What debuts tomorrow night? From The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Coming Up:"
This Wednesday, The New Adventures of Old Christine has its season debut during prime time's first half-hour. This is a popular show with many readers -- many of whom have written to note that Ava and C.I. have been documenting CBS' attempt to disown the program for some time. Ava and C.I. note that the Wednesday move is not unlike when CBS attempted to get rid of Murphy Brown and The Nanny. You can make it harder for CBS to get rid of the show you enjoy by watching it on its new day. (It transitioned over the summer -- airing on both Wednesdays and Mondays but with the fall season now underway, it will air on Wednesdays.) Ruth and Marcia both wrote about it last week and intend to do a heads up in their Tuesday night posts. Seeing those posts last week led many of you to ask that we somehow note the change so that everyone is aware. As Ruth and Marcia pointed out, sitcoms have seen the disappearance of the female lead. The New Adventures of Old Christine not only offers a female lead, it offers what may be the funniest network sitcom. We will note the new air date again next week in another format. [Click here for Ava and C.I.'s review of the show, and here, here, here and here for some more commentary by Ava and C.I. That's not all the commentary, just all we're linking to for this short feature.]
There really aren't a lot of shows that can get me in front of the TV. I'll watch something if I'm home. But to plan to watch something? I think I stopped doing that when I was about 14. With one exception: The New Adventures of Old Christine. If I have to, I will Tivo but I'd prefer not to because I rarely watch what I Tivo. So I'm just going to make a point to be front and center every Wednesday night for the first half-hour of prime time.
Now I'm not trying to be E! with all the show biz news; however, as a gay woman, it is sort of my beat to note when someone comes out and this is, in fact, from E! ("Clay Aiken Coming Out"):
Clay Aiken is joining the ranks of the out and proud.
The unlikely heartthrob, whose Southern gentlemanliness has made the young'uns love him and their moms want to pinch his cheeks, has revealed that he is gay in an upcoming cover story for People magazine, on newsstands Wednesday.
I wish I had something to add but I really don't know Clay Aiken. He's famous but I don't watch American Idol and I really don't know his songs. A lot of people do because I've never heard him sing but I know he's a singer. I think Maya Rudolph played a high schooler on Saturday Night Live who was in love with Clay Aiken because when I read his name, I can hear her character saying it.
Though I don't know his career, I do know he did a brave thing and, I think, the right thing. So congratulations to Clay.
I wish I could tell you some people that just knocked my socks off by coming out when I was a teenager. But they stayed in the closet and they're still in the closet. There are a number of African-American women, famous women, that everyone knows are gay but they don't come out. I can take pride in Clay's actions the same way I did in Melissa Etheridge and k.d. lange's. But, to be honest, I'm really disappointed in women of my own race. I can think of three who are like Rosie O'Donnell -- the whole world knows but they just will not come out. Rosie O'Donnell? I'm glad she came at and glad she did so without an arrest. However, it would have made more of an impression if she'd done it sooner and not after she ended her daytime talk show. Which reminds me, Ellen.
Ellen wasn't someone I liked or didn't like when she was in the closet. I'd watch her show if it came on while I was home (her sitcom on ABC). But when the coming out was coming, I think she handled it beautifully and I have a lot of respect for her.
By the way, I can think of a lot of African-American males, famous ones, who seem to think they're fooling people but everyone knows.
Clay Aiken I knew was a singer and I knew everyone thought he was gay but he probably could have stayed in the closet for a few more years. He could have deluded himself like Richard Chamberlian, for instance.
If that's harsh, I really don't have a great deal of respect for "My career is over and I probably only have ten or so years left of life so let me come out of the closet and try to restart my career."
And that will be my attitude when certain African-American women come out of the closet. It will be, "Oh, so your career's over and you need to get back in the papers?"
Clay could have coasted easily without coming out. So take a minute to respect what he did because it probably was scary. And he could have followed the lead of so many and just kept his mouth shut.
And, just to be clear, I'm sure all of his family and friends know. I think he was only closeted publicly. And it is a big thing and good for Clay.
Okay, so I've covered that and need to move on to politics, from Team Nader:
The Great $700 Billion Bailout
Feeding the Hand That Bit Us
Today’s headlines and news cycle are dominated by the $700 billion bailout proposal for Wall Street -- with taxpayer money. Make no mistake, this meltdown is genuinely serious and threatens a complete collapse of the U.S. economy without massive government intervention. But the question is, should the bailout, as the Bush Administration and others demand, be given without strings attached?
Yet media focuses its coverage narrowly on the urgency of rescuing Wall Street, reducing the questions of accountability and benefits for homeowners and other taxpayers to a perfunctory nuisance sidebar. In fact, corporate media is covering the consumer side of this bailout as if insisting on public accountability would be a threat to national survival.
Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson are demanding a blank check with no strings attached. $700 billion for the Wall Street crooks who recklessly spawned this near catastrophe, while taxpayers are essentially told they can “eat cake.” Worse, Bush is pulling out the same scare playbook that he used after 9/11 and in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq: Do as I say, ask no questions, and with no strings attached, or you will be blamed for the destruction of America. On both occasions, Congress caved.
Time will tell -- and quickly -- what Congress will do for this economic 9.11, caused by the very corporate predators and gutless politicians insisting on taxpayers footing the bill. But progressives and independent voters should not wait on Congress where both Democrats and Republicans drank the “deregulation” Kool-Aid.
This cabal of irresponsible politicians and predatory corporate executives want a taxpayer bailout without a public ownership stake in the companies they bailout, without a cap on the outrageously greedy executive compensation, without protection against massive foreclosures and homeownership loss -- without any benefits for Main Street.
We should be loud and quick to let Congress -- and the media, the equally irresponsible enablers of this failure of public trust -- know what we want from this seismic shift of taxpayer dollars as millions of people are losing their jobs and homes. If there were ever a time for the American people to stand up for their own interests, it’s now. If voters don’t make their voices heard and protest the grand theft about to take place in Washington, the next eight years may very well be like the Great Depression.
The Nader Team
And Ralph spoke with RTT News about the economic meltdown and Congress' urge for a quick fix:
"Every time they get stampeded, it's becoming a tradition, we have very bad consequences," Nader told RTTNews in an interview. "The Patriot Act, the war in Iraq, appropriations for the war … they just stampeded through $19 billion in loan guarantees for the nuclear industry," he said.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
JJ Sutherland: Sir, I understand that but I'[m saying, "What happens in October? I understand eventually you want to have them be plumbers or electricians. But in October, there are a lot of checkpoints that have been manned by the Sons of Iraq. Are those checkpoints all going to go away? Are they only going to be staffed by Iraqi police now? That's my question. It's not eventually, it's next month.
The process isn't going to change tomorrow. And it didn't change greatly during Vietnam. (1968 saw a shake up of the CO process and guidelines.) The peace movement of that period ended the draft and that is and was an important victory but the CO process is something that many members of Congress (at that time) would make sympathetic comments of but the issue was dropped. Following the end of the current illegal war, the peace movement would be smart to pursue this because the policy rarely changes in the midst of a war (of any war).
Religious faith is not necessary for CO status (though the military currently 'forgets' that and is allowed to get away with 'forgetting' it) but we're going to focus on that aspect due to the above ruling.
A counter-argument against CO status (and against war resistance) is, "You knew what you were signing up for." No, you didn't. You couldn't. And that is the story of the trials and testing of Jesus. You may think you do, but there is the abstract and there is the actual.
Stephen Fortunato was a CO during Vietnam and his case was not that different from Agustin's. Like Aguayo, Fortunato had an awakening and stopped carrying his weapon. (Agustin stopped carrying a loaded weapon.) Like Aguayo, Fortunato enlisted, he was not drafted. After his discharge, he attended Providence College and wrote a paper that was widely circulated at the time. In it, he noted:
I came to conscientious objection over a somewhat circuitous route -- via the Marine Corps. At the age of eighteen I freely enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, more out of a spirit of adolescent adventure than anything else, and certainly not because I thought freedom would be better preserved if the government stuck an M-1 in my hands.
With all the passion and exuberance of youth I became a trained killer. I went to classes where I learned how to rip a man's jugular vein out with my teeth. I growled like a tiger when I was told to growl like a tiger. (It would indeed by edifying for religious and educational leaders to see their flocks brandishing bayonets and yelping and grunting on command, like well-trained jungle beasts -- all for the preservation of Western civilization!)
I was told that the Ten Commandments, however worthy they might be in civilian life, had to be suspended in the name of national interest. I was greatly impressed to see that an act perpetrated by the enemy was ipso facto vicious and deceitful, whereas the self-same act perpetrated by the United States was just and praiseworthy.
For two years I did my reserve duty without questioning the purposes or the means of the armed forces. It remained for one of the cruder excesses of military training to wrench me from the spiritual doldrums.
[. . .]
My first break with the ways of the military was emotional and intuitive. The contradictions of war and war preparations became clear and self-evident. It did not become a rational creature to permit himself to be led in cries for destruction of human life; a truly free man would not support a totalitarian system to defend freedom; one cannot bring about peace by threatening to incinerate mankind. No, I came to believe that a free man preserves his freedom by acting freely and not by following those would would herd men into regiments or send people scurrying like moles into bomb shelters. Most important of all, the free man must remain free not to kill or to support killing.
[. . .]
I knew I had arrived at conscientious objection. I was opposed in body and soul to the organized, budgeted, and officially sanctified use of violence called war. I was opposed to the compulsory and regimented aberration from the laws of God and reason, called conscription. I could no longer, in conscience, bear arms.
What course of action was I to take? I had freely enlisted in the reserves. But how free was I? Our society conspires in favor of the armed camp set-up we now live in. At the age of eighteen, I had not once considered military service as confronting me with a moral decision. It is one of the more gruesome paradoxes of our time than in a free -- or supposedly so -- society the atmosphere of choice on such a crucial issue had been so stifled.
Again, in 1968 the military's CO policies were updated and while that can be seen as a small vicotry the problem then is the problem today: the written policy is not really followed. During times of peace, it generally is and we may back off from the issue as a result. But following the end of this current illegal war, a serious investigation by Congress into how the written policy was followed or ignored is needed. Many members of the peace movement advocate for expanding the written policy (I'm not opposed to that) but the reality is that the written policy is yet again not being followed and that many attempting CO status would earn it under the current policy (as is) if it were only followed.
The broadcasts of the presidential debates this year will reach 60 million or more Americans. The array of candidates running includes two former members of Congress--Libertarian Bob Barr and Green Cynthia McKinney--as well as me, but viewers will see only two choices: a Democrat and a Republican. The rest of us are not invited.
Few voters likely know that the debate sponsor, the Commission on Presidential Debates, was created in 1987 by the two parties. Don't be fooled by its claim that its goal is to provide "the best possible information to viewers and listeners." Its purpose is to give the parties cover when they bar other legitimate candidates from debating.
Team Nader notes:
Okay, time for action.
The first Presidential debate is Friday.
And we're getting stonewalled.
They won't let Ralph Nader into the Presidential debates.
So, here's what we're going to do. It's a two step process. Step one -- call Barack Obama. Tell Obama he should demand that Ralph Nader be included in the debates. And step two -- e-mail the Commission on Presidential Debates. And let them know you are onto their game. Here are the details.
Call Barack Obama at 866-675-2008.
Hit 6 to speak with a campaign volunteer.
Once connected, politely deliver the following message:
Hi, my name is ... I was wondering if Senator Obama, being a believer in equal opportunity and equal rights, could insist that Ralph Nader and other ballot qualified third party candidates be included in the upcoming Presidential debates? After all, Nader is on 45 state ballots. And he's polling well nationwide. And he could help Senator Obama challenge the corporate Republicans. True, Ralph would critique Senator Obama for his corporate ties also. But isn't that what democracy is about? Could you please leave this message for the campaign manager? Thank you.
E-mail Janet Brown, the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Here's a sample e-mail:
Dear Janet Brown: Greetings. You must be busy. Preparing for the first Presidential debate this Friday. So, I won't take much of your time. Just wanted to let you know that the American people were not born yesterday. We know the deal. Take that little private corporation that you run. Controlled by the two corporate parties. And funded by big business. For the purpose of excluding independent minded candidates. Friday, two Wall Street candidates are scheduled to be in the ring. Barack Obama and John McCain. The one candidate who represents the American people, Main Street, if you will, will be on the outside looking in. So, here's a simple request. Drop your exclusionary restrictions. And let Ralph Nader into the debates. It will be good for your conscience. Good for the American people. (I believe it was The League of Women Voters that called your corporatized debates "campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity, and honest answers to tough questions.") And good for democracy. Let the American people have a real debate for once. Main Street vs. Wall Street. Thank you. Signed your name.
Onward to November
The Nader Team
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