REVIEW: “The Iron Lady”

The Iron Lady feels like the best TV movie ever. In structure, length, content and technique, it feels much more like an excellent entry into the Masterpiece Theatre canon and a stand-alone feature film. If you go in expecting a sweeping, diaper-to-Depends biopic of Margaret Thatcher, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment; if you think it’ll be like The Queen, focusing on a single incident to illuminate a greater understanding of character, you don’t get that either. Rather, you’re treated to a performance by Meryl Streep so hypnotic that you are unaware you are watching a performance at all. Some roles draw attention to how complete they are; this one oddly doesn’t. It’s just Thatcher, through and through.

That’s reason enough to see the film, which is otherwise a disappointment. We first see Thatcher in her dotage, mistakable for a bag lady, as she drifts in and out of dementia: Forgetting she is no longer prime minister of Great Britain, thinking husband Denis (Jim Broadbent), long-dead, is still with her. But things — radio broadcasts, old suits, everything except a madeleine dipped in tea — trigger her recollections, in surprisingly linear fashion: Her early campaign for Parliament, her development from a shrill housewife in pearls to a deep-throated leader of the Right; her eventually ouster when her bullying reached intolerable proportions, even among her devoted followers.

But aside from broad statements about her beliefs and too many scenes of protestors attacking her limo to show her controversial nature, the film, directed by Phyllida Law (Mamma Mia), is thin on actual politics. In one scene, No. 10 Downing St. is firebombed, nearly killing Maggie and Denis. I recall nothing about this historically, but aside from showing it, the film never even tries to explain it: Was it the IRA or some other group? What exactly about Thatcher’s policies warranted this particular attack? The treatment of such matters is staggeringly superficial. (Her relationship with Reagan is barely mentioned.)

The Iron Lady does do a good job early on at portraying the then-prevailing political hierarchy of England as male-centric — a pond of fleshy-necked bullfrogs bloviating about how things need to be done. Maggie actually did things, not just talk about them, though you’ll learn more details of her politics watching Billy Elliot than this movie.

Still, the hype about Streep is deserved. She’s excellent playing Thatcher from 40s to 80s, showing her micro-managing habits that drove even her children crazy. It’s a sympathetic portrayal not because she’s so nice, but because she’s so human. Iron Lady? No, she was, at heart, still flesh and bone.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Margaret Whiting Dead at 86

JACK WRANGLER MARGARET WHITING X390 (FAIR) | ADVOCATE.COMMargaret Whiting, the big-band singer who was married to gay porn star
Jack Wrangler from 1994 until his death in 2009, passed away Monday at
the Lillian Booth Actors’ Home in Englewood, N.J. She was 86. 
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Department of Justice Appeals Judge’s Order That Lesbian Nurse Margaret Witt, Discharged Under DADT, Be Reinstated

The Department of Justice late this afternoon appealed a September ruling ordering the Air Force to reinstate lesbian flight nurse Margaret Witt, who was suspended in 2004, and ultimately discharged under the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.

The WaPo reports: Witt

"U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma ruled in September that Maj. Margaret Witt's dismissal under the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy violated her rights. Witt was suspended in 2004 and subsequently discharged after the Air Force learned she had been in a long-term relationship with a civilian woman. She sued to get her job back. The Justice Department filed the appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, the deadline for doing so. The government is also appealing a ruling from a federal judge in California that found the "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional."

The government, however, did not ask the court to stay the decision, suggesting that Witt may serve during the appeal.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs released the following statement:

“Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in a case involving a legal challenge to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, as the Department traditionally does when acts of Congress have been held unconstitutional.  This filing in no way diminishes the President’s — and his Administration’s — firm commitment to achieving a legislative repeal of DADT this year.  Indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy.  In recent weeks, the President and other Administration officials have been working with the Senate to move forward with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, including a repeal of DADT, during the lame duck.”


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

DOJ will appeal decision in Major Margaret Witt’s DADT case

Remember yesterday how Assistant Attorney General Tony West told reporters how hard it was for the Obama administration to defend DADT and DOMA in the courts? Yeah, right.

On September 24, 2010
, Federal District Court Judge Ronald Leighton ruled that Major Margaret Witt’s discharge under DADT was unconstitutional. Leighton “started breaking up and was in tears” as he announced that Witt won her case against DADT and must be reinstated into the military. At the time, I wrote:

Now, we have to wait to see if the Department of Justice will appeal this case, too.

Well, guess what? Today, DOJ took the first step to appeal the decision that reinstated Major Margaret Will. Igor Volsky has the details:

Moments ago, the Justice Department appealed a federal district court ruling reinstating Air Force Major Margaret Witt after she was discharged from the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But the government did not ask the court to stay the decision — suggesting that Witt will be able to serve in the Air Force through the duration of the appeal process.

How magnanimous of DOJ to allow her to serve.

No wonder we’re disappointed and disillusioned. (And, we are.) This appeal, aimed at Major Witt, seems particularly shameful.

UPDATE: This lame-ass statement from Robert Gibbs doesn’t help:

“Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in a case involving a legal challenge to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, as the Department traditionally does when acts of Congress have been held unconstitutional. This filing in no way diminishes the President’s — and his Administration’s — firm commitment to achieving a legislative repeal of DADT this year. Indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy. In recent weeks, the President and other Administration officials have been working with the Senate to move forward with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, including a repeal of DADT, during the lame duck.”

First, let’s be clear: despite the constant assertions to the contrary, DOJ did not have to file this appeal.

The filing further diminishes the President’s credibility with the LGBT community. He really better get that Defense bill with the DADT language passed during the lame duck. He promised. Repeatedly.

Witt Notice of Appeal




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

DOJ Will Appeal DADT Reinstatement Of USAF Major Margaret Witt

The Department of Justice has filed a brief announcing their intent to appeal the reinstatement of Major Margaret Witt, whose DADT-related discharge was overturned by a federal court in September. Chris Geidner reports at Metro Weekly:

With today’s filing, DOJ stated in a docketing statement required to be filed with the Notice of Appeal that the principal issue to be raised on appeal is: “Whether plaintiff’s discharge pursuant to 10 U.S.C 654 and its implementing regulations was constitutional and whether plaintiff should have been ordered reinstated to the military, subject to meeting applicable requirements respecting qualifications for continued service.”

Geidner adds that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs took note of today’s action by the DOJ and cautioned, “This filing in no way diminishes the President’s — and his Administration’s — firm commitment to achieving a legislative repeal of DADT this year. Indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy.”

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

BREAKING: Margaret Witt won her DADT case. Must be allowed to serve in Air Force.

Great news, which is just breaking:

Federal district court judge Ronald Leighton has ruled that ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ — when applied to Major Margaret Witt — violated her rights. He says she should be allowed back in Air Force.

Leighton started breaking up and was in tears as he said that the love and support of family continued to be the best thing that came out of the case, said KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Kevin McCarty.

Yes, her discharge is unconstitutional. We’ll have more details later.

Here’s an update @ 5:20 PM:

Spokane resident Margaret Witt can be reinstated in the Air Force Reserves despite the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy on homosexuals in the military, a federal judge ruled today.

U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Leighton ruled that Witt’s constitutional protections, and evidence that her unit did not suffer any loss of morale until she was discharged for being a lesbian, trump the general reasons set down by Congress for that policy

She should be restored to her position as flight nurse . .. as soon as practical,” Leighton said.

UPDATE @ 5:29 PM: Statement from SU’s Alex Nicholson:

“Yet another judge has taken yet another righteous, historic, and courageous stand against a discriminatory and unconstitutional law. Major Witt’s case is a clear-cut one in which her discharge itself actually harmed unit cohesion, morale, and combat readiness.”

Now, we have to wait to see if the Department of Justice will appeal this case, too.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Judge rules DADT discharge of Major Margaret Witt unconstitutional – she must be reinstated

AP:

A federal judge says the Air Force violated the constitutional rights of a highly decorated flight nurse when it discharged her for being gay, and ordered that she be given her job back as soon as possible.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton issued his highly anticipated ruling Friday in the case of former Maj. Margaret Witt. She was discharged under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays serving in the military and sued to get her job back.

In 2008, a federal appeals court panel ruled in her case that the military can’t discharge people for being gay unless it proves their firing furthered military goals.

After a six-day trial, the judge said testimony proved Witt was an outstanding nurse and her reinstatement would do nothing to hurt unit morale.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

DADT WIN: Federal Judge Orders Reinstatement Of Major Margaret Witt

In another win in the battle to overturn DADT, late this afternoon a federal court ordered the reinstatement of Air Force Major Margaret Witt, who was suspended just before her retirement date in 2004 after her superiors learned she is a lesbian. Today’s decision only applies to Major Witt’s case.

A federal judge ruled Friday that a decorated flight nurse discharged from the Air Force for being gay should be given her job back as soon as possible in the latest legal setback to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The decision by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton came in a closely watched case as a tense debate has been playing out over the policy. Senate Republicans blocked an effort to lift the ban this week, but two federal judges have ruled against the policy in recent weeks. Maj. Margaret Witt was discharged under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and sued to get her job back. A judge in 2006 rejected Witt’s claims that the Air Force violated her rights when it fired her. An appeals court panel overruled him two years later, leaving it to Leighton to determine whether her firing met that standard.

Witt was represented by the ACLU. Read the decision here (PDF.) Reactions to the decision are below.

Human Rights Campaign

“By reinstating Major Witt, a decorated Air Force nurse discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ another federal court has demonstrated once again that this discriminatory law does not contribute to our nation’s security or defense,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Had Major Witt been discharged in any other circuit in the country, she would not had her day in court. It is time for Congress and the Administration to recognize that his failed law should be removed from the books once and for all.”

Servicemembers United

“Yet another judge has taken yet another righteous, historic, and courageous stand against a discriminatory and unconstitutional law,” said Alexander Nicholson, founder and Executive Director of Servicemembers United. “Major Witt’s case is a clear-cut one in which her discharge itself actually harmed unit cohesion, morale, and combat readiness.” This legal victory against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law is the second this month, with a judge in Riverside, California previously declaring the entire “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law unconstitutional in a facial challenge to the law brought by the Log Cabin Republicans. Major Witt’s victory will apply only to her own discharge, but the precedent set with this decision and the previous appellate court ruling in this case on the standard to be used in deciding on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discharges all contribute to a significant shift in how courts appear to be viewing and treating the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

More reactions will be added to this post as they arrive.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

News: Margaret Witt, R.E.M., Harry Shum, Volcano, Harry Reid

Road Judge to rule Friday in Margaret Witt DADT case: "A lawyer for a decorated flight nurse discharged for being gay urged a federal judge Tuesday to reinstate her to the Air Force Reserve, and the judge indicated he might have no other choice."

Outnyc RoadWindows of NYC's new gay urban 42nd street resort will spell "OUT".

RoadHooray for Hillary's hair clip.

Road Glenn Beck calls Colbert/Stewart rally a "progressive plot": "They are going to activate the youth to try to get them to vote with the labor unions apparently."

RoadLog Cabin Republicans to give awards to Senators John Cornyn and Jeff Sessions: "Neither Cornyn nor Sessions are in favor of same-sex marriage or repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' both of which the Log Cabin Republicans support. But last week, Cornyn defended his scheduled appearance at the reception, after the president of a social conservative group urged Cornyn to cancel."


Kluchevskoy RoadVolcano on Russia's Kamchatka peninsula gets active.

RoadJackson High School students "generally showed sensitivity" on 'Opposite Gender Day': "They said members of the group were split on whether the day was a good idea, and some of them raised concerns beforehand."

RoadListen: Adam Lambert discusses attack on paparazzo.

RoadMLB Fanhouse columnist doesn't want to see men kissing on the kiss cam: "I’m not ready to discuss same-sex relationships with my 3-year-old. I don’t think she’s ready, either."

RoadWatch: Glee teases Britney Spears episode.

Shum RoadGlee's Harry Shum gets set on fire – for art.

RoadHigh-priced hooker squeals on alleged affairs with David Beckham.

RoadGay Toronto man missing since September 6: "'We have contact almost every single day. He's like my little brother,' says Cloutier, who notes that Navaratnam has no family members in Canada. Navaratnam's brother in Dubai has not heard from him. Cloutier says there was one time, two years ago, when he didn't hear from Navaratnam for four days. When Navaratnam returned, the two friends made a pact: if they ever couldn't reach other after three days, they should be worried."

RoadR.E.M. finish new album.

RoadJim Burroway: Harry Reid botched the DADT vote on purpose. "This was never a serious attempt to pass legislation in the best interests of the American people. It was nothing but political theater, and everyone on both sides were eager actors in the drama."


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright