Sunday, December 28, 2008

Truest statement of the week

I know for sure ...

... that when you lose your moral compass, a GPS device won't get you back on track.

-- Jane Wagner, "What Do I Know for Sure?" (wowOwow).

Truest statement of the week II

At Metro Weekly's Last Word, Melissa Ehteridge and the actress she hooked up with are made to look like the total morons they are. I don't know the little actress name (failed actress) and I don't think I should refer to her as Melissa's wife or spouse because that would imply marriage and the two women have made clear that Rick Warren not being in favor of same-sex marriage is no problem with them, that his advocating against equality is a-okay. So I would hate to refer to the actress as Etheridge's wife. It would be insulting after they've worked so hard to embrace the homophobia of Rick Warren.

-- Elaine, "Chatty post" (Like Maria Said Paz).

Truest statement of the week III

Even though the agreement with the Iraqi government calls for all American combat troops to be out of the cities by the end of June, military planners are now quietly acknowledging that many will stay behind as renamed "trainers" and "advisers" in what are effectively combat roles. In other words, they will still be engaged in combat, just called something else.

-- Elisabeth Bumiller, "Trying to Redefine Role of U.S. Military in Iraq" (New York Times).

A note to our readers

Hey --
Sunday and the whole crew's back. Dona, Ty and me (Jim). We thank Ava, C.I. and Jess for steering last week's edition and think they did a great job.

We're back together for another edition this week and along with Dallas, the following helped on this edition:

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),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

And here's what we came up this week.

Truest statement of the week -- All three truest are worthy. Jane Wagner's is at the top due to the fact that it works on so many levels including as a benediction for the year.

Truest statement of the week II -- I would love to tell you that we all get together and notice writing at the community sites and fight to get a truest for them. That's not true. We should do a better job. (Ava says, "What do you mean 'we'? Ty, C.I. and I are the ones who championed this." True.) Elaine earned this truest. Well done.

Truest statement of the week III -- Bumiller earned her truest as well and that's why we end up with three truest in one week. It's happened before but not that often. If you just don't have the time to read Bumiller's analysis in full, that tiny section quoted here informs you more than hours and hours of Panhandle Media.

Editorial: Democracy or fan club? -- We saved this for last and it either works because of that or falls apart as a result. It has the main point we wanted but there were additional points we were too tired for. Mike and Rebecca especially found that frustrating. Rebecca was the one who ended up suggesting that we tackle Melissa Etheridge in this. She felt that what we had was flat and that Ava and C.I. could sharpen it up quickly if we tacked on Melissa. Ava and C.I. did 15 minutes on Melissa Etheridge with everyone writing down their favorite remarks made by Ava and C.I. and we then worked on plugging that into the editorial.

TV: 2008, the lows and really lows -- Ava and C.I. wrote this and did their usual excellent job. They disagree and cite not including that Mike writes about Chuck each week a new episode airs. They just couldn't afford one more aside. They did a severe editing on this. They don't generally do that -- or any editing at all. They wrote long and by longhand, filling thirty-two pages on a legal pad. They then went through to cut it down to the bare basics. They are not typing the original but if people want it, they will scan it for the gina & krista round-robin this Friday. I loved the long version but it is so much more powerful as it is currently. When I was reading this out loud to everyone and they moved on (in their writing) to public affairs, I thought, "Oh, they ditched the Saturday Night Live section." I was a little disappointed about that but they didn't ditch it, they made it the coda. This is probably my favorite of everything they wrote in 2008 and, as any long term reader knows, I think 2008 was their finest year thus far.

The 2008 Bronze Boobies -- Originally, we planned to hand out 25. Time ran out. You can add to the list yourself. With time being short, Dona put us through a quick voting round and the ones with the most votes (for biggest embarrassments of the year) ended up our top five.

The New York State Annie Riots -- This is fiction. The backstory here is Dona and I got back (with my Dad) late Friday and one of C.I.'s guests was a Broadway composer who was in the middle of a parody of whatever happened to all those child actresses who did the musical Annie? Dona, to the surprise of everyone, not only knew the Annie score, she joined Jess, Ava, C.I. and C.I.'s friend in ad-libbing The Annie Riots. With permission from C.I.'s friend, we adapted it into a short story for this site. Mike especially was thrilled by this because he didn't want to

The Princess Brat Chronicles -- Apparently we have to document Caroline each week. I don't know that we planned that but the e-mails indicate you are expecting that. When possible, we will do so. Thank you to Isaiah and apologies to Isaiah. We use his latest "Princess Brat Speaks" in this. Apologies? C.I. called him and woke him up. Why? This wasn't planned as a feature. When it was tossed around, C.I. said part of it was already planned by Isaiah for Sunday's comic. C.I. called to see if he was still going with that idea. He said yes and asked what was up? When he found out that we were planning to cover it as well, he asked us to give him 20 minutes and he'd draw it up, scan it and e-mail it. Which he did. Thank you, Isaiah.

Best and worst in hardcover music journalism -- Dona wanted a short feature. We wanted to note something in books. There was one outstanding book of music journalism this year and one that was appalling. We paired them up for this feature.

Music 2009 -- "We need another short feature!" Dona insisted. We had Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary which was lengthy and we planned to have a lengthy editorial (didn't turn out that way). Dona wanted a short feature. This was basically Kat, Mike and I picking Ava, C.I. and Ty's brains about the industry gossip they hear (Ty works in film) on music and then us taking the parts we thought were most interesting and writing up a short feature on that.

2009 in DVDs -- So we had books, TV and music for the year but what else? (The editorial is about looking forward, for any who miss that point.) Movies. Belinda wanted a DVD feature. We wrote this as a quick, short feature.

Highlights -- This should be further down because each week it's our opener. However, Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty, Kat, Cedric, Ruth, Wally, Marcia and Stan worked hard on this and turned it into its own feature so we weren't going to go backwards and put it behind other things.

'Iraq now, Vietnam then' (Workers World) -- An important editorial from Workers World. Iraq's covered here, in Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary and in a truest.

US anthem "When The Money's Gone" -- Cher. If you can dig it . . .

And that's it. Happy New Year!

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

Editorial: Democracy or fan club?

Poor Melissa Etheridge. Overweight and overconfident. Supremely untalented. At some point, you either prove that you're something more than a Bruce Springsteen clone/wanna be or you say, "Hello, I'm John Cafferty." Etheridge is now in the second stage so it wasn't a good career move for the woman forced out of the closet in 1993 to slip up in her performance as "out & proud gay activist." But she did just that last week at Aging Socialite's Cat Litter Box where she declared that it was a-okay with her Big Gay Heart if Homophobe and Sexist Pig Rick Warren presided over the Barack Obama inauguration as a 'holy man.'

Though you wouldn't know it to look at Melissa's top ten hits -- er hit -- she's been around for many, many years. Sadly for her that not only means she ended up with her current face, it also means there's a history trailing her. Melissa 2008, meet Melissa 2001:

I liked that we chose Rolling Stone as the place to share our story. It's a liberal magazine and there was no fear of someone going to interview the Reverend So-and-So about same-sex marriage and parenting. I knew Jann would handle the story right.

In 2001, writing her remedial non-tell-all The Truth Is . . ., Melissa felt that her 2000 decision to sort-of-tell her family's story on the cover of Rolling Stone was a good decision because no one would interject "Reverend So-and-So [talking] about same-sex marriage and parenting." But it's okay with her, this year, if the homophobic Warren presides over the inauguration.

Melissa is and has always been a natural born liar. For those who don't grasp that, quickly, she knew Jann was the one to go with because Jann is gay and semi-out-of-the-closet. She appeared on the cover with David Crosby and his wife, with her wife and their kids. And, thing is, she and her wife were already splitting up. Yeah, while Melissa and family were on the cover of Rolling Stone beaming, the relationship was already in the toilet and she and Julie were breaking up. Melissa admits the last part in her book. So maybe in 2011, Melissa will admit that it wasn't right for Rick Warren to be invited to the inauguration as a guest of honor?

Who knows and, at this point, who gives a damn. Melissa Etheridge's sad and pathetic ass is as over as her career.

But what she illustrates is a refusal to call out the Christ-child Barack. A desire to serve up more Chicken Sop for the Soul.


And that illustrates how bad things are going to be for the next four years if the left doesn't get its damn act together.

Here's how it's going to work repeatedly, Barack will toss some group under the bus (as he did throughout his primary and general election campaigns). And his enablers like Etheridge (and so many others) will rush to assure it's no big deal, it's not really important, and we need to focus on the big picture.

Here's the big picture, the left supports men and women, straights, gays, bi and trans, Latino, White, African-American, Asian-American, bi- and multi-racial. If the left remains true to its roots its a huge grouping that has considerable power.

When we allow certain groups to be chipped away, we lose our power.

When we say homophobia's no big deal and, sure, invited a homophobia to preside at the inauguration, we're being disrespectful and hateful. That "we" can -- as Melissa Etheridge proves -- include gays and lesbians themselves. And when Barack can have us exclude one another, he's got no large group who can hold him in check, who can object to what he does (which reportedly includes his exploring creating a domestic version of the CIA).

While Etheridge licked and fondled Barack's balls as though he were her hero Bruce last week, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Green Party and World Can't Wait spoke out against the invitation to homophobe and sexist Rick Warren. It's going to take all of that and more to have a government be responsive to a people.

TV: 2008, the lows and really lows

2008 in television can be summed up as the year when entertainment TV forgot how to entertain and so-called public affairs programs fancied themselves entertainment offerings.


Starting with that which is supposed to entertain . . .

NBC and CBS seemed in a race to see who could implode quicker.

Fall 2007 to spring 2008 found NBC finally stumbling across an hour long program they could pair with their hit Heroes. Chuck was everything entertainment TV is supposed to be and so much more. A real network would have grasped what they had. NBC is not a real network and that was obvious before the news that it was considering downgrading itself a la Fox and the CW with two hours of prime time programming a week night (the third hour said to be going to Jay Leno's upcoming talk show). It was obvious before 30 Rock did what it does so well each fall -- open 'big' (by comparison) and crater ever after.

NBC's ignorance was on full display as Chuck got benched for the summer. A new show, one garnering favorable reviews and excitement, needs the summer to consolidate a following. If it was necessary for NBC to air all that 'reality' trash it stunk up the airwaves with all summer long, they still could have and should have carved out a spot for Chuck.

What networks have forgotten is the behavior of TV viewers. They have to know a show is there. If Chuck brought in only 3% of prime time viewers during the summer, it still would have sent the message: Monday nights, first hour prime time, NBC, Chuck.

The series would have brought in a larger percentage of viewers because it's the sort that plays well in re-runs and, in fact, summer 2008 could have (and should have) been used by NBC to shore up Chuck. Instead, they took it off the schedule then tossed it back on with it's second season debut and couldn't understand why Chuck was having to build its audience all over again. It had to do that because NBC sent them packing.

Had Chuck aired over the summer, audiences could have picked back up with the first new episode and Heroes would have had a solid lead-in. Instead, Chuck and Heroes struggled in the ratings and NBC's attempt to star Christian Slater in a complex maybe-this-is-real-but-maybe-it-isn't drama ended each Monday night by going under after the network had managed to tread water for the two previous hours.

Let's talk Heroes. First, Rebecca writes about it each week when it airs a new episode. You can go through her archives and her feelings usually match the percentage of the audience the show garnered that week. The problems with this fall's episodes can be summed up: "That said, this was the set-up episode and the earnest conflict of a brother who does and one who waits will get stale real quick if too many more episodes return to that in scene after scene." It got stale real quick as Peter mooned and Nathan did. Rebecca noted the quoted observation, from our review of the show back in September 2006. Yeah, this fall offered a repeat season of new-episodes which borrowed the worst plot device of the first season.

As NBC suits sweat bullets, let's make it real simple for them: Nathan and Peter can be in conflict. That's allowed. However, Peter cannot be weaker than Nathan. It won't work for more than one episode. The audience likes both characters and may aspire to Nathan (when he's on his best behavior) but they identify with Peter. When you make Peter powerless, you've rendered the audience powerless and they do not like that one bit.

While NBC at least sweats over their mistakes (even when having trouble identifying them), CBS takes pride in them. Which is why it ordered more episodes for Worst Week. Which is why it's not at all troubled by its continued dependence on the CSI franchise. This spring NBC's one-time ratings powerhouse ER concludes (March 12th) after fifteen years. CSI started its ninth season last October. Up until season 12, ER managed to stay in the top twenty (until season 11, it was in the top ten). You don't need to whisper that around CBS execs, they're confident that they and the CSI franchise are exceptions and exceptional. Forgive them because if they couldn't stuff their shorts with bravado, they'd cause even more laughter in the locker room.

That's why they're high on NCIS, thrilled that its proven something. But they don't seem to grasp what the ratings uptake for the show has actually demonstrated. First (NBC, pay attention), it demonstrates that a show left on the air year round in the same slot can become a comfort food for viewers. Second, the ratings increase demonstrates that when Michael Weatherly's forced to drop from Raymond Burr-esque to a 'fighting weight,' more vieweres will drop by.

All the Docker Boy Water Cooler Chat this fall refused to note Weatherly's weight loss. Possbily because the Water Cooler Set's own Docker Boys prefer every male look like a TV Dad.

TV Dads is what journalists looked like throughout 2008 so let's go there. Boxy like a Dodge Caravan and about as slow-witted, the TV Dad basks in his uselessness and could anything better describe alleged journalists populating the chat & chews?

Starting in November 2007, you could chart the professional journalists -- allegedly professional ones -- who repeatedly promised that Barack Obama was about to be examined by the media. Always an excuse for why it had happened before and always the same 'any minute now' assertion. They were never questioned on that because who would question them? Gwen Ifill? The woman who visibly recoiled when The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny offered in November 2007 that Hillary Clinton might stage a "comeback" (no primaries or caucuses had taken place at that point) in New Hampshire? No, of course not Gwen.

Gwen who hissed "that woman" of Hillary on air at the end of March? Gwen who hid from the Presidential Debate Commission that she has a book due out next month mentioning Barack by name?

Or Gwen, as we like to think of her, who screwed the pooch and ensured she'd never move on over to NBC. Her little stunt ensured (not disclosing the book to the debate commission) she would not move over to Meet The Press. Screwed the pooch? Please, screwed, French-kissed and 69-ed with it.

In a year that saw the two major parties run War Hawks for the presidency, a working press might, if nothing else, prepare the people. We don't have a working press, we have a Gwen Ifill press.

If you doubt that, 2008's "most consequential" story is, according to Gwen, Barack's election. Is she attempting to say it's all down hill from here on out?

Has someone being elected president in November ever before been hailed as the "most consequential" story of a year with twelve months?

It's a Gwen Ifill press. A press that's all about the flash and never about the realities.

Which is why she offered Barack being elected as the story of 2008 and toss out her picks for the other three "big stories:" the financial meltdown (yes, Gwen picked that as second to an election last month but, hey, she's got a really poorly written book to pimp), "challenges abroad" and "the legacy" of the current Bully Boy of the United States.

Iraq, gas baggery on this week's Washington Weak, was reduced to passing sentences. Asides. Marveling over how it wasn't an issue. As if the people set the issues?

Are we really supposed to believe that? This is a good time to pop over to Democracy Sometimes and note the stunt Amy Goodman repeatedly pulled week after week. John Edwards and Hillary Clinton supporters would be included every blue moon while each episode found Goody whoring it for Barack. When supporters for Barack, Hillary and John were all present, what did Goody do over and over?

She asked Edwards supporters (Danny Glover, for example) to justify Edwards vote for the 2002 authorization for war on Iraq and she asked Hillary supporters (Gloria Steinem, Dolores Huerta) that question. No Barack supporter was ever asked about his support for the Iraq War.

You may say, "Barack didn't vote!" You are correct. He wasn't in the US Senate in 2002. He did, however, vote to support and fund the illegal war once elected. Yet Goodman never asked his supporters about that.

Barack's fabled 'judgment' depended upon hype and pointing to his actual, albeit slight, voting record would harsh the mellow.

Iraq was an issue . . . when you had a crowded field of candidates for their party's nomination. As that changed, Iraq was dropped as an issue. Tom Hayden had his snit-fit on July 4, 2008 and suddenly wanted to call out Barack's War Hawk nature and then, like a fixed puppy, he limped off. That snit fit was pretty much it. Iraq was never again an issue.

You can blame the public but they weren't the ones. The press decided to focus on the money race (as usual) and polls (because they're easy) and forgot to do their damn job -- week after week.

"I have lived long enough and seen enough to retain confidence in America and the good judgment of her people, but I have also learned that nothing is forever," explains Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer in this year's Bob Schieffer's America. If you were expecting to find anything that heeds that warning on PBS, you were searching in vain. But the reality was that none of the public affairs programs even aspired towards actual informing the public with one exception: CBS' Face The Nation. The show long ago needed to go to an hour. We'd loudly advocate that; however, we fear CBS would find some way to muck up the expansion. Of all the network and cable choices, Face The Nation remained the sole stop if you were seeking information. You might not get 101 tidbits tossed out at you but that's due to the fact that what Schieffer and company decided to explore, they explored in depth.

By contrast, Gwen explained this week that she decided to be a reporter because she wanted "sit on history's front row." Yes, that does sound like her face is pressed desperately against the wrong side of the glass.

The wrong side is what Saturday Night Live finally ended up on this month. It happened with the December 13th episode when Amy Poehler left the program -- in fact, it took place during her farewell.

Fred Arminsen portrayed New York governor David Paterson on Weekend Update. Fred played the buffoon like a buffoon. If that was all that happened, he might have gotten away with it because, while certain jokes did appear crass, it would have moved quickly.

However, Amy and Fred were two of the closest members in the cast. This was her farewell and Fred, like the clown who can't honestly deal with sadness, prolonged her goodbye by vamping (ad-libbing) and returning to the set to block the camera (as Paterson) and to stumble around. On Fred's part, it was a difficult goodbye.

But people just knew, they just knew!, Saturday Night Live was making fun of the disabled. (Paterson is blind.) When we watched the broadcast, it was obvious what was taking place and we considered mentioning it. But we noticed other elements we could cover -- elements that could have been called out but were not.

Before we could do that a host of idiots began weighing in on Fred's actions. Paterson, organizations, a website that loves to rip us off, you name it.

And as we watched this firestorm over one damn skit (clearly misunderstood by those who may or may not have caught it), we had to keep putting our hands under our jaws to avoid standing around in open mouthed disbelief.

One skit? One skit results in all of that? And SNL's sexism on parade for every damn month of the year never resulted in a peep?

Governor Paterson is an idiot. Apparently those who do not follow New York politics are unaware of it. They seem to see him as a big teddy bear to wrap their arms around.

Last week, Paterson returned from his trip to Iraq. Why did a governor need to go to Iraq? Answer: He didn't. He wanted some publicity. He should have received it when he returned from his fly-over to shoot his mouth off with the claim that Iraq was now 90% a democracy. Had the current Bully Boy of the United States issued that claim, he would have been ridiculed by Jon Stewart and the rest of the peanut crowd. Paterson's prone to making these idiotic remarks publicly over and over. He is a sitting governor. He can be called out for them. What Saturday Night Live did was send up his stupidity.

And people wanted to object to that?

We watched week after week as Hillary was portrayed as a bitch and power-mad, all because she was a woman. John Edwards was not mocked even after it was learned that he'd lied about an affair he'd begun while campaigning for the 2008 presidential nomination, he wasn't mocked for his ambition or hubris. But Amy could be brought out as Hillary all fall to make jokes about those power-hungry women. This wasn't one skit. This wasn't one joke. This was a pattern of sexism. And when Tina Fey began playing Governor Sarah Palin on SNL, the pattern only became more obvious. Fey continues to insist that there was nothing sexist in her portrayal despite the fact that she sexualized Palin with little stunts like having her 'Palin' hike up her skirt to flash leg.

The portrayals of Hillary and Sarah went straight to SNL's sexism (specifically Seth Meyers -- even Tina's begun fingering him as the culprit) but not a word, not a complaint. Take the crap ass site that rips us off. Week after week, they'd repost the SNL videos of Hillary or Sarah and go on about how funny those skits were. They never objected. They never complained about the sexism. Then the Paterson skit takes place and it's time to reflect?

Then it's time to reflect?

SNL may or may not have gotten tacky with some of the jokes in that skit. But the point was that David Paterson is an a buffoon. And he is that. Due to the fact that Amy was finishing her last Weekend Update and leaving the show, Fred couldn't bring himself to stay offstage and came back on the set, in camera view, doing little equivalents of a boy pulling a girl's hair. It was not intended to be taken seriously and, if you could divorce it from Paterson, was actually kind of touching (even to cold-hearted us) because it did go to the bond that does exist between Fred and Amy.

Throughout 2008, we waited and waited for a serious exploration of sexism. It never took place. Katie Couric, Bonnie Erbe, Cokie Roberts, Dee Dee Myers and others in the media deserve strong credit for repeatedly attempting to initiate such a conversation. We applaud their efforts. But it was in the reaction to one skit on Saturday Night Live that really drove home how little women mattered in 2008. Week after week, SNL found a way to insist something was wrong with women who hold public office (that includes their Nancy Pelosi portrayal) but this pattern never led to outrage. It was all 'funnin'. One skit of the little-known (outside of New York state) governor and it's time for outrage. It's time for denunciations.

In a year when the bulk of entertainment programs couldn't entertain and the majority of public affairs programs couldn't inform, a public who repeatedly allowed themselves to be manipulated probably got exactly what they deserved. If it wasn't what they deserved, it was what they begged for.

The 2008 Bronze Boobies

The Bronze Boobies. Unlike the Center for Media & Democracy's "falsies," the 'honors' we hand out aren't deep in sexism.

Bronze Booby Prize

That's president-elect Barack Obama's chest above, bronzed up, and the press last week mistakenly described the above as "pecs." Not since Richard Gere shucked his shirt in Somersby have two such saggy man boobs been on display. As Cedric's "For an extra five, he'll do a lap dance" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BARACK AND HIS AMAZING MAN-BOOBIES!" point out, pecs do not dangle. Those are man boobs, Barack's pendulous boobs in fact.

2009 saw tremendous whoring on behalf of Barack Obama so narrowing the list down to just 5 of the top whores wasn't easy. Feel free to add your own street walkers and call boys & girls posing as 'journalists' and 'critics' to the list.

1) Norman Solomon.

Alleged 'independent' media critic Normy Solomon showed his 'independence' this year by making like he was starring in the title role of Scream, Pretty Peggy! So much drama, so much bitchy, it was as though he was trying to raise Joan Crawford from the grave. Unlike most media critics, Normy decided to become a pledged delegate for his wet-dream Barack Obama. And ethics being something he'll drop quicker than his drawers, Normy frequently forgot to disclose that new status when he was brought in as an 'independent' 'critic' to comment on the 2008 Democratic Party primary race. If you thought Normy embarrassed himself with that bad clip-job entitled Made Love, Got War (wags say, "More like 'Shook Hands, Got War and a Social Disease'), rest assured, you haven't seen anything yet. 2009 is set to be Normy's year.

2) KPFA.

With Bernard White at the competing WBAI, could KPFA top WBAI? Yes, it could!!! KPFA was where pledged Barack delegate Norman Solomon could appear on air without ever noting his delegate status or having to worry that a KPFA on-air would (for example, Philip Maldari and Aimee Allison). Norman who could lie solo as he pretended to be objective and could later be brought on when KPFA finally interviewed a PUMA representative.

Considering all of Norman's well known Hissy Fits over the years, KPFA could probably almost bury their increasing debt if they marketed Norman practicing an on-air character assassination devoid of any issues -- you know, the sort of personal attacks he usually tsk-tsks over when others do it. Aimee Allison stood by slack-jawed as she allowed Norman not only to be a participant in the alleged discussion but also to steal her assigned role as moderator.

Considering Pacifica's financial troubles (much worse than is known and what is known is alarming), Queen Norman's performance on disc, hawked as a pledge drive gift, might be the only thing to generate funds. (New pledges are rarely generated when those who've donated learn of gross mismanagement of past funds.) But all of that and so much more paled in comparison to February 2008, when KPFA decided to broadcast the Texas debate between Hillary and Barack. First problem? The event they'd advertised couldn't take place. Larry Bensky would whine on air about how mean corporate news was, refusing to give little KPFA permission to broadcast a debate they'd apparently never thought to ask permission to broadcast. When planning and promoting a live special, it's probably a good idea to make sure you have permission to broadcast it.

If they didn't bother to cover the basics, what did they spend all their time on? Stacking the deck. So that a two-hour special could offer various 'experts,' various 'independent' experts -- all of whom had endorsed Barack Obama but KPFA didn't feel you needed to know that. They thought it was perfectly natural to offer a two-hour 'analyis' of a debate and have all the 'judges' be Barack supporters and Barack endorsers. They thought that was . . . journalism.

3) FAIR.

FAIR promotes itself -- in all of its subsidiaries -- as an independent media critic. They are no such thing. They do not call out their peers in Panhandle Media and Jeffy Cohen's belief that MSNBC is going to be bringing him back any day now led FAIR to play dumb throughout 2008 with regards to MSNBC's antics. (A return for Jeff is highly unlikely considering that MSNBC staffers refer to him as "Pinko Jeff" and -- he should be able to identify which ones by this -- do so in a racist 'Asian' voice to make it sound like "Pink Lady & Jeff.")

FAIR has their website. They have their magazine Extra! And they have their weekly radio program CounterSpin. So it's especially telling that these Barack Whores posing as media 'critics' managed to make it through the Democratic Party primaries only noting sexism once this year, for a single sentence (on CounterSpin). More laughable is which network got called out: CNN. Jeffy wants to be a MSNBC Playa! So they threw the dice and they crapped out. The whole country saw just how useless FAIR was -- despite having many noted feminists and 'feminists' on their board (their 'board' is nothing but names used for fundraising). When MSNBC's Davy accused Hillary of "pimping out" her daughter, FAIR was such a good whore it re-published a praise item on Davy from when he finally had the guts to leave Fox "News." Late in the game, after the primaries, Extra! showed up with an article that allegedly addressed the sexism but somehow managed to avoid mentioning Keith Olbermann.

There is nothing FAIR about FAIR and you can take comfort in the fact that no mainstream news outlet takes them seriously presently after their 2008 antics. They proved that all their high-minded talk was bulls**t and the only ethics they have are situational.

4) Amy Goodman.

Amy Goodman pulled a lot of stunts in 2008 including packing her show with Barack supporters without telling her audience they were Barack supporters. There was her New Hamsphire pre-primary 'coveage' where LIE FACE Melissa Harris-Lacewell just happened to show up and just happened to brag and brag and rave and rave over Barack Obama. As an outside, objective 'analyst,' you understand. Reality: Melissa was campaigning for Barack and had been since 2007. Amy Goodman was aware of that. Amy Goodman was aware of it long before she and Melissa were guests on Rev. Jesse Jackson's weekly radio show for the same broadcast.

Amy Goodman LIED to her audience. She brought Melissa on as someone not vested in any of the races, just an observer. When Melissa raved and raved over Barack, Amy continued to refuse to inform her audience that this 'objective' 'analyst' had alrady spent over half-a-year working for Barack's campaign which included traveling to states throughout 2007. In January 2008, Goody didn't think you deserved to have any of that information.

Goody didn't think you needed to know that corporations were funding Barack's campaign. So week after week, she repeated the lie that 'small donors' were doing it. Greg Palast, Goody and all the other whores who chose to publish in Larry Fl**t's jerk-off rag, the ones who love to go on about campaign finance, have yet to raise any concerns over the many fake 'small donors' that CBS News and The Washington Post turned up to Barack's campaign.

Amy decides what she wants to tell you and, more and more, the 'news' she serves up is less and less important, less and less honest. She and her fringe freaks managed to take part in ensuring Barack stole the Democratic Party nomination. The only good thing about that is whores who get a big pay day generally get a big head and that trips them up. Yes, Goody, someday your vice squad arrest will come.

And now the tension builds . . . One 'honor' left. Only one. Who will it be in a year when so many were so deserving of a Bronze Booby award?

"You've got to climb Mount Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls . . . "

The envelope please . . . .

5) Laura Flanders.

Some of you may argue The Nation or The Progressive. Or you might even argue Matthew Rothschild who certainly was an idiot throughout 2008. There are many, many contenders. But what makes Laura such a 'winner' is that she's bored us all for years with her little act about wanting to end the illegal war. And yet, she couldn't even focus on the illegal war. She couldn't and wouldn't call Barack out on that. And of course, Laura is the self-loathing lesbian who didn't call Barack out for putting homophobes on stage in South Carolina while campaigning for his party's nomination or for putting homophobes on stage during the general election. Laura Flanders apparently has some masochistic streak in her that demands she be called nasty, vile names and insulted in order to get off. So, Laura, consider this 'honor' not only 'recognition' but also beat-off material for you.

We've praised you in the past. Excessively. You disgraced yourself throughout 2008. You were, of course, one of the 'independent' 'analysts' on KPFA's debate coverage. You never were able to admit you endorsed Barack during the broadcast, were you? And you referred to Hillary's laugh as a "cackle." In February. Long after that term had been identified as sexist even within the MSM. You lied repeatedly and you made a first-rate fool of yourself. The 'facts' you presented were predictions and we must have missed your I-goofed comments following the Texas primary you allegedly knew so damn much about.

You were a wealth of embarrassments and, thing is, we don't give a damn about Amy Goodman. We can groan and even yell at her next stunt. But who the hell cares about Amy Goodman the person? (No one. The Lonely Lady isn't just a bad Harold Robbins page-turner.) Spoiled rich girl posing as working class? Goody was always a joke. But you? We counted on you to always speak the truth. We never thought you'd run with a pack, show fear or whore yourself out.

We were wrong and, of all the names on this list, only Laura Flanders' is enough to depress us.

The New York State Annie Riots

If you feel like you're getting the credit you've earned, you're probably getting more than you deserve.

The Annies came of age feeling they got no credit, no respect and little more than scorn.

You can bet your bottom dollar that when cuddly little urchins grow into motley Miss Hannigans or, worse yet, Bette Davis' Baby Janes, it does not make for a pretty sight nor for stable mentalities on the parts of former Annies, Peppers, Mollys, Julys, Tessies, Duffys, Abbys, Sunnys, Isabellas, CCs, Candys and Kates.

Bitter and despondent before the economic meltdown, when it came, the Annies were of the opinion that they'd not only warned of it, they were experts on the topic thanks to the number "We'd Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover."

All might have ended there with the Annies just whining but for a planned reunion in honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the Annie touring companies. Though it should have taken place in the spring, it was agreed that a December 26th NYC meet-up would allow for some incredible bargain shopping. It was following that, the cruelest shopping day of all, that the Annies arrived back at their Cobleskill motel, tired and angry. Cobleskill because the Super 8 gave them a group discount and agreed to pro-rate their late check-outs the following Monday.

There, in the parking lot, a road company Pepper suggested action. Not just road company, actually but a bus-and-truck tour Pepper. The bus-and-truck tour cast was the hardest of the hardened. They never got a photo-op with a single mayor of NYC nor kicked up their heels at Radio City Music Hall. Those gals were beyond tough.

"Let's fire bomb Macy's!" cried the now 33-year-old Pepper clad in tattered, faded 'orphan' clothes and theatre make up. "After what they did to Joanna Pacitti, they've got it coming!"

A chant of "Today we're all Joanna Pacitti!" thundered through the parking lot and thus began the New York State Annie Riots.

Following the fire bombing of Macy's, the Annies decided to continue their reign of terror and the first stop was the Alvin Theatre where so many hopes were initially raised. They charged into mid-town Manhattan snarling "New Deal For Christmas" but, not being particularly well read or informed, the Annies stumbled up and down W 52nd never grasping it had been renamed The Neil Simon Theatre.

In desperation, it was decided to trash every NYC location Sex In The City had ever filmed at.

"Sarah Jessica Parker couldn't sing and she wasn't pretty!" hollered a 1979 Molly. "Her career should have been mine!"

With shouts of agreement, they divided Manhattan into four quadrants, split into four teams and set about defacing various locales while chanting "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile."

New York governor David Paterson rushed to reassure the state's residents that all was calm.

"New York remains," Paterson declared, "90% a democracy."

The Princess Brat Chronicles

I really, really want to be Senator, says Princess Brat Caroline Kennedy. She just doesn't want to disclose her assets. An issue, we pointed out previously, that has always prevented her from seeking any office via an election and instead attempting to slide into them via appointment. It's a pattern with Caroline.

Last week, Princess Brat spoke to Associated Press and made some hilarious statements including that, if appointed to the US Senate by Governor David Paterson, she would have to work "twice as hard" -- begging the obvious question: When has Caroline ever worked?

This is the woman noted for 'working' by volunteering an hour or two and then rushing off, leaving her mess behind her for someone else to tidy up.

Isaiah's latest went up this morning, "Princess Brat Speaks."

Princess Brat Speaks

Yeah, in the interview she also claimed 9-11 is why she's decided to try for the US Senate. She really is a speed demon, isn't she? All this time later and Caroline's going to do something?

New Yorkers should be very concerned about her work ethic.

For those wondering what's coming next, we'll set you straight. Caroline's not only refusing to disclose her finances, she will refuse to disclose her health records. New Yorkers should wonder why that is?

Best and worst in hardcover music journalism

2008 saw the release of a number of books allegedly offering music history. The so-rotten it had C.I. hurling the book across an airplane (see this roundtable) will be omitted. But we will pick the very best and the very worst.

But what about country music today? What about Nashville?

We listen nowadays in the era of Corporate Country -- and have been for a long time -- in which image trumps everything else.

We have cheesecake for the men: Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Sara Evans, Gretchen "Redneck Woman" Wilson (who's marketed as trashy but available), and Shania Twain, who has always been more about looks than memorable songs.

And we have beefcake for the women, men whose jaws are as square as SUVs: Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney (who seems to refuse to wear a shirt in any of his videos), Tim McGraw, Joe Nichols, and Trace Adkins. (Thank God for Toby Keith; he actually looks like the slobby guy next door.)

We even have country music "boy bands" like Rascal Flatts and Emerson Drive. Then there's that Australian pretty boy Keith Urban. (Urban? To balance the pop-culture ledger shouldn't there be a hip-hop star named MC Sh*t-Kicker?) All of them are featured in music videos that hang just enough denim shreds on the women to still be considered God-fearing family entertainment. Think of it as soft-core porn that twangs -- with the occasional sacred number tucked in between.

That's from page 214 - 215 of Dana Jennings' Sing Me Back Home: Love, Death, and County Music. The backstory. Connecticut Rob e-mailed for the first time in over two years to whine. Jim saw the e-mail the last week of October. He didn't remember the Rob. He just knew Rob was blaming Ava and C.I. for a new book, Jennings' Sing Me Back Home. Ava, C.I. and Ty remembered The Connecticut Cowpoke and Ava and C.I. had actually read Jennings book already and had high praise for it. Dona's up for reading anything and quickly devoured it but some of the rest of us were taking the attitude of: "Country music? Eh?"

Sing Me Back Home

As the last of the holdouts finished reading it, we all agreed it was 2008 best music journalism book. It came out in May and the list price is $24.00. You should be able to find it at bookstores, online and in libraries. Again, we pick it as this year's finest.

For those who fear we are stepping on Shirley & Martha's toes (each year they cover books for The Common Ills), this didn't make their top ten. It's never been plugged within the community and they remember no community member even writing it in. Their list will go up this week and we are not stepping on their toes.

Worst? When C.I.'s hurled a book across an airplane cabin due to its abusive relationship with the truth, for anything to top that opus, it has to be bad, really, really bad. The piece of garbage? Danny Goldberg's Bumping Into Geniuses. No book has been discussed more at C.I. house. People call up to complain, people drop to complain. Like them, C.I. knows Goldberg and calls it, "Complete and utter trash that stabs any and everyone in the back while refusing to get even the basic facts right."

We didn't doubt it but Jim decided to take the C.I. challenge and picked chapter seven (the chapter that has most offended everyone) and throw out random sentences for C.I.'s fact check.

Page 130: "Paparazzi had no interest in rock stars in the 1970s, but Stevie [Nicks] was . . ."

C.I.: In other words, f**k you, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Aretha, Carly Simon,
James Taylor, David Bowie, Diana Ross, Sly Stone and a host of others. Danny's destroyed his mind with drugs.

Page 149: "Figuring it would be of some use internationally, we made a performance video of Tom and Stevie singing the single ['Stop Draggin' My Heart Around'], and it was one of the few available by major artists when MTV began broadcasting in 1982, a few months after Bella Donna came out."

C.I.: Bella Donna was released July 27, 1981. If MTV started in 1982, it would be at least SIX months after Bella Donna came out. However, not only can Danny no longer do math, he also can't do a basic fact check. MTV began broadcasting August 1, 1981, not in 1982.

Page 149: "For years Stevie, Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, and Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart were the only female rock singers seen regularly on MTV."

C.I.: Stevie's heavy MTV run goes from 1981 to the start of 1986 as a solo, ending with "I Can't Wait" due to people like Goldberg being unable to break "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You?" -- a huge misstep that appalled even Clive [Davis] from a distance as his own label focused on Whitney [Houston]. During that period, Stevie, Pat, Joan and Ann and Nancy were not "the only female rock singers seen regularly on MTV." Annie Lennox of Eurythmics was an MTV star during this same time period. The Go-Gos were intensely popular on MTV. There was Chrissie Hynde [Pretenders], Kim Carnes, Rindy Ross [Quarterflash vocalist], Patty Smyth [Scandal vocalist] and many others. Danny's recording a 'history' that's not bound by facts.

Page 154: "Bill Clinton famously used one of Lindsey's songs, 'Don't Stop,' in his 1992 campaign, so Stevie, as a member Fleetwood Mac, incongruously became a fixture at iconic events of the Clinton administration."

C.I.: For a magazine or newspaper, the grammar of that sentence might fly. For a book from a professional publishing house? Member OF Fleetwood Mac. No one fact checked the manuscript let alone checked the galleys for typos. No, Danny, "Don't Stop" is not Lindsey Buckingham's song! That would certainly be news to Christine McVie who poured her damn heart into writing that song, you stupid, stupid, moron.

Of all the comments made at C.I.'s by various people (some of whom appear in the book) that we've overheard since the book came out in September. "Well he didn't have the brains to hide what a money grubber he was, now did he?"

It truly is an awful book. (And what Jim did for this feature, friends have repeatedly done. It's turned into a parlor game: Open to any page, read a sentence out loud and see how Danny Goldberg cannot pass a basic fact check.) Danny Goldberg may have not just written the worst music journalism book of 2008, he may also have written the worst music journalism book of the decade.

By all means, check out Dana Jennings' Sing Me Back Home which is a pleasure to read and written by someone who actually knows a thing or two facts and reporting (Jennings works for The New York Times). Skip Danny Goldberg's unless you're attempting to play: "What Lie Did He Tell Now?"

Music 2009

Ava, C.I. and Ty offer industry chatter on 2009 in music.

*Bruce Springsteen's latest arrives in *January* and will please his dwindling cult but offers little to excite. In other words, it's like everything else he's released since 1984. Disciples will spend the full year listening, the rest will be done with the CD after about two weeks.

*Michelle Shocked's 2009 release demonstrates tremendous artistic growth from the already impressive Shocked. The term being applied to her recorded vocals is "gorgeous."

*Industry wisdom on Melissa Manchester is that if she can get into the studio and record for six straight weeks (no longer), she's on fire right now and could produce the strongest work of her career. Six straight weeks? There's a fear that too many weeks in the studio or gaps in studio time will lead to a sterile production. Her song "The Power Of Ribbons" surprised many with its strength and the strength of her gift was only more obvious after she performed in May at the Revlon Breast Cancer Walk.

*If Augustana can get into the studio in time to record the new songs they've been debuting on this year's tour, it's thought that they will own 2009. (They already released the best rock single of this year, "Sweet and Low.")

*Having failed to break a new Amy Winehouse (Duffy had some success but, Adele, America didn't want to know you), the push in 2009 from across the Atlantic will be on rock bands and Twin Atlantic is the one generating most of the heat currently.

Ty note: Month corrected an additional video links added.

2008 in DVDs

Last weekend, Belinda e-mailed noting a past DVD article and asking for something similar. Pressed for time, "DVD release of The Women (Ava and C.I.)" was quickly written. Belinda enjoyed that but was hoping for something like last year's "2007 in DVDs." This isn't that either. It is a quick look at some of the year's most talked about DVDs.

The Dark Knight -- Christian Bale and Heath Ledger star in this high school production of Tim Burton's Batman. Proof positive that the only sequel to Bale's Batman Begins should be Batman Ends.

Iron Man -- Only a male druggie like Robert Downey Jr., with multiple arrests and relapses, can be given multiple attempts at stardom despite the fact that, until this film, he never carried a box office hit. For those keeping track, America has had to endure Fish Lips Downey since the mid-eighties in films such as Chances Are. Two decades later, he finally scores with an action film originally set for Tom Cruise -- translation, no great acting challenge. Proof positive of how slowly time can pass. In four years, even the middle-aged virgins will be embarrassed to admit they cheered this crap on. Serves mainly to demonstrate how very thread-bare the scripts for these comic book films are. After awhile, they all blend in your mind and you start to gasp Jim Carey played it more convincingly as a sub-plot to Batman Forever.

The Incredible Hulk -- When your film flops, what to do? Fire the lead actor and act like you're making the first installment. Which is how Edward Norton replaces Eric Bana and 2003's Hulk becomes 2008's The Incredible Hulk. Good thing Norton worked out or 2010 might bring The Really Incredible Hulk. Every time the Hulk comes onscreen, you're reminded of the fact that Miss Piggy was a puppet and she had more humanity than the digitized eye sore being offered. Every time the Hulk is off screen, you're left to feel so sorry for Norton who attempts to bring so much to this repeated road rage passing for a character. Proof positive that real actors shouldn't even attempt to portray comic book heroes.

Shoot 'Em Up -- The film that proves you don't have to be based on a comic to be cartoonish. Clive Owen and everyone else involved should be ashamed at (a) what a bad film it is and (b) how sexist it is. This 2007 film was released on DVD in the first month of 2008, setting a benchmark for sexism that so many films to follow would rush to surpass.

It was so bad, in fact, that you'll notice we have never said one word about Sex In The City. Any other year and we would have had a ton to say. But 2008 was the year that women disappeared from the big screen and, when they were present, they were offered belitteling parts. Doubt us?

It's a long walk of shame to go from Oscar winning actress to flunkie, meek assistant needing to be rescued but Gwenyth Paltrow managed to do just that. And where were the critics?

They were hailing it, praising it. They should all be ashamed. Especially the White girls (Entertainment Weekly, we mean you especially) who tore apart Wanda Sykes' incredible comic turn in Monster-In-Law as they whined, "An African-American is playing an assistant! It feels racist to me!" Wanda's assistant was in control and took no s**t from anyone. But Wanda offended White girls who otherwise never weigh in race in their bad film reviews. The Great Gwenie? They found it delightful. An Oscar winning actress -- best actress, not supporting actress -- reduced to a glorified extra who waits to be saved by the hero and fetches her boss' dry cleaning with a smile. But nothing to object to there. (These are the same Water Cooler Critics drooling over Mad Men.)

The sexism wasn't just onscreen, it was on your TV and in your papers and magazines. The embrace of Gwenie as His Girl Friday was rooted in sexism. So were the hisses thrown at Meryl Streep for Mama Mia! The film was a blockbuster and one of 2008's biggest (even before you realize that no costly computer effects were needed for Mama Mia!) but, goodness, did the critics hiss. Apparently they mistook Meryl for their scratching post which is why all the tabbys from The New York Times on down showed their ass as they went after one of the few hits of 2008 with a strong role for an actress.

For the bulk of 2008, actresses were handed underwritten roles that, played as on paper, would have made them a laughingstock. Angelina Jolie chose to use the script of Wanted for little more than stage directions and managed to create a strong performance. It was a heroic undertaking and she deserves high praise. Also worthy of praise is Amy Poehler who was supposed to be the let's-all-laugh at the loser in the snobbish comedy written by a man whose 'knowledge' of class derives from Brit-coms he watched as a child. Tina Fey never seemed so stilted as she did in Baby Mama but she's not an actress and it shows as she recites line after line while looking ill at ease and, in fact, appearing unsure of where her character should be focused. Poehler inhabits the role of Angie and expands the simplistic notions of the writer (and director).

At a time when 'reality' television has left so many writers unemployed and under-employed, you might think a few of them could try writing meaty roles for women. Maybe in 2009.


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 and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"I Hate The War" -- Most requested feature of the week. C.I.'s entry on how a buffoon being portrayed as such is nothing but parody.

"Relaxing in the Kitchen" -- We all enjoyed that but apparently those who cooked or have ever cooked a large dinner enjoyed it more instantly because they applauded Trina's decision to do a simple post and added things like, "After cooking for about sixty people, the last thing I'd want to do is discuss food as well."

"The uglies: CODESTINK and Jane Fonda" -- CODESTINK wants money. Strangely Jane Fonda wants you to give. We say 'strangely' because Jane could write the check. As C.I. points out, in 2001, she wient back on her promised millions to that college back east so she should have plenty of pennies to roll for CODESTINK. [Starve the beast and, yes, we include I-Need-Attention Benjamin under the heading "beast."]

"Eartha Kitt" and "Eartha Mae Kitt, 1927-2008" -- wrote Christmas Day about the passing of actress, activist, singer and pioneer Eartha Kitt. If you're one of the few who've never heard of Eartha, the next day Marcia's "Cher and Eartha Kitt videos" offered a clip of Eartha performing "Love For Sale" and a clip of Eartha in her most famous TV role: Catwoman.

"THIS JUST IN! CONFUSED BARACK" & "Holes in Barack's education" -- And speaking of Christmas, Wally and Cedric explain the Christmas story to Barack.

"christmas" and "Barney" -- found Rebecca and Mike offering their best loved Christmas presents from childhood.

"Pardons and Christmas" -- is Mike's Christmas Day post where he explains that a pardon, once offered, should not be retracted and where he observes the rush to end Christmas before the day's even over.

"melissa etheridge & trophy wife, shut the hell up," "Another British refugee from Hitler,"
"More s**t from Arianna's cesspool," "Ruth Hassell-Thompson for the US Senate,"
"Richard Cohen, holidays and more," "Richard Wright and other dirty things," "THIS JUST IN! STUPIDITY ON ALL SIDES!" & "Pope Melissa and other stupidities" -- sometimes themes are planned. Mike or Ruth will think of a theme and toss it out to everyone to see if they like it. Other times, themes just emerge. The latter was the case for the above by Rebecca, Ruth, Kat, Ruth, Stan, Mike, Wally and Cedric.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Princess Brat Campaigns" -- Isaiah's continued coverage of the Entitled Princess stamping her feet for a Senate seat. You should also see Kat's "And people made fun of Sarah Palin" and Elaine's "Caroline."

"Matt Dillon: Eye Candy" -- Now who would've guessed Ruth for a movie star crush? And on Matt Dillon at that? (Rebecca adds, "Good taste, Ruth!")

"Margaret Kimberley weclomes the homophobes" -- In last week's "Roundtable," Betty and Marcia made a point to support and praise Stan's "Margret Kimberley, The Black Apologist." And for any who doubted how right Stan was, do like Marcia did for this post, check out the comments at Kimberley's post and realize how welcomed she's made homophobes feel with her excuses. Homophobia runs free in the comment thread and that's a direct result of the crap Margaret Kimberley tossed out.

"James Bond" -- Stan's Friday movie post and this one deals with the James Bond films.

"Chatty post" -- Elaine also offers some movie thoughts here and two more things on this. We found a truest nominee in Elaine's post and, while we were writing this, Ty hollered we'd missed another in the same post. Ty, Ava and C.I. felt Elaine wrote a truest. All but Elaine quickly agreed when Ty was filling us in so we have two truests this week. Elaine says, "If C.I. would do the feature I wrote about in that post, we'd also have a short post and be done except for the editorial."

Elisabeth Bumiller's "Trying to Redefine Role of U.S. Military in Iraq" (New York Times) and Alissa J. Rubin's "Political Power Plays Unsettle Iraq" (New York Times) -- No, they aren't community members but each woman was a truest nominee and with our two truest picked, they may not get noted elsewhere. Ty passed on C.I. was asking if we could highlight Bumiller and Rubin's piece in this? Not only will we do so, will write something about it which we probably should have done last week instead of just depending upon C.I.'s snapshots to cover them. Bumiller showed up Monday morning with one of the most honest and in-depth analysis of what's coming for the US military in Iraq. If you missed it, you need to go read it right away. Because it's Bumiller, she may still have a shot at truest. We could do three truests but that's pushing it and we've never done more than that. 'Because it's Bumiller'? Rebecca, "We can all hear C.I. pointing out we've been more than happy over the years to call her out so when she's earned praise, we should be willing to give it to her just as quickly." So Bumiller has a shot at still being a truest. Alissa J. Rubin? C.I. covers Rubin and Mike's written of Rubin. Otherwise, she never appears at community sites except in the snapshot repostings. (We're not even sure she's been singled out for praise or negative criticism here at Third.) So she probably doesn't stand a chance at a truest now. But on Friday she offered an analysis of Iraq that offered more truths than you'd expect from any outlet. She sketched out the possibilities, the rumors and the fears. Both pieces are must reads. So go read them!

As the byline notes, we write this piece. It's our space and we can do whatever we want, Elaine just pointed out. Her point? There were several readers e-mailing to nominate various passages by C.I. for truest. The one that we all voted for (and C.I. nixed) was this from Friday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Marjorie Cohn, Naomi Wolf and all the others who embarrassed themselves by public slobbering over Barack Obama and insisting he would 'save' the Constitution, when do you plan to get [off]your lazy asses and call the above out? Now the Gitmo attorneys made fools out of themselves as well but they've already been publicly punked and no longer rush to assure how dreamy Barack is. But let's see some of these 'brave voices' for the Constitution step up to the damn plate. They could be counted on to DELUDE themselves and schill for Barack. Can they now try standing up for the Constitution of the United States of America or is that too damn hard? Bill Clinton could not -- at any time during his eight years in office -- have gotten away witha d omestic intelligence agency (currently against the law) but Barack might be able to because so many 'leaders' are chicken s**t when it comes to calling him out. So come on Marj, you could distort reality to attack Hillary and advance Barack. Let's see you address the Constitution, big girl, let's see you protect it. Naomi, you made an utter fool out of yourself. Your racism in Fire With Fire was nothing compared to what you did in 2008. So if you're not zonked out on drugs or 'love,' how about you step up to the damn plate and call out this attack on the Consitution?And those are only two of the many public fools -- idiots who damn well should have known better but felt running a fan club was more important than protecting the Constitution and our civil liberties.

"why aren't greens fighting for appointed seats?" -- Rebecca raises a very important point and Greens need to be asking why they're not demanding consideration for seats? (One group of voters is proposing that Ralph Nader be in the consideration for New York senator.)

"Robert Parry is an ASS" -- Ruth's truest. :D We love this piece. We especially love that Ruth emphasized ass by using all caps.

"Develop a sense of perspective" -- Kat's post was needed and that may be the saddest thing this month. Six months after Hillary dropped out of the race for the presidential nomination from her party, the EZ bake writers still need to attack her and make her more evil than participatings in Iran-Contra and a host of other crimes.

'Iraq now, Vietnam then' (Workers World)

As Iraq falls further off the media radar, Workers World offers a strong editorial that deserves widespread attention:

Iraq now, Vietnam then
Published Dec 22, 2008 6:02 PM
The news from Iraq is starting to remind veteran political analysts of the events four decades ago in South Vietnam as successive U.S. puppet governments disintegrated under the weight of tremendous popular sentiment, with a liberation war knocking at the door.
The U.S. secret services then hatched and executed coups to remove some discredited, inept and well-hated puppet leaders. Their replacements had not yet exposed to the world their own corruption, favoritism and brutality that would soon make them just as inept and well-hated. Only 500,000-plus U.S. troops could keep them in power for more than a week.
Now in Iraq, with the continued U.S. occupation up for debate, cracks are exposed in the puppet regime. Bush's surprise visit humiliates him, the occupation and the puppet leader, Nuri al-Maliki. Within days, the Maliki faction arrests 24 high-level military security figures.
Al-Maliki's regime leaks charges to the New York Times that those arrested are secret Ba'athists--the ruling party in Iraq before the U.S. invasion—who were plotting a coup.
It’s true that enough agents of the Iraqi resistance have infiltrated the regime to track military maneuvers. But the Ba'athists, who are part of the resistance, have said they don’t believe a coup could succeed against the will of the U.S. occupation forces. They expect the resistance to wear down the U.S. until its forces leave. The "plot" story, then, is far-fetched.
Sure enough, two days after the Times story ran, the Iraqi military dropped the charges against the 24, calling them "patriotic officers." It turns out a Maliki-appointed security agency had charged and arrested the "patriotic officers."

Instead, al-Maliki himself is now under suspicion.
Because of his friendly relations with Iran, al-Maliki has lost favor in Washington. If there is a "coup plot," maybe the U.S. is behind it.
Speculation aside, there are some points--which were also true in South Vietnam--that these events have underlined:
The puppet regime is unstable, even more than it appeared up to now, and is torn apart by internal contradictions.
Despite all the propaganda about the U.S. "surge" working, there is no feasible pro-imperialist government than can run Iraq without large numbers of U.S. troops as an occupation army.
One way or another, Iraqi sovereignty will assert itself. There is no way the Iraqi people, even though horribly damaged by the U.S. invasion and occupation, will submit.
It is impossible for the U.S. to find an Iraqi political leader who is honest, courageous and capable to direct the puppet government. Any Iraqis with those characteristics joined the resistance long ago.
For the U.S. anti-war movement, it is time to move more forcefully into action. There is no way out except for the total withdrawal of U.S. forces, the recognition of the Iraqi resistance and payment of adequate reparations to the Iraqi people.

Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved. Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011



Support independent news

US anthem "When The Money's Gone"

When the money's gone
Will you get cold feet
Will you still be there if
the ends don't meet
If we're in the red, just
forget the green
Take a bus with me
No more limousines
When the money's gone
Will you still want me

Cher sings America's theme song for the year 2009, "When The Money's Gone."

When the money's gone
No more caviar
Will you eat fast food
in a beat up car
Live life modestly, lost
in lotto dreams
Will you find your way
through it all with me
Through it all with me

And remember Cher continues in Vegas next year:

Almost 200,000 fans witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of Cher at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during the first 44 sold-out shows in 2008.
Now Cher confirms her return beginning in February 2009 with tickets on sale NOW!
Cher's latest spectacle is a state-of-the-art extravaganza recounting the highlights of her remarkable 43-year career.
With more than a dozen new Bob Mackie costumes this show can only be seen in the intimate setting of Caesars Palace.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Truest statement of the week

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Well, excuse me, excuse me, though, this is a serious civil rights issue in this country.
-- Harry Smith to Robert Jeffries who attempted to joke about an issue on Friday's The Early Show (CBS).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Sunday and consider this our holiday edition.

Dallas, as always hunted down links, was a sound board, a friend and a savior. We thank him. Others participating in this week's edition include:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's 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),Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

Jim and Dona are off this weekend as was Ty. However, Ty did join us for the roundtable.

Here's what we came up with:

Truest statement of the week -- We had no time to write about the disaster that is Barack and Rick Warren's love affair so fortunately Harry Smith had a Truest that had to be noted.

Editorial: The Pathetic and Shameful UPFJ -- A movement brings pressure, it is not a fan club. UPFJ is disgusting and along with owing African-Americans an apology, they owe the country one.

TV: Twins Anne Slowey and Gwen Ifill -- They really are two of a kind, Gwen and Anne. If Anne thinks we (Ava and C.I.) went too far she should know that when she brings on her underage niece to act like a total bitch, she's inviting strong criticism and we refrained from criticquing the niece. We bit our tongues even though we think when a child acts like she did, the child needs to be called out loudly and rudely so she grasps how far from 'all that' she is.

Roundtable -- Could we have a roundtable? Yes, we could! Ty passed on that there was a big request for it. (This was before Ty planned to participate.) We (Ava and C.I.) will note that Jess did a wonderful job of moderating and that Betty rounded up Ty and Stan who were planning to take the weekend off.

The Ultimate Tina Turner Collection -- We enjoyed writing this feature and this comes from Betty and C.I. who have worked like crazy coming up with their dream playlist for Tina over the last four weeks.

An indictment of the 'New' Iraq goes unnoticed -- Our Iraq feature. And, no, we're not saying that people couldn't laugh at the video of the shoe toss, we are saying that if it ended there, if everyone's needle got stuck on that and didn't go beyond it (which happened), that was very sad and very telling.

DVD release of The Women (Ava and C.I.) -- Jess saw an e-mail from Belinda (community member) wondering if a DVD feature could be done? Either last year or the year before we all did some DVD feature at Third and Belinda was hoping for something like that. We didn't have time to, sorry. But two of us had seen The Women recently and were more than willing to write about that.

Hmmm . . . -- Continues the short features that Dona has drilled into us to include. Always.

The Princess Brat Chronicles -- This was a planned feature and we address everything needed in it.

Carolyn Maloney works her ass off for New Yorkers -- But this wasn't planned. We were surprised by how much this person did last week and how little attention the press gave it.

Andrew Cuomo works his ass off for New Yorkers -- See above.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty, Kat, Cedric, Wally, Marcia, Ruth and Stan wrote this. Thank you! This was the last thing written. The writing edition went very smoothly. We started six hours later than usual so everyone could get some sleep. And we then turned out the edition in about eight hours. It moved quickly because everyone brought so many wonderful things to the table. By everyone we mean: Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty, Kat, Cedric, Wally, Marcia, Ruth and Stan. We thank them so much.

So that's it. Happy Holidays.

-- Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: The Pathetic and Shameful UPFJ

For two years, United for Peace and Justice has done nothing to end the illegal war. If you like the faux radical fringe, you could find many of those in 'leadership' on various rag-tag Pacifica stations whoring themselves and the peace movement out as the booed and hissed at Hillary Clinton while insisting Barack Obama was a divine spread, perfect for a sacramental wafer. They all but smacked their lips into the microphones as they insisted "Heavenly delicious!"

So it was no surprise that United for Pathetic and Juvenile issued a purile statement on November 7th that was at once self-stroking and racially offensive. For the record, Barack Obama is bi-racial. We've covered that here. At the allegedly 'progressive' (no one loves that coded word moe than the multitude of political closet cases hiding out at UPFJ). For the record, Barack was never about ending the illegal war in Iraq. But UPFJ was so eager to spread like slutty cheerleaders (male and female) that they ignored that the same way they ignored their own alleged committment to ending the Afghanistan War. Yeah, Afghanistan, the war Barack campaigned on continuing.

So it was not surprising to discover United for Pathetic and Juvenile could sink even lower.

Eric Ruder and Ashley Smith (US Socialist Worker) provide a disturbing look at the recent 'strategy' sessions for UPFJ earlier this month where 'leaders' offered such 'insight' as Barack is 'our' "quarterback" and our role is to "block for him." That's so insulting on so many levels.

First of all, why is a peace movement utilizing a predominately male sport, an aggressive sport, for analogies? Strikes us as violent and sexist. Or possibly, this is part of the Let's Water Everything Down Until It Means Nothing and we'll get a few more (lukewarm) supporters 'strategy.'

Second, since when is it the responsibility of a peace movement to provide protection for any elected official? A movement is supposed to bring pressure on those holding the reigns of power.

It's all so embarrassing. But so were the speakers who all sounded like the most despearte odd ball in high school, praying, praying!, that today would be the day Barack said hello to them in the hall, pretending that they knew him -- not in the real sense of the word but "know" him in the, "We can see into his soul!!!!!"

You really need to read Ruder and Smith's article and you really need to laugh at almost every 'leader' quoted in it, you need to laugh at how stupid and, yes, slutty they all come off.

UPFJ is disgusting. And they have staged their little turf wars with A.N.S.W.E.R. and so many others as they've tired to control the peace movement. Time for Leslie and other gals and guys to retire. They can't stand up for peace, they've got no right to pose as 'leaders' of the peace movement.

Debra Sweet (World Can't Wait) noted of UPFJ's recent session:

Not to directly challenge Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan is shameful. On the anniversary of "Shock & Awe," and under a new president, the anti-war movement needs to be in Washington. And many of us WILL be there.
World Can't Wait wrote a
letter to the anti-war movement. We posed:

"We in this country, and those of us in this movement, have a choice. We can side with our government, with the "good war" fought in our names, and act like American lives are more important than anyone else's lives.Or we can show the people living in the Middle East, and the world, that in the U.S. there is a difference between the people and their government, and that the people are taking responsibility to end an unjust war and the war crimes that have been carried out in our name. We can act like we care about the whole planet."

That's really what it's about. Are you going to work end the illegal war or are you going to rush to cheer on the 'quarterback' in the White House?

UPFJ did their part to set back the peace movement. It's not just the brakes they slammed on the peace movement for the last two damn years. Now they're trying to throw the movement into reverse.

That's not leadership, that's shameful, craven behavior.

TV: Twins Anne Slowey and Gwen Ifill

Some times, people have no idea what they have or, more importantly, what they don't. As Stylista wrapped its run last week on the CW and as Gwen Ifill was . . . well, just being Gwen, it became very obvious that some people work with a highly distorted reflection from their mirrors.


Let's start with Stylista because it was just so much cringe-inducing fun. Anne Slowey has been paid to work in fashion for more years than the rings around her neck. And yet, despite the fact that ever damn one of those years shows, they all seemed to have passed without ever introducing Anne to style or class.

Anne wants to be a star. She's always wanted to be a star. But with that nose, she had to go into fashion. Maybe Stylista will turn a pig into a swan?

We know Tyra Banks who produces this show. A mutual friend asked us why we still hadn't reviewed Tyra or any of Tyra's shows? We think Tyra's a natural talk show host and always have that as our back up should everything else fall through. A review of her talk show is our safety school, you might say. Then there's America's Next Top Model which we've never watched because it all just seems like way too much drama to us.

At that point, and this is early November, the mutual friend suggested Stylista. It's about a fashion magazine. Well that sounded interesting. We love the film Funny Face. Then we were told the magazine was Elle and we love Roberta Myers who is as sweet as she is gifted. What could go wrong?


We'd heard of her. We hadn't met her because, honestly, we don't mingle with her kind. But we had heard about her and, for a change, reality TV apparently offered some reality. Every thing ever whispered about Upholstered Anne is apparently true and then some. ("Upholstered Anne" is how she's known at the other fashion mags and don't blame Nina Garcia for that.)

Anne was supposed to be a judge and she thought she could clomp-clomp those excessively large feet of hers into Simon Cowell-type stardom. In that she succeeded but at what cost?

Fashion is about looking good.

That's a basic point.

Those involved in fashion attempt to make themselves look good.

That's a given.

Not Anne.

The big rumor in 1995 was that she had to be taught to sit with her legs crossed. While wearing a dress. While wearing a really short dress.

Whether it's true or not, it certainly will feel true to anyone who caught Stylista.

She is the most graceless woman in the world. She also has Suburban Mom hair. She would insist she has hair like Madonna. Like we said, Anne, you have Surburban Mom hair: Madonna circa 1997. Too old for current and too recent for retro. So Anne just looks like another aging woman who didn't have the sense to grasp it was time to cut the hair (and knock off about ten years in the process). There is the facial structure which we'll just describe as "brutish" and move on to the teeth which could be fixed. Could be and should.

Find another person in the world with teeth like Anne's who wants to appear glamorous on national TV but doesn't have the sense to get braces. You never will.

The body is decidely peasant stock. In fact, hearty peasant stock would be the term. If you've ever wondered what a sack of potatoes would look like if it sprouted legs, meet Anne. Legs? When you insist upon putting your legs on TV repeatedly, you might want to consider wearing pantyhose. You surely would want to do something about tone, if everytime you cross your legs, they flap. In fact, she has what are known as curtain thighs: they drape over everything around them.

Tranlsation, none of it adds up to a "Steal This Look!" look.

Cutting her hair to shoulder length with a side part would not make Anne pretty nor would it make her Anna Wintour. It would make her appear younger and begin to give her a look. Or does she plan to spend the rest of her life in Madonna's faded discards?

Week after week, Anne made Stylista riveting television. We will give her that. The show zipped quickly through less than ten episodes and ten contestants to declare a winner. None of the contestants really became a name or a standout. The reasons was they had to compete with Anne. Anne thought she was the show and, on that, she was correct.

As a reality TV star, Anne Slowey is like a tugboat finally pulling into the harbor. You can almost see her winking at the camera and, through her many facial skin folds, exclaiming, "Home again, home again, jiggety-jig, jiggety-gee."

So why is any of the above a problem? Well, for starters, Anne still has a day job. At Elle. A fashion magazine. And while people may enjoy pointing at -- and laughing at -- a freak show, do they really want to seek out a freak show for fashion?

The model who had the "cocaine honeymoon" saw all the big campaigns dry up as her life became a freak show and, no, big name models don't dream of becoming catalogue models. You go freak show, you lose your luster. So while Anne's wonderful for Tyra Banks, she's lousy for Elle.

Gwen's her own kind of lousy. The loons at Women's Media Center (now trojan ehanced!) were lamenting Gwen being passed over by NBC for Meet The Press. Gwen never stood a chance and we say that as two bound and determined to ensure that reality; however, we were quickly informed, "Don't worry, she's not getting it." She was never on the short-list and she ensured 2008 would not be her year. How did she do that? By refusing to disclose an appearence of a conflict of interest. You know, the story Women's Media Center never said a word about. NBC could not have Gwen as the host, even if she were qualified, because of that little scandal which would find every week resulting in calls of favortism on display by Gwen.

But of course, Gwen's not qualified. She's going to think on her feet with world leaders and not stumble repeatedly?


Gwen participated in an online chat at The Washington Post on Thursday. Here's one example of Gwen responding 'off the cuff:'

Saginaw, Mich.: Gwen,
I love the show, and I would vote for a full hour.
But sometimes I'm busy on Friday nights, and the rebroadcast on Sunday seems like old news by then.
Can I get the whole show online these days?
Gwen Ifill: The entire things is online and available by video podcast. check us out at

So a person in Michigan explained that it's difficult to catch the show on Friday nights from time to time but, by Sunday morning, it's old news. Which leaves us with when? Saturday. Gwen, the question was "Can I get the whole show online these days" and the day needed was Saturday. But Gwen tells Saginaw that the episode is online and "available by video podcast" -- the latter means "also you can get a podcast" to any who know the show's website.

Gwen doesn't even know her own show. You can subscribe to a podcast (it's easiest to do by using iTunes and selecting PBS on the podcast options) and get the show on Saturday. But the video? Video and transcript get posted the following Monday. Monday afternoon in fact. So that point needs to be made. It especially needs to be made, we checked, when those going to the website late Friday or anytime Saturday or Sunday will see the following:

Friday Dec. 19
President-elect Barack Obama's latest cabinet appointments;
The race to fill coveted Senate vacancies;
Updates on the state of the economy;
Why the larger Democratic majority in Congress next year won't guarantee smooth sailing for Mr. Obama.
More on topics and panelists l Podcast -->
Transcript Video Podcast

Oh, great! Click on video and you can watch! (Or transcript and you can read!) Nope. Clicking on those will take you to the December 12th episode.

And if we can stay with the technical for a moment, the podcast? Though Gwen says it's video, there are two options. You can get the audio podcast (which downloads so much faster) and there is the video podcast. Gwen should be able to converse about both. (24.7 MB is the audio podcast for December 19th and 263.5 MB is the video podcast for December 19th.) For those who have never podcast, DSL will allow you to do it quickly. Wireless in most cases will be almost as quick. If you're on dialup, you're looking at a lengthy wait. That's another point Gwen should be able to converse on when deciding to chat on the topic of podcasts.

She's never equipped with the knowledge she needs and the bulk of her answers are facile. Again from her online chat at The Washington Post:

New Albany, Ohio: It seems amazing to me that even as we are suffering a huge financial crisis Caroline Kennedy is promoted as a very attractive candidate because she can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Demorcratic table if she is appointed to the Senate. Does money rule in politics regardless of what is happening in the rest of the world? If we get helpful legislation because of it, is it worth it?
Gwen Ifill: Yes, money rules in politics regardless of what is happening in the rest of the world. Have you checked lately on how much Barack Obama raised and spent to get elected President?

Check out the EZ gas baggery Gwen spits out to one question (she avoids the second). First, she expresses, "Yes, money rules in politics" and she probably feels so proud of herself for that bromide. But note what happens next, when it's time for her to back up her claim. She turns it into a question because she can't make it a simple statement without being expected to provide some hard numbers. Gee, Gwen, you're the news woman, how about you tell us "how much Barack Obama raised and spent to get elected President"?

One of Gwen's topics on Friday's show was, in fact, Caroline. And she and her guest really didn't go any deeper than she did above. Hillary Clinton may get confirmed as the US Secretary of State in January. If so, her Senate seat becomes open. Not only was her seat accepted as up for grabs without question by the gas bags, it was also accepted that Caroline Kennedy would grab the seat. Gwen and the gas bags felt no need to discuss women who have been elected to office and would like to be appointed Senator. It's a done deal, to hear them tell it. And they wouldn't have even mentioned Andrew Cuomo were it not for the fact that they could laugh and giggle about the soap opera.

This is an educated discourse? A refusal to explore women like US House Rep Carolyn Maloney who, yes, is in the running for the seat. A refusal to discuss anyone seriously and passing off 'oh messy divorce for Cuomo and the Kennedy cousin!' as an informed conversation? It was beyond shallow. Access Hollywood offers more penetrating analysis of their subjects.

Discussing the budget issues, a question was asked, "How about near universal health care?" How about it? "That's a whole 'nother subject," Gwen insisted, dismissing it as she rushed to move to the Caroline segment she so wanted to gas bag on. And if she hadn't rushed to that topic we might have missed John Dickerson's gem that Caroline was "campaigning in the proximity of collard greens." That was so funny -- to the panel. It was offensive. It was racist. So, of course, no one laughed louder than Gwen.

In her online chat at the Post, Gwen was lamenting that she would like to expand the show to an hour but "that decision is the hand of the 300+ PBS stations that air us." Pray the three hundred plus scream "NO!" Should she get an extra thirty minutes, know that Gwen would not use the additional time to go deeper. Deeper is as beyond her as attractive and stylish are beyond Anne Slowey. Gwen would merely add four more 'topics' -- tidbits really -- and a lot more gossip.

Gwen goes on TV to play a journalist and Anne goes on to play fashionable. Neither is even remotely credible. To her credit, Anne does hold your attention, but train wrecks generally do. She is, as Anne herself might put it, "a little more hard-core, a little more androgynous, a little more butch." That was Anne explaining why dresses would be dead by last September. Yeah, she's also about as accurate as Gwen.

Her prediction never came true. Bad gas baggery, another trait she shares with Gwen.
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