Sunday, June 17, 2007

Truest statement of the week

But when you're discussing something C.I.'s covered from the beginning and you're not giving credit, you really aren't hurting C.I. You're just demonstrating that, like most of the great unwashed indymedia crowd, you were raised in a barn where manners meant you snorted before nudging your way to the trough.

-- Elaine addressing the backstab of last week. 14 readers e-mailed saying this was the choice for truest statement of the week.

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --

We're back. C.I.'s going through the e-mails at The Common Ills and passed on that a lot of people aren't seeing the note we came back and filled in. It's a Blogger/Blogspot problem. Closing your browser and re-opening it won't fix it. But it does give a chance at a second note! After we've all had some sleep.

First off, this is who took part in the writing of this edition:

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

And Dallas was link locator and sounding board, plus C.I. got Dallas to go on record for one story. We thank Dallas and we thank Rebecca for help with the visuals.

This was an interesting edition and it needed to be a strong one. By last Monday, it was pretty much decided that we would be doing our fiction edition this weekend. Ava and C.I. prepped by watching a show they hoped they could fit in (they don't have to, remember that next weekend -- great if they do, but it's not required). Then came the thing that everyone knows about and this had to be a strong edition.

Truest statement of the week -- Elaine saying it loud and clear. A lot of times with our picks, there are several we could go with and debate back and forth. On Tuesday, Elaine posted and her post was amazing but these lines took on a life of their own as they were echoed in the gina & krista round-robin (and today in Polly's newsletter and Miguel, Maria and Francisco's newsletter) and in e-mails. To be honest, many of us were also quoting those lines back and forth to one another throughout last week. It really was the truest statement of the week.

Editorial: Iraqis & Benchmarks -- we try to note war resisters every week. We almost didn't this week. Thanks to Ava and C.I. for the save in another feature. But I (Jim) had thought we needed to drop the fiction edition on Thursday. I shared that with C.I. and why and C.I. was on board. (C.I. and I were on the road speaking to students last week.) We e-mailed Cedric because we saw something in a paper we knew he'd be interested in. But it really wasn't going to happen until everyone got to weigh in. We presented it Friday night and why and there were groans but everyone agreed. Rebecca, Wally, Mike and Elaine were all attending a conference in Chicago and part of the reason we were decided on a fiction edition was it would mean less research work (more writing work), so with that out the window we were all scrambling. No one remembers who came up with the idea for this editorial but we were all on board with it.

TV: A down and up week for women -- Scramble? When you've not only decided on the show, as Ava and C.I. had, and spent the week tossing ideas at each other on it and how to fit it into the planned theme (fiction edition), what do you do when the theme gets tossed out the window? They weren't sure. They said they'd have something. What? They didn't know. They put out calls to friends asking what they thought needed addressing? Obviously, the continued trashing of Katie Couric. And another thing as well. They don't often write about soaps, but when they do, it's popular. This was so insta-popular that when we couldn't get the editorial to post for over 20 minutes and Ty was noting e-mails, they decided to go back in and add more to it. (They didn't take anything out.) If you're not, for instance, seeing Nola, Kelly and Morgan mentioned, you're not seeing it all. Again, closing your browser and re-opening it won't fix it. You might try clearing your history because that's working for some. What did we think? We've never seen them so tired or so frantic or so sure that they would have nothing. This time we believed them. (Partly due to Ava being sick and C.I. stepping on broken glass.) And then we read it. We love it. We laughed throughout but loudest as the "camera ready" line.
The photo of Genie Francis and Doug Sheehan is not a professional photo. It's also been cropped. They advised that by posting it online, it could pop up elsewhere. If it does, a link to the piece it appeared in would be nice (probably more than nice after last week's rip off). Again, the picture's cropped. Meaning? We'll know full well if it pops up everywhere with people claiming they didn't swipe it. (And that's the main reason it's cropped. Rebecca thought that up.)

The Dirty Politics of Barack Obama -- Something's are news and somethings get little comment. The narrative is "Even Obama's had to turn to dirty politics." That's the popular narrative. The reality, as we've repeatedly pointed out, is that Obama's built many a campaign on dirty politics.

Precedent is again tossed out the window -- This is another thing that should have been much bigger news. How many times is the five majority on the Court going to toss out precedent before we start hearing some serious concern about this? Apparently, it's going to have to happen a few more times before people really start paying attention.

Independent media -- "Naval gazing," C.I. dismissed the suggestion with. Ty countered, "Do you know how many e-mails came in on this topic?" (C.I. had also received many, many e-mails on this topic all last week.) C.I.'s attitude was fine, everyone else could write it. We pointed out we needed everyone's participation. The original line was all C.I. was going to say publicly. Through pestering and persistance, we got more. Some have asked about others not being quoted in it? Wally wanted the piece written (everyone but C.I. was on board immediately) but noted he wasn't saying anything for the piece. He would work on it and suggest things but he was putting up a wall. Betty elected to do that as well. Cedric stated that, in terms of a quote, we'd have to use too many "*" to replace letters in order to make work friendly. (This edition had to be because C.I. had no time to do a mass e-mailing to members who only read on their work computers.) Elaine, probably echoing C.I.'s feelings, chose to participate but give no quote.

Ed Oakley -- This was done early on. And features Dallas contributing for the record! But while we were waiting on the illustration (Billie sent us a great one but it wouldn't upload to Flickr. We e-mailed her early this morning and she sent us a smaller version of it), C.I. checked the e-mails for The Common Ills and three members had suspected we'd be writing about this and forwarded letters they had received from New Voices. We include one in them. We thank Billie for allowing us to interview her for the piece.

Dumbest Headline of the week -- Two types of e-mails have come in on this. One group thinks it needs a link to some story on Jolie. We don't. It was an attack on the press and we're not going to reward it by linking. Another camp seems to think that Jolie's movie has been attacked. We really don't get into the movie but if you're looking for a prediction, Ava and C.I. say Jolie uses a voice that would work for a fictional character but doesn't work for the real life person she's playing, that the story received saturation in real time and most people aren't willing to relive it, that it's coming out in an action summer (there are barely any comedies, for instance) and will likely be buried, and that Jolie really needs appealing actors to help with the box office. Translation, this will not be one of summer's big films.

Peter Pace fired -- Wally said we needed to do this because Ruth's report had posted here indicating that our stuff was posting. Isaiah, due to the problems at The Common Ills, was given the day off and Wally said we needed to note that to help out (cut down on e-mails asking "Where is Isaiah?"). We all agreed.

Highlights -- Mike, Cedric, Wally, Rebecca, Betty and Elaine wrote this and we thank them for it. (The credit is rotated in the feature every week and we also try to rotate it in the note. We're more likely to mention Mike first because he usually insists -- in the credit within the feature -- that he go last.)

Ruth's Report -- Ruth posted her report and it would not show. She called C.I. who tried to see what was going on. Blogger/Blogspot issue. We added it here a) to get it online and b) to make sure we weren't having the same problem. It's a great report and thanks to Ruth for permission to repost.

And that's it. It was really important we have a strong edition. That we all focus at a time when many were wondering "What's the point?" The point is always, and this is something C.I. used to stress when this site started, the people who respond. Yes, rip-offs hurt. Yes, it's rude and it's theft. But we've got passionate and informed readers and, in the end, that's more important than the fact that others are so untalented or ill mannered that they conduct themselves in the manner that they do. We actually had another feature idea but didn't have time to finish it. Cedric pointed out that we covered race "kind of" in the Obama feature. His feelings were, we've got Iraq, we've got the Supreme Court, we've got race, we've got feminism, we've got it all! (That's a paraphrase only because I was really tired and can't remember the exact wording.) I'd agree with that. Thank you to everyone who reads and those who shared the outrage over last week. Thank you to everyone who came together and got the work done this edition.

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

Editorial: Iraqis & Benchmarks

Iraqi people need to show some responsibility!

That's the call of the administration and many in Congress. Those lazy, ungrateful Iraqis, after the US started an illegal war, invaded their country, destroyed their country, just can't roll up their sleeves and show some gratitude, let alone kiss some butt. How dare the Iraqi parliament begin addressing the need for foreign forces to leave their country!

"Benchmarks" translates as "theft of oil" the way it's currently being used. Many have addressed this and done so repeatedly. Most recently, Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) noted of the flurry of meetings last week between puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki and US officials:

And what were they leaning on him for, above all?
Passage of the new oil bill, which would turn over Iraqi's liquid treasure to foreign corporations like ExxonMobil.
This is the paramount concern of the Bush Administration.
It is being sold to the American people as a way to equalize revenues to various segments of Iraqi society.
But the true reason for it is to line the pockets of U.S. oil executives.
"The law would transform Iraq's oil industry from a nationalized model closed to American oil companies except for limited (although highly lucrative) marketing contracts into a commercial industry, all-but-privatized, that is fully open to all international oil companies," Antonia Juhasz, author of
The Bush Agenda, wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times on March 13.

If it didn't register with you last week, you must have missed War Pornographer Michael Gordon Tuesday report where he revealed that, good stenographer that he is, he accomanied US Admiral William J. Fallon and US ambassador Ryan Crocker to a meeting with al-Maliki that was supposed to be off the record (Gordo whined and whined and they finally, after the meeting, gave him permission to write of it -- Fallon and Crocker gave permission, no word on al-Maliki's permission but puppet's don't have privacy rights) in which Gordo didn't even feel the need to conceal that there were no benchmarks as far as Fallon and Crocker were concerned other than the privatization/theft of Iraqi oil.

By the next day, Damien Cave's "Iraqis Are Failing to Meet U.S. Benchmarks" was back to using 'benchmarks' -- plural. But if you were confused by "benchmark" swiftly becoming "benchmarks" in one day's time, Damien Cave's "Second U.S. Official Presses Iraqi Premier for Action" (also last Wednesday) set you wise about what al-Maliki and John Negroponte (deputy at the State Department) discussed:

Mr. Maliki, in a statement after the meeting, said Iraq's government was determined to persuade Parliament to approve several proposals that the Americans had identified as benchmarks, including an oil law that could more evenly distribute revenues to provinces and among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

Theft of the oil (but remember the illegal war never had anything to do with oil and the maps drawn up before 9-11 for Cheney's secret task force were mere coincidence). That's the 'benchmark' and few in the US Congress have addressed that or called it out.

So let's talk benchmarks.

IRIN, last week, reported on the fact that Iraqi children are now having to work to support their family and interviewed one 12 year-old-boy who works a 12-hour day doing just that. Though Paul Bremer was interested in cutting off the safety net of food subsidies, he wasn't interested in providing for Iraqis. (Another problem with contractors shipped into Iraq, at a time when Iraqis see massive unemployment, jobs that are available go to outsiders.) Apparently, public health also wasn't an issue which is why malnutrition runs rampant in Iraq, why cholera is now a serious problem and polio's a problem as well.

Meanwhile, Paul Bremer fled Baghdad like a thief and, strangely, $9 billion under his control is unaccounted for to this day. Now we aren't accusing Bremer. We'd assumed if he personally pocketed it, he could do better than SuperCuts for a hair cut. But where did that money go?

It didn't go towards reconstruction as it was supposed to. And, oh yes, potable water and reliable electricity never came to Iraq. Over four years after the illegal war began, neither can be depended upon.

Where did the money go? To bribe tribal leaders? That's really worked out well, hasn't it?

Now we firmly believe that US troops neeed to leave Iraq ASAP. We're not arguing against that. We are stating that the US government has responsibilities that need to be met. So the next time a politician wants to talk 'tough' and note Iraq's 'need' to meet so-called benchmarks, you need to absorb two things. 'Benchmarks' are the sort of the talk that will keep the US occupying Iraq (illegally) for years and 'benchmarks' fail to recognize that the US never met its own obligation. It's easy to talk 'tough.' It's much harder to talk truth which must be why presidential candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden are all over the 'benchmark' talk.

TV: A down and up week for women

Last week was an interesting week for women and TV, one that ended on a high note. Before we could get the high note, we had to trudge through cesspool.

Enter Dan Rather who, to no one's surprise after being dumped in a very public manner by CBS, decided to seek his revenge by proclaiming (from exile, who would have him but a start up these days?) that CBS Evening News had made a mistake -- "the mistake was to try to bring the Today show ethos to the Evening News, and to dumb it down, tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience."

Some rushed to Dan Rather's defense when his remarks resulted in criticism. This is the man whom, as Lewis Lapham notes in Gag Rule (page 9), "enlisted for the duration" (in Bully Boy's fight against 'evil-doers'), "proud to inform the viewers of the CBS Evening News that 'George Bush is the president. Whereever he wants me to line up, just tell me where.'" This is the man that Project Censored's Censored 2004 noted greeted the news that the US military had knocked out Al Jazeera's signal by declaring that Saddam Huseine's "propaganda" network had it's plug pulled (page 225) and noted:

Indeed, 23 days after the [Iraq] war started, CBS's 48 Hours (April 10, 2003) opened its celebratory sgement, "After the Fall," with footage of the [staged] toppling statue [of Saddam Hussein]. As Dan Rather observed with evident approval, "Remnants of the regime still stand, but surrounded now by a conquering power." Rather encountered burnt-out vehilces and intoned, "In this one, there is a body. What happened, who shot him, who knows?" In the world of militainment, the "conquering power" bears no responsibility for the death left in its wake. In the chaos that was Baghdad, where soldiers served as "police and social workers," no phrase was too hackneyed for Rather: "Theirs is not to reason why, their is but to do or die."
The actual quotation, from Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade," is the less melodramatic "theirs but to do and die." In either case, an ominous quoation at a time of endless war, when democracy's critical dialogue is replaced with militainment.

We could note many other examples but one that's required is from Amy Goodman and David Goodman's The Exception to the Rulers (page 165):

Let's let Dan speak for himself. On BBC Newsnight on May 16, 2002, Rather talked candidly about how he and other journalists censor themselves. "There was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around people's necks if they dissented," he said. "And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest questions, and to continue to bore in on the tough questions so often. And again, I am humbled to say, I do not except myself from this criticism."

We could do this all day and go back to when Rather joined CBS but we think the point is made, Dan Rather was not a brave or honest voice on American TV. (Though not brave, he did show more honesty when appearing on British television.)

So last week's declaration that "the mistake was to try to bring the Today show ethos to the Evening News, and to dumb it down, tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience" should have been widely condemned for what it was: sexism.

Instead, some rushed to assure that it was not sexism, as if Dan Rather meant "pastry it up"? The most damaging of the voices defending Dan Rather last week was Katrina vanden Heuvel because, to too many not paying attention, she is a woman of power who is concerned about women. So if this woman was saying, "It's not sexism" (as she did), then, surely, it wasn't sexism.

It was sexism. Those not paying attention shouldn't take vouching from a woman who, as editor and publisher of the weekly Nation magazine, has seen fit to print approximately four male writers for every one woman. Those not paying attention shouldn't take vouching from a woman who is attempting to grab on to some big bucks via the fund raiser/pyramid scheme that is The Nation Cruise -- which, this summer, includes the 'honor' of speaking to Mary Mapes, Dan Rather's former producer. In her defense of Dan Rather, vanden Heuvel failed to note either her own record of publishing women or her magazine's financial gain from her defense of Dan Rather.

That's a bit like saying you're for economic justice and then attempting to weasel out of paying taxes by taking your case as high as the Supreme Court (where you still lose) and . . . Oh, wait.

We first wrote of the organized attacks on Katie Couric (we know Couric, we know her current producer, we know Katrina vanden Heuvel and we know Dan Rather) in December of 2005. At that point, they were all "insider baseball" and had yet to reach mass saturation. Mass saturation would happen in April of 2006 and, during that time, we wrote "TV: Katie Was a Cheerleader." Now that was April of 2006 when the non-stop slams and attacks that make up a solid round of Bash the Bitch were taking place as the news came that Couric would become the anchor of the CBS Evening News; however, despite all the attacks going on then, Couric didn't do her first broadcast as anchor until September 5, 2006. Translation, five months before she ever first did the job, she was already being slammed non-stop.

Last week, we weighed in on vanden Heuvel's damaging remarks. That happened because one of us (C.I.) awoke Thursday morning to non-stop calls and messages from women in broadcasting about the outrageous thing vanden Heuvel had written. For readers of this site, let us just note that there are always women happy to pick up awards from pro-women and feminists organizations (though Katrina vanden Heuvel herself, to be clear, did not win an award from Planned Parenthood, that award went to The Nation magazine and someone needs to clean up the woman's bio) while never doing a thing to help other women. Women like that tend to, when they either ascend to roles of power or buy their way in, be the first to make sure no one is lifted up with them. (Or maybe they're just too busy trying to change the centrist Council for Foreign Relations from within?) But, though feminists have gone from low grumblings about the ratio of women published under vanden Heuvel to more loud remarks, to many in the American public, vanden Heuvel is seen as a woman who made it (up from Harlem! -- or at least her mansion there) and so when she's used to front a cover for sexism, it is twice as offensive.

While Katrina vanden Heuvel spun widly (out of her depths since she wasn't addressing reality TV again), it was left to our Manny Named Brian to note the obvious: "But the fact is the broadcast has gotten a lot better under new Executive Producer Rick Kaplan – newsier, harder, and less features oriented. Last week, according to Andrew Tyndall, the Evening News spent 11 minutes on Iraq, while ratings champ World News With Charles Gibson spent just two." (Disclosure, we have exchanged e-mails with Candy Perfume Boy and offered recommendations when asked by friends at CBS, but we have never met or spoken to Our Manny Named Brian.)

So while Katrina vanden Heuvel and others used Dan Rather's sexism to engage in yet another round of Bash the Bitch, the truth was actually that Couric's program was offering much more news on Iraq than Charlie Gibsons? Gibson, who, for the record, got his job only after ABC decided screw discrimination laws, they were going to demote a pregnant woman due to the fact that she was pregnant, not due to her abilities? Yes, unlike Katrina vanden Heuvel, we covered that topic.

A lot is made of the fact that CBS Evening News' ratings have dropped to approximately 6 million from the average of 7 million under Dan Rather. Forgetting the network's effort to alter the format (announced before they even selected an anchor), considering the fact that Katie Couric has been the target of Bash the Bitch for 15 months without let up, we think the fact that the show's held on to that many viewers is amazing. We further think that the focus on Katie Couric's ratings (which even some media watchdogs have seen as worth discussing as opposed to the content of the program) goes a long way towards explaining how Charlie Gibson can reduce Iraq to two minutes without comment from the watchdogs on the left.

For those not familiar with the week of June 4th through June 8th (Monday through Friday), Iraqi oil workers went on strike, Adam Kokesh suffered through a trumped up, kangaroo hearing, Liam Madden (whom the military was also attempting to silence) held a press conference, the number of US service members killed in the illegal war passed the 3500 mark,
tensions between Turkey and northern Iraq increased, two Sunni mosques were attacked in Baghdad (which may have been the motivation for the Samarra mosque attack last Wednesday, but people would have to know of the two mosques attacked June 7th to even consider that), a video of Byron Fouty and Alex Jimenez -- two US soldiers missing since a May 12th attack -- turned up portraying them as dead (June 5th), an unnamed Iraq veteran was publicly protesting the war by doing laps around the State Capitol Building in Sacramento, California, and those were just some of the events from the week in which Charlie Gibson could only spare two minutes for the topic of Iraq.

Now tell us again, which program was dumbed down? The one that spent 11 minutes on Iraq or the one that spent 2 minutes?

The continued Bash the Bitch proved so popular that even some women, such as Katrina vanden Heuvel, elected to go wading in the cesspool last week, facts be damned. And it didn't matter that the man they were rushing to prop up is "left" only in the eyes of the extreme right and is a "journalist" only if you abuse and self-mutilate the term. Of course Dan Rather's going to slam Katie Couric, his own reputation is in tatters and there's little he can do to salvage it so better to slam a woman and hope that takes the heat off him. Last week you saw many attempts to turn the national joke (of too many years) into an elder statesman (note the "man" in "statesman") when, honestly, his image can't be refurbished. But they were willing to try. A really bad news reader attacks a woman and too many of left and 'left' enlisted in Rather's Holy War.

But there was a bright spot as well. Friday night, Genie Francis won a Daytime Emmy for best supporting actress. Sadly, this was her first.

TV viewers owe a huge debt to Genie Francis whether they realize it or not. The TV landscape in the late 70s wasn't all that friendly to young women. Kristy McNichol was playing Buddy on Family (Francis guest starred as a skate boarding friend) and that was really about it as for women steering any action (as any episode of Eight Is Enough . . . So The Males Get The Storylines will attest). In 1976, Francis joined the cast of General Hospital as Laura. (Laura Webber eventually, then a host of other last names, don't make us go through all of this.)

There were other young, teenage females on daytime . . . and they knew their place. (Even on The Hot and The Horny -- as The Young & the Restless was known for years.)

Some pick up the storyline with the match up of Laura with Luke while some think that going back to Laura and Scotty is "historical." The truth is Laura was in sex cult before she knew either. The truth is, General Hospital was on its last legs and (new producer) Gloria Monty was the show's last chance. Surveying tapes, she infamously remarked that the cast was so immobile that she wondered if all the characters were supposed to paraplegics -- and so unattractive, that they should all be disposed of with a plane crash. Instead, she went to work on hiring (actors, directors -- Marlena Laird especially deserves noting -- and writers), went to work on lighting and went to work figuring out how General Hospital -- the typical life and love around a hospital setting show -- could be different. Early on, she seized upon the character Laura.

This included the storyline where Laura killed a man in love with her mother and went on the run (her first time on the run, a story that would repeat and repeat). She supposedly found 'happiness' in marriage to Scotty but it played like boredom (and the then not 18 year old Francis handled that storyline very well) and the ratings began to rise. Rise? We're getting ahead of ourselves.

In 1979, to the tune of Herb Albert's "Rise," mobster Luke would rape Laura. It was to be Luke's (Tony Geary) farewell to the show but he was too much of an audience favorite so, instead, Luke and Laura became a couple. (Over the objections of many, including Leslie Charleson [Monica] due to the nature of the storyline: Woman falls in love with rapist.) The show had been steadily improving in the ratings and, by this point, was no longer in danger of cancellation. What happened next shocked the world of daytime TV, shocked the world of TV and still has some pop commentators scratching their heads.

In 1980, Luke ran out on a wedding to a mafia daughter as he and Laura hit the road while TV viewers hit their TV sets all summer long to see what would happen: would the love last, would they catch on that Sally was actually Hutch (a man hired to kill them), would they have to remain on the run, on and on. Or as a top 40 'rap' song about the soap noted, "On and on it goes, where it ends up, nobody knows."

It ended up a craze and the summer of 1981 would find them on an island in a wacky sci-fi storyline during a writers' strike where all involved basically ad libbed. The show had long since passed being merely the number one soap opera and, at that point, was averaging more viewers than most programs on TV, daytime or primetime, which resulted in Genie Francis and Tony Geary landing on the cover of Newsweek. By then, the 19-year-old Francis was ready to move on and the story quickly wrapped up with a November wedding (Elizabeth Taylor guest starred as Helena Cassadine and 30 million viewers tuned in) and a January disappearance on the waterfront (and the appearance of supposed lookalike Laura Templeton [Janine Turner] and her sister Jackie [Demi Moore]). Francis was always a strong actress and deserving of attention so you have to wonder how much jealousy was involved to prevent the female face of daytime TV from even being nominated? (That's male and female jealousy.) The woman broke the industry wide, found new audiences, something unheard of in any industry.

We're not trying to take anything away from Anthony Geary who broke every 'rule' there was for daytime and remains one of the best actors; however, the storyline could have never taken off if the audience hadn't already been tied to one of the characters and that was the teenage Laura. Other soaps quickly copied with their 'teen storylines' (so much so that Francis and two other young actresses would end up on the cover of People). Genie Francis and Laura clearly influenced daytime. However, things like climbing out the bathroom window of the Campus Disco to avoid Robert Scorpio passed as "action" in those days and a line can be drawn from Laura to Buffy and beyond. Francis' impact cannot be understated and Luke was never in another super couple (Emma Samms' Holly did not make for a super couple).

The 'teen' storyline really didn't happen back then. Oh sure, back in 1970, 22-year-old Susan Lucci played a high school student. On All My Children, Erica was trying to break up Phil and Tara. As Liza would try to break up Jenny and Greg in the 80s. But on General Hospital, this wasn't a B-plot. Laura was a driving force and a focal point of teens which is how General Hospital became a craze and moved beyond the then usual soap watcher in those pre-VCR in every home days. All that came before Laura's marriage to Scotty (including the days of Laura Vining) was not the usual run of the mill storylines and "Laura Baldwin" didn't take with the audiences who were as restless as the character was. Francis' many exists and return from the show perfectly fit with Laura's restless nature and, long before there was Luke and Laura, teenagers had become a significant part of the show. When Luke and Laura went on the run, other soaps attempted to copy. There were grumblings from older cast members, such as at Guiding Light where Nola, Kelly and Morgan suddenly owned the summer. A lot of bad actors had previously held the limelight, the storyline and the show's attention (if not the audiences') due to something they'd done four or five years prior. The transformation Francis was a part of ended those days.

Francis would play many other roles and also repeatedly return to General Hospital. But she never won an Emmy. Not even a "young actor" one because they didn't have those when she started on General Hospital -- that's how much of a breakthrough the character of Laura was. Landing on the covers of People, US and Newsweek -- the latter when celebrity covers were uncommon, period, and daytime stars even more so -- she and Tony Geary changed daytime. Bringing in 19 million viewers in the summer of 1981 changed daytime. Celebrities like Richard Simmons (playing himself) and Elizabeth Taylor (among others) showing up for guest spots changed daytime.

Yet at the height of her fame, while transforming daytime, Genie Francis never got a Daytime Emmy award or even nomination. That's partly due to the fact that two of those years were years when Judith Light was doing amazing work on One Life To Live. It's also true that two other winners (and many nominees during that time period) didn't deserve any of the attention they received from the industry. Don't say from the public, they had no real attention there. They were cardboard stars of daytime. The ones who had a clever line or storyline and rode that one moment for years, usually mailing themselves repeatedly to pump up their producers' beliefs that they were popular.

Yeah, that trick worked on the P&G soaps where P&G tracked the mail, counted it and read it before it ever made its way to the performer but it also worked on non-P&G shows such as at ABC in the early 80s when an actress with serious weight issues was told "lose it or you're fired" and took to writing herself until people caught on. (We're not supposed to name names right? So we probably shouldn't note her most recent connection to the Bully Boy in a TV production.) The reality is that you're either a real star or not. Cardboard ones (including one who has too often won for best actress) take a lot of work to convince (and continue to convince) producers that they are stars. Real ones, are stars near instantly, such as Cameron Mathison who had everyone watching All My Children's attention the moment his Ryan doffed all his clothes at the office to catch Erica Kane's attention. It wasn't the body (though it's a considerable body), it was the immediate connection with the audience that made Mathison a star as he conveyed Ryan's bravado and insecurity in varying degrees.

Francis emerged as a real star early on as well. Before Luke and Laura, ABC had already noticed that she was getting more mail than most of their night time stars. That teens were writing to say they identified with Laura, they were like Laura, they dated someone who was like Laura, they knew someone (or wished they did) like Laura. There were other strong actors on the show, but Monty and ABC both knew Genie Francis went beyond audience favorite and was a genuine star. Despite this, her considerably strong acting went unnoted in her original run (and in the time since) and it did go to professional jealousy and it did go to organized voting (which went far beyond P&G's block voting 'suggestions').

Upon winning the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress Friday, Francis declared that she waited 31 years for that day. She wasn't alone in waiting and one of the few ups in a week of bad news for women was seeing the actress who mainstreamed daytime dramas, who brought in new audiences and co-created a phenomen finally get some of the credit she deserved.

We always have a great deal help on these pieces. Friends take calls at all hours of the night. As we wind down, one showed up with the script from Laura and Luke's return to Port Charles (where he buys the cigar to get the band and put it on her finger) and another showed up with a picture. We'll use the picture but we're too tired to include a cutting from the script. (And also aware that Tony Geary regularly ad libbed so including dialogue that was written doesn't mean it was dialogue that aired.) But we thank everyone who always takes our calls (often late night and mid-morning ones) and everyone who helps us. Like Barbara Walters before a taping of The View, we require a large crew to be 'camera ready.' Our friend that brought the script begged us to end with a quote and since we're not using the script, we'll use the quote. As Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin) said on Dynasty, "Score one for the good guys." Or, the good gals. That's what Francis' win Friday was. And long overdue.


The Dirty Politics of Barack Obama

Betty's sister has a phrase she uses when talking of liars and fools, "He knows not what he says." She says it with just the right amount of sarcasm that you have to listen closely in order to know she's not being kind. With that in mind, we turn to The New York Times Jeff Zeleny and say, "He knows not what he says."


Last week, a boy wonder lost a little sheen. He should have lost a lot of sheen but Barack Obama got caught with his pants down and the 'amplification' required to make news BIG NEWS just wasn't there.

We'll get to it. As always we start with Iraq.

Barack Obama, a first term US Senator yet to complete his first term, sent out campaign material last week. It was surprisingly cheap. There's a glossy fold out that we're guessing is the campaign's idea of a political Playgirl centerfold but we're not seeing the attraction -- that irritating smirk is featured on the top. Fold it out and you've got a shot Barack Obama grinning down at two White women, one of him engaged in a rather bizarre arm lock with an African-American male, and one of him engaged in the weakest handshake to hit the campaign trail (he shakes fingers -- maybe that's another thing he can pin on an absent father?). In the foldout, Obama's endorsing the myth of "Red" and "Blue" states and doing so no doubt explains why Hillary Clinton's beating him in the polls. If his tired ass ever spoke with southern Democratic voters, he'd know how pissed off so many of them are by this continued myth.

Also included in the mailing is a three page letter. It's front back one page and only front the other which means he wasted a whole page of a mailing. Page one is the typical Chicken Sop for the Soul he's becoming infamous for. He really loves to speak in vague generalities, doesn't he? In 28 lines on the first page, he waits until line 12 to offer up Iraq:

And we have seen the stubborn escalation of a costly war in Iraq that our government never should have waged and is not willing to end.

Page two is 39 lines and he waits until line 18 to mention Iraq:

Most Americans believe that a tried and failed policy of escalation will not end the war in Iraq. I opposed giving the President the broad, open-ended authority to wage this war in 2002 because I feared we would arrive at this point -- a point where the President's ideological pursuit of an ill-defined victory would overwhelm the reality of the facts on the ground. That's why I've called for a phased redeployment of our troops that would put pressure on the Iraqis to reach a political settlement and allow our brave men and women to start coming home.

Actually, most Americans (as poll after poll demonstrates) believe the war was a mistake. Obama informs us in the letter that he wasn't against the war because it was illegal but because he feared it would drag on. That is a bit different than the way he usually portrays it but he's now reaching out to the soggy middle. (Who are far more aware than he gives them credit for being.) It also needs to be noted that no pressure on Iraqis will make a bit of difference because Iraqis do not control their country. They are represented by a puppet government installed by the US.

Page 3 is 30 lines and Iraq is mentioned . . . never. 97 lines over 3 pages and Iraq gets 8 lines. None dare call it leadership.

Also enclosed is a prepaid postage envelope and a contribution form with the heading "Dear Barack, I believe in the politics of hope." He's pictured on the form as well. He's toothy there too. Is he running for Miss Congeniality or President? We went through C.I.'s old John Kerry campaign material and the postcard below (sent out July 14, 2003) doesn't picture John Kerry with a goony grin. Maybe Obama believes that's why Kerry's not in the White House?


On Friday, The New York Times front paged Patrick Healy's "To Avoid Any Conflict, Clintons Liquidate Millions in Holdings." In a classic case of burying the lede, readers had to turn to A16 and make it through fourteen paragraphs on that page before coming to this:

Shortly after the Clinton campaign released the financial information, the campaign of Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat, circulated to new organizations -- on what it demanded be a not-for-attribution-basis -- a scathing analysis. It called Mrs. Clinton "Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)" in its headline, referring to the investments in India and Mrs. Clinton's fund-raising efforts among Indian-Americans. The analysis also highlighted the acceptance by Mr. Clinton of $300,00 in in speech fees from Cisco, a company the Obama campaign said has moved American jobs to India.
A copy of the document was obtained by Mrs. Clinton's campaign, which provided it to The New York Times. The Clinton campaign has long been frustrated by the effort by Mr. Obama to present his campaign as above the kind of attack politics that Mr. Obama and his aides say has led to widespread disillusionment with politics by many Americans.
Asked about the document, Bill Burton, a spokesman for Mr. Obama, said: "We did give reporters a series of comments she made on the record and other things that are publicly available to anyone who has access to the Internet. I don't see why anyone would take umbrage with that." Asked why the Obama campaign had initially insisted that it not be connected to the document, Mr. Burton replied, "I'm going to leave my comment at that."

Of course he is. We haven't. We've long noted that boy wonder, Mr. Clean Politics, ran a campaign that did in a Democratic opponent in the 2004 primary by floating rumors that the man beat his wife. We've long noted that he did away with his only serious Republican candidate when the press suddenly discovered sealed court records from a divorce. Those are only two incidents in one campaign and Obama's actual history of campaigns reveals many other dirty tricks, many other attempts to destroy opponents with the sort of attacks that, prior to the emergence of Lee Attwater, even Republicans would have considered out of bounds. (Generally speaking, you do not go after a candidate's family or his ex-wives in order to advance your own.)

"Dear Barack, I believe in the politics of hope." The honest reply would be, "I, Barack, don't and that's why I'm in office." But the press isn't interested in that story. Sure enough, on Saturday, Jeff Zeleny showed up on A10 of The New York Times with "Foul Is Called, Loudly, as Obama Camp Plays Politics." In the "Political Memo," Zeleny shows up with no history and accepts on faith that this is the first time Obama's campaign has engaged in such practices. Even Healy didn't play it that dumb, noting that Clinton's camp has (rightly in our opinion) long accused Obama's campaign of playing dirty. It takes Zeleny 15 paragraphs to get to the most offensive part of Obama's attack:

"As representatives of the Indian American community, we have been encouraged by your message of inclusion and your promise to bring a new kind of politics to our country," Snjay Puri, chairman of the US India Political Action Committee, said in a letter to Mr. Obama. "This is why we are so concerned about media reports indicating your staff may be engaging in the worst kind of anti-Indian-American stereotyping."

It's always the innocents who get hurt by Obama's dirty campaigning -- a wife, an ex-wife, Indian-Americans. "Punjab." That racist remark was okayed by the campaign -- as long as it couldn't be traced back to them. Now Obama's issued a mealy mouthed statement that never apologizes but attempts to 'clarify' no harm intended. Harm was intended because that is how he has consistently run his campaigns. Called out on racism, biracial Obama can't even have his spokesperson (David Plouffe, in this case) use the words, "We are sorry." Instead, it's all about how Barack Obama has supported Indian-Americans and "we regret the tone that parts of the document took." Regret?

They should really regret it. But Clinton can't point that out because Obama's 'squeaky clean' to those who believe the press. And his offensive and racist press package didn't get the kind of attention it warranted. The same websites that rightly called out George Allen's use of a racist phrase in August of 2006 has been strangely silent on Obama's racism. Again, The New York Times buried the lede on Friday. On Saturday, Zeleny took 15 paragraphs to get to the point.

Racism must be like Cindy Sheehan learned cowardice was, okay to be called out in Republicans but do the same with Democrats and watch the torches get lit and the bonfires built. Obama is responsible for his campaign and he is responsible for his past campaigns. That press package, shopped around with no attribution, was racist.

On Friday, Obama was on the campaign trail serving up more Chicken Sop for the Soul and this time targeting African-American fathers. [Cedric addressed it in "You go, girl!" and Wally in "THIS JUST IN! BARACK LOST HIS GROOVE!" -- joint-post; Cedric also noted Obama in
"Glen Ford, Dem nominees (Cedric)" while filling in for Elaine Friday.] Mike Dorning (Chicago Tribune) gushed for the White Establishment Media, "few white presidential candidates would present such blunt criticism, particularly in a Democratic primary." Nor should they unless they're wearing white sheets.

In a supposed address on poverty, Obama elected to castigate African-American fathers for society's ills. He said nothing about a law enforcement that regularly targets young, African-American males, a judicial system that sentences them more harshly or the for-profit prison-industrial-complex that has sprung up. He treated the loss of the manufacturing sector in urban areas as a recent development that only began this century when it goes back many decades. He was quick and eager to call out African-Americans but this, after all, is the bi-racial candidate who infamously insisted at the 2004 DNC that there was no Black America.

He certainly operates as if he believes that. If you're paying even semi-attention, you should understand why Glen Ford offers "Why Barack Obama Needs a Whuppin'" (Black Agenda Report).

Precedent is again tossed out the window


Last week, something happened that should have been HUGE NEWS. Instead, it just seemed to waft through the country with little attention.

Since the start, we've regularly noted the Supreme Court and, with Alito and Roberts ruling, the dangers to the American justice system. In April, "Precedent and privacy go out the window" addressed how the new majority on the Court was ignoring precedent. Stare decisis is the term. Websters defines it as "a doctrine or policy of following rules or principles laid down in previous judicial decisions unless they contravene the ordinary principles of justice." What that means in terms of the Supreme Court is that if the Court's rendered a verdict, it's respected and followed unless there is a huge reason for it not to be.

Stare decisis provides consistinency and allows people to speak of the law. Without it, you really can't speak of the law. If the Supreme Court decided in 1971 that oranges cannot be banned, in 2007, lawyers can advise that oranges are un-bannable. Provided, of course, that stare decisis is followed. When it's not, the whole thing becomes a crap shoot and you never know how the dice will land.

The current five member majority on the Court has shown a disregard for precedent and maybe, in the case of late term abortion, you thought, "Oh, that doesn't effect me."?

Or maybe you thought, "Well, yes, they'll do that on abortion. I mean look at them. But with other issues, they will respect the principles by which this country is governed."

If you still think that, you missed Linda Greenhouse's "Justices, 5-4, Accept No Excuses From Inmate for Mistaken Late Filing." It was easy to miss. Below the fold, on A18, of Friday's New York Times. Possibly that's why it got so little attention.

Forget the case for a moment and zoom in on this:

The court, however, used the case to announce it was overruling the two precedents the Supreme Court had used when it established the 'unique circumstances' doctrine in the 1960s. Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said the court now regarded the doctrine as illegitimate.

Take a moment to absorb that. Two Supreme Court verdicts, over forty years old, just got wiped away in one Court decision.

Forget the case itself and just grasp that. That is a runaway court. A court that refuses to accept established verdicts and just tosses them aside to bend the Court to its own will is not a legitimate court and it all calls all past decisions into question meaning the law pretty much changes from case to case as the five member majority sees fit.

The case itself? Keith Bowles attempted to file an appeal. The Court decided he was too late in filing the appeal. Bowles, a prisoner serving time for murder, was given 18 days to file an appeal by the federal judge of his case. Bowles filed on the 18th day. What was the problem? The rule, as opposed to the judge's instruction, was that the appeal had to be filed in 14 days. Despite that fact, despite two past Supreme Court decisions, the five member majority said, "Tough luck." After they spit on the legal system, they said, "Tough luck."

It is tough luck for all Americans. This is the second time the five majority has tossed precedents out the window. First they did it on abortion and many didn't seem too concerned. Now they've done with regards to prisoners' rights to an appeal that some reading this will argue that "prisoners get what's coming to." At what point do people wake up and grasp that a Supreme Court that does not feel it is bound by precedent is a very dangerous thing to the country?

Independent media

Someone e-mails to say that we've dumped Alexander Cockburn because he's questioning global warming talks/theories/whatever. She tells us that she has followed all sites and, community wide, we have backed off from Alexander Cockburn "the moment he got slammed. Everyone of you has refused to defend him."

Someone needs to check her facts. On May 27th, C.I. addressed the issue in "Alexander Cockburn & music." In the time since, CounterPunch has continued to be highlighted at The Common Ills. C.I. does not believe it got highlighted last week and that's because there was only article (a peace plan) that would have fit and there was no time to note it. Jim will back up the time issue since he was on the road with C.I. A piece that went up two Saturdays ago by Missy Comley Beattie almost made "And the war drags on . . ." two Sundays ago; however, it was difficult to pull an excerpt (Comley Beattie was addressing both the war and religion). The Common Ills' focus is Iraq.

Both Mike and Elaine did note CounterPunch last week, Mike with a piece by Marjorie Cohn ("Repression in Oaxaca") and Elaine with a piece by William S. Lind ("The Perfect (Sine) Wave") so when the e-mailer suggests that no community site noted CounterPunch last week, she is just wrong.

Those are the three sites that note CounterPunch regularly. They have continued to note it. They intend to continue. Frequently, Kat notes CounterPunch but she has largely been focusing on the issue of Bono lately. Rebecca sometimes notes it. In terms of noting and not noting, many running sites feel as Mike does that he no longer knows why he should even bother after an incident on Tuesday when those who frequently ask to be promoted by this community refused to give credit to this community. That has soured many on noting anyone.

It has been so damaging that Jim decided Thursday we would do a regular edition this weekend and not the fiction issue that many thought we were doing. Jim's feelings were that if we do not do a hard hitting look at various topics, it will be very hard for us to get "back into the saddle" at a later date.

That is because everyone, members doing sites and members not doing sites, are taxed by what happened last week. C.I.'s only statement on the issue for public consumption is: "I have no personal thoughts on the issue. Since Tuesday night, I have been dealing with an outraged and offended community. I have not had time to think about how I feel personally, I've just attempted to do what I normally do at The Common Ills and attempted to listen to the concerns of members." Other have shared their opinions in great deal. For Betty, this has resulted in a lost faith in independent media; for Mike the decision not to tax himself too much online (to save that for his columns in Polly's Brew) to avoid being ripped off; for Elaine, it has confirmed her feelings that independent media is all about independent media and will gladly take your money but is not representing you; for Kat, it brought up all the times C.I. has agreed to help get the word out on someone only to be slammed or stabbed in the back; for Rebecca, it's made her not even want to log in to her website. Cedric states that he is still furious and Wally gets very quiet when asked about the topic (a sure sign that Wally is seething).

Dona urged everyone to talk about what they were feeling when this went down Tuesday. That was a wise suggestion. Had people attempted to bottle it up, many community sites would have gone dark. Ty, Jess and Dona offer this statement: "When this community plugs or gives a shout out, we have done so expecting nothing in return. We haven't expected to be noted or get a shout out. But we certainly did not expect that when 'news' is being discussed, and C.I.'s work is not being credited when only C.I. covered the topic, users who have used this community wouldn't be such jerks that they would refuse to even say, 'The Common Ills has also covered this.' We've read a few e-mails forwarded by members who complained and received responses that they didn't even know of The Common Ills. That is a flat out lie. It was long ago noted that Jess saves every e-mail from the press, big or small, that comes into The Common Ills. Should these lies continue, we will be posting e-mails here to reveal that, despite the claims of never having heard of The Common Ills, some were actively seeking out mentions and citations from The Common Ills. Bad manners no longer surprise us after last week. Flat out lying does and we will not let the lies stand."

What everyone has wanted to know from the start is what C.I. thinks of this and C.I. has steadfastly refused to enter into the discussion. C.I. notes for this article, "Along with the outrage, the intense outrage, of members, the other issue I had to address last week was to what to include and what not to. What happened has outraged members and, obviously, I have included NPR in the snapshots last week for that reason. I am not going to rub salt in the still open wounds. In addition, I have had to consider whether a link or quote in the snapshot constituted too much independent media for one snapshot considering the community's feelings? With big media, the community's always known of the various trade offs and they don't expect anything given back to the community. With independent media, it is very different. The feeling is that it's one thing for me to note CBS News when I have so many friends there and it is quite another to note an independent organization. I understand that feeling and I understand the points members have been making. The snapshots will likely contain less and less independent media as a result of what has happened. It is felt that many have benefited from the attention and they have refused to give back. I now have a very small list I am working from of who can be noted and who cannot. Alexander Cockburn, to note the woman's e-mail, can be noted. Many others cannot. That has to do with both the feelings of members and with the fact that I simply do not have time to deal with e-mails from members on this topic. Whatever day the peace article ran at CounterPunch, it was going to be included. What happened was I attempted to write, as opposed to dictate, that snapshot and in the middle of doing that, while my laptop was plugged into an electric socket, we were suddenly in the midst of a blackout block wide. The electricity was out for two hours and I had already told both friends I usually dictate the snapshot to that I'd be doing it myself that day so not to worry about hanging around for a call. When we did have electricity again, I immediately did the quickest, briefest snapshot possible. But having said that, the reality is that if you look at any snapshot before last week, you will see over fifty links in each one. We certainly have not gotten any links resulting from the snapshot so anyone who's displeased about what does or does not go up at The Common Ills in the future should ask what they've given to a community passionately focused on ending the illegal war because not much has been given and it's really rude to expect people to knock themselves out for you when you do nothing for them."

And that last sentence sums up Mike's opinion on his site. He is currently compiling a list of what he will and what he will not note in the future. CounterPunch, as he's already announced at his site, will continue to be noted. But Mike's feelings are, "What's the point? You work on something and you work on it and then, on a radio program that has asked for support from this community, not only does C.I. not receive credit for the work done but another organization that hasn't even covered the issue, does get credit. You see that, or I see that happen, and my attitude is why bother? I said at my site, I'm happy to talk about music. I'm happy to plug music but I don't see the point in plugging outlets after seeing that even when addressing a topic that only C.I. covered in real time, those who have asked for help and assistance from this community refuse to even give a shout out. We've all had various technical problems last week, as we do any week, and, for instance, right now C.I.'s trying to figure out how to get Ruth's latest report, which posted Saturday night, to show up because it still does not show up. When you're dealing with that or something else and you've already seen a rip off take place, it's really easy to ask, 'What's the point?' I started out happy to give links and to use my time following this or that and it's fine that I get nothing in return. I don't think I've done anything so wonderful that someone needed to turn around and give me a shout out. But C.I. and only C.I. covered the Jane Perlez article when it was published on May 29th. None of the ones getting credit did. C.I. led last week's article here on the correction. C.I. was on this and calling it out. So, Tuesday night, to not hear earned credit being given out really soured me. The e-mailer may not know this, but it's a lot of work to do links. And there are all these technical problems that pop up all the time. Your computer freezes, you lose an entire post as you're writing it, all these things, and to spend the time required to post takes more than the time to write it -- and I type really slow. So that's a lot of my personal time being spent. Before I was doing my own blog, I was a Common Ills community member and, in fact, I started my site because C.I. got ripped off. It's happened repeatedly and I've always been angry by it. But I was shocked and angry Tuesday night and seriously considering going back into my old posts and removing various things that had been included because C.I. was asked to promote them."

Rebecca states, "No one here is speaking of FAIR in any format. We are not naming the ones we are speaking of. You can check our sites if you are confused and read our posts from last week. Naming them would be promoting them. All other sites sprung up around and after The Common Ills. C.I. has consistently been an advocate of small media at The Common Ills. No other website can be found that has linked to more independent media unless the website is nothing but a link-fest. C.I. may lead the way but we all have attempted to follow. While we were willing to be supportive, we were not and are not willing to be a door mat. Those who have used this community to promote programming, articles, speaking tours, books, etc. in small media have never even been so kind as to reply with a thank you when they promotion started going on or after it was completed. What has happened is that when they have something else to promote, they immediately contact again and, in that, still no thank you for the previous work done. So it's not just the fact that there has never been any public acknowledgement, there has never been a private thank you. Quoting Elaine: 'That might be okay, in most instances. C.I.'s not a glory hog and shuns publicity. Always has. But when you're discussing something C.I.'s covered from the beginning and you're not giving credit, you really aren't hurting C.I. You're just demonstrating that, like most of the great unwashed indymedia crowd, you were raised in a barn where manners meant you snorted before nudging your way to the trough.' Now not only is that rude to C.I. and the community, it's also true that big media, due to C.I.'s friends in big media, reads The Common Ills. C.I. pushes things with them revolving around the Iraq war but when they read the snapshots, they learn about things other than war resisters, for instance. And, in terms of radio programs, many had been checking out various radio programs that C.I. has noted. So shout outs have also provided that exposure. The thank yous for any of this have been non-existent and, as with last week, when we're arriving at the point where C.I. is not even credited for work done, that's really the last straw. I have nothing against Alexander Cockburn and agreed with C.I.'s comments that Cockburn's not offering anything that should be that upsetting. If you believe he's wrong, then it's not the end of the world. If you believe he's correct, then follow through. And if you're just curious, continue reading. This is not the only topic he writes on. But in terms of independent media specifically, I have no desire to promote it currently with few exceptions. I think they've demonstrated bad manners and predatory behavior. I read several mainstream publications -- daily papers and publications -- and gather more than enough info not to have to search out independent media. I did in the past because I was trying to be helpful but I don't believe in one-way-street relationships."

This has screwed with this community all last week. It has caused tensions, it has caused uproars, it has resulted in more than anyone can deal with. That is not to say, "Shame on members who complained." As you will note, taking Dona's advice, all members who run websites except C.I. shared their complaints at their websites. This community's various sites could have all gone dark last week due to this one issue. A lot of people were thinking, "What's the point?" Why give and give when there is never a thank you but there's always time for rip-offs? As noted already, Jim was with C.I. on the road (they were speaking to young people about the illegal war) and Jim's observations were that the most difficult part of each day was when C.I. had to "hunker down and work on something that was going up at The Common Ills. This caused too much, this hurt too much, there is no excuse for it and C.I. never spoke about this, refused to comment even when I was sharing my feelings, and that's the only reason that members continued to find new content at The Common Ills. However, they may have noted the delays and, if they did, it was from dealing with the response of everyone to being ripped off. I firmly believe C.I.'s statement that there's been no time to think about it on a personal level because we had a very tight speaking schedule all week and because any time not doing that was usually spent on writing for The Common Ills. When I shared that upon returning Friday night, Dona, Ty, Ava, Jess and I made the decision that those involved will never get a mention from us again. They will never be named here. They no longer exist. They f**ked with this community, f**ked us over and nearly destroyed us. I had already shared with C.I. that this needed to be a regular edition because, my opinion, so many were wondering, as Mike was, 'What's the point?', that to not immediately go into our usual mode would make it that much more difficult to do so next week and might in fact mean the end of the site. That it came to this point speaks to how used this community was and how ripped off C.I. was."

So, for future reference, to the e-mailer wondering about Alexander Cockburn or any one else. Don't write us and ask us why we don't note someone, write them and ask why they don't note us? We've done our share. Many, many times over. Translation, we already gave at the office.

Ed Oakley

The community has always had support in Texas. Texas members are vocal, passionate and they have a spirit that refuses to die. So we followed Ed Oakley's race for Mayor with more than passing interest. Had he been elected, Dallas would have been "the largest city in the country to elect an openly gay mayor." As community members already know, Dallas elected an openly gay woman to be sheriff in 2004, Lupe Valdez.

Gromer Jeffers Jr. (Dallas Morning News) reports on the race where Tom Leppert is said to have won by 58%:

Mr. Leppert was boosted to victory over council member Ed Oakley by a campaign treasury that allowed him to buy TV time, produce glitzy mailers and hire A-list operatives, all of which made him a household name.
While many have called his candidacy a throwback to the days when the city's business elite routinely anointed the mayor and council, it also reflected voter disenchantment of City Hall, which Mr. Leppert clearly exploited.

The election was in May and led to yesterday's run off. Oakley has served on the City Council of Dallas for six years. In the mayor's race he garnered endorsements from the AFL/CIO, the Dallas Police Association, the Dallas Police Officer's Political Action Committee, Stonewall Democrats, the Executive Committee of the Dallas County Democratic Party, and more.

In what may be the biggest political 'contribution' of this century so far, the usual problems with voting and votes be counted existed. Community member Dallas reports no problem in his precinct and that not only are the votes scanned, you're alerted to errors. Those machines only go to the pricey areas, he and other members notes. (In the 2004 election, the best/worst story we have ever been informed of by a member was a long line in the parking lot of a polling place and people approaching cars with a handheld machine and saying you could vote on those. For the record, those voting on those devices were not voting -- no such devices officially existed.) Group that most ticked off Dallas voters? We'll be kind and not name them but suggest that anyone attempting to drum up support should not contact previous voters and tell them they voted in __ election, in ___ election but not in ___ election. Four members got those mailings repeatedly. All four did not vote in one election because they did, in fact, not live in Dallas at the time. Shaming people in voting doesn't increase turnout and that group, as noted each week in the gina & krista round-robin, did more to suppress the vote than to turn it out. As Samantha noted, "My attitude is, 'Screw you, I won't vote.' I really never needed to be contacted by strangers and told it is my duty to vote and then presented with my voting record." (Samantha missed the 2005 election -- Dallas elects in off-years -- due to the fact that she was in Oklahoma caring for her father who had just suffered a stroke.)

Actually, we are going to name it. We've had problems with an illustration Billie sent us, getting it to upload. She's provided a new one and while that uploads, C.I. checked the members accounts for The Common Ills and found three members had e-mailed this morning about the group, two of whom scanned the letters they'd received. We'll zoom in on one and, remember, this is supposed to make you want to vote.

Dear Registered Voter:
Why do so many people fail to vote? We've been talking about the problem for years, but it only seems to get worse.
This year, we're trying to figure why people do or do not vote. We'll be studying voter turnout in the May 12th Municipal election.
Our analysis will be based on public records, so you will not be contacted again or disturbed in any way. Anything we learn about your voting or not voting will remain confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone else.
The chart shows your name from the list of registered voters, showing past votes, as well as an empty box which we will fill in to show whether you vote in the May 12th Muncipal election.
We will leave the box blank if you do not vote.

The letter then goes on to list the May 2003, May 2005 and May 2007 [a blank for all -- "Above information does not include early voting for this election"] and, at the bottom, notes "Political advertising, paid for by New Voices." This letter (and those receiving it were also sent other mailings from New Voices) really pissed a lot of people off and it started with the opening of "YOU ARE BEING STUDIED!" in all caps. For future reference, being a buttinsky into business that is none of your damn business doesn't up voter turnout. Intimidation isn't what voting is supposed to be about in a democratic society. This is an embarrassing mailing and, unless it was intended to suppress turnout, it was a failure. Members reported grandparents and parents being especially offended by it. Returning to the election . . .

Regardless of the results or of the validity of the 'results,' the fact remains that an openly gay man ran for mayor of one of the top ten populated cities in the country, made it to the run off and gave a strong showing. At a time when gays and lesbians are openly under attack, when they have been used by the GOP to scare voters, that's really saying something. So count that as a victory. Billie scanned the campaign material below and we present it to note that in 2007 an openly gay man could and did run a strong mayoral campaign.


We spoke with community member Billie. The first thing she wanted noted was the obvious: If the rumors are true and the current mayor is planning higher office, the nation needs to be scared. The 'Democrat' Laura Miller is anti-union and anti-worker. In her pricey million dollar home (earned on a mayor's salary?), one that required her husband to not run for re-election in the state legislature due to the fact that it changed their district, Miller was infamous for having her son pose for pictures in a 'night shirt' (that struck many as a dress) while standing on kitchen cabinets. "That last part may seem minor, but you ask any mother if they let their children stand on kitchen cabinets and I bet you'll get a very loud 'no.' Add in that when our city passed the resolution against the Patriot Act it was over Miller's objection. Twice, when crowds turned out, all wearing blue, to support the measure, she tabled it. When it finally came to a discussion and a vote, she voted against it and hissed at those present for applauding when it won. Of course, when a grown man cries before the vote, one sitting on the council, saying it can't be approved because of the 'troops,' her actions may seem less embarrassing."

Billie also advised that 'Democrat' Laura Miller (officially, mayor races in Dallas are non-partisan) won for re-election in 2005 by using photos of herself with the Bully Boy. Billie says, "Be scared, be very scared."

Dumbest Headline of the week

Angelina Jolie's rep calls attempt to ban Fox News from covering her new movie a 'mistake'

The above appeared a left site on Friday and may still be up.

Is Fox 'News' banning Angelina Jolie? Probably not. Did they consider banning her for political reasons?

No, they (like other outlets) were offended by an agreement being pushed which, if they signed, would require that they use her comments at the premiere of her movie only for reports on the premiere. For those with longer memories, this is what Tom Cruise attempted and pulled off and the reason why, this decade, there has been such a huge Cruise backlash.

Some who interviewed Cruise (or might interview Jolie) could later write a book, either about the person or about actors in general or even about the business of covering celebrities. Agreements that prevent them from utilizing the work they did infringe upon their rights. Also infringed upon is their right to do a year end piece or to note a particularly telling comment that later becomes even more pertinent.

The agreements are an attack on the free press and so, while Fox bashing is fun, we fail to see why a left site would portray Jolie as the victim in this latest stunt. Her attorney has taken the fall and stated he came up with the agreement; however, it's also true that the same agreement existed for publicity of Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

If Jolie doesn't grasp that this is no way to ensure good press, she needs to speak with Cruise who could certainly set her straight. The minute Pat Kingsley no longer represented him, every petty grudge and real hurt was suddenly worked through with some of the worst press for a non-serial killer the world has even seen.

In other Jolie news, she's been recruited into the Council for Foreign Relations. We find that news delightful. For all of Katrina vanden Heuvel's talk of 'changing the system from within,' we think only Jolie can truly change the centrist group. She'll most likely do that by destroying it. Her talent as an actress is immeasurable. Her personal dramas ripe for a Hollywood tell all. As a face for a think tank, she could very well be the thing that finally reveals it to be the joke everyone knows it is.

Peter Pace fired


The above is from Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Bye-bye". Note, due to problems at The Common Ills website, Isaiah was given today off. As Isaiah's cartoon notes, Peter Pace didn't come into the job sounding like a quitter. Turns out he wasn't one.

Kilian Melloy's "Peter Pace Reveals: 'I've Been Told I'm Done'" (EDGE Boston) reveals that Pace was told he was out and given the choice of announcing his early 'retirement' or the administration revealing that he was being fired. Pace explains, at length, why he did not want to be seen as a quitter.

People are forced out all the time. We'll give Pace credit for refusing to play the 'early retirement' game and for being honest about what happened.


This piece is written by Rebecca, Elaine, Betty, Cedric, Wally and Mike and all selections are our own unless otherwise noted.

"Ruth's Report" -- Go Ruth, it's your birthday, get busy. Ruth telling the truth as only she can. This is an amazing report. Cedric has actually heard News & Note and says Ruth caught it on good news, "It's an embarrassment. It's Flava TV played on NPR and that host can't shut up about how the Red House became the Dead House. As an African-American, I cringe with embarrassment anytime I get stuck listening." Ruth also takes on Leigh Ann Caldwell who's back to spinning. Betty notes that Ruth e-mailed her about that on Tuesday and was going back and forth earlier in the week about whether or not to include quotes from her in the report? She wrote them down for Betty and her fear was that, by repeating the false information Caldwell provided, she (Ruth) might be advancing the right-wing plot of Sympathy for Scooter. Please allow him . . . She decided not to quote. We think that was a good call and we wonder exactly why Caldwell sees a light sentence and fine as "harsh"?

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Bye-bye" -- Isaiah will not have a new comic today. Ruth's report should have shown up last night. It didn't. It only showed up at 9:00 am (EST) this morning. She posted it. She called C.I. thinking she'd done something wrong. C.I. reposted it. It still would not show up (which is why it was posted here). At which point (and this is in a "Community Note" C.I. wrote at The Common Ills that isn't showing up currently), C.I. called Isaiah to check if he'd drawn the comic for this week. He was just about to start. C.I. told him to take the night off, don't bother, there were problems with the website and no guarantee that anything (comic or otherwise) would show when it was posted. So that's your heads up to what's going on today at The Common Ills.

"Green Beans and Jess in the Kitchen" -- Jess filled in for Trina and thinks his post was too short and not "weighty" enough. Mike reports, "Ma loved this. She was glad to have a day off and she really did enjoy it. She pointed out that Jess covered Peter Pace and then discussed food in a way that many readers will appreciate because it's not a gourmet cooking site. Most of Ma's readers are first time cooks and she said Jess' 'recipe' and his story should be well received."

"THIS JUST IN! BARACK LOST HIS GROOVE!" & "You go, girl!" -- until we read Wally & Cedric's joint post, we were confused where this Obama campaign was leading. Now we know. He meets Taye Diggs in a tropical paradise. Get your groove on, Obama!

"Adam Kokesh" -- C.I. explaining how wrong Heather Hollingsworth's 'reporting' has been and C.I. and Ava taking on Katrina vanden Heuvel who is always the last to note sexism when it occurs. An incredible entry and one Ty said 28 e-mails came in to this site on.

"THIS JUST IN! JOHN MCCAIN'S KNOCKED UP!" & "Senator Crazy with child!" -- an insta-classic from Wally and Cedric. So that's why John McCain's so obsessed with abortion!

"I've lost my faith in independent media (Betty)," "Indymedia, bad hair and bad manners," "Wow," "Pissed," "THIS JUST IN! YOU DON'T MEAN SH*T TO A TREE, INDYMEDIA!" & "The ungrateful" -- Betty, Elaine, Kat, Mike, Wally and Cedric weigh in on the stab in the back of the week. Rebecca writing this description because my own rant (I rewrote Monday's entry on Tuesday) is unreadable and I said, "We're not including it." Dona told us we shouldn't stuff this inside, we should write about exactly how we feel. Mike came off as angry as I was but his you can follow. Betty touched my heart with her wonderful post. Elaine was flat out funny as she can be when she finally gets pissed. Wally and Cedric chose to contrast the back stabbers with Mary Matalin who, in person, was actually very nice to them. (C.I.'s always said Matalin has good manners and is a warm person.) If these posts had not been written, the community sites would be dead now. If we had stuffed this inside, we would have just been depressed (which we still are) and angry (ditto). By writing about it, I think Betty, Elaine, Kat, Mike and Wally did some of the best writing they've ever done and I just realized I forgot to comment on Kat's. Kat used the stab in the back to talk about a previous one -- when someone came to begging to C.I. for attention and exposure and received it but it didn't end up being enough for the priss so the thing to do, apparently, was to trash C.I. in a lengthy e-mail to Ava. When that happened, all lost any desire to promote priss. C.I. had promised two mentions and, even knowning of the trashing, C.I. still kept the word because some people honor their word and have manners. As Elaine points out, independent media rarely is known for being done by people with manners. Great posts, one and all.

"The tax dodger Bono" -- we're going to expand on Kat's post in a future edition here. For now, read it.

"Betty filling in for Rebecca" -- Betty guest posted for Rebecca on Friday and wrote about childhood, childraising and other issues in only the way Betty can. As Cedric long ago noted, Betty brings deep wisdoms from the south.

"Torch Songs Between Dust and Bad Delivery" -- Betty also posted her latest chapter so give it up for Betty who found/made time for three posts in all last week. Betty wants it noted she had no idea what she was doing and had several chapters. She read them to Kat and C.I. Both thought all were fine. But Betty wasn't pleased. C.I. picked out the last line in one of the proposed chapters and suggested she develop that into a full chapter. That's how this one resulted. Read it.

"fair, (mama) michelle phillips, katie couric" -- Rebecca posted Monday (now gone), rewrote it on Tuesday, posted Wednesday and Thursday. We think she did strong work but she said we could only highlight this one. Here she's really laying it all out. A must read.

"Glen Ford, Dem nominees (Cedric)" -- Cedric fills in for Elaine and gets to the heart of the Obama nonsense. You won't want to miss this.

"Michelle Phillips, Stanley Aronowitz, Laura Flande..." -- Kat fills in for Mike and Stanley Aronowitz will be taking part in a debate on Monday in NYC, see the post for details. Admission is $5 and $10.

"And the war drags on . . ." -- In a week that was crazy enough for a number of reasons, C.I. wrote another magical entry that only C.I. can. We'd already agreed this was a must read before Ty informed us that this was the most cited thing for highlights among readers who e-mailed this site. (Second most, Elaine's post on indymedia.) Read it and you will see why. All week long, C.I. kept the head down and focused on the work. Since C.I. was the one ripped off, it's all the more amazing. But, as Rebecca says, that's C.I. for you.

Ruth's Report

Currently, at The Common Ills, Ruth's latest report is not displaying. We are posting it here and will include a link to it when it finally shows up online.

Ruth's Report

Ruth: This report's focus is bad radio so I will be covering both Pacifica and NPR. I will start with Pacifica.

Leigh Ann Caldwell attempted to sell the symbolic, non-binding Pelosi-Reid measure as "Troops out of Iraq" repeatedly in Mach. It was not that but to hear her reports on Free Speech Radio News or to hear her on WBAI or KPFA you would never know that. I have covered this before as have others and I have spent five hours on e-mails so, if this is news to you, you can use Technorati or Google search*.

As the D.C. correspondent, Ms. Caldwell is looked to as an expert which makes it all the more frightening when she is so obviously wrong. In the capacity of D.C. expert, she was brought on as a guest for KPFA's The Morning Show Tuesday and listeners should have asked for their pledges back. During a discussion with another guest and host Philip Maldari, Ms. Caldwell . . . I have no idea what she was attempting but it was not reporting. None of the 81 e-mails on this topic were from people who mistook it for reporting either.

The subject of I. Lewis Libby was addressed. For background on that, I will note Bill Moyers from his Friday broadcast of Bill Moyers Journal:

It is well known that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby--once Vice President Cheney's most trust adviser--has been sentenced to 30 months in jail for perjury. Lying. Not a white lie, mind you. A killer lie.
Scooter Libby deliberately poured poising into the drinking water of democracy by lying to federal investigators, for the purpose of obstructing justice. Attempting to trash critics of the war, Libby and his pals in high places -- including his boss Dick Cheney-- outed a covert CIA agent. Libby then lied to cover their tracks. To throw investigators off the trail, he kicked sand in the eyes of truth. "Libby lied about nearly everything that mattered," wrote the chief prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
The jury agreed and found him guilty on four felony counts.

That very clearly sums up what Mr. Libby was convicted of and explains how offensive what he did, while a sitting member of our government, was. So listening to Ms. Caldwell Tuesday repeatedly state how "harsh" his sentence was took us well beyond what we expect from news and straight into the Gas Bag Beltway. Mr. Libby has not received a "harsh" sentence and Ms. Caldwell's asinine commentary might play well in the Beltway but she is supposed to be reporting to the real world.

Mr. Libby did something very offensive to American democracy and justice which led to him being sentenced to thirty months in prison and fined $250,000. Is that "harsh"? Considering the trust and faith he was supposed to be representing, I do not believe that can be called harsh. But if we leave opinion and go to the facts, we discover that the crimes Mr. Libby was convicted of could have resulted in a one-million-dollar fine and up to twenty-five years in prison. Instead, Mr. Libby has received approximately an eighth of the maximum sentencing time and one-fourth of the maximum fine. That is not "harsh."

Ms. Caldwell would do well to stick to the facts and leave her questionable judgements to the right-wing spin cycle. As embarrassing as that is to Pacifica news, it got worse.
Mr. Maldari, like myself, does not appear to be a computer expert. That is not a problem. It does mean that he will have questions from time to time, as do I, and I credit him with his courage in asking them. One of things that has been revealed in the Gonzales Gate coverage is that Karl Rove, and others but Mr. Maldari was asking of Karl Rove, were circumventing federal guidelines and laws on the preservation of White House communications by e-mailing from something other than their assigned White House e-mail accounts while conducting White House business.

Mr. Maldari explained that he was confused by that revelation and he wanted to know, from Ms. Caldwell, whether this meant that Karl Rove was leaving the White House to e-mail from other computers?

I went back and forth on whether to include that detail because it would be easy for some to ridicule Mr. Maldari for that question. I do not ridicule him for it. He had a question and he had the courage to ask. He noted he was confused by the revelations and Pacifica's D.C. expert was present so it was the perfect time to ask a question that Ms. Caldwell should have been able to answer.

If you assumed that Ms. Caldwell was going to explain about Blackberries and accessing different e-mail accounts on any computer, you were wrong. She responded that was correct. That is not correct. Karl Rove was not running to GOP headquarters every time he needed to send an e-mail from something other than his assigned White House account.

Ms. Caldwell should know better. Ms. Caldwell was asked a direct question and she gave the wrong answer. If Ms. Caldwell, the D.C. correspondent, does not know any better than that, it goes a long way towards explaining the host of mistakes she has been making recently. This reflects poorly on KPFA and on Pacifica Radio. If that is what Ms. Caldwell has to offer, then other programs need to stop bringing her on as a guest. Larry Bensky could have answered Mr. Maldari's question quickly and accurately. I do believe Mr. Bensky stated he was available for guest spots even though he had shut down his program Sunday Salon.

Turning to NPR, as most of the community did last week. I listened online at the national feed and learned a few things. In a report on tariffs, I learned that NPR will go to any lengths to promote free trade. The story attempted to convince America that tariffs only impact the working class. On a higher note, a report on the fortieth anniversary of Monterey Pop, featuring Michelle Phillips, was worth listening to even if the usual sexism was on display. Ms. Phillips was known in that time as Mama Michelle and a member of the Mamas and the Papas. She was also married to "Papa" John Phillips. So it is surprising that these reports continue to tell you of how Mr. Phillips and Lou Adler are responsible for Monterey Pop. As Kat wondered this week, is this an attempt to endorse the sexist notion that a husband's money is his own? As a member of the group and a sometimes songwriter, Ms. Phillips contributed to the family income and Mr. Phillips was not using "his" money.

The Monterey Report was obviously the high point of my listening week being that I am old enough to remember when it was current news. The low point? A program called News & Note which appears to exist so that a clubber, who used to go the Red House before too many shootings made it the Dead House, can pretend to practice journalism.

The show is offensive. It is offensive because it does not meet NPR standards for public affairs programming and, most of all, it is offensive for what it chooses to present to the public.

The actor Isaiah Washington was fired from Grey's Anatomy. This followed his using a slur on the set to refer to a gay castmate and then his again making homophobic remarks, this time in public, at the Golden Globes. If you follow the news, you may think that it is why he was fired. If you heard News & Note, however, you were informed that it was a White Gay Conspiracy. I seem to remember Mike Ovitz getting into hot water for floating similar crazy claims; however, NPR seems to think this makes for quality programming.

Apparently wishing to top that report, which aired repeatedly on the Wednesday feed, on Thursday we were informed, during a supposed discussion of the candidates running to become the Democratic nominee for president in 2008, that Asians and Latinos were breaking the law by voting even though they are not citizens. In fairness to the 'host' and the guest pushing that nonsense, Mary Frances Berry, it should be noted that this false charge seemed to derive from the fact that they were unaware that voters in presidential elections had to be citizens. As C.I. noted Thursday, damage control appeared to Ms. Berry rushing to assure that "their children are legal even if they're not".

This show is objectionable. It is hosted by an African-American woman so possibly we are not supposed to call it out? But having insulted Asians and Latinos in this country, citizens and non-citizens, and having pushed the lie of a White Gay Conspiracy, that is the reality. Apparently McFries buys a great deal of junk chatter hence News & Note.

News & Note also wants to cover the "arts." Which is why someone felt Malcom-Jamal Warner, one time TV child actor, was a guest worth having. Should I assume All Things Considered will next be interviewing Anson Williams?

Until last week, I had the pleasure of not knowing News & Note even aired. I find it objectionable that NPR thinks their programming has to be dumbed down in order to attract African-Americans. I think that when hosts are so ignorant of the laws for national elections, they should not be allowed to discuss the subject. However, restricting the host from that topic would only leave her with conspiracies and failed TV stars who last tasted fame by association in 1992. Possibly the best thing to do would be to replace the host before she offers the next offensive segment partly funded by tax payer monies?

[*C.I. note, by the end of March, Caldwell was no longer selling the Pelosi-Reid measure as "Troops Out Now." She was now pushing the notion that, in her words, "I know it doesn't go as far as many Democrats would like in cutting the funding." As far? That the Pelosi-Reid measure cut any funds was certainly an interesting interpretation.]
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