanished in most modern societies with one exception: gender. 

Gender allows women and men to root for what they relate to while thinking it's just about a character.  By utilizing gender, the show (intentionally or not) sends a message that registers.

Emily is the Hillary Clinton speech that became the t-shirt, "For everyone who’s ever been counted out but refused to be knocked out and for everyone who works hard but never gives up, this one is for you!" And if real change -- or even the faux change of the last four years -- frightens you, there's Victoria, defending what she has, fighting to maintain her status quo.

These are the elements the show plays with and these are the elements that register with viewers.  It's why some respond gleefully when Amanda takes down, for example, the prosecutor who knew her father wasn't getting a fair deal.  It's why another group identifies more strongly with Victoria and, in fact, applauds her for having her son Daniel beaten up because it's the only way the judge will agree to bail.   She does what she does, they would tell you, for the greater good.  Daniel in prison is at risk every day so better to hire some people to beat him up and force the judge to realize he's at risk and release him on bail and house arrest.

It registers with the worker coming home from another day of worrying that lay-offs are just around the corner.  It registers with those outraged at the silence over the drone wars. It registers with those who refuse to stop fighting for marriage equality.

It especially registers with those outraged at the White House definition of self-determination: Find a tiny subgroup in a country, arm them, train them, back them up with drones and bombing and maybe foot soldiers because everyone has a right to self-determination, everyone that agrees with us. In a country where violating the Constitution and lying to the country no longer means impeachment, when checks and balances are tossed out the window, where those who drove the economy into the ground continue to get big bonuses, accountability is longed for.

Television is the pulse of the nation.  In the 70s, The Mary Tyler Moore Show embodied the desires of some (women and men) to see female advancement and reassured those who were unsure or hostile that a modern woman was still the girl next door, M*A*S*H spoke to America's need to deal with Vietnam despite the government's refusal to address it. (Yes, M*A*S*H was set in the Korean War.  No, that didn't matter.)  As the decade closed, Dallas embraced the unbridled greed running through the country.  Dynasty overtook it as the nation began to see the limitations to wealth (chief among them, that no one would achieve it), Knots Landing survived because upper middle class suddenly seemed more attainable -- if only in daydreams -- than massive weatlh and as the economy collapsed, you had Roseanne and Melrose PlaceRoseanne revolving around a working class family, Melrose Place took the glitzy night time soap opera away from the oil industry and to an apartment complex off Los Angeles' Melrose Avenue.  Two years later, Friends arrives and becomes a massive hit at a time when the press is writing about adult children returning home or college graduates deciding to keep roommates and how this is normal and in societies like Japan . . . .

Television is the pulse of the nation and currently much of the nation is splintered.  Victoria represents one section, Emily represents another.   That's what makes for a TV show that resonates.


DC and Marvel promote their summer films

summer movies

You know the films vying for summer blockbuster status are nearly upon us if you just check out the

comic books.  The first thing you learn is that DC and Marvel see the battle as being between The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers.  Though The Amazing Spider-man is set for a July 4th release, Mavel's using all of its comic energy to push The Avengers.

The three best Batman titles in DC's "NEW 52!" (their latest reboot) are Batman: The Brave and The Bold, Batman and Robin and the Justice League.

dc comcis

Issue 8 of Batman and Robin finds Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray working overtime to turn Batman into a pedophile.  They also make Robin look rather asexual.  The creepy vibe travels throughout the issue as Batman alternately snaps at Alfred (the butler) and then grovels.  Or maybe you'll enjoy seeing Robin poke a chained corpse?

In fact, the best page in the mag -- two pages in fact, is an advertisement for New 52 action figures.  Batman kicks things off in May 2012, the ad tells you while Wonder Woman goes on sale October 2012.  Others include Green Lantern, Flash, Superman, Cyborg and a spooky looking Aquaman.

Issue 16 of Batman: The Brave and The Bold finds Sholly Fisch, Rick Burchett and Dan Davis eager to show you that a Saturday morning cartoon can be adapted into a comic book.  Batgirl and Batman meet . . . Bat Mite.  It's so sugary you'll probably need to make an appointment with your dentist before you get to the end of the story.

Did we already note that these were the best, these two and the Justice League?  Because they are.  Issue seven of the Justice League introduces Shazam to the title (he's the second story in the issue).  Geoff Johns, Gene Ha and Gary Frank put Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Superman, Aquaman and Green Lantern up against a doctor with a bio-threat (no, we didn't make that up).  They League wants the government to stop the Justice League International and they appeal to Steve Trevor to send more food up to their satellite.  Although it doesn't sound like it, this is DC's strongest Batman issue this month.

marvel comics

Again, Marvel's all over The Avengers with special issues, limited editions and regular titles featuring the team and its various members.

Jeph Loeb, Ed McGuinnes, Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowell bring the limited edition Avengers to a close with the fourth part of the series.   As with many a Marvel title, the scene is set with Wolverine.  Then Spidy can't shut up and you have to wonder if Marvel wants the Spidey flick to fail.  Wolverine's not the only X-Men to show up.  Look, there's Cyclops, there's Storm.  In fact, pretty much everyone in the Marvel universe except Stan Lee shows up.

Slightly better is the regular title of The Avengers. Excuse us, Avengers Classics!    The text on the first page boasts:


But the bubble close ups on the first page feature, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, Beast, Thor, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Moon Knight and Maria Hill.  In fact, you're half way into the magazine before you come across Spider-Woman and then she's in crowd shots.

Fortunately, Ms. Marvel always kicks ass.  And while Spider-Man simpers (this seems to be the seasonal theme), you can focus on her.

Among the best things that the limited Thor series has for it is that it concludes (issue five) without throwing 101 super hero guest stars at you.  For once, you get to focus on one hero.  Not counting the cover, turn to page eleven of issue 6 of The Incredible Hulk and you'll see why Isaiah offers up She-Hulk.  The Hulk has a bad hairdo (not the close cropped one on the cover) and it looks like he should be She-Hulk.  The story, however, is probably the best of the month of Marvel titles.

If you're Marvel, your powerhouse is the X-Men.  So you mix them in whenever you want to grab attention.  Here they do so with the first issue of Avengers vs. X-Men.  Yes, it's cheesy and, yes, it's irresistible.  How it ends, who knows but it's one of those that you have to pick up.

TV Roundtable

Ty: Last week, Dona and I did "Revenge: A discussion" with Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude which was the third most read article last week.  We got plenty of e-mail on it including why we didn't allow others to take part.  We actually invited Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. because Ann has written of the show.  She thanked us but said no thanks because it's "Rebecca's show."  She also pointed out that of all the non-Third Estaters Rebecca's been contributing here the longest and thought it would be good to have a feature with just Rebecca and the Thirders.


Dona: If you're wondering, the most read features last week?  At number one "Carole King's Conditioned Role and Desire (Ava and C.I.)" and at number two "TV: It's the context, stupid."  Because there are others covering TV in the community, we thought we'd check in with all of them including Rebecca.  We'll start with Rebecca.  Revenge came back Wednesday.  Were you excited?

Rebecca: I really was.  And thank you to everyone who promoted it at their site in the community.  I asked because ABC's still not announced whether it's renewed for a second season or not.

Dona: Let me note your coverage and some of the stuff at other sites last week on the show:  "revenge," "revenge is back," "Revenge and Carly Simon," "Revenge tomorrow," "revenge," "ASCAP honors Carly Simon," "Revenge returns on ABC Wednesday night,"  and "Revenge, Nikita and Fringe."   There's more.  A few people e-mailed that they were surprised C.I.  promoted it Tuesday and Wednesday morning. 

Ty: Yeah and on what Rebecca was just saying, I think it would seem an obvious renewal.  But these days what's obvious, right?

Rebecca: Right.  It did come in number one for the time slot.  The episode was really something.

Dona: You emphasize Emily, the ending where she beats up the man who beat up Jack and ordered the attack on Daniel, in the night-of post and then you talk more about Victoria in the night after.  Explain that.

Rebecca: The ending was really powerful.  We saw Jack get beat up by this thug that Victoria hired.  And that's when it really ended for fake Amanda and Jack.  Emily was pretty much unable to help on that and Nolan pointed it out to her and pointed out how Jack was hurt and that's supposed to be the last thing she wanted.  Wednesday night, when the show returned, Victoria decided she could get around the judge who wouldn't let Daniel be out on bail.  How?  By having him beat up in prison.  So she had the same man organize that.  Daniel was beaten badly.  Emily almost instantly figured out that Victoria was behind Daniel's beating.  So she found the man -- I don't know how -- and she wore that black wig she wore on the first episode when she was the maid and, in a later episode with a flashback, when she first met Daniel at Jack's bar only he didn't notice her.  So she's in that black wig and getting the man to talk about Victoria while she records it on her cell phone.  Then they leave the bar and he's thinking they're about to have sex.  They're by his car and he's asking if they're really going to do it right here in the alley and she's all for it.  She leans into him and tells him, "This is for Jack."  He looks confused and then she beats the crap out of him.  That was a powerful conclusion and important to the story.

Ty: She also says, at the end, that it was for Daniel.

Rebecca: Right.  What did you think of that?

Ty: I thought the emphasis was placed on Jack and that was because she's in love with Jack.

Dona: Same thought here.

Rebecca: Yeah.  So it was a really strong episode to return on and we had the dreadful Mason Treadwell back again as well.  Ty's favorite takedown.

Ty: Right.  And because Emily set it up so that it looked like Victoria burned his house, he ended up killing Charlotte's tale of the second person on the beach and now they need a new strategy to get Daniel off -- he's accused of murdering Ty.  He shot him once but didn't kill him.  Takeda did.  Anyway.

Dona: So that's Revenge.  We're also joined by  Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;  Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);  Mike of Mikey Likes It!;  Ruth of Ruth's Report;  Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends;  and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.   Let's move quickly to Kat because she's participating in another roundtable which starts as soon as we let her go.  Kat, you were among the ones who posted about Revenge returning Wednesday night and included the screen snap.  In that entry, you wrote about McMillan & Wife.  That was a TV show from the early seventies that starred Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James.  You wrote about watching it in real time with friends and snacking and getting stoned.  And it was a very popular post with several people who contacted us to ask why don't you write about TV more often?

Kat: As I say in that post, if I were home during the week -- instead of on the road with Ava, C.I. and Wally -- I'd be watching TV and probably writing about it.  But instead I'm on the road.  We either get back to the hotel or C.I.'s home in the DC area and I turn on the TV and click and click and click until something interests me.  Or I pull something up on the laptop.  I'm not home, I'm not in one time zone.  It's impossible to follow a TV show.  For me, it's impossible.  I did watch The New Adventures of Old Christine and loved that show.  But I was able to watch that because Ava and C.I. would watch it.  If we missed it, we'd stream it.  And if I'd forgotten, I'd remember the next morning when they were talking about it and I'd say, "Shh! Shh! Haven't seen it yet!" And then I'd stream it that night and we'd talk about it the next morning.  I'm not a TV snob. I'm a TV junkie.  The TV's always on at the house unless the stereo's on.    There are many shows that interest me today -- Being Human, Alphas, Whitney, Revenge, I could go on and on.  But I just don't have the time to watch and it's too hard to keep up when I'm at home on the weekends, California, and then Tuesday I'm in Florida, or Georgia, or some other time zone.  It's just too much.

Ty: Alright.  And I loved your post, Kat.  Now as Kat leaves us, she mentioned a TV show, one that three people in this community cover.  Ann noted something last week about the show she, Betty and Marcia cover.  Ann?

Ann: We cover the NBC sitcom Whitney.  We suddenly stopped writing about it.  We did that because it's finished it's 22 episodes.  The first season concluded with the wedding that wasn't between Whitney and Alex.

Ty: Will it be renewed?

Marcia: No word yet but it should be.  It drew a bigger audience than 30 Rock and Community.  In fact, it was NBC's only sitcom success this season.  The Office crashed and burned in the ratings.   Up All Night did okay-ish on Wednesday nights but when it was swapped with Whitney, the thinking was that this is where Whitney fails and Up All Night takes off.  That wasn't the case.  Whitney considered to deliver an audience on Wednesdays -- and  was NBC's highest rated program that night week after week despite leading off the night -- while Up All Night lost viewers in the move.  Whitney's NBC's success.  And that was with nothing but sexist attacks on the show.

Betty: Which was the main reason we started blogging about it.  Back in October, Ava and C.I. wrote "TV: The perverts still drool over Shirley Temple" and that's what really prompted Ann, Marica and myself to write about the show, to blog on it every week.

Dona: You felt it was treated unfairly?

Betty: Absolutely.  The reception to this show was so hostile and so hateful.  And Ava and C.I. called it, this was sexism running wild.  The Water Cooler Set is men and women who want to please men.  So there was no one to defend this wonderful sitcom until Ava and C.I. did.

Ty: That piece, "TV: The perverts still drool over Shirley Temple," is both the most commented on of this TV season and also the most read.  It's hugely popular and the bulk of the e-mails on it are from TV critics for newspapers, TV stations and online publications.  A growing number of which agree with Ava and C.I. that the show got a raw deal, critical reception wise, due to sexism.

Marcia: And that article popped up everywhere.  You'd visit a newspaper's blog and the blogger would mention it or it would be in the comments.  This happened over and over.  That article that Ava and C.I. wrote really helped end the public stoning of Whitney Cummings and her TV show.  Make no mistake, that wasn't criticism that was being handed out, it was a public stoning.

Ann: And it's a hilarious show.  But it's a show that allows women as much space and time as men.  I asked C.I. about Friends and how it was reviewed?  When it first came on, the show was considered lightweight, too much was made of the women's looks with the implication being that they were too pretty to be funny -- that's Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow -- and it was just dismissed.  But what the middle-aged critics couldn't grasp was that Marcia's generation embraced the show.  It was their life on the screen.  The Office isn't any woman's life.  Sorry, boys.  It's funny that when a show tries to focus on the lives of women and men or of just women, it gets trashed and attacked and then ignored.

Betty: Which is what happened with The Adventures of Old Christine.  The Water Cooler Set attacked that show and refused to note it or include it.  After we were calling that out, Ken Tucker did note it finally, the show, that the show was still funny, and I'll give him credit for that but that was about three or four days before CBS gave it the axe.  Imagine if Ken and other men had used their platforms to focus on something other than all-male shows?

Marcia: And the bulk of the women critics are just as bad because they don't want to be seen as "women."  Heaven forbid.  So they refuse to call out the sexism and then the men will point out that none of their female colleagues see any sexism or they'd be writing about it.  It's the circle jerk of life.

Ann: But one thing I've noticed, and Betty and I've talked about this again this week, more and more women are writing pieces on TV in the last weeks that mention Whitney in a sentence or two here or there.  They're not trashing the show.  Sometimes they're praising it.  But it would appear that some of the female TV critics have realized that a funny and solid show was trashed because it threatened a bunch of sexist pigs.

 Ty: Ruth?

Ruth: Sure, I will jump in.  That is why Ava and C.I. are so important.  Week after week, they will tell their truth.  They're strong voices with a huge audience and they can have an impact.  They can say, "Enough!" and sexist pigs will begin to fear that others might join that call.  They were the first to defend Ashley Judd when she was the victim of sexist attacks and they remain on the frontlines of the gender region.  They are not afraid to explore it, they are not afraid to defend women.  They make a huge difference and I believe that there are young girls and boys who read them and will change the shape of the Water Cooler Set when they come of age.  They have seen reality and they know it can be addressed.  I have huge hopes for them.

Ty: And your hopes for Cougar Town?

Ruth: None at all.  The show is still funny and still one of the few with a heart.  But it does not get promotion and it is a poor fit partnered with Tim Allen's throwback comedy.  Mr. Allen's show is like something from the 80s.  Cougar Town is addressing life today.  It is a jarring experience.  Had it been left on Wednesday nights, I think we would be getting another season of the show.

Dona: We asked Rebecca and Stan to look at the ratings.

Rebecca: There's drop off after Tim Allen's show, as Ruth pointed out, it's not a good fit.  But, that said, Cougar Town's still been doing better than most of ABC's Wednesday night sitcoms -- that includes Happy Endings.

Stan: We're not breaking it down into 'niches' or age groups, we're looking at total viewers.  Water Cooler Setters seem to think they should talk about the 'desired market.'  Are they critics or are they p.r.  A show needs viewers to survive, we're focused on viewers and believe the networks should be as well but when the Water Cooler Set is so busy trying to be cool, no one's around to point that fact out.

Dona: Should it be renewed?

Stan: On the basis of the ratings, yes.  If ABC can't find a place for it on Wednesday nights, I'd suggest they move it to Sundays and pair it up with something.

Rebecca: Because it's been a long time since Sundays have had sitcoms.  But for nearly twenty years, CBS owned Sunday nights because of their sitcom line up.

Ty: Alright.  Stan, you started the TV season covering Body of Proof and The Good Wife.  You are now done with Body of Proof.  You've blogged on that repeatedly but people still have trouble believing that.

Stan: I hate Matthew Perry and can't wait for him to be off The Good Wife.  But that's not going to run me off from the show.  With Body of Proof, this Quincy update suddenly decided that the way to get ratings was to terrorize America about a biological scare.  The two-parter got the show great ratings.  It also killed any enjoyment I had of the show.  I didn't like it when Bully Boy Bush used fear to pump up his poll ratings or grab a few votes.  I don't like it when a show does the same.  I'm done with that show.  And this is it. I may repost this at my site but this is it for me explaining that I'm done with the show.

Ty: "I think I'm done with the sofa, I think I'm done with the hall, I think I'm done with the kitchen table, baby."  As George Michael sings. Mike, are you done with Fringe?

Mike: Getting there.  I hear Ruth talk about Cougar Town or Ann, Betty and Marcia about Whitney and they love the shows.  I used to love Fringe.  But, this is like Stan, don't dick me around. Here's the show's big problem: Olivia and Peter have chemistry.  Season one really didn't seem prepared for that.  Season two was about trying to figure out how to give the fans what they wanted.  Season three became about figuring out how to keep them apart.  Season four has been that only more so.  Quit thinking this is a problem.  I don't know where the idea of a couple became a problem.  Didn't Hart to Hart run for years and years?  Or Kat's McMillan & Wife.  When did the idea of keeping a couple apart become catnip?

Ruth: Probably in the 80s when ABC found success with Cybil Shephard and Bruce Willis in Moonlighting and NBC with Ted Danson and Shelley Long in Cheers.  Keeping them apart doesn't last for seasons.  Viewers want some form of closure.

Mike: And the jerking them apart is insulting.  It really is insulting.  So if it comes back, season five will most likely be another season about keeping them apart.   I'm much more interested in Nikita which doesn't have the problem of: How can we make the audience miserable by keeping Nikita and Michael apart.  That's a lively show that just gets better and better with each episode.

Dona: Betty, Desperate Housewives ends next month, for good.  Your thoughts?

Betty: I started blogging about it last season and that was because Vanessa Williams joined the cast.  I've now watched two seasons.  It's an awful show.  It will not be missed.  Teri Hatcher is extremely talented and in the entire two years I've watched, they've failed to come up with a storyline for her.  Meanwhile, the show's so racist and backward that it's not even Plessy v. Ferguson.  It's just separte.  There's nothing equal about the way Vanessa's Renee is treated.  And it's obvious she was just added to draw attention to the show.  They've had no interest in treating Renee like a main character.  She usually gets two scenes an episode.  It's disgusting.

Ty: They really should be ashamed for how they've wasted Vanessa on the show.  Marcia, you're also covering Unforgettable.  Talk about that a bit.

Marcia: This is a detective show where they solve a crime every episode.  It's different in that it stars Polly Montgomery as Carrie who has the ability to remember everything.  She uses that gift to solve crimes.  The rest of the cast is really strong including Dylan Walsh and especially Jane Curtain.  Jane Curtain should get an Emmy nomination, she's just so great on this show.  It airs Tuesdays on CBS.  Will it be renewed?  It usually stomps ABC's Body of Proof each week.  It's a hit and that should be enough but some are saying that even though it would be a huge hit on ABC or NBC if it had the same ratings as it does on CBS, on CBS where there are so many hits already, it might not stand out.  Ringer is another show I love.  It airs on the CW and just wrapped things up with an amazing finale.  I hope the CW brings it back next year.

Dona: And lastly, Stan, you've decided to replace Body of Proof with another ABC show.  Tell us about that.

Stan: Ashley Judd stars in Missing as a woman who left the CIA when her husband died.  Now she's back in the game due to the fact that their son has been kidnapped. This is a really good suspense and action-adventure show.  I'll be writing about it each Wednesday because it airs on Thursdays.  That way, if you read my post on the show and think, "Hmm. I'd like to check it out," you just have to tune in that next night.

Dona: Will it be back?

Stan: Maybe.  It's a hit.  When the non-stop attacks on Judd and the show were taking place, it struggled in the ratings.  But as she and others have stood up, the ratings have gotten firm and it's a hit for ABC -- especially on the most watched night of the week.

Ty: Alright.  That's our TV roundtable.  This is a rush transcript.

Dona: And our   e-mail address is

Chris Hill mocks the death of JFK

chris hill

Above is the Pig Pen Ambassador himself, Chris Hill.  Chris Hill was Barack Obama's first nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq and he was confirmed despite a confirmation hearing that served only to confirm how ignorant of Iraq he was (see the March 25, 2009 snapshot and the March 26th snapshot ).

He lasted a little over a year.  As a parting gift, when he left Iraq August 13, 2010, he swore to Anthony Shadid (New York Times) that the political stalemate he'd been no help in resolving was nearly over and that a power-sharing agreement "was just weeks away."  If he meant 12 weeks, also known as 3 months, he might have -- for once in his life -- been correct.

We always knew he was ignorant.  We always knew he was inept.

But who knew he was that disrespectful?

While in Baghdad and US Ambassador, he decided to celebrate Halloween in October 2010 by taking part in a 'joke' about the assassination of JFK.  Yes, the assassination of a sitting president was something a US diplomat, the head US diplomat in Iraq, felt the need to send up. 

He dressed as a Secret Service Agent.  A tacky piece of trash under him dressed as Jackie Kennedy on that fateful November day.  They thought they were cute and funny.

It's doubtful the taxpayer footing the bill for their salary, their lodging and their party would agree.

Peter Van Buren  posted the photo to his blog here and here. (The caption is Van Buren's.)  He recently  published the book We Meant Well: How I helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and  the US government's been after him. They're trying to force him out of the State Dept and they've gone after him as part of their continued War on Whistle Blowers.

Truth tellers get in trouble.  But government officials who mock assassinations don't?

Do you know how many people have spent the last three and a half-years in fear that a presidential assassination was about to take place?  Do you know that's not just Barack's supporters but his opponents like us?  It doesn't matter that we didn't vote for Barack, we would never want to see him or any other US president assassinated.  That's a serious crime and an attack on the nation.  To pretend otherwise is to show extreme ignorance.

But that's all Christ Hill ever had to offer, extreme ignorance.

The State Dept. would show a lot more sense if they left Peter Van Buren alone and instead publicly rebuked the disgusting Halloween 'joke' Chris Hill pulled.


Elaine covered this topic here, C.I. covered the topic in herehere  and here.

Music Roundtable

Jim: It's music roundtable time and tabling up are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jess, Ava, and me, Jim;  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;  Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; and Wally of The Daily Jot. Our e-mail address is You are reading a rush transcript.  And that's Sandy Shaw below.

sandy shaw

Jess: Sandy Shaw is a singer and we'll be addressing her in a minute.  But Jim and I just saw the film The Stunt Man, a 1980 film directed by Richard Rush, written by Rush and Lawrence B. Marcus, starring Peter O'Toole, Barbara Hershey and Steve Railsback.  And right at the start of the film, this great song comes on, "Bits & Pieces," being made an instant classic by the late Dusty Springfield.

Jim: We saw the movie Friday and couldn't stop talking about it and that theme through Saturday.  We were also noting how sad it was that Dusty Springfield had passed away.  She had hits with "Son of a Preacher Man," "The Look Of Love," "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," All I See Is You," "I Only Want To Be With You," "The Windmills of Your Mind," "Brand New Me," "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" with the Pet Shop Boys, "Something In Your Eyes" with Richard Carpenter, "As Long As We Got Each Other" with B.J. Thomas and one of her biggest hits "Wishin' and Hopin'."

Jess: And those are just her hits in the US.  Dusty was from England.  Along with making one of the all time classic albums, Dusty In Memphis, she also had many, many more hits in England.   In England she made it to number one with "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me."  She had 20 other top 40 hits in England, most of those in the 60s, making her one of England's most popular singers.

Jim: And as we went on and on, Ava and C.I., having just arrived said that while it's great the Dusty's talent is appreciated, if our argument is how sad it is that she's gone, Dusty has peers who are still around and one of them will have a five-disc album released this week.  Elaine?

Elaine: That's Cilla Black.  She was part of the 'Mersey Beat'  and is from Liverpool.  She was tight with the Beatles and John Lennon got their manager Brian Epstein to listen to her.  The audition, with the Beatles backing her, didn't go well but Epstein eventually signed her.  She scored a number one hit in England with "Anyone Who Had a Heart."  While I do love Dionne Warwick, I think Cilla's version is the one that really puts the Hal David and Burt Bacharach song across.  Paul McCartney has argued that her version of "The Long and Winding Road" is the definitive version.  While the Righteous Brothers topped the British charts with "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," Cilla's version was at the number two slot -- yes, the top two spots were two versions of the same song.   She would score 19 top 40 hits in England, two of which went number one.  Her only American hit was "You're My World" in 1964 which made it to number 26.

Jim:  You'd think, with her connections to the Beatles, she'd be better known in the US.  You'd also think there would be excitement about Completely Cilla which comes out this Tuesday, April 23rd.  C.I.?

C.I.: Cilla Black has made her place in music history.  Her politics, she's a member of England's Conservative Party, may harm her from receiving the attention she should.  The album is five audio discs and one DVD.  It will be available in the UK on Tuesday.  In the US, it will be available on May 1st.  Unless something changes, the discs will be cheaper than the MP3.  Just a tip to keep in mind.  It's called Completely Cilla 1963 - 1973 and all the tracks were produced by George Martin who made his name producing so many of the classic Beatles songs.

Jim: And Cilla Black's gone on to a very successful TV career in England.  Another of Dusty's peers acted back while she was hitting the charts. Stan?

Stan: I was watching Will & Grace when the show was still doing new episodes and there was this song Karen sang,.  Before she sang it, she talked about how when she was a girl in sixties London, she had a teacher who whipped her into shape.  And then she broke out into a song I would learn was "To Sir With Love," from the Sidney Poitier film of the same name.  I'd never seen it.  I really loved the song.  And I'd never heard it until Karen -- Megan Mullally -- sang those few lines.  Don't know the episode --

C.I.: Season six, "Swimming from Camobdia," written by Sonja Warfield.

Stan: Thank you.  So I ask around and find out it's a song called "To Sir With Love."  By a woman named Lulu.   And then I see the movie and find out Lulu was also in the movie.  She had 18 top 40 British hits including the number one "Relight My Fire" with Robbie Williams band Take That.  And that was in 1993.  Unlike Dusty or Cilla, she continued to chart in the 70s and 80s and 90s.   In 2002, she was at number two with Ronan on "We've Got Tonight."  In the US, she only had four top 40 hits.   In 1981, she made it to number 18 with "I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do)."  That was her second biggest hit in the US.  Her biggest hit in the US?  The number one single "To Sir With Love" which never charted in England.

C.I.: Lulu also co-wrote Tina Turner's hit "I Don't Want To Fight."

Stan: I did not know that.  Another reason to enjoy her.  The album I listen to the most of her's is The Greatest Hits which is an 18-track CD.

Cedric: And then there's Petula Clark. Like the others, she too has acted.  She started out a child actress.  She's about 15 years older than her 'peer' group of Cilla, Lulu and Sandy Shaw.  She had 21 top 40 British hits, two were numbers ones "Sailor" and "This Is My Song."  In the US, she hit the top 40 15 times.  She also hit number one twice in the US, for different songs though.  "My Love" -- that's not the Paul McCartney song.  And the other is the song she's best known for in this country "Downtown."

Wally: And then there's Sandy Shaw.  That's who we're using a photo of to illustrate this piece.  She had 16 top 40 hits in England, three of which went to number one.  Those three are "Puppet on a String," "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" and "Long Live Love."  In the US, she never broke the top 40.

Jim: And yet we use her for the illustration.

Ava: Because she's still incredible.  Wally, Kat and I have seen her live twice.  C.I. saw those and she's seen her live many other times as has Elaine and C.I. and Elaine know Sandy.  Wally, Kat, C.I. and I saw her perform most recently in September.  It was a festival and she rocked the house.  Even with competition from the likes of Lenny Kravtiz, Sandy Shaw owned the stage and owned the festival.

Jess: Elaine, your thoughts on Sandy Shaw?

Elaine: I was so pissed when I heard about them seeing Sandy Shaw live last fall.  I would have been there if I'd known.  I'm not joking.  Sandy never really made it onto the charts in this country but those Americans who know her work are impressed with her.  I got to know her when I was dating an British official decades ago.  We went to several tapings of Sandy's BBC show.  I believe all the women we're mentioning had TV variety shows.  I don't doubt that she stole the show because she was a very talented singer at the start of her career but she's really matured into this even deeper talent.

Jess: Trina, you remember some from when they were played on the radio and they were new songs.

Trina: Yes, I do.  Cilla Black never really came across in the US and that may be due to her closeness to the Beatles.  When they came over to the US, I was far too young to know them, sorry.  You'll have to talk to someone else about that.  But I do remember the occasional comment about her as people reflected on the Beatles, especially when they split up, and they started as a bubble gum boy band which attracted a strong female base in the US.  That base wasn't really going to embrace any woman.  The Stones were different because they didn't want to just hold your hand and you didn't see them as pure.  So Marianne Faithful wasn't a threat to American girls.  Petula Clark was someone you couldn't escape on AM radio.  Try though you may, you couldn't escape her.  She was sort of the Celine Dion of her day.  Sandy Shaw I did not know.  Lulu came on like every team's mascot.  You couldn't hate Lulu.  She was so -- she was a ball of joy.  And Dusty was Dusty.  I know people freak over "Son Of A Preacher Man" but no one's ever done "The Look Of Love" or "Brand New Me" better than Dusty -- and, yes, I do know Aretha's version of "Brand New Me." So in terms of radio, it was really Petula, Lulu and Dusty and Dusty was the outstanding, one-of-a-kind singer.  Petula?  I wouldn't rank her high.  Lulu's too much fun to ever put down.

Jim: And now Kat's going to give us an overview now of the women.

Kat: Dusty started out in the folk group The Springfields, even had a top 20 hit in the US with their version of "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" and raked up 5 hits in the British top 40.  She was the soul singer.  And that's the path she followed as a solo artist.  Part of her problem, never addressed in most overviews, is that she was a soul singer as soul was going in two directions: poppier or disco.  "The Want Ads" really doesn't need a singer, for example.  And disco really did harm R&B.  It would have been better if her labels and producers had moved her towards the work of Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro.  Everyone wanted to grab a hit single for Dusty and all that did was provide one failure after another and hurt her image.  Dusty would have been better off doing a solid album of singer-songwriter songs -- especially by the three women mentioned because Dusty had a range and those three women also did -- and that could have established her as an album artist.  It could have helped her career a great deal.  She was also a perfectionist who tortured herself in the studio and was rarely pleased with any vocal.  I often see her as being like Marilyn Monroe.  The expectations she had for herself were so high that it made her art very difficult.  Cilla Black's was not a trained voice.  She handled drama better than any of the women mentioned her or maybe melodrama.  The reason her "Anyone That Had A Heart" works so well -- and it is better than Dionne's, is because she knows how to pull off the quiet and soft parts but she pours her all into the chorus.  Her manner of singing was a great deal like what Nirvana would do in the 90s, in fact.  Lulu was much less into drama on her songs.  Black's voice was best suited for love lost songs, Lulu was best suited for up tempo numbers.  But not bouncy ones.  Lulu had substance.  Petula Clark comes across as the most polished vocalist but she had that child actress wind-up doll quality, that look at me, aren't I marvelous aspect that drove a lot of people away.  She's not really someone who's earned a great deal of respect for her music -- despite her tremendous success.  It's also true that she was too old to be part of the swinging sixties in lifestyle and she certainly wasn't part of it in terms of music.  If this were 1967, you'd be listening to "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane and your parents would be listening to Petula sing "Don't Sleep in the Subway."  Sandy Shaw?  Elaine's correct that she becomes deeper as her career goes along.  She could have been another Lulu.  But she found something that rooted her voice and let it explore.  I don't think any of the other women mentioned could handle "Monsieur Dupont" which requires bounce and joy but shading as well and "Girl Don't Come" probably couldn't have been a hit with any other woman at that time.  It needed her phrasing and her vibrato.

Jim: So you'd rank how?

Kat: I'd actually rank Sandy Shaw ahead of Dusty which I know is a heresy.  But I would rank her highest.  Then it would be Dusty.  Third would be Cilla Black who is highly underrated as a singer and who probably did more with what she had than anyone since Judy Garland. I mean that as a compliment.  Judy did not have a huge range, her range was very small for a professional singer.  But she used it better than any of her peers. Some will disagree with that and that's fine.  But her big voice is her natural voice.  The other voice she uses is a faux falsetto.  Faux because women don't have a natural falsetto.  But that's how she hits high notes when she does and it's also why she hits them the way she does.  She has more power and support when she's using her natural voice.

Jess: So that's a brief look at Lulu, Petula Clark, Cilla Black and Sandy Shaw, four of Dusty Springfield's contemporaries who are still with us.  If they're new to you, make a point to explore their music. The easiest way to sample is to go to YouTube and search for videos. 

At least they didn't dash and dine

spring break columbia war on women edition

The never-ending Secret Service scandal, captured by Isaiah above in "Spring Break Columbia: War on Women Edition."  The Secret Service advance team for US President Barack Obama's trip to Columbia wanted to party a little and figured that prostitution was legal in Columbia, if not in the US, so what's the harm?

Senators Joe Lieberman and Charles Grassley are calling for a wider investigation into the scandal, Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) reports, and various members of Congress are making statements about accountability and representation and more.  CNN notes 6 Secret Service agents have already left over the scandal and that US House Rep. Peter King is calling for all involved to be fire.

As has been repeatedly noted, the Secret Service almost got away with their wild party.  The night of there were no problems.  It was only the morning after, when an agent wanted to dispute the amount he owed that he and a sex-worker got into a loud argument and attracted the attention that widens and widens.

And, really, who can't relate to that agent who was plagued by sudden cheapness?  Who hasn't gone into a restaurant starving, ordered from the menu and chowed down . . .


You are what you eat?

When Paula Dean, TV chef with a mini-empire, announced she had Type 2 diabetes, there were more than a few pieces slamming the woman.  We kept silent and that was, in part, due to the fact that we didn't know who she was until a dog pile was taking place.

And while there really doesn't seem to be a need to say ha-ha look what happened to someone who ate and promoted unhealthy food, there also really doesn't seem to be a need for her to continue to promote her sugary and fattening foods.

diabetes dean

We're sad that Dean has diabetes as we are when anyone develops an illness.  But maybe she'd get a little more support from others on the Food Network if she wasn't still dispensing unhealthy recipes -- foods and snacks that often provide over half the calories you need in a day and pump enough sugar into your bloodstream to make you space for the rest of the day.

Senator Murray on VA staff vacancies

Senator Patty Murray

Senator Patty Murray (above) chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office notes:

Thursday, April 19, 2012
Contact:  Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
Senator Murray's Statement on VA Hiring Announcement

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, made the following statement after the VA announced that it would be moving to hire 1,600 mental health care professionals.  The announcement comes just days before the findings of a major VA Inspector General report that Senator Murray requested on long wait times for VA mental health care are expected to be announced.  VA's action is welcome news to Senator Murray who has held multiple hearings over the past year on overcoming barriers to VA mental health care.  Murray will hold a third hearing on this subject in order to hear the Inspector General's findings on Wednesday, April 25th.
"I am pleased that the VA has taken this desperately needed step toward providing timely access to mental health care.  Too often we have seen staff vacancies, scheduling delays, and red tape leave those veterans who have been brave enough to seek help in the first place left with nowhere to turn. With suicide rates that continue to be high and an influx of new veterans into the system these barriers to mental health care are completely unacceptable.  I look forward to fighting for the resources needed to meet this staffing request as it is clearly a cost of the decade of war that has taken such a toll on our veterans and their families."
Matt McAlvanah
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct

Jill Stein calls out Columbia trade agreement

Jill Stein

Jill Stein (above) is running the Green Party's presidential nomination.  Her campaign issued the following last week:

Stein calls Obama "win-win" Colombia trade agreement a "lose-lose" for workers

Jill Stein, the leading contender for the Green Party presidential nomination, today condemned President Obama's approval on Sunday of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
"President Obama called it a win-win. No, it's a lose-lose for workers," Stein said. "It's a deadly assault on the freedom of Colombian workers to organize, as well as on the freedom of American workers from unfair competition from workers who make poverty wages because they are violently repressed."
Stein noted that the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center reports that 4,000 Colombian trade unionists have been murdered in the last 20 years. In only a tiny number cases have the murderers been prosecuted.
"The killings of union organizers have not stopped," Stein said. "In 2011, 51 union organizers were murdered, according to the National School of Labor, a Colombian trade union. Four more have been killed so far this year."
Obama made his announcement at a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos as they concluded the Summit of Americas in the Colombian resort city of Cartagena.
The trade agreement now goes into effect May 15. It passed Congress and was signed by the President last October. However, its implementation was contingent on the administration's certification of Colombia's labor protection efforts.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Sunday that Colombia was implementing a "labor action plan" to enforce homicide laws against the killers of union organizers and laws that allow workers to organize.
"Let's first see the murders stopped, the death squads prosecuted and convicted, the unions organized, and decent union contracts signed with the companies. Then we can talk about reducing trade barriers with Colombia," Stein said.
The trade pact makes more than 80 percent of industrial and manufactured products exported from the U.S. and from Colombia duty free. More than half of U.S. agriculture exports to Colombia will also become duty free.
"This trade pact is a jobs export pact," Stein said. "Manufacturing jobs are going to flow from the U.S. to Colombia, where violence and intimidation against trade unionists makes the labor cheap."
Stein also criticized the impact of expanded U.S. agricultural exports on Colombian farmers and workers.
'The U.S. agricultural exports are not so-called free trade but subsidized trade. Many of them receive federal agribusiness subsidies. They will flood Colombian markets, displace Colombian farmers, reduce Colombia's food self reliance, and push farmers and farmworkers into the manufacturing labor market to further lower wages there. The trade deal is job killer for American workers and a wage depressor for Colombian workers," Stein said.
"We get called protectionists for opposing these pro-corporate trade deals," Stein added. "Yes, I am for protecting people and planet. I support trade governed by rules designed to level-up labor and environmental standards to a high common level instead creating a race to the bottom. We need real free trade between free peoples in free markets. This trade deal favors the giant manufacturing oligopolies and subsidized agribusinesses at the expense of workers in both countries."
The U.S. labor movement opposed the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. The AP reported Sunday that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Obama was putting "commercial interests above the interests of workers and their trade unions" by certifying the Colombian labor plan.
Dan Kovalik, a lawyer with the United Steelworkers, said Obama's announcement was "premature in light of the continued violence against unionists and human rights defenders in Colombia," according to the AP.
The United Steelworkers of America was a plaintiff in two lawsuits against Coca-Cola on behalf of a sister Colombian trade union. The lawsuits charged that Coca-Cola bottlers, "contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilized extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders."
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