Monday, May 29, 2006

News Roundup

Good morning, it's Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2006. Here are a collection of news stories put together by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; Wally of The Daily Jot, Trina of Trina's Kitchen and Dallas.

Starting with the Iraq snapshot.

In Baghdad Sunday, Sheik Osama al-Jadaan and at least one of his bodyguards is dead as a result of an ambush. al-Jadaan had been seen by some as an ally with the US administration. al-Jadaan and the bodyguard were among the at least nine Iraqis who were killed on Sunday, roadside bombs continued to be a party of Iraqi daily life and another daily feature continued as at least ten more corpses were found in Baghdad. There have been sixty American military deaths for the month of May bringing the fatality count to 2464 since the illegal invasion in March of 2003. In addition to American military helicopter pilots are missing, the AFP reports, after the helicopter crashed on Saturday. In Baquba, a new feature to the occupation emerged as three severed heads were flung out of a moving vehicle. Near Baquba, Monday has already seen eleven die from a bombing, Reuters reports. This as the United States Pentagon believes their investigation into the apparent slaughter of civilians in Haditha is winding down -- the estimated 24 civilians died in November. United States House Representative John Mutha maintains that what happened in November is as important as apparent attempts to cover up the events and to stall an investigation into them. United States Senator John Warner has stated that the Senate Arms Committee, which he chairs, will hold a full investigation into "what happened . . . when it happened . . . what was the immediate reaction of the senior officers."

Meanwhile Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister, has failed to meet another one of his predicitions. He set a date for himself to establish his cabinet and he didn't meet it. He just managed to meet the constitutional deadline (May 22) for the cabinet but did so only by leaving posts vacant. Last week, he announced that he would be fill the vacant posts this weekend. Unless Iraq's having a three day weekend, he's again failed another of his own predicitions -- there remains no heads for the interior, defense and homeland security ministries.

This as Andy McSmith reports (Independent of London) that British troops in Iraq are now being attacked attacked sixty times a month since the start of the year, an increase of 26% since last year. This as the BBC reports that at least 1,000 British troops have deserted since the start of the illegal war.

In Indonesia, an earthquake on Saturday has now claimed the lives of at least 5115. Heavy rains are preventing some attempts at rescue. This as the Phillipines have been hit with an earthquake that measured 5.3 on the Richter scale -- no injuries or deaths are reported. The Indonesian earthquake was measured 6.2 on the Richter scale and the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) immediately went on alert with news of the quake.
Aid agencies, including the Indoensian Red Cross, began providing assistance on Saturday including foods; however, as noted earlier, heavy rains are preventing some attempts at rescue and relief. IPS reports that this is Indonesia's worst disaster since the tsunami in December 2004 and that doctors and medical supplies are in short supply. "The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is launching an emergency appeal for 12 million Swiss francs ($9.79 million USD/ €7.68 million) to support the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) in providing assistance to the survivors of the earthquake." As noted on KPFA's Evening News Sunday, people are sleeping in the streets as they await emergency assistance and the United States government has pledged 2.5 million dollars while the Euopean Union has pledged 3.8 million dollars.

In the United States, fire fighters have discovered the body of another victim of last fall's Hurricane Katrina "in the rear laundry room" of a New Orleans house they were searching. The current official count of those killed by Hurricane Katrina is 1577.

In Afghanistan, a demonstration was held following a traffic incident. The BBC reports that four died when a US convoy entered rush hour traffic. The AP reports that three humvees were involved on the US side and quotes eye witness Mohammad Wali, "The American convoy hit all the vehicles which were in their way. They didn't care about the civilians at all." At least four demonstrators have died, shot by "U.S. and Afghan security forces."

Meanwhile, as the situation on the ground in East Timor grows more dangerous and deadly, the United Nations is relocating UN family members and non-essential staff to Darwin Australia. Last week, East Timor handed over security duties to Australian forces following shootings, houses being set on fire and other violence. East Timor's president and prime minister are holding talks to discuss resolutions to the current situation while crowds have gathered outside the presidential palace calling for the resignation of the prime minister. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Screscent Socities trace the current wave of violence to March of this year and are attempting to assist over 25,000 displaced persons. The IFRCRSS's estimates that 50,000 have left their homes due to the current violence. As the violence continues Australia's Federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison has been quoted as saying,
"The United Nations, though, was the lead agency in all of this and the United Nations was, it had planned to pull out in a month's time. So I think really it's a question of the United Nations in this issue of whether people pulled out or not. It was the lead agency, not Australia." Peter Lewis reports that the New Zealand embassy in East Timor had to temporarily relocate the the Australian embassay due to threats from "armed thugs."

Yesterday, though the San Francisco Giants lost to the Colorado Rockies, Barry Bonds broke Babe Ruth's record for home runs. Bonds' 715 home runs now leaves him ahead of Ruth but behind Hank Aaron (755).

Though it seems long ago that Harriet Miers was in the running for the United States Supreme Court, those who remember the media coverage will remember Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht. The media friendly Hecht has received an admonishment from the Texas
Commission on Judicial Conduct for "improperly using his position" to promote Miers in an estimated "120 newspaper, TV and radio interviews" after he offered his services to the White House as some sort of go-to-guy for the media. Hecht is appealing the admonishment. In other United States governmental news, Feminist Wire Daily reports Brett Kavanaugh confirmation to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia "by a 57-36 vote." The Washington Post once described Kavanaugh as "a protege" of Kenneth Starr. In The Clinton Wars, Sidney Blumenthal recounts David Brock's statement that while watching the 1998 State of the Union address, Kavanaugh hissed "b*tch" at the TV when Hillary Clinton was shown onscreen. The co-author of the Starr Report now holds a lifetime seat on the court.

In news on the NSA warrantless, illegal spying on American citizens, Bully Boy is attempting to invoke the "state secrets privilege" to stop legal actions. The Center for Constitutional Rights Shayna Kadidal notes, "The Bush Administration is trying to crush a very strong case against domestic spying without any evidence or argument. This is a mysterious and undemocratic request, since the administration says the reason the court is being asked to drop the case is a secret. I think it's a clear choice: can the President tell the courts which cases they can rule on? If so, the courts will never be able to hold the President accountable for breaking the law. If the Executive Branch can secretly squash legal challenges to its conduct like this, then American democracy as we know it is in danger." The administration filed papers Friday arguing that "New York and Michigan to dismiss a pair of lawsuits filed over the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, saying litigating them would jeopardize state secrets." Also attempting to quash legal actions that might lead to further embarrasment is AT&T "which filed a 25-page legal brief" arguing that the Electronic Frontier Foundation's class action suit should be dismissed. The AT&T brief had contained redactions but a few simple computer steps allowed the redactions to be made visible. The brief does not confirm the existance of the secret room (reported on in Wired's "Whistle-Blower's Evidence, Uncut" and "AT&T's Implementation of NSA Spying on American Citizens, 31 December 2005") but argues that "'the same physical equipment could be utilized exclusively for other surveillance in full compliance with' the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."

In other news, Amnesty is launching to highlight "governments using the net to suppress dissent."

In Cannes, director Ken Loach has won the prestigious Palme d'Or for his film on Ireland's fight for independence from England -- The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Reuters reports "The 69-year-old film maker told Reuters in an interview earlier in the festival that the Irish fight for independence against an empire imposing its will on a foreign people had resonances with the US occupation of Iraq today."

Amy Goodman noted the scheduled topic for today's Democracy Now! (noted on Thursday's Democracy Now!):

On Monday, we bring you an exclusive interview with British Lieutenant Commander Steve Tatham, former head of the British Royal Navy's Media Operations in the Northern Arabian Gulf during the Iraq invasion. He’s author of Losing Arab Hearts and Minds.

In addition to being able to watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio, remember that you can listen, watch or read (transcripts) online at Democracy Now!

This morning on KPFK (time given is PST):

Uprising! --
Weekday Mornings from 8:00 to 9:00 am
Coming up on Uprising on Monday May 29th: A memorial day special with Stephen Kinzer on Overthrow : America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.

This evening on WBAI (time given is EST):

7:00-midnight: Building Bridges-Your Community and Labor Report
With Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash, a five-hour marathon special featuring Greg Palast's latest investigative book,
Armed Madhouse : Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.

Thought for the day from the Mamas and the Papas's "Too Late" (off the album The Papas & the Mamas) : "Cause when the mind that once was open shuts / And you knock on the door, nobody answers anymore/ When the love and trust has turned to dust/ When the mind that once was open shuts . . ." ("and no one can get in").

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Sunday, and because C.I.'s put off entries at The Common Ills (and because everyone pitched in), we're through way before usual (thought not as quickly as we'd like to be).

Highlights? We've got some and thank you everyone for allowing us to repost.

Blog Spotlight: Rebecca plays Judy Blume
Blog Spotlight: Mike on the mainstream's distortions of the immigration bill
Blog Spotlight: Bully Boy Press and Cedric's Big Mix team up for a joint entry on the Bully Boy
Music Spotlight: Kat reviews the Dixie Chicks' Taking The Long Way
Humor Spotlight: "Betinna" (Betty) on guess who -- "His Head Is Fat"
C.I. on The New York Times
Ruth's Public Radio Report
Blog Spotlight: Rebecca on watching Elijah and listening to Flashpoints
Humor Spotlight: Wally on why Bully Boy doesn't want to talk to Iran
Blog Spotlight: Mike on music
Blog Spotlight: Cedric on race
Blog Spotlight: Kat grabbing odds and ends
Blog Spotlight: Elaine weaves a tapestry

As the top highlight, when C.I. notes Maria's entry (probably tonight), we'll repost it here. In addition, there will be another post of new content later. (When? Shh, it's a secret.)

New content? Lolly-lolly-lolly, get your adverbs here!

"Editorial: The Reailities of Occupation" we like this editorial. We did it quickly and we did it at the end. Participating were the core six of us and Kat. (Kat stayed with us throughout, thank you, Kat, we know it was a long night and long morning.)

"TV commentary: About the women" Dona read this and said, "Not to be Michelle Phillips, but what are you really going to say?" Dona was referring to when Michelle heard the "Nobody's getting fat except Mama Cass" line of "Creeque Alley." That is what they're saying. Dona said, "Go for it, it blows me away." At which point, everyone still working, including Kat, demanded that Dona read it aloud -- damn the editorial and the hour, we had to hear it. We heard it. We love it. This is Ava and C.I.'s feature, they wrote it (they lived it) and we're proud to offer it here.

"Quick one: Why is Kagan not i.d.ed by the Washington Post" Please note, C.I. did not work on this feature, C.I. has not read this feature. C.I. does not intend to read this feature. If you are offended by it and wish to discuss it, you should avoid discussing it with C.I. Unlike a previous, similar article, it is clearly noted what C.I.'s involvement on this was (no involvement at all). Many who complained before ended up calling me, Jim. Feel free to call again. But C.I. had nothing to do with the writing, discussing or anything else. When Jess noted it was a critical article and what it was focused on, C.I. said, "I'm taking a break."

"Crapapedia: Kids don't use it to research papers!" Did we all eat our Wheaties? Apparently so. We spent hours and hours on this entry. (Ava and C.I. worked the phones along with all of us doing research through the public record.) Crapapedia is crap. We hate to agree with The New York Times but if those are the editorial standards, if that is what passes for fact checking, then Crapapedia needs to shut down because there are too many errors. And we only focused on music. (And only included about a third of what we could have cited.)

"Carly Simon's Christmas albums" That's the visual this week. It also goes with the above story, but we all love the music of Carly Simon.

"April Oliver got a fiancial settlement, whether Wikiepedia tells you it happened or not, It Happened" There was a tiny, organized e-mail campaign from the right. They don't know what happened. We tried to clue them (and our readers) in on what did happen. All the right-wing e-mails mentioned Wikiepedia and that's how we ended up focusing on the site for the other entry.

"Laura Flanders and Anthony Arnove discussed realities about Iraq Saturday on RadioNation with Laura Flanders" Did you listen Saturday? You should have.

"Radio highlights for Sunday (and one for Tuesday)" covers Flanders today, as well as some other programs you won't want to miss.

Except where otherwise noted, all entries were worked on by the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot.

We thank everyone and we thank for Dallas for his help with links and and with research.

We'll see you next week.

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

Editorial: The Reailities of Occupation

Italy says it will reduce the size of its military contingent in Iraq from 2,700 to 1,600 soldiers next month and end its military presence there by the end of the year.

AFP reports the above. Reueters notes the item below:

The Los Angeles Times reports investigators are expected to call for charges including murder, negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and filing a false report.
The newspaper says military investigators have concluded a dozen Marines wantonly killed unarmed civilians, including women and children after a comrade was killed by a roadside bomb.

Meanwhile, still stuck in the quagmire, you've got Bully Boy who, after years of ridiculing some as 'pre-9/11' thinkers, suddenly falls back on the Cold War and sees himself as the new Harry Truman. As Anthony Arnove and Laura Flanders noted on yesterday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders the occupation has led to the secretarian conflicts in Iraq.

And what does that mean on the ground? Reuters reports that today and yesterday it's meant, among other things, the discovery of six headless corpses near Kut, two Iraqi police officers dead from yet another roadside bomb, at least two dead civilians in Baghdad from a roadside bomb and "Hundreds of protesters marched through the city of Samawa [. . .] in protest against the deterioration in public services and demanding the resignation of its governor, witnesses said."

It's the ugly face of occupation. It's always been and will always be the ugly face of occupation. Democracy isn't, you do what we say, as we say with these people in charage as we approve.
But because there's an election farce or because there's an appearance that Iraqis were in charge of deciding the cabinet positions, a lot of people want to fool themselves.

Maybe it's easer to sleep walk through life?

If so, that's only true if you're in a non-combat zone and all of Iraq is a combat zone. That's the logic that allowed for attacking ambulances, for refusing to let docotrs in Falluja do their job, for refusing medical care and for 'starving out' certain people by refusing to allow foods to be brought into the perimeter.

That's the ugly face of occupation.

And a compliant mainstream media has allowed Americans to think that these non-reported things aren't happening -- also allowed them to think that, until recently, they were just traveling freely all over Iraq when, in fact, they've been captives of the Green Zone for months, for years. And armed fighting broke out in the Green Zone (the one safe place, at one point) last week.

All the big babies who are trying hard to keep their war ons wagging and standing at attention, whine that we can't leave like we did Saigon. At this rate, we won't have that option. There will be no last flights out because there will be no way to evacuate them as the occupation grows more violent and people resist more openly and in greater numbers.

That's reality. At some point, even the die hard believers in the Bully Boy, convinced he'll bring them lower taxes and eternal savings (if not salvation), may have to face that as well because it's getting a lot uglier than we're being told. (And hasn't that been true of every day in Iraq since the invasion?)

Reality is going to start coming home, regardless of whether Americans think they're ready for it or not.

From Raymond Whitaker's "The massacre and the Marines: US troops could face death penalty for what is seen as potentially the worst war crime since Iraqi invasion" (Independent of London):

US Marines could face the death penalty after one of their number took horrific photographs of a massacre in Iraq on his mobile phone, The Independent on Sunday has learned.
The photographs, seized by the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), show many victims shot at close range in the head and chest, execution-style, according to sources who have seen them. One image shows a mother and young child bent over on the floor as if in prayer. Both have been shot dead.
Similar photographs taken by a Marines intelligence team which arrived on the scene later show that soldiers "suffered a total breakdown in morality and leadership, with tragic results", according to a US official quoted by the Los Angeles Times yesterday.
The killing of more than 20 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha last November, first reported in the IoS two months ago, has become an international scandal after evidence from two official investigations was shown to Congressmen in the past 10 days. Democrat John Murtha, a former Marines colonel who has retained close links to the military despite his denunciation of the Iraq occupation, said Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood".

That's the reality of the occupation. The one to blame? Who started the illegal war? Who lied a nation into war? Bully Boy put troops over there and refused to face how the occupation was endagering the lives of every and anyone in Iraq. That's the reality of occupation and, if they are guilty as the press reports currently report, Bully Boy created them. Bully Boy sent them into Iraq. Like the drunk he claims no longer to be, he was an unfit 'father' to the children of America. Insteading of facing the reality of his actions, he wants to talk "long war" and now play Harry Truman.

We've had Barbie Dress Up As Farmer, and Barbie Dress Up As Military Pilot, and Barbarie Dress Up as Compassionate Conservative -- who knows what outfit he'll put on next?

It doesn't matter. He's failed repeatedly in every way a leader can fail. Those thinking 'a corner can be turned', whether they realize it or not, are putting their faith in the Bully Boy. After all the times he's been exposed and revealed, that may be one of the sickest things (stateside) about this war.

TV commentary: About the women

The sun's up and streaming across your face. You wake knowing things are going good. You've got a nice promotion that puts you among a very select few -- that takes care of professional life. And you're been thrilled to learn that you're pregnant -- that takes care of personal. Things just seem wonderful.

Then one day, you hear rumbles. Office rumors. They pop up all the time. They don't mean anything. Just something to fill the boredom, right? You're busy focused on your work, focused on your family. Then comes the meeting.

Everyone's acting a little strange. You're not sure what it's about but thankful that it has nothing to do with you. Right?

Not exactly. See, you're not fired, you're just demoted.


Well you'll be instructed to say publicly that with the pregnancy, you just aren't up to the duties required in your new position. You'll play along because the only thing worse than being demoted would be to be fired publicly. Besides, play along, and the promise is dangled that the guy (yeah, they went with a guy) who's grabbing your position will retire in a matter of years and maybe, just maybe, if you make nice, you can have your promotion back then.

So even though you've made comments, publicly, about how after the baby's born, you're going right back to work and, indeed, you'll be hitting the road for the job, you find yourself having to mouth words that really don't match up with you or anything you said before.

As you do that, most people just act like nothing big happened.

Doesn't it sound familiar?

It should. It's the story most didn't want tell last week. Argubably one of the biggest broadcast stories of the year. Why? Well it's sexism and it's against the law.

It was noted that ABC had stood behind Elizabeth Vargas originally but, with the tragedies Bob Woodruff experienced while attempting to report from Iraq, they seem to be weakening their show of support in the face of the news that she's pregnant. The word for that, as pointed out repeatedly, is "sexism." When a woman's job may be in jeopardy because she's pregnant, that's sexism. Family leave guidelines aside, her pregnancy has resulted in whispers of ABC's losing support for/interest in her as an anchor.

We (Ava and C.I.) wrote the above for "Katie Was a Cheerleader" (The Third Estate Sunday Review, April 16, 2006). We knew Vargas was being shoved out. E-mails came in during the week asking if we were going to update the topic? Or comment on the coverage?

We hadn't planned on it. Then friends started calling. Not all women, but all concerned about what happened and the rah-rah coverage of it that refused to seriously address what went down.

Elizabeth Vargas was promoted to co-anchor World News Tonight on ABC. She's now out of that position. No one seems to want to seriously address it in the coverage thus far. To focus on The New York Times, Wednesday Jaques Steinberg had a front page story entitled "ABC Rejects Dual Anchors In 2nd Shuffle" (continued inside on page two of the Business section). Now front page means something news wise. So we both read the article eagerly thinking Steinberg might address it. That didn't happen.

Steinbereg does note (on C2, not A1):

But in the end, Mr. Gibson not only got the job he sought last year, but he also got it alone, as Ms. Vargas was shunted to the sidelines. When she returns from her maternity leave in the fall, it will not be to "World News Tonight," but to the prime-time news program "20/20." Mr. Gibson said in a telephone interview yesterday that he was most comfortable, at least on an evening newscast, as a solo anchor. "I am not a particular fan of two people sitting next to each other in a studio," he said [Ava and C.I. note: Tell it to Diane, Charlie.] "It's a half-hour broadcast."

Gibson goes on to blather about Vargas' "joyous event . . . that affected us all."

Oh really, Charlie?

Yeah, it effected you. It got you a promotion. You went along with it. What does that say about you because we don't think it says "company man" or "team player" -- we think it says backstabber, we think it says hypocrite.

And if that's harsh, what we're hearing from friends ABC News is a lot harsher, a hell of a lot harsher.

They're bringing up the habit Gibson has of falling asleep on camera or pretending that a feed is lost when he doesn't want to address a topic a guest brings up.

Gibson, years ago, did a little news. Years ago. This isn't someone working their way up the chain. This is someone who willingly elected to turn their back on news and work in the entertainment division in some apparent desire to become the next David Hartman (with far less class, said one correspondent at ABC).

He's not just taking Elizabeth Vargas' job, he's also taking Bob Woodruff's. Let's deal with Woodruff first because we're also disgusted with the way Woodruff has been treated.

Woodruff was injured in the combat zone. ABC sent him there to cover Iraq. He was injured there and he's now lost his co-host seat at the anchor desk. Now, remember, we're talking about journalism here. But to us, that's a bit like someone being injured while serving in the military and returning stateside to find out that their employer doesn't want to hold their job but instead wants to give it to someone else.

He's injured on the job and ABC's answer is to give his job away publicly. It's rotten, it sucks and people at ABC News are very unhappy with the decision.

Now let's turn to Vargas. Steinberg, rightly, notes that the spin right now is spin. It is. She didn't want to leave -- everyone knows that, everyone whispers it. She was forced out because she's pregnant.

That's sexism and it's illegal:

Title VII was amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions.

No one wants to note that. Steinberg gets credit for noting that the current talk doesn't fit with the talk a few months back. But why the reluctance to call it what is which is discrimination?

Vargas got pregnant. She didn't lose her mental competency. She didn't prove she was unfit for the job. As she'd indicated publicly, prior to this decision being announced, she intended to return to work "soon" after the child was born (as Steinberg notes).

The average reader of Steinberg's story can grasp what happened. So why the reluctance to call it what it is?

When we learned the decision was going to be announced, we thought we'd take a pass on it because a) we'd noted the rumors last month and b) we really didn't want to get into it. We don't care for Gibson, we're not impressed with him and we never have been. So there was really no reason to write anything else on the matter.

But that was dependent upon the press doing their job. And they're apparently not going to do it. Steinberg, we'll give credit to. The article lines it up perfectly. But Vargas didn't go willingly and to stay silent when publicly the press has taken the attitude of: "Oh well, things happen, what you gonna' do . . ." -- we didn't see how we could do that (especially not in the face of the e-mails from community members and the phone calls from friends at ABC and another network).

So since we're all supposed to look the other way (again, credit to Steinberg for his article), you know we've got to speak up. We know it too.

So here's some of the talk at ABC News among the people who aren't pleased with the decision/discrimination:

* It was one thing to have Vargas and Woodruff come to the anchor desk with less qualifications than Peter Jennings because they're much yonger but Gibson elected to make his career nonsense.

* He won't be able to pull off the ratings without Diane Sawyer by his side.

* Good Morning America will probably benefit from a change in co-hosts (not anchors, they're hosts of a morning talk show) because Sawyer's more important to the viewers.

* Vargas is making a big mistake by playing nice. She won't sue. Everyone feels she won't. And that it's a mistake to to believe anything she was told when she was informed of the decision. Too many broken promise (to women especially, but to men as well) indicate that there's no second shot for Vargas. When Gibson's gone, she won't be considered for the slot and they'll have a new reason. Probably tell her that they need her on weekends.

* With this demotion, her career is over at ABC. She needs to find a new network. She needs to do it quick. She can get out of the current contract by asking ABC if they want her to go public with why she wants to leave the network.

* "This is such a slap in the face to Peter [Jennings.]" It is.

But as we noted in "Peter Jennings Reporter leaves a bad taste:"

Remember how viewers were left hanging as to whom Fox was speaking of that silenced him? Well now it's time for Jennings' report on little league baseball and child abuse. The clips highlighted in the montage, 3 minutes and 31 seconds, focus on a father, Chris, and a son, Jeremy. Their last name isn't provided in this special (it was in the original reporting that Jennings did). We see Chris threaten his son and we're told about abuse (Jennings confronts Chris on camera about his threats and Chris admits he beats his son). What does that segment call for?
If Jennings were around, from what all said on camera, we think it would call for an update. That was some time ago, the baseball special. But we're not given an update because not only do viewers not get to savor Jennings' reporting, they aren't treated to any real reporting from this special. (For the record, Jeremy just completed a season playing baseball for Hagerstown Community College and Chris has a listed phone number. We're having a hard time believing ABC News couldn't track down what we did and actually get one of them on camera for some sort of update.)
We think even the most optimistic viewer must have given up any hope of a "tribute" that honored what Jennings stood for (we're told constantly what he stood for -- interest in the world and in covering the news). Apparently no one left at ABC News is too concerned with what interested Jennings.
Which is why we now are firmly in the land of fluff with 1 minute and 14 seconds on Jennings' love of the Constitution and statements such as "Jazz was one of his thriving passions" and "He loved his kids."
Let's be really clear that Jennings' work and his goals weren't honored. Think Disney is displeased by that? Think again.
Bob Iger, president of The Walt Disney Company, comes on camera to complain that too much coverage "in the last few days" has been about Jennings' career -- don't worry Iger, no one will accuse Peter Jennings Reporter of being about his career. Or of honoring it.
[. . .]
Bob Iger made it clear what he wanted -- the person, not the career. That's what he got. So why call it Peter Jennings Reporter? Why the testimonials of people who continually stressed how interested Jennings was with the world, how important what made it on to the newscasts he anchored was? Because the news department wanted one special and the bosses wanted another. The news department fought to work in what they could (they're especially proud of the sequence on tobacco -- which includes a tobacco exec raving over how fair Jennings was, showing "all sides"). Management wanted what they saw as a two hour Oprah special.
The special demonstrated the continued conflict between the news departments and the bosses who see it all as another form of entertainment. And in this round, news lost. (Though people in the news department fought very hard.) We heard grumbles about some of the news "stars" included in the special but the message came down that the network wanted their own highlighted. Some stress to us that it's a miracle that two hours of prime time television was turned over to news. We'd agree with that if we'd actually seen any news.

What are we hoping to accomplish with this? Really nothing. Most readers of this site and members of The Common Ills community know what happened, they were clued in back in April. But we will note it and note that it's disgusting. We'll also offer Woodruff some advice -- leave the network. Woodruff's injuries speak to his dedication . . . to news people. ABC News is not being run by news people. (You could argue that is true of all the networks but more so ABC.) It's being run by entertainment people. Don't think that means Woodruff justs need to learn how to navigate a new channel or venue.

Entertainment people run from an injury -- run from anyone's injury or disease the same way they do from someone on a string of flops. Woodruff's tainted now with "bad luck." That's his "crime." As long as Iger and the entertainment squad call the shots, he'll be avoided like the plague. He'll hear from some that they'll fight for him (we're told he's already heard that) but they're not up against news people, they're up against entertainment people -- ten pounds of weight gain freaks them out and can result in a shunning so that they don't 'catch' the bad luck.

We're sure ABC corporate will deny this. They did on another item with a laughable cover story -- more damaging than the original event itself. And yes, we have still have the videotape. Like Simply Red, we'll keep holding on (to the tape).

So that's what happened, Elizabeth Vargas got pregant and ABC got nervous (we noted that the first week of April). As expected, they demoted her. Not because of ratings or because she couldn't do the job and certainly not because she wanted some down time, but because she was pregnant. We hear about "the Mommy wars" and there's a book put out by a magazine and an organization but they don't seem to want to address this. It's obvious what happened. It's obvious to everyone at ABC News.

So that's our first look at TV and women. This is a grab bag commentary.

Let's talk ER and Neela. While the left worked itself into a frenzy over a standup comic's routine, ER addressed the war -- not in one episode, but in many. And guess what? The right wing noticed. News Busters has clips from some episodes. They're frothing at the mouth over what went down. Also blowing her right wing lungs is Sister Toldjah -- who by the way carries an ad endorsing Condi Rice for president in 2008 which means she at least has some sense of humor, right? (Oh, she's serious? . . . . Okay.) She takes time out from being alarmed that Barbra Streisand called Bully Boy a "C student" long enough to let her right wing base know what's been going down on ER.

She notes this March episode:

Dr. Neela Rasgotra: My duty is to be a good doctor and to be a good wife, not to be brainwashed into falling in line with some pseudo-patriotic delusion.

And that when a woman declared "our loved ones are serving our country and it's a small price to pay," Neela responded, "I think it's a huge price to pay, especially under the circumstances. . . . Well, the way the whole thing's been handled, how we got into it, how it's been managed . . . I still haven't seen any weapons of mass destruction, have you?"

We noted that episode here. (And it was also noted at The Common Ills.)

So why is it that the left isn't there to offer support?

James Spader delivers a court room speech against the Patriot Act (Boston Legal) and he 'da man, he 'da bomb. Neela tackles the war in multi-epiosdes and the left's just not interested?

Another episode was noted on May 11th:

Tonight on ER, the war comes home (came home in some time zones where it's already aired). But Parminder Nagra's Dr. Neela Rasgotra was ignored last time when her comments on the war weren't as important as some flashy speech. I'm sure that there's some White male who did something on TV that will be deemed as more important.
Just like last time. This wasn't just a court room speech, this was a storyline that they worked very hard on. It's actually given the show life. And it's created a wonderful starting point for a dicussion if any viewers are still playing the Quiet Game or sitting on the fence. I know people involved so someone could argue that's why I continue to note the program; however, Ava and I both know people involved and when we did our review at the start of the fall season and we didn't pull any punches. ("Pull the plug!" isn't pulling punches.)
It does matter what the alternative weeklies cover. It does matter what we hear on the radio or see on TV. Ending the war doesn't come via secluded conversations with only our nearest and dearests. It comes by putting the war front and center.

Another episode was noted May 18th:

To, again, note ER, Parminder Nagra's Dr. Neela Rasgotra attended the funeral of her husband Michael, a doctor serving in Iraq. As Michael's father puffed out his chest and talked to some men (of course) about the "kind of boy I raised," the "mindset of a warrior" and sharing stories of Sitting Bull telling people "this it was a good day to die," Neela walked over, shoved Michael's medals at him and refused to take them back.
She informed him that, "To me all they mean is death [. . .] How dare you, how dare you stand there and say that. 'A good day to die'? [. . .] You could have kept him here. You could have saved him. But instead you made him want to go back. For what? Because there was something 'noble' in it? Why did you do that when it would have been just as easy to convince him to stay for a much better reason? Because we loved him. Because we loved him."
A powerful moment and one that addresses the cost of war beyond dollars and cents. But don't expect it to be noted. This has been an ongoing story on ER as Neela has been vocal about being against the war. That's not been noted. It wasn't noted in the episode when she was informed Michael died. There's always some White Male to praise week after week. Usually doing a funny. Maybe that's a little easier to relate to?
It's not like they don't watch ER -- Noah Wylie's return and cause was noted -- but then Noah Wylie is a White Male. As, week in and week out, we can giggle at a comic or get excited by a Saturday Night Live skit or bluster about a speech in a courtroom on the Patriot Act, we never can find the time to note this ongoing storyline that's provided many powerful moments. Maybe that's it? Maybe it's easier to look away at the pain that's on the screen. It's a character Nagra's playing. She's doing a powerful job. Maybe we just don't want to note it because it's too powerful. I don't know if John Kerry's going to be on Mad TV this week, but, if so, I'm sure it will suck up all the discussion online.

So what's going on? The right wing noted it. Where was the left? Was it her race? Was it the fact that she's a "she"? It wasn't the fact that she was a character because noting James Spader's already demonstrated that TV characters could be raved over. Provided they were White and male apparently.

Now, yes, we know people working on ER. We knew this storyline was coming. Is that why we're so offended that it didn't result in all the back slapping every moment involving a White male did?

This is the first show to really tackle the war on broadcast, commercial television. (American Family -- A Journey of Dreams did a wonderful job while the war was just starting -- it didn't air on commercial television.) This was an important moment, this storyline. It's a shame it couldn't garner the attention it deserved. But the war came home, on your TV screens, invading a TV drama. It's the sort of thing that will be noted in cultural studies of this time period -- hopefully, by then they'll have a conclusive answer as to why a left so quick to applaud a con-man lawyer (that's what Spader plays and that's being kind) for talking about the Patriot Act, to win a case and sway a jury (and after it's been reauthorized by the Congress), couldn't match that applause for the storyline developing on ER? Couldn't even find the time to note it -- let alone applaud it.

By the way, please don't think we're under any delusions that males were the only ones not noting it. There are plenty of women as well. They didn't bother to note it either.

Take one site which actually blogged on Iraq this week (for a change). They did it about an Abu Ghraib trial and only because a female carried a book to the trial with a one word title that rhymes with "runt," but hey, they're doing their part, right? No comments on Iraq or even Abu Ghraib but that book title, gotta' love it!

Why they're so on top of things they also noted the 'clarification' Newsweek offered last week for creating a "fact" about a woman being more likely to be killed by a terrorist than married after a certain age. They even noted that Susan Faludi revealed (in 1991) that the claim wasn't true. After that, it got a little confusing for them. They started wondering if now Newsweek would apologize to Susan Faludi?

For what exactly? They ran a story in 1986 and she debunked it in 1991 (in Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women). Why does the magazine owe her an apology? They may owe everyone, male and female, who read the article in 1986 an apology, but why would they owe Faludi an apology? It makes no sense (neither does ignoring the war). But for the sake of argument, let's defy logic and just nod and say, "Newsweek owes Susan Faludi an apology!" Well it's a shame they waited so long, a little while ago and they could have just written "I'm sorry" on her paycheck. (The screamers for an apology to Faludi from Newsweek are aware that Newsweek hired Faludi as a contributing editor in the late nineties and that she worked for the publication until recently, right?)

While Backlash was a wonderful book (and Faludi's a great writer) some seem to be under the impression that Backlash came out and the mainstream media said "NO!" Time put Gloria Steinem and Susan Faludi on the cover together. Faludi's debunking of the myth was well noted. Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle refers to the book with Meg Ryan's character saying that the terrorist figure isn't true and that there's a whole book written to refute that myth. A male character asks, "Did anyone read the book?" We did.

But we wonder if all the finger pointers on the web did? Why? How about this from Newsweek's "Twenty Years Later: It turns out that getting married after age 40 wasn't quite as difficult as we once believed" (no link, we don't link to trash):

Much of the ire focused on a single, now infamous line: that a single 40-year-old woman is "more likely to be killed by a terrorist" than to ever marry, the odds of which the researchers put at 2.6 percent. The terrorist comparison wasn't in the study, and it wasn't actually true (though it apparently didn't sound as inappropriate then as it does today, post 9/11).

No, it wasn't true and, as Faludi reported (page 100 of Backlash), a Newsweek intern explained that the lie started as a joke reporters kidded each other about "and next thing we knew, one of the writers in New York took it seriously and it ended up print." Newsweek doesn't tell you that. They just tell that you that it wasn't true -- fifteen years after Faludi already did and, if you think about it, twenty years after people at Newsweek knew it wasn't true. (They knew when the story ran.) And guess what else? Readers of Backlash know this, Newsweek went with a faulty study for the rest of that story. And "months later" they had actual census data that disproved their cover story. That got "a two-paragraph item buried in the 'Update' column." The current article doesn't tell you that either. Newsweek's new story really admitted nothing. A real admission didn't require an apology to Susan Faludi, it did require that they admit to knowing the figure was false when they ran it and, that when they had census data months later that refuted the Harvard-Yale study (on which they based their cover story), they didn't issue a correction but instead buried the real data in the magazine.

Another great Susan (Sontag) had an excellent suggestion (that was vilified when she made it) encouraging us not to all be stupid together. We think it applies today as much as it did then.

Stupid is as Reba McEntire does. And Reba's thankfully canceled (and then gets an order for 13 episodes -- which will hopefully never air). But we grabbed a few minutes on Friday to see if we wanted to run an update review? Nope. It was an episode where the Hurricane Katrina evacuees were staying with Reba at Barbara Jean's invitation and Reba felt the need to say, "Barbara Jean, you're the whitest person in Texas! Stop talking like that!"

No, Reba is the Whitest person in Texas. In front of the cameras and behind them. Which is why, despite the fact that the show was supposed to take place in Houston, which the 2000 census found to be 25.3% African-American, there were no supporting actors who were African-American. In fact, to watch Reba you'd never know that Houston is only 51.2% White. That is reality, even if it wasn't what the star cared to show you.

Last Sunday, Charmed ended eight season with a one hour finale that wrapped up loose ends. Unlike Will & Grace, happiness for Piper, Phoebe and Paige (Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan) did not entail them exiting one another's lives for sixteen years.

The bulk of the episode revolved around them (yet again) saving the world (and returning magic powers to one of Piper's sons). They touched on many things during those fast paced scenes (and long time viewers were probably happy to note a child at the end with Pru-like powers, closing the front door as Pru used to do -- without her hands touching the door). Then, having vanquished evil yet again, they returned to their home and Piper brought the Book of Shadows down from the attic because, "I think we should write everything down . . . Just so we can pass it down like it was passed down to us."

Will & Grace trashed friendship and also left you wondering if Will or Grace even had a job anymore? Charmed? In a very quick wrap up, you saw the sisters in their immediate futures. Phoebe continued her advice column but focused on love since fate had paired her with a cupid. She had three children, a job, a husband and, most of all, her sisters. Paige also had children, embraced her "inner white lighter" and her marriage to Harry (Ivan Sergei). Piper noted that she "filled the time" when they weren't fighting to save the world with opening her own restaurant (a success), her marriage and her children. ("Leo reclaimed Magic School and went back to teaching.")

As Piper finished her story, we saw her (played by Ellen Geer) as an elderly woman, reading from the Book of Shadows to one of her granddaughters who asked her to read more. Piper explained she was tired but told the young girl that she could look through the book herself, "After all, it will be your's one day." As Piper heads upstairs with Leo, more grandchildren come running through the front door.

Though Will & Grace wanted to do bad (melo)drama and spit at the loyal viewers (while disowning the message of the show), Charmed tied up all the loose ends, name checked several no longer on the show and left viewers with the knowledge that, through it all, the Halliwell sisters were always there for each other.

As we noted last year (May 29, 2005), Charmed was the longest running hour drama starring women. Eight seasons put them ahead of all the other shows. (It also put them ahead of the sitcoms, Laverne & Shirley had seven seasons.) They could have chosen a "downer" ending -- they could have killed off one of the sisters in a battle. They didn't. The sisters remained strong and they remained together.

That may not seem a whole lot to some but in a TV landscape that pits woman against woman, it did say something. (Charlie's Angels, to name another long running show with three female leads went out on their fourth season with Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd's characters battling over a man, guest star Patrick Duffy, when they came back for the fifth season, the entire storyline was dropped and never mentioned.)

Last year, Ty informed us, we noted that Desperate Housewives would see a ratings decline (it has, not as steep as many expected but that's what next season is for), we even noted Susan Faludi's Backlash in that feature. But he thought the section that needed quoting was this:

Season after season, it has presented female leads as actors in their own lives, not reactors, not passive victims. Four sisters (counting Pru who never shared space with Paige) have fought demons and each other yet always managed to pull it together despite everything else that was going on in their lives. Their paid careers, such as they are, can be described as hobbies. But that's due to the fact that unlike the Desperate Housewives, they actually have a purpose -- saving the world.
Saving the world. Let's repeat that because while a show like Desperate Housewives portrays women as narcissistic, self-serving and self-focused, Charmed has repeatedly addressed the issue of sacrifice for the larger good.

Charmed lived up to its part of the bargain with the audience on the season finale. And for eight seasons it presented women as we rarely see them on TV: working together, not against one another. "The power of three" wouldn't work without all three (as they sometimes had to learn). It may not have had the promotion and zeigeist to satisfy the trendy water cooler critics, but it had what mattered (what networks stopped caring about long ago): the power to satisfy the audiences.

[Semi-related end note: On Sunday, May 14th, hours after the post defending Alysa Milano from slime merchant Mike McCurry went up, we both were advised over the phone that there was another reason McCurry slimed Milano. She'd come out strongly for net neutrality -- the post doesn't have an indivual http address, the title is "Internet Freedom." If only she'd given a fiery speech -- and been a man -- on TV, she too could have been applauded all over the net. We'll note that we stuck up for her without knowing of her stance on net neutrality and we're glad that we did. We'd hate to have been one of the sites posting McCurry's slime about Milano and then taking him to task for other things but letting his attack on Milano slide.]

Quick one: Why is Kagan not i.d.ed by the Washington Post

NOTE: C.I. did not work on this article.

"If Power Shifts In 2008: A Democrat Might Not Be as Different as You Would Think" is little Bobby Kagan's op-ed in this morning's Wash Post. Why is little Bobby allowed to weigh in (with his talk of those "left wing critics" (opponents to the war) in the Democratic Party?

It's not that little Bobby's useless, though he is. It's not that he can't even construct an argument with subtext -- it's all on the surface -- a cautionary tale for Dems to reign in those radicals. It is that his wife worked for Dick Cheney's office and currently holds a position (we believe in the UN) due to Cheney.

Little Bobby's going to blather. Expecting him not to is like expecting the 9 month old not to wet the diaper. In Little Bobby's case, take a big dump. But The Washington Post owes it to readers to note potential conflicts of interests. Now maybe if it's a high profile couple like Mary Matalin and James Carville, most know. But most don't know about Bobby and Vicky.

They should. The Wash Post needs to note Little Bobby's wife. It's an apparent conflict. Noting it allows the readers to decide how much weight they will or won't give to his stream of yellow urine writing.

For more on this marriage, and how the press allows Bobby to come off as a disinterested commentator, read C.I.'s "When NPR Fails You, Who You Gonna Call? Not the Ombudsman."

In closing, note, again, C.I. did not participate in the writing of this. (If C.I. had, we'd know Kagan's wife's current position.) Jess saw the article and wanted to write about it. C.I. bowed out because a) C.I. avoids critiquing that paper and b) C.I. knows Kagan. Ava, who did participate, has met Kagan at "two or three larger parties." She's dubbed him "Little Bobby" in this because her alternative is much more harsh.

Crapapedia: Kids don't use it to research papers!

[Sing jingle] "It's not an encyclopedia . . . It's CRAP, CRAP-a-pedia."

Enter generic White (natch) Male (ditto) host. Grins to the camera.

GWM: Hey boys and girls! Want to learn a lot of fake facts! That's what we'll do this morning on Crapapedia!

Yeah, we're talking Wikipedia. Some of us felt sorry for it when it was being attacked by the mainstream media (following a heavily passed around New York Times memo). None of us used it but the concept of a group of people coming together to document things seemed like a wonderful idea. And then . . . we visited it.

That was due to another issue [see "April Oliver got a fiancial settlement, whether Wikiepedia tells you it happened or not, It Happened"] with the rabid right, slow readers that they are, finally responding to an old story here and all citing Wikipedia as though it were handed down on holy tablets.

Ty was the first to take a look (he's also the primary on reading e-mails) and urged the rest of us to take a look. Mistakes abound. Big ones. As well as a strong thread of sexism that repeatedly pops up. For our study, we examined the entries on the Mamas and the Papas (as a group and individuals), Carly Simon and James Taylor (young kids, Carly was once married to the guy that you asked "Who?" about just now), and Fleetwood Mac (as a group and also focusing on Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham). We saw men pop up all the time in entries on women but the same women didn't pop up like that in entries about the men (implying through the sheer bulk of the references that the men helped the "little ladies" do their hobby but men are so damn manly they don't need any help when doing their art).

Facts aren't present. Whether it's getting a single wrong, creating an album title that doesn't exist, not knowing a date of birth, crediting a song to a writer who didn't write it or much, much more, there was one error after another.

Where to start?

Let's start with the Mamas and the Papas. (A favorite group of all of ours.) (And a favorite with our readers.)

We'll start with this from the Michelle Phillips' entry (a very nasty entry):

In 1986 she penned her autobiography, California Dreamin': The True Story of the Mamas and the Papas, [. . .] In it Phillips describes such events as [. . .] and how her writing credit on the California Dreamin' song, which still nets her royalties, was "the best wake-up call" she ever had (she was asleep on the tour bus and John Phillips woke her long enough for her transcribe the song he was writing).

Is that what Michelle Phillips writes in her book?

Funny, we didn't get that. First off, we don't know what she would be doing on a tour bus in the Earl Hotel? Let's go to page 46:

Before moving to the apartment in Charles Street in the Village, John and I had stayed at the Earl Hotel in the Village, and it was there that we had written "California Dreamin'" two years before. It was John's way to walk around with his guitar strapped to him and make up little tunes; often I would go to bed, have a night's sleep, and wake up to find him still strapped to his guitar. Sometimes there would be a song, and sometimes there wouldn't. "All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey . . ." He already had much of the song by the time he woke me that morning. It was four a.m., but he was wide awake with the "upper" he'd taken. He said, "Listen, you have to help me finish this song, Mitch. Help me, and you'll thank for me it someday." Well, I got up, and we finished the song. "I've been for a walk on a wintere's day. I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A. California dreamin' on such a winter's day . . ." I do make a point of trying to thank him for it every now and again. We did, do still, share publishing on "California Dreamin'" and every other song we wrote together. No matter how great or small my individual part was in writing, it was a share.

Obviously, she didn't write in her book that the song was created on a tour bus. Transcribed? She helped write the song. What kind of sexist, lying freak wants to take away her credit AND claim that he's merely summarizing what she wrote in her book? What a sick, sick fuck.

Now let's go to their Mamas and the Papas entry and note this:

They were one of the few American groups to maintain widespread success during the British Invasion (others being The Beach Boys and The Lovin' Spoonful).

"Others being"? In terms of toe to toe, the American group to come closest to the Beatles with number one hits was Motown's Supremes (later Diana Ross & the Supremes). They did it "during" the British Invasion. The Beatles hit number one 20 times. During the same period, the only group to come close, American or otherwise, was The Supremes with 12 number one hits. Where's there mention? (And don't give us that "they didn't play on their recordings!" b.s. -- get real about the Beach Boys once Brian Wilson really takes over. Also, John Phillips is the only member of the Mamas and the Papas playing on their recordings.)

Back to Crapapedia. There are so many lies in their Mamas and Papas entry that the writer should be banned from ever writing there again. Presented as "FACT" is that Jill Gibson (who was never known for her singing -- though an image did take hold when she split on Jan Barry of Jan and Dean) sang on all but two of the twelves songs that make up The Mamas and the Papas. That is Jill Gibson's claim. It's not anyone else's.

It's not the claim of any of the musicians who were in the studio for recordings with Michelle Phillips and present for recordings with Gibson. This is dealt with at length in Matthew Greenwald's Go Where You Wanna Go: The Oral History of The Mamas & The Papas. (Papa) Denny Doherty said of Gibson's attempts in the studio "She was completely out of her element, and she didn't know what the fuck she was doing there." Lou Adler (who produced the sixites albums) said, "She had done some singing, but she wasn't a singer. . . . We recorded Jill on six songs . . . It was real hard work -- she may have done some singing, but to step into The Mamas & The Papas . . . he [John Phillips] got six vocal performances out of her, which we later replaced, some of 'em." Bones Howe:

In some ways, Jill had trouble blending in with Cass, because Michelle, I think had sung so much with Cass that she understood how to let Cass be the up front voice, and she just blended in with her. This was big pressure on Jill, too, and I think she came in and tried to find a different way to be part of the group in a different way. I'm sure there was a lot of working around the sound, you know, giving Cass more things to do, like overdubbing on herself.

Gibson's assertion (which matches no one else's account including muscians who were there for the recordings with her and with Phillips) is that one of the two songs she didn't sing on was "Dancing in the Street." P.F. Sloan refused to record with the group while Jill Gibson was in it (he was visting Jan Berry, in the hospital after the infamous car accident) because he didn't want anything to do with Jill Gibson due to the whole scene between her and Jan. Since Sloan remembers the recording of the hit "I Saw Her Again Last Night" quite well, she obviously can't be on that song.

And until she can find people who were present that can back up her claim, especially in the face of the public comments made by Adler, Sloan and others, Crapapedia has no business printing her dubious assertion as FACT. The Crapmeister also claims that some seeing the "tour" (we believe it was a little over three dates and no more then ten tops) were upset that Michelle wasn't in the group ("Mama Jill" was introduced at the shows with no explanation of where "Mama Michelle" was*) but that some were okay with it. This grossly underestimates the crowd's audible reaction to learning that wasn't Michelle on stage in Dallas Memorial Auditorium and at Forest Hills. Strangely the Forest Hill detail was included at one point in an earlier entry at Crapapedia but someone dubbed it a "myth" and it was striken. Strange since even Jill Gibson herself remembers, in Greenwald's book, the concert "at Forest Hills, New York, where a guy in the audience yelled out, 'Where's Michelle?' I think that upset John. I remember the shows going smoothly, as though people accepted me, or perhaps they didn't even realize I wasn't Michelle." Or perhaps Gibson was too stoned out of her mind to grasp what went on in Dallas Memorial Auditorium? (Her complaint to Greenwald is that "I would have been more comfotable on stage if John hadn't pushed me to get stoned before going on.")

It bears noting that Gibson was briefly in the group for about two months. Three weeks were spent rehearsing in London. The remainder was playing some already scheduled dates and recording. Though the first album was recorded quickly, The Mamas and The Papas wasn't. It wasn't to the point that Cass would be complaining yet that they spent an entire month recording one song, but it wasn't far from that either. Gibson's claims, even without the denails from everyone else involved, are hard to swallow.

There are so many errors in the Crapatedia entry, we can't tackle them all. We'll note this (still from the group entry):

John approached them and made an insulting remark about her in front of the guests. Disgusted and humiliated, she stormed out of the party and quit the band.Their record company released a Greatest Hits compilation as a stopgap measure. Cass was contractually bound for the band's next LP, and therefore appeared on The Papas & the Mamas, the group's fourth album.The band broke up in July 1968. In a rare interview, after the group's break up, with Rolling Stone magazine, Cass admitted she wanted to go solo and that this is what had caused the official break up of the band.

First off, the Dunhill/ABC (by then ABC was a part of it) released Farewell to the First Golden Era because they needed "product" and needed money. It had nothing to do with a "stopgap" measure and, in fact, was bad for the group. It wasn't to help the band and it was done for one reason only, to make a quick buck. They would have done it regardless of when the fourth album was completed and only a fool who doesn't know what he's talking about would write such nonsense. (The writer is obviously unfamiliar with the whole Dunhill/ABC saga -- but when Dunhill was swallowed, it effected a lot of artists negatively.) As for the embarrasment Cass suffered in England, where's the sourcing on that because it's not the tale Cass, Michelle, Denny or Lou told? The reason she did the 1968 group album was because she wanted to do it. That album would give her the ability to quit because it would provide her with what was seen her as her first solo hit (the Mamas and the Papas "Dream a Little Dream of Me"). (If the writer is attempting to suggest that, prior to 1968, an album was released entitled Greatest Hits -- he may be suggesting that, he doesn't type "greatest hits" -- he is again mistaken.)

The Cass entry states:

Her most successful recording during this period was 1968's Dream a Little Dream of Me from her solo album of the same name, released by Dunhill Records, though it had originally been recorded for and released on the album The Papas & The Mamas Presented By The Mamas and The Papas earlier that year.

Wrong. A version of "Dream a Little Dream of Me" appeared on The Papas & The Mamas and one appeared on Cass' first solo album. They are not the same recording. The one for the solo album has sound effects in it (thunder, rain, a radio being switched from station to station, etc.), different vocals and was never released as a single. The hit single was taken from the album The Papas and the Mamas, was credited to "Mama Cass with The Mamas and The Papas," and featured on the flip side the Mamas and the Papas "Midnight Voyage" (also on the album The Papas & The Mamas). Cass' first single issued off her solo album Dream a Little Dream of Me was "California Earthquake."

The clear impression from the Michelle entry and the Denny entry (less so from the John entry, which, to its credit doesn't attempt to steal her songwriting credit from her -- but then "Frecklefoot" doesn't list it as one he worked on -- though he worked on the problematic ones) is that Naughty Michelle caused all the problems. That's interesting considering that this was the period of free love and that John Phillips was involved in several affairs while Michelle Phillips (no longer living with John Phillips) was seeing Gene Clark. But a woman engages in affairs, and she's a bitch. A man does it and he's just a "stud." That same 'enlightened' thinking allows Michelle Phillips to be stripped of her credit for Monterey Pop Festival. Three people on the Mamas and Papas team helped put that festival together, Lou Adler, John Phillips and Michelle Phillips. It's curious that only John Phillips gets credit.

That's true of many accounts which often note that "John and Lou" put money into the project -- since John Phillips was back with Michelle Phillips and they were married, it was their money. On the festival, Michelle has written (in her book California Dreamin'):

But I loved Monterey and the excitement, and the fun of working with the graphic designers and stage managers around us; my job was telephoning record companies and getting them to pay $1,500 for a page advertisment in the program put together by Tom Wilkes, Guy Webster (who had covered our career with his camera from the start), and David Wheeler. Nobody turned us down for ads.

She also writes of how she and John kept office hours, how "we" formed a board of directors and much more. Michelle Phillips has long been denied her earned credit for the festival, one would think the "people's encyclopedia" would attempt to right that wrong. Instead, it's just interested in repeating sexist notions about the female as transgressor and heaping credit (deserved or not) onto males.

But John did it all himself (a key to all the entries we studied) the burnout apparently even wrote an "autobiograhpy" entitled Papa John. Now an "autobiograpy," to us, means someone wrote their own book. It doesn't mean they had a co-writer. Papa John has a credited co-writer, he's just never mentioned at Crapapedia though they mention the book repeatedly.

The main entry once contained a link to this "Review of Dream a Little Dream" but Frecklefoot pulled it because only they can offer opinions -- their useless, factually challenged, piece of crap opinions. While passing them off as facts. It should also be noted that in one entry, they write that Michelle Phillips is blowing kisses to Gene Clark at a concert. That concert took place at the Melodyland and not only did no press account report blown kisses but two people who were at that concert swore that it didn't happen. Considering that the public account has Michelle and Cass attempting to keep John from noticing Gene Clark in the audience, the idea that Michelle was on stage (with her estranged husband) blowing kisses at her lover is a bit hard to buy. (Especially since, like most of the dubious claims, it has no sourcing.)

On the trail of how men are elevated to genius which requires downplaying women, Rebecca suggested we contrast and compare the Carly Simon and James Taylor entries. We did. While the Simon entry merely notes that the couple divorced, the Taylor entry contains a curious bit of 'explanation':

Taylor and Simon had two children, Ben and Sally. Simon was unhappy with Taylor's extended absences due to touring; he rejected an ultimatum from her that he spend more time with his children and they eventually divorced in 1983.

That's why they divorced? There's no source for that curious claim and Taylor's lifelong battle with drugs is generally seen as the reason for the breakup. Simon's never made that claim, so where does it come from?

To read the Taylor entry is to get a rah-rah impression of the recording career, one slump (Walking Man -- apparently they never heard of Never Die Young), and BAM! THE MAN IS BACK! It helps to avoid mentioning the failures.

It's also interesting to contrast No Nukes which Simon and Taylor both participated in. Here's the version in the Taylor entry:

Taylor also performed at the No Nukes concert in Madison Square Garden and appeared on the album and film from the concert.

That's it in full. Now here's the same event from the Simon entry:

That year, shortly after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, from September 19 to September 22, a series of concerts were held at New York's Madison Square Garden sponsored by MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy), a group of musicians against nuclear power. Simon and James Taylor were part of the concerts which later became a film documentary as well as a soundtrack called No Nukes.

You see that throughout, men weighing heavily in entries on women but the same women never weighing heavily in entries on the same men. We stopped counting at seven the number of sentences covering Carly Simon and James Taylor's joint vocals on songs -- in the Simon entry. It's not mentioned in the Taylor entry -- even when "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" is noted (which Simon did sing backup on). In fact, Simon is only mentioned in five brief sentences in the Taylor entry, but be prepared for a long read of Taylor coverage in the entry supposedly about Carly Simon.

Here are two FACTS not stated in the coverage: Simon, unlike Taylor, won a Grammy (and Oscar and Golden Globe) for songwriting; Simon, unlike Taylor, wrote her number one hit.

Now let's note mistakes. There is no album titled Christmas Is Here Again. In 2002 a Christmas album was released by Rhino called Christmas Is Almost Here. In 2003, Rhino released the album with two additional tracks. The title was not, as Crapapedia tells you, Christmas is Here Again -- the title remained Christmas Is Almost Here. Simon did not write "Someone Waits For You" for the film Swing Shift. The song was written by Peter Allen and Wilbur Jennings (that's how it's credited on the sheet music). She sang it, she didn't write it. "All the Love in the World" was not written "for the 1985 TV movie Torchlight" because, get this, Torchlight (starring Pamela Sue Martin) was not a TV movie. It was a theaterical release. The Very Best of Carly Simon was never "released" in the United States -- it can be purchased in the US as an import and most copies cleary display the sticker reading "IMPORT" on the plastic wrapping. (Which is why the single disc's list price in this country is $27.97 -- because it's an import.) We're also confused as to how both that album and Reflections can be "her third greatest hits collection." But, in the Simon entry, both are credited as "her third greates hits collection."

Further confusion comes from the fact that these two words never appear in the Taylor entry: "Kathyrn Walker." The second wife. The one whom Taylor couldn't stop yapping about (they divorced in the mid-nineties) and credited with his more sober life. Equally puzzeling is how Taylor just "left" the mental institution since he himself has spoken of how he escaped and, in fact, whines in the current issue of Rolling Stone about revealing that in an interview (he actually discussed it in many interviews). But that, like Walker, who has fame in her own right, just goes unremarked upon.

It's an interesting portrait of the man alone, not unlike James Taylor's Dad Loves His Work which, despite the title, contained no mention of children. Rest assured, the house and the garden, the boys in the band -- all divided up. The children? Dad Loves His Work so much that the then father of two can't mention his children in one damn song. (He does meet an old man, in one song, who talks about how he walked out on his son years and years ago. That's the closest to a child appearing on "Dad"'s album.)

How about Fleetwood Mac? Huge group and one where all the members tried to have solo careers. (Sales wise, Lindsey Buckingham never got a career off the ground.) The first thing that popped up was the issue of age.

C.I.: Prior to 1984, Lindsey Buckingham was one year older than Stevie Nicks. While promoting Go Insane, suddenly he was a year younger than her. If he could put that diet into print form, How to Lose Two Years, he might finally be able to claim writing a real hit because I'm sure the book would sell millions.

Crapapediea lists Lindsey Buckingham's birth as October 3, 1949. That is popular -- it's just not correct. We'd advise Crapapedia's writers to put down the issues of Guitar and research their facts. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame backs up C.I.'s assertion, they give his date of birth as October 3, 1947. Crapapedia's Buckingham entry currently opens with:

"Lindsey Buckingham (born October 3, 1949) . . ."

Wrong. It's not encyclopedia, it's CRAP-crapapedia.

Linsdey Buckingham sure comes off talented in his entry and in Fleetwood Mac's. That's because they read like a sexist wrote them. Whether it's the same sow plowing through other entries, we have no idea. But there's a need to elevate Buckingham above the rest by creating things that flat out never happened.

For instance, in both the Stevie Nicks entry, the Buckingham entry and the Fleetwood Mac entry, Stevie Nicks is only asked to join the group because Buckingham told them it was him and Nicks or he wasn't joining the group. That's not true and the public record demonstrates that.

Here's what the public record tells you. The band needed a guitarist (Bob Welch had left the band). You can find comments by Stevie Nicks that she always thought (or "suspected" in some accounts) that they only asked her to join because they wanted Lindsey. You'll also find many accounts from Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Christine McVie saying that's not true. Producer Keith Olsen has long been the cited source for bringing up the issue of Nicks being in the band. Fleetwood spoke with him about the issue of a guitar player and noted he'd like to use Buckingham. Olsen's version is (and always has been) that he stated Buckingham and Nicks were a combo deal. He has always stated that Mick Fleetwood replied that he wanted them both.

Somehow, probably the same way Buckingham becomes two years younger, that story, as told by Crapapedia becomes: "Stevie Nicks not wanted in the band! Lindsey Buckingham had to fight to have her in the band! Next on Behind the Music!"

The Buckingham lover/luster who wrote the entries also wants to attack a much reported account of what happened to end the Tango In The Night tour before it began. We have to scream "Stop!" here.


1987's "Tango In The Night", or, "Shake the Cage" tour was the first outing for this lineup."

There was no Tango In The Night Tour. The tour was called Shake the Cage. There's no "or" there.

Now let's go to Crapapedia for a few more lies:

Fleetwood Mac had always had personality conflicts, but some believe the tension between Buckingham and Nicks had grown unbearable, leading to Buckingham quitting the group right before their Tango in the Night world tour. Buckingham has never publically attributed that decision directly to relations with Nicks. In the Fleetwood Mac segment of British TV Program Rock Family Trees (broadcast in 1995), John McVie described the confrontation between Nicks and Buckingham at Christine McVie's house in August 1987 as "physically ugly". Nicks admitted that Buckingham almost killed her, after she violently rejected Buckingham's decision to leave the band. After Buckingham chased her through the house and out onto the street and, according to Mick Fleetwood in his disputed autobiography, threw her against a car and strangled her, Nicks warned him that if he killed her and none of the other band members came to get him, her brother Christopher and father Jess would murder him.

The tension between Nicks and Buckingham, Crapapedia says, was "unbearable." Then we get Buckingham "never publicly attributed" his departure from the band to that. Then we're told that an argument occurred and, "according to Mick Fleetwood in his disputed autobiography," Buckingham threw her against a car and tried to strangle her. (Mick Fleetwood writes nothing of Nicks warning Buckingham that her bandmates or her brother and father would kill him if he killed her.)

The writer of the entry clues you that he doesn't think it's true.

That's a pretty sympathetic portrait of Buckingham. It's not factual, but it's sympathetic. First off, long before Fleetwood wrote his book, the music press had already covered the highly publicized fight where Buckingham stormed out of McVie's house with others following him, turned on Nicks, threw her against the car and then attempted to strangle her. (Musician magazine mentioned it, in detail, in a lengthy story on the band.) That fact, heavily reported, is not in dispute anywhere but at Crapadeia. It happened.

Why did Buckingham storm out of the house? It probably helps to first explain why he was at the house. It had nothing to do with tensions between him and Nicks (other than possibly commerical envy on Buckingham's part). It had to do with the band agreeing to tour, the album being out and them needing to start touring. Buckingham pulled his "Guys, I'm not touring" nonsense which led members to demand a face to face since the tour was scheduled to begin, dates were booked, contracts were signed, roadies were hired, go down the list.

He didn't just say, "Hey, I might like to tour." He told the band he'd tour, he let deals be made and then tried to weasel out of without telling the band face to face. But presenting him as less than the saint of our times doesn't fit with the genius label he created for himself and the press ran with. This fact free approach to reality makes us wonder who in the administration writes for Crapapedia?

In the Stevie Nicks entry at Crapapedia, this appears:

Nicks contributed songs including "Rhiannon" and "Landslide", originally written for the second Buckingham Nicks album. It also included a re-release of a song from the 1973 Buckingham Nicks album, "Crystal".

Who wrote that song? ("Crystal.") Stevie Nicks did. But that won't be told at Crapapedia. Reading the sentence, the average reader will see "Buckingham Nicks" and think they wrote it together. (The way some still think that since Buckingham sang on "Don't Stop," he must have co-written it. He didn't. Christine McVie wrote the song.)

At their Fleetwood Mac entry, they list Fleetwood Mac singles but apparently missed "Paper Doll" which was recorded for and released in conjuction with the boxed set The Chain. To close this out, we'll note that "Planets of the Universe" was not Nicks' first remix to hit the dance charts (look to the eighties, Crapapedia!) and that, since they're attempting to track Stevie Nicks mentions in films and cite Joan Cusack's character in School of Rock, they might need to consider adding Mr. Wrong wherein Cusack plays a character who once stalked Stevie Nicks. As for the singles "discography," someone remind them of "Needles & Pins" (among other charting singles that are missing from the line up). Otherwise they need to change the heading to "select discograpy."

We could go on and on. We could go back to Carly and James and note other mistakes, or to the Mamas and the Papas or stay here. There's a lot more to note.

But the point's been made. It's not encyclopedia, it's Crapapeadia.

[*"Michelle's in Mexico!" shouted out, by John Phillips, to those hollering, "Where's Michelle?" at a concert is not an explanation. It's a location, it's not an explanation.]
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }