Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thomas Friedman's Silence and Suicide Attempt

"Silence & Suicide"? My husband Thomas Friedman calls his latest column "Silence & Suicide"? I thought we weren't supposed to talk publicly about his depression?

He swears that the news meds will help. They look a lot like the vitamins he used to insist I take. When he claimed I had a vitamin C deficiency.

While the silences are nothing new and come whenever reality intrudes in the fantasy world he lives in, one where he is a "great man," the suicide attempt was new.

It all started innocently enough. Thomas Friedman was having a night with "the boys," doing manly stuff. Todd S. Purdum wasn't able to make but he had a used jock strap delivered. The boys liked that.

The boys were Thomas Friedman, Nicky K, John Tierney and Juan Forero. Forero wasn't officially an op-ed writer but he wrote like he was. Besides, they need five for poker and Thomas Friedman wasn't inviting Davy Brooks after the sock incident.

I wasn't as overjoyed as Mrs. K. She was really excited about the prospect of getting Nicky out of the house. As she put it to me over the phone, "Betinna, I love him but when he starts that pouting . . ."

"You want to take a sledge hammer to his head and repeatedly bash his skull in?"

"No . . . "

"You want to string him from the ceiling, grab your tweezers and painfully remove every hair on his body?"

"No . . ."


"I want him to just go away."

I could relate. Sometimes, I'm looking around the apartment and thinking how much nicer it would be (and smell) without Thomas Friedman around or, sometimes when I'm in bed at night and his nose hairs are fluttering with each window shattering snore, I start thinking how much more comfortable the bed would be without his clammy feet and assorted "explosions" throughout the night. He always blames it on a "sour stomach."

So I could relate. And Mrs. K is such a good friend that it didn't bother me that I was having "the boys" over at our place. Mrs. K said next time they'd use her place but we both know Thomas Friedman has to hold court.

So there he was holding court. And at some point, after the boys were done playing with Todd S. Purdum's smelly jock strap which they enjoyed flinging at each other and then shrieking like little girls, when either Nicky K had a death wish or he just wanted to needle Thomas Friedman.

"You know who should be hear?" Nicky K asked grinning.

"Who? Richard W. Stevenson? He's off with Bumillie on an extreme Elite Fluff Patrol mission!" laughed Juan Forero with the laugh of a man who obviously rarely got to laugh and said with the edge of someone who has more often been the butt of jokes.

Little Juan.

Everyone, including Thomas Friedman, leaned in anticipating one of those raunchy jokes that Nicky K is so fond of when Mrs. K isn't around.

Enjoying a rare moment in the spotlight, Nicky K grinned before spitting out, "Davy Brooks!"

"Yeah," John Tierney said which was, not surpising from his writing, about as much as he could contribute to a conversation.

"Where is he?" Juan asked flaring his nostrils.

Thomas Friedman eye balled Nicky K but Nicky was too self-amused.

"He's not allowed here," Nicky laughed, laughed so hard he spit a little of the salsa. "He's not allowed here because Thomas Friedman saw him in a sock and felt threatened."

"He has big feet?" John Tierney asked, not surprisingly, in an oblivious manner.

"It wasn't on his feet!" Nicky K giggled. "It was on his appendage! An appendage that has reminded Thomas Friedman of all the cruel high school locker room days with catcalls of 'baldie' and 'shorty!'"

Thomas Friedman exploded. I don't think Juan Forero saw the saucer before it flew into his nose. Dishes were flying everywhere as Thomas Friedman, with amazing speed for such a large man, lept across the table and landed on Nicky K.

Nicky K wasn't laughing. He was screaming.

"Get this fat ass off me!" Nicky screamed.

"Fluffy!" Thomas Friedman snarled slamming Nicky K's head against the floor. "Fluffy ass! I have a fluffy ass!"

Then Thomas Friedman kept banging Nicky K's head against the floor with each repeat of fluffy.

John Tierney turned to me and asked, "Shouldn't we do something?"

That's about as action oriented as Mr. Passive gets apparently. But Juan Forero was no help either.

"Oh, no! I never get involved with situations like these! I don't even watch situations like these! Look, I'm turning my head! I'm looking the other way! Just like when I'm escorted around in Columbia!"

Realizing I was my own and anymore blows to the head might actually manage to do damage to Nicky K's brain, I took action.

Grabbing the portable phone, I stood a few yards away and began speaking into it, "Why yes, Mr. Keller, Thomas Friedman is here."

That got Thomas Friedman's attention as he continued his death grip on the neck of the eye bulging Nicky K.

"Keller!" Thomas Friedman said, practically cross-eyed in his anger.

"It's for you, Thomas Friedman," I said to him. "Bill Keller says he wants you back in the Sunday paper."

Thomas Friedman tossed his head back and cackled.

As he began swaggering to the phone, Nicky K attempted to catch his breath.

"Go, you idiot!" I hissed at Nicky K.

"Thomas Friedman speaking," Thomas Friedman said, his chest wide and full with self-importance. "What is it you have to say, Billy?"

"Move!" I yelled at everyone.

Grabbing Nicky K by the elbow, as though he were escorting a woman to a formal dinner, John Tierney began leading Nicky K to safety while Juan Forero covered his own eyes with both hands and stumbled towards the front door.

"Betinna!" Thomas Friedman bellowed. "I think Keller hung up on me!"

"Call him back," I said stalling for time. "I'm sure it was an accident."

As the three finally made it out the door, I thought of how I'd be the one picking up the chips, the broken dishes and scrubbing that blood off the carpet. The fun never ends at casa de Friedman.

"Betinna, there's no answer!"

Hearing the front door slam shut, I felt I could at least be honest.

"There was no call from Keller," I sighed. "I made it up to save you from a trial and jury."

"WHAT!!" Thomas Friedman hollered sweat dripping from his enraged face. "You have made me the laughing stock! In front of all my friends!"

Picking up broken glass, I muttered, "You don't need my help for that."

I forgot how fragile Thomas Friedman's ego was. He gasped. He shrieked. He put his palm to his forehead and left his mouth hanging wide open.

"I can take no more," Thomas Friedman said calmly as he reached for something near some broken glass.

For a moment I was worried but then I saw his fat, chubby fingers grab the strap of Todd S. Purdum's jock strap.

"I am going to kill myself!" Thomas Friedman shrieked and ran towards the bathroom clutching the jock strap to his mouth.

"Don't try to stop me, Betinna," Thomas Friedman cautioned.

Who had time to? Salsa on the walls, blood on the carpet, broken glass all around.

Four hours later, after cleaning the mess, I found him face down in the bathroom. Rolling him over, I took Todd's jock from his mouth and nose and Thomas Friedman began coughing and and coming around.

That was the big suicide attempt. And it was just days ago. So it struck me as very strange that he'd reference it in his latest column.

But as Mrs. K once put it, as delicately as possible, "Betinna, you are married to a severe drama queen."

That's putting it mildly.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Found in the paper

I found these in the paper. Not my husband's Thomas Friedman's paper because there's not much to read in that paper.

1) TV review
"TV Review: Threshold Surpasses the Audience's"

One definition of "threshold" is the point at which something is true or will take place. Another definition of the term is a beginning. We don't believe either applies to CBS' Threshold which airs Friday nights.

How can it be a beginning when it's so obviously recycling every TV show that's come before?

To clear things up at the outset, the show does not star Courtney Cox. Carla Gugino, the Wal-Mart version of Cox, stars in Threshold. We understand the confusion because she does sound a little like Courtney Cox and even looks a little like Cox on the first season of Friends when no one knew what to do with Monica's hair.

No one knows what to do with Gugino's hair either. We'd suggest washing it with a product that would strip away all the filmy buildup. Gugino, in 1996, lasted half a season on Spin City, it's debut season, and left under circumstances so sour that when the show began repeating during it's first season, she was stripped out of every episode her character Ashley had previously appeared in. Is it the hair?

We don't know. We know she wore it up, we know she wore it pulled back in a pony tail and we know she wore it loose in a "style" that appeared to be comb free because a comb-through would have taken out some of the stiffness from the overly generous application of hair spray. (They appear to use several "coats" of hair spray.)

The pilot was so bad that they reworked it before airing it. (Screeners of the original pilot are still in circulation.) What they haven't reworked thus far is "dirty head" which appears to be the look Gugino's promoting. She also promotes her breasts. Not just via plunging necklines but via an annoying habit she has of leaning forward and digging her upper arms into her chest to make the breasts pop out when she wants to ask a favor.

For instance, in one talking head scene, the following exchange occurs between Gugino and Peter Dinklage.

Gugino: Ramsey, I need to tap your expertise.

Dinklage: Oh I knew you would eventually. The answer is yes.

Gugino: Excuse me?

Dinklage: Women always come to me for sexual release like I'm some machine.

Gugino: I was referring to your language skills.

Dinklage: Your loss. How may I be your linguistic bee-o-tch.

The scene's offensive for many reasons. For instance, we wonder how anyone could forget the criticism that greeted Chevy Chase & Carrie Fisher's Under the Rainbow -- after which, you'd think trafficking in stereotypes about short people* would be something most would avoid. (Dinklage is four feet and seven inches.) But Gugino's Dr. Caffrey, who is supposed to lead the team and be the boss, really doesn't deserve that dialogue. Until you notice that for half the above lines, she's thrust out her chest and dug her upper arms in to frame those breasts. Gugino's obviously been studying acting with tutors Suzanne Sommers and Jennie Garth, but where did Dr. Caffrey graduate from -- Hooters Med?

In scene after scene she shows up with one plunging neckline after another (bra optional) and you're left to wonder exactly what sort of clothing strikes the doctor as "casual dress"?

Gugino's the "piece of ass." Just like she was in the failed Karen Cisco. She can't be anything else because she's unable to convincingly perform as anything other than a TGIF hostess. Where the dialogue and the scene would require Gugino to get angry, she smiles. As a beauty contestant, she might have a future (provided someone washes that hair). As an actress, Spin City may be all she's ever known for at this rate.

Not knowing anyone on the show, we worked the phone lines (The New York Times would call it "reporting") and here's some of what we learned. The show's already tanking in the ratings, CBS brass was reportedly never happy with the promised fixes to the pilot that they don't feel were added, the show's creator has lived in spec script hell and only recently emerged with a legitimate "credit." If you consider Average Joe a legitimate "credit" -- we don't.

One friend told us, "We thought we were getting the X-Files and ended up with Stargate." That wasn't intended as a compliment.

So what's the show about? We'll tell you quickly before the show's gone or retooled (both options are reportedly being seriously explored).

Each show begins with Gugino doing a voice over. She explains that she's in the field of worst case scenarios, but before you doze off, she's not working for State Farm. She works for the federal government and seems to have spent her time prior to the start of the fall season playing long games of what ifs? -- your tax dollars at work. On September 16th, she tells us, a naval carrier encountered an extra terrestrial. Now it's all changed and there's no time for musing or hair washing.

Gugino: They will strike any time, any place, anyone. Their goal? To turn us into them. But I have a plan to stop them. That plan is called Threshold.

Not exactly "Once upon a time there were three little girls who went to the police academy," is it? But they're currently stuck with the voice over because no one's watching and the show's structured in such a way that the opening scenes will rarely involve the regular cast members so they have to inform anyone who might happen by what the show is about.

There's hope that Brian Van Holt might be a "breakaway" star. Considering that Holt was perfect for the film House of Wax, we doubt that will happen due to his acting. The hopes are pinned on his looks and before you get too curious, let us advise you that Van Holt is a stockier, more square jawed version of Peter Berg (both are the same height) and Berg hasn't exactly sent most of America into a frenzy. But on this show, Van Holt passes for "eye candy."

So we've got piece of ass and sour eye candy. What else? Really nothing. Quirks don't make for characters and bad acting doesn't make for riveting TV. Charles S. Dutton glowers a lot. He's not used that much. It's a weaker version of the Morgan Freeman role in an Ashley Judd film.

The show tries to create excitement via really bad cross cutting. At one point, there's a device that will harm the entire city in Baltimore's subway. Gugino and a man under her try to disarm the device before it goes off while Van Holt and others chase down the guy who created the device, while Dutton screams for them to get out of there. Back and forth, back and forth.

Cross cutting, editing in fact, requires something more than "let's go check in on ___ who we haven't seen in a few seconds." You need a transition. That can come via a visual or an audio, but you need a reason to go from one location to the next.

Apparently the rules of reality TV are now infecting dramas and no one's benifitting.

Gugino's in a lot of scenes. Not all of them, but most of them. She's in the scene, for instance, where a guy won't talk so she threatens to send him to Guantanamo Bay and when he doesn't reply, orders the military to take him away. He cracks then.

Apparently someone finds that humorous.

They also, no doubt, find it humorous when an African-American is grabbed on the streets by two white guys and thrown into a van, then whisked off in the van and abused in the van. To make sure no one's offended, Threshold takes a page from the Bully Boy playbook and fronts a person of color to do the dirty work (in this case a guest star who happens to be both African-American and female -- Condi Rice, you have impacted society!).

There are other scenes that end, for instance, charmingly enough with the words, "Marines, take him away!" Or how about the opening interrogation scene where a person is speaking Korean (though Dutton says he doesn't know what the guy's speaking) and instead of providing a translator to explain that they're about to take a blood sample, they hold the guy and scream at him (in English)?

Dutton: Take it easy! I don't know what the hell you're saying but if you don't calm down right now, we'll just take a blood sample off the floor!

Not convinced by how offensive the show is yet? How about this, the Condi Rice? She's a cop. Her partner Blake was killed (she apparently checks his locker daily since his death) but she's convinced that the killer would get an easy deal/plea bargain. So she lists him as dead.

What does she do to him?

Let's let Condi tell it:

I figured if cargo pods were good enough for smuggling people, they were good for holding them.

This show is full of ugly people. Ugly to look at, ugly on the inside. Maybe it's supposed to be some larger statement on the current climate in this country? If so, it makes sense that "Condi" suffers no consequences for holding a prisoner in cargo pod down at the waterfront instead of taking him in, booking him and letting him have access to a lawyer or even a toilet.

Is that how ugly America is? We don't think the country's that bad. Call us optimists or maybe just note that we didn't make money off of making America look ugly via Average Joe. Reality TV is nothing but the guests of Jerry Springer kept around for a full season. So it's not surprising that Threshold, created by the Average Joe behind Average Joe, would attempt to portray one vile scene after another, without even grasping how ugly this whole thing is.

Maybe he missed the story of Mexicans dying in a trailer (cargo pod?) when they attempted to enter the country illegally? Or maybe Bragi F. Schut thinks that's "ripped from the headlines" and is too dense to grasp that when you take that approach, you need to have some clearly identified "do gooders" around. Law & Order can do the perp walk over and over (and over) because some viewers will buy the regulars as concerned with larger principles.

This show's only principle is the Alan Dershowitz inane "ticking time bomb" argument. In this case, the time bomb is a series of audio frequencies that aliens are using to take over the planet. (Which of course means America because people behind shows like this think the world begins and ends in the United States.) This "ticking time bomb" argument leads to, next week, jokes about bombing Miami. Are we getting how ugly this show is?

This isn't gallows humor, it's not developed or thought out enough for that. This is a weak premise that tries to combine several X-Files episodes and the mini-series and short lived television show V into one combo and tie Dershowitz around it. Honestly, he should get royalties for the DVD set that will no doubt be issued when the show is cancelled -- the real ticking time bomb everyone involved in this show should worry about.

If a theme's emerging so far this season, we suspect it may be "the public is a bunch of losers who can't be trusted." You can see that with Prison Break. On this show, you see it as well. You're told that the public (which would be you and us) can't be told of what is happening because they'd "panic." You're told, by Gugino, "Historically speaking, the public can't function in a crisis."

That justification doesn't work in an open society. But like Bully Boy, Gugino's happy to tie al Qaeda into anything. On this show, it's aliens. Instead of letting "Condi" know, at the end of the episode, that they've been going up against aliens, Gugino let's her think it was al Qaeda.

"Condi": I really underestimated al Qaeda. I mean I never dreamed guys living in caves could be so scientifically advanced. Inventing a weapon to turn us into maniacs?

Gugino: They may live in caves, bu they have the money and connections to buy what they need and the less they know about what we know the better our chances of stopping them.

Gugino's lying to "Condi." Fortunately, when Condi walks off with a "no one could have guessed" look on her face, another character explains Gugino lied -- explains to Gugino (!) because even the cast doesn't trust that the audience can follow her "acting" choices. Every line's delivered the same -- with her looking at the person she's speaking to in the same way. She's the Henry Kissenger of acting. No, she didn't bomb Cambodia, she's just stunk up two networks so far (ABC and now CBS).

Until CBS pulls the plug (or an Acting Crimes Tribunal is created), Threshold will be around for a bit more. Catch if it you want to see a very ugly view of America. An ugly view that's endorsed and encouraged. This isn't a critique of society, this is a "Yee-haw!" get on board, drink the Kool Aid production.

No one's reputation will emerge intact from this show. (Sorry, Dutton.) We wondered if we were missing something in the show. So we consulted self-described sci-fi friends who assured us this show was a dog with fleas and the mange. We watched two episodes Friday. Not once but several times. First, we watched them the normal way. Then we watched them with the sound off. Then we watched them with the audio on but not looking at the TV. We were hoping to find something, anything to suggest that this was a send-up or a critique.

It's not. This is Bragi F. Schut's view of the world. We're confused as to whether or not Schut has a relationship with the Alpine Group Inc. (out of New Jersey) but we're not surprised that he traffics in a show that promotes fear of the other, hysteria and disregard for rule of law. He established that as his "stock in trade" when he established his "credit" with Average Joe.

[*Note: We're not sure which term Dinklage uses to self-describe. We were told by two people that it's "short" so we've used "short people." Our apologies to anyone, including Dinklage, who uses or prefers another term.]
posted by Third Estate Sunday Review @ Sunday, October 09, 2005

2) News review

"The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-09-05"

C.I.: Welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-09-05. The news review is the brainchild of The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona and we do it in one hour time frame. This is rough transcript. We'll have reports on nature and the environment, entertainment news, a commentary on Bully Boy's latest chat buddy and news on what's happened to The Smurfs. I'm not kidding on that last item. This is a news review for the left. First up, Iraq. We begin with Mike of Mikey Likes It!

Mike: In Baghdad, a killing spree is taking place and Hala Jaber of The Sunday Times of London reports that speculation is the killings are linked to the Iraqi police force. The speculation is that "ethnic cleansing" is going on and that Sunnis in the Shi'ite neighborhoods, specifically Sunni men married to Shi'ite women are being killed. Claims of "insurgents" being targeted are weak when you consider that one of the men assassinated, Najah al-Rassam, worked for "interior ministry’s Maghaweer special police force." al-Rassam was pulled from his bed by the police, taken to the Badr Brigade for confirmation and then killed.

C.I.: To jump in here for a moment, the Badr Brigade is the paramilitary group of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. They've been accused, including by Allawi, of killing intelligent officers at the behest of Iran. While Saddam Hussein ruled Iran, the Badr Brigade was stationed in Iran, a composition of Iraqi exiles, but they returned to Iraq following the 2003 invasion. Along with the report you're addressing, they've also been accused of targeting British troops. How many Sunnis have been reported killed?

Mike: 22. And they were not turned over to their families. The 22 bodies were found in the desert, wrists still restrained by handcuffs, plastic and metal, or ropes. There are concerns that a civil war is emerging. The 22 men were all blindfolded and had been killed via gunshots. The bodies were dumped in the desert and that's something that should be concerned whenever reports come out of a newly discovered group of bodies. A total of 539 bodies have been found at present. The tensions come as Iraq prepares to vote on their constitutional referendum and measures are being imposed including curfews and border closings as the election approaches.

C.I.: Thank you, Mike. Now we go to Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix with further thoughts on the Iraqi Constitution.

Cedric: At Iraq Dispatches, Dahr Jamail has posted "Open Letter to Amnesty International on the Iraqi Constitution." In the letter, an Iraqi writes:

To hold the election, thousands of people were killed and the entire city ofFallujah was demolished. Now, what is needed to impose a constitution? A civil war?

Cedric (con't): The letter questions the assumption that a constitution is currently needed considering both the process under which it was written and the upcoming elections in the face of the current climatethat finds Iraq on what appears to be the brink of civil war. Will the constitution provide more than a photo op? How are Iraqis being helped by the push for the constitution? Also noted is an article from The Guardian, by Haifa Zangana, that attempts to remind people this constitution is being written in a war zone and is on imposed timeline that is coming from outside of Iraq. The article also notes that:

Just a few weeks ago, a highly significant judicial decision, comprising more than 130 pages, was handed down by the German Federal Administrative Court. With careful reasoning, the judges ruled that the assault launched by the United States and its allies against Iraq was a clear war of aggression that violated international law.The occupation itself constitutes the gravest violation of human rights and dignity. The legitimacy and autonomy of this government, installed and completely controlled by the US occupation forces after an illegal and illegitimate war of aggression, is not only challenged by a large part of the Iraqi population, but also by the international peace movement and international lawyers.

Cedric (con't): The constitution, if passed, will not provide Iraqis with any means to address the violations and war crimes that have taken place in Iraq under the occupation or by the occupying forces.

C.I.: Thank you, Cedric. The open letter is from the Brussels Tribunal which was one of the groups participating in this summer's World Tribunal on Iraq. The Brussels Tribunal also has addressed what the two British intel agents may have been doing in Basra when they captured last month. The two, attempting to pass for Arabs, were stopped by Basra police and found with weapons including explosives. That hasn't been addressed in the United States but in Scotland and other nations, it has made the news. More information on this can be found in "The Salvador Option exposed. Who's Blowing Up Iraq? New evidence shows that bombs are being planted by British in Basra" at the Brussels Tribunal Organization. Now we go to Jess of The Third Estate Sunday Review with an update on the unrelated threat announcement of last week, Operation Scare The Hell Out Of America.

Jess: Operation Scare The Hell Out Of America has not gone over as well as some might have hoped. The terror alert, which came just as Bully Boy began once again linking the occupation of Iraq with 9/11, is being questioned after unquestioning acceptance. Michael Weissenstein reports for the Associated Press of the alleged threat to NYC subways that "Almost as soon as the threat was made public, officials in Washington began talking it down, and Homeland Security still downplayed the threat Saturday." In D.C. the Washington Monument was closed for two hours on Friday due to an alleged bomb threat. After police searched and found nothing, the Washington Monument was reopened. Operation Scare The Hell Out of America has led to many stories being ignored such as the fact that the library group whose records are sought under the Patriot Act are still under gag order as a result of the Supreme Court denying their appeal. New opponents to the Patriot Act include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

C.I.: Jess, this comes as two bills are working their way through Congress.

Jess: Correct. A provision in the original Patriot Act, added due to concerns on the part of some lawmakers, would have certain aspects of the legislation sunset out. As the expiration date approaches, there is a push for renewal. In the House, the renewal of components that would otherwise be phased out would renew them for ten years. The Senate version would renew them for four years.

C.I.: Republican Bob Barr's group is favoring the Senate version as the lesser of the two evils.

Jess: I hadn't found anything on that. I did find that, no surprise, Alberto Gonzales is favoring the House version. Business groups now coming out against the Patriot Act have spoken of the fact that we are no longer under threat which may offer additional explanations for the launch of Operation Scare The Hell Out of America.

C.I.: Thank you, Jess. We now go to Elaine with commentary on Bully Boy's new chat buddy, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz.

Elaine: Scotland's The Herald delves further into the claim by Bully Boy George W. Bush that God speaks to him. Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Shaath asserts that in June of 2003, Bully Boy explained his conversations with the Lord Jesus Christ who speaks back or possibly, like Diane Keaton says in Love & Death, Bully Boy does "both parts"? William Tinning notes that Bully Boy claims: "God would tell me . . . George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan. And I did. And then God would tell me . . . George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq. And I did."
If Bully Boy is indeed hearing voices the two most likely explanations are as follows. One, William Kristol and Robert Kagan's gentle whispers have been mistaken by Bully Boy for the voice of God. Two, the strange behavior that's included numerous falls and stumbles that put the klutzy experiences of Gerald Ford to shame, despite little commentary from the press, and the psychosis claim of hearing God speak to him are signs of a serious illness that goes beyond the mere delusions many have abscribed to the Bully Boy.

C.I.: Elaine, there are people who feel that they get signs from various religious figures. What's the difference between that and what you're reporting on Bully Boy?

Elaine: Good question. It's not uncommon for people to look for or ask for a sign from above when they're making a decision. It can be a big decision or a small one. But that's not uncommon. It's not uncommon for someone to state that they feel the presence of a higher power around them. These issues go to faith and how one practices a faith. With Bully Boy, we're not hearing that. With him, we're hearing, from Shaath, that he speaks and then he hears the Lord speak back. That is not a sign, that is not feeling God around you. That is claiming that you, and apparently you alone, are speaking one on one with the Lord. That is psychosis. If it's true. Not just if Shaath is retelling what he was told accurately, but also if Bully Boy was being genuine -- always a big if. This is very serious and the press, in this country, hasn't given it the attention it deserves. Another take on it, one that Mike offered this week, at his site Mikey Likes It!, that Bully Boy's pushing the responsibility of the decisions he made off onto God. That's a likely explanation as well because, as a personality type, Bully Boy does not take responsibility for his actions. Nothing that happens has ever been his fault, in his mind, by his public statements. It's always someone else. The Not So Swift Floaties launch their attacks on John Kerry and Bully Boy acts as though he's not responsible. John McCain is targeted in 2000 and Bully Boy acts as though he's not responsible. He's arrested for a DUI and isn't honest about that while running for the United States Congress and years later will offer that he had to keep quiet because of his children, his children that, as you have pointed out, weren't even born then. There's nothing in the public record that speaks of personal accountability on his part. So it's hardly surprising that with him in a leadership role, we'd have the least accountable administration/government in recent history. The White House has denied that Bully Boy made the remarks about talking to God and God talking back. The domestic, mainstream press has not touched this story in any real manner. Possibly they're worried about offending people of faith. This isn't an issue of faith. This is a medical sympton and he needs to be asked on the record to explain or refute the remarks.

C.I.: Thank you Elaine. With entertainment news, we go to Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man. Betty, I understand that you suspect someone in the oval office has been checking out ABC's fall lineup?

Betty: Correct. The question to ask is: Has Condi Rice been watching Commander-in-Chief, ABC's drama starring Geena Davis as a vice-president who becomes president after the office holder dies? As she departs for a trip that will take her to Afghanistan and throughout Asia, the Sunday Times of London reports, via anonymice, that although Rice won't run for president, she is interested in the vice-presidential post. Always the handmaiden, never the leader. Saturday, playwright August Wilson was buried in Pittsburg which was both the setting for nine of Wilson's plays as well as the town he grew up in. Wilson, who had announced in August that he was suffering from terminal liver cancer, died October 2nd. As we noted in August, the African-American playwright's ten play cycle won much praise and many awards. In an e-mail, Common Ills community member Keesha asked that I note Ma Rainey's Black Bottom as a masterpiece of the 20th century. The TV channel Al-Jazeera has added TV veteran David Frost to their lineup and he will join them this spring.
Ted Koppel will be leaving Nightline at Thanksgiving and not, as assumed, on December 4th when his contract expires. Finally, I'll note that Jennifer Lopez is currently filming Bordertown in which she will play a reporter investigating the murders and disappearances of women in Juarez.

C.I.: Lopez's co-star in that is Antonio Banderas, correct?

Betty: Correct. This will be their first onscreen teaming. The role is thought to be a return to the sort of strong role that Lopez played in Out of Sight opposite George Clooney who, since I have a few more seconds, is planning to produce a live, TV version of Network, the seventies film that took a look at the television news industry and is famous for the phrase, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

C.I.: Thank you, Betty. More information on the murders in Juarez can be found at Eve Ensler's V-Day. V-Day has been shining a light on that issue for some time. We now go to Rebecca, of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, with news from the world of nature.

Rebecca: C.I., tracking the melting of the polar caps will be more difficult as a result of CryoSat crashing into the ocean. CryoSat was a $224 million satellite launced to measure the thickness of the polar caps but it never went into orbit and instead is believed to have crashed in the North Pole region, into the Lincoln Sea. Some reports express the belief that it came apart in space before crashing to the earth. Regardless, the tracking transmitter was not thought to be working. Meanwhile, Canada's CBC reports that outbreaks of bird flu have been found in Romania and Turkey.
Want to ride a camel in Australia? Take along a "poo bag." Australia's ABC reports that "the amount of camel dung" on Cable Beach has become an issue and "poo bags" are now required.
The think tank Worldwatch Institute, speaking at the 18th World Petroleum Congress, declared that fossil fuels were becoming a thing of the past and that the oil executives in attendance should ask themselves if they were "in the oil business or the energy business." In other energy news, America get ready to get your war on harder. Oil sands in the far noth of Canada are thought to contain "the equivalent of 1.7 trillion barrels of oil." Kevin G. Hall's report for Knight Ridder also notes that "Canada already quietly has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the United States' largest foreign supplier of crude oil and petroleum products."
The Independent of London's Geoffrey Lean reports that genetically modified crops pollute the ground for "up to fifteen years after" harvesting. Of the study and its impact, Lean notes, "Financed by GM companies and Margaret Beckett's Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the report effectively torpedoes the Government's strategy for introducing GM oilseed rape to this country."

C.I.: Thank you, Rebecca. For a grab bag of items not covered elsewhere, we go to The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava.

Ava: C.I., following up on Rebecca's look at the environment, I'll begin by noting that a mudslide is thought to have killed 1400 people in Guatemala. Mario Cruz, spokesman for the Fire Brigrade, has stated that there are no survivors. India, Pakistan and Afghanistan have been rocked by an earthquake that's thought to have killed 1800 people in Pakistan alone, with 300 people thought to be dead in India. With regards to Afghanistan, Scotland's Sunday Herald reports that: "Given the remoteness of so many communities it may take weeks to know the full death toll. " The Sunday Times of London has an excerpt from James Yee's book For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire. Yee, a Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, was falsely accused by the United States government of espionage, charges that were bandied about by various news outlets who assisted the government in smearing Yee. The book is his response and offers an inside look at conditions in Guantamao Bay. As noted by the International Federation of Journalists, workers at Canada's CBC have ended their fifty day walk-out and appear victorious in contract talks. Finally, what's happened to TV's The Smurfs since the animated cartoon stopped production of new episodes? Canada's The Windsor Star reports that, in a new cartoon put out by UNICEF, the village the animated cartoon characters reside in is destroyed by bombs dropped by war planes.

C.I.: Thank you, Ava for including the promised update on The Smurfs. The reason for the cartoon?

Ava: Unicef is attempting to raise awareness on the victims of bombings. The cartoon has already began airing in Belgium.

C.I.: Thank you. For our final report, on the world of music, we go to Kat of Kat's Corner (of The Common Ills). Kat?

Kat: This week, check your local listings, PBS will air a documentary on funk master and pioneer George Clinton on Independent Lens. Saturday's broadcast of The Laura Flanders Show featured a discussion on this documentary in the third hour. In other news, the Beastie Boys are denying rumors of a breakup. November 8th sees the release of the group's first hits collection entitled Solid Gold Hits. The Black Eyed Peas will be performing a free concert as part of Honda Civic Live that will take place October 22nd and 23rd. The Independent of London has a wide ranging interview with Carly Simon entitled "Carly Simon: Boho Queen" where Carly discusses breast cancer, meeting Mick Jagger, marriage to James Taylor, her current marriage to poet Jim Hart, and various other topics including Joni Mitchell. Carly's Moonlight Serenade is released in England Monday. Stevie Wonder, who played harmonica on "As Time Goes By" for Carly Simon's Coming Around Again, album not only has a new album coming out, as noted last week, entitled A Time To Love and due to be released October 18th, he's also discussing participating in a new surgery, involving microchips, that, if successful, would allow him to see. December 1st, Comedy Central's The Daily Show will feature it's first musical performance when the White Stripes come on to perform and be interviewed by Jon Stewart. Rolling Stone reports that Police guitarist Andy Summers is working on an autobiography to be entitled One Train Later. Rolling Stone also reports that a new concert film from Greenday will debut in select theaters at the start of November. On November 15, the film, entitled Bullet In A Bible, will be released on DVD.

C.I.: Thank you, Kat. And that wraps up The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review for 10-09-05. As always Jim and Dona, both of The Third Estate Sunday Review, worked behind the scenes to edit, research and keep things running smoothly. In addition thanks to Jess' parents who help with the research and to Dallas who hunts down links.

posted by Third Estate Sunday Review @ Sunday, October 09, 2005