Sunday, October 20, 2013

Truest statement of the week

The moral abyss that I refer to—here, not the callousness of turning away from the consequences of US financial decisions, but the absolute desensitization toward what has been left out: a nonnegotiable military presence which permeates consciousness, policy-making, the nation’s very identity, in disregard of all that is, or rather, could be, the moral obligation of government to its people and the world beyond.

-- Norman Pollack, "Psychodynamics of US Default" (CounterPunch).

Truest statement of the week II

5. We gave an ongoing river of cash to private health insurance companies. Millions more are now forced to buy their crappy product, with the premiums funded by billion annually in public subsidies.

Health insurance executives got massive salary increases since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Existing insurance company shareholders saw profits and stock prices spike, first with the passage of the ACA, then with the onset of open enrollment. Anticipated ballooning profits have led health insurance companies to buy back as much of their own stock as possible. What else would you expect? Health insurance company lobbyists wrote the ACA.
While the ACA pads the pockets of insurance company executives and keeps employed an army of advertisers, marketers and bureaucrats, single payer would have created a quarter million new good paying jobs delivering actual health care to people, according to the National Nurses Union.
6. The ACA gives us little or no cost control over medical care and even bans most measures that would lower the cost of prescription drugs.

With the substandard policies the most families will be able to afford, skimpy coverage, high co-pays and deductibles will continue to threaten hundreds of thousands annually with bankruptcy due to unpayable medical bills.
The US is one of the few places in the developed world in which a family can lose its home, and its children their college educations because of unpayable medical bills. We could have changed that. But we didn't.

-- Bruce Dixon,  "Obamacare VS Single Payer – Top 10 Things the ACA Gave Us VS the Top 10 We Gave Up" (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.

And what did we come up with?

Norman Pollack gets another truest. 
As does Bruce Dixon.
Our Iraq piece this week. 
Half-way into writing this piece, Ava and C.I. stopped and asked me (Jim) how long they could go?  This is a big story and they had so much on the topic.  I told them I'd help edit if needede but to go long.  They did and I said it didn't need to lose a word.  This is the sort of reporting they do from time to time.  I wish they'd do it all the time and stated that again when I got done reading this.  They said if they did it more often, no one would take their calls.  :D  But they have done it again and it's the most important journalism done on Michael J. Fox's return to sitcoms.  And that's especially amazing if you think of all the press that bad show's gotten.

We look back at some of the week's funniest moments.

Our other Iraq feature. 
A woman fawns over the (bad) wig of a 77-year-old man? 
When our feature became so popular another website was stealing it, we knew we needed to do this feature more often.
With Ava and C.I. going long, Dona wanted us to focus on short features.

Repost from Workers World. 
Repost from Socialist Worker.
Repost from UNICEF.

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


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

Editorial: Stolen property does not belong to the thief

Last year, a guy broke into my home and stole all my family albums and scrapbooks.  Then he ran me out of town.  Now he's insisting he has the right to keep my family albums and scrapbooks.

That actually didn't happen to us.

It happened to the Jews of Iraq.


For background, let's go the US National Archives:

On May 6, 2003, just days after the Coalition forces took over Baghdad, 16 American soldiers from Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, a group assigned to search for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, entered Saddam Hussein’s flooded intelligence building. In the basement, under four feet of water, they found thousands of books and documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq – materials that had belonged to synagogues and Jewish organizations in Baghdad.
The water-logged materials quickly became moldy in Baghdad’s intense heat and humidity. Seeking guidance, the Coalition Provisional Authority placed an urgent call to the nation’s foremost conservation experts at the National Archives. Just a week later, National Archives Director of Preservation Programs Doris Hamburg and Conservation Chief Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler arrived in Baghdad via military transport to assess the damage and make recommendations for preservation of the materials. Both experts share this extraordinary story and take you “behind the scenes” in this brief video []. This video is in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions. The National Archives encourages its use and free distribution.
Given limited treatment options in Baghdad, and with the agreement of Iraqi representatives, the materials were shipped to the United States for preservation and exhibition. Since then, these materials have been vacuum freeze-dried, preserved and photographed under the direction of the National Archives. The collection includes more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and English, dating from 1540 to the 1970s. A special website to launch this fall will make these historic materials freely available to all online as they are digitized and catalogued. This work was made possible through the assistance of the Department of State, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Center for Jewish History.
The Jews of Iraq have a rich past, extending back to Babylonia. These materials provide a tangible link to this community that flourished there, but in the second half of the twentieth century dispersed throughout the world. Today, fewer than five Jews remain. 

The Jews of Iraq may have had a rich past.  But since 2003, they've all but disappeared to the point that the total number of Jews now in Iraq can be counted on one hand.  Judit Neurink (Rudaw) notes:

Director Saad Eskander of the National Library in Baghdad will be glad to receive the archives. From the start, he was against their trip to the United States, although he admits that Iraq could not look after them in 2003. “Iraq was in a chaos. Nobody was interested in our cultural heritage.”
Yet, the documents should have stayed, he says: “Instead of taking them away, the Americans should have taught the Iraqi’s how to repair and maintain them.”

The US shouldn't have taken these documents out of the country to restore them?

That was the crime, was it?

No, the crime was thieves stealing them from Iraqi Jews.

The crime is people like Saad Eskander thinking they have a right to stolen property that has nothing to do with their own heritage.  Stewart Ain (Jewish Weekly) reported last week:

 Harold Rhode, who discovered the trove while working as a Defense Department policy analyst assigned to Iraq’s transitional government, said he is “horrified” to think the material would be returned when it had been “stolen by the government of Iraq from the Jewish community.”
“It would be comparable to the U.S. returning to the German government Jewish property that had been looted by the Nazis,” he told The Jewish Week.
Attorney Carole Basri, whose great-grandfather served as chief rabbi of Iraq, pointed out that there was “no consultation” with the Jewish community before the Bush administration entered into that agreement. International law stipulates that national treasures be returned to the country of origin.
Rhode said the material, which been stored on the second floor of a Baghdad synagogue by Iraqi Jews at the time of their mass exodus in 1950-52 – some 135,000 Jews left the country, allowed to carry no more than one suitcase of clothing each – was taken by Saddam Hussein in 1984. (There are thought to be only five or so Jews left in all of Iraq.)
Joseph Dabby, 67, an Iraqi Jew in Los Angeles who was one of about 25,000 Jews who initially remained in his homeland, said he fears that should the items be returned, they would simply be locked away and never exhibited. Board chairman and former president of Los Angeles’ Kahal Joseph Synagogue, home to 300 Iraqi Jewish families, said he escaped from Iraq in 1971 after several imprisonments and does not trust the present Iraqi leadership.

The National Archives notes the collection includes:

  • A Hebrew Bible with Commentaries from 1568 – one of the oldest books in the trove;
  • A Babylonian Talmud from 1793;
  • A Torah scroll fragment from Genesis - one of the 48 Torah scroll fragments found;
  • A Zohar from 1815 – a text for the mystical and spiritual Jewish movement known as “Kabbalah”;
  • An official 1918 letter to the Chief Rabbi regarding the allotment of sheep for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year);
  • Materials from Jewish schools in Baghdad, including exam grades and a letter to the College Entrance Examination Board in Princeton regarding SAT scores;
  • A Haggadah (Passover script) from 1902, hand lettered and decorated by an Iraqi Jewish youth ; and

  • The stolen property belongs to the Jewish community and with the Iraqi government having failed to protect the Jewish community, they certainly have no right to stolen property.

    TV: NBC provides the glee

    "There are few moments as personally satisfying to me these days as perusing the overnights on Friday mornings."  So says an actress friend.  Loudly, at a party this weekend.  And her comment was greeted with loud laughter and, yes, some applause.

    This is a story some don't want to hear so you might want to stop reading now.


    But assholes make a lot of enemies and when their downfall comes -- and it always does -- a lot of people make time to savor it.

    In the 80s, TV offered a lot of bitches.  No, we're not referring to Donna Mills' Abby, Joan Collins' Alexis, Ana-Alicia's Melissa, Diahann Carroll's Dominique or Michelle Phillips' Ann.   If you guessed we were speaking of Cybill Shepherd, Roseanne or Candice Bergen, you'd be closer to the truth.

    But the reality there is Roseanne fought for her show and fought for funny and damn well knew what she was doing.  If ABC had known -- or known enough to get out of her way, there would have been no problems.  ABC knew what was going on with Moonlighting -- a 'creative genius' self-medicating and unable to meet deadlines was the problem, not Cybill or Bruce.  As for CBS, they hated Candice and feared her because Bergen had Dianne English's back and that's why Murphy Brown was not messed with by the network.

    In our culture, we have a need to portray women as bitchy.  And surely some are and surely all can be -- including ourselves -- at some point.  But here's the thing about a woman being bitchy, if Roseanne has asked for, as star of the network's most successful sitcom, a new writer to be added and the network says yes but the network doesn't deliver, is Roseanne a bitch for bringing the show to a standstill until the promise is honored?

    There are a lot things at play here including how women's strength is judged.

    Equally true, when women fight, if they want to win, they have to use everything with these networks.

    Step out of line -- ask Suzanne Somers, and they will try to crush you, no matter how much money you're bringing in for the network.

    Powerless TV execs have always enjoyed screwing over women -- think of the glee with which CBS savagely fired Judy Garland.

    And these stories just repeat over and over every year with different women.

    That's because TV is the story of  men who are allowed to fail over and over.  Women aren't so lucky.

    Look at Lucille Ball who made the CBS network.  She starred in three long running, successful sitcoms and then did one that tanked.  With one that tanked, sitcoms were history for Lucille.

    And it was over for Lucy with so much glee -- from the TV execs to The Water Cooler Set.

    TV needs women and the execs have never liked that need.  It's what leads to 'missing moms' -- all those 'family sitcoms' of the 80s where Mom was dead or had split.

    The same behavior rated bitchy in a woman is seen as no big deal in a man.  Kelsey Grammer, for example, never had to go to the extremes Roseanne did because, on Frasier, the minute Grammer was unhappy, the response was panic that Grammer wasn't happy, not jokes at his expense, and a rush to make things right.

    Male stars on TV shows are catered to.  So when one of them goes out of his way to be an utter bitch in spite of that catering?  It really registers in the community.

    Michael J. Fox is an example of an utter bitch.

    If that made you gasp, console yourself with the fact that he's kinder and gentler on the set of The Michael J. Fox Show then he was on his other two sitcoms.

    Michael was a total ass on Family Ties and on Spin City.  He was the biggest bitch in the world and, with his second sitcom, it was really getting across in the first season.  His disgusting treatment of Carla Gugino was so awful the press even started to pick up on it and the press never picks up on male divas.  And it only got worse after season one.  It was so bad, in fact, that ABC was going to pull the plug on the show and that's when Michael J. Fox went public with his Parkinson's disease and ABC, not wanting to look cruel, dropped plans to axe the show.

    Parkinson's did not make for a kinder and gentler Michael.  His recent bizarre attack on Taylor Swift was a public example of the private Michael J. Fox.

    And it's for that reason that so many are enjoying the weekly ratings death of his NBC sitcom.  The actress we quoted at the top? She worked with Fox early on.  It was not pretty.  He screamed at her on the set constantly.  He mocked her looks (she's considered very pretty), he ridiculed her with his mincing attempts to parody her.  And she was nothing then.  She was no threat to him. Her career was just starting and he was a TV and film star -- one who took delight in making her life a total hell.  A producer took her to the side after Fox had left her in tears yet again and the producer explained that Fox was a bitch and he treated everyone like that. She made it through working with him and vowed she'd never do so again.

    And she hasn't.

    When Spin City was tanking, her star was on the rise (where it's remained) and suddenly Fox's people were calling her to guest star.  She said no through her agents.  What followed was one floral delivery after another with 'personal' messages including one signed "Mikey."  She said no over and over through her agent who informed her that Fox was convinced he could change her mind if he spoke to her personally.  She told her agent to convey there would never, ever be a personal conversation.

    The floral deliveries stopped.  The requests to her agents ceased.

    Until last July when he went through the whole process again.

    She threw out the flowers and told her agent to convey she wasn't interested in doing any "Hallmark TV moments."  She notes that a lot of people he treated badly in the past leap at the chance to work with him now because their careers have not gone well "but even if I was existing on Ramen and ketchup soup, I would still say no."

    That's how rude and evil Michael J. Fox was to co-workers.

    And why Friday mornings bring so much joy to so many when the overnights show, for example, a very successful Robin Williams sitcom (CBS' The Crazy Ones co-starring Sarah Michelle Geller) and a very unsuccessful The Michael J. Fox Show.

    When Fox returned to NBC, the laughter at ABC was hard not to hear.  They weren't interested in him.  He was a prima dona who refused to do the show they thought that they were doing.  They thought they were putting on a show with him and a woman they had under contract following a previous ABC success.  But Fox didn't want to share the spotlight and didn't want anyone near his level of fame.  Later on, when his show was one ratings mess after another, ABC forced Heather Locklear on him and only then did the show become a success.

    Early on in discussions for the new sitcom, NBC suggested maybe Locklear could play his wife and Fox appeared to play along.  Appeared to.  He had no interest in sharing the spotlight of what he thought would be his triumphant return.

    When NBC caught on that he did not want Locklear as a co-star, they suggested a number of comedic actresses for the role including Christina Applegate -- all of whom Fox derided and insulted.  As one NBC suit told us over the phone Tuesday, "When he picked her [Betsy Brandt] to play his wife, we all got the feeling it was Paul Reiser all over again."

    Yes, another man who wants to be in a sitcom but doesn't want to have a funny wife.

    So he insists on Brandt who has no comedic experience (she's also over a decade younger than him).  Christina Applegate or Lisa Kudrow could add something to the thankless and dull role due to their training and skill.  Brandt tries to add meaning -- as if the show were a drama -- and that just leaves her as the latest wet blanket TV wife.

    Another story about the development of the show.  Early on, a creative type pitched the notion that Fox's TV anchor man could have been a real asshole but, when he develops Parkinson's, the man becomes more understanding of the world around him.

    Fox's response?

    He smiled, stood, waived the man over, put a hand on the man's back and walked along the conference room with him.

    "That's an interesting idea,"  Fox said as he gestured for the man to walk through an open doorway.  As soon as the man did, Fox slammed the door shut and boomed, "Get rid of that asshole!"

    'That asshole' probably was the last person to suggest that the show had a point of view.

    It's a mess.

    A tired, boring mess.  We think this is exactly the sort of bad sitcom that put Screen-Gems out of the business in the 1970s.  It's about nothing.  The stories add up to nothing.  There's no sense of continuity from one episode to the next and the workplace scenes are odes to sexual harassment.

    NBC made the mistake of giving Fox a full season commitment -- a detail that leads friends at ABC to laugh as they point out that when Fox was returning to TV for the first time since Family Ties, they didn't give him a 22 episode commitment.

    But NBC did.

    They made that mistake.

    And they realize it.  Now.

    That was very clear when we spoke to four NBC suits on the phone last week and not one would deny the rumors of homophobia.

    Was Fox really using the f-word to describe Sean Hayes and was he blaming Hayes (whose Sean Saves The World  leads in to The Michael J. Fox Show on Thursdays) for his own bad ratings?

    There was no defense offered of Fox.

    No one confirmed it.  But no one rejected it.

    Now let's be clear that Fox has a lot of enemies in the industry and he has them because he has been a real bitch.  So Fox may or may not have made the homophobic comments about Sean Hayes.

    We don't know.

    That's one reason we asked.

    The other was to see how sick NBC was of Fox.

    If they thought the show had any chance of success, they would have offered a denial, an "of course, he'd never say that."  Instead, they were more than willing to let the rumors linger.

    Because they're sick of him.

    At the end of the day, the old boys club won't stand by their boy if he can't deliver the ratings and humiliates them.  Just as NBC suits really thought Fox would attract huge viewers, they also thought if it didn't happen, Fox would gracefully exit, that he would say, "Clearly this isn't working, let's forget the full season promise."  They can't believe he continues to film episodes.  They can't believe it and they see it as an insult to the 'gentleman's code' they think they operate under.

    Fox?  He apparently can't see how awful his show is.  How weak and pointless it is.

    It will not get better.

    Very few shows do.  He's already tinkered as much as the network intends to pay for -- the roles of his parents.  Now, seeing no improvement in the show, NBC's attitude is they'll honor the contract if they're forced to but finding money for name guest stars?  That and other extras will either be footed by others ("Hey, if the little prince wants Tina Yothers four weeks from now, let Sony [Pictures Television] pay for it because we're not tossing any extra dimes into this sinkhole.") or it just won't happen.

    NBC is tired of spending money.

    They promoted the show more than any other.  It is the bomb of the fall season.  And they can't believe Michael J. Fox does not have the dignity to announce he's ending the show but seems instead intent on filming 22 episodes.  If that happens, NBC plans to bury it on Saturdays.

    Like others, we're not shedding any tears for Michael J. Fox.  We're also not shedding any tears for NBC.

    See, About A Boy isn't just the name of a new NBC sitcom, it was NBC's entire premise for this fall season. Women only show up when they absolutely must.  Such as on Dracula because you can't do a traditional Dracula story without some women around to play the victims. It was also going to be the premise for the spring 2014 season.  That's when you get a little girl surrounded by savior men (Believe) and Crossbones and Undateable and so much more that demonstrates disappearing women wasn't a fall glitch on NBC's part but a full season plan.

    In an attempt to save Fox's failing show, what did they do?

    Add  heavy female firepower -- Candice Bergen as his mother, Anne Heche currently as his rival and so much more.

    But the problem's beyond Fox now, now it's an NBC problem and they're taking similar steps.  For example, the network also made a big to-do this month about picking up Meg Ryan's sitcom.

    That's because their ratings are tanking and they're under heavy industry criticism since we pointed out the lack of women in "TV: The sewer that is NBC" back in September (not one new show is female led and they don't have any female led shows in the returning batch as Rashida Jones leaves Parks and Recreation and Amy misses the fact that the writers not only are again giving the best jokes to the men, they're also again  turning her character into a freak show).

    In creating this season last spring, NBC repeatedly said no to women while fooling themselves that men were the sole answer.  And no man had the suits more excited than Michael J. Fox.  They were like giddy school boys when they would talk about how they had Fox's return to sitcoms.  Excuse us, how they had Michael J. Fox's return to sitcoms!!!!!

    And they would get very snippy when we would harsh their mellow.

    But what we told two suits the week before NBC's upfront presentation last May remains true.

    Michael J. Fox has had eight heavily promoted guest spots on The Good Wife (CBS) and yet he provided no ratings boost in any of those episodes.  Why would you assume he could attract viewers?  His last sitcom struggled in the ratings until Heather Locklear joined the cast.  And before that?  TV wise he was a bratty and bitchy actor in a sitcom he co-carried (Meredith Baxter was the heart of Family Ties).  With that TV track record -- we're not even going into his movie career -- why would you assume he could be the hit of your new season?

    Their belief in that lie was so strong that they also were willing to rush into a sitcom with no premise, with no strong creative team?

    Women never had it that easy.

    Take Whitney Cummings.  She delivered an amazing first season of Whitney for NBC.  She stupidly agreed to their demand for changes in season two.  Even so, even being a cheaper show to make and having to lead off Wednesday nights, season two still found most episodes getting stronger ratings than Fox has for the last two weeks.

    If they'd left the show alone, season two might have done as well as season one.  Even so, season two of Whitney will have a higher seasonal rating that season one of Fox's show.   Where's Whitney on the line up? The show's gone but NBC didn't need the producer, writer or actress either.  They are, however, starring her former cast mate Chris D'Elia in an all male sitcom -- Undateable.

    Whitney Cummings withered blistering attacks in the first season of Whitney while managing to deliver a funny show and a fan favorite that delivered good ratings for NBC even after it was pulled the Thursday line up.  While other NBC comedies were welcomed back -- ones with much lower ratings -- Whitney was informed the return of her show was conditional.  She'd have to lose a producer (Betsy Thomas) and she'd have to make her character 'softer' and the show would focus more around Alex and Whitney (no, just Alex).

    Those were lies.  NBC couldn't axe her show.  First, she delivered the ratings.  (That wouldn't be true if she were on ABC or CBS or Fox and had the same ratings.  But she was on nobody-watches-NBC and delivering an audience in spite of that.)  Second, NBC was already renewing sitcoms with lower ratings than Whitney and to cancel the show would add to the well known sexism that came to NBC in the '00s and has not left.  Instead of agreeing to demands, Whitney Cummings was actually in the position to make a few.

    She didn't grasp that but early on in season two, she did slowly grasp how awful NBC's changes were.  She told  a friend that NBC had reduced her character to "the wife."

    No, they had reduced her to "whore."  If you need a kinder word, try "mistress."

    She was every NBC suit's fantasy -- a sexy, attractive woman who put out but made no demands.

    See, New York doesn't recognize common law marriage.  So Whitney not working and putting all of her time into Chris and always fixing fights with offers of hot sex?  That's not a wife.  That's a whore. (Or 'mistress.')  As long as she puts out, she's got food and shelter?  It's a whore.

    When Whitney realized she was being railroaded, she took the show back and ditched the nonsense.  It really was too late to rally support for the show.  But Whitney's not back this season leading a new sitcom.  After Whitney, the comedic gold of her NBC series was Zoe Lister-Jones.  But NBC's not bringing her back either.  She'll debut mid-season when CBS starts airing Friends With Better Lives.  But Chris D'Ela they create a show around?

    See, Michael J. Fox the person -- bitch or saint or somewhere in between -- is not the problem.

    The problem is the network's rush to embrace him and every other male while devaluing women.

    We imagine very few little boys grow up wanting to be Fred Silverman.

    And Fred and Brandon Tartikoff are really the only 'names' most not in the business might recognize these days.

    Being a suit carries a degree of power but no lasting prestige.  People spotting Jack Nicholson on the street, for example, will point and excitedly discuss.  Anyone seeing Ben Silverman today on the street would most likely conclude he's a bum who sorely needs a shave.  But from 2007 to 2009, Ben was running (and ruining) NBC.

    There's no lasting prestige or power so they do their petty mind f**ks on women.  They often even brag openly to others about how they screwed over this or that actress.  They use women to shore up their sense of masculinity.    Yet having screwed over women on the schedule and off, they want to wonder why their ratings are in the toilet?

    Our friend takes glee in NBC's Friday overnights.  We understand why and don't fault her one bit.  Ourselves?  We tend to laugh at NBC's overnight every weekday morning.

    The week in funny

    A look back at the week in funny.


    Caroline:  I can't believe we got hired so quickly.  And I can't believe I'm a medium apron.

    Max:  And I can't believe I'm working for a corporate coffee place.  This might be the lowest point of my life.  And my mom once lost me in a craps game behind a casino.
    -- Max (Kat Dennings)   and Caroline  (Beth Behrs)  takes brief jobs at Starbucks in order to learn how to work a new cappuccino machine (2 Broke Girls, CBS Mondays).

    Kevin Smith: Ah,  thank God,, man, I'm always so worried they're going to stick me with someone skinny and then I got to put up with their skinny stink-eye the whole flight.

    Mindy: Excuse me.

    Kevin Smith:  Yeah, just like that. 

    Mindy: I'm sorry, sir, I am a petite Asian woman.

    Kevin Smith:  So am I. Look, all I'm saying is you and me, chubs like us, we got to stick together in the sky.

    Mindy:  How dare you.
    -- Mindy (Mindy Kaling) takes a flight and meets director Kevin Smith (The Mindy Project, Fox Tuesdays).

    Dick Butkus: I wish Halloween was eight nights!

    Larry Bird: Family, a mission.  We shall take the two best holidays on this planet and combine them into one ultimate holiday.

    Jackie Joyner-Kersee:  Great! I'm in! But how does one celebrate Flag Day Ramadan?

    -- aliens Larry Bird (Simon Templeman), Dick Butkus (Ian Patrick) and Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye) discuss earth holidays (The Neighbors, ABC Fridays).

    Jason:  So Mindy, what did you think of the movie?

    Mindy: I thought it was very real. 

    Jason: Okay.

    Mindy:  I thought they looked like people that  would be in line behind me at the bank. I was not sure why we paid money to see it.

    Jason: Okay, because for me it was refreshing to see normal people falling in love in a movie.

    Mindy: I have not yet tired of seeing hot people fall in love.

    Jason: Ah, so you want to see a movie where, like, Rachel McAdams is the ugly duckling who-who's always the bridesmaid but can never find Mr. Right?

    Mindy: When does that movie come out? Because that sounds amazing.
    -- -- Mindy (Mindy Kaling) goes out on a first date with Jason (Ben Feldman) (The Mindy Project, Fox Tuesdays).

    Sydney:  Okay, so maybe I might have this recurring fantasy or something.

    Andrew:  Oh.  Well we could share.

    Sydney:  Okay, so I'm in Hawaii.

    Andrew:  I'm listening.

    Sydney:  And there's a tsunami.

    Andrew:  Of course.  

    Sydney:  And I'm on the beach and everyone is washed away.  But then I look up and there's one half-naked man. And that's when I realize it's the Dole executive I've been trying to meet. So I put on my blazer and give him the pitch of my life.

    Andrew:  That's the single stupidest sexual fantasy I've ever heard. 

    Sydney:  It's a recurring fantasy. 

    Andrew:  It's about work.

    Sydney:  So what?

    Andrew:  It's incredibly sad. 
    --  Sydney (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Andrew (Hamish Linklater) share at work (The Crazy Ones, CBS Thursdays).

    Christy:  Violet, do you have any old underwear Roscoe can wear?

    Violet:  Seriously?  You haven't screwed him up enough?

    Christy:  It's a yes or no question.

    Violet:  So was mine.

    Christy:  Forget it, I'll just buy him some on the way to school.

    Violet:  Uh, that reminds me, I'm going to need some money for some new jeans.  I'm like seriously bloated lately.

    Christy:  Violet, you're like seriously pregnant lately .  And you have a job, you want new jeans, spend your own money.

    Violet:  I'm not wasting my money on fat pants.

    Christy:  Oh,, so you're okay to waste mine?

    Violet:  Well I was hoping that --

    Christy:  Listen, Juno, the minute you got pregnant, life as you know it ended.  It's time you got ready for the dream sucking monster which is about to shoot out of your hoo-ha and gobble up your life.

    Violet:  You're a horrible woman.

    Christy:  And soon you'll be one too.
    --   Christy (Anna Faris) and her daughter Violet (Sadie Calvano) discuss motherhood (Mom, CBS Mondays).

    Andrew:  The only reason you're criticizing her is because you don't even know her.

    Sydney:  It's because I know you.  And look at you.  You're smart and funny and tall.  And you're none of those things when you're dating her.

    Andrew:  She makes me less tall?

    Sydney:  You know what I mean.
    --  Sydney (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Andrew (Hamish Linklater) share at work on The Crazy Ones (The Crazy Ones, CBS Thursdays).

    the neighbors

    Amber:  So, Halloween.  I was thinking I would go as young Yoko Ono and you could go as old Yoko Ono because we already have the hair.
    -- Amber (Clara Mamet) explains their couple's costume to Reggie (Tim Jo) (The Neighbors, ABC Fridays).

    Caroline:  Morning, Sophie.

    Sophie:  You caught me!  I'm doing the walk of shame! And you know what that means, right?  I was having sex all night with a stranger!

    Max:  I had sex with a guy all night once.  At least that's what he said.  I fell asleep at ten. 

    Caroline:  Sophie, come in.  We wanted to ask you something important.

    Sophie:  Oh, okay.  Well I'll tell you, I don't think you're going to make it in the cupcake business.

    Caroline:  Not what the psychic in the subway told me but duly noted.  Actually, it's more of a personal question.

    Sophie:  Okay, well I personally don't think you're going to make it in the cupcake business.

    Caroline:  No, the question's about Oleg.

    Sophie:  Well yeah, he agrees with me. 

    Max:  For God's sake just tell her before she tells us we're going to wind up in some disgusting apartment hiding from our pimp.

    Caroline:  Okay, okay, Sophie, do you ever think about getting back together with Oleg?

    -- Max (Kat Dennings)  watches Caroline  (Beth Behrs)  try to play matchmaker with Sophie (Jennifer Coolidge) on Oleg's behalf  (2 Broke Girls, CBS Mondays).


    Photo of the week

    Embedded image permalink

    Friday, protests took place in Iraq.   Iraqi Spring MC  recorded the above protest in Samarra and noted ones in Falluja, in Ramadi, in Tikrit, and in Rawah.  These protests have been ongoing since December 21st which means Friday was the tenth consecutive month of protests.

    Not that you'd note it from the western press coverage of Friday's protests -- that coverage was non-existent.

    Press Whoring: Entertainment Section

    We hope Ann Hornaday was paid her hourly rate because she certainly earned it from her ridiculous Washington Post profile of Robert Redford.


    The 77-year-old one-time movie star has a new film.  Rebecca reviewed it in "the old queen and the sea."  It's the sort of embarrassing performance you'd expect from the biggest living name actor to never win an Academy Award.  Ann Hornaday is even more embarrassing than Redford as she writes:

    There are moments while talking with Robert Redford when you can see that 1970s sex symbol peeking through from a weathered 77-year-old face -- starting when he rises from a couch in a New York publicist’s office, looking amazingly fit in jeans, white T-shirt and cordovan cowboy boots. Settling in for a brief interview, one's tempted to lean across the coffee table and tuck back a lock of his thick, only slightly graying hair, just like Barbra Streisand did in The Way We Were.

    First off, it's 'reddish blond' (Redford prefers "strawberry blond").  Second, it's a wig.  Rip it off his head and you can play with it as much as you want.

    Hornaday insists that "Redford's still got it."

    Yes, he does.

    If your idea of hot is changing the adult diapers and using baby wipes on an elderly man's forever flacid wiener is "it," absolutely.  Reality, Robert Redford today makes Grandpa Simpson look spry.

    Still got it?

    Hey, for the safety of everyone, keep Hornaday out of retirement homes!

    Tweet of the week

    Why Is Preventing The Release Of The Senate Torture Report?

    Petraeus distorts reality (Teresa Gutierrez, WW)

    Repost from Workers World:

    U.S. in Colombia: Gen. Petraeus distorts reality

    By on October 23, 2013
    walker_1031Students in New York City are so right-on to protest David Petraeus’ appointment as a highly paid professor at the City University of New York. Gen. Petraeus, retired from the Army in 2011 after a bloody reign in Iraq and Afghanistan and who was director of the CIA for a year, is a rabid warmonger and absolutely deserves to be thrown out of any educational institution.

    On Sept. 24, Petraeus co-authored an article for the Brookings Institute ominously entitled “The Success Story in Colombia.” The writers’ comments are a good example of how the media in the U.S. turn truth on its head. Petraeus solidly represents the interests of the bloodthirsty Pentagon.

    Those interests represent U.S. imperialist aims. In Colombia as in all of the Americas that means destruction, repression and death.

    gutierrez_1031Petraeus et al. wrote: “We are on the right track with Colombia. We need to keep at it to consolidate one of the best stories on the national security front of the 21st century to date.”

    These words are chilling in light of the real situation in Colombia.

    Over 220,000 have died as a result of a bloody civil war, over a million people have been displaced, most of them campesino/as, Indigenous people and Afro-Colombians.

    The U.S. free trade agreement with Colombia passed in 2010 will bring the same kind of havoc that NAFTA brought to Mexican workers and farmers.

    Therefore, the call by Colombian unions and mass organizations for the Oct. 15 International Day of Solidarity with the Colombian Peace Process was indeed a welcome development.

    Solidarity actions U.S. and worldwide

    The week of October 14, solidarity actions with Colombia were held throughout the U.S. and the world. These actions were critical in light of the dire conditions in Colombia. They were vital in letting the Colombian workers know they are not alone and that the solidarity movement in the U.S. is with them.

    The Alliance for Global Justice along with the International Action Center and many other organizations answered the call from Colombia and held solidarity actions in several cities throughout the U.S. that week.

    The main demands of the actions were to support the Colombian peace process to demand peace with social justice, to highlight the repression against Colombian unionists and demand freedom for Huber Ballesteros, vice president of Fensuagro, the largest agricultural union in Colombia.

    Over a month ago, Ballesteros was arrested and charged with “rebellion.”

    There is a worldwide movement demanding his release and there is deep concern for his safety as
    Colombia is one of the deadliest places for union activists in the world.

    Solidarity events were held in New York City; Philadelphia; Tucson, Ariz.; San Francisco; Boston; and Los Angeles.

    The Philadelphia chapter of the International Action Center held a tertulia (open discussion) and presented a video: “Postponed Dreams,” a film by Liliany Obando, former political prisoner and human rights coordinator of Fensuagro, that depicts the conditions of Colombia, and a message from Huber Ballesteros directly from prison.

    In New York City and in Los Angeles, where there are Colombian consulates, activists submitted a letter to the consuls detailing the issues progressives are concerned with. The delivery of the letters signed by important leaders in the solidarity movement hit a nerve with these representatives of the bloody Colombian government.

    In San Francisco, the call was also picked up by the Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition.

    In New York, Oct. 15 Ad Hoc Coalition activists dressed up in business attire and were able to get into the consulate, where they asked to meet with the consul about “business in Colombia.” That may have moved them to the front of the line, and within minutes the delegation was sitting in a conference room with the consul.

    To the consul’s surprise, the delegation’s “business” was not free trade business, but the business of demanding freedom for Ballesteros and a just peace in Colombia.

    A few hours after the delivery of the letter, the delegation put back on their activist clothes and held a spirited and important press conference and picket in front of the consulate.

    The New York City press conference was joined by Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general; George Albro, secretary/treasurer, United Auto Workers Local 2325, and chair, UAW NY Area Community Action Council; Erl Kimmich and Stan Kaster, NYC representatives of the Alliance for Global Justice; Ricardo Prado and Amy Velez of Conscious Colombians in the Diaspora; Michael Kramer, Vets for Peace Chapter 021; Gail Walker, IFCO/Pastors for Peace; and this writer, Teresa Gutierrez, for the IAC.

    Those who participated agreed that the day’s events in New York and around the U.S. accomplished a great deal: it helped the progressive movement to remember Colombia and boosted its solidarity work with this besieged nation.

    Colombians in the diaspora in New York City expressed deep gratitude to the solidarity movement for its efforts on Oct 15. They vowed to work with everyone to keep up the movement for peace with social justice and the freedom of Huber Ballesteros and all political prisoners in Colombia. n

    Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

    News of last week you shouldn't have missed.

    marital aid

    Barack Obama continues to run The Drone War, terrorizing millions around the world.  The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has started a project entitled Naming The Dead that seeks to put names to Barack's kills.

    Equally important, the kills are being questioned legally.  Owen Bowcott (Guardian) reported Friday:

    A United Nations investigation has so far identified 33 drone strikes around the world that have resulted in civilian casualties and may have violated international humanitarian law.
    The report by the UN's special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson QC, calls on the US to declassify information about operations co-ordinated by the CIA and clarify its positon on the legality of unmanned aerial attacks.


    Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts  "Barack's Drone War."

    Syria: US still aims for 'regime change' (WW)

    Repost from Workers World:

    Syria: U.S. still aims for ‘regime change’

    By on October 20, 2013
    In a reversal of its usual role, Human Rights Watch on Oct. 11 released a report that exposed and condemned rebel groups fighting against the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria.

    The HRW’s board is heavily biased toward investment bankers and analysts. Most of its international reports have been directed at governments that are out of favor with U.S. or Western imperialism. In this case, however, the HRW is exposing the role of groups that have been fed and armed by the U.S. and its NATO and Gulf monarchy allies.

    “Armed opposition groups in Syria killed at least 190 civilians and seized over 200 as hostages during a military offensive that began in rural Latakia governorate on Aug. 4, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today [Oct. 11]. At least 67 of the victims were executed or unlawfully killed in the operation around pro-government Alawite villages.

    “The 105-page report, ‘You Can Still See Their Blood: Executions, Indiscriminate Shootings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside,’ presents evidence that the civilians were killed on Aug. 4, the first day of the operation. Two opposition groups that took part in the offensive, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham and Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, are still holding the hostages, the vast majority women and children. The findings strongly suggest that the killings, hostage taking, and other abuses rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said.

    “‘These abuses were not the actions of rogue fighters,’ said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. ‘This operation was a coordinated, planned attack on the civilian population in these Alawite villages.’”

    It wasn’t just the extremist jihadist rebel groups that carried out this operation. reported on Oct. 11 that U.S.-backed Gen. Salim Idris, leader of the “Supreme Military Council,” admitted at the time that troops from his “Free Syrian Army” participated alongside the others in this terrorist slaughter.

    Whether or not HRW’s report reflects a shift in the imperialists’ propaganda tactics toward Syria, whose government forces have successfully pushed back the armed opposition forces in recent months, it does expose some of the crimes the “rebels” have already committed.

    Chemical weapons destruction

    On Oct. 8, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced it was sending a second team to Syria. In September, Syria agreed to a Russian proposal that would allow internationally supervised destruction of its estimated 1,000 tons of chemical weapons, and the U.S. retreated from its threat to risk a wider war by bombing and rocketing Syria.

    Though they had no proof, Washington and some NATO allies blamed the Syrian government for using chemical weapons on Aug. 21. The Syrian government blamed rebel groups for the attack that killed hundreds of people.

    In the next eight months, the OPCW aims to identify and destroy Syria’s stock of chemical agents. It reported the first batch eliminated on Oct. 6. This ambitious task is complicated by the widespread fighting going on across Syria between the government troops and imperialist-backed opponents.

    Even U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has praised the Syrian government’s cooperation in this effort. The U.S. government statements and corporate press reports have become subdued since August and September’s orgy of 24/7 war-drive propaganda.

    Then, a U.S. naval armada was brought to the coast of Syria. Targets for cruise missiles and fighter planes were identified. U.S. ground troops were already in place in both Turkey and Jordan.

    Mass public opinion worldwide resisted the hammering with war propaganda. In England, Parliament voted against Prime Minister David Cameron’s motion to join the U.S. attack. French public opinion turned against the government’s backing of an attack on Syria.

    U.S. opinion polls reflected nearly unanimous opposition to any new war. Facing a possible defeat even in Congress, President Barack Obama backed away from massive bombing and accepted the Russian proposal.

    While much of the world breathed a sigh of relief, Washington still publicly calls for regime change in Syria. Even the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria can serve U.S. interests. These weapons were developed and stockpiled not to fight rebel groups that sprouted up only since 2011, but to counter the very real Israeli war threat.

    The U.S.-financed settler state of Israel has waged six wars against all of its Arab neighbors since its founding, all subsidized by Washington. Israel also has a huge nuclear weapons arsenal and chemical weapons stocks, including white phosphorus bombs that it used flagrantly in attacking civilians in Gaza in 2008-2009. Destroying Syria’s chemical weapons reduces Syria’s self-defense capabilities should Israel attack.

    People in the U.S. should note, however, these two developments: the admission by the media of the terrorist nature of the Syrian rebel groups and the overnight retreat of the media’s tone of whipping up war fever. They expose the cooperation between the imperialist politicians and their corporate media. Only a public that is educated and independent of capitalist ideology can avoid media manipulation and effectively resist aggressive imperialist wars in the future.

    Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

    Guantanamo guards target Shaker Aamer

    Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

    Guantanamo guards punish Shaker Aamer for hunger strike

    Guards targeted Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantanamo, when he joined a mass hunger strike protesting prison brutality, a fellow inmate has reported. Hunger strikers were put in solitary confinement and force fed through the nose.
    Fellow inmate Abu Wa'el Dhiab said, "They took him to the clinic, tore his clothes off and left him with only his underwear for long hours, taunting him.”
    The army said the hunger strike was over last week but 16 inmates are still being force fed.
    Guantanamo holds 164 inmates. Barack Obama promised in 2008 to close it.

    Global Handwashing (UNICEF)

    UNICEF released the following last week:

    UNICEF on Global Handwashing Day: A simple solution with far-reaching benefits – the power is in our hands

    NEW YORK, 15 October 2013 – As the world observes the 6th annual Global Handwashing Day, new figures from UNICEF say 1,400 children under five still die every day from diarrhoeal diseases caused by a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene.

    “The simple act of handwashing with soap is one of the most effective ways to save children’s lives,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes. “Washing hands before eating and after defecation drastically reduces the spread of diarrhoeal disease and has far reaching effects on the health and welfare of children and communities.”

    According to UNICEF, diarrhoea remains the second largest cause of under-five mortality globally. With 600,000 children dying in each year and over 1.7 billion cases, diarrhoeal diseases are also associated with a higher risk of stunting (low weight for age and developmental delay) and take a huge toll on society.

    However, one of the simplest and most inexpensive barriers to infection is handwashing with soap.

    Global Handwashing Day events around the world are helping promote handwashing and raise awareness of the crucially important role it plays in child survival and overall community health.

    In Ethiopia around 5 million children will participate in handwashing demonstrations and workshops around the country.

    In Yemen, Global Handwashing Day celebrations will take place in 3,300 schools, involving 1.4 million children. There will also be a mass media campaign aimed at sensitizing the public around hand washing.  
    One thousand school children in Viet Nam; 450 primary schools in Sierra Leone and 424 in Mali; 200 schools in 50 communities in the Gambia; 12 cities in Indonesia and 22 educational institutions in several municipalities in Bolivia – all will be holding Global Hand Washing Day activities.

    This year’s theme, announced by the Global Public Private Partnership for Handwashing, which includes UNICEF, is "The power is in your hands" because, the Partnership says, everyone has the power to create healthier communities through handwashing with soap. 

    “The evidence is clear.  Each individual—every mother, every child, every teacher, every member of every community—can contribute to the health of all by just washing their hands,” said Wijesekera. “If you knew of something monumental that could benefit the world, you would do it. Everyone has this power – simply wet, lather and rinse - with soap and water.”

    # # #

    About Global Handwashing Day

    Global Handwashing Day is celebrated on October 15. The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap initiated Global Handwashing Day in 2008, and it is endorsed by governments, international institutions, civil society organisations, NGOs, private companies and individuals around the globe. Visit

    About UNICEF

    UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

    Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

    For further information, including interviews or a detailed list of activities globally, please contact:Rita Ann Wallace, UNICEF New York, Tel: 1 212-326-7586, Mobile: 1 917-213-4034,

    Updated: 14 October 2013


     This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

    "I Hate The War" -- most requested highlight of the week.

    "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Snipper"" -- Isaiah on the safety net.

    "Kitchen Appliances in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers some tips.

    "Jane Fonda's sexism harms women" -- Betty calls out Jane Fonda's downplaying of the abuse of women.

    "scandal - the spider web of spying," "Revolution -- where Rachel admires The Yellow Wallpaper," "Arrow : Where Laurel pisses us off,"  "The Mindy Project Wiener Night," "revenge (the good)," "revenge - recast charlotte," and "The Bad Diane" -- Rebecca, Marcia, Stan and Ann cover TV.

    "Charles Haymarket plays drama queen in an e-mail" -- Ruth responds to an e-mail.

    "Barack's attacks on the press" -- Kat covers the attack on journalism.

    "Carrie needs Faye Dunaway" and "Go see Carrie" and "the old queen and the sea"-- Ruth and Stan and Rebecca go to the movies.

    "If you mean it, you'd speak more strongly" -- Elaine breaks it down to the basics and she also continues her Syria coverage:

  • Syria again
  • Syria

  • "Idiot of the Week and more" -- Mike calls out the Idiot of the Week.

    "Olive Stone puts Mia Farrow to shame," "Will Mia Farrow apologize for her child molesting brother?" and
    "the ridiculous mia farrow" -- in related news, Mike, Trina and Rebecca call out 'activist' Mia Farrow.

    "It was all an illusion" and "THIS JUST IN! WILLIE WONKED OUT OBAMACARE!" -- The grand scam, the grand failure.

    "Not a clue" -- Isaiah dips into the archives to remember the Gulf Disaster.

    "Harry Belafonte,"  "Oh, Bette" and "Graham Nash" -- Betty, Kat and Mike cover music.

    "Some can stand up" -- Mike offers applause for the select few who can stand up.

    "The Drone War and how Medea Benjamin keeps it going," "THIS JUST IN! WEAK ASS MEDEA BENJAMIN!" and "Sit down, tired Medea" -- C.I., Wally and Cedric call out weak ass Medea.

    "The power of no" -- Betty explains it.

    "Ashraf community," "Nouri's attacks on protesters" and "The homophobes"-- Betty and Marcia weigh in on Iraq.

    "Melissa McCarthy and Elle" -- Ann on the cover controversy.

    "How 2008's Democratic primaries went down" and "The 2008 primaries" -- Ruth and Kat emphasize writing they think is important.

    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
    Poll1 { display:none; }