Sunday, December 07, 2008

Truest statement of the week

He is also half white.

Unless the one-drop rule still applies, our president-elect is not black.

We call him that -- he calls himself that -- because we use dated language and logic. After more than 300 years and much difficult history, we hew to the old racist rule: Part-black is all black. Fifty percent equals a hundred. There's no in-between.



-- Marie Arana, "He's Not Black" (Washington Post).

Truest statement of the week II

A recent article by Frances Fox Piven in The Nation is titled "Obama Needs A Protest Movement." [10]

kattyofoz
I really wonder if that was Fox Piven's chosen title. It sounds much more like something that journal's bourgeois editor Katrina Vanden-Heuvel or one of Vanden-Heuvel's editors would have crafted.


-- Paul Street, "Our Challenge, Not Obama's" (ZNet) and he's the author of the author of Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics.

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday. We feel like this is a strong edition. We also feel like we're about to fall over.

Dallas, as always, was soundboard and link locater and much more. We thank him for all that and more. We also thank Trina of Trina's Kitchen who helped as well and we'll note where she helped shortly. Along with them, the following worked on this edition:



The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
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,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ
and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

We thank them all.

Now let's turn to what we have.

Truest statement of the week -- Strong statement and The Washington Post has been the outlet most aware of the way this issue has played out.

Truest statement of the week II -- Paul Street.

Editorial: A step is not marathon -- Trina of Trina's Kitchen worked on this. This was actually an idea she and C.I. came up with and Trina was excited to be working on it Saturday night . . . until her granddaughter got sick. Trina wasn't able to participate and we shelved this for next week. However, she was able to join us early this morning and we quickly wrote this.

TV: The Fairy Tale -- Ava and C.I. In "Highlights," the gang refers to the fact that Ava and C.I. have written one article for this edition, are working on another and have me (Jim) asking for a third. Elaine has a comment (which I laughed at, I'm not mad, she's correct) in "Highlights." This is the piece that they were working on. Thursday's "I Hate The War" finally contained some sort of statement re: John Edwards' scandal. I wanted Ava and C.I. to grab that in some form here. They didn't want to. They finally compromised and included a bit of what I wanted for a third article into this. I thank them. This is an amazingly strong TV piece and not what they planned to write at all. Friday, when I spoke with them on the phone, they were going to do a reality show. What changed? SNL friends begging for Amy's return to be reviewed. They really don't comment on Amy which they both just realized. They toss this out, "Amy made Baby Mama. She was the most inventive and the funniest." SNL's broadcast ended up dictating the form this would take.


Shame 20 years on down the line -- Betty and C.I. wanted this topic covered. So badly, they came prepared. At the pitch session, they had a sketch out of it as a feature, as an editorial, as a round-table topic, as an overview and as the framework we could agree to. We have nothing against the topic. Had we not covered it before, we gladly would have used any framework offered. But we have and we know this can be intense in research and writing which can make it time consuming. The four ways offered did not allow for anything less than an hour of writing (probably more). The pitch that won was this as a short feature. What Dona always asks for. But even better, the pitch allowed us to do some fiction. We liked that idea. It was a different way to go.

Must grab download: DeShannon's Laurel Canyon -- First, we listened to this download all throught the writing session. I happen to love this and am so glad it's the one we selected. Jackie DeShannon's Laurel Canyon, by the way. We had a lot more on this that we edited out. And we probably spent the longest on this because we had so much we wanted to say. I will say, use the links and at least listen to Amazon's snippet previews. See if you don't end up wanting to download. We're not planning to do a tech feature every week. We are planning to do them regularly. Why? Two big reasons. 1) The digital divide means more interest from longterm readers about what's out there even if they don't utilize it. 2) It's a way to write more about musics (and sometimes movies) which is a topic readers always want. We tried to avoid a review that Kat might do (Kat helped write this) because we don't want to copy Kat. So these will be more tech and overview. We were going to do bargains and hope to do that next week. That's what we put on hold after Ty gave us the summary of e-mails (largely with complaints about downloading albums and issues having to do with that).



Dowd to Fey: And when they met, it was murder (Ava and C.I.) -- This was the first piece Ava and C.I. wrote. Is it not incredible. I love it. After it went up, I had a panic moment. Is it "And when . . ."? That's Max tag-line in the opening of Hart to Hart and I thought it would make a good title. (It is what he says and it does make a good title.) I really can't believe how good this turned out (Ava and C.I.'s writing, not my title). Whether Dowd has ticked you off or Fey, there are observations and critiques in here you will love.

Mailbag -- Poor Ty. He picked out ten e-mails with two back ups for this. And the first question went to C.I. because the rest of us didn't even know what article Ty was talking about. That created a problem because that was one of what Ty hoped would be a non-C.I. question/discussion. Ty had to reshuffle and came up with some good ones from his backup pile.

'Whore' is a fitting word -- One feature on hold that we hope to do next week involves language. But "Whore" is the only term for a woman who demands her own privacy (and whose mother demanded it for her growing up) but thinks nothing of invading a private funeral, acting like a mourner and then writing up a really bad article. She now thinks she should be a senator. We beg to differ.

The Miseducation of Katrina vanden Heuvel -- Trina of Trina's Kitchen came in on this. We were winding down when she joined us. I told her I'd check and C.I. asked her to read over this and add anything she wished. Trina ended up simplying two very complex sections and we thank her for that. Dona said her input was more than that but that's all I remember right now, sorry. Trina, it was a pleasure having you work with us on two features this week. Thank you.


CODESTINK -- This was almost a truest, as we note. Then it turned out Jodie Evans had responded and we felt the need to do something with that.

'Iraq deal will not end occupation' (Socialist Worker) -- Iraq's mentioned in mailbag but this is really the Iraq feature and we didn't write it. The planned editorial was going to be Iraq; however, when Trina was able to join us, editorial was the only slot open for the topic of the economy. So this is the Socialist Worker.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Ruth, Marcia, Stan, Wally, Cedric, Kat, Betty and Rebecca wrote this and picked out highlights unless otherwise noted. They also grab a question from Ty that wasn't able to fit into the roundtable. We thank them for this feature.

And that's what we have to offer. We'll see you next week.

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

Editorial: A step is not marathon

Yesterday, president-elect Barack Obama gave a speech which Peter Baker and John M. Broder (New York Times) describe as offering "the largest public works construction program since the inception of the interstate highway system a half century ago as he seeks to put together a plan to resuscitate the reeling economy." That statement shows more understanding than the left.



Christopher Hayes (The Nation) insists this is "the outline of the stimulus package". How sad. For several reasons including that Barack has supported bail-outs for Fat Cats but the average person will have to slave away in order to get a "stimulus package". Also because this really isn't that.



This will stimulate some individuals pockets. We're not begrudging them that. People need jobs.

John Nichols also calls it a stimulus plan (also at The Nation, but no link to trash). John Nichols has embarrassed himself throughout 2008 but never more so than with a column that reduces the biggest economic issues to a brief aside in a sentence ("a new approach to trade policy").



Our economy is complicated. We could close off from the rest of the world (or try) and simplify it, possibly. We're not recommending that, but, theoretically, it could be staged and it might or might not work.



Barring such a move, we interact with the world. We've done that long before the term "globalization" was invented, let alone tossed around.



Barack's got some public works programs. They will put dollars into the pockets of workers and jobs are needed.



But that doesn't solve anything other than temporary employment.



Why is that?



The only exportable 'manufacturing' industry still holding its head above water is the entertainment industry. Every other sector's been shipped overseas.



How does that matter?



America doesn't make anything (other than entertainment) anymore.



A worker gets X dollars in a country that manufactures nothing? The money Barack intends to circulate (that's not an insult) among Americans turns around and goes right out of the country. And because the US does not manufacture, we have no goods to speak of that bring the money back in.



Yes, we are oversimplifying. But this problem has been obvious for some time and it is, in fact, why we have the current crisis in our economy. So let's keep this as simple as possible.



The housing bubble burst. Yes. And before that, the tech bubble. And what's your point?



Both of those bubbles were supposed to make up for the fact that we had few goods to sell on the international market because manufacturing has been allowed to die decade after decade. The claims for why these production jobs have gone overseas have included "lower taxes!" and "less regulations!" The reality is greed. Greed will allow you to pay someone not just less than they deserve but less than any human deserves. Greed will allow you to destroy another country's eco-system. Greed and a global system that allows the aggressors to set the so-called standards.



The US needs to return to manufacturing items and the world needs fair trade policies.



This isn't an editorial slamming Barack. We're happy to slam him and will continue to do so. But what he's put forward is a way to circulate the US dollars -- already in the country -- back to workers. That's important for workers as a first-step. But without fair trade agreements that protect the rights of people and places and without rebuilding the US manufacturing sector, the step is meaningless. Barack can't implement the other two needed things now. (He's not yet president.) We're not slamming him for that.



But we are calling out the reaction that tries to tell you this is something wonderful, amazing and it's a brand new day!



Cuba re-circulates their dollars through public works programs. Most countries do. But Cuba is denied many markets so all they really do is recirculate those dollars (and dollars sent into the country by family members who have left). Unlike Cuba, the US is not denied markets. It's just made the decision to destroy its own manufacturing sector.



The thing being applauded right now, being treated by some on the left as a second-coming, is basically using American Express to pay this month's VISA.



Cheerleaders on the left need to buy a damn clue.

TV: The Fairy Tale

What an interesting week for women. Senator Hillary Clinton spoke on Monday about her decision to accept president-elect Barack Obama's Secretary of State offer and she got attacked repeatedly throughout the week culminating in Saturday's nightmare (we'll get to it) while a spoiled princess decided, even though she's never held elected office, that she should be appointed to the US Senate. And no one said "boo" about that.



Where to begin, where to end?



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How about by noting the fact that the press will smear Alaskan governor Sarah Palin every chance they get. They will, in fact, invent things to attack her with. But weren't they strangely silent following Tuesday's election?



We'll join Marcia in noting Fox "News" because the non-reality based community has seized the mainstream. This is Saxby Chambliss, re-elected to the US Senate Tuesday, speaking, "Sarah Palin came in on the last day, did a fly-around and, man, she was dynamite. We packed the houses everywhere we went. And it really did allow us to peak and get our base fired up. I mean, I can't overstate the impact she had down here. When she walks in a room, folks just explode. And they really did pack the house everywhere we went. She's a dynamic lady, a great administrator, and I think she's got a great future in the Republican Party."



The week would end with tired Sarah Palin jokes on broadcast TV. The same broadcast TV that never saw fit to explore Palin's power -- the power they keep insisting (despite all evidence to the contrary) she doesn't have.



Think about that. Think about how they call her an idiot and say she has no influence. They say that about this woman who's been elected to the office of mayor and governor, this woman who was John McCain's running mate this year and their ticket received 46.3% of the popular vote. This woman, who has achieved on her own, is to be mocked, ridiculed and attacked; however, Princess Brat wants to be in the Senate and that's supposed to be okay?



Tina Fey lost another 200,000 viewers Thursday (down 200,000 from the last broadcast) on 30 Rock but more are paying attention to her insane claim that there was nothing sexist about her portrayal of Sarah Palin (one she rushes to tell America that she didn't write! It was Seth! she insists). Tina stammers that saying what she and the program did was sexism was absurd. No one objected to Dan Ackroyd doing Nixon!



Nixon wasn't running for office (or in office) when Akyroyd portrayed him. But was SNL not sexist in 2008?



Hmm . . .



Our personal favorite 2008 skit was Mac Daddy John which aired this fall. Andy Samberg, wearing a wig similar to the one he wears when playing Rahm, sat in a chair by a fireplace for a cold opening, shirt unbuttoned to the waist, stroking his chest hair with one hand while sipping on a glass of booze with the other.



Andy: Hey there, America. Have you forgiven me yet? You know you will. Sooner or later, everyone forgives Mac Daddy John. So I cheated on my wife? So she has cancer? It was in remission! Then. And I said I'm sorry. Don't you love me, America? I just wanted to be president. Real bad. So bad. When I want something, I want it full out. I want it bad. I want it hard.



As the camera zooms in on Andy, we hear a zipper opening.



Andy: Come on, Mac Daddy John needs your support. I got cravings. I got needs. I got [licks lips] wants. Oh-yeah. So I can't be in the Oval Office? It's cool. Mac Daddy John does his best work in the boudoir, you feel me, America? You want to feel me? You want to show some love for me. Come on, baby, I feel bad for what I did. Spank me.



The skit ends as a woman, with a baby on her hip, walks out insisting he's late with a child support payment.



That was so funny and proof of just how non-sexist Saturday Night Live is. They had spent months and months with that sexist stereotype of Hillary as power-mad when, as America would learn over the summer, the power mad person was John Edwards. Conducting an affair while on the campaign trail. Lying about it. Hiding behind his wife's cancer. There's nothing that piece of s**t wouldn't do to become president.



And by doing that skit, SNL proved that they weren't just attacking every woman in a position of power, they would attack men as well and, if a man disgraced himself, they would go after him. With the same anger and scorn they'd aimed at Hillary who, for the record, didn't disgrace herself.



Oh wait. That skit never aired.



That skit was never written.



Hillary was a power-mad bitch in skit after skit but they took a pass on John Edwards. On the entire story. Now when a sitting governor had a sex scandal, SNL was all on it with multiple skits. But a man who has now run for his party's presidential nomination twice, who has been a vice presidential nomination? He's not news. His having an affair and running into a men's room to hide from The National Enquirer isn't comedy gold?



Saturday, Amy Poehler returned to SNL for a brief spell. How brief? That's up to NBC. Her sitcom has no slotted premiere as of yet. That's because NBC has seen 30 Rock lose viewers every week this year and is a bit nervous about another SNL show. So while she waits (and hopes) for NBC to announce an air date, she rejoins SNL allowing it to have two female cast members (eight male cast members).



She opened the show on Saturday and guess who she played? Hillary? Right.



As a bitch? An angry embittered bitch? Right.



And, though the real Hillary has gone out of her way to be positive about Sarah Palin from across the aisle, it was time for the 'fur to fly' as Amy declared, "The question is is my new job better than being governor of Alaska? Yes. Yes, it is."



Amy's Hillary then declared that she wanted to "reflect on Governor Palin's historic" achievement for a moment and, without even a beat, yelled, "Moment over!"



It was time to bring Darrell Hammond out of moth balls so he could do the bad parody of Bill Clinton he does so poorly and Amy's Hillary would declare, "Like vampires, the south and Britney Spears, we will rise again."



Goodness, the way they rip apart Hillary, you'd think she was caught cheating on her cancer-ridden spouse, wouldn't you?



It was time for Fred to do Barack again. What's the point?




That's not intended as an insult to Fred. He does Barack very well. But as we've noted here for a year, they don't write skits for Barack. Barack can't be the butt of the joke. Seth won't allow it.



So there was Hillary ripped apart in the program's first moments and, in the first half-hour, we'd later get Barack. "When I accomplish a mission, there isn't going to be a banner. I'm just going to do it," insisted Fred's Barack in a sketch that had him repeatedly stating, "I keep it cool." Was their laughter? Not really.



Why would there be? Bob Hope did harder hitting political comedy. It's so embarrassing that people on SNL are beginning to joke Seth Meyers goes home each night, puts on a taffy blonde wig, a mole and deep red lipstick, while sighing, "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to a photo of Barack.





Saturday Night Live made its name mocking politicians. They made it through 2007 treating Barack with kid gloves and they'll no doubt make it through the end of this year doing the same as well. Don't you try to argue for comedy because Seth will get angry and threaten to show up pantyless and in a white dress.



Sexist Tina Fey wants to argue that Saturday Night Live is fair and plays it fair. What world does that nut case live in?



Amy and Darrell did the cold opening.



Then Chicago Trash John Malkovich was brought out. Who? Exactly. Never carried a film, has no career today. Lacks heat, lacks sex appeal and needs to trim both the hair on his head and the eyebrows. But while once-regular hosts like Candice Bergen and Lily Tomlin aren't invited on, while a woman under 28 still has a better chance of being the host than a woman over 35, there was tired John Malkovich. The man whose chief purpose in life appears to be making William Hurt appear soulful.



Instead of a monologue, he read a story. No, it wasn't funny. The skit fell flat especially at the end. He wasn't funny.


This was followed with a skit starring Fred (Kristen offered two brief appearances and lines) for fart strips -- Breathe Right from the makers of Breathe Easy.



Then it was time for an office party skit. Four men, two women (Kristen and featured player Casey). Followed by Fred as Barack. Four men with lines in a skit that features no women (Vinny Vedecci interviews Malkovich). A digital short starring Kristen (Virgania Horsen Pony Express). Casey and four men in a family skit about twins getting a calculator. (No, it wasn't funny. And a skit featuring Andy that fails to give him even one solid line will always be a badly written skit.) "Weekend Update with Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers." Yet, strangely, despite the introduction, Seth gets to speak first. Joining them are three men. Only Andy is funny. (That could become the mantra of the show: "Only Andy is funny.") Displaying the sexism he's quickly become so noted for, Seth read his joke about a husband and wife team of robbers: "The way it worked was he would rob the homes and she would stand outside saying he was doing it wrong."



How very sad for Seth? He's rather young to be playing it like a crusty, 54-year-old living in 1962. More ugliness from Seth in the story about Laura Bush missing the staff. Background there, the First Lady was asked who she would miss when they leave the White House in January? Her comment have been read (and this is how the joke went) that she's Marie Antoinette. Another reading could argue that she was naming the daily staff to recognize them -- the team that keeps the White House running and receives so little praise. But Seth knew where he wanted to go, Laura Bush was saying they would miss "basically anyone who has put their nuts on their tooth brushes." Yes, in Seth's world, everyone has "nuts." That certainly does explain those persistent rumors of him picking up a transvestite at Hangar Bar.



Next up, a skit called "The Lost Works Of Judy Blume." A male announcer for the skit? Judy Blume and a male announcer? Three women and John Malkovich have roles (a fourth woman shows up later in the sketch but she has nothing to do but sit around). The biggest female role goes to? Did you guess John Malkovich? Is there something really insulting about a spoof of Judy Blume's work featuring a man playing a young girl?



Andy and another male star in a digital short, a music video that already is or will be all over YouTube entitled "Jizzed In My Pants."



John Malkovich reprises his Dangerous Liason's role for J'acuzzi -- a theatrical adaptation set in a hot tub. Two women and John and Andy. (Andy's wearing shorts, for Andy lovers. You have to look closely.)



And that's it. Tina Fey says SNL is not sexist.



Though women make up over 50% of the US population, they had 12 speaking roles to men's 23 speaking roles in the broadcast and only the digital short with Kristin was female driven. In all other skits, the women were the support, existing to set up the punch line or to be the butt of the joke. The strongest female role was, in fact, Gertie -- from the Judy Blume skit and played by Malkovich.



But Tina wants to insist SNL is just wonderful and amazing and fair and non-sexist. Tina, your daughter's going to have to live in the world you're offering denials for.



And that's probably the most interesting thing about the week, some of the ones on TV doing the most damage to women are, indeed, women. Some are named Tina Fey, some are named Campbell Brown. Brown hopes (as does CNN) that she can ride a wave of disgust over the rampant sexism on display in 2008 to success. But Campbell really lacks the basic understanding to grasp what is sexism. Ed Rendall made an intentionally mocking statement about single people. The point was not that a female governor did not have a life because she was a woman. That's not Ed's style and that's not what the remark referenced. But there was dipsy Campbell yammering on about the 'sexism.' We sometimes joke that she's part of a ploy to falsely cry sexism so that real sexism is ignored.



After the election, Campbell took to the airwaves to talk about Sarah Palin. (Yes, we are coming full circle from our beginning.) And a number of indignant drive-by readers e-mailed to say we highlighted Katie Couric's remarks about sexism and we even posted a video of Katie's comments! We, they argued, just like Katie better.



Actually, we do like Katie better and we know Katie. But Couric offered a strong statement against sexism, a strong statement in support of women. Campbell? Her argument boiled down to: 'Sarah Palin's an idiot but if the GOP's unhappy now, they're the ones who picked her!" In Campbell's mind that is a strong statement against sexism. In few other minds, but in her mind, it is.



2008 has been an appalling year and you need to take what's been done to women (repeatedly) and ask what it says about everyone. We're not referring to the motives of those launching the attacks. We're talking about the attacks themselves. For example, Palin, a popular and successful governor, is to be ridiculed as an idiot because of how she speaks? She speaks in a folksy manner. You don't have to like it. You can even send it up in impersonations. But to call her stupid? What does that say the Egghead opinion is of people who stammer, or stutter, or dropped out of school for financial reasons? Marcia pointed out the strong support from her grandparents that Palin has. They like her. They won't vote for her but they like her. As Marcia expressed their feelings, "They're making fun of the way she speaks? I understand what she's saying. She rose to become the governor of a state and they're belittling her. Imagine what they would do to me." Yeah, imagine that.



Because women are the canary in the coalmines. Hate and prejudice aimed at all women could never be aimed at any group of straight men without being called out. It is in navigating how much abuse it can get away with towards women that society sets down its markers for others. And week after week, that remains one of the biggest lessons of 2008. It's not a 'happy' one. We use "interesting," an interesting lesson. And as a society, we can accept it or we can work to change it. We can take offense to the fact that a woman who has never held public office thinks she can bypass the voters and the campaigns to be appointed to the Senate on nothing but her family's name. We can take offense that women like Hillary and Sarah who have worked to get to where they are repeatedly get ripped apart, have their motives and actions questioned. Because a woman who does is always more threatening to our society than a princess who waits to be rescued. The same fairy tales generations grew up on are being retold but presented as fact.

And no one says "boo" about that. As Holly Near has warned, "The war against women rages on, beware of the fairy tale" ("Somebody's Jail," Show Up).

Must grab download: DeShannon's Laurel Canyon

This week's technology feature is Amazon.com again and downloads but musical ones. Last week's feature on Amazon's downloadable films led to questions and comments regarding the music with several of you with dial-up writing to complain about being unable to download an album in full at Amazon and, if you attempt to do it track by track (a must for dial up users), you pay track by track (99 cents a track) as opposed to the album price which is generally cheaper.



Taking the feedback into account, we put a planned topic on hold and went in search of an album to download that had at least 12 tracks. At least 12? Dial-up users e-mailing asked that we note Rhino: Hi-Five Collections. If you go to Amazon's downloadable albums and see a Rhino: Hi-Five Collection, this is the only thing dial-up users report success with in terms of downloading in full. These are five track collections. Artists with these collections range from the excellent (Joni Mitchell, Roberta Flack, Stephen Stills, Curtis Mayfield, etc.) to the manufactured (the Monkees). You can click here for a listing of Hi-Five Collections and note there are also Hi-Five Collections by genre. These five-track compilations usually cost $3.99 but you can find some on sale for $3.49. (Buying the five tracks individually would cost you $4.95 so this isn't a huge savings -- savings is the focus of our next tech feature.)



Along with needing an album with at least 12 tracks, we wanted it to be something and someone worth highlighting, someone who does not get the cover of Rolling Stone next week (or Jann chatting them up inside the issue) but damn well deserves recognition. Since Jann's always had a thing for cocks, that meant we were looking for a female artist, women being the most ostracized and ignored in the popular music canon.



We also wanted something recorded as an album and not a greatest hits. Other than that, we were open to anything and Jess, Kat, Betty, Elaine and C.I. (our most musically aware) tossed out multiple suggestions. Laurel Canyon caught everyone's attention (C.I. suggestion). The LA canyon was home to many greats in the sixties including Cass Elliot and, in the seventies, would be associated with Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and others. The title alone had our interest. The artist?



Jackie DeShannon. That is her name and that is the correct spelling. Album covers have sometimes missed that point in her illustrious career which may explain Amazon's search results. They have Jackie DeShannon and they have Jackie De Shannon. The misspelling of her last name ("De Shannon") took us to Laurel Canyon. (We went there because C.I. always thinks to try multiple spellings -- see Marica's Ebay commentary from September.) Using both spellings will provide you with 11 different albums (and a deluxe version of one of the eleven) as options to download.



Who is Jackie DeShannon? A singer, a songwriter. As a songwriter, her biggest hit may be "Bette Davis Eyes" (written with Donna Weiss and, recorded by Kim Carnes, held the number one spot on Billboard's pop chart for nine weeks starting May 16, 1981). As a singer, her biggest hit is "What The World Needs Now Is Love" written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. As singer-songwriter, her biggest hit is "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" (which she wrote with Randy Myers, and Jimmy Holiday).



While it would be silly to expect the average person to know who Jackie DeShannon is, it's amazing how little coverage she has received in recent years. Like most of her female peers, she's still not been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This is an artist who has worked with Barry White, Jimmy Page, Marianne Faithful, Dr. John, Eddie Cochran, Van Morrison, Ry Cooder, Randy Newman, Bobby Womack and many others.



She is considered to be one of the first artists to grasp that folk could (and should) be melded with the then rock & roll. Her influence in the US and UK has been immense and we're talking about a woman who, performing her early hit, "When You Walk In The Room" (1963) on TV, would do so playing her guitar. Playing her guitar.



Maybe if she fit into the 'chick singer' stereotype, Jackie would get the sort of recognition she's earned? Of course, if she had that recognition, women would be aware that they were rocking out long before 'rock history' gives them credit and maybe that's the point in ignoring her?



Women are regularly ignored. Any 'history' of the genre or era includes every minor male and, to do so, makes room for them by ignoring the women who earned their place in history. But the books allegedly focusing solely on women aren't any better. Rolling Stone's hideous Book of Women In Rock manages to mention Jackie on two pages, in single sentences each. Page 74 notes that Cher recorded "Bob Dylan, Jackie DeShannon, and Ray Davies tunes." Page 76 notes, "Jackie DeShannon went to the Top Ten with 'What the World Needs Now Is Love" and that's it. In full. The Book of Women In Rock? 549 pages of text covering roughly forty years (the book was published in 1997) and that's it?



DeShannon the recording artist moved over to Liberty Records in 1960 and, more importantly for the label, songwriter DeShannon moved over to the label's Metric Music publishing house. Other songwriters at Metric included Leon Russell, David Gates, Randy Newman and Sharon Sheeley. DeShannon and Sheeley would write the Fleetwoods hit song "The Great Impostor" and, for Brenda Lee, the hits "Dum Dum" and "Heart in Hand." Singer-songwriters -- male or female -- were not then in vogue so DeShannon was a songwriter and a singer. In 1963, Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche wrote and produced "Needles & Pins" for her (providing her with her second charting hit). In this song and DeShannon's "When You Walk In The Room," you can hear where music will be headed later in the sixties. (Of Nitzsche, Jackie once said, "Jack understood me, and we shared similar tastes in music. When we were working together, he was so in tune and so sensitive to what I did.") And that is what you call being a musical pioneer. Someone who leads, not someone who follows.



DeShannon would open for the Beatles when they toured in the US in 1964. She spent time in England and she was among the first female solo artists to begin recording albums. For those confused, she recorded albums. She didn't go into the studio and stand before the microphone singing some smattering of songs. She recorded cohesive statements and did so long before Dusty found her way to Memphis. 1967's Are You Ready For This? is among her earliest albums. (Barbra Streisand recorded actual albums from the start of her career. She always had a strong artistic vision. However, Barbra was not part of the rock era during the sixties. Working with Richard Perry on Stoney End, released in 1971, she would join the rock era.)



Jackie DeShannon



As the sixties wound down, DeShannon recorded one of the era's masterpieces, Laurel Canyon. This beautifully produced and arranged album features Dr. John, Barry White, Harold R. Battiste Jr. and Russ Titleman among many others. And it features Jackie's classic "Holly Would."



I remember

That to Holly

Ever one was good

No one has ever looked

The way Holly could

She never cared

About herself

Lord, the way she should

No one will ever treat you

Like Holly would



You have to hear Jackie sing the song she wrote in a soulful, husky voice accompanied by Battiste on electric piano, Titleman on guitar, Dr. John on piano, Russ Trainer on bass, Abe Mills on drums (among others playing instruments) and Barry White, Brendetta Davis and Don MacAllister adding backing vocals. If you're not remembering the song or desperate to hear it for the first time yet, Battiste did the arrangement (it's up there with his arrangement of "I Got You Babe" as one of his all time best). As he once famously said, "There are no limits to art."



Listening to 1968's Laurel Canyon, you'll hear Carole King's still to come Tapestry. Jackie's re-imaging classic hits (Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "You Really Got A Hold On Me" which features a nice interplay between Jackie and Barry's vocals especially, The Band's "The Weight," etc.) and while some might argue, "Yes, but Jackie didn't write those songs. Carole co-wrote 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow?'," Jackie wrote "Come and Stay With Me" and it had already been a hit for Marianne Faithful. She transforms the song (well done by Cher ,among others) and, yes, you do hear echoes of the work Lou Adler and King did on her Tapestry a few years later. In fact, you hear the singer-songwriter phase that will dominate the seventies throughout the album. Again, the term is "pioneer."



And her cover of the classic "Sunshine of Your Love" demonstrates just how much she can do with a song. Other standouts include the title track (written by DeShannon), "LA" (ibid), "Too Close" (written by Shannon, Charles Green and Brian Stone) and the Barry White penned "I Got My Reason." Twelve amazing, cohesive tracks that capture so much passion in their performances.



The CD pairs the album's twelve tracks with eight bonus tracks. These include 1969's "Trust Me" and "What Is This?" which were produced by Bobby Womack. Yes, "Trust In Me" would become a Janis Joplin standard in 1970 (as "Trust Me"), yes, Jackie recorded it before that and with Womack producing. The bonus tracks close out with Jackie's hit "Put A Little Love In Your Heart."



20 tracks? Download and cost?

DSL and wireless required less than six minutes both to download the full album. We can't be more precise because we noticed the wireless download was complete after the fact and when Jim pointed that out, the DSL crew checked their status to discover that they were complete as well. We weren't expecting that fast of a download.



Both groups were using Dell latpops with Windows Vista. If this is your first time downloading from Amazon's music, you'll be asked to install the Amazon MP3 Downloader. Jess notes the computer using DSL had already downloaded that (it has some tracks downloaded for the planned feature that were downloaded two weeks ago) last month and, yet, was again asked to install Amazon MP3 Downloader. The downloading of the Downloader appeared to take longer than downloading the album itself. (About seven minutes on each -- with a lot of griping from Jess that it had already been installed previously.)



Price? If you purchase track by track, you'll pay 99 cents per tune. If you purchase the album in full, you'll pay $9.99.



Problems?



There are no notes with the download. You have no credits (we've pulled the credits from C.I.'s vinyl copy of the album). What about composer? We used the Windows Media Player for playback. In "Library," there are multiple classifications you can pull up tracks by, one of which is "Composer." Only three songs file under "Composer" (three of 20).



Sound quality?



The album is digitally remastered. Furthermore, Betty had a Thanksgiving eve emergency (teens and pre-teens without ear phones, oh my!) and ended up purchasing Jeleez headphones. She loves the sound quality they provide and we do as well, so we'll note these. You can find them for less than $20 at assorted retail and drug stores (in some cases, as low as $11.99). They are comfortable and do not make it feel like some expansive and expanding device has been placed in your ear canal. And, point, they have great sound quality. It sounds like you're in the recording studio with DeShannon.



Most of all you have an incredible album, a hidden masterpiece. Jim made the mistake of using Crapapedia for research and found very little and what he did find was wrong. Why Crapapedia tells their readers the album came out in 1969 is anyone's guess. It came out in 1968 according to the copyright stamp on the vinyl copy. (And C.I. places it as October 1968 but notes "that's a guess.") When they can't even get the basics right, you grasp how hidden this masterpiece has been.

Looking for music that will blow your mind? Download Jackie DeShannon's Laurel Canyon.

Shame 20 years on down the line

"Grandma, what's this on top of the box?"





The year is 2028 and you thought you were helping Grandma get a few things out of the attic but you're holding a newspaper.



NYT  Nov. 5th



"That's The New York Times," she tells you. "November 5, 2008. We thought it was going to be historic. A lot of us saved copies."





You study it. Barack Obama. Oh, yeah. You learned about him in high school civics. He wasn't much of a president but he did have symbolic value.



"That's right," Grandma says patting your shoulder. "He was a first! He broke the barrier!"



"Yeah," you agree studying the front page, "that was really something."



New York Times Nov. 5, 2008



But wait . . . What the hell?



Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease as the country chose him as its first black chief executive.



"Black?"



Grandma pretends to be busy looking through a box.



"Grandma, Black? This writer, this Adam Nagourney, was he a racist? Who owned this paper?"



"Well . . ." Grandma began, "we . . . We didn't know any better."



"Bi-racial. Bi-racial's the word. What kind of racist newspaper was this? No wonder they all stopped printing. Black? Was there marches to show solidarity with bi- and multi-racial persons?"



"No, a lot of us just pretended like he was Black. It seemed easier that way."



Racist was what it was.



"Grandma, you all got his father was Black and his mother was White, right?"



Grandma nods and looks sheepish as racism lingers all around her.



"But you called him 'Black'? Grandma, I'm ashamed of you."



"We didn't mean any harm, that's just the way we talked."



You can't believe, in 2028, that a mere 20 years ago, it was acceptable for the press organs -- the respected press -- to label a bi-racial or multi-racial person a single race. It was so insulting. You knew about the huge struggles in the last years but you didn't realize, until right this moment how bad things were or that even your own family -- your own family! -- could have been so racist. And look how enlightened this racist Adam Nagourney thought he was while describing a bi-racial person as a single race. Things really were backward back then.





[See also Marie Arana's "He's Not Black" (Washington Post), Betty's "The word is bi-racial," Stan's "All over the place," Marcia's "Sick and tired of it" and Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The Surreal Life stages comeback!"]

Dowd to Fey: And when they met, it was murder (Ava and C.I.)

Tina Fey seems intent upon destroying what's left of her career and who the hell are we to prevent her? In a new Vanity Fair article, she's disgracing herself yet again. Fortunately, she's run off even more viewers since we last checked in with Fey, so the article's ability to hurt 30 Rock is probably limited.



Before we go further, we have to note that the author of the piece is non-writer Maureen Dowd and let's add that for all who have missed those Ed-Wood-in-their-badness pieces MoDo used to churn out for Premiere in the 90s when she was trying to 'sex up' LA -- she's back!!!! Thus far, there are no rumors that Dowd slept with Fey for this piece. But let her write a few more Van Fair features and the rumors will, no doubt, pile up as quickly as they did when she was the 'roving' film 'reporter' last decade.



Back to the article which Van Fair has entitled "What Tina Wants" but a more truthful telling would be: "When Half-Wits Collide." Doubt us? MoDo and Tina bring out the worst in each other, as evidenced by the first two (single-sentence) paragraphs.



Tina Fey has never dated a bad boy.


She didn’t even let boys she dated do anything bad.





Yeah, it's pretty damn awful. When you consider it was written by a woman who allegedly had no sexual interest in Fey (and that Fey's an allegedly intelligent woman), it's really disturbing and bordering on John Simon's infamous leering at Nastassja Kinksi in 1982 (sample: "The breasts are perfect, though some might think them a bit small, pubescent; over the youthfully querying eyes, the brows are adult and ripely female," Rolling Stone, May 27, 1982). For all those who ever underestimated MoDo's active fantasy life, stop a moment and grasp that it takes a highly 'creative' mind for her to write like a dirty old man.



Now don't think we've forgotten Tina. Exactly what was she doing talking about her love life with MoDo? Or, for that matter, tossing around the f-word? (MoDo dubs it "easy banter" thereby explaining how she could date John Tierney.) Here's Tina showing her ass and ignorance yet again:





"What made me super-mad about it," Fey says later, "was that it seemed very sexist toward me and her. The implication was that she's so fragile, which she is not. She's a strong woman. And then, also, it was sexist because, like, who would ever go on the news and say, 'Well, I thought it was sort of mean to Richard Nixon when Dan Aykroyd played him,' and 'That seemed awful mean to George Bush when Will Ferrell did it.' And it's like, No, that's not the thing. This is a comedy sketch on a comedy show." "Mean," we agreed, was a word that tends to get used on women who do satirical humor and, as she says, "gay guys."



So much there, it's hard to know where to start. First, she's bringing up Dan Aykroyd playing Richard Nixon? Is the idiot unaware that Richard Nixon was out of office long before Aykroyd ever played him on Saturday Night Live? If she's not, let's be the first to tell her that Nixon left office in disgrace.



Will Ferrell? In the 2000 election, when Will Ferrell did candidate Bush, the Democratic hating Darrell Hammond did Al Gore. The two balanced one another in the eyes of many. Al Gore was portrayed as sniveling, Bush was portrayed as stupid. And it needs to be noted that, while their likes offscreen were pretty obvious in 2000, neither performer felt the need, as Fey did, to make it clear in public that she was portraying a character she wanted to lose the election.



Fey wants to insist that this is just nonsense, this notion that Saturday Night Live and she were sexist. We're beginning to see why the bulk of SNL alumni who worked with her continue to refer to Fey as a brown-noser. SNL has a long, long history of sexism and in 2008 -- spring and fall -- SNL achieved new lows.



Hillary was a bitch in skit after skit. That was the 'joke.' Hillary was a power-hungry bitch desperate to be president, in it all for herself, willing to do anything to be president.



And though she dropped out the race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in June, SNL (as they told us in April they would) brought her back on for 'comedy gold.'



That power hungry bitch. It was all so funny -- they thought. Remember that.



Sarah Palin was introduced to SNL viewers this fall. Tina Fey played her. For the bulk of Fey's Palin skits, Palin was a dumb idiot, frisky and hot-to-trot. It was 'funny.' Then Palin morphed into calculating. From dumb-bunny to dumb bitch. "Progress" as only SNL can offer it.



Now remember we noted that the SNL's Bush in 2000 was balanced out with their Gore? Where was the balance in 2008? There was none.



Barack? A god. Hillary could be seen in bed in curlers. Barack? Did he exist outside of the close up? Not on SNL.

His wife infamously says that she's proud of the US for the first time in her adult life and SNL isn't running with that? Barack infamously refers to the 57 states in public (the US has fifty) and that's not a joke? Nothing's ever a joke with Barack. They gave him no interior life. They tossed Kleenexes at him while putting Palin and Hillary through the meat grinder. It was not fair, it was not equal. It was sexist and it doesn't just go to the historical pattern of SNL, it goes to a year long pattern.



Tina wants to insist that there was nothing sexist about her characterization of Palin?



Where was the moment where Barack was lampooned for saying small-town voters cling to God and gun (as well as anti-free trade and anti-immigrant positions)? Never touched on. Barack relating to Iowa voters by 'sharing' his stops to Whole Foods for arugula. (Iowa has now Whole Foods store.) We can list a million things.



And SNL never did a skit. SNL never cracked wise on Weekend Update.



They kissed Barack's ass over and over and used 90 minutes of weekly network broadcast time to influence an election. And Tina doesn't think there's anything wrong with that?



Tina's little Palin act included repeating constantly that she (Palin) could see Russia from her front porch and that qualified her as president. A Zogby poll found over 87% of Americans able to identify this statement as made by Palin -- even though she never said it [here in PDF format].



And Tina wants to pretend her little act was innocent? Repeating, before Ackroyd ever played Nixon on SNL, Nixon had left office.



Idiots like Maureen Dowd like to say that Tina was a dead ringer for Palin. Palin doesn't have a hawk nose, a cleft chin, a fatty lower face or a long scar running across one side of her face. Tina may not be able to control those things. She does control where she pitches her voice. And though Palin's voice comes from her chest and Fey's own voice comes from her throat (which is why she has so many sore throats), Tina deliberately pitched it to a head voice when 'impersonating' Palin. It was part of making Palin appear an airhead. Another way to ridicule her. Repeating, Palin has a chest voice.



MoDo reports that Seth Meyers, according to Tina, wrote the bulk of the Palin skits. And Tina wants to pretend there was no sexism involved? Seth Meyers who HATES women. Seth Meyers who has been co-hosting Weekend Update solo and makes damn sure women aren't welcome? Seth who lives to work in a joke about the porno Deep Throat into a Weekend Update has any respect for women?



Tina Fey is a liar, Rebecca is correct. Tina lies and lies some more. Those skits she wants the world to know she didn't write (she wants them to know it because NBC has found that an increasingly large portion of potential viewers find Tina off-putting), are we supposed to believe Tina can't remember what she did in them?



"Pageant walking"? Palin was ridiculed for having entered a beauty pageant to try and win a college scholarship. Gee, Barack's bragged ("bragged" is the term) about the pot and coke he did in college with allusions to the possibility that he may have done heroin. We're not remembering that -- or anything from Barack's past -- being the basis for an SNL joke. But it was ridicule Palin over and over, wasn't it?



And what about having Palin hike up her skirt in a skit to show even more leg? That was based on what?



It wasn't rooted in reality and when all of Barack's flaws were repeatedly avoided, it does go to bias, it does go to a serious problem that should have a number of people fired (including Seth Meyers) and it does go to ridiculing women repeatedly -- whether it was Hillary or Sarah.



And Tina really needs to stop lying.



Yes, it is painful time for her. She's the darling of the egghead set and has gotten more press than she ever could have dreamed and it hasn't helped her failing show a damn bit. We're not psychics. We are familiar with last year's ratings. Season two started with an all time high in its low ratings, 7.33 million for the Jerry Seinfeld episode. And then what happened? The ratings dipped and they dipped. It's the same pattern as last year only it's even more evident and, as the network's own polling data indicates, a vague I-don't-like-the-show feeling in 2007 is today a strong I-don't-like-Tina feeling.



Bitchy, as female comics, producers, writers and performers told us, doesn't allow a woman to have a career in comedy. Turns out they were right. Ask Tina Fey. Better yet, ask NBC.



When we last noted Fey's faltering ratings two weeks ago, the show had fallen from it's 8.6 million all time high to 7.3 million. Then it took Thanksgiving off only to return last Thursday. And what happened? What always happens? Tina Fey ran off viewers. How bad was it? Well The New York Times was apparently too scared to print the numbers. 7.1 million viewers. She lost another 200,000. And the show that preceded 30 Rock? The Office? 8.3 million viewers. And the show that followed 30 Rock, ER? 8.1 million viewers. In other words, ER (which ends its run this spring) managed to bring in one million viewers more. In other words, 1.2 million viewers of The Office, with no broadcast show starting on the half-hour, elected not to watch 30 Rock. As we pointed out some time ago, each week 30 Rock has lost viewers since it began airing this fall.



Back to the lengthy quote of Tina from Van Fair, Tina's fretting over "gay guys" being called "mean"? Golly, it's not like Thursday night didn't just find 30 Rock making that same claim.



Oh. Wait. It. Did.



Goodness, Tina, in the show you write and star in, one would assume you had some sort of say. Or are you too busy pushing your breasts off on America these days to do the work required?



Let's now address Maureen Dowd who never had an eye for detail because that would require recognizing reality. Here's MoDo 'reporting' from the SNL set during the broadcast that would take SNL to record ratings, when Governor Sarah Palin appeared on the program: "She [Fey] has taken off her Palin-streaked beehive wig, and her dark-brown hair is pulled back in a thick ponytail. "

Click here for the official SNL site and the video playing is the opening where Fey poses as Palin at a press conference while the real Palin speaks with Lorne. Do what MoDo can't, use your senses.

Do you see a beehive? No, you do not. Maureen Dowd, backstage, either has no idea that Tina wore no beehive wig or else doesn't know what a beehive is. Either way, it's an indictment of her shoddy reporting 'skills.'



Maureen Dowd is a moron. An allegedly trained reporter who either is so stupid she does not know what a bee-hive actually is or whose 'skills' and 'ethics' are so weak that she needs to invent things she claims to have seen.



Invent things she claims to have seen? We think we just described every column MoDo ever wrote.



We're not sure who wins most embarrassing? There's Tina spilling out of her blouse (and then some) as she tries to act sexy for Annie Leibovitz. But there's Maureen being . . . well MoDo.



Dowd lives to peer into other's minds (the Clintons most infamously), so let's edge close to her own insanity:



Sarah Palin's debut left conservative men salivating -- "Babies, guns, Jesus: hot damn!" Rush Limbaugh thundered--and left Fey little choice. There had not been such a unanimous national casting decision since Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind.



Dowd appears to be saying -- a sure sign of an awful writer is that, when discussing their work, you have to say they "appear to be be saying" -- that Fey was drafted into playing Palin by "unanimous national casting". Certainly that was true of the Water Cooler Set.



We'll allow that point but then Dowd decides to sport her stupidity the way Tina does her bosom: "There had not been such a unanimous national casting decision since Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind."



What?

Clark Gable was one of many actors the public wanted for the role. To imply he was the "unanimous choice" ignores the strong support for many other actors including Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn (both of whom were pursued for the part by producer David Selznick, Flynn repeatedly). Afterwards, many (including Bette Davis) would say Gable was the only choice to play the role but that was (as Davis noted) in retrospect.


Someone needs to explain to Maureen that just because she can type it doesn't make it true.




Imagine all the 'political' writing the country could have been spared if Maureen had grasped that years ago?

Mailbag

mailcall

Ty: Digging into the mailbag to share a few of your thoughts, links, questions and more. We do a mailbag as frequently as we can. I pick the e-mails and participating in this are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Jess, and Ava, 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, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Wally of The Daily Jot, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends. First up, Robbie1987 e-mails to thank us for the work on the treaty masquerading as the Status Of Forces Treaty and to single out C.I. in particular for work on this at The Common Ills: "Where was everyone else? The treay doesn't matter? And when barely noted we should do like Amy Goodman and just repeat the White House talking points? It was shameful. I recommend everyone read Phyllis Bennis' 'The meaning of Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between US and Iraq' at ZNet and wonder if any of you have any thoughts on it? My only disappointment is that it went up yesterday" that was Friday "when it was too late to do any good. I felt that was a little chicken-hearted." Anyone?



C.I.: There's silence. First, thank you for the compliments on the work done here, that's a group thank-you, I'm not commenting on The Common Ills. In terms of the article -- I haven't read it -- I believe it's an interview. I also believe Phyllis gave that interview before Thanksgiving. I have a general understanding of the points she's making and they're ones we are all in agreement on -- all participating in this. So I think she did speak strongly against the treaty. I understand Robbie's point regarding it being too late but, repeating, I believe she gave that interview before Thanksgiving. Meaning, she's not the one responsible for when it posted and she has been speaking out against the treaty prior to Friday. Again, I haven't read it, I've heard of it. We'll open with a quote from it at The Common Ills tonight in "And the war drags on" and I'll make a point to read it then.



Ty: Thank you for answering but I wish someone else had because a lot of the e-mails are going to require your response. To be clear, as C.I. pointed out, there was silence. None of us have read the Bennis interview and I don't think anyone else was even aware of it. So C.I. jumped in but I'm saying right now, to everyone, there are several questions that C.I. is the obvious person to respond to them so you need to make a point to jump in.



Dona: Let me jump in now to explain for drive-by readers, the only one of us who would have a problem with that is C.I. That's why Ty's saying he wished someone else had answered because if others don't, C.I.'s going to walk out on this feature.



Ty: Right. Okay, Betty, here's one that was to you. Lanah wants to know what's changing at your site and if you've considered putting up a note explaining the title now that your site is a blog and no longer the online novel of Betinna?



Betty: I hadn't consisdered that but it's a good point. Lanah's right. Someone coming by a month or two from now by chance is going to see "Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man" and think, "This woman loves Thomas Friedman? She's sick!" The title was a joke. And when Betinna, the lead character in the novel, was showing up in weekly chapters, that should have been obvious to people. But now that the site's a blog, it could lead to confusion. I should update that in someway, a note or something. Thanks for pointing that out, I will figure out some way to note that.



Ty: Carlton wishes Ava and C.I. would do a weekly feature "called 'Things To Watch This Week'."



Ava: I'll grab. We don't have the time for another feature, first off. We've already done one feature for this edition and Jim's pushing us for two more. There's no time. Second, it's really not our job to tell you what to watch. Or to tell you to watch. If you want the week's best bests, I'll tell you right now, Monday the place to be is NBC because you do not want to miss Chuck and Heroes. Those are both episodes with foreshadowing. On Wednesday, the place to be is CBS for The New Adventures of Old Christine because Megan Mullally drops by and, unlike on 30 Rock, they've actually written some scenes for her to play.



Rebecca: Ty's admonishment ringing in my ears, let me jump in. First, Megan Mullally is the Emmy winning actress most famous for playing Karen Walker on Will & Grace. Second, I've started covering Heroes at my site each week. A reader asked me to watch the show this fall and I did. I'm hooked on it now. Nathan's just decided to go over to the dark side so I'm assuming Ava's referring to things we'll see on Monday regarding that. Assuming because, unlike Mike, Ava and C.I. don't tell me s**t.



Mike: I'm laughing. I cover Chuck at my site and it is my favorite show and I'm so glad it's finally cooking again this year. Those first two episodes were awful. Ava and C.I. just give me hints. They'll toss something out as an aside. It's only when I watch a new episode that I get what they were telling me.



Ava: Also true is that Mike is not someone self-confessed about being unable to keep a secret.



Rebecca: That is true. We should put the picture of Nathan in here.



Heroes



Ty: Wait, I can pull an e-mail for that. Hold it. Okay, here it is is. Janet e-mailed to say she enjoyed that NBC photo Rebecca posted, "It reminds me I need to again make it a point to watch Heroes." But she wondered why Rebecca didn't post it to her own Flickr account?



Rebecca: I don't have one. We started out using Hello. That's what we did visuals with. Illustrations, photos. And C.I. had a Hello account, Third had one and I had one. We'd just share the passwords if someone else wanted to use a visual so they didn't have to sign up. Now Hello ended on a december 31st -- 2007? 2006? With no notice. C.I. and I looked at various things and finally decided Flickr was the best. I didn't need an account. And we all have the passwords to both accounts C.I. has -- that's how we post Isaiah's comic at our sites. So if I need to post a photo at my site, I will sometimes go to C.I.'s Flickr account, toss it in there and do a note explaining it's for my site so people don't start e-mailing C.I. asking, "What are you writing about Heroes?"



Jess: As somone who helps out with e-mails to the public account of The Common Ills, let me interject that even with that, two people e-mailed asking why C.I. posted a photo of Pasdar to Flickr. Along with the group that continues to e-mail every other day asking to use this photo or that, it gets old. "Old" because C.I. told them anything but Isaiah's comics can be used. But they continue to e-mail over and over.



Rebecca: Well, I tried. I don't know what else to tell you.



Mike: Before we move away from TV, New Adventures of Old Christine no longer streams full episodes online. A stupid decision. But I want to note that because I found out Monday when I was hoping to catch the Thanksgiving episode.



Ty: Okay. And thank you to everyone who participated. Okay, this one can go to Jim or Dona or Jess or Ava. Belle e-mails wondering what's the right number each week for features here? She also wonders if we're moving away from doing as much?



Jim: Everyone's looking at me. There's no set number, believe it or not. When we started, I think we did something like five to seven a week. Now days we have much more than that. We have tried to drop back down but it usually doesn't work out. We write more each week than ever makes it up here. What makes it up here is usually what we consider the best of the batch. That doesn't mean it's great, just that it was the best we could do that week.



Dona: I want to focus on the time issue quickly. There are features like "Truest statement of the Week" that pop up regularly. In that, we grab a quote from the previous week that we believe was right-on-the-money. Now that might seem like a simple cut & paste. However, you've got everyone involved in this mailbag gathering to toss out who they think is qualified. And there are sometimes many, many nominees each week. If that's the case, we spend time not only reviewing the statements but arguing why it is or isn't as important as other statements. I ask for short features and I do that to break up the look of the site. I long ago grasped that shorter pieces did not and would not mean we only had to spend five minutes or less on the feature.



Jess: And there's the pitching aspect. At the start of each writing edition, as soon as everyone's 'together' -- Kat, Wally, and the six of us -- Jim, Dona, Ty, C.I., Ava and myself -- are all together on the West Coast, others are phoning in -- we've got to pitch the ideas for the edition. Everyone comes in with thoughts. C.I. and Trina had a great idea and that would have been waived through by all of us; however, Trina ended up not having time -- her grandchild is sick -- so that's put off until next week. But something like that would be waived through by all because it's Trina. Those of us who work on the edition every week don't get waived through so easy. Mike had a number of ideas and they all got shot down, I think.



Mike: Yeah, they all did.



Jess: Betty and C.I. came into this with a pitch and it got shot down over and over. Betty want to talk about that?



Betty: Sure. We're doing a feature on bi-racial and multi-racial. It's important to us and to my father. And we came in with several ways it could be done. We didn't just pitch an idea, we didn't just say, "Article on the difference between bi-racial and Black. What do you think?" We came in with how it could be a roundtable discussion, or it could be an editorial, or this, or that. And it was shot down over and over. Like Mike's things. And that wasn't anything personal -- for Mike or for us. A roundtable, for example, no one wanted to do. It was too long and we didn't want to spend that amount of time. As an editorial, Dona and Jim both felt we'd get stuck in the research and not have time to write it. Or be up until noon Sunday still working on the edition. At that point, I had pretty much given up on us doing it. C.I. and I had pitched it in about four or five different ways and seen it shot down everytime. But then C.I. said, okay, we also have a way of doing it as a short feature. C.I. tosses that out and then Ty starts building on that and that got waived through. It was felt we could do that. That it would be a different way to cover the topic than we already had. And that it was different from other features planned.



Jess: Thanks, Betty. So that not only illustrates how something ends up on the cutting block or something we spend time on, it also illustrates the time that goes into just discussing one feature idea. The writing editions take a lot more time than we ever plan.



Ty: Marcia and Stan, would you like to comment? Cedric?



Cedric: Sure. I want to back up Betty's comment about it not being anything personal when your ideas get shot down. Mike had several great ideas. The feeling was just, "That's going to take a lot more work than we're going to have time for." In terms of Betty and C.I.'s pitches, I supported everyone of them -- as did Marcia and Stan which is probably why Ty asked us to jump in here -- but I did see Jim's point regarding time and Dona's asking, "How is this different from what we've already done here?"



Marcia: Everybody gets turned down. I can say from my time reading -- over three years -- and my time participating -- almost one year -- that even C.I. gets shot down. I don't know if Jim ever has, but I've read how C.I.'s been shot down and I've also participated when C.I.'s been shot down. Or C.I. and Ava for that matter. If it's really important to someone, it will get waived through in some way. Your best chance is to do what Betty and C.I. did this time which is to come in with several different pitches for it. My cousin's shrugging indicating nothing to add.



Ty: Okay. Last week's "Book discussion roundtable" was very popular with readers who've been waiting forever for a book discussion. Dona says Ruth, Stan, Wally and Elaine haven't spoken. Elaine, you can wait because you and C.I. can grab another point in a moment. But Sylvia e-mailed praising it and again asking why it wasn't possible to do a book discussion at least once a month. I'm going to toss to Stan because this was his first book discussion and he can share his impressions. Sylvia thinks they just fly by. Stan?



Stan: I understand that because I read all the other ones and it seemed like it did just take a few minutes. But the reality is that there is so much more than what goes into the transcript. First off, Ava and C.I. take notes throughout the discussion. After the discussion, the notes are scanned and e-mailed to those of us not in California. We all go over them and make sure we're comfortable with what we said. We can't add anything but we can say, "I don't think I said anything there." And ask that it be pulled. If we think we're not making sense or if we read it and think it's a waste of time or maybe we said more than we realized. From the stuff that's not crossed out, a transcript is assembled. It's a rush transcript. And stuff will be edited out. It may read Betty saying something that backs up what Rebecca just said but in the discussion, five or six people spoke between Betty and Rebecca. So there's that. It's also true that we all read a book --



Kat: I didn't.



Stan: Kat didn't. Ava and C.I. didn't either. But everyone else was assigned one book by Jim and, in addition, many of us, Mike and me for instance, read more than what we were assigned. So there was that prep time as well. It's very consuming. This one supposedly went quickly.



Ty: Wally? Ruth? You've done these before. Did it go quickly and if so why and if not why not?



Ruth: It did go a little quicker. I think that was because it was a little more structured than they usually are. We were generally paired up on a book. So it was a systematic work through of each book on the list. It made for a structure that we don't generally have and that is why Jim set it up the way he did. Wally?


Wally: I agree with Ruth's point and would also add that by it being two or so on each book, it also allowed for less conversation. Take a look at the end of that discussion, for example. Mike, Elaine and C.I. have read every book on the list. And they are able to bring those in and, even when not citing the other books, they are referencing them. That final section is, in many ways, the strongest. Because it was the three of them, it moved quickly. And there are no edits. It is exactly what they said --



Ruth: One edit. Jim typed it up and skipped over, by accident, the section where C.I. was explaining that when Bette Davis goes from the hit All About Eve and the Oscar nomination to never reach those heights again, people need to grasp that a lot of things are involved.



Wally: Right. Bette Davis wasn't blacklisted and wasn't a Communist or suspected of being one and look at her career. But other than Jim's accident, it's exactly what they said. Now because Elaine is involved with Mike, and he her, and because Elaine and C.I. are lifetime friends since college and because they know all the books on the list, they're able to bounce off one another quickly. They know what each other mean. And, if you pay attention, not only do they know what each other means, they also fill in for each other. Like Mike will talk about the point C.I. was making and sketch it out further or C.I. or Elaine will do the same. Mike was excited so he spoke quickly and Elaine and C.I. always speak quickly so that just breezed by. And gave us a strong finish.



Kat: Which we were able to listen to and enjoy. I mean, that section was just, "Sit back and enjoy." I thought Elaine, Mike and C.I. did an incredible job and, as Wally points out, that went so quickly -- poor Ava taking notes -- and probably lasted less than ten minutes. All that came before was over two hours easily. But a lot got pulled out by the persons speaking and some got dropped during the editing to make it flow better -- as Stan was explaining.



Ty: Thank you all especially Kat who also hadn't spoken until this section. Okay, I've substituted e-mails I'd hoped to use. But this one really has to stay in. Also on the book discussion, Zloax79 e-mails that, "You" -- assuming it's "you" plural -- "are lying about the Communist Party in the US being under control of the Soviet Union. I know my country's history." Elaine?



Elaine: We're lying? Was that the entire e-mail? I mean, did he or she offer any, "I was reading . . ." or "My professor says . . ."?



Ty: Nope. That is the full e-mail: "You are lying about the Communist Party in the US being under control of the Soviet Union. I know my country's history."



Elaine: I thank you for your brevity, e-mailer. My reply: No, we are not.



Ty: I'm laughing. C.I.?



C.I.: I'm not going to go through the entire history of the Communist Party in the first half of the 20th Century.



Ty: I know you weren't finished but let me also add that two e-mails came in, referencing a Kat post last week, asking about the Communist Party not being huge in the years right before WWII.



C.I.: I think we're covering that aspect in another feature. In case we're not, define the measurement. If the measurement is their past profile, the Communist Party shrinks in the lead up to WWII. That's all I'll say on that. In terms of the question the person was asking regarding where the orders came from. In the film Reds, you'll see Warren Beatty travel to Russia and argue for the winners of a US election to hold the positions they'd been elected to and lose -- John Reed would lose, Beatty was playing John Reed. That's not a film invention. Jay Lovestone and others won 90% of the votes in the American Communist Party election in 1929. They should have held office. You win 90% of the vote, you're the winner by a large margin. But that didn't happen. American delegations went to Russia and Stalin made it clear that he didn't want Lovestone -- or Benjamin Gitlow -- in charge. So despite their huge win, they did not become the party's officials. That's one example of Soviet control of the American party. There are many, many more. And that incident described lead some Americans to leave the party. Similar incidents is why some of the most anti-communists in this country were on the left. They were former party members -- I'm not talking about those who testified before the HUAC -- who were confronted with realities that didn't jibe and they left the Communist Party. They left angry and they left feeling lied to. They were outraged and they were very vocal about that. Some of the most centrists left politicians -- some not all -- during the forties included former Communist Party members. And of course, another branch would go onto become neocons in the 80s for differing reasons. But Lovestone and Gitlow won the election and Stalin refused to allow them to hold office and then, after he had ensured that, he went out of his way to destroy their standing in the party. We can talk about the turn-on-a-dime political positioning and how that was due to the orders coming from the Soviet Union. We can talk about any number of things, but the US is a democratic society based on the belief in democratic elections. The fact that an American political party's elections would be overturned by the ruler of another country goes to who controlled the party.



Ty: Alright and I had several other e-mails. Maybe some can be worked in during the near future.

'Whore' is a fitting word

Princess Brat, Caroline Kennedy wants to be Senator her steady's paper reported last week. Her steady, you understand, not her husband.



Ah, Caroline. At least Neil Diamond thought you were sweet.



Caroline Kennedy's never done a damn thing in her life to warrant her being appointed to the US Senate. Should she be elected, that's New York's problem. But let's not pretend that her life demonstrates any leadership or, for that mater, anything to be proud of.



In fact "whore" probably best describes Caroline.



We're not talking about, "Caroline sleeps around!" We're talking about the fact that the woman has no ethics and no standards. She wants the whole world to 'back off' and 'give her space' for her tragedies. But she'll be damned if she'll ever do the same for anyone else.



As the little intern Whore for The New York Daily News whose press career was going nowhere and desperate to get some sort of attention, Caroline decided to invite herself to Graceland for Elvis Presley's funeral. As the daughter of a famous president (slain while in office), she figured (rightly) that her visit would be seen as some sort of Lisa-Marie-I-lost-my-father-when-I-was-a-child-too-I-can-relate sort of thing. A "My father was a president and your father was the King" moment.



But the little s**t wasn't there for that. She was there on assignment.



She was there to do a write-up.



The Presley family could have invited the press to attend if they'd wanted to. They did not wish to do so.



But Caroline pushed her way into their tragedy and wrote about it.



Disgusting.



She lied to get in and she was there as a scavenger, as a voyeur to their pain.



Lisa Marie wasn't even eight-years-old and Caroline, whose own mother shielded her, didn't give a damn. It was take and use what she could. It was disrespect the family of the dead, disrespect Elvis' legacy, disrespect where he came from and where he went.



And her remark about "All that fuss for a hillbilly truck driver" probably went a long way towards explaining how Princess Brat could show her what an ass she really was.



She's never apologized to Lisa Marie Presley (nor to Lisa's mother). She's never acknowledged to the public what she did. She's pretended, when pressed in public, that she was invited and that her report (which Rolling Stone ran after Harriet Fier spent days piecing together something readable from Caroline's scratches) was something the Presley family wanted and needed.



Caroline's a damn liar. She's a spoiled rotten princess who thinks she's entitled to the Senate seat. The same way she thought she was entitled to cover Elvis' funeral. The same way she thought she was entitled to treat other people in ways she'd scream if anyone treated her.



Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Caroline Speaks"



carolinespeaks



We could do The Caroline Chronicles here and might in the near future. But for now we'll note the way she treated Elvis' memory and his family. That says everything anyone ever needs to know about Caroline Kennedy -- Princess Brat expects that everything be handed to her.





[See Elaine's blistering "Caroline" and Wally and Cedric's "THIS JUST IN! WORKERS WANT EARNINGS, PRINCESS CAROLINE WANTS ENTITLEMENT!" and "Workers want what they earned, Caroline wants her ass kissed."]

The Miseducation of Katrina vanden Heuvel

For years (long before the rise of the internet), C.I. has assured those asking that Katrina vanden Heuvel was not a Communist. Now? Other than an idiot, C.I. says, "I don't know what the hell she is."



kattyart



Peace Resister Katty-van-van has been making such an ass out of herself of late that those in management at The Nation can't stop talking and, indeed, called C.I. last week to laugh about crackpot Katty. Listening, C.I. grew appalled (as Kat noted) by Katty's educational failures which led to her to speak and write of the FDR era with nothing but ignorance. However, two days after, C.I. remembered a point the late James Weinstein (founder of In These Times) used to make about the Communist Party and, in fact, makes in The Long Detour:



For the Communists this approach to politics was necessary. The party operated through single-issue movements because it could not proclaim its underlying loyalties or principles. While the party had come out from underground in the early '20s (actually, it was pushed into the open by orders from the International), it never tested its principles by exposing them to public scrutiny, by running in elections and thereby providing the public with the means of choosing them or rejecting them.

But the party developed a theory that made a virtue of this necessity. It deluded itself and its fellow-travelers into believing that a pre-ordained historical trajectory made popular exposure to its principles unnecessary. A "strong and consistent fight for democratic rights under conditions of decaying capitalism must ultimately lead the American people to the choice of a socialist path," the party proclaimed at its ninth convention in 1936. Or, as party leader Earl Browder said more mechanistically, "History marches towards socialism." Thus Communists believed that even in an open democratic society such as the United States, a tiny political party could gain power in a time of crisis simply by being strategically placed in popular social movements. The memory that the Russian party with only 17,000 members at the beginning of 1917, could pull off a revolution comforted them. If the Russians took power by seizing the moment when the tsarist regime collapsed, why couldn't they?



If Katrina vanden Heuvel isn't as stupid as those around her at the magazine think (not her coffee fetchers who assume The Devil Wears Cheap Knock-Offs Beautifully), the above passage goes a long towards explaining that: She's not stupid, she's a damn liar.





"A tiny political party could gain power in a time of crisis simply by being strategically placed in popular social movements" -- well change "popular social movements" to Panhandle Media and you have the story of how the well was poisoned and Barack was installed. And what do Closeted Communists do? They try to hide. And they try not to publicly associate with others. Which would explain Katrina's closeness with a woman she will not publish in the magazine (a woman who is a Communist and is in the political closet publicly).



So in fairness to der vanden Hovel, we'll note upfront, she may not be the idiot we all think. She may be a covert Communist and her efforts to lie (in the way described by Weinstein above) for 'change' require that she look like the left's biggest sap. Oh, the sacrifices she is willing to make!



kattyblue



Dealing only with her recent public stupidity (in part to avoid outing the ones who provide such entertaining Katty-van-van stories), let's turn to her supplicant James Vega who notes this apparent scribble from Katrinket:



it's worth remembering another template for governing. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was compelled to become a bolder and, yes, more progressive President (if progressive means ensuring that the actual conditions of peoples' lives improve through government acts) as a result of the strategically placed mobilization and pressure of organized movements.
That history makes me think that this is the moment for progressives to avoid falling into either of two extremes --reflexively defensive or reflexively critical. We'd be wiser and more effective if we followed the advice of one of The Nation's valued editorial board members who shared thoughts with the Board at our meeting last Friday, November 21.




History? The woman's either lying or she's a stupid fool.



"Franklin Delano Roosevelt was compelled to become a bolder and, yes, more progressive President (if progressive means ensuring that the actual conditions of peoples' lives improve through government acts) as a result of the strategically placed mobilization and pressure of organized movements"? No, the New Deal results from the Great Depression, specifically, it results from the crisis going from bad to worse between the time FDR was elected and when he was sworn in (in March, the 20th Amendment would later move the swearing in up).



There was no progressive movement per se nationally. The Socialists were largely gone from national politics and the Communist Party was a dying force. Demonstrations did matter but the context of when they took place and what took place are left out in Katrinket's docudrama approach. The economy was crippled and that was before FDR won the election. It immediately got worse (specifically the banking sector) and the New Deal was quickly cobbled together (and criticized in real time by many for not going far enough -- which it did not, FDR refused to explore, for example, collective ownership and went so far to help cut off a Democratic gubernatorial nominee who was running on that issue).



The Russian Revolution was not ancient history, it was recent history and there was fear -- among the establishment -- that something similar could happen in the US. That's what the New Deal was about.



Mobilization and pressure? When does Katrinket believe the New Deal was cobbled together and what pressure she can cite -- real pressure that can be historically documented -- on FDR? It is true that the Communist Party -- a small party at that time -- threw their support behind FDR. It is true that they think they moved mountains. Their actually having moved mountains, however, has never been historically established.



Now here's Katrinket (same source) offering 'historical' 'examples':



It will take large scale, organized movements to win transformative change. There was no civil rights legislation without the [civil rights] movement, no New Deal without the unions and the unemployed councils, no end to slavery without the abolitionists. In our era, this will need to play out at two levels: district-by- district and state-by-state organizing to get us to the 218 and sixty votes necessary to pass any major legislation; and the movement energy that can create public will, a new narrative and move the elites in DC to shift from orthodoxy. The energy in the country needs to be converted into real organization.



Again the question is: Stupid or a liar?



The labor laws? What won those? She's telling you that we can repeat that today. Before you say, "Yea!" -- ask her to explain what the hell she's talking about.



What's she's not telling you (because she's a liar or stupid) is that the moment she wants to recreate requires workers being killed. Requires them being shot in the back as took place in Minneapolis in 1934. That is what pushed through the labor laws. The non-stop attacks on workers and the fear of these worker demonstrations, as The New York Times' Louis Stark told FDR, "From coal it will spread to steel and autos."



Horror, revulsion and fear is what pushed FDR (and the establishment) but Katty would have you believe it was instead people just gathering and saying, "Hey, let's all hope!"



There is no movement behind Barack. There was none in 2008. There were Front Groups. That's not stating, "Barack's a secret Communist!" He's not. As we've always warned you for two years now, he is a War Hawk Corporatist. However, a lot of Front Groups sprung up to pimp him. And they kid themselves that they now have some pull and basically make like Daisy Clover insisting, "You're going to hear from me!"



Uh, no, actually not.



Katrinket should grasp this. They wasted the least twenty years -- her and her ilk -- doing nothing. Like the Communist Party in the last century, they skipped around from issue to issue without ever offering a framework for public consumption. During the bulk of that period, they really had no audiences to speak of true, but even a small audience should be informed. Once Bully Boy went to war on Iraq, The Nation hit a peak it's never seen before (and won't see again for decades if it doesn't fold first). It used that over 160,000 member audience by? Doing nothing.



By doing nothing.



Weekly.



She could have been building a movement from 2004 on (when she became both editor and publisher of the magazine). Instead, she dithered. If you wanted to know about reality TV, she was your one-stop. Katty, what did Trump do tonight? Who do you think will win American Idol? But if you wanted to define (or redefine) liberalism? Forget it. Maybe if it could be turned into a trashy 'reality' TV program, she'd have some interest in the topic.

In fact, Katty should consider making herself "host" (Katty Seacrest!) of webisodes: What Is Liberalism? Weekly, she tosses out a question and applicants video themselves and upload it. Each week, Katty sends one person packing and at the end of the process has 'defined' modern-day liberalism! Without having to break a sweat because that is, after all, how she likes it. She'd farm out her hired help for activism if she thought she could get away with it.



Which brings us back to what pushed FDR, what Katrina won't get honest about. Should things get that bad and those conditions return, might we suggest that first on the 'redistribution' lists be Harlem mansions from all White owners?



kattyscaryass
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