Sunday, April 15, 2007

Truest statement of the week

There is nothing good to say about Harold Ford. He never passed up a chance to proclaim hot man love for George W. Bush. He voted in favor of the occupation of Iraq and the awful bankruptcy bill. In an idiotic effort to get the support of redneck Tennesseans he claimed that his black grandmother was white. He made numerous pilgrimages to the Little Rebel Club to have photo ops with said rednecks worshipping the Stars and Bars. Ford is an enemy of progressive ideas and definitely an enemy to black America.

-- Margaret Kimeberley's "Harold Ford, Enemy of Black America" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report)

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
We've actually been later! :D (as Mike would say.)

We're fairly on time for us, maybe a little early. Let's note who worked on this edition:

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

Thank you to all. Thank you to Rebecca for photoshopping the illustrations (including three that would never upload to Flickr -- one of the reason we are late -- we were largely done three hours ago). Thank you to Dallas for locating links and being a soundboard.

So what have we got? (Jess sings "Not a lot." It's a Carole King song, I don't want to know.)

Truest statement of the week -- Margaret Kimberly. Telling the truth. If you don't check her out, you should. We think Black Agenda Report is on our links. If it's not, we'll put it on tonight. We also need to add Ron's site. The plan was to add those and a few others through last week. Forget it. Didn't happen. (Ty and C.I. corrected typos on Tuesday.)

Editorial: The disgusting silence on war resisters... -- one thing about problems and problems that delayed us posting was we ditched our written editorial (it went out with the print edition).
We wrote about the World Bank, half-assed. Isaiah does it much better in today's comic. We could live with what we wrote. That was our attitude for much of the edition: Can we live with it? Thanks to Vic for sending a highlight to C.I. We ended up with a topic we truly cared about.

TV: Wasted away in second banana-ville -- if you count the editorial that ran in the print edition, this was the last thing written other than this note. Ava and C.I. had a workout and then some (we'll get to it). We actually didn't intend for them to do this feature (we'll get to it). As the hours drug and drug, they had no idea what they were going to write, what show they were going to cover. We've seen last minute miracles from them before but this may be one of the better shocks. Well done.

1 Book, 5 Minutes -- This could have been longer. Dona told us we were the laziest ass people she'd ever seen (we'll get to it). We could have. It was planned as a quick feature and basically was.

Don Imus -- We'll get to it? We are now here. Don Imus. Last week. Who could write the story? Ava and C.I. It's what they've touched on repeatedly, sexism, racism, inclusion and exclusion. Those are topics that come through their TV commentaries. I (Jim) asked them for this piece, begged them when they were on the fence, badgered them the minute they got home (Kat, Ty and Jess met them at the airport). This was not what I wanted. I'm not insulting it, it's wonderful. But this was the first feature worked on. They finished it quickly and I looked it over and said, "No, no, no." Asked for a rewrite ("overhaul!" shouts Ava). Now during this, Dona had to attend an event for a friend out here. She said, "I expect everyone to be working and the edition to be half-way done when I get back." Well, expect in one hand . . . While Ava and C.I. were slaving through six rewrites (Ava insists it was seven), the rest of us (Jess, Kat, Ty and myself) were just sitting around the speaker phone chatting with Mike, Cedric, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty and Wally. Just shooting the breeze. For hours. It went by quickly and I had no idea so much time had passed. We were catching up and having fun. I'd stop every now and then to read over Ava and C.I.'s latest draft and say, "No, no, no." Let me talk about what I wanted. I thought this would be the substitute for the TV review. They could grab excerpts from various TV reviews and write around that. They'd have a commentary on Imus, who was TV, and other shows and that would be their TV review for the week. Dona walked in as I was saying, "No, no, No" (for the sixth time, Ava says seventh), grabbed the latest draft out of my hands (Ava and C.I. write in longhand, just FYI) and asked me what the hell I was doing. She sh-ed everyone and started reading. Then asked me, "What the hell's wrong with it? Seems pretty on the mark to me." Well, there was nothing wrong with it, it just wasn't what I wanted. As I said it, I realized how stupid that sounded. And Dona asked, "Exactly what the hell have the rest of you done." Silence. We got an ass tearing from Dona about how easy it is to say "No, no, no" to the only ones working while we sit around "on your asses, really you are the laziest asses, the laziest asses . . ." At some point, even she had to stop and laugh. But we were the laziest asses. I take responsibility for that. Wally mentioned sports and that had Betty, Jess, Mike, Cedric and me off on a tear for over an hour and a half. (Dona guesses "Much, much longer.") Dona asked Ava and C.I. what they thought of the piece they'd written. Noting that they'd been in Georgia (they got to visit with Betty, Kat was so bummed she couldn't get out of a photo shoot last week) and Tennessee and that the students they were meeting with repeatedly brought up Imus, brought up the coverage, brought up how offensive the whole thing was, they said they wanted to honor those voices. Dona said, "Put it back in. We'll edit it, just the three of us, and make it all work. Bring all the drafts and let's get it back in because the biggest point of last week was that the wrong voices were being heard." At that point, we quickly started work (Jess, Ty, Kat and myself) on illustrations to be able to show we'd produced something. Dona's not happy with the piece. She thinks Ava and C.I. did a wonderful job but there were two points that there was no way (from the third draft) to work in. (She says, "I let them down. They are strong editors, they just needed a pair of fresh eyes. I failed.") She says it's wonderful unless you've read that one section of the third draft. If you have, you know how much more wonderful it could be. They included the one excerpt from a commentary because Ty had suggested that one at some point (after they said, "Excerpt? We don't read the crap we write. How are we supposed to know what to excerpt from over two years of reviews?") While those of us here were doing the illustrations, we were also speaking with those by phone (Betty, Wally, Cedric, Mike, Elaine and Rebecca) to determine 10 reviews that we thought most strongly fit into the issues of inclusion and exclusion. I wrote up the intro for that causing Dona to say, "What do you know, you can do something tonight. One thing anyway." (I was laughing. Jess just said, "If people don't know how we are, they are going to think you and Dona were about to come to blows." This is just how we are.) So that's what took the bulk of the work -- time! Dona says "Time. The only ones working were Ava and C.I." So we were way, way behind.

Mailbag -- "Short features and don't give me any crap," said Dona. Ty said "10 e-mails" and you'll note, before we're done, Dona's already asking if we are?

What Would A Mud Flap Say If A Mud Flap Could Flap... -- Rebecca wanted to drop this into Ava and C.I.'s Imus thing. This topic, she wanted covered in that. They didn't want it. (It's alluded to but not really addressed.) Rebecca led the push for this and sold the resisters when she came up with the title. We can all remember the childhood rhyme (maybe it was a clapping game) but we can't remember the actual words. But it's the perfect title.

10 CDs listened to while writing this edition -- shorter cried Dona to one idea so Jess said, "How about a list --" "A list?" asked Dona, "Perfect."

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Wally, Cedric and Betty wrote this. Thank you for that.

McCain News -- Wally & Cedric repost that 20 e-mails said, "It's short, please post it in full!"

VOTE INSANE! VOTE JOHN MCCAIN! -- C.I. entry that is even shorter and was argued by a bit more that "You can repost this in full!"

So that's what we've got. Dona's gone through about a half a carton of cigarettes. C.I and Ava feel as though they've been run over by a truck (alert, I'm guessing at least one thing, maybe two, will be pulled by C.I. this evening -- everyone was too tired so look for a few sentences to disappear after we have slept and wake up). We can't believe we wasted so much time. Well, it's not a waste to catch up with friends. (Dona say: "I didn't waste time, I thought grown ups could watch themselves. Ava and C.I. didn't waste time as they were forced to churn out copy over and over again.") So off we go to bed.

See you next week.--
Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: The disgusting silence on war resisters

If he had any doubts upon arriving here, big news from back home likely erased them.
It was 5 p.m. Wednesday when Linjamin Mull, stepping off a bus in downtown London, ended a two-week journey that turned him from an American soldier to expatriate, just as the Iraq war controversy flared again in the U.S.
That same day, the U.S. government announced troop deployments to Iraq -- a war Mull refuses to join -- will be extended from 12 to 15 months.
"Most people don't have the courage to leave," said Mull, a New York City social worker and graduate of Southern Connecticut State University.

The above was reported by Patrick Maloney in "U.S. soldier in London to avoid Iraq war" (Canoe News). Someone help The Peace Resister up, she just fell off her cloud. All together now, make her feel comfortable (she loves the Stones), "Hey you, knocked off of your cloud, knocked off of your cloud. Hey you, knocked off of your cloud, knocked off of your cloud."

You know what their silence does? It allows the same piece of crap right-wing at a certain 'posh' college (monied but it truly is the school of last resort) to continue their attacks on war resisters. Now we're not suggesting that the attacks would stop if The Nation got off its lazy ass and actually covered war resisters (or the peace movement), but we are stating that when they wrote that crap, it could be called out. So we saw the baby of a professional coach -- who has 'expanded' his name in college -- who went to a private religious schools in the suburbs he lived in (though he claims a big city in his byline which is a complete lie, he was in the sticks, the White sticks that so many moved to when they panic at the sight of a person of color) -- start 'singing' a new tune -- Baby Bad Ass. Baby Bad Ass just went to town on war resisters last week. He doesn't know any real tragedies in his own life (other than his parents' divorce) but damned if he didn't act like the wisest (or most intoxicated) know it all at the bar.

Of course that was only after Ease-on outta' Journalism embarrassed himself further (and who knew that was possible!) by printing a piece of crap from a centrist attacking war resisters. If you're wondering, he left the Journalism builidng some time ago. The door officially closed on him when he felt the need to say he wanted his crappy site to tell stories for Democrats and for Republicans -- both points of view! And those who don't belong to either party? And those who don't expect newsmen and newswomen to cater to a political leaning but just lay out the facts? They got left out too.

So let's be really clear, war resisters are getting crap from all over the place and our independent media is silent.

Get it through your heads, the coverage isn't cutting it. It's not informing and it's not covering. The silence on the arrest of Kyle Snyder at the request of the US military is shocking. He was to be arrested and deported from Canada. He ended up just arrested thanks to the work of many. So you have the US military giving orders and Canadian police following them in violation of Canadian policy and where the hell is the coverage of that?

Joshua Key. Are we still believing the lies there too? Winnie Ng stated clearly what happened. Three men, who stated they were Canadian police, showed up at her front door (in Canada) asking where Joshua Key was. Now there are so many lies that have been told, it may be confusing.

So let's deal with the fact that as soon as he heard about the visit, Jeffry House (thinking as Winnie did that this had to do with the US military) contacted the US military who, as of last week, had still not returned his calls. He is the attorney of record for Joshua Key.

Now the lie, the first one, came from the Canadian police: We know nothing!

Then it was followed with: None of our police visited, we know nothing!

Winnie Ng's character was (wrongly) called into question as the Canadian police avoided the truth. Only recently (see "Editorial: Shameful") did they admit that, uh, yes, one of their officers did visit Ng's home. And, woops, he visited with two men from the US military.


The lie still standing (for those who choose to be or play stupid) is that the US military wanted to talk with Joshua Key about his book. They wanted more information about some of what he witnessed in Iraq.

Now, if that were true, they would've returned Jeffry House's calls. If that were true, they would have told Winnie Ng who they were instead of pretending they were Canadian police. In the US it is illegal to impersonate a police officer but in Canada, it's apparently as normal as chewing gum and crossing the street.

The New York Times had a really bad article that attempted to spin the self-check outs as men (no women were mentioned) who were just mad to go to Iraq, they could taste it, they wanted it, baby, they really, really wanted it. But see, they have PTSD. They have a trauma. That's what's preventing them. But damn it, if it weren't for the PTSD, every self-check out in the world would be over in Iraq because just like the paper's John F. Burns, they know that Iraqis want Americans occupying their country.

Yeah, buy that sh*t if you're stupid or a crap collector.

As the useless Democratic web (we wouldn't call them the left) applauded like trained seals and did their link fests of hoseannas, the little reality that was in the article went largely unnoticed. Self-check outs were on the rise, self-check outs had been undercounted and underreported by the US military since the start of the illegal war.

That should have awoken our independent media and even our so-called independent media. "Hmm, there really are a lot of self-check outs, just like some have been saying all along. I dismissed it because I live by the official numbers and, goodness-golly, my government would never lie to me. I should cover this!"

Forget it, didn't happen. Camilo Mejia can tell you about the number that greet him, congratulate him and tell him they have self-checked out. Anyone even slightly involved in the issue knew the earlier numbers were lies. (Several called the numbers out as lies. Applause for them.)

We'll assume the Democratic web is too damn busy straining their necks to avoid seeing that the two measures that passed in the Congress do not bring all troops home, do not compell Bully Boy to bring any if he wants to reclassify them or just use the all purpose "national security" excuse. The poor things are nearly doing a Linda Blair in order to avoid seeing the obvious, the Democratic leadership bought the war with both measures, they fully funded Bully Boy's request (and tacked on a hell of a lot of pork to the bills as well).

So we really don't expect the Party Hacks to do a damn thing on or for war resisters.

And we'll even cut slack for two individuals: Amy Goodman and Aaron Glantz who have covered this movement. If they're attitude was, "I've covered it and covered it" -- if that made them want to take a break, we wouldn't be thrilled, but we'd understand. It must be very difficult to always be the one who steps up. [Note: Goodman and Glantz are not party hacks. A transition was lost when C.I. pulled a very detailed paragraph. C.I. has noted, "Like Anais Nin, I can pan life for fiction and we may have some very interesting short stories this summer." To which Rebecca added, "People think it's me, but my sex life has been nothing compared to C.I.'s and if C.I. starts with a certain independent media person who said he was divorced, the least of his lies, and writes up that story, it will be riveting for readers and very uncomfortable for all who know the story."]

The rest of you? "The war raged for years and I covered . . . DC getting the vote (again and again and again and again and . . .)." Or, "The 2008 elections! I started covering it non-stop in January 2007! I did the same thing with the 2006 elections!"

Don't offer us your lousy horse racing ("For the left!" said in Woody Allen tones), your half-baked columns and tell us we have been informed.

Two words for you: Molly Ivins.

Lot of shared stories, lot of tributes. It's really easy to say, "I loved Molly Ivins." It's a lot harder to demonstrate that with any action such as doing what she intended to do. Ivins can't cover Iraq with every column now and all those Molly-lovers must be so traumatized by her passing that just the mention of Iraq sends them off sobbing.

We're sick of it. We're tired of it. And if you're one of the ones complaining (in e-mails or to friends) that this community is, in the words of one, "just out of control!" You don't know the half of it. We will step it up. We will take it up a notch. The war continues. The war drags on.
And what the hell are you doing and what the hell have you done? You're real at begging for money (and, no, that's not a slam at Pacifica, we're referring to print media) but what do you use it for? The text equivalent of the Sunday chat & chews -- from the left! Or the slightly left these days.

So hover over your keyboards, prepare to whine to mutal friends (some of whom you'll send to plead your cases and it won't work anymore), prepare yourself because your silence allows the illegal war to continue and we're not going to aid you or abet you. We're not going to be complicit in your desire to prolong the war long enough to get a win for the Democratic Party in 2008. We're tired of it and we're surprised you're not. Crawling around on your knees must be very difficult, none of you are toddles, and it's past time you learned how to stand.

TV: Wasted away in second banana-ville

Andy Richter Controls The Universe. Oh, if only that were true.

Richter found fame on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. As more than a modern day Ed McMahon, Richter was featured in skits throughout his run. Our personal favorite was when they took Barbara Walters' interview with Monica Lewinsky and spliced Richeter into it answering Walters' question. The comic high is Richter quoting from Jewel's "Hands" and the reaction shot of Walters. Richter at the top of his game is a subversion played straight.

Leaving Late Night, he soon showed up starring in the short-lived Andy Richter Controls The Universe -- the less said, the better. Next up came Quintuplets which only made things worse. Richter trapped in a family sitcom playing the Alan Thicke role? Where was the subversion in that?

His most promising TV moment in recent time was his portrayal of "Sad Dad" on The New Adventures of Old Christine. NBC recently started airing (and cancelled last Monday) Andy Barker, P.I. The episodes are available (for now) online. There is some talk of running them again this summer. If that happens, the show could get the kind of lift that brought Filthy Rich (briefly) back from the dead. But the talk of the re-running them isn't that strong.

What did you see or what did you miss?

Andy Barker, P.I. had a lot going for it and came the closest to what makes Richter funny. The premise was he is an accountant who is mistaken, in his new office, for a private detective. Feeling that he has to help the woman in need, he investigates and is actually good at it. That's how he becomes Andy Barker, P.I.

The show? Clea Lewis (Audrey from Ellen) was very funny as Barker's wife Jenny. But her bookend appearances, early on and at the end, seemed a wee bit too much Mrs. Kotter. The show appeared to be attempting a comic spoof of the NBC Sunday Night Mysteries but with Jenny bookended and no Mildred around, it came off more like McLoud and less like McMillian & Wife.

The most obvious problems? Harve Presnell (playing Lew), Marshall Manesh (as Wally) and Tony Hale (as Simon). Are they bad actors? No. Did they give bad performances? No. So what's the problem? The three were the sidekicks. One would think that Richter, a former sidekick, would grasp that you need only one sidekick. Watching the three of them (Manesh is Iranian-American, the other two are White) chase down the clues, you're always aware that each scene was too crowded and way too male.

There was another female in the cast, Nicole Randall Johnson (as Nicole) who became (by her own decision), Richter's assistant after she was fired because he stole information from her old job. You might assume that, as the assistant to the private detective, Nicole would be a character in every episode. Assuming that would make you wrong. Despite adding a lift to the proceedings every time she was onscreen, Randall Johnson was rarely onscreen.

Randall Johnson is African-American (and on Mad TV) so including her as regular means there were two women in the cast, two non-White characters and three White males. Better than most of the odds on TV if still not reflective of society at large.

The biggest 'element' that didn't work was Lew. A retired P.I. Richter looks up to? He's already coming off like a boy chasing down adventures, does he also need a Daddy figure on top of it? Someone thought so and they were wrong. To have a grown man play like a little boy, the only reason to bring in a Daddy figure is if you're making one of those 'speciality videos' not when you're trying to create a sitcom with mass appeal.

The biggest shock was the lack of women. Lewis and Randall Johnson received very little air time. Richter's office was in a strip mall where all the businesses were, apparently, run by men since that's what his posse was made up of. Where's the subversion in that?

Where Richter works best is instances that resemble life but give it a twist. The show seemed to exist in TV Land: 1971. Not a lot to relate to and not a lot for Richter to cut loose on. When Richter's reduced to Dennis the Menace (and that's what having the Daddy figure did), it's not going to make for strong TV.

Only one episode seemed less concerned with sending up the past and more concerned, throughout, with creating a show that lived up to the subversive quality -- the second episode, "Fairway, My Lovely." In this episode, a friend's grossly overweight husband (whom Richter golfed with) had died. Was it murder? In the course of the investigation, Richter is threatened by a golf teacher, learns the dead man had a mistress, learns his own wife (Lewis) thought the obese man was sexy, and learns that the second affair the dead man was having was with the young male caddy. (A tattoo just above the butt exposes the latter.) That and everything else in the script played on the subversive comedy that is Richter's stomping ground. (For the record, learning that a young, blond male was having an affair with the dead man did not lead to homophobic jokes, more of an exasperated, "You too!")

More episodes like that and Richter would have a hit show. As it was, he had his strongest sitcom with Andy Barker, P.I. Conan O'Brien was the behind the scenes force. Due to his pull at NBC (he'll be replacing Jay Leno), O'Brien can get another Richter sitcom on air. If he decides to, everyone involved needs to grasp (a) the subversive nature of Richeter's humor, (b) as with John Belushi, Daddy figures really aren't needed for Richter, and (c) the year is 2007.

With the character of Nicole disappearing after "Fairway, My Lovely" and the character of Jenny mainly shown in bed, bookending episodes, what did they think they had on their hands? It was Jerry Lewis, not O'Brien, who made the boneheaded, sexist remark that women weren't funny. But Andy Barker, P.I. played out like O'Brien had said it. As Andy, his two buddies and his Daddy figure went from here to there and back again, repeatedly, throughout each episode, you noticed that women weren't offered a place at the table. Don't think that didn't register with viewers.

What registered behind the camera? With his three male sidekicks, as each episode unfolded, it became obvious that Wally was getting the loud bits Richter should have been given and that Simon's dialogue was funnier than the star's. Again, three sidekickes is two too many and when you don't grasp that, and have writers trying to create moments for all, the star ends up sidelined.

The pilot and the second episode remain the best work Andy Richter's done in a show of his own. That made it all the more depressing to watch it descend, episode after episode. As it is, his finest primetime TV acting was done on The New Old Christine. That might be because he was working off Julia Louis-Dreyfus or it might be because it took place in "modern times." It might be a combination. But when you throw him back to 1971, surrounded by men, he's not going to be as funny. He wouldn't have been funny in 1971. He would have been the character the others rolled their eyes about. The times have changed and one of the saddest things about Andy Barker, P.I. was the possibility that maybe the producers weren't sending up an earlier era but longing for it.

1 Book, 5 Minutes


Jim: We're doing a book discussion again. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me, Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, and Wally of The Daily Jot. We're pressed for time more than usual but we wanted to note Laura Flanders's Blue Grit. Mike, set us up.

Mike: Laura Flanders' is the host of RadioNation with Laura Flanders which airs from seven to ten p.m. eastern time, Saturdays and Sundays on Air America Radio. She's a journalist and broadcaster. In the past, she worked for FAIR. She hosted Your Call on an NPR outlet, she's written at least two other books and edited The W Effect. She is one of the few hosts of an early Air America program to still have that show. In fact, she and Randi Rhodes may be the only ones. Eddie will be thrilled I worked in a plug for Randi Rhodes. The book just came out, her new book, Blue Grit. It's 210 pages of text that retails for $24.95 and you can find it at bookstores, including Borders as Kayla noted, and look for it at your libraries as well, as Marcus noted. And I'll toss to Kat for an overview of the book.

Kat: Anyone who's familiar with Laura's work knows she's not about the beltway. There was some concern among the community that, due to the title, Blue Grit was going to focus on our brave "Blue" elected leaders. I can't imagine anything more boring and, fortunately, Laura's not really interested in it either. What is she interested in? What happened on the ground, who drove issues, who drove turnout? This is a book, one I would say was written with love, to celebrate the people in various communities who work for change, day after day, with or without support from a national party structure, with or without encouragement.

Jim: Thank you both. Ty had three possible excerpts to use and is picking one based on the intro.

Ty: This is from pages 171 and 172 and it's chosen (a) because it will appeal to our intended readers and (b) because it will lead to a conversation:

When the Right's Paul Weyrich, Patrick Buchanan, and Grover Norquist took aim at the Republican Party's elite, it was to skewer its weakness and firm up its principles. The Democratic insurgents aspire to do the same, but so far they have prioritized electing Democrats generally and beating up on media that mistreats Democrats. When a current event threatens to reveal or expand a fissure among Demoncrats over policy, the most influential blogs tend to become awfully quiet awfully fast. When Israeli warplanes were destroying Lebanon's civilian infrastructure in response to the kidnapping of two soldiers and the killing of three others in 2006, Daily Kos and MyDD weren't talking about it; nor was MoveOn. The bloggers were as shamefully silent as the Democratic leadership itself. (Some bloggers said they didn't know enough about the topic, but a lack of information has not typically held bloggers back.) When tens of thousands of immigrants marched in the streets of Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, New York, and California, they dominated the local TV news but not the liberal websites. (In Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, and many other cities, these protests were the largest in the cities' history.)

Ty (Con't): I'm guessing Rebecca wants to start.

Rebecca: Right. I'll disagree with the use of "kidnapping." Soldiers aren't kidnapped. Otherwise? I was on my honeymoon during that period and not blogging. Everyone was kind enough to fill in for me and, thank you, for that. So I was off on in the tropics [on her honeymoon], I'm referring to Lebanon, by the way, that's what I'm grabbing. The Wall St. Journal was readily available, but I wasn't going to read that. So I was getting the majority of my news by booting up my laptop. Kat and I cover the issue from time to time at our blogs. And let me state that I will be following the Gonzales scandal at my site until I give birth. If I'm lucky, it will continue through the early months of my child being born. I started that while on the road with limited access and it's become an easy story to follow and, as I expand more and more and my back hurts more and more and the baby kicks more and more and I try to get the nursery ready, the clothes and junk purchased, the Lamaze class out of the way, I really do not have time to grab another issue. But the issue of the Israeli government is an important one to me. So I was going all over and I was very disappointed. Sites that are supposedly left repeated talking points that came out of the Bully Boy's mouth. You'd think they'd never heard Phyllis Bennis speak on the topic the way they spat out talking points. I do want to note Elaine and C.I. I knew Elaine would grab some of it because I was on my honeymoon and, boy, did she step up to the plate. She got a ton of hate mails during that period including from AlterPunk. I was really surprised that C.I. did because this has been a big issue of mine since college and The Common Ills' focus is Iraq but C.I. stepped up as well. I do understand the excuse of "I don't know anything about it." I understand that if we're speaking of Mike, for instance. Mike truly did not know anything about until that summer. It wasn't an issue he'd studied. He's young and I wouldn't slam him or anyone else who was truly unfamiliar with it. But I think a lot of the silence had a little to do with not wanting to touch it and I do consider that shameful. That was one of my favorite parts of the book, by the way.

Elaine: Mike did cover it some. Mainly by noting Dalia Hashad's, covering Dalia Hashad's comments on Law and Disorder.

Rebecca: I must have missed that and I do apologize.

Mike: Not a problem. When Rebecca got back from her honeymoon, one of the first things I asked her to do was make time to walk me through that history because I did not know anything about it. I was happy to mention what Dalia said and I could follow what she was talking about. But it really had not been an area I had followed. I knew it was one of Rebecca's biggest things so I went to her the way I'd go to Jim for baseball or C.I. for Iraq.

Ava: I'm not doubting Flanders, regarding the immigration issue, but that does sadden me. Now we were involved [in] that and between that and classes, I wouldn't have had time to check out the Democratic sites, and I do consider most of them to be Democratic and not left. But, out here, in California, that was such a huge issue and it just surprises me and saddens me that there was silence on it. It was a huge issue in other areas as well. When a dopey, dumb ass went on Democracy Now! to piss on what went down in Dallas, Diana, a community member in Dallas, wrote up her response to that, to what the guest said and to what she saw with her own eyes as a participant in the Dallas protest -- which saw at least one million people participating. It was the largest protest Dallas ever had. I think, and obviously, I'm a Latina, that the silence sends a message of who is invited to the table and who isn't. This goes to what I enjoyed the most about the book. I follow the news, we listen to Flanders each Saturday while we're writing, I read several local papers, listen to KPFA, blah, blah, blah. A lot of books covering the time period she's covering would find me thinking, "Yeah, I remember that." And not much else. This isn't a rehash and it's not a clip job. This is a real book that deserves to be called a "book" and you'll learn something from it.

Betty: And you'll often laugh while you do. I marked page 90 and I know time is tight so I'll just read a bit of one paragraph where she's commenting on the emergence of the 527s and the decrease in donations to the Democratic party:

That's the American way, especially if you're affluent. For every pang there is relief. The promise of a rescue-remedy is as American as apple pie or as snake oil.

Betty (Con't): I think it's very important to note that there's humor in the book. It's not a humor book. But there are stories and observations that will bother you, Ava just noted one, and there are moments that will cheer you. I think there's a lot of emotion and heart in the book and I hate the cover but I know C.I.'s going to address that.

Wally: Cedric and I do joint-posts so I probably talk to him more each week than anyone else except C.I. -- who I run every post by. And the point we kept making was this book doesn't pull punches. It names names. This isn't a book that's probably going to see Flanders invited to the chat & chews on Sundays.

Cedric: That was the thing that surprised me and Wally and I kept talking about that over and over last week. Now she does that on her program too. So we probably shouldn't have been surprised. But each day when we'd be looking at the news and trying to figure out what would make for a funny post, we'd be talking about where we were in the book and what had been said and we were always noting the fact that she was as independent in the book as she is on her show.

Wally: Right. And we should probably define "independent" because some are going to think, "Oh, she's a swing voter." I have no idea if she belongs to a party or not. I know she's left. But if you read these books, books in this genre, often, you end up finding a lot of cheerleaders and a lot of hype.

Cedric: Right. I looked at the cover and thought, "Oh no, she's written a James Carville book." But she hasn't. And by "independent" we mean she's not looking, or I'm guessing she's not, for MoveOn or any website to promote the book. It wasn't written with an eye towards that.

Elaine: Rebecca's dying to speak but Dona's asked us to limit our responses so I'll say what I know she wants to say because she just whispered, "Elton John." "Your Song." Just as "Your Song" is grabbed and embraced by many, this book could open with "This is your book." The focus is not on the rare air inhaled in the Beltway. This is the grassroots, the people on the ground. This is their story and she's going to tell it which means some groups won't come off very well because they've worked overtime to undercut popular movements.

Jess: That point's clear throughout but especially in terms of advertising -- both, as on page 160, who made the effective ads that never made it to TV and in terms of where the ad money went -- to network TV with a healthy cut for consultants. Rolling Stone recently did a much praised article on that topic and anyone thinking she's copied that story would do well to remember the lag time in book publishing.

Dona: Okay, I'm sorry to be the bad guy here but we have had technical problems, including all being able to speak during this writing edition, so I did ask everyone to be brief. Mike said only if C.I. went last and was give "ample time." C.I. was going to address the cover of the book because there were complaints to The Common Ills and this site about the cover and also a wrong impression about the book.

C.I.: Cedric mentioned already the James Carville similarity of the cover and he's not the only one who made that comparison. I think the cover is a huge mistake. As I understand, the point of the cover, by the publishers, was to get across the point that (a) Flanders is of the left, (b) that this is tale told in black and white a la a newspaper and (c) [it is] for all in the country, hence the red, white and blue colors. Flanders looks fine in the photo but it's too far to the left. I understand the point of having her on the left but the eye reads left to right in this country and most Western ones. She's on a white background and having used that someone should have grasped that, once you use white as a background, the more colors you add, the more details, the more you clutter up. Ali MacGraw's autobiography made a good use of a white background with their cover. When you use white as the background, you really need to go for simplicity. The blue rectangle at the bottom, with the subtitle of the book, is so much clutter and having gone with a white background, the author's name in simple black font, to then muck it up with the title in blue trimmed in red, in what can best be termed "jumbo" letters, was a mistake on the part of Penguin Press. I've read e-mail after e-mail about how people passed the book on a table display because they didn't register it. I think it's equally true that they did register the visual "noise" and turned from it. An older community member, with bad legs, walked upstairs at her bookstore to get the book. She found it easily on the shelf -- by the spine [of the book]. When she got downstairs, she suggested that they move the book to the displays on the first floor and the clerk pointed to show her that it was on the first floor. In fact, it was right by the staircase. This is a thoughtful book and there's nothing on the cover, other than Flanders herself, to suggest that. She's about a third of the cover lengthwise and height wise. And she's on the left side when, again, the eye goes to the right. I understand the various concepts involved in the design but it is a really bad design and hopefully they will simplify it for the softcover edition. Unless the cover of Naomi Klein's upcoming book has changed, they're using a white background there as well. But they go with simplicity not splashes of different type and color and there's no little blue rectangle on the bottom. Had they just reversed the white and the blue, the cover would have been easier on their eye but when white is the predominate color, and it is the background, the cover is just too much.

Jim: But you liked the book.

C.I.: Oh, I loved the book. But I was trying to get that out as quickly as possible before Dona called time.

Jim: Okay, so the book is strongly recommended by all. If you're among the ones who wrote us about the cover making you think it was a book by James Carville, Paul Begala was also cited in some e-mails, it's nothing like a PowerPoint presentation. It's a real book and one you should read.

A visual for those wanting a simpler version of the cover:


Don Imus

Jim's intro: I asked Ava and C.I. to write about this and think they've done an amazing job; however, I was hoping they would provide specific links to various points they've made in the last two years on this topic. Their response? "We don't go back and read the reviews." They should. But here are Dona, Ty, Jess, Kat, Rebecca, Mike, Wally, Betty, Cedric, Elaine and my picks for recommended readings that have addressed this topic before:

"TV commentary: About the women "
"TV: Katie Was a Cheerleader "
"TV Review: There's always a platform for some "
"TV: The not-so-universal White Boy blues "
"TV: Looking forward . . . by looking backward?"
"TV Review: Commander-in-Chief aka The Nah-Nah Sisterhood "
"TV: Boys' WB!"
"TV Review: The Simple Life"
"TV Review: The Bull of Malibu"
"TV review: The Simpsons"

Those are our picks for the top ten Ava and C.I. commentaries that have addressed the issues at play last week.


Don Imus. Jim asked us to address it. We are.

We'll start by noting the elements at play are elements we've addressed often in TV commentaries. Does anyone not know what happened?

Imus aired on MSNBC in a live version of his radio broadcast that was carried by CBS on radio stations throughout the country. If you are late to the party, Don Imus is a pig. Don Imus has always been a pig and, for those who do not believe life has its own built in deus ex machina, he will die a pig. Between now and then, he'll just spash the mud on everyone around him.

Referring to the Rutgers' women's basketball team, he called them "nappy headed hos" as part of an exchange with a fellow pig (who had offered that they were "hos") in the midst of an infantile, "your mother" type exchange. What followed that was pressure from various groups for MSNBC and CBS to declare whether they stood with Imus or against him. Sponsors begn pulling their ads. (Proctor & Gamble was among the first to pull.) In the early days, a two week suspension was announced by MSNBC and CBS. This was followed by MSNBC's decision to no longer carry a televised version of the radio program and, then, by CBS cancelling the radio program.

If you were late to the party and you've just absorbed all the above, take a deep breath, you'll need it.

Imus and his piglets were White males. They were of the opinion that they were natural and universal and that anyone not like them was not merely "different" but had a bulls eye painted on.

Where do you go from there? We thought FAIR but then we looked. This FAIR media advisory tells you that Imus had a "racial outburst." And sadly, this was true of much of the coverage. Women of all races were insulted in the exchange, African-Americans of both genders were insulted in the exchange. This goes to the issue of what we address (over and over) in the TV commentaries: "White male is not universal." White Straight Male is not universal. FAIR, in that action alert, wanted to tell you that it was a "racial outburst."

That's very disappointing. So was CounterSpin on Friday when Richard Prince appeared, interviewed by Steve Rendall, and he commented that women weren't doing a great deal on the issue. Quote: "And also absent seem to be the White women who apparently were late to the party . . . ." Prince goes on to note that he doesn't see many of them on the air; however, here he is (besides using our phrase of choice) saying that White women didn't grasp the issue early on. A similar point is made at The Black Commentator where Anthony Asadullah Samad writes, "But so far, the National Organization of Women (NOW), the nation’s leading feminist voice that never met a bandwagon it couldn’t catch, has yet to latch on to this issue." He sports not only his hatred of feminism, he also flaunts his ignorance.

Since Rendall allowed Prince's false claim to stand without question, let's provide the reality check that is sorely needed, in fact let's slap it in the face of the ignorant and the women haters:

Does "Imus" rhyme with "Disgust"? Well, not quite. But it oughta.
I tuned in to the NCAA women's college basketball championships mostly to see a great game between Rutgers and Tennessee, but also to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Title IX, the law that required equal opportunities for women and girls in educational institutions, including sports as well as academics.
But on sports radio station WFAN in New York, and broadcast all over the country by CBS Radio and MSNBC Television, host Don Imus wasn't talking about the game. He was talking about the players, and so was WFAN's Executive Producer Bernard McGuirk, who called the Rutgers players "hard-core hos."
Imus, who had already commented that the players were "rough girls," added "nappy-headed hos" to his description of the second place team in the country.
Read the transcript or watch the video.Take action by sending messages to General Manager Chuck Bortnick of radio station WFAN, which produces Imus' show, to Karen Mateo, Communications VP of CBS Radio which owns WFAN, and to MSNBC television which airs and promotes the show.
Your message to WFAN, CBS Radio and MSNBC? Tell them "You don't have to let Don Imus keep peddling racism and sexism on your airwaves. It's time to Dump Don!"
You can use our letter, modify our letter, or write one of your own.
If you also want to call your local station, you can
find the stations that carry Imus in the Morning.
Thanks for
taking action with NOW!
For equality,

Kim Gandy

That e-mail alert (entitled "Dump Don Imus") hit our inboxes Sunday, April 8th, at 7:25 pm (PST). That would be Easter Sunday for some. (Remember that as we work through the press coverage.) NOW is a organization for women, for all women, but since it was specifically slammed, we'll note it. For context, we'll note FAIR's first (and only) action alert e-mailed
"Racism Is to Be Expected From Don Imus" which hit Rebecca's inbox Monday, April 9th. In PST, the time was 8:15 pm -- nearly twenty-three hours after Kim Gandy (NOW president) had sent our the NOW action alert.

Also Monday, Maretta Short, the president of the New Jersey chapter of the NOW, appeared on Democracy Now! addressing the issue alongside Al Sharpton. (Short is African-American.)

Let's deal with the mainstream media. Let's talk New York Times. If a mainstream outlet offered more shameful 'coverage,' we're not aware of it. This wasn't one article, this was the entire reporting. For the record, the Rutgers' women's basketball team made the front page of the paper on April 2, 2007 (lower right-hand corner as part of a blurb for the D1 article). Last week, Bill Carter, David Carr and Jaques Steinberg proved both that they were Docker Boys and that they just didn't get it. Jaques-excuse found a way to discuss issues of racism and sexism (or ignore them) by talking to . . . White men in a story published Wednesday. (We're not linking to that trash, we're not even providing the title.) David Carr achieved an amazing feat on Friday by covering the offensive Don Imus in such a manner that he himself (Carr) was offensive. "Flying Solo Into the Teeth Of a Maelstrom" began on C1 (Business Day section) but you had to flip to C5 to be greeted with this: "By seeking absolution from people with their own political agenda, Mr. Imus lost custody of his apology." Carr, it's time to go up a waist size in the Dockers -- they've clearly begun to cut off the oxygen to your brain. Study that remarkable line. "Their own political agenda." Now he can beg off with, "I was referring to Al Sharpton!" -- if he wants. As if slamming Sharpton somehow makes the entire thing play less racist. But Sharpton's a "person," he is not "people." Who are the people, Carr? Might they be the "you people" (a phrase Imus used which Carr describes as "a hoary racial trope"). "Political agenda"? Calling out racism and sexism is now to be referred to as a "political agenda"? Striving towards equality is now a "political agenda"? At least he didn't call it a "hidden agenda."

Here was the biggest problem with the paper's coverage and why the writers (Steinberg, Carr and Carter) all tended to come off like Archie Bunkers in early middle age, they didn't get it. Whether they wanted to or not can be argued. But they didn't get it. Why they didn't get it may be reflected in their articles where they seemed to always seek reassurances from White men. If someone shot up a hospital, would you rush to get the opinions of various realtors on the topic? No, one would assume you would speak to patients, doctors, nurses and other care givers. But The Times coverage seemed to think it really did not need to be 'bothered' with listening to African-Americans or women as it, instead, rushed off to one White male after another (while never once noting which Times' staff had appeared on the Imus show).

So we've talked some independent media, we've talked mainstream. Though women, including feminists of all colors, did speak out (even if they were often shut out by big media), it only took "Stab" to remind us how some of the (uninformed) comments about women can exist in the first place. In a posting at The Huffington Post that just tickled The Nation so much they had to repost it, Stab made a fool out of herself. Repeatedly. And that fool reflection reflects on The Nation for choosing to post that crap at their website.

When Tricky Dick insulted peace activists by calling them "bums" and Jane Fonda then addressed a group with, "Hello, fellow bums," that was funny. Fonda, a peace activist, had valid reason to lampoon that term. Stab and The Nation? Do either (wrongly) think they're seen as supporters of African-Americans? If so, please correct them quickly. As we traveled last week, speaking on campuses, we heard many complaints about the Imus coverage. None of it matched the very real anger at Stab's nonsense which went up Friday at The Nation but was already being slammed when it appeared at The Huffington Post (April 11th). Let's speak really slow, a White woman writing "Nappy Headed Hos of the World Unite" isn't funny. As one African-American female (junior year) asked, "Where does she get off?" We have no idea but we hope the stop is soon before she does even further damage.

Proving that you don't have to be a Docker Boy to just not get it, Stab wallowed in her ignorance by writing, "Of course it's the ho, not the hair, part of Imus's comment that hurts, with its suggestion of unlimited sexual availability." Really? How nice of you, as a White woman, to tell African-Americans that it was about "sexual availability." And how typical of The Nation, in all its White-ness, not to catch how damn offensive that comment was. Stab then wants to imagine herself as an African-American male and, as such, the most natural thing in the world for her is to refer to another African-American male with the n-word. Does anyone at The Nation actually read? Stab's written a racist column (full of stereotypes) while claiming to decry the sexism (and noting that it's not just about race -- rap isn't "race," though she gabs on rap for a bit). How did The Nation miss this?

A 19-year-old African-American female in Atlanta stated, "I'd tell her, 'If that's your idea of helping me, shut the hell up.'" We agree. It's the sort of 'cute' writing Stab's relied on more and more of late. It doesn't require any real thought, just ripping off something from the past and slapping it onto a water cooler topic for today.

The Nation? Well, they made Howard Stern a cover boy so it's not all that surprising that they had no "Take Action" on Imus. When the Howard Stern cover ran and some complained, the reply back was "This is a free speech issue!" Stern, who would move to satellite shortly, was in danger. Stern, who had insulted people of color, women and LBGTs pretty much every half hour of his program, needed to be defended on the basis of free speech. Not only that, he needed to be on the cover of The Nation.

The reality is Stern had (finally) turned against the Bully Boy so it was time to 'claim' and 'stand with' him. It's the same sort of shit that allows some to claim other racists (they're comics!) too numerous to list. Those offended by stereotypes of Asian-Americans should be aware that, last week, The Nation's editor and publisher elected to go on a show hosted by a man who's refused to apologize for his offensive stereotypes.

We addressed him last year. That's one of the many examples Jim offered when he told us "You have to write this." What you saw play out was a White male finally get called out on his behavior (only because the advertisers dropped him -- two women at MSNBC made that very clear, they had complained about Imus before and been brushed off). It's the behavior we've noted many times, in many commentaries.

If you're not White, male and straight, forget it, you don't matter, your opinions do not matter, your stories do not matter, your feelings do not matter. That's the message television sends week after week as it finds yet another White boy (of all ages) to star in a TV show, as it searches for another spot for the White boys on the network's schedule (often by getting rid of female led shows that are ratings hits).

"What's it like to tackle those issues?" Jim asked. "That's what you should write about."

What's it like? We hear about the e-mails from Ty but don't make a point to read them. (Ty responded to some angry e-mails attacking our point that Moronic Mars existed in a White, Male world.) Why? Early on, for daring to assert that Nick Lachey, Tom Welling, or some White boy flavor of the month wasn't all that, we ended up receiving threatening e-mail. Now this isn't "Oh, we were called sluts." These were graphic e-mails, detailing how we would be raped and killed in minute detail. One of them included a description of a sweater that one of us (Ava) actually owned and wore. We didn't need the hassle. We stopped reading the e-mails on our commentaries. We get a report on them from Ty. If you question the predominance of White males in lead roles across the TV spectrum, you better believe you're going to tick off someone. Prior to the graphic threats, we were prepared to read the e-mails. We've had our say, by all means, have your say.

And if you thought we were "bitches" or "sluts" or whatever else, there's nothing you can call us in an e-mail that we haven't already been called in real life (or, by this point, probably in an e-mail as well). We don't sweat it.

Why? Because this stuff needs to be called out and it isn't. The Nation doesn't need to rush out a cover of Howard Stern, though they did. If you are not White, male and straight, you have some very real enemies. (You have Queen Bees and Uncle Toms who sell you out as well.) What we write here is nothing new, nothing revolutionary. Anyone could do it, everyone should. But there's been this refusal/reluctance. When we were heard about Stephen Colbert's aired racism, we were appalled. We were appalled by his mocking 'apology.' We were most appalled by the fact that he gets links (and recently a visit from Katrina vanden Heuvel) from all around the so-called left web. What's going on there?

It's "popular"? It's "funny"? We wonder how many of those finding it either have bothered to listen to Asian-Americans because we heard about it and it wasn't a source of joy.

Similarly, the ultimate pig, Bill Maher, has repeatedly gotten fluff from the so-called left.

When that happens, if you're not one of the targets, you may be able to laugh or ignore it. But what does that really say about your beliefs in inclusion that the feelings of Asian-Americans, or women, or African-Americans, or any group (any non-White Straight Male group) matters so little to you that you're going to endorse and promote such a person?

With the hideous Patricia Heaton, after her fluff piece in The New York Times, we heard some rush in to assure us she was "good" and "misunderstood" and just about everything including sugar and spice. She's a hideous person in real life and she's done hideous things. A fluff piece doesn't change that. We'd love it if Heaton's streak of bad luck (which continues) resulted from her politics but it doesn't. It results from the fact that she's a pig whose lack of manners resulted in her current status.

Don Imus is a pig. His being gone from the airwaves has to do with corporate America refusing to sponsor his program. (We should note that we were told Lesley Moonves actually was surprised by the opinions he received and that he was responsive to them.) Did America change last week? Let's repeat, Stephen Colbert who traffics in racist stereotypes and made it worse by mocking Asian-Americans in his 'apology,' had Katrina vanden Heuvel on his show last week. In fact, last Sunday, when The Nation sent out no alert on Imus (or any other day last week), they did send out an announcement of the appearance.

Last week, Imus went down in flames and you saw the Old Boys Network rally to try to provide him support. The left shouldn't feel too proud about that when so many of their own are more than willing to appear on similar shows.

We think the most educational aspect last week was not in what happened to Imus but in the way people responded. NOW and feminists were slammed for doing nothing when, in fact, they were on the ball from early on. The mainstream press, led by The Times, went to White Men to determine whether Imus was racist and sexist. Stab embarrassed everyone with her thoughts of what it would be like if she were an African-American male and assorted other details no one needed to hear. Along with Kim Gandy, the strongest commentators were Dave Zirin (in text and on KPFA's The Morning Show Wednesday), Al Sharpton (who grasped very clearly that it was a double insult -- to race and to gender) and Harvey Fierstein who (on the op-ed pages of The New York Times last Friday contributed "Our Prejudices, Ourselves") noted, "Prejudice tolerated is intolerance encouraged." We think that sentence pretty much sums up what you see on your TV screen today.

It's been encouraged, it's been giggled over, and if you called it out you just didn't get that it was "good fun." If it's just "good fun," where are the airings of similar points from non-White, non-male, non-straight performers or characters? As we noted in "TV Review: There's always a platform for some" (June 18, 2006):

We know a woman who self-identifies as feminist in odd years only. (We didn't realize that until we were discussing this review. We knew she was a feminist, some years and others not, but when we tracked it, it did work out that she only identifies in odd years, or, if you prefer, non-election ones.) This being an even year, she's again one of the loudest champions of South Park. She's in TV and that's all we'll say because she agreed to go on the record with why she enjoyed the show provided she wasn't indentifed. (She was warned, and already knew, of how we feel about South Park.)
"It's funny, that's just it," she explained to us, this White woman, self-identified "independent" voter who voted for Al Gore in 2000 and Bully Boy in 2004.
Was she bothered by the the portrayals? (She is, after all, in programming. Woops, that slipped out.)
"Not at all. We need to hear all sides."
What sides does your network offer, what sides does any network offer, other than White Male? "Well, there are lots of shows."
Name one.
"Well, I can't think when I put on the spot."
A talking piece of feces was offered as "innovative, you've never seen that before!" No, we certainly hadn't and didn't feel we were any better off for having seen it.
But that's the mentality at play. It's easier to get a talking feces on the small screen than it is to get the point of view of a person of color, female, GLBT, ect.
[. . .]

So you get more of the same. Which brings us back to our sometime feminist friend (remember, it's an even/election year so she's not identifying as a feminst today). So, if these gross comedies are "funny" and she's comfortable with them, has she fought for any gross comedy starring women or people of color? She hasn't seen any. Well feedback, surely she could give a promising sitcom feedback that if the creators changed it to a gross comedy, the network might be interested?The thought's never "struck" her.
She does admit that she would be more likely to "root" for a gross comedy with males because "Everyone's got one." She's running with the herd. So are too many TV critics and that, along with media consolidation, is the reason TV is so unwatchable.

Imus' departure, not lamented by us, didn't clean the landscape and, judging by mainstream and independent commentary, didn't even sink in to many commenting. There were a lot of important types talking to, not with, and certainly not listening. While we were on campuses in Georgia and Tennessee last week, we briefly shared our thoughts on TV in general and then tossed back for the topic of Imus. (We were on campuses speaking about Iraq. Imus was an issue brought up by students.) We hope we've represented the comments of students in this piece. All students, even White males. As Dave Zirin demonstrated, not all White males fail to "get it."



"Short features!" cried Dona yet again. Ten e-mails was the limit she set. Ty picked them, blame him if you weren't picked.

Ty: Jill e-mails to note last week's "Roundtable:" "Ava described why she and C.I. reviewed Washington Week ["TV: Washington Weak"] but she forgot to credit Rebecca, right?"

Ava: That is right. I was spitting out that answer, for obvious reasons. Full reasons: Flyboy was laughing at it and Rebecca was on the phone with C.I. and went to see what her husband was laughing at. She told us we had to review it, it was hysterical. So Rebecca needs credit there, absolutely. After that, it was a show on Friday and our regular readers with young families can't all afford sitters so even though the networks write off Fridays, it is a big night to them. We try to review all the Friday programs for that reason. After that, it was a show that women would and do watch. Jill is correct, it started with Rebecca.

Ty: Joe writes, this was about Rebecca, that he enjoys hearing about her pregnancy and hopes she hasn't stopped writing about it due to an e-mail she got saying she was blowing her credibility.

Rebecca: Some days, I don't want to write about it. It would be nothing but complaints about back pains and how many trips I made to the bathroom that day. If I have something interesting to note, I will do it if time permits. I'm also starting to get tired a lot earlier. That may be because I've stopped taking naps during the day. I know Joe, he's a regular reader who e-mails me all the time, but just to explain for anyone who doesn't know, this is the first pregnancy I've carried to term. I've had one abortion and, before that, multiple miscarriages. When I learned I was pregnant, the early months were very critical so I was on bed rest and sleeping any chance I got. I'll try to write about it this week for Joe. But, Tuesday, we learn the gender, we've finally decided we want to know. Any of my regular readers who wants to know, I'll share in an e-mail. I'm not posting that up at my site. I say that now, but I'm the worst at keeping a secret. So, I don't intend to post that at my site, let me put it that way.

Ty: This one came in this morning and it's about Ruth's Report where she notes Houston community member Barbara held a women only event and a number spoke at that but Elaine, Kat and Dona didn't. CZ wonders why that was?

Dona: Kat or Elaine?

Kat: There were multiple things at every stop. We spent a week in Texas, we were speaking on Iraq and meeting community members. Barbara had invited Ruth ahead of time. She also asked Ruth if Rebecca would be able to come along, this was Rebecca's first trip during her pregnancy? They had agreed to it. The rest of us learned of it when we arrived in Houston at the same time that other members wanted to show us spots in their city. We were also invited by Paul to go out to eat. It was at that time that Barbara mentioned the event to the rest of us.

Elaine: Mike had stitches the night before, or early that morning, and I was guilt-ridden about that. I declined noting that I was going to do something with Mike. It should also be noted that Paul and Kat were in an intense discussion about music at the time the invitation came.

Dona: We all had different things at every stop. I don't know that I said no. Elaine had and Kat had. At which point, C.I. and Ava said they'd go and Betty and Trina then said they'd go as well. Barbara has kids and Betty's kids were on that trip so it would give them a chance to play with other kids. I honestly don't think I ever said no.

Elaine: You were on the phone.

Dona: That's why I didn't say no. Yeah, we were changing one stop on East Texas, adding a stop, and I was having to work out the time for that. They had already left with Barbara when I got off the phone.

Betty: Let me just add that it was a lot of fun and that Barbara wasn't upset that everyone couldn't participate. She was happy to have anyone who was able but that was in her house and she'd already invited 30 friends and family over so it was packed in the living room.

Ty: Captain Broccoli writes to ask why C.I. hasn't signed him up for Hilda's Mix?

C.I.: First, I haven't seen an e-mail. Ava, Jess, Martha, Shirley and Eli also work the public e-mail account. Second, that's a community newsletter and it's only available to the community. Third, I don't select who receives Hilda's Mix, El Espirito, Polly's Brew, the gina & krista round-robin, or the UK Computer Gurus. I contribute to the newsletters, or drag them down with my bad writing, but I am not in charge of any and I do not determine who gets to receive one and who doesn't. Gina and Krista created their round-robin as a place where members could address different issues. That was largely as a result of Krista having shared at The Common Ills and then feeling she'd made a foolish statement, I didn't think it was foolish, and wanting a more private forum. The community newsletters are very popular but they are for the community and many times someone will say something there due to the "keep it in the community" nature of it. After Kayla was kind enough to allow us to post a photo of her and her newborn baby at The Common Ills, that photo was taken by at least two other sites and made fun of. I don't know what the joke is about a newborn child, I guess I'm just not a 'good sport.' But after that happened, I stated no more photos would go up, personal photos, at The Common Ills. Kayla handled it much better than I did but I am still angry that two people thought it was 'funny' to make fun of newborn child. If someone wants to make fun of me, and that was the point of the ridicule, please have it. I won't read it and I won't care. But to use an innocent child and write snide things about it? I thought that was sad.

Jim: But you didn't scream, "Abuse!"

C.I.: No. And I honestly should have known better. I believe that was Thanksgiving. I had opened the e-mail and Kayla's husband had e-mailed it and said she wanted to share it with the community. She'd just given birth whenever it was, the baby was a day old tops. I was very happy for Kayla and her husband and not thinking. It was my stupidity that allowed it to be posted and my stupidity allowed for two people to ridicule it. I take the blame for it, full responsibility, and that's why we don't post personal photos at The Common Ills. For the same reason, the newsletters are for the community and not available to non-members.

Ty: Mark wants to know what's the deal with the note to the readers going up without text?

Jim: I'm answering that for the last time. C.I. posts Sunday mornings at The Common Ills and tries to link to all our new content. If we post the note, with just links in it and the title, C.I. can grab that and link to it. Then, on good Sundays, when C.I.'s posted, we -- Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, C.I. and me -- do the note together.

Ty: That question comes up about twice a month.

Jim: I know. It's been explained frequently.

Ty: Birddoggie82 writes to say that he feels like we've moved away MyTV's Fascist House, our collages, and he's okay with that but misses the book discussions and also wonders if we're grabbing any videos or movies as we have in the past?

Mike: Can I grab? That's my fault. We had a lot of things to note last fall and I had a semester that kicked my ass. Books kept piling up, DVDs kept piling up. So I'm the one who stopped that. Not on purpose but because I just didn't have the time.

Jim: Since Mike couldn't participate, we all felt we'd table what we could. However, we do discuss a book this edition. The things that piled up we're of two minds on. One camp says, time has passed, move on. The other feels we should go back and grab some of that stuff. When we can get a majority opinion, we'll know what we're doing with regards to that but at this point, we don't know.

Ty: Glenda was one of many writing in about last week's "Roundtable" -- and most were commenting either on Jess or on Rebecca. Glenda wants to thank Rebecca and Elaine for not pulling the section on when Rebecca felt left out. She writes, "I'm 32 years old so I'm old enough to know better but just last Christmas I was going through that same thing. Like Rebecca, I dealt with it on my own and stopped my pouting but it was nice to see I wasn't the only one who's been there."

Elaine: I'll let Rebecca grab that but just say I've never pulled anything by someone else. I did ask Mike to pull something once because he was addressing an issue that was coming out in therapy. He didn't know that. But since it is known that we are involved, I didn't want there to be any question of, "Did my doctor spill my secrets?" Even in that case, I asked Mike, I didn't tell him. I also didn't tell him which part so he pulled a huge section of his comments.

Rebecca: I'm glad Glenda could identify and there were a lot of people writing me about that. I think it's something fairly common and I don't pretend that I live on a cloud. I'm as capable as petty as anyone else.

Ty: Same piece, Joel wants to know if Jess feels any better this week?

Jess: Yes, thanks for asking. The second C.I. pulled that link, I felt better. I mean instantly. Mike and Rebecca would pull it the next day and probably knowing that was coming also made me feel better. But I don't appreciate some ass tearing apart what my parents stand for when he doesn't know the first thing about them or any other hippie. Mom said to pass on that she loved Rebecca's joke in it about how he was angry because some "chic" wouldn't "ball" him in the 60s. About the editing of that piece, it should also be noted that no one pulled anything. Dona and Jim did a quick lookover after it was typed. But no one was in the mood to edit it or pull from it. I think we all just wanted it to end. For me, it ended when C.I. pulled the link to that site.

Dona: I'm watching the time, are we at ten yet?

Ty: Almost, we're at number nine. Ethan notes that Mike's mentioned at his site that we're already planning the short story/fiction summer edition. He wonders why that is and also what else we have planned for the future?

Jess: Nothing for the last question. For the first, we weren't happy with the second go round. The first year, our summer read, it was strong. Mike addressed this. We had a lot of stuff to choose from. We had writing we'd done from class. We were pulling from Dona and C.I.'s journals for ideas. It was really varied and had strong writing. With last year, we felt there was (a) a sameness to them and (b) that we blew one of the strongest ideas. Don't make Dallas look this up because this is where the archiving screws up when we switched to Beta. If it's important to anyone, next week we'll do a piece that just links to our summer reads.

Cedric: Jess is talking about an idea I had and I doubt I presented it well. It was a big deal to C.I. who returned to that topic the next week and we worked out a short story combing my idea and one C.I. had. But I do think there was some strong stuff there. I think we were all exhausted at the end and I doubt anyone's bothered to go back and read any of that.

Jess: I honestly haven't.

Wally: I agree about the tired part and not going back to reread but I remember Dona saying, when we were working on it, "Everything's in first person!" I don't know if we fixed that or even addressed that but that was one of the sameness issues about them that was raised while we were working on it. In terms of planning, C.I.'s given us the first line to a short story and C.I., Kat and Ty have the idea for another. We're all supposed to be thinking up additional ideas. That'll be in June so there is time but I don't know that we're really "planning" planning it at this point. I do know that one thing I felt was missing was a horror story like the first summer had, the thing Ty thought up.

Ty: Thank you, Wally. And, Dona, this is the last question. This has come in over and over since an earlier roundtable where Elaine suggested the need for economic boycotts of those profiting from the war and C.I. agreed but stated the first thought that comes to mind is how they, C.I. and Ava, could do a TV review since GE owns NBC, et al. People want to know, every week this question comes in several times, if there is a boycott does that mean no TV review?

Ava: No. But if this mailbag doesn't end soon, it does. We still haven't had time to write our review this edition or even talk about what we're reviewing. No, we will do a TV piece. We'll drop back and cover shows no longer producing new episodes. Or we'd do a theme piece on modern TV. But we would contribute something. C.I.?

C.I.: We hadn't planned it as such but Ty says a lot of people saw last week's ["TV: The not-so-universal White Boy blues"] as the sort of thing we'd do in the case of boycott. That is true. Obviously, with The Wonder Years just airing on I we hadn't sat down and watched each episode on I. We were already familiar with the show. So that may be a good example of the sort of thing we'd do.

Ty: And that's our ten questions for this mailbag.

What Would A Mud Flap Say If A Mud Flap Could Flap Could Say?


Yes, the nudie cover book is nearly upon us and it will soon be time for many to look the other way as raunch for raunch sake is promoted as feminism.

If you missed the sign, a slapped together op-ed in The Guardian recently let you know that, like spring, the hype was upon us.

Mud Flap Gal recycled her post from her site and her shout out to fellow Flap (who somehow missed Sandra Day O'Connor stepping down) to promote herself and her book. Copy and paste is an easy way to reach a word count but it don't count for much when you have so little to say.

It was time to revisit the discrimination that found her called "the Clinton boob girl." If you Google her name, that's what will be at the top. We Googled, it wasn't. Life has moved on, even if she hasn't.

In passing, C.I. noted a way Mud Flap Gal had damaged things for women that we were unaware of. C.I. said, "Hold on," picked up the phone and dialed. We were talking to an old term Air America-er, no longer involved, but once sitting on the board. Mud Flap Gal was so "obnoxious" that she sealed the deal for female bloggers on Air America Radio with a fall 2004 appearance. ("That Friday night appearance destroyed the chances for all women. There was a feeling of 'We don't even want to take a chance on that happening again.") It created a stir and not in the good way. Other than Janeane Garofalo, no one supported her, post appearance, and, if you wonder why it's all male blogger after male blogger on the radio syndicate/network these days, there's one reason for the pattern. (Sexism is another.) (Sam Seder was openly hostile on air with Mud Flap Gal who offered the verbal equivalent of sticking out one's tongue.)

Raunch sells . . . in some places. It made it very hard for a female blogger to get booked on Air America Radio. So, on behalf of female bloggers, "Thanks for harming the cause."*

Supposedly writing about what women bloggers go through, Mud Flap Gal cited herself repeatedly, one woman and then gave a shout out. If you ask Rebecca, she can tell you about very real abuse women bloggers have experienced because they've shared their stories with her. If you ask Rebecca, she can tell you about a middle-aged male who was such a stalker that her then ex-husband insisted she let him hire a bodyguard (Rebecca and Flyboy remarried last year). Convinced, because of a song title she'd mentioned, that they had a psychic connection and drooling over her breasts which he just knew were huge (yes, she is endowed), he started out semi-friendly and grew hostile as she refused to give out her phone number of address. Once he started narrowing down where she lived (ferry rides on the east coast outside of NYC do tend to narrow it down on its own) he managed to find a woman who once worked for her. He presented himself as an old friend who wanted to surprise Rebecca. The woman gave out nothing and immediately phoned Rebecca to ask, "Who was that weirdo?" That's when Rebecca okayed the bodyguard.

At this site an interesting thing happened early on. The TV commentaries were popular from the start and people often agreed or disagreed, wanted to add to the discussion, wanted to loudly disagree, what have you. Nothing out of the norm. The moment we announced that Ava and C.I. were writing the TV reviews themselves, and note, they'd been doing so for several weeks before we announced it with no change in the e-mails, suddenly it was "slut" this and "bitch" that and threats began coming in like crazy. C.I. took it all in stride (noting, good or bad, it's all fan mail) but Ava was especially shook up by an e-mail announcing, in great detail, how she and C.I. would be carved up because the e-mailed noted a sweater that she did own. (This was when Ava was attending a NY university and, as C.I. pointed out at the time, "He also thinks I live in NY and am a student which shows how little he knows.")

So those are some real life stories of real life threats. But it's the being called a "slut" (and presumably "Clinton boob girl") that has Mud Flap Gal endorsing a system of Net Nannies where people will patrol and enforce.

"I've been called worse and for good reason," Bette Davis once said. Is it fair that someone who disagrees with you or actively hates you calls you a "slut"? No. If, like Don Imus, they are backed by sponsors, there sponsors should be called on it. But if you only want the kind words, you probably shouldn't be putting yourself out there -- male or female. Before someone, as it is laughably made in the non-op-ed, claims that's a "S/He asked for it" response, it isn't. If you post photos online for public viewing, then they are going to be viewed by the public. If you leave your front door unlocked (as Cedric just found out), don't be surprised if someone walks in. Did Cedric ask for that? No. But, and he'll be the first to admit it, he should have locked his front door (and thought he had).** It's why C.I. refuses to allow us to use photos here but will allow them in the newsletters. If, for example, a Hillary Clinton photo goes up here that means someone is going to grab it and distort it, photo shop it, what have you. The smart thing to do is not post publicly photos which you don't want everyone to see.

In the real world, people are going to throw sticks and stones. "Clinton boob girl" the most humiliating thing in your life? How fortunate her life has been. We honestly wouldn't have been aware of it had she not (again) made it an issue. We've never seen the photo (just read her tell the story over and over) but a "boob" (in another sense) is a supposed 'editor' who meets with a former president while agreeing that nothing discussed can be talked about. A 'boob' is someone who participates in a photo-op that does nothing but generate publicity.

Someone should have explained to Mud Flap Gal that not all publicity is good publicity. And that if you must have an "off the record" meeting, you probably shouldn't publicize it with photos. (That goes for all participating, not just Mud Flap.)

It should also be noted that the ways that all women are reduced to objects at left sites could be addressed. For instance, in a thread supposedly about Sam Seder, care to count how many comments on and links to "boobs" there are (at least one rushes to assure that it's work environment safe 'barely')? How does that happen? Can the site's male moderator not advise his posters to "chill" with the breast talk? It's a left site and it says a great deal about the mindset of some on the left that they feel writing about "boobs" is political conversation.

We're much more worried about that than we are about people who disagree with our opinions and want to call us names. When that goes on, at a left site, and the moderator doesn't call it out, it sends messages. One is that the conversation is perfectly okay. Another, and this is how we learned of it, is that a woman reading no longer feels she's welcome at the site -- not by the moderator, but by the mindset of some of the ones posting comments. She wrote, "I thought I was going to read people's thoughts on Sam Seder and instead it was like I was stuck with the Maxim crowd. There was a leering quality that just disgusted me and made me feel like half the people there saw me as nothing but a set of breasts."

How did that happen? We don't visit the site very often but it's not the way the moderator writes. (If it is, we've never seen him write that way.) (If he does write that way, you need to e-mail because C.I. will pull the site from the links if that is the case.)
But somehow, people have the idea, let's be real, men have the idea that a thread, at a left site, on Sam Seder is the place to swap "boob" photos and talk "boobs."

"Let me tell you, it's not easy to build a career as a feminist writer . . ." Let us tell you, shallow thoughts and being tickled over a book called C*nt doesn't advance the cause of feminism, but, maybe it's not really about feminism? Maybe the "build a career" is what it's really about? Has the fancy of Do-me feminism finally passed and been replaced with Me-me feminism?

When this site started one of the things C.I. advised us was "Don't read your own press." You'll be loved by some, ignored by some and trashed by others. If you ignore the bad stuff, you'll get an inflated view of yourself. If you just read the bad, you'll be angry or depressed. As community members know, C.I. got trashed on KPFA by a guest who had made a clumsy pass years ago and been rejected. We all awaited the response. There's still been none. C.I.'s friends still that bring that up, well over a year later. It's basically seen as an intended slam from someone spurned on the East Coast. C.I. didn't listen, won't listen and has never commented on it. To this day. The person has been cited here. We've mentioned him here from time to time. Usually because C.I.'s added it. There's never been an attempt by C.I. to even the score. We were ready to. We were ready to go to town. We thought, "Fine, give it a week or two and then we'll do it." It doesn't matter, is C.I.'s attitude. The only thing that can hurt you is when you hurt yourself. C.I.'s example? Making the mistake, in the midst of chemo, to share that detail with someone in an e-mail only to find out that it was used to mock (the next day) at a site. "For whatever reasons it happened on the other end," C.I. says, "the truth is the only one who hurt me was me for being dumb enough to try to explain why I didn't have the time at that moment to be responding in an e-mail."

*(No woman participating in the writing of this piece has any desire to appear on TV or radio as a gas bag or as a "fun bag.")

** Cedric wants it noted that he always locks his front door and can't believe he hadn't this time. He also thinks it's funny that C.I. made the front door analogy as we were discussing the feature and, in the middle of writing it, at 2:30 in the morning his time, his front door opens and a strange man walks in hollering, "James." Cedric's fine. He scared us and the stranger. We heard this spooky as hell voice scream, "Get out!" The guy ran off. When Cedric was back on the phone, he explained, he was trying to scare the guy "who was quite a bit bigger than me."
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