Monday, December 24, 2018

Truest statement of the week

Who can adequately explain the abject loss of journalistic standards when it comes to Russia-gate?
For Isikoff and Corn, as for other erstwhile serious journalists, there should be more crow than ham or turkey to eat in the weeks ahead.

Others come to mind: Jane Mayer of The New Yorker; James Risen, formerly of The New York Times; and lesser lights like McClatchy’s Greg Gordon; Marcy Wheeler, Amy Goodman’s go-to Russia-gate pundit at; and extreme-partisan Democrat Marc Ash, who runs Reader Supported News.

-- Ray McGovern, "Michael Isikoff Cuts His Losses at 'Russian Roulette'" (CONSORTIUM NEWS).

Truest statement of the week II

The only Americans aware of the Integrity Initiative are those who use social media to gather information outside of the corporate media bubble. The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC haven’t covered this story. They repeat what Robert Mueller says about crooked and amateurish Trump allies who cheat on taxes or pay off porn stars. They repeat flimsy evidence of Russian collusion while America’s allies in the UK cheat their own citizens of their rights. It is miraculous when the people are able to find out anything they need to know.
These miracles occur when Wikileaks or Anonymous steal secrets the powerful want to keep hidden. Americans wouldn’t know about the existence of the FBI Counter Intelligence Program if a group of activists hadn’t stolen the documentary evidence. That is why the leakers and the hackers deserve support from anyone who wants to live in a truly democratic society.

-- Margaret Kimberley, "UK and US PSYOP Collusion" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Still Sunday here on the West Coast.

Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's   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,
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?

Ray McGovern gets a truest.
And Margaret Kimberley gets another truest.
NYT's got jokes -- instead of actual Iraq coverage, they got jokes.
Ellen DeGeneres is a hero without lying -- so why does she feel the need to lie.
Why stop with Freddie Mercury?  Rami can go on to straight-wash other gay people.
If you're going to Tweet about how women can do anything, how about hiring some to write and direct?
We roundtable.
Senator Patty Murray.
No, not really.

The book list.
What we listened to while writing.
Press release from Senator Patty Murray's office.

Okay, it's 10:07 pm on Sunday night on the West Coast as we type this. 

Hope everyone has a Happy Holiday!

War is over, if you want it.


-- Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: NYT still avoids Iraq reality

"The truth takes rigor," boast THE NEW YORK TIMES in their latest commercial. "The truth is worth it."

The truth?

According to the commercial, Donald Trump's tax returns.

Yes, that is the most important story in the world -- if you live in a very shallow world.

The reality is that the paper that sold the Iraq War with one lie after another prefers to be shallow.  For the second time in two weeks, Basra protesters have been shot at by police officers.  That's a story.  Iraq's government still can't form a fully staffed Cabinet -- and the security posts (Minister of Interior and Minister of Defense) remain empty.

Instead of reporting that or other serious issues, THE NEW YORK TIMES offers Rod Nordland's "Santa Arrested in Iraq? Social Media Says Yes, Police Say No:"

Various accounts widely shared in local social media during the weekend before Christmas had Papa Noel, as Christians in Iraq and Syria call him, being arrested by the Iraqi police, drafted into the Syrian army or going off to fight the Islamic State.
The reports grew so widespread that the police in Iraq, a country where sectarian divisions often lead to bloodshed, took pains to publicly deny them.

They can't report reality but they can waste 21 paragraphs on this fluff.

Meryl Streep praises THE NEW YORK TIMES.  Meryl Streep is an uneducated idiot who majored in drama.

TV: The lies of Ellen DeGeneres are out in full force in her NETFLIX special

Funny.  Is it enough?  We wondered that as last week ended.


There was Ellen DeGeneres' NETFLIX special RELATABLE.  It was funny -- or, at least, funny-ish. But is that really enough?

Art doesn't have to be true but when you build your special around how true you are and when you talk about your real life suffering, don't people have a right to expect truth?

There was Ellen talking about how she suffered when she came out.  She noted that, at first (1997), they loved her and they loved her show ELLEN but then she was out of job.  And that's true.

And we will not pretend her coming out didn't matter.  It mattered hugely.  It was brave and we've applauded her here for it.  She did what no other person wanted to do -- though, as she notes in the special, she hoped others would -- and we remember another woman was supposed to come out (it was the star of a sitcom -- yeah, Liz Smith hinted who it was and we all knew then and we all know now).

Again, we applaud her for that.

But we applaud truth and we're applauding her for telling her truth -- back in 1997.

We don't applaud her truth in the special because it's just not true.

Despite the fact that she's built the special around truth with lines like, "It was more important to me to be proud of myself and live my truth."  At one point, she declares.

Unemployment is a side effect.  That is definitely -- I lost my sitcom when I came out and, uh, it's not like nobody warned me.  Everybody warned me -- my publicist, my agent, my manager.  Anyone making money off of me said, "Don't do it."  But, you know, my worst fears came true. Because -- and that's why people stay closeted. The same people who loved me, just overnight, just hated me.  Just because they knew I was gay.  Everything changed and I, you know, I went through a depression and people made fun of me and people were writing articles about me, dissecting the whole process and why I did it and why I shouldn't have done it.  And, you know, it was just a really tough thing.  It took three years for me to get back on television.  


It did not take her three years to get back on television.  It wasn't even two years.  The last new episode of ELLEN aired July 20, 1998.  March 7, 2000, she was back on TV in HBO's IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK II.  It was one year and about seven months.  Three years?  No. Equally true, the last new episode of ELLEN aired July 20, 1998 and she was on TV frequently in 1999 promoting her two films released that year, ED TV and THE LOVE LETTER.

Even more important, while in NYC to wrap up her comedy tour (July 2000), she told reporters that she would begin filming a sitcom for CBS shortly (THE ELLEN SHOW -- a sitcom where she was again playing Ellen who was gay from the start of the show -- the sitcom also featured the last filmed reunion of Mary Tyler Moore and Ed Asner).

But Ellen was never 'away.'

Yes,  it did hurt her career to come out, but we're not the only ones who applauded her in real time.  And have applauded her since.  A lot of people applauded her in real time.  What she did was historic.

Which is why she really doesn't need to mess with the truth about what she did.

However, on this special, she  doesn't just want to amuse you, she wants to awaken you.  And that's fine and there are pretty words along the way, such as here:

That time after I came out really was the hardest period of my life.  It was.  But it was the best part of my journey because it's when I realized how strong I was.  It's when I learned compassion.  It's when I learned that the truth would always win. And-and that's when you grow -- when -- Like everyone has a fear, everyone's scared of something but it's not until you face that fear head on that you realize your power and that's when you grow.

First, facing that fear is important but you don't need to make it worse than it was.  That's not going to help anyone.  Ellen came out.  The next fall, ABC tacked a warning label on her show that might as well have said "Beware Lesbian!" but even with that warning, the show still did well in the ratings.  ABC renewed shows with lower ratings than ELLEN's ratings.  That's a part of the story.  Ellen might try telling that part because a lot of people stuck with her, a lot of people cheered her on.

Second, she said, "The truth would always win."

Well, no, not in the special, not in "Ask Ellen," the nine minute special that follows her stand-up special where she takes questions from the audience that attended the taping.

She said she was off TV for three years because she came out.

It's not true.

Kelly Wynne (NEWSWEEK) raves over the special and runs with Ellen's lie, "DeGeneres explains it took her three years to get her career back after the backlash she faced."

So Ellen lies and the media -- without bothering to even examine the claim -- runs with the lie and suddenly the takeaway is: Come out and suffer, you'll be off TV for three years, you'll be out of work.

That's not what happened.

And then, in the special, Ellen made it even worse.  She singled out Laura Dern (we know Laura) who was in the audience and insisted that Laura playing her --

Her what?

Ellen said her "love interest."

Object of affection would be a better term for what Laura played.  There's a myth that they kissed (they didn't) or that Laura played her girlfriend (she didn't).  Lisa Darr played Ellen's girlfriend (and lover) for eight episodes (in the final season of ELLEN) and, no, playing the role did not harm Lisa's career, she's worked in television or film every year from 1998 to the present with the exception of 2010.

By contrast, Laura Dern played Susan on one episode of ELLEN, "The Puppy Episode," the coming out episode, which was an hour long.  Ellen (her character's name in ELLEN) meets Susan when Ellen goes to dinner with an old boyfriend.  She goes back to the hotel with the old boyfriend who makes a pass and Ellen leaves.  She bumps into Susan at the hotel and goes to Susan's room.  Susan tells Ellen that she's gay and she thinks Ellen is.  Offended, Ellen leaves the hotel.  She gets on the couch with Dr. Oprah Winfrey and realizes she's attracted to Susan.  Ellen rushes to the airport to tell Susan and ends up announcing she's gay on the P.A. system.  Though Susan is actually not leaving town, Ellen doesn't go out with her.  Instead, Ellen then goes home and has her friends over to tell them she's gay.  Susan and Ellen are at the bookstore the next day and Susan, seeing that Audrey and Joe think she and Ellen are a couple, explains to Ellen, "I'm in a relationship."

Ellen insists on the special (in the "Ask Ellen" part), "So Laura, as you know, played my love interest on the show and even though she's straight, after she was on my show, she didn't get work for like a year, two years?  Just because she was my love interest on the show."


Because after that 1997 episode of ELLEN, Laura went on to do THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW and the telefilm THE BABY DANCE in 1998, 1999 saw the release of her film OCTOBER SKY, 2000 found her in Robert Altman's DR.T AND THE WOMEN, 2001 saw her in I AM SAM, JURASSIC PARK III, FOCUS and DADDY AND THEM and the telefilm WITHIN THESE WALLS -- exactly what year -- or two -- in there was Laura unable to get a job?

Ellen's preaching scare tactics and also telling lies.

And she's doing that while insisting, in the same special, "It was more important to me to be proud of myself and live my truth."

And, here's what's really pissing us off, she was depressed for months, she didn't know how she'd get out of it -- Yeah, Ellen, we've heard the story before.

What we don't hear now really pisses us off.

One of the biggest pieces of crap in the entertainment world is James Taylor.  James is the subject of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain."  Sorry, Carly, this is an article about truth, so we'll tell it.  As she noted in the joint-ROLLING STONE INTERVIEW with James after they got married, James took a two-seater plane to Nova Scotia.  And in her opera ROMULUS HUNT: A FAMILY OPERA, the divorced dad shows up quoting "You're So Vain," "I walked into . . ."  Equally true, "Just Like A Train" is one of Joni Mitchell's many songs about James and, in it, she sings, "Imagining all the fun I'll have watching your hairline recede my vain darling."  James is so vain.

And he needs to get over it and get over his hatred of Carly.  They were married for many years, they wrote songs together, they sang songs together, they raised children together.

But pRick James won't speak of Carly.  He won't acknowledge her existence in interviews.  He tells his friends not to mention her either.  They're all going to pretend that she never existed.

Once upon a time you swore you'd love me 
'Til the end of the world 
Now, nowhere is far enough away for you 
I must be quite a girl 
Quite a girl 
La la la la la la la 
Halfway 'round the world
-- "Halfway 'Round The World," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her LETTERS NEVER SENT

We're glad that Carly's able to turn it into art -- we applaud her for it.

But that doesn't excuse what James has done and is doing.

And nothing excuse this pig-boy behavior when Melissa Etheridge does it.  In fact, we're sick of 'manly' and deadbeat dad Melissa.  She has used one woman after another and then discarded the woman and pretended she never existed.  What she  did to Tammy Lynn Michaels was disgusting and any man who'd done that to the mother of his children would have a hard time getting work.

Piggish behavior in men or women needs to be called out.

Ellen, we're calling you out.

Anne Heche sacrificed a lot.  She came out the day after she signed to make the romantic comedy with Harrison Ford and it effected her career.  She should have been a leading lady and, if she'd hid her relationship with Ellen, she could have been.  Anne has talent and is good looking.  She'd been moving up the ladder in movie after movie.  But she told the truth and it cost her.

And she was Ellen's partner.  Remember IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK II?

In 1996, Anne Heche starred with Jada Pinkett in the Cher directed segment of HBO's IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK.  In 2000, Ellen starred in IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK II -- in the third segment with Sharon Stone -- in the third segment, the one Anne Heche wrote, the one Anne Heche directed, the one Anne Heche cast her in.

If this two year period was so awful and so hideous and it was so great to be back on TV (do you not exist if you're not on TV, Ellen?), then she should sing Anne's praises.

And maybe when Ellen's telling about how awful that time was for her, she can stop being a pig long enough to note that she was lucky to have Anne by her side.  That is reality because as bad as it was for Ellen, it would have been even worse without Anne.

Ellen's agent, manager and publicist didn't stand up to the ABC execs -- it was Anne who did.

So maybe stop being such a little s**t, Ellen, and give a little praise for what someone did for you.

She can't stop mentioning Portia -- or showing photos of her -- the stand-up tries to be mixed media (and fails).  We're glad you're happy, Ellen, but stop acting like one of the men in FIRST WIVES CLUB because it's outrageous and unbecoming.

Another thing, watching the special, we had to wonder was about how women present themselves on TV.

Ellen is angry.  She has rage in her eyes in the "Ask Ellen" part when a woman says she feels like she knows Ellen because she's watched her so long on TV and asks Ellen, "What would you like to know about me?"


And it's there in the special as well (and it holds the audience at a distance as she brags on herself and her life repeatedly while pretending she's joking): the greed, the anger, the rage.

Ellen's made noises about leaving her daytime talk show -- apparently because it's so hard to be nice.

She talks a lot about the talk show in the stand-up.  They didn't think a lesbian could be a hit in daytime.  They didn't like what she wore and gave her a makeover before they started taping the show.  She had to wear necklaces, on and on.  And the producer had her give stuff away. "I got a TV from the gay lady! I sure do like her!"

It reminded us of Rosie O'Donnell.

First off, Rosie was successful on THE VIEW the first go round.  And she was out at that time.

It was a different Rosie than the persona of her long running and successful THE ROSIE O'DONNELL SHOW.  Back then, she was in the closet.  And she gave things away.  And she smiled a lot and was always happy and nice.

Then she came out and let her anger rip.  We're not griping about that.  Rosie angry can get a lot accomplished and can cut through a lot of the crap.  But Ellen basically stole Rosie's act -- the act that Rosie tossed aside and discarded.  And that's apparently eating at Ellen.  It's very frustrating to watch RELATABLE and see this angry Ellen peeking out but never emerging.  That's not truth, that's dishonesty -- and hiding all that anger and rage?  Talk about being in the closet.

More Hetero-Wash Films for Rami Malek


Rami Malek's 'success' in BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY means he'll go on to hetero-wash the lives of other noted gay men.

1) SHY BOY: THE PAUL LYNDE STORY Status: Completed

SHY BOY traces Paul's life and career starting with his 1956 guest appearance on THE MARTHA RAE SHOW.  Looking at Martha (Lena Dunham) from a distance, Paul exclaims to himself, "Kitten, I'm smitten."  But he's shy and unable to convey his feelings to Martha.  This shyness follows him throughout his career including on the set of BEWITCHED where he has more than cousinly feelings for Elizabeth Montgomery (played by Emma Stone).  Agnes Moorehead (Lea Delaria in a show stopping performance) pulls him aside and tells him there is trouble in Montgomery's marriage and that, "You're just the sort of rough neck stud our Lizzie needs.  Tell her, Paul!  Go work your manly magic on her!"  But even with such prompting, the tragically shy Paul is unable to pursue Elizabeth. Finally, on the set of TEMPERATURE'S RISING, Paul conveys his hots for Joan Van Ark (played by Sally Kirkland), "You got my temperature rising, doll!"  But Van Ark rebuffs him and quits the show to avoid him, sending him spiraling into a depression that is only broken when, on the set of THE HOLLYWOOD SQUARES, Paul meets Fannie Flagg (Sarah Jessica Parker) and his shyness vanishes as the two move in together and Paul, with Fannie's loving strength, defeats his booze addiction.


Filming of this musical ode to heterosexual manhood was completed in late October.  Rami plays playwright Oscar Wilde and Tom Cruise (sensing Oscar bait) plays Oscar's buddy Alfred Douglas.  The film opens with a shot of Rami and Tom in bed together, each plowing an unnamed maiden (Emma Roberts and Leslie Grossman) while Rami does a voice over narration in song: "Balls deep in pu**y, Red blooded men are we, Me and my buddy Alfie, We drink, brawl and hunt pu**y."  The bro-ship is deep but it bothers Alfred's father (Tim Allen in a rare dramatic turn) who wants his son to settle down so he works to break up the bromance.  Stand out numbers include "Bros Before Hoes" performed in spangled (and assless) chaps and especially the line dancing clog number "Mary Had Only One Son But Cher Had Two."


Filming came to a standstill last month when Rami shot the scene where George Michael encounters police officer Marcelo Rodriguez (Mario Lopez playing a rare butch role) in the public toilet at Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills.  In the script, Rami's George has the turkey trots and darts into the men's room only to discover no toilet paper in the stall.  Seated next to him, Marcelo insists he's "giving birth to a massive turd and I can't spare any t.p."  "Not even a square?" asks George.  Marcelo huffs, "I can't spare a square!"  The battle over toilet paper leads to a fist fight and George's arrest for assaulting a cop which  was supposed to hetro-wash out the gay sex offer by the police officer.  As filming of the scene ended, director Joel Schumacher realized Diablo Cody's script 'borrowed' heavily from SEINFELD's "The Stall."  Though Cody offered to do the rewrite, Schumacher and WARNER are holding out for Michael Arndt and Simon Kinberg.  Filming is on hold until a suitable rewrite is completed.

TV: MURPHY BROWN is no friend to women

What is with truth and representation?  We saw two fake asses last week.  One of them had a special, the other had a TV series.

a new illst


Last week, we wrote about YOUNG SHELDON because, without THE BIG BANG THEORY as a lead-in, YOUNG SHELDON is going to be news -- possibly spun as "Look how bad things are for CBS without Leslie Moonves!"  Yes, we can hear some idiots insisting that.  But that's why we wrote it last week.  Moonves greenlit the crap that is YOUNG SHELDON and he gave it a season two.  He's now gone from CBS but he could have put a real show on after THE BIG BANG THEORY, he could have used that spot to groom a follow up show that audiences would love.  He didn't.  He just tossed YOUNG SHELDON on after it and, come this spring, THE BIG BANG THEORY wraps up and is no more.  CBS should have been planning for that day.

But when we got home two Saturdays ago, we had a copy of that week's MURPHY BROWN.  It was a good episode, a strong one.  And friends with the show wanted us to note that.  But we had to cover YOUNG SHELDON and we get tired of doing several pieces every week.  We were going to do one and only one article and we hoped we could work MURPHY BROWN into it.  But we couldn't.

Yes, the episode was a marked improvement over the first ones we saw.

And we felt bad that we couldn't note it.  So one of us worked it into an "Iraq snapshot" at THE COMMON ILLS last week.

Try to do someone a favor, right?

Anything men can do, women can do better!


Anything men can do, women can do better?  Women rule?

We're not questioning the idea or notion being expressed, we're questioning whom it's coming from.

MURPHY BROWN?  The Twitter feed for the show has the nerve to offer that?

"Ava and C.I., what do you mean by the nerve?  It's just a little slogan and many of us agree with it."

Yeah but it's a damn shame Diane English doesn't.

To note the Afghanistan episode, the writers had to be noted and we were both surprised to find that two men wrote it.

Which made us curious.

"Don't look, don't look," we told ourselves repeatedly.

But like a woman in a horror film stumbling across a closed closet door, we had to open it up.

One woman directed four episodes -- Pamela Fryman.  There were thirteen episodes.  Nine were directed by men.

Anything men can do, women can do better?

Okay, maybe they did better with writing.  Diane English, creator of the show, after all is a writer.

And, it turns out, she wrote for this season.

One episode.


Laura Kraftt wrote two episodes.

And Gina Ippolito co-wrote one and got credit (along with three male writers) on another.

So if you're generous women were responsible -- partly or in whole -- for five episodes.

Out of thirteen.

And men are responsible -- partly or in whole -- for nine episodes.

Dianne English has long presented herself as the last word in feminism and we're supposed to celebrate and support everything she does.

But, as her track record demonstrates, she doesn't do the same.

She had thirteen episodes.

She apparently doesn't believe women can direct because only four were directed by women -- leaving, again, nine to be directed by men.  And the writing credits are equally troubling.

Why are we applauding Diane English?  And, excuse us, Candice Bergen, all your pro-woman talk promoting this show?  Shouldn't you have noticed how poorly the show was with representation?

Speaking of, we called out the show for its portrayal/treatment of African-American characters -- they were repeatedly being told to shut up or being interrupted -- in bit roles.  We weren't the only ones making that complaint to CBS or to friends with the show (and we made it here when we first reviewed it).

In the fourth episode, Merle Dandridge, a bi-racial actress, was added as their boss Diana.  And she came off like "Black bitch" on a reality show.  We took on that nonsense, that stereotypical crap, when we covered the first season of the reality show the current President of the United States used to host.  It was racist then and it's racist now.

On episode 13, it got worse.

She's the boss and she kissed her subordinate Miles.  She's the boss.

At a time when Diane English and Candice Bergen wanted to insist in their publicity that this was the time for the return, it was #MeToo! (though that didn't stop either woman from supporting Leslie Moonves and insisting he was innocent -- he wasn't), they're going to air that storyline?

And they're going to push it off on their token character?

We try to be nice, over and over.  And then it becomes clear why we can't be.

MURPHY BROWN returned and it was offensive and not funny.  And it's made by people who have no clue what year it is or what world they are living in.  But they want to hector the country about politics?  Instead of delivering laughs, they want to deliver lectures.  And this coming from a group so pathetic that they  confuse meaningless Tweets with actually doing something like hiring an equal number of women to direct and to write.


Jess: It's been awhile but it's roundtable time again.  Remember the e-mail address is  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's  Ava and me, Jess; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;  C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts; Ann of Ann's Mega Dub and Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jess (Con't): Okay, Syria.  President Donald Trump has stated he's pulling US troops out of Iraq.  Thoughts?

Rebecca: If it happens, I'm all for it.  Bring US troops home, end all the wars.  So if it happens, I'm all for it.

Ruth: "If" is what we're all feeling, honestly.  We have had a 'withdrawal' before.  Barack Obama 'withdrew' troops from Iraq at the end of 2011.  It was a drawdown, not a withdrawal.  The number of US troops never went to zero and, a year later, he was sending a division of special-ops back in and the number of US troops sent back in only grew and grew.  So "if" is really key.

Isaiah: Right.  We've been fooled before.  If Trump's really doing this, great.  I'll praise him for it.  But I'm not going to offer any praise before the actions take place.

Jess: He's getting grief just for the announcement.  Elaine, you noted that in your "That disgusting Rachel Maddow."

Elaine: Big surprise, Rachel Maddow's in alarmist mode yet again.  Big surprise, the War Hawk is opposed to US troops coming home.  She's a fake ass and always has been.

Mike: What do you think the shelf-life is for liars like her?  I mean, prior to the internet, a Cokie Roberts could have a long career.  These days, with the internet and a faster pace, the liars are exposed earlier.

Betty: I agree with that.  For example, Amy Goodman's influence continues to drop.  She's been exposed as what she really is and for the liar she is.  I think she will continue to lose audiences because of her fake ass ways.  But someone like Rachel?  She's built her popularity on hating Trump.  Until he's out of office, she's got an audience.  It doesn't grow, you might have noticed.  That's because her reputation is out there.  Her lies and War Hawk ways are well known.  Despite massive promotion, she cannot grow her audience -- and it's a small audience -- even by basic cable standards.

Cedric: Betty makes some great points and I agree that Mike's point about the internet is true.  Look at Norman Solomon, for example.  In 2006, he was everywhere.  He then went on to whore and lie so much that he really can't come back.  He's tried repeatedly but he trashed his won reputation.  He was a pledged delegate for Barack, for example, and as Ava and C.I. noted, he would reveal that in his columns because he could be dropped as a columnist if he didn't.  But during the same time, he went on KPFA and other PACIFICA stations repeatedly to offer commentary and never once revealed -- while praising Barack endlessly -- that he was a pledged delegate.

Ruth: I agree that something like that seriously hurt him.  However, the real wound was his refusal to follow through on Iraq.  He -- like so many others -- just dropped it as a topic once Barack Obama was elected.  And he had grand standed repeatedly on the topic of the Iraq War -- in books, in columns, in film and on radio and TV.  So when he walked away from the still ongoing war, he exposed himself as the fraud.

Ann: I voted for Jill Stein.  I'm a Green, my parents are, I was raised a Green.  That said, I was thrilled last week when C.I. noted Jill's Tweet about Iraq and that it was in contrast to Jill's 2012 presidential run and 2016 presidential run where she couldn't even address the war.  That was really disgusting.  I do not think she should be the 2020 presidential nominee but, if she is, she damn well better be talking about ending the wars.

Kat: Do you think they realize it?  That they've lost influence or even why they have?  I think they realize that they've lost influence but that they make excuses like "The corporate media is shutting me out!"

Ann: I think you're right, Kat.  They think they can be believed and that proves that they think this is some temporary thing.  It's not.  They demanded accountability from the liars of the corporate press and we heard them do that.  But they think accountability doesn't apply to them.

Mike: I would love to read a Norman Solomon column that opened with, "One of the stupidest thing I did was to walk away from the Iraq War.  As we all know, the war continues."  I would have so much respect for him -- for anyone that did that, that took accountability for what they did and acknowledged that this was damaging for the people of Iraq.

Marcia: Instead, we live in a world where Michelle Obama and War Criminal Bully Boy Bush are oohed and aaahed because he gives her candy.  Not to embarrass you, Isaiah, but I'm noting your latest THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Even Monsters Love Candy."

even monsters love candy

Stan: It's so disgusting.  But Michelle is not a saint or a Civil Rights activist.  She's just a corporate stooge and she proved that long before she became First Lady.  Post First Lady, she's just an embarrassment.  And, Martha, I loved your "Michelle and her hideous boots."

Betty: Put me down for that too!  Support!

Cedric: It's really sad that this is what she's choosing to do with her life.  Yes, she's a fake.  Yes, she's greedy.  But you'd think she'd at least try to find some sense of purpose.  She has none.

Stan: Except for grabbing as much money as she can.  Greed is her sense of purpose.

Marcia: Exactly.  One thing I wanted to note about Isaiah's comic, we see her all over Bully Boy Bush repeatedly.  Do you notice how little we see of her with her own husband?  She's not hugging in him public.  I find it strange.

Ruth: While we are singing praises, let me take a moment to note Elaine's "Was anything accomplished in the Afghanistan War?" which applies to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Elaine: Thank you, Ruth.  But let me knock that back to you with praise for everything you wrote last week:

Elaine (Con't): You tackled topics that others did not in the community and you did so in a way that was uniquely your own.  So thank you.

Jess: Okay, e-mail from reader Vanessa.  She wants to know if we have a favorite film franchise?

Mike: James Bond!  Claiming it first!  I love James Bond.  Favorite film?  Tie: YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and CASINO ROYAL.

Kat: I'll bite.  GREASE.  But as much as I love the first film, I really love GREASE II even more.  That's not a popular opinion.  But I think GREASE II really upends a lot of norms and I also prefer the soundtrack.  And Maxwell Caulfield is a hottie.

Betty: It's not really a franchise but I love MAHOGANY and LADY SINGS THE BLUES -- two films that pair Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams.  I thought they had real chemistry.  I wish they had a third movie.  Considering all the money NETFLIX is throwing around, why can't they do a film with Diana and Billy Dee?

Ann: Because they're really not about people of color at NETFLIX, I've noticed.  I'd love to see Diana in a NETFLIX movie.  I also am surprised they haven't tried to put Pam Grier in a film -- either a new action character or as one of her 70s heroes like FOXY BROWN.  Again, NETFLIX has a real problem with African-American stars.

Cedric: I loved the RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK franchise.  It was fun.  I grew up on it and it's one I'll always buy a ticket to.

Jess: I'm surprised no one has said STAR WARS.

Marcia: I won't say STAR WARS but I will say STAR TREK.  I love the reboot with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto but I loved the original cast in the early films as well as when they did the Patrick Stewart films.  There's no bad STAR TREK film.  There are ones that are better -- THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK, for example, but they are all solid films.

Rebecca:  Let me go left field, I'll toss out Frankie and Annette -- the beach movies.  BEACH BLANKET BINGO, etc.  And include the DR. GOLDFOOT films as well because I love those too.

Ava: Tim Burton's two Batman movies -- BATMAN and BATMAN RETURNS.  They are classic.  I continue to watch Batman films -- with Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, Val Kilmer or George Clooney -- but none of them pack the life and texture that Tim Burton's first two films do.

Isaiah:  I think I'll go with TOY STORY but I agree with Ava regarding the Batmans and Tim Burton is my all time favorite director.

Stan:  I'll go with the ALIENS franchise -- as long as Weaver is in it.  Don't care for the films without her -- including the reboot.  And my two favorites are ALIENS and ALIENS III.

Ruth: The movies with Myrna Loy and William Powell -- THE THIN MAN movies, where they are Nick and Nora Charles.  I love those movies.  They still sparkle.

Jess: Elaine?

Elaine: C.I. and I have the same one.  It's the British franchise CARRY ON . . .  My favorite is CARRY ON SCREAMING -- their spoof of the Hammer films.

C.I.: And mine is CARRY ON SPYING -- the spoof of spy films.  It makes me laugh repeatedly.

Elaine: They're really funny and there are a ton of them -- there may be more CARRY ON films than even James Bond.  If that's the case, I'm sure Bond will surpass it at some point in the near future.  CARRY ON CLEO is another great one.

Jess: I'll go with LORD OF THE RINGS or the Sam Rami SPIDER-MAN films.  Betty had a point she wanted to note so let's make this the last topic before we close.  Betty?

Betty: I don't think it's the holiday but maybe it is.  I just feel like people feel a lot more hopeful right now.  Anybody else sensing that?

Rebecca: I am.  People seem tired of being scared and frightened and the daily outrage being ginned up every morning.  I think we're wanting to move beyond it.

Stan: I'd agree.  And I've noticed it too.  Maybe because of the Russia-gate going up in flames? I don't know.

Ava: And we've now endured two years of Donald Trump.  Supposedly, the world was going to immediately end, remember?  There are two more years left -- if we can get real candidates in 2020 -- and an end is in sight.

Jess: Okay, let's close on that hopeful note.  There's one more weekend left in the year.  For those celebrating Christmas, Merry Christmas.

A Congressional Committee moment

Last week, the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a joint hearing.   Appearing before the Committees were VA Secretary Robert Wilkie who was accompanied by VA's Melissa Glynn and Steven Lieberman.

The stand out moment?  Senator Patty Murray.


Senator Patty Murray: But I do want to ask about the caregivers program because according to briefings from the VA, the Department has ruled out trying to narrow the eligibility criteria for the caregiver program.  But I'm still very concerned that there is a number of issues the VA is looking at that I'm concerned about including changes to the stipend, restricting veterans based on their type of injury or requiring a minimum disability rating.  This seems to be VA still focused on keeping people out of the program instead of making it work better for our veterans.  And yesterday, NPR reported on several cases where veterans --  including a double and a triple amputee -- were downgraded or kicked out of the program completely, inappropriately.  And these are, by the way, not one-off VA cases.  We're hearing that this is a continuing problem in the VA's management of this program.  When the VA previously downgraded and terminated caregivers, the VA assured me that it had resolved the problems that led to these type of actions but it's very clear that's not true and I would like you to immediately re-instate a ban on downgrades and terminations until VA can demonstrate to us that the serious management problems have been corrected and these type of outrageous errors will not occur again.

Secretary Robert Wilkie: Senator, I will say that caregivers is especially important to me.  I am the son of a gravely wounded Vietnam warrior.

Senator Patty Murray:  I appreciate that.

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  Uh, and I've seen my mother and family, uh, take care of my father prior to his passing last --

Senator Patty Murray:  I appreciate that.

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  The stories --

Senator Patty Murray:  Will you reinstate the ban?

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  I --

Senator Patty Murray:  Will you reinstate the ban?

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  I-I-I'm not familiar with all the rules but I will tell you the National Public Radio story, that, uh, problem was corrected within 24 to 48 hours.

Senator Patty Murray:  Those are not isolated cases.  We're hearing many of them.

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  And-and those cases, is my understanding, have been corrected because of directives from this department that people were not reading the regulations properly. So my promise to you is that I am going to do everything I can to make sure everybody stays in the program.  It's that important to me personally.

Senator Patty Murray:  Can I have your assurance that no one else will be downgraded or kicked out of the program until you look and make sure that the regulations are being implemented at every level correctly?

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  Absolutely, I will -- I will make that commitment and will brief these Committees.

The hearing was reported on at THE COMMON ILLS in "Iraq snapshot" and "Iraq snapshot."

Scandal free Obama administration?

Barack Obama and many in the press like to claim his administration was scandal free.

Not true.

He had plenty of scandals -- he just also had a press willing to look the other way.

Imagine the scandal if Wilbur Ross, the current Secretary of Commerce, had hit a car that had stopped for a railroad train.  Imagine if Wilbur then got out of the car, spoke to three people in the car he hit, ran back to his car and then sped off?

That would be, yes, a hit and run.

Guess what?

But it was John Bryson.  CBS NEWS reported in June 11, 2012:

According to the written statement by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Bryson, 68, was allegedly behind the wheel of a Lexus that rear-ended another vehicle waiting for a train to pass in the city of San Gabriel at around 5:05 p.m. PT. The statement says Bryson spoke with the three males in the other car, then allegedly drove away, hitting their Buick again in the process.

It was briefly reported and then quickly ignored -- Bryson was Secretary of Commerce at the time.

He pretended to have a health crisis and resigned ten days later.  This was an election year.  Yet the press never speculated on what it said about Barack's 'character' that one of his Cabinet members was a hit and run driver.

commerce driver

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "The Trusted Driver of Commerce."

In 2018, we read books


In 2018, we upped the book coverage community wide.  We'd like to do it again in 2019 but that's next year.  This year, we'll just note that we accomplished it.

Non-fiction, fiction, poetry, graphic novel, humor, there was hopefully a little something for everyone.


"Tina Turner's love story" -- Betty.

"Chris Hedges' AMERICA: THE FAREWELL TOUR bids adie..." -- C.I. 
"Leslie Bennetts writes about something but it's not Joan Rivers" -- Trina.
"Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. reviews Michelle Obama's BECOMING (pair it with Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The Selfie").

"The Women’s Suffrage Movement is an awful (and rac..." and "Penguin's embarrassing and racist book on feminism" -- Ann and Elaine.

"Alice Isn't Dead" -- Marcia.



"When a book no longer pleases" -- Betty.


"Parker Posey's YOU'RE ON AN AIRPLANE" -- Mike.

"Sally Field IN PIECES" -- C.I. 

"Neil deGrasse Tyson and his superficial book" -- Betty.

"Alice Walker's The Chicken Chronicles" -- Marcia.

"The really bad book The Bridge" -- Ann.

"The Third Hotel by Laura Van Den Berg" -- Trina. 

"T.J. Berry's Space Unicorn Blues" -- Marcia.  

"HELLO GORGEOUS by William Mann" -- Stan.


"Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's and the Dawn of the Modern Woman Paperback" -- Ann.

"No one Peter Bogdanovich knows is ever gay" -- Marcia.

"Seymour Hersh meanders throughout REPORTER: A MEMOIR" -- C.I. 

"Dusty (by Karen Bartlett)" -- Marcia.

"Media critiques -- Nora Ephron's SCRIBBLE SCRABBLE" -- Mike.

"Judy Garland (the biographies)" -- Kat.


"UNCOMMON TYPES: Let's kill whomever taught Tom Hanks to type" -- Elaine.


"Anne Sexton: THE COMPLETE POEMS" -- C.I.

"Charlotte Chandler's MARLENE" -- Elaine.

"A sexist woman writes She's a Rebel and distorts music history" -- Ann.

"barbara ehrenreich's 'natural causes'" -- Rebecca. 

"Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook" -- Trina.


"Blackfish City" -- Marcia.

"THE CHICKEN CHRONICLES by Alice Walker" -- Ruth.

"Harry Belafonte" -- Mike.

"THE SAME RIVER TWICE (Alice Walker)" -- Isaiah.

"Dancing with Demons: The Authorized Biography of Dusty Springfield" -- Marcia.

"Good for Jimmy Stewart, bad for readers" -- Stan.

"Conversations with Toni Morrison" -- Marcia.

"Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream" -- Ann.

"He Ran All The Way" -- Trina.

And we'll also note Ann's "How a book store could stay alive in today's economy" about the book business.
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