Sunday, November 24, 2013

Truest statement of the week

The truth is, the Affordable Health Care Act is coming undone because of its own, tortured internal logic. At root, it is a fraud on the public: a scheme to subsidize and more deeply embed a private insurance system that can only make profits by denying sick and vulnerable people health care, and playing different demographics of Americans against each other. As every other industrialized country in the world has already learned, it is impossible to build a genuine, universal healthcare system on a cut-throat capitalist foundation. Private insurers make money by betting against the health interests of their customers. Obama served his corporate masters by conspiring to make tens of millions more Americans into customers of private insurers. He tried to dress up one of the greatest corporate subsidies in history as if it were a solemn national mission, a rebirth of the social compact between the American people. But of course, Obamacare is no such thing; it is a racket to prop up private insurers with public money, while allowing the profiteers to continue to run the show.

--  Glen Ford, "Obamacare is Doomed by Its Internal Logic" (Black Agenda Report).

Truest statement of the week II

"What (the American people) don't expect is for one party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet." 

-- Barack Obama.  Barack gets a truest and, sadly, it's from April 13, 2005, while last week, he flip flops and applauds the rules being changed in the middle of the game.

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another more Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

In some ways, this is our gay edition.  And had we planned better, we would have done that for the whole edition.

But  what did we come up with?

Glen Ford gets another truest. 
This is a first timer, he's never had a truest before and may never have on again.  But Barack, you earned it.  And if you still stood by this statement you made as a senator, we'd be applauding you today.

Iraq?  The country's awash and violence and unrest.  And Nouri wants a third term as prime minister.  After all the garbage he's caused already?

Ava and C.I. wrote a section of this in a larger piece on sitcom characters.  I liked their part on Ellen.  And I (Jim) asked them, "Anyway you could keep that part and reflect on TV's portrayals of gays and lesbians?"  They came back with an epic.  And I told them that their very long piece needed . . . to be expanded.  You thought I was going to say "cut," didn't you?  They could do that.  They went and wrote more.  This is the epic piece for this site of all time.  It's a great piece.  I wish I could have come up with a better headline for it.
While they headed off to write, I talked about how much I disliked what we'd done for the edition.  Dona, who used to watch New Kids On The Block (the cartoon series) on The Disney Channel when she was a little girl,  tossed out Jordan Knight. The hit making career is over.  Jordan is a joke and he's too old.  The only way he would have success right now is on the dance charts.  For that to happen, he'd need the support of his gay fans -- the ones he's spent his entire solo career running off.

As we finished the previous article (with Ava and C.I.'s help), Ty said we could do one more gay themed article.  He noted the e-mails and so we came up with this.

Otherwise, it's a JFK issue.  Not planned that way.  Other stories didn't pan out.
This is just a collection piece.
This is noting US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill.
This wasn't planned.  We had a good piece calling.  But one crucial fact we couldn't pin down.  We thought Hillary would have it at her site, her personal site.  We went there and found this.

Press release from Senator Murray's office. 
Press release from Senator Levin's office. 
Press release from Senator Murray's office. 
Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker.

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

That's what we've got to share this week.


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

Editorial: What's coming?

Iraq may or may not hold parliamentary elections April 30th (see Mustafa Habib's "New Iraqi Election Law Has So Many Holes, It's Likely To Delay 2013 Elections" at Niqash), but if they do, will it be a fair election?  Will the results be honored?

In 2010, the results weren't honored.

Despite Iraqiya winning the 2010 elections, the head of the political slate, Ayad Allawi, did not become prime minister.


Because Nouri al-Maliki refused to leave office.

He'd lost.

But he refused to leave office.

For eight months he would refuse.

Instead of backing democracy, the White House backed loser Nouri.   The White House brokered The Erbil Agreement, a contract that rejected the votes of the Iraqi people, to give Nouri a second term.

And here's what's really interesting.  In the lead up to the election, one American saw the possibility of Nouri losing and refusing to honor the election.

That was the then-top US commander in Iraq General Ray Odierno.

The White House didn't want to listen.

Last week, Jim Michaels (USA Today) quoted Odierno stating, "I still believe they can be a great country but they have to solve their differences between the different factions.  They need leadership that allows them to do that. That's what I worry about."

They do need leadership and they haven't had it in Nouri al-Maliki's first term or in his second.  But Nouri wants a third term.

We don't see leadership with that.

There are the problems and divisions Nouri has created within Iraq.

For example, since December 21st, protests have been taking place in Iraq. Zvi Bar'el (Haaretz) observed this fall that the protests have taken place in spite of obstacles, "For its part, the regime has done all it can to prevent major demonstrations. The centers of the cities have been flooded with police. Cars fitted with loudspeakers have been banned from the streets and major access roads have been closed off. And there is a new directive which, in violation of Iraqi law, bans demonstrations out of 'concern for security risks.' None of this has managed to quell the protest and the regime understands that the demonstrations are liable to spread, posing a threat to the government."  Iraqi Spring Media reported on Friday's protests in Rawa, Falluja, Ramadi, Jalawla, Tikrit, Samarra,  among other places.  Iraqi Spring Media Tweeted the following:

  1. متظاهرو الرمادي يعلنون بقاءهم على الطرق الرئيسة التي اغلقت من قبلهم ولن يغادروها الا بعد اطلاق سراح المعتقلين. .
  2. مظاهرات أهالي مدينة الرمادي القائمة الآن في المدينة: "اعتقال الأبرياء ظلم للشعب" .
  3. : عشيرة البوفهد تعلن الطرق الرئيسية المؤدية الى مدينة الرمادي على حملة التي طالت المدينة.

That's what Nouri's 'leadership' has brought.  Sunnis demanding that they stop being targeted with false arrests and demanding public services.

Which brings us to Iraq's more immediate problem at present.

The sewage systems in Iraq were last upgraded in the seventies.  Though Iraq takes in billions now (over $100 billion in oil last year alone), Nouri refuses to spend that money on the people.  They do without basic services.  The crumbling infrastructure continues to decay.

In terms of the sewers?

That means when it rains, water stands in streets.

That's not healthy.  It's not safe.

And Iraqi is back in its yearly heavy rain season.

The flooding is on Nouri.  People have had to leave their homes because of flooding, people have died because of the flooding.

And Iraqis are getting tired of the corruption that allows Nouri's son to spend millions and millions of Iraqi money while the people do without.

What's in store for Iraq in May?

Neither the country nor the people can afford four more years of Nouri.

TV: Gay characters: Two networks stand still while a third retreats

This fall, Thursday night is the one night of broadcast TV that really acknowledges there are gay Americans. In some ways, that may be fitting since  it was on Thursdays that the shuffled around sitcom Will & Grace finally found a permanent home and many millions more viewers.  Will & Grace was a breakthrough in so many ways.  But for all the historic steps forward, there is still so many more steps needed for this journey.


Let's take the tour.  Gays and lesbians largely did not exist as real characters.  If they did show up, they may or may not have been gay but were assumed by TV characters (characters on every episode, part of the regular cast) to be gay and were the butt of jokes and stereotypes.  That we're talking about 70s TV is really appalling when you, for example, watch the Frank Sinatra film The Detective (1968) where Sinatra's detective had a far-more live-and-let-live attitude towards gay men and calls out other police officers who attempt to gay bash a group of men.  

As with most big steps forward in 70s TV, it was The Mary Tyler Moore Show that made the leap.  In "My Brother's Keeper" (first aired January 13, 1973 and written by Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon), Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) wants to fix her brother Ben (Robert Moore -- who directed The Boys In The Band on Broadway -- among other credits and who was gay) up with Mary (Mary Tyler Moore).  Ben, however, befriends  Rhoda (Valerie Harper) who shares common interests.  Phyllis fears the two will fall in love and marry (a fear Rhoda has fun with).

Many 'critics' wrongly say the episode ends with Phyllis discovering her brother is gay.  Wrong.

Rhoda:  Phyllis, Ben and I aren't getting married.  He's not my type.

Phyllis:  What do you mean he's not your type? He's witty, he's attractive, he's successful, he's single.

Rhoda:  He's gay.

Phyllis:  He-he-he's what?

Rhoda:  He's gay.  I thought sure you knew, Phyll.  We're not getting married.

Phyllis:  Oh, Rhoda, I'm so relieved.

That's not the end of the episode.

You've got the last scene.  Mary and Rhoda are cleaning up Mary's apartment (from a party) while Ben sits at a piano.  As he plays the piano, a beaming Phyllis walks over and asks him to play something for her as she sits down on the bench with her brother.  He asks her whether she wants him to play his dog food commercial jingle or Mozart?  She tells him, "Play whatever you feel."  He begins playing and Phyllis sighs, "I love Mozart."  Her brother corrects her, "No, Phyllis, this is my dog food commercial."

That's not a throw away scene.

It's important and how typical of The Water Cooler Set (idiots posing as critics) to get the facts wrong and jumble the meaning.

The Water Cooler Set has repeatedly and wrongly insisted the point of the show is that Phyllis hates Rhoda so much that she'll gladly take a gay brother over Rhoda as an in-law.

That could have been the point of the show.  The last scene was about establishing that was not the point.  No one should have assumed that Phyllis was motivated by hatred for Rhoda.  The conflict between the two is always good for laughs.  But Phyllis is the most liberal character.  This is established in many other episodes with various causes (such as her efforts to end the death penalty).  Her character would never see a gay brother as a bad thing.  Phyllis would not just reject homophobia but would see herself as leading the way forward.  

The last scene is about establishing that Phyllis and Ben are still brother and sister as they always were. This is no trauma for Phyllis.  That's why they're on the bench together.

But even more important than that?  Mary and Rhoda.  The party's over and they're cleaning up.  They enjoy Ben's playing and enjoy his joke on Phyllis.  It's  a normal after party scene.


They are not pushing him out the door, they are not in shock that a gay man exists in the Twin Cities, they aren't bothered at all.

This was the most mature handling of the issue you had on seventies TV.  There was never an effort to say "fruit" or any other word.  Robert Moore was not asked to play a stereotype.  He was a fully formed character and not part of the entertainment industry's long assault on gays and lesbians (as we've noted many times before the 'flamer' or 'swish' stereotype of gay people was utilized to create an extreme vision of all gay people in order to aid many of the studios gay and lesbian performers in passing for straight.)

All In The Family, Maude and Soap would present gay characters.  They would use terms like "fruit."  It can be argued that All In The Family was presenting a working class view of gays and lesbians (the Bunkers were working class).  That may be but 70s audiences were snickering all the same.  Maude, always on a high horse (a point many miss today, she was the forerunner of Dixie Carter's Julia Sugarbaker) made everything all about her and her greatness and Arthur's stupidity.  And that might allow for the fact that gay people were not seen as people -- they were props for Maude.  

Susan Harris' Soap featured the first gay character who was part of the regular cast.  The hilarious Billy Crystal played Jodie Dallas.  Dallas was part of the Campbell wing of the family -- the working class wing.  So his step-father's use of "fruit" might be excused on those reasons.  Soap was a parody of soap operas.  So Jody's storyline didn't necessarily make sense.  

Over the course of the show, he slept with three women (only one man played his lover) and  that may say more about the country's own struggle to recognize and accept than it did with the character himself.  (While he's involved with the man, Jodie prepares for a sex change so that he can marry the man.)

Jody was a huge step-forward in that he was a regular cast member, he had his own storylines and he was a complex character.  

Some people lie -- don't they always -- that Vincent Schiavelli was the first actor to play a gay man as part of the regular cast.  No, he wasn't.  

The Corner Bar was summer filler in 1972 and 1973.  The first summer it was 10 episodes and he was only in 9.  He was not part of the regular cast.  His character was also not part of the regulars.  He was a bar patron with no real connections to the other characters and only showed up to swish so everyone could laugh at the gay man.   The Gay Activist Alliance objected to the insulting stereotype and ABC insisted that if there was a season two the character would be less insulting.  There was a season two, Schiavelli's character was not part of it.

Billy Crystal was the first cast member of a show playing a gay character.  

While we give Soap latitude for Jody due to being a soap parody, we don't offer the same latitude for Dynasty.  The 80s soap opera was part of a landscape of soaps including Knots Landing, Falcon's Crest, Dallas, Flamingo Road, Bare Essence and many others -- some that only lasted a single season (Secrets of Midland Heights, Paper Dolls, Berrenger's, etc.) 

Dynasty featured the character of Stephen Carrington, an openly gay man played by Al Corely.  Corely was wonderful in the role, a great actor, a sexy man and not one of the idiots fretting, "If I kiss an actor in this scene, everyone will think I'm gay!"

In fact, Corely is the reason Stephen was gay.  The character was written as gay and during the first season, this was a big part of the storyline.  Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin) accepted her brother but Blake (John Forsythe) refused to and attacked and killed Stephen's boyfriend.  Season two found the network and the producers wanting to make Stephen straight -- not confused, straight.  Corely fought back and eventually took it public (including in an interview conducted by Carly Simon for Interview magazine).  Stephen was gay, Corley pointed out in various interviews, and needed to stay gay.  The 'writing problem' wasn't that the character was gay, Corley pointed out, but that they made the character so morose.  

Corley's talent allowed him to turn it into a sexual brooding but he was fired for fighting for the role and for taking it public.  The next season, Jack Coelman would take over the role. Coleman had badly played a psycho on Days of Our Lives.  He had no acting chops to speak of.  He was not attractive in any way or form other than he wasn't ugly.  While Corley had a tight and compact body --  making Stephen TV's first sexy gay character, Coleman was boxy and insisted on a middle part for his hair that turned an already wide face into something even wider.

With Coleman playing Stephen, the character was sometimes gay and sometimes straight and mainly just pathetic.  Corley provided more passion in the goodbye kiss with Ted Denard (Mark Withers) than Coleman would do with the on-and-off-again male characters his Stephen was teamed up with during the 148 episodes Coleman played the character.  

In fact, Coleman's Stephen (he did not write the character) only accomplishment was probably demonstrating that there are some very boring gay men.

From the 80s, we move to the 90s.

Ellen De Generes came out in real life and on her sitcom Ellen.  This was a groundbreaking moment.  And the record ratings for that season ender were never going to happen again -- this was event TV.  However, every week wouldn't be event TV.  ABC knew that.  Ellen knew that.  And season five found high ratings for the show.  Despite a warning label before each episode aired, the show got strong ratings.  

Then Chasity Bono had to open her big mouth.

Chastity is now Chaz having had gender reassignment surgery.

For some unknown reason, after being outed by The National Enquirer,  Bono thought himself the voice of lesbianism and the voice of gay America.

In that role, Bono issued rulings such as declaring that Mel Gibson wasn't homophobic or that Tom Cruise was straight.  In other words, whenever the industry needed a whore, there was Bono.

Chastity Bono's only 'work' experience in the industry was being Cher's daughter and sometimes appearing on one of her mother's variety shows.  

But somehow this Christina Crawford wannabe decided she was an expert on TV and writing and on everything.   And to share her infinite wisdom due to being 29-years-old and forced-out-of-the-closet, Bono appeared on The Tonight Show and told Jay Leno that Ellen was "too gay for TV."

She didn't just say that on TV, she told Variety it as well.  Glen Lovell reported:

It’s one thing for the critical establishment to carp about ”Ellen’s” rigid gay-ness, but when a well known lesbian activist does it -- well, that’s news. 
[. . .]
If ”Ellen” is going to be picked up for a sixth season by ABC, the creators need to slow down — ”take smaller steps” and chart a more moderate path, ad-vises the 29 year old daughter of Sonny Bono and Cher. ”(‘Ellen’) is so gay it’s excluding a large part of our society,” Bono tells Variety. 
”A lot of the stuff on it is somewhat of an inside joke. It’s one thing to have a gay lead character, but it’s another when every episode deals with pretty specific gay issues.”

Anne Heche, who was then Ellen's live-in love, was rightfully outraged by Bono's remarks.

Chastity lacked the spine to either stand by her remarks or apologize.  So, instead, she insisted she was misquoted.  Even when Anne confronted her to her face, Chastity couldn't own up to what she did.

And the show wasn't 'too gay.'  The character Ellen was now out.  Every episode was not about being gay but many of them acknowledged that Ellen was.  For example, Clea Lewis' Audrey was hoping Ellen would meet her match when they went to a festival.  Was that "too gay"?  Was it "too gay" when Ellen participated in a Civil War re-enactment or when she got a job at a radio station?

Please, Wise Chastity Bono, the voice of lesbianism, tell us when Ellen was "too gay"?

Oops.  Sorry.  We waited too long.  You're no longer a lesbian, you're now a man who sleeps with women.  In fact, you've always been a man on the inside.

So maybe children of stars should actually be required to accomplish something on their own in their own lives before they're treated as informed or experts?

What Bono did, in the self-appointed role of Voice of Gay America, was to give ABC the ammunition to cancel Ellen.  For season five, it was ranked 42 out of all the programs aired on prime time broadcast TV.  Chasity Bono chose to call Ellen "too gay" when the show was in danger of the axe.  Not because of bad ratings (by that time, the show was down to 10 million viewers for each episode) but because of the campaign against the show by homophobic groups.  The Human Rights Campaign had launched an effort to save the show and that's when Bono waded in with "too gay" -- declared on NBC and to the entertainment industry bible Variety.

When 20th century gay history is told, Bono the big mouth needs to be noted.

ABC had a hit show -- yes, ten million viewers was a hit show -- that was causing them problems with homophobic groups.  The idiotic show that replaced Ellen, Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place would be noted for blandness, no one ever objected.  And ABC was under no pressure from anyone with that show.  So when it's season one ratings dropped to 10 million in season three, it was given another season.  In fact, that bland show only got the axe when it fell to six million viewers.

But Ellen was taken off while getting nearly twice that many viewers.

Ellen De Generes'  lasting artistic contribution from the 90s is the character of Ellen whose lesson was that life begins with coming out.

Not even vile Bono can take that away.

Into the hell Chaz had created for TV gays came Will & Grace.

This was the next breakthrough.  You had two gay characters and Karen.

Will was Eric McCormack, Grace was Debra Messing.  They were two best friends who met in college, were wrongly engaged for nearly twenty minutes until Will came out to her.  Will's other best friend was Jack played by Sean Hayes.  And then there was Karen, played by Megan Mullally, whose sexuality was more fluid than anyone to ever appear on prime time.

Married to Stanley Walker, Karen, a socialite and a porn actress (Dirty Little Pig Boy),  was frequently coming on to Grace, often referring to same-sex experiences she had in college, coming on to Diane (Mira Sorvino), sleeping with Malcolm (Alec Baldwin), wanting to do some heavy petting with Liz (guest star Madonna) . . .  And it all goes back to her first love (from "Something Borrowed,  Someone's Due" written by Kari Lizer, Adam Barr and Bill Wrubel):

The last town we lived in, I fell in love with a boy. Heh. He had long blond hair, delicate features, soft skin... At least I think it was a boy. Well, anyway, I was in love. And he or she loved me. Until my mom scammed her, too. Then he left me. That was when I left home and never looked back.

It started off tentative.  Baby steps in the climate Bono had helped create.  Will was mooning over the unseen boyfriend for season one, Jack's love life existed off screen.  When the same-sex kiss finally came on the show it was between Will and Jack (Will was not attracted to Jack) and done by them on The Today Show (to be clear, in the episode, Will and Jack were on The Today Show) after NBC had refused to allow two men to kiss (in the episode, the storyline is that NBC is refusing to air a same-sex kiss). Romance would come more slowly onscreen for Will and for Jack.

Will would finally get three serious boyfriends James (Taye Diggs), Matthew (Patrick Dempsey) and Vince (Bobby Cannavale).while Jack would have one longterm relationship with Stuart (Dave Foley). And maybe it can even be argued that the limited physical moments between two men on the show contrasted with Grace grinding against guest stars Gregory Hines, Woody Harrelson, Ed Burns, Corey Parker, Matt Damon or whomever helped underscore the inequality in the country?

Will & Grace was one of the finest Thursday night sitcoms NBC aired before it ended its golden age and good ratings.  Endorsing marriage equality, Vice President Joe Biden declared in May 16, 2012 on NBC's Meet The Press, "I think Will & Grace did more to educate the American public more than almost anything anybody has done so far.  People fear that which is different.  Now they're beginning to understand."  It made a mark as a comedy and it made a mark as history.

Since it ceased production, there's been only one real step forward.

The ABC sitcom Happy Endings ran for three seasons and Adam Pally's Max was a real breakthrough. The show was hilarious, Max was not a stereotype, he had physical scenes with men he was attracted to and he was given some very interesting boyfriends (such as Grant played by James Wolk).

But that was it.  That was the only step forward after Will & Grace went off the air.

Modern Family's Cam and Mitchell?  The two non-sexual gays?

'But they're married!'

So are Claire and Phil and that doesn't stop all their sex story lines.  Equally true, Phil and Claire aren't always insulting each other the way Mitchell always insults Cam.  Clair and Phil seem like they're married while Cam and Mitchell are played as a long running gag.

"Well, to be indelicate, Cam is overweight."

And only skinny people have sex?  And the leads in Molly & Mike are what, heroin chic, anorexic?

In the fall of last year, two networks had a chance to step forward.

NBC went with The New Normal.

Politics killed the show.

No, not 'gay' politics.  The politics of hatred, the politics of elitism, the politics of never-shut-up.  Ellen Barkin's hateful Tweets overshadowed the series.  The country didn't need to know what a second banana in a sitcom thought of every piece of legislation or statement by a Republican member of Congress 'really meant.'  It was bad enough that Barkin's character was dragging down the show -- her scenes were always the weakest moments of any episode -- there was also her never-ending attacks on Republicans.

Barkin's Tweets meant you couldn't enjoy the show.  The attacks on her conservative character (Jane) from other characters might have seemed funny exchanges but with Barkin's endless Tweets against Republicans, it just seemed like a never ending attack.

As MSNBC's ratings demonstrate, politics doesn't pull in a lot of viewers.

And that's too bad because Andrew Rannells (Bryan) and Justin Bartha (David) had real chemistry onscreen, NeNe Leakes was amazing and Georgia King's Goldie got better with each episode.

While Barkin personally destroyed everyone's chances and turned The New Normal into a one season sitcom, CBS did far worse.  In fact, we're still surprised by the homophobia CBS got away with and gets away with.

Partners was a very funny sitcom that CBS axed after six episode.  The show, created by Will & Grace's creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, starred Michael Urie and David Krumholtz as two best friends and business partners with Brandon Routh and Sophia Bush as their significant others.  As the issue of marriage equality was set to bubble up, the already panicky CBS axed the show.

And apparently we're the only two people in the world who're going to object?

Just like we have some special power we didn't know about but that allows us to see Kalinda, the lesbian character on The Good Wife, has transitioned beyond bi into straight.  It happened last season and ir's taking place again this season. Why is it that Kalinda can no longer be gay?  And hadn't we finally gotten beyond the nervous twitches of Dynasty?  Hadn't we finally gotten to the point when networks could accept gay characters as easily as the audiences could?

No, we're not there.

Thursday night proved it.

Sean Hayes, an actor who played a break through gay character on Will & Grace, is back on NBC with Sean Saves The World where he plays a gay father.  Almost everything about the show is finally starting to gel (if you've watched, you know which actor is not working). But the show's also making no sense.  Sean was lonely and horny for several episodes.  When he finally got a date, he was worried about his daughter and blew the date.

That makes sense.  We can follow that.

What we can't follow is the most recent episode.

There's a mole at work feeding info to the former owner Andrew played by Craig Ferguson.  Sean, it turns out, slept with Andrew when Andrew still owned the company.  Sean's always feared that he only got a promotion because he slept with Andrew.  So Sean goes to visit Andrew to find out who the mole is and why he got the promotion.

Andrew is still attracted to Sean.

Why didn't Sean sleep with him?

We're not even asking for an onscreen bedroom scene.

We're just noting that here was an attractive man that Sean was attracted to who wanted to sleep with him and Sean passed up the chance.

The man's no longer Sean's boss and one episode after another has portrayed Sean as horny and lonely so along comes an ex willing to sleep with him and Sean says no?

Again, we didn't need a bed scene, we didn't even need it to be a love story.  Sean tip-toeing out of the bedroom could have been hilarious. Is Sean a real character or is he just The Dick Van Dyke Show's Sally Rogers in male drag?

We were also confused by Scandal.  Jack Coleman has a recurring role on the program as the husband of US Vice President Sally Langston. It turns out that the character Daniel Douglas Langston is on the down low.  It also turns out that the years have slimmed Coleman down a bit but, more importantly, he's beefed up on the acting chops.

Dan Bucatinsky plays James Novak who's married to White House Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry). Cyrus has discovered Sally Langston is planning to drop off the re-election ticket and run against President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) in a third party bid.  Cyrus and First Lady Mellie  Grant (Bellamy Young) have decided the best way to end that run and get Sally back on the ticket is to catch her husband Daniel Douglas in an affair.

So while Cyrus arranges for James to interview Daniel Douglas at the vice president's residence while Sally is in Iowa, Mellie tells Daniel Douglas that James is in an open marriage.

The whole point was to get photos.

They get photos.  But that's our problem.

Daniel Douglas believes James is interested in him and grabs him to kiss him.


In what world is that realistic as a kiss?

If you're going to pull someone to you -- as Daniel Douglas clearly wants to do -- you grab them.  Not by the head.  You grab them by the back or, most likely, by the butt and pull them into you.

This was the most awkwardly staged kiss we'd seen in some time suggesting that, on the set of Scandal, the big concern was where hands didn't go.

Did someone create a new rule?  The one-foot-on-the-floor-at-all-times appears to have been replaced with no-hands-below-the-neck-and-shoulders.

And that's really too bad.  In both cases, out gay men were involved.  Though in the closet throughout Will & Grace, Sean Hayes came out after.  And Dan Bucatinsky?  He's one of  two out gay men on Scandal (the other is Guillermo Diaz who plays Huck).  And you can see that as progress.  But, as we watch CBS lead the charge backwards, we find the behavior by two other showrunners (Hayes and Shonda Rhimes) very disappointing.

Yes, we know.  There were photos Cyrus saw later on his cell phone -- James and Daniel Douglas shirtless.  Those were photos and Scandal's a TV show not a magazine.  We're also aware that some will insist, "They have a gay couple with a child on this show!"  Yes, they do.  All the more reason for the show to be a leader.


Ava and C.I. note added 1:46 am PST 11-25-2013.  Ty told us that the e-mails include a number who feel Modern Family does a great job with gay portrayals.  We disagree.  For reasons outlined in this piece as well as for the 'gay men and lesbians hate each other' nonsense -- which rips off Jack McFarland's dislike like for lesbians (in Will & Grace) and tries to turn it into a war among all gay men and all lesbians.  But to ensure that Ty is not dealing with this issue all week, the opening sentence has been changed.  It did read, "This fall, Thursday night is the one night of broadcast TV that acknowledges there are gay Americans."  We have inserted "really" into the sentence so that it now reads, "This fall, Thursday night is  the one night of broadcast TV that really acknowledges there are gay Americans."  We hope that helps.

Why teenyboppers are tossed into no-comeback hell

Pay attention, Justin Bieber, you're almost at the end of your career.

And when that happens, when you've finally run off all but a few hundred dedicated fans, you'll have the choice of exploring obscurity or desperate bids at a comeback.

Jordan Knight has chosen the path of desperation.

Knight was once a piece of meat who was packaged with four other slices into the 'group' New Kids On The Block.  The group hit the top ten in 1988 with "Please Don't Go Girl" and would go on to rake up three number one singles but, by 1994, the best they could do was number 66 with "Dirty Dawg."  The song was as ridiculous as the video -- neither of which would ever pass for sexy -- not with people who had actually had sex nor with even young kids who have just a vague idea of what sex is.

1988's Hangin' Tough would sell 8 million copies in the US alone, two studio albums later (not counting a Christmas album), they had to face the music when 1994's Face The Music couldn't even go gold.

The group got back together in 2008 for The Block which demonstrated that . . . they still can't even go gold -- an 'accomplishment' they repeated with 2013's 10.

And then there's Jordan Knight -- blasting from one reality show to another in a desperate bid for a comeback.

Reality, there is no comeback.  Maybe if he were gay (he's not) and came out, he could grab the spotlight.  Otherwise?  Pretty boy's getting a middle-aged man's frame.

Even worse, he has no idea what sexy is.

Knight's best chance at a comeback was with his first solo album, the only one of four albums to go gold.  The 1999 self-titled album featured the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced "Give It To You" -- Jam and Lewis know a thing or two about sexy (see especially the work of Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Janet Jackson) and they helped Jordan come off sexy and get a top ten hit.   The album also had a cover of Prince's "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" which squeaked into the top forty.  Maybe using a guy on backing vocals (Robin Thicke) wasn't the smartest thing to do when you were running around not just insisting you weren't gay but making clear how insulting you found that allegation to be?

Having run off most of his one-time fans who were gay with promotion for the first solo album, he had a dwindling audience for the three which followed.  And each one more desperate than the last.

2011's Unfinished may be the most desperate and most deranged a faded teeny bopper has ever come off.


At 41, Jordan attempts to play a pin up on the cover but comes off looking like a trick  displaying his package while he works the bus depot.  That might have worked if he'd been ten years younger.  It could have been sexy camp if he hadn't run off his gay following.

Instead it was just pathetic.

No where was that more clear than on "O-Face" which Jordan Knight co-wrote.

O-face is the term for your sex face.  And if there's anything less sexy than the lyrics to the song, it was Jordan's performance of it.

His attempts to sing the moans of his female partner sounded like geriatric sex, not like people in the midst of thrusting.  Long pauses, long, weak-ass moans.

The lyrics also failed because -- and only a teeny bopper with ego larger than a penis would ever make this mistake -- it was all about how turned on she was by him.  That's not a seduction, that's a boast.

And not a convincing one especially when Jordan sings:

Ice cubes between your lips, girl
Hot wax drippin' down 
That's when I know that I gotcha
I'm gonna' give you you're fix, girl

How stupid can you get?

Jordan Knight hit the charts in the eighties right when Madonna had just emerged as a hit maker.  She would explore sex repeatedly culminating with 1992's Erotica.  By the time that album's singles had finished their chart run (1993 with "Rain"), Madonna would have achieved 29 top 40 hits -- ten of which went to number one.  And Jordan Knight tries to copy from Madonna.

But instead of copying her successful portrayal of sex in music recordings, he goes for her filmography, specifically 1993's lousy Body of Evidence.

Ice cubes and dripping candles?

Poor Jordan Knight.  He's clearly never been laid right.

Well, maybe that's good?

Maybe he'll get caught with a cock in his mouth yet?

That remains his only hope of a musical comeback.

If Barack were gay . . .

If Barack were gay and out of the closet?  We'd get far less e-mails insisting the president sexually harassed Kal Penn.  (30 last week alone, all insisting we were part of a cover up by refusing to note this alleged harassment.)

We'd never heard the rumors that Barack sexually harassed Penn (or anyone else) and don't tend to believe them.

But the gay rumors have dogged Barack forever and a day.

Those rumors are many and include:

* He was sexually involved with his college roommate Mohammed Hasan Chandoo.

* He sought sex with men in a Chicago bathhouse.

* He was sexually involved with Larry Sinclair.

* He was sexually involved with Rahm Emanuel.

* Reggie Love really earned the title "body man" in his relationship with Barack.

* Kal Penn was Barack's Marilyn Monroe.

What do you say to all that?

How about if Kal Penn was Barack's Marilyn Monroe, goodness is Barack a low-rent JFK, a pale copy.

The president of the United States can't do better than a pudgy, failed actor who is not this century's Monroe but its Vampira?

Who could stomach the O-face above?

Kal Penn on the down low would not surprise us one bit but that Barack would get with that?

Talk about White House Down!  Talk about Olympus Has Fallen!

If Barack were to be involved with a man, we'd hope he'd have the taste and good fortune to be involved with someone who was actually sexy -- say Anderson Cooper, Jason Collins, BD Wong, Neil Patrick Harris, Dan Bucatinsky, Guillermo Diaz, Cheyenne Jackson,  Jai Rodriguez or, even better, he uses Air Force One to fly in George Michael and Ricky Martin on alternate weekends?

But Kal Penn?

What could be worse than sleeping with Kal Penn?

Barack being in a three-way with Leslie Jordan and Harvey Fierstein?

Actually, if Barack really were gay and trying to hide it, Kal Penn would be the best choice for a lover since the disgust factor would keep reporters from covering it.

One of the e-mails last week insisting we were part of the cover up ended declaring, "In 20 years, when it finally comes out, you and everyone else will have egg on your face!"

Actually, no.

Were Barack actually gay and to come out in twenty years, ten years, thirty years, tomorrow, the press would point to things like this.


Newsweek cover proclaiming "THE FIRST GAY PRESIDENT."  And they'd insist that little clues like that were always there if people just looked.

Like that cover . . . or this article.


Dumbest 'news' move of the week

Blame it on nostalgia?  Blame it on networks being too cheap and too lazy to break news?

ABC News, or ABC 'News," did a really lame thing.


Live blogging?

You're live blogging a fifty-year-old incident?

Worse, you're live blogging an assassination?

Live blogging is a joke to begin with.

If you're blogging, you're alive.

But live blogging a event from the past?

You should probably leave that sort thing to The Onion.

A few thoughts on JFK


50 years ago, President JFK was assassinated.  Here are some recent thoughts shared on the anniversary of his murder.

Former President Bill Clinton:

Because [JFK's] life was claimed too soon, in death he became…the symbol of the eternal future, the symbol of what we always have to become; that America was always going to be a country on the move, always becoming, always redefining itself. Not [without] political debates [and] fights, but always finding a way to find something we agreed on, something we should continue fighting on, and some way to keep moving together into tomorrow. And it will always remind me that our obligations now, no less than then, are to give our children and our grandchildren that future. We are going to share it; the question is what we will share. And that is ours to determine."

US Senator Patty Murray:

Like so many Americans I still vividly remember November 22nd, 1963. As an 8th grader in my small hometown of Bothell, Washington I still remember playing in our school’s marching band in front of a local elementary school when someone came in and whispered in the ear of our band director. He immediately stopped the song we were playing, asked us to pull out the music to God Bless America, and we began to play. Then there was an announcement that the President had been shot. It was stunning.
I also remember going home and seeing my mom do two things that she never did, watch TV all day and cry. For me, it was the day the world got bigger than the small town I lived in. And from that day on, the Kennedy legacy of service was talked about often in my house. Those conversations helped instill in all of my brothers and sisters the knowledge that we have to be part of the bigger world beyond our own home and that we should work where we could to make our school, our community, and the world a better place.
I think a lot of American families had similar experiences because I see it every day in the Kennedy legacy of service that lives on. From those who dedicate their time and energy to helping the most vulnerable, to those who strive to innovate for the next advancement in health or technology, to those who serve our nation in uniform as President Kennedy did, so much of the spirit of service for the greater good can be traced back to his words and deeds. I join with all Americans today in honoring his life and legacy.

Former Oval Office occupant Bully Boy Bush:

Today we remember a dark episode in our Nation's history, and we remember the leader whose life was cut short 50 years ago.
John F. Kennedy dedicated himself to public service, and his example moved Americans to do more for our country. He believed in the greatness of the United States and the righteousness of liberty, and he defended them.
On this solemn anniversary, Laura and I join our fellow citizens in honoring our 35th President.

US House Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay:

Friday, November 22, 1963 was just a regular day. Like most mornings, my sisters and I had jumped on the Delmar streetcar which took us to the St. Francis Xavier primary school in midtown. 
I was a second grader who loved school and was just getting excited about the bigger world around me. 
 About 1pm, our principal, Sister John the Baptist, came on the PA system to tell us the terrible news . . .  the President was dead, struck down by an assassin. 
School immediately dismissed, and my sisters and I took the streetcar home where my Mom was waiting. 
We were glued to the television and it was as if the whole world had stopped. 
Later that day, my Dad, former Congressman Bill Clay, came home. 
Back in 1963, he was an Alderman and he had recently been released from jail after leading the landmark Jefferson Bank protests which struck down segregation in St. Louis. 
At dinner that night, my Dad got up and excused himself from the table. That was the first time that I ever saw him cry. 
Fifty years have passed since that horrible trauma which changed every American who is old enough to remember it. 
 I could not know then, what I know now 
My Dad's tears were not just for the death of one good man, he cried for what we lost as a nation. President Kennedy inspired an entire generation of Americans to believe that public service was honorable and essential. I still carry those values with me every day. 
His death changed our country, altered the course of the 20th century and changed our world. 
But his sacrifice also planted the seeds that propelled President Lyndon Johnson to pass the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and much more. 
So while we remember all that we lost on that terrible day in Dallas, let us also give thanks for President Kennedy's incredible vision, his courage, his unbounded optimism and his belief that freedom and justice are worth fighting for. 
They still are.

Ellen Fitzpatrick, history professor, University of New Hampshire:

There were letters that were written to his widow [Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis]  after his death. She received some 1.5 million messages in the first year-and-a-half after his death. And there were letters from segregationists. There were letters whose -- from people who supported his stance on civil rights.
There were people who said they were looking forward to voting against him in 1964. There were people who thought he was equivalent to Lincoln, a great emancipator. But, across all of that spectrum, there was quite a uniform feeling that this was a terrible act, a terrible thing to have happened in the United States of America, and a real, absolute disgust, really, that such a terrible act of violence could have deprived this nation of its elected president.

Secretary of State John Kerry:

To this day, I have serious doubts that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.  I'm not sure if anybody else was involved -- I don’t go down that road with respect to the grassy-knoll theory and all that -- but I have serious questions about whether they got to the bottom of Lee Harvey Oswald’s time and influence from Cuba and Russia . . .  I  think he was inspired somewhere, by something.

Oliver Stone:

History is a struggle of the memory. But when the counter evidence is stifled, we are closer to a Soviet-era manufacturing of history in which the mainstream media deeply discredit our country and continue to demean our common sense. We must always question those who tell us what to think.

The President and CEO of Tejas Office Products, Inc, Lupe Fraga remembers the Houston event for Kennedy at the Rice Hotel the evening before the assassination:

It was 20 minutes that they were there with us, but it’s really one of the greatest 20 minutes of my life that I have ever experienced, So we waited and waited, and finally they came down. President Kennedy gave a 17-minute speech, just really had the people roaring and excited. This man, I remember the way that he could articulate and just speak to a group was fascinating. And then, Jackie speaks to the group in Spanish and that really got the floor rocking.

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