Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --

Another Sunday. If you read the "Hey --" and thought we'd forgotten to write the note, we hadn't. C.I. had held this morning's entry at The Common Ills to note our content and, if we'd post something with the title "Note," it could be included as well.

Well my (Jim) plan was that we'd finish as soon as Ava and C.I. did when they helmed the edition two Sundays ago. Didn't work out that way. But it did work out better than planned. We're early for us thought three and a half hours behind what Ava and C.I. accomplished. Maybe next week.

The following helped on the writing of this edition:

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

We thank of all of them and we thank Dallas for locating links and more and we thank Rebecca for photo shopping the illustrations. We thank Flyboy for his contribution to the roundtable.

Let's talk about what we've got.

Highlights -- Cedric, Mike, Wally, Rebecca, Betty, Elaine and Kat picked the highlights thank you all. (They also wrote this entry.)

10 CDs we listened to during this edition -- A quickie but a requested one. We tried to include a little more than a list this time.

Green Party: "Alternative Views on the State of th... -- we'll continue to note the Green Party (Jess is a Green). We even tried to do a illustration for it.

The New York Times snubs Coretta Scott King one la... -- how many times are they going to refuse to honor Coretta Scott King? (Our guess? Many, many more times. They don't like the King family.)

How to throw a civil war -- we actually planned for this to be longer but the usual "short pieces" cry grew louder from Dona once we started outlining the topics for the roundtable.

Democracy Now!'s sense of perspective -- so how much time was spent on the 3,000 mark/milestone and compare it to celeb news broadcast on the same program.

The Nation's sense of perspective --The Nation didn't do any better.

Rush Limbaugh has lacatation envy -- This was a short piece that had an illustration idea the second we heard of it.

Roundtable -- yes, yes, rejoice. A roundtable. We think Brandon's e-mail all but insisting on one turned the tide when we read it Friday night. It felt like the longest we have ever done. That can't be true, can it? But that's how it felt it. (If it is the longest one we've ever done, that would be why it felt that way.) What do we cover? What don't we cover? Race, Obama, music, Iraq, Vietnam, Gerald Ford, Watergate, you name it, it felt like it was in there. Even the show death. Mid-way through Dona began noting the time repeatedly but we went ahead and stayed with it until a stopping point could be found. This is the longest feature this edition.

Only the Dumb Asses Love Patti -- the original plan was a TV review and this piece. What happened? Ava and C.I. (who wrote this) were under the impression that we (and readers) saw it as a short piece. They wrote three paragraphs and were about to start the TV review. We said, "No!" They hadn't read the e-mails that had come in. Earlier last week, C.I. had noted at The Common Ills that this would be addressed. After that went up, e-mails to this site began noting how much people were looking forward to it, how it was going to cover this and that. When we told Ava and C.I. about that, they (wisely) told us, "We can't do that and a TV review."
So we told them to do this. It is about TV, it's a fallen non-star landing on hard times. We love it and think it turned out wonderfully.

Editorial: Ehren Watada stands and independent media heads for the bathrooms -- we did the roundtable and then went straight to this. Some portions were cut and we had heated debates about it. In the end, everyone gave a little. If that had not happened, it never would have been finished.

Hopefully, there's something you enjoy this edition. We'll see you next week.

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

Editorial: Ehren Watada stands and independent media heads for the bathrooms

Ehren Watada, the first officer to publicly refuse to serve in Iraq, faces a court-martial on February 5th. His mother, Carolyn Ho, attempted to get Congress to excercise the oversight they refused to do in the lead up to the illegal war, but, despite Jake Tappers' report for ABC News that, if they had it all to do over again today, the Senate wouldn't vote in favor of the blank check Bully Boy cashed to start the illegal war, they refused to do anything about today..

By ABC's count, 57 would vote against it if they could now and "only 43 -- at most" would vote in favor it. They realize, now, that they made a mistake. Ehren Watada grasped that the war was a mistake a little bit quicker than they did and apparently he's to be punished for being ahead of the curve.

He's charged with missing movement (his refusal to deploy) and "conduct unbecoming an officer" for statements he made explaining why he wouldn't participate in an illegal war. The US military wants to take away his right to defend himself for missing movement but still wants to charge him with "conduct unbecoming an officer" for points he made and refuse to let his attorney, Eric Seitz, argue the points in the court-martial.

They want to selectively present, the military prosecution, what he said but they don't want his defense to be allowed to make similar arguments.

If that mockery of justice doesn't get you, wait for it, he faces six years in prison if convicted of all charges.

Yet, the US military says he should not be allowed to explain how he arrived at his decision. In fact, they don't even want his attorney to argue his decision. They want a "yes" and "no" limitation where his attorney and he would be able to say "Yes" that happened and "no" that didn't happen but never explain why.

That's stripping him of his right to argue motive.

That's not justice.

This was all argued Thursday in the pre-trial hearing. Lt. Col. John Head is the judge presiding and he's expected to render a decision outlining the paremeters this week.

You might think independent media would be all over this case. After all, doesn't Ehren Watada's awakening to the realities of the illegal war demonstrate the power of dissent, the power of independent media which called out the war when the mainstream gladly marched along?

But independent media had some other things to do. They usually do when it comes to war resisters. Which must explain why, when The Nation magazine finally notes Watada in 2007, months after he went public in June of 2006, they do say by printing a slam against him that depicts him as a coward. No one owns The Nation? More and more these days, the response shouted back is, "Who the hell would want to?"

The infamous 2005 editorial that they would not support any candidate for office in the 2006 election that couldn't call out the illegal war didn't really bear out in 2006 because "support" can translate as coverage and many candidates who went down in the primaries, anti-war candidates, did so without any support from The Nation. Hillary Clinton's anti-war candidate for the Senate received no favorable coverage, no coverage at all. Harold Ford Junior did manage to get a story, the pro-war, pro-Bully Boy, centrist Harold Ford Junior.

If The Nation really meant that they wouldn't support a candidate who supported the war, we had a hard time telling that in 2006. More importantly, Ehren Watada's not supporting the illegal war and his stand puts him at risk. Where's the bravery from The Nation? Where's the support?

Though it would be hard for some readers today to believe, The Nation hasn't always acted as a tip-sheet for the Democratic Party. It has taken brave stands in the past. It was, in fact, created around the belief that slavery could be ended. Today, it seems far less interested in ending anything and far more interested in offering to serve as the spiritual advisor (if not confessor) of the Democratic Party. (Some would even arguing, it seems more interested in providing cover for the Democratic Party.)

Exactly when did the left, non-partisan magazine decide that it's main role was in providing non-stop bulletins for the Democratic Party? Michael Ratner has rightly pointed out (on Law and Disorder) how the Democratic Party washed their hands of their Guantamo. We'd take that further and argue that The Nation did so as well, returning to the topic only when it was time to scare up votes (emphasis on "scare") for the Democratic Party -- a party that, as Ratner noted, refused to oppose Guantanamo, refused to address it, and continues to refuse to address it.

The Nation used to take stands and follow them up. These days they touch on an issue (when they touch on one) lightly and then drop it. Not unlike what passes for a fiery speech from an elected official and is then quickly disowned by said official. (Think Dick Durbin and Guantanamo.) When the magazine had a sense of purpose, issues could be addressed, these days it's all about what happens on the Hill and root-root-root for the home team.

If that doesn't depress the hell out of you -- that after becoming the largest circulated left magazine, it then opts for irrelevancy -- think about Ehren Watada. He's standing up for what he believes in.

He's done that with very little support. Until 2007, the only independent magazine that ran a story on him was LeftTurn. (If you consider the former counter-culture weekly Rolling Stone independent media, they hailed him as a hero for 2006 in their year-end issue.) The silence has been actually rather loud and it is registering with people. A new publicity director for the magazine, though needed, isn't going to stem the bad image the magazine's created for itself in 2006. But hey, Tori Clark's always up for a good spin challenge, maybe she'd take on the job?

Ehren Watada needs support. He's not getting it. There's no other way to put it. We're tired of hinting and we're tired of waiting. He will be court-martialed February 5th. Possibly, as with Lynne Stewart, the magazine prefers to sit this one out? They've sat a lot out lately and you can only sit out so many games before people lose all faith in you.

The Nation's far from the only offender. Democracy Now! didn't make time to cover the August Article 32 hearing of Ehren Watada. Last week, they presented a journalist whose plight was that she might have to testify before his court-martial. There should be no plight. You don't testify if you're a journalist. She refused to make that statement. She said she couldn't discuss the legal strategy. She could, however, offer that she's a journalist and she covers many stories she doesn't support because that's what journalists do. Talk about an inspiration to journalists everywhere.

For those confused, Sarah Olson is a footnote to Ehren Watada's court-martial. She is not the story. While his stand is ignored, her non-stand gets explored when a non-stand is best left to philosophical explorations in trade journals.

Today, Laura Flanders will include her in the media roundtable. If nothing's changed since she appeared on Democracy Now!, Olson will continue to talk about herself. "Never explain, never complain," said Katharine Hepburn, but she was an actress and not overly fond of journalism.

It's all the more amazing when you grasp that Olson's getting more attention than Josh Wolf who actually took a stand. (And remains imprisoned.)

Sara Rich will be on Flanders as well. She's the mother of Suzanne Swift who was not a war resister but that didn't stop independent media from portraying her as such. In the end, it destroyed Swift's chances of justice. Swift went AWOL because she was sexually abused and harassed in the US military by service members. She did not resist the war in Iraq. She never made any statement that she had.

But some 'genuis' decided to present her as a war resister. Had they focused on reality, it would have been very hard for Congress to ignore Swift. Even the military's own whitewash investigation backed some of her claims. (As C.I. has stated, "I believe her." We all do.) Presenting her case based on what it actually was would have (a) frightened off the military (the last thing they wanted was Swift doing a sit down with Diane Sawyer that would inflame the nation) and (b) would have given her standing with members of the public who don't give a damn about war resisters but do take sexual harassment seriously.

Now someone's sold Olson on the idea that refusing to announce a stand and eating print space and air time with her tales of how this is a difficult choice and she shouldn't have to make it is going to lead to angry editorials of support. People support stands, they don't support dismay over being forced to make a decision. (Again, a decision that should be very clear to anyone who wants to continue as a journalist.)

In Swift's case, we think she got very bad legal advice. In Olson's case, she's an active participant in her own public embarrassment (and in journalism's public embarrassment).

Meanwhile, Ehren Watada has taken a stand against the war. It's just not really registering with most indepent media. One exception? Truthdig which posted "Truthdiggers of the Week: The Conscientious Objectors" last week.

This as The Nation's in downgrade mode on the war, penning, last week: "The 'thumping' taken by the Republican Congress on election day was not just a rejection of K Street corruption and the catastrophe in Iraq. It was a call to action on issues that are more immediately relevant to people's lives." You know, it's only the ones who didn't note the 3,000 mark that continue to see the illegal war as not "immediately revelevant to people's lives." We'd argue it's relevant to many American people's lives and we'd argue it's relevant to Iraqi people's lives too but then we see Iraqis as people and as revelant.

But as long as you refuse to note the 3,000 mark, as long as you refuse to note war resisters, as long as you refuse to note Abeer or any of the many other Iraqi victims of the war, we guess the war isn't "releveant" to some people's lives. For instance, it's possibly not relevant to people who don't think the American people find it relevant.

In the real world, the number one reason cited in polls wasn't "K Street corruption." It was Iraq. But continue to downgrade the importance of an illegal war if it allows you to feel better about the magazine's abysmal job of covering it.

Only the Dumb Asses Love Patti

What a week it was as a hack schilled for a p.r. campaign and presented it as "truth." Jaw boners rushed in to repeat the spin because, apparently, the idea that The New York Times might ever print something less than the truth was news to gas bags.

Homophobe Jesse Green ("At Yom Kippur, it seemed to me then, pride and humility are not ideal pew-mates, especially squeezed in so tight.") met 'cute' (or what passes for cute on the right) with Patricia Heaton ready to try anything to breathe life into a career so dead that she's now appearing in an off-Broadway play -- and she isn't even the lead (sse "Not Everyone Loves Patricia," 2-1 and continued on 2-4, Sunday, December 31, 2006).

It took a 'genius' to think up the 'hook' and a close friend (outside the paper) to collect on a favor owed (upper management isn't aware of that but the collector can't stop bragging about it -- it should be noted, many things bragged about aren't true so possibly it's gas baggery braggery?) so all the 'genius' had petered out before the photo shoot for Patti's So Called Comeback resulting in photos that revealed her to be as big, bulky and outdated as an early seventies maxi-pad.

In fact, anyone looking at the first photo (on the front page of last Sunday's Arts section) would have known before reading a word that something other than politics killed Patti Heaton's career.

It is dead, by the way. Officially dead. It might be shocked back to life (stranger things have happened) but right now she'd be lucky to get an unscripted walk-on.

We (Ava and C.I.) have long noted Patti Heaton. Calling her a "loser" is being postively generous. So reading Dumb Ass Jesse's attempt to drum up some sympathy for Patti was a non-stop laugh getter for us. We had no idea others would swallow this tripe. But boy, did they.

Here's the (Republican) revisionist party line on Heaton's non-career put out by the paper of little record: Like the Dixie Chicks, poor Patti is the victim of a backlash! The entertainment industry refuses to forgive Patti her politics!

Lies, lies and more lies.

Patricia Heaton committed career suicide before most in the industry were even aware of her politics. She was a little nothing who managed to grab two Emmys for best actress in a comedy (2000, 2001) when the reaction shot passing for a sitcom became a craze for some of the non-thinking set. The 'wins' were based on the perceived heat of the show and the fact that it was being championed by people who should have known better (yes, we just insulted two friends). On the latter, so much so that the first informerical to go into syndication was aired in 2002. Ellen, a truly groundbreaking series at the end, did do a mock tribute. However, it took the pervs who created Somebody's Gotta' Love Raymond to make "The First Six Years" -- a celeb testimonial to a questionable show (played straight, not mock) which now airs regularly in syndication as an episode of the series America would have been better off without.

The awards went to the Heaton head and 'theatrics' that had been confined to the set were now on public display and that, dear readers, was what killed her in the entertainment industry. Dumb Ass Jesse can't tell you that -- either he doesn't know or he's just not interested -- but her attacks went public. In one of the worst, she had to issue an apology.

This has nothing to do with politics, it had to do with a hack actress (hacktress) thinking she was anything other than the nag of a second rate TV show. When you reach the mid-second-tier that Heaton had, you generally start angling for a film career, you certainly don't go around attacking film actresses in public and accusing them of various things that happened only in your right-wing, closed mind.

Heaton was an embarrassment and that's what killed her career -- she had no tact, she had no manners and she was prone to public tantrums. Had she been 17 to 23-years-old and considered "hot" ("hot" has never been applied to Heaton), she might have been able to overcome it. Industry insiders would have grimaced and written it off as the learning steps of youth. But Heaton was an adult and then some. She was someone damn lucky to have caught a ride on Ray Romano's coattails; however, she seemed to see herself as the next Meryl Streep (if Streep lacked class).

There is a hierarchy in the entertainment industry and those near the bottom who forget that fact are usually brought quickly down to earth by their own egos. Heaton was.

That's the reality of what turned the industry against Patti. She has no one to blame for that but herself.

Dumb Ass Jesse wants to tell you that it was politics but somehow manages to note only Heaton's recent conflict with Michael J. Fox. (Fox is more forgiving of it than most in the industry.) First off, that wasn't Heaton's first foray into advocacy against stem-cell research, wasn't her first national stage embarrassing moment. Though the homophobe may not know the reality of what killed her career, he damn well should be aware that Heaton took to the airwaves on the Terry Schiavo issue -- coming down firmly on the side of the Bully Boy, and firmly against the will of the American people.

That was quite well known and we addressed it on April 17, 2005:

Abe will no doubt be delighted to know that Allyson has sussed us out, "I am on to you and have you two figured all out. You only attack Everybody Loves Raymond and Patricia Heaton because Heaton spoke out for Terry Schiavo!"
Well Allyson, you have figured us all out. Months ago, we consulted our Magic Eight Ball and asked, "In April, will Patricia Heaton take to the chat circuit to speak on the Schiavo issue?" Magic Eight Ball responded, "Most definitely. And her hair will still look like that of a circus clown's." Which is why we've mocked the Heaton from the start. Great catch on that one.

That's a key issue to the public's turning on Heaton and you can't hide it under the rug no matter how you try.

Dumb Ass Jesse not only attempts to ignore that, he attempts to ignore reality (and was joined by a lot of jaw boners) when he floats how shocking it is that she went from second banana on a TV show with high ratings to nothing. (A non-lead role off-Broadway is "nothing" when you've sampled the fame of others.) He also notes the attempt at an ABC sitcom that never made it to air.

This led one jaw boner last week to vouch for the show ABC refused to pick up, though like most of America, the jaw boner had never seen it. There's a reason for that and we've covered it months ago. For now, let's address the notion Dumb Ass floated -- is it so amazing that playing "the wife" on a "family" sitcom could lead to . . . nothing?

Patricia Richardson tasted far greater fame on Home Improvement where she had no competition for viewers' attention from accomplished pros like Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle. Six years after Home Improvement left the airwaves, she landed a multi-episode role on a big three network (NBC, West Wing). Richardson, born the same decade as Heaton, is more attractive than Heaton and comes with far less baggage. Drop back a little further to Joanna Kerns (also born the same decade as Richardson and Heaton) who starred as the mother Maggie on Growing Pains. It would be six years before you'd see her on a broadcast TV series in anything other than a one-off and she has a better reputation in the industry than Heaton.

Did Heaton think she was better than either actress? (Obviously she thought she was better than ALL actresses juding by her public tantrums.) Or maybe she made the mistake of looking at Meredith Baxter's time on Family Ties and thinking, "We're just alike."

No, they aren't. Meredith Baxter was an established actress before her sitcom fame playing a mother. She also made strong choices in her material (before, during and after). More importantly, Baxter was the second lead of Family Ties. (Michael J. Fox was the star.) Heaton? She was behind Romano, Roberts, Boyle and Brad Garrett.

And unlike Patricia Richardson or Joanna Kerns, Heaton didn't play a likeable character. She played a nag that was created to offer an excuse for Raymond Barone's inability to grown up. Tim Taylor may have been 'boyish' but Jill Taylor wasn't a nag. Richardson's character could make points without resulting to a bray that harmed the ears of all watching.

Deborah Barone was an unnattractive character. She was created as such on the page and Heaton was gifted enough, at that, if nothing else, to bring Deborah to life. Deborah -- never "Deb," never "Debbie," never "Debs." The ball buster stereotype with no redeaming qualities. She was a non-stop nag. She was often on a high horse and the joke was always she shouldn't be on that high horse (when she insulted the custodian after berating all the Barones for doing the same, when she decided that she wished her own mother was more like Marie Barone, etc.).

A real actress would've asked for some sort of life for the character. Would've demanded it after the first Emmy win. Deborah would have women friends, you would have seen her outside the context imposed upon her by a male frame. Heaton never grasped that nor that one storyline that was insulting when thirty-something did it (work outside the home is too tough for Mommys!) was twice as insulting when Nobody Loves Raymond did it because while Hope Steadman had talent (and a later storyline would attempt to demonstrate that), the "joke" when Deborah tried to go back to work (one episode) was that she was now so stupid she couldn't even handle being an assistant in a field she'd once practiced. Her mind was shot by Mommyness, you understand.

Who did Heaton think was rooting for her in the audience? A sexist man saw confirmation of every ball busting stereotype in her performance and a thinking woman would have to look at the degrowth arc of Deborah (which started from a very low base line) and think, "Please God, don't bring that woman back in another sitcom."

As was noted here on July 2, 2006 while addressing Star Jones departure from The View and who would replace her:

ABC hoped it would be Patricia Heaton. They signed a generous contract with Heaton and have had to face the fact that there's no sitcom that can be shaped around her limited talents (short of starring her in My Wife, The Shrew). As reality sunk in that nagging isn't what most look to in a lead character, they hoped to save the contract by sliding her over to The View. But she's doesn't test well with women.
As a reader once pointed out, Heaton took to the airwaves to slam Michael Schiavo and repeat lies about Terry Schiavo's health status. That doesn't help her test results. It also doesn't help that women didn't love Raymond as much as men did. Heaton played the male idea of the wife from hell (never wants sex, always battles with your mother openly, nags you, go down the list -- while Ray was Peter Pan and 'loveable').
Star Jones never understood The View audience. Her homphobia would have played well on Pat Robertson's show. It didn't play well on The View where the audience was a little less rabid and a great deal more educated. Some at ABC have realized that putting Heaton on the show is asking women to embrace self-hatred (for her positions and for the character that made her semi-famous) and be back in the Star Jones trap. They're also starting to get concerned about how potential guests would respond to the addition. (Not well. Her remarks to Jay Leno were the kind of self-immolation that helped kill Sean Young's career.) They thought they had a "common sense" type (a la Meredith -- that's how they saw her) and now they're starting to grasp all the baggage Heaton brings with her.

The sitcom didn't make it to the air and Heaton didn't make it to The View because ABC grasped how unpopular she was and, sorry Dumb Ass Jesse, that had nothing to do with her being seen as attacking Michael J. Fox (which hadn't happened yet), it had everything to do with her abysmal TVQ and the fact that her pilot didn't do well in the focus group.

Dumb Ass Jesse wants to paint it as "Hollywood" turning on Heaton for politics. It had nothing to do with politics, it had everything to do with her conducting herself in a way that was seen as tacky and trashy. Bad manners killed Heaton in the industry. It's killed bigger than her before. For instance, last week's jaw boning on Patti also noted a much bigger name than Patti (a segue?) but the jaw boners, who grasped that bore was insufferable, saw Patti as peaches & cream. Now the jaw boners are probably unaware of the moment that killed the bore's career -- a late 80s moment involving a piss "joke" that was shocking for its target and for its bad manners. The career never recovered (and never will). These things do matter as did Heaton's public tirades.

But that's the industry and Dumb Ass Jesse wants to act as though 'twas the industry alone that turned on Heaton. Pantene isn't part of the entertainment industry. It's big business. "Hollywood" didn't kill Heaton's attempt at a Pantene "career" -- the public did.

Again, what Dumb Ass and the jaw boners repeating his hype didn't cover, we did. September 17, 2006:

It makes no sense at all. You don't follow the path of the woman Pantene backed off of when the ratings blockbuster sitcom was still on air. You don't follow the path of the woman Patene got more complaints on than any other person ever featured in their ads. Our personal favorite complaint, sent into Patene and then circulated out by a company prankster, was the one that made the point, this is a paraphrase: "If Nicole Kidman was endorsing Pantene, I'd use it. But why on earth would I want to have the life of Patricia Heaton?" Take heart, dear, no one does. Probably not even Heaton.
As those complaints piled up, Heaton suddenly found herself just schilling on TV for a grocery store. Apparently, though unbelievable pushing a product that's supposed to make you look good, people could buy her as an eater.

See, that's reality. Pantene (big business) dumped her because she was hurting their product and that came before she ever uttered a word about Terry Schiavo or, this year, had her battle with Michael J. Fox.

That's why her hideous show (which tested poorly with focus groups) didn't make it to the air -- People Don't Like Patti. And to try to understand why her career is in the toilet, you don't need to look any further than Pantene which spent a lot of money thinking she was someone women would 'relate to' (if not aspire to be) and only saw her hurt their product. Which is why she was kicked to the curb (by big business) when Who Really Loves Raymond was still airing new episodes. That rarely happens but it's a sign of how unpopular she is that big business pulled the plug on here.

As two who frequently call in our own markers in the press, we'd be the last to slam someone else for doing so but, please note, when we call in markers to get something covered, we ask that it be covered, we don't ask for lies. But bad off-Broadway plays need all the help they can get, apparently. Probably all the more so when they feature Patti Heaton in a supporting role.

But printing lies in The New York Times doesn't make them true, something the 'reporting' of Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller (to name but two) should have clued the jaw bone set in on.
And pretending, as Dumb Ass and the jaw boners did, that Heaton's a "feminist" is even more laughable. "Feminists for Life" is an organization built on spin (for laughs, check out Crapapedia's entry on them -- written entirely from their point of view and based upon mythical events that never happened). A feminist doesn't have to have an abortion, doesn't have to ever want to have an abortion, but she doesn't campaign to destroy that choice for other women.

As Katha Pollitt has noted of that psuedo-feminist organization:

The problem is that FFL doesn't just oppose abortion. FFL wants abortion to be illegal. All abortions, period, including those for rape, incest, health, major fetal defects and, although Foster resisted admitting this, even some abortions most doctors would say were necessary to save the woman's life. (Although FFL is not a Catholic organization, its rejection of therapeutic abortion follows Catholic doctrine.) FFL wants doctors who perform abortions to be punished, possibly with prison terms.
It was extremely difficult to get Foster to say what she thought would happen if abortion was banned. At one point she would not concede that women would continue to have abortions if it was recriminalized; at another she argued that criminalization was no big deal: Instructions on self-abortion were posted on the Internet. I had to work to get her to admit that illegal abortion was common before Roe, and that it was dangerous--numbers on abortion deaths were concocted by pre-Roe legalization advocates, she told me. Yet the FFL website prominently features gory stories of abortion mishaps and discredited claims that abortion causes breast cancer. (Challenged on the cancer connection, Foster says they just want women to have medical information. Asked why they don't then link to the 2004 Lancet article debunking their cancer claims, she says they are not medical experts and have considered taking the cancer pages down.) So legal abortion is dangerous but illegal abortion would be safe? When I pointed out that in countries where the operation is banned, such as Brazil and Peru, rates are sky-high and abortion a major cause of injury and death, she professed ignorance.

I got similarly evasive answers when I asked why FFL didn't promote birth control, and when I asked if FFL considered the pill an "abortifacient." She did tell me that "birth control doesn't work" for swing-shift nurses because they lose track of their body clock--interesting, if true--or for teenagers, which I know to be false. "We just want to focus on meeting the everyday needs of women," she told me. But when I asked how the everyday needs of women with unwanted pregnancies would be served by encouraging them to bear children and place them for adoption, Foster didn't answer. Instead, she extolled the benefits of open adoption.

But Dumb Ass and some jaw boners presented the myth that Patti was a "feminist" because she's a part of the psuedo-feminist organization that supports enforced labor (if not motherhood since they are "pro" adoption).

One of the great howlers in the article became a major groaner when a female jaw boner repeated it: "And she is not, in person, prudish or judgemental. Most of her friends have had abortions, she said, and they're still her friends."

What is that nonsense? Let's start with "Most of her friends . . ." Is that the modern day equivalent of "Some of my best friends are Black"? Actually, the psuedo-Feminists for Life claims to know many who've had abortions . . . and now regret it. Is Patti claiming the same or just trying to prove (as when she name drops David, Peter, Paul and Mary -- no, she's not referring to Geffen, Jackson, Newman and Tyler Moore) that she's a saint in a land of sinners? (Would modern day saints peddle stereotypes?) This was laughable in print, repeated by a female jaw boner, it was embarrassing.

For the record, a feminist doesn't portray a stereotype gladly. She may have bills to pay, she may be starting out. But if it's a continuing role and she gets any kind of limited power, she uses that (such as an Emmy win) to leverage a more fully written role. Heaton wasn't interested in that and she's not a feminist.

As for the "she is not, in person, prudish or judgemental" -- when someone's striving for good (arranged) press, do you think they self-present reality? Please, that sort of statement never belongs in a daily paper about anyone a reporter (or 'reporter') has just met.

But it's spin and a publicist worked overtime (and a non-publicist keeps bragging about calling in a favor) so it makes it into print and some foolishly mistake it for reality. Heaton was a little nothing whose own chances to move up to anything higher (slim though they were) were destroyed by her bad manners. In terms of the public, even before she became 'controversial' due to some for her politics, women didn't see her as a spokesperson (which is why Pantene axed her).

We've covered all of this and more and done so only with what is publicly known. Having visited the set of Raymond frequently, we could cover a bit more but have been kind.

The illustration is from "Patricia Heaton's Pep Talk (parody)" which ran here October 29, 2006. Unlike a Dumb Ass, we didn't discover Heaton yesterday -- we've been offended by her for years.


Jim: We're doing a roundtable and participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and, me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; and Wally of The Daily Jot. We've got a number of topics on the list and Ava and C.I. listed no topics so they'll just chime in when they feel like it. Seriously, they are the ones who take notes that end up as the transcripts for these pieces. Cedric, I'm going to toss to you first because we were discussing the e-mails on the last roundtable.

Cedric: Right, I took Christmas weekend off and didn't participate. But I was glad Betty brought up a topic that she, Ty and I have been discussing and those who e-mailed were grateful as well including three who wrote that what Betty discussed on Christmas Eve were the same points that they read last week in The Chicago Sun-Times. The topic was the White media frenzy over Barack Obama.

Ty: And I'm glad you said "White media" because just last week, Black Agenda Report by Ted Glick entitled "Barack Obama: Progressives Beware!" A must read.

Cedric: I agree. I actually was going to bring that up as well. Here's the opening paragraph:

Last month, and ever since, following a trip to New Hampshire by Barack Obama, the mass media has been full of stories about what a big hit he was, how not just Democrats but Republicans and independents are excited about this man, this black man, this man of mixed ancestry, this dynamic speaker. What many of them are talking and writing about is his apparent ability to transcend ideological differences, to connect and draw support from liberal and conservative voters across lines of race and culture.

Cedric (con't): I was thinking about trying to stretch my time to find time to do a rare solo post and comment on that when I heard we were going to do a roundtable this week and thought I could squeeze it in here.

Ty: I strongly recommend that article and I strongly thank Betty whose attitude has been, "All I did was note what we were all discussing" which isn't quite true. She had a lot of topics to pick from and she put it all together in a stronger way than anything I think I or Cedric had noted.

Cedric: I'd agree with that, great job, Betty.

Jim: And the readers agreed as well. Betty, if you could just summarize your points for anyone who missed that.

Betty: Briefly? Well, that's kind of hard but I'll give it a try. Obama's not coming up from the Black ranks, Cedric and Ty say "African-American," instead it feels like he's being shoved down our throats and held up, by the White media, as an example of what is acceptable to the dominant society, an acceptable Black which requires that you have international roots and that you not be Black but instead be bi-racial. I feel Barack Obama knows about as much about being Black as any other bi-racial person such as Mariah Carey. I don't doubt that there's been discrimination but there are doors open to people like him that aren't open to Black people and let's not kid about that.

Cedric: Right because it really has become, as Betty called it, a case of "Media Pet." He's the one the media praises and he's got nothing to do with my life. Barbara Lee, John Conyers, I can relate to them. Barack Obama? Like Betty said, he's bi-racial which is a completely different class than Black.

Ty: And historically you see that in the reception to those who were able to pass for something other than Black.

Betty: Don't get me started on Imitation of Life!

Cedric: Or the Supremes' "Living in Shame."

Betty: You know it!

Ty: But it wasn't such a big issue, his being bi-racial, until the White media decided that he was the African-American dream. Apparently White media had a dream and now they want to sell it to African-Americans.

Betty: Which is really what's going on. This issue isn't a case of anyone calling him an Uncle Tom or anything else. Black people know he's part Black. We're also aware that he's part White. And we're fully aware that the issue of passing also includes the issue of the dominant society, and sometimes the minority one, rewarding those Blacks who are lighter skinned. I mean, I love Diana Ross but Berry Gordy and the Supremes knew full well they needed to the "White girl hair," the wigs, to reach a large audience. I don't have any animosity over that towards Ross or Gordy or anyone else. But Black people know that the more the White society feels they can recognize themselves, the more warmly they respond.

Cedric: Which is why it's no surprise that a do-nothing Senator, which is all he's been, who is half-white would be welcomed by them, White media, in a way that a Barbara Lee, John Conyers, Charlie Rangel, Maxine Waters or Cynthia McKinney would never be.

Ty: And the result, my opinion, is that they are creating a backlash within the African-American community because, as Betty pointed out, if his appeal is being half-white, that's something that most African-Americans can't 'achieve.'

Cedric: Right and we're also aware that this isn't a man, regardless of his being bi-racial, whose done anything for affirmative action or has even given a speech strongly defending it. We're fully aware that he's not Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or Jess Jackson Jr. or any of the leaders who have worked their way up and can be counted upon.

Betty: But we're fully aware that the second he gets into a scandal, like O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson and many before him, suddenly he'll be Blacker than anyone, all over Black media saying, "You've got to stand with me." The type of person who ignores race his entire life until suddenly he has an embarrassing public moment, or worse, and then needs "the community" to band behind him. It gets really old.

Cedric: Right and the two examples you gave, and I'm sure we could all list many more, actually are African-American but the point you're making is that they chose to ignore race and really had nothing to offer the community until, with Michael Jackson, it became obvious that he has a serious problem with children and I'm putting that as nicely as I can.

Betty: How come?

Cedric: I don't know. Maybe because . . . I don't know. There's no reason to. If you want my opinion, he's had illicit relationships with male children and I find him disgusting.

Betty: I would agree with that. I laughed so hard about his statements where James Brown was his spiritual father. How many of those is he going to have?

Ty: Right, Jackie Wilson, go down the list. But note that since he's had his scandals, he's not naming White men and women.

Betty: Exactly.

Cedric: While we're discussing race, before we move on, I just want to clear up something. Jim and Dona edited a piece here and I had a comment in there about race. It got dropped and that's led to some confusion. It wasn't dropped because of race and Jim's written about it and C.I. has as well. They never said it was dropped because it had to do with race. I think Mike wrote about it too.

Mike: Yep.

Cedric: It was a really long feature. I was reading over it, the way we all do, and I added two lines about what I saw as a racist tactic regarding the treatment of Harry Belafonte. Dona and Jim agreed with that. The problem was that it was two lines that were popping up with no lead up and they stuck out. It was a really long article and a lot of things were dropped from it. I've explained it but, if you don't mind, C.I. could you because I keep responding to e-mails and I think the point will be trusted more if you do.

C.I.: Sure. I was mad that got dropped and I was very open about being mad about that. I wasn't mad at Jim or Dona. The writing of that thing took hours and I didn't want to look over it at all. We probably spent four or more hours as a group writing that thing. And then, after that, people were still working on it, adding to it, including Jess, Ty and Dona. Each of them had something pulled. The reason I didn't want to look at it, besides being sick of it, Ava and I were taking notes during the group writing before individuals added things, was because I knew I would feel like I should pull some of my own comments. So I felt the piece would be stronger if I didn't look at the final version. Cedric did and he knew his comments didn't make the final draft, correct?

Cedric: Correct.

C.I.: I didn't know that. I got phone calls about the piece the Sunday it went up and while talking about, I mentioned Cedric's points about that column and was surprised that the comments didn't stand out. I was told they weren't in there. I then read it, a rare thing for me, and saw they were gone. I asked Jim and Dona, who had edited the piece, and they explained what had been taken out and why -- and again, it wasn't just Cedric's comments on that topic. I was mad at myself at that point for not looking over the thing before it posted because I knew those were important to Cedric and if I had looked over it, I'm sure I could have found a transition at several points in the article where they could have been included.

Dona: Which C.I. pointed out to us, several points in the article where Cedric's sentences could have been included with no alteration to them, just an addition to the sentence before them and after. I didn't realize that was a question mark for some readers until Cedric asked me if I'd co-write an e-mail response with him.

Cedric: Right, because a number of e-mails were wondering about that and weren't accepting my explanation. It finally died down because C.I. included it the year-in-review. And I know that was mainly included because it got cut from the piece here.

C.I.: Whatever. You had some strong points. And I wasn't mad at Dona and Jim, they cut that piece by two-thirds to get it workable and coherent. They did a wonderful job and they offered all of us the opportunity to read over it when they finished. I refused to. My anger was at myself for that but I was honestly sick of it by then.

Betty: Is that why we started out with the topic of race?

Cedric: No, we started out with that because Jim and I were talking about the roundtable the rest of you did and Jim was telling me about all the e-mails that came in praising you.

Betty: Okay, that makes me feel bad, I haven't checked my e-mails since the end of November. If anyone's sent a compliment, I didn't read it and think, "Yeah, I deserve it." I just haven't had time to read them.

Jim: I'm going to assume you have a lot of unread compliments because there was more feedback on your points than on anything else from a roundtable ever.

Betty: Then let me repeat one more time, my points were a summary of discussions Cedric, Ty and I had been having for several weeks on the phone about The Selling of Obama.

Ava: Well, as Ty and Cedric pointed out, you were the one who put it all together in the roundtable.

Kat: And Ava will back me up on this, C.I. was very worried that the edition would be too light but when you joined us, Betty had been dealing with one of her son's waking up for a nightmare, and started tackling the topic, we, Ava and I, could both see C.I. relax. That was one of the last features we did for that edition and up until that point, C.I. was pins on needles about whether or not the edition would be strong enough.

Rebecca: So grab some of the credit, Betty! Betty really is too modest.

Betty: Well, to steal from C.I., whatever. Can we change the topic.

Jim: Yes. Let's talk about independent media and we're tossing to Wally and Mike for opening remarks if they have any because they both noted this.

Wally: Well, what do you say? We reach the 3,000 mark and where the heck is independent media? Are they on vacation? On a cruise? On a bender? I know Kat wants to pursue this topic so I'll leave it at that.

Mike: One thing that really needs to be noted is that while independent media was silent during this time about the 3,000 milestone, they were all over Saddam Hussein's execution. I'd like for us to deal with that as well but we can come back to that.

Jim: Kat?

Kat: Well, I agreed with what C.I. wrote Sunday night. I'm a long term KPFA listener and I'm sorry but when you have a milestone like reaching the 3,000 death, you don't need to give the evening news the night off. Nor do you need to stick with airing a pre-recorded music program.

Elaine: I know Sunday night, everyone noted in their own way at their sites. I think everyone did a wonderful job but I want to single out Trina's post because (a) she's not here to participate and (b) I think it gets to the point Kat's making. Mike had called her to tell her and she was writing about the mood of the New Year's Eve party and noted: "Did it spoil the party? Well too bad. There are now at least 3,000 US troops who will not celebrate another New Year's Eve and there are over 655,000 Iraqis who will not. It's time to end the illegal war."

Wally: Right, and she returned to that point on Saturday and I was going to note that. My grandfather actually was the first to read it and he pointed it out to me. Trina wrote: "I was honestly appalled to see how little attention the milestone (we hit it last Sunday) received.We were having a small New Year's Eve Party here when Mike called with the news and, as I wrote, it was reality. If some felt it would 'spoil the mood,' well a lot of 'moods' get spoiled during a war and while you might need to worry about that during a children's birthday party, adults aren't supposed to get a pass from reality. It does appear that media, especially independent media, gave themselves a pass from reality, however."

Elaine: And I know Wally was at a party when he wrote and I also wanted to note something from that:

The 3,000 mark should follow Bully Boy around. But don't be surprised if we don't see the 4,000 mark or higher before the illegal war ends because too many people refuse to get serious about the war.
I'm not talking about "kids." When
Ty called, I hollered, "Quiet." When I got off the phone with him, I passed on what he'd just told me. There's not a person at this party that doesn't grasp what 3,000 lives for an illegal war means or the over 655,000 Iraqis that The Lancet estimates have died in the war. I don't get the same feeling about media -- big or small.

Elaine: Trina's not here, but Wally is and Wally was also at a "college party." So I thought he could talk about that.

Wally: Well I mean, we were all joking around. The TV was on but you couldn't hear it because the stereo was blasting. Everyone was having a great time. Then the call came in and I didn't think about passing on the news. I didn't think, "Uh-oh, I'm going to spoil the party." I got off the phone and I called for everyone's attention and just passed on the news.

Rebecca: Did it spoil the party?

Wally: It brought everyone's spirits back down to earth. We were actually pretty much all discussing the war after and, in fact, didn't even realize that midnight had passed until about thirty minutes after wards. Do I think anyone was cheated by that? No.

Ty: Because?

Wally: Because it's reality. Who wants to be blowing some toy horn and throwing around confetti at a time like that? I mean, if we'd found out after, and this is a point my girlfriend made the next day, we would have felt like morons. Realizing that while we were leaping around and hollering, the 3,000 mark had been passed and we'd just gone about our night like everything was normal. And I think this is where I hand back off to Kat.

Kat: Thank you. And I agree it's a good point to hand off on because the reality is that KPFA sticking with that pre-recorded music programming and not noting the 3,000 deaths was just so insulting on every level. It was insulting to the milestone, it was insulting to the listeners if the thinking was that telling us would be too much of a 'downer,' and it was insulting because of what KPFA is supposed to be. It is the original Pacifica station and Pacifica was created to give voice to the things that weren't being addressed. So to stick with a pre-recorded music program just really seemed to betraying the whole purpose for which Pacifica was first created.

Betty: So it was obvious that it was pre-recorded?

Kat: Actually, I'm going on C.I. about that.

C.I.: It was pre-recorded. When the post went up, it went up in parts, because Rebecca had asked to link to it in the post she was doing. So when it first went up, two members e-mailed to say the program wasn't prerecorded. It was. And both e-mailed shortly after to note that they'd just gone to the KPFA website and the music program, which was still airing, was already available in the archives. The reason it was already available in the archives was because it was pre-recorded. If it was live, they would have had to wait until the end of the program to archive it. I don't think Zach will mind me mentioning his name, I'm not sure about the other member, but he felt, before he went to the website, that it couldn't be pre-recorded. He didn't think KPFA would do that with a New Year's Eve program. When he wrote back to say it was already in the archives while it was still on air, and for people who don't visit the website, you see what's playing and on the right hand, it lists the most recently archived programs so it doesn't require searching, just a visit to the main page, he was pretty disappointed in that. I understand his disappointment but honestly felt like I'd outed Santa or something. I knew it was going to be pre-recorded and wasn't surprised by that. I have no problem with people taking the holiday off, I don't expect anyone to give up all fun. But I do think, as I said in that post, when something like the 3,000 mark is passed, you leave your party, you go into the station and you do the job that is the reason the station came into existance for in the first place. I'm not trying to slam KPFA here, but that's very basic and that's how I feel.

Cedric: And you also spoke of Amy Goodman needing to go into the studio on Monday for a live Democracy Now! and not a pre-taped show with Noam Chomsky who they'd just done a pre-taped show with about two weeks prior.

C.I.: And I firmly believe that as well. I do understand the need for the week or so of pre-taped shows. Democracy Now! was moving and they are independent media, meaning a lower budget than broadcast news or cable, so I thought it was very smart to utilize that time by airing pre-taped shows. I don't watch the show, I listen to it, on KPFA over the airwaves unless I'm on the road. But Rebecca watches.

Rebecca: Yeah, and I'd say from the looks of things last week, the move is still being felt. One day, there was like a tiny postage stamp of an area that they could move the cameras around in and they had these walls with Democracy Now! on them.

C.I.: So obviously, they're still making do. And I can understand that. I would have no problem if they had aired pre-taped, or canned, programming all last week. With one exception, the 3,000 mark. That is a milestone and if you're in the news business, you go in and you do the job. I don't care if you have no graphics or visual, obviously, I'm listening, but even if I was watching, I don't care about that. The visuals aren't as important as being there as a voice for independent media and weighing in.

Ava: But they didn't. Not just on Monday, when it was a pre-taped show, but on Tuesday, when they did a live show and they had nothing to say about the 3,000 mark other than a headline that it had been passed.

Dona: Well, as Ruth noted in her report that went up Saturday night, C.I. and I are more "generous" than some in that we do lump in the headline right after that, the one on the gatherings and war protests, as part of the coverage, but even there, it is true that on Tuesday's headlines, as we note in a feature this edition, James Brown, still dead that day and already covered multiple times, his death, the week prior, got more time than the 3,000 mark.

Ava: And while I do see where both of you are coming from on that, and I know Jim agrees with you, I still strongly disagree. What was it, read the feature on it this edition, but the 3,000 mark got something like three lines of text. That was it. No context, no attempt to note even the 3,000th one, let alone any of the ones who came before, no attempt to note how deadly Al-Anbar Province had proven to be, just basically 3,000 dead and I believe it was introduced with something like "In other news." "In other news" 3,000 dead. Oh, well thanks for the other news, Amy Goodman.

Dona: I can see your point and I think we'd both agree that the milestone deserved it's own segment, not just a headline, on the first show, first live show, after the 3,000 mark had been reached.

Ava: Yeah. If I can touch on headlines for a minute more, what was the obsession with James Brown? Tillie Olsen didn't even get noted last week.

Cedric: I'm jumping in because Ava called me after Democracy Now! had aired that stupid 'rare footage interview' with James Brown where he looked stupid. Ava, jokingly, asked me, "Okay, I'm Latina, not African-American, am I missing something?" I laughed but had to say, "No, you're not." Ray Charles was a loss. James Brown?

Betty: I was actually upset that in the feature on this, the 3,000 mark as dealt with by Democracy Now!, we pulled the points Ava and C.I. were making, which were good points. I'm going to note what I noted for that piece. And before there's any confusion, as it says in the piece, we basically fact checked that nonsense in the James Brown segment and, after the feature was written, realized that it read like a James Brown post for our commentary so we pulled it. I understood that decision and support it, but I wish we'd run that in some way. So let me note my point, and Ty's probably going to want to note his as well, but I do hope we note Ava and C.I.'s because they put it all in perspective. My point was James Brown was old hat. Papa's Had The Same Bag for years. You may as well have offered that Ruth Brown was discriminated against because people didn't want to hear her repeat the same thing she'd been doing back at the beginning of rock and soul. And while I think Black people have a right to be skeptical about arrests and prison involving Black people, it's also true that James Brown had problems that went far beyond anything that could have been seen as "the government's out to get me."

Cedric: Or "the man" is out to get me.

Betty: Right, what was it, three times he was arrested for beating his third wife? And wasn't it cute how the coverage, the non-stop coverage from Amy Goodman, never noted that the mother of his child, his common-law wife, was basically being kicked to the curb. This was his last wife and apparently she wasn't divorced when she married him. Doesn't matter. She was divorced and they continued to live together and have a child together and present themselves as a married couple. That make not make a difference in New York City but in many southern states, that means you're married in the eyes of the law whether you have a marriage certificate or not. We were talking about that at my job and one woman explained that she had to get a divorce even though she had a common law marriage because the judge told her that in the eyes of the law, she and the man were married because they did have a child, they did set up house, they did present themselves as husband and wife. Sorry to get off on a tangent. But any man, at that age, who hasn't taken the time to make sure a will is in place and provide for his underage child and the mother of it whom he presents as a wife, isn't much of a man. All the more so if he did prepare a will and cut them out of it.

Cedric: Betty's wisdoms from the Deep South.

Betty: You know it!

Ty: Just to add in, my point was that rappers had no bigger enemy than James Brown for a long time. He was even offended when Vanessa Williams' "The Right Stuff" used a sample, couldn't shut up about that. And it was always, "They're playing my song" in raps songs or Williams' hit and the reality was, no, they weren't playing your song. Those people had found a way to take something you had done and make it current but James Brown couldn't make his own material current. Betty and Cedric are only a little bit older than I am so when I called Cedric last week and he was visiting at the nursing home, I asked him to let me talk to Three Cool Old Guys who were around for the emergence of James Brown. They wrote about that, and it was funny, in the gina & krista round-robin last Friday but they tried it out on me first and was I rolling. Their basic point was that Elvis was the White James Brown and, like Elvis, Brown got soft and flabby and wore too many sequins and sang too many tired songs. They talked about how Ray Charles could always reach you because he was trying to and James Brown just wanted to get you up on the dance floor. Nothing wrong with that, although no one was dancing sock hop dances by then, but he's someone who's career died long before he did and there was a reason for that which had nothing to do with, despite Al Sharpton claiming otherwise in the film Democracy Now! showed, that it was because African-Americans were ashamed of being Black.
I'm going to hand to Ava.

Ava: Well, I mean one of the points C.I. and I were making was that he hit the R&B charts in 1956. His sound stayed the same and that's a big problem when R&B is replaced with soul, is replaced with urban, quiet storm, go down the list. I laughed when I read Three Cool Old Guys' column in the gina & krista round-robin and I got their point which was that for fans of anything other than muzac, Elvis has a creative period and then he doesn't. And I could see how they were relating that to James Brown. And they made the point about how he had to be pressured into giving up the relaxed hair in the age of Black Pride but then, years later, he wanted to talk about his 'sacrifice' and claim that he'd made the decision when, as they pointed out, all he was really trying to do was to keep up with the natural feel and look Aretha Franklin had brought back to the charts when she emerged with her first hits for Atlantic Records. I'll toss to C.I.

C.I.: Okay, give me a second. Alright. When one of us is speaking, the other's the only one taking notes and I had to catch up. Aretha Franklin's a good point. You can use others, certainly the sales decline of Ike and Tina before Tina Turner left, long before. But let's stick with Aretha.
Brown's basically got a decade on her, he's charting in the fifties, she doesn't get her first significant hit until 1967, "I Never Loved A Man," recorded at the end of January 1967. He was the Godfather of Soul, she was the Queen of Soul. This is in relation to his dubious claims in the interview DN! aired which they said was 25 years old so it would be 1981 for it to be 25 years old in December of last year. [Claims included that he wasn't played because African-American deejays were embarrassed of their own race, that he wasn't getting hits -- though he actually was, and airplay -- because he wasn't on a big label.] Aretha was on a big label, Atlantic Records, that didn't allow for hits as the 70s wound down. In fact, her last album of new material for Atlantic, La Diva, was her worst selling album, of her studio albums, of her entire career. The slide began post Sparkle. When Atlantic didn't renew her contract in 1980, no one was surprised. She signed with Arista, Clive Davis gave the input he's known for, Aretha re-emerged with "Jump To It," "Get It Right" and more. It was about updating her sound. You can't go a decade with the same sound and expect to continue hitting the charts. Music changes. You either change or hope for exposure after a long absence that will make you seem fresh, which is what happened in 1985 for Brown with "Living In America." But he did dance music. That is very transitory. More so probably than even the top forty pop charts. It depends on new sounds, new beats, and James Brown didn't offer them, if he had them. Aretha managed a comeback in 1985. Not a few hits, a comeback. Those are very difficult. She had hits in the early eighties, what Brown had in 1985 and 1986. But her comeback came with Who's Zooming Who? in 1985. A comeback, in music, requires that you have something new to offer in most cases, the other way is that you've been gone a long time. In the latter category, some might place Roy Orbison, who never claimed there was a plot among people, of any race, to destroy him. James Brown's act was tired to the record buying public, in 1981 people bought records, and it didn't matter that "all people" supposedly knew him and went to his concerts. Record buyers were young and if they were going to buy Brown, if, they were going to buy something like 1963's classic Live At The Apollo and not something tired like 1979's The Original Disco Man. I mean, disco? 1979? Donna Summer's ruling and she's doing it with synths and amazing vocals. No one's going to rush out to hear Brown do the same old thing just because he titles it The Original Disco Man. I'm trying to think of how to relate this for younger readers. But let me add that even Prince, a creative genius and an actual artist, couldn't release albums non-stop without taxing the buying public. James Brown was issuing multiple albums in the late seventies when he wasn't selling and most of those had so little music on it, I'm speaking of the number of tracks, that to someone plunking down hard earned cash, they didn't even qualify as full albums. I'll leave the topic of his art to someone else but there's no denying that he watered down and diluted by releasing non-stop product and leaving many fans feeling burned. Okay Britney Spears. She's a dance artist. Or 'artist.' She had a sound, I didn't care for it, but it was a sound. "Oops I Did It Again" and ". . . Baby One More Time" practically sound like the same song. And people are tired of her today. That has to do with her antics but it also has to do with her music. Things move quickly in dance music, it's very trendy. Few stay on top for very long. Or let's use Natalie Cole as an example. A solid 70s hitmaker and then the hits dried up. While she's been very vocal about the toll drugs took on her life and her career, the reality is that before her comeback with Everlasting, two years before, she released 1985's Dangerous which is a stronger album. She's got more room to breathe and bring songs to life on that album, nothing on Everlasting topped, vocally, what she did on "The Gift." And "A Little Bit Of Heaven" was vintage Cole. But nothing on it, not even the title track, sounded contemporary the way Everlasting's "Jump Start" did. Or, for that matter, "I Live For Your Love." I'm speaking of the production. You have to update the sound. With "Pink Caddilac," I think the sound took over the track, and that's a trap too many fall into, but if you're standing still, you're either going to have to accept a lull or invent reasons why you can't get airplay. I feel like I went on way too long.

Ty: No, I'm glad. The Natalie Cole thing was new. That wasn't anything you tossed out for the feature but I think it made the point clear, or more clear. But that interview, where everyone's out to get the Godfather of Soul, does B.B. King whine about conspiracies keeping him off the charts? No. And I actually listen to B.B. King. I never could get into James Brown. Barry White and other older guys --

Cedric: "Older cats."

Ty: (laughing) Older cats, I could get into. Someone like Stevie Wonder, I can listen to one CD after another. He's growing, he's changing. I hated the lyrics on the last album, but he was still growing musically. But James Brown, sorry, pass.

Cedric: I agree and I also loved the Natalie Cole illustration, by the way. I didn't know anyone else in this roundtable even knew Dangerous. "A Little Bit Of Heaven" was amazing. But yeah, radio's about the younger crowd more often than not and they want "news." It's not just updating your sound, they want "new." My nephew's trashing Ja Rule right now and saying he's old hat. How James Brown thought he could compete with that is just beyond me. And it was embarrassing enough to hear those kind of statements when he was alive, how it was a plot against him and the dee jays were ashamed of being Black but it was all the more so to hear that nosense on Democracy Now! and hear them giggling when the "jokes" about the splits were brought up.

Elaine: Just to clarify, the film maker said Amy Goodman did the splits at the end of the show, like James Brown and Goodman vollied back he had her confused with Juan Gonzalez to which the filmaker replied that Juan Gonzalez does that during the breaks, Goodman does it at the end of the show. Listening to that, I really did see where Cedric and Wally got their Entertainment Tonight comparison.

Kat: Let me give Goodman credit for playing Lizzie West on Friday's show and being willing to play artists during the break. We've all been listening to West, among others, during the writing of this edition and we wouldn't have if it hadn't been for that.

Jim: Well, if C.I. had not just recommended the CD in the spring but had insisted we listen.

Kat: Right. I wrote about that.

Jim: I know, I read it and was laughing.

Mike: And music's important and we're all fans of music. Plus this section has been lively and I know Cedric wanted to address it, I didn't realize Betty did as well too until she said so. But we've addressed it and noted the nonsense so how about we turn to the show execution?

Jim: Good idea because Rebecca put that down as her topic.

Rebecca: Well I know that C.I. has no interest in writing about Saddam Hussein and I understand that. I also know we had to address the topic in some way and with a roundtable, that will save us having to write a feature that I'm sure C.I. would say, "Do it without me."

C.I.: You are correct.

Jim: Dona has spoken the least so how about she sets us up and then we go to Rebecca?

Dona: The same independent media that couldn't take the time to seriously address the 3,000 mark, or, in some cases, even address it, couldn't shut up about the show execution of Saddam Hussein two Saturdays ago. While I'll assume that the 3,000 includes many people as flawed as I, myself am, I am also relatively sure that it doesn't include anyone who gassed the Kurds. The outrage seemed very out of proportion in the US independent media.

Rebecca: And I would agree with that and as someone who got many nasty e-mails calling me a "Saddam lover" for noting, during the show trial, that journalistic standards were tossed out the window by the mainstream press as reporters supposedly reporting were quick to offer editorials, I think I can make that call. I was not sympathetic to the man, I was, however, outraged that when the US government designates an enemy, journalistic standards go out the window. But the psuedo outrage, I hope it was psuedo, I heard and read in independent media was very strange. First of all, it was a show trial, a mockery of justice, and to just now feel comfortable noting that is hardly brave though many seemed to only realize it last week. Second of all, what was with all the hand wringing over the brutality of his death? Does anyone think a death penalty, any death penalty, is a picnic?

Cedric: Agreed. I was actually thinking that the hanging, the showing of it online and by Al Jazeera and other outlets, would awaken some people to the realities of the death penalty.

Jim: Did anyone participating watch it?

Kat: Long pause. I'll assume that's a no. I didn't.

Elaine: I'm not interested in seeing anyone be executed and I doubt seriously there is any noble way to execute someone. As Rebecca said, it's brutal, not a picnic.

Wally: I'm guessing no one did since no one's said, "Yeah, I watched it." I didn't. I wasn't interested in watching it. But I did find it surprising that the independent media, citizen journalism, was decrying, some were decrying, the filming of it. I don't want to watch it and would prefer no execution be broadcast, but I wasn't offended that it was recorded.

Cedric: What about the point that broadcasting them might make a difference?

Wally: I actually hadn't thought of that until you brought it up. But when you did, what I flashed on was the recent executions, in this country, where the myth of "We gave him a shot and it was all over" has been exploded. That's at the heart of doctors refusing to participate in California, right?

Jess: Jumping in. Yeah, that it as the heart of it. And Cedric's point is worth considering. I don't think anyone wants it to be treated as a sport and that's the fear with broadcasting it but it's also true that there are deniers, right now, in this country, who refuse to believe that it's not just give a shot and the person drifts peacefully off to death feeling no pain.

Jim: Just to note this, we're doing this as our second last to feature and after a lengthy break where people went to sleep. That included Jess who now has the same flu that C.I., Ava and Kat had. I just had a cold. But it's really a bad bug and no one wanted to wake up Jess.

Ava: Because when I had it, all I wanted to do was sleep. Kat was the same.

Kat: Right. We were letting Jess sleep.

Jess: Appreciate that but glad I woke up for this part. My dad would kill me if I wasn't participating on this, the death penalty is his big issue. So, yes, in that instance, televising executions might have woken a few people up. Or they might have just, the prisons, resorted to gas chambers or some other way to remove the victims from the camera's view. Lethal injection is not a painless process or an immediate one. In that instance, recorded evidence would have demonstrated that much sooner because although it's only now become an issue, it's been known, the problems with it, for some time.

Mike: What about the historical value of taping Saddam's execution? Where do you come down on that?

Jess: Look, for your average person who is incarcerated, it's one thing. Saddam Hussein was a national leader. If Bully Boy got sentenced in a court of law to the death penalty and someone taped it, I would be tempted to watch it and I am very much against the death penalty. But I think it goes to the fact that leaders are not individuals. They have the power, a power, far greater than individuals. Bully Boy's used that to start an illegal war. I'd still be against the death penalty but I honestly wouldn't shed any tears if he was found guilty, in a kangroo court or in what passes for a justice system, and was sentenced to death. If that happened and it was online, I might watch it. I don't have a lot of sympathy for leaders who abuse their power, whether it's him or Pinochet or Saddam Hussein. I feel very sorry for Iraqis and the country itself that they've been targeted with an illegal war. I can say Saddam was cooperating with inspections, even. But his history doesn't make me sympathetic to his execution. It wasn't a fair trial and the death wasn't pretty. But I'd call what happened karma and hope that a legal body merits the same out to all war criminals. Rebecca wrote a thing once about how journalists were abandoning the principles of journalism when reporting on his trial.

Dona: Right, we talked about that while you were asleep.

Jess: And I agree with that and I agree that's wrong. But I didn't shed any tears when I learned he had been killed. Nor was I surprised because of course you want to kill him before you proceed to other trials where he could implicate Donald Rumsfeld, Poppy Bush, and a whole host of other Americans in government who have propped him over the years and the CIA that set him up to begin with.

Mike: Or corporations he was business with.

Jess: Exactly. But I thought the point we heard Tuesday while we were heading to the airport, C.I. included it in that day's snapshot, KPFA's The Morning Show had Antonia Juhasz on for the first segment, author of The BU$H Agenda, and she made the point that the US administration would prefer that the focus for the end of 2006 be on the execution of Hussein and not the 3,000 milestone. That point's so obvious and I'm not trying to take anything away from Juhasz by saying that. I am trying to point out that what she grasped and voiced sailed over the heads of an independent media, Democracy Now! and The Nation included, who wouldn't make the time to cover the 3,000 mark, I don't consider a headline on Tuesday or one sentence in a lengthy post on Tuesday to be "covering" the 3,000 mark, but couldn't shut up about the execution. I agree with Rebecca's point, and agreed with it at the time, that journalists shouldn't put aside journalistic standards when covering a trial just because it's a government designated enemy, but I also honestly believe that more leaders should be standing trial and that, if they were, it might make them take their responsibilities a little more seriously.

Elaine: For instance, Bully Boy might grasp that he works for the people and not the other way around. Or people who have served in his adminstrations, past and present, might grasp that they serve the people and the occupant of the oval office. I was honsestly appalled by a great deal of the coverage. Independent and mainstream. I understood and respected the coverage that took the approach of this awful man was installed and supported by the US government and that those who did that should be standing trial as well. But I got a whole other vibe from some of the coverage and kept thinking, "This was not a nice man, I'm not going to work up tears for him no matter how you try to sell it."

Jess: And you're naturally very sympathetic to people on death row.

Elaine: But, like with you, that's individuals and I don't see him as an individual. I see him as someone who had more power than anyone else in Iraq and he abused that power leading to a lot of suffering, a lot of deaths, a lot of torture. Like yourself, I think a lot more war criminals, leaders, need to be put on trial and I think it would send a message. Isn't that the right-wing's argument for the death penalty? It sends a message. I don't believe that but if it's true, let's start sending it to the people who have the power, let's let them understand that they too are subject to a legal trial and all the punishments that can be merited out to the average citizens.

Jess: Which would probably lead quicker than anything else to abolishing the death penalty.

Elaine: I agree. When the person being executed is executed for murdering one person and the ones responsible for the deaths of hundreds and thousands faces no accountability, it does say that one class will receive the most violent punishments we can dream up and another class will skate free regardless of what they do.

Jim: Which brings us to the last topic, "Gerry, we hardly knew 'ya." That's how Elaine noted her topic.

Elaine: Well, I guess I spent the mid-seventies on one long acid trip without realizing that because what other explanation could there be for the huge disconnect that I felt between what was being reported, big media and small media, on Gerald Ford and what I actually lived through? I guess around 1974, someone slipped a heavy dose of it into my cola and I spent the next two years tripping out.

Mike: I got to note that Flyboy, Rebecca's husband, is listening to us, Rebecca, Elaine and me, and bursting out in laughter over what Elaine just said.

Jim: Flyboy, want to make a comment?

Flyboy: Just that Elaine's been doing Gerry Ford standup all weekend and it always cracks me up.

Rebecca: She does it so straight forward, I think that's what makes it even funnier, just so serious. But, yeah, this has pissed her off. It's pissed off a lot of people, the lies being passed off as truth. Bob Woodward ignoring Gerry Ford's ever changing story of the pardon. Including that Ford said the American people would never accept the pardon and then, once he's president, pardons Nixon.

Mike: Or the nonsense about how Ford was the one who protected the Nixon tapes for history. My dad heard Woodward saying that and I thought he was going to hurl something at the TV. He was shouting about what a liar Woody was and how Ford announced he was giving Nixon the tapes and the only thing that stopped that was Congress passing legislation to prevent it. If it were up to Ford, the public would never know what was on those tapes.

Jim: Just to back up. Gerald Ford was never elected. Spiro Agnew had to leave office, as Richard Nixon's vice-president, in disgrace. Ford was then appointed. Watergate starts with the exposure of CREEP, the Committee to Re-Elect the President, breaking into the Democratic headquarters in 1972 and then, in 1974 it comes alive with Congressional hearings during which witnesses testify and John Dean notes that he told Nixon there was a cancer on his presidency and other things including that he believed Nixon was taping conversations in the Oval Office. Those are the tapes that Ford, when he became president, was going to turn over.

C.I.: And just to back up a little further, Agnew stepped down due to charges and admitted to tax evasion and money laundering in a court of law. Nixon's crimes went beyond authorizing that break-in. He also kept an enemies list and actively utilized government agencies to attack and spy on his enemies. That included planting false stories about them, with the press if they were famous, with employers if they weren't. That included illegally opening mail, listening to phone calls, bugging their residences, seizing their bank records, and much more. Like the Bully Boy, Nixon got away with a great deal for one and a half terms. Then investigations began due to the break-up and the reporting that Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, Seymour Hersh and others were doing on it. But it was the tip of the iceberg. There were slush funds and hush funds and a whole host of illegal activities going on. These were being exposed and Congress was preparing articles of impeachment, the House was, against Richard Nixon when he resigned. Had he not resigned, he would have been charged with impeachment by the House and he would have been impeached by the Senate. Ford, after noting that the American people would never accept Richard I Am Not A Crook Nixon being impeached, then goes on, without alerting the American people or Congress to pardon Richard Nixon. I'll toss back to Elaine.

Elaine: Thank you both for the set up because it's true that a lot of people aren't old enough to remember and if they're relying on what's being reported, they still won't know. Ford wasn't a healer of a nation. His pardon was not received well but damned if the press didn't try to present it otherwise from the start. I didn't shed a tear when CBS disposed of Dan Rather. I remember Dan Rather rushing in to praise that nonsense, as a CBS reporter, as soon as it happened. That's where the 'healing' lie may have started. Rather was one of the first to push that garbage.

Ava: And let's not forget that we also heard garbage on Democracy Now! when Goodman and a guest both pushed the lie that Ford offered amnesty to war resisters. He did no such thing. He offered a limited amensty, with conditions, and the chance of charges still being brought against them, to a small group of draft refusers or evaders.

Rebecca: Right. And it was so disgusting, what he was offering, that the ACLU was protesting it in real time.

Dona: Let's end with Democracy Now! and I'll choose the topic because I know from Ava and Jess it was a hot topic. They presented a guest from The San Francisco Chronicle who repeated a lot of spin. As C.I. noted, not having lived through it is no excuse for not reporting reality. That was in reference to the myth that George McGovern campainging in 1972 on a platform to end the war resulted in his huge loss and that Democrats then had an image of being weak on national defense.

Elaine: Right. That's completely untrue. Richard Nixon campaigned, the same year, on a platform to end the war with his 'secret plan.' Kind of like Bully Boy's 'plans' that never emerge as any real plan. Nixon campaigned as a peace candidate. Both McGovern and Nixon did.

Kat: And it's also nonsense that Dems were seen as weak on national defense for that reason. Republicans and some Democrats, in later years, put forward that nonsense to justify their own aims. The same sort of aims The New Republic(an) always has and it still present the myth that Dems need to prove that they're not weak on national defense. That was such a lie. If you think anyone, in 1977, was going around saying, "Well good thing we didn't elect McGovern, we would have 'weak' and gotten out of Vietnam years earlier," you're a liar, someone who didn't live through it, or you've been slipped the acid and are unaware of it. And I want to echo a point C.I.'s made repeatedly at The Common Ills which is this, the left made a huge mistake post-Vietnam. The nation needed a dialogue and a number on the left, and a huge number on the center-left, shut that down. It was "too painful," we couldn't do it because it would cause hurt blah, blah, blah. The nation never healed as a result and, I'd argue, we're back in another illegal war with no end because of that. In the meantime, while the left and center-left were playing good sports, the right-wing was creating their revisionist history. I'll never forget being shocked, in 1983, I remember this very well, a pimply little kid trying to hit me while I was waiting for a friend and he starts talking "Nam" and saying that "We could have won, but they wouldn't let us fight it." I said, "We? You were over there?" I was being sarcastic, he was probably 19 or 20 years old. But when the war ended, those of us who were adults, the majority of us, regardless of party affiliation or non-affiliation were damn well aware that the war was unwinnable and had been for years. This was one of those myths that right-wing cooked up and, boy, did it take hold.

Cedric: I'll jump in and note that I'm younger than Kat and this is my public school experience with regards to Vietnam: teachers who skipped the chapters and kids who saw a lot of crap movies with Stallone and other bad actors in them, offering nonsense like Kat's talking about. I would absolutely agree that while the right was revising history, a lot of the country was avoiding the topic because that's what I saw.

Mike: It comes down to that thing Jane Fonda said in Sir! No Sir!

Jim: A pause. Mike, do you know the quote?

Mike: I was counting on C.I. jumping in and accessing the memorac brain.

C.I.: She says, "You know, people say,'Well you keep going back, why are you going back to Vietnam?' We keep going back to Vietnam because I'll tell you what, the other side does. They're always going back. And they have to go back -- the Hawks, you know, the patriarchs. They have to go back because, and they have to revise the going back, because they can't allow us to know what the back there really was."

Ava: And that is so true. And something we need to remember, certainly those of us participating but those of you reading as well, for when this illegal war finally ends. Those lies will start up. They'll start up slowly and they will take root if we're not willing to continue talking about Iraq. There's no 'let by-gones be by-gones' when it comes to the truth. The truth is the truth. This is an illegal war, it was built on lies and deception, and the US was never going to 'win.' The Iraqis, who were never 'liberated' by the illegal occupation, turned against all foreign forces, including the US, a long time ago. Unless you consider a 'win' total genocide that would wipe out the majority of Iraqis, there is no 'win.' And we do not need to be silent about it after the war ends because that is how, this effort to all get along, the lies of revisions take root.

Jim: And on that important note, we'll end the roundtable before Dona points to her watch again.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }