Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Democracy Now! Isn't on Vacation

Democracy Now! is LWR today for all segments (Listen, Watch or Read)

Headlines for December 29, 2004-
Survivor From Aceh: "Destruction was of Biblical Proportions"-
U.S. Pledges $35 Million in Relief Aid; 1/4200 Amount Spent in Iraq-
Vacationing Bush Still Hasn't Publicly Spoken About Tsunami-
Thailand Held Off Warning to Protect Tourism Industry-
30 Die in Iraq House Explosion During Police Raid-
Powell Admits "[Iraq] Insurgency Will Continue"-
Ramsey Clark To Represent Saddam Hussein

Aceh: A Victim of Tsunami & Occupation; Will the Indonesian Army Use the Tsunami As A Cover to Continue Its Slaughter of the People of Aceh?
The disaster is killing thousands in Ache but the Indonesian military has been doing that for years. Now activists fear the Indonesian military will use the disaster as a cover to further the killing of the Acehnese and that the Pentagon may use the disaster as an excuse to restore aid to the Indonesian military which was blocked after the military's massacre in East Timor in 1999.

Of 67,000 Tsunami Victims, At Least 1/3 Are Children
UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy discusses the mammoth relief effort that has begun to help the 10 nations hit the by the deadliest tsunami in two centuries. The death toll is 67,000 and rising. Doctors fear tens of thousands more may die from disease.

Susan Sontag, 1933-2004
Writer and cultural critic Susan Sontag died on Tuesday in New York after a long battle with cancer. She was 71 years old. Sontag was one of the country's leading literary figures as well as a longtime advocate for human rights.

Buzzflash has an interview with Nat Hentoff ( Here's the strong opening of that must read

BuzzFlash: Let's start with the question you pose in your new book, The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance. The title of Chapter 46 is: "Is Bush the Law?" Is this Administration trying to replace the Constitution with executive branch decree?

Nat Hentoff: Well, what this Administration has been doing ever since soon after 9/11, with the passage of the Patriot Act -- which they rammed through Congress with many of the Congressmen not even having time to read it, and those who did being afraid to say anything because they didn't want to be considered unpatriotic -- this Administration is making up the law as it goes along. When the President said -- under the advice, by the way, of the coming new attorney general, Alberto Gonzales -- is that he had the right to imprison American citizens without charges, without trial, without access to lawyers, indefinitely. At least the Supreme Court last June said, 8 to 1, you can’t do that, you are not the law. But they keep on doing it anyway.
One of the things that is coming up now, for example -- they're starting to have a nationwide database of all college students, and that's never happened before, so they can track what they're doing in school and probably what they're doing after. And the CIA, with funds from the National Science Foundation, has been starting to research ways to monitor the Internet chatrooms; of course, the Chinese government is ahead of them on that.

If you haven't read Hentoff's book (The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance), please consider checking it out at your local library or purchasing it if you have the funds to do so -- besides book stores and online stores, Buzzflash is offering it as one of their premiums ( The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Reistance is 159 pages of text that will inform and outrage:

Much later, at the House Judiciary Committee hearing at which John Ashcroft testified, the ranking minority member, John Conyers of Michigan, accused him and the Bush administration of assuming "the . . . role of legislator, prosecutor, judge, and jury."
Unaffected by this charge, the attorney general claimed, in his testimony, that the president does have the power to arrest citizens on any American street, designate them "enemy combatants," and imprison them indefinitely, without access to lawyers or their families.

After all, Ashcroft said, "The last time I looked at Steptember 11, an American street was a war zone." So, all of us, not just aliens in America, can become the disappeared.
(from pp. 152-153)

"The last time I looked . . . an American street was a war zone"? Sounds as if J-Ass has spent too much downtime during his Bullying the USA tour watching the 1968 trash classic Wild in the Streets. Too much exposure to a tamborine-tapping, leather miniskirt wearing Senator (played by Diane Varsi), lines like "We outnumber the fuzz. We got more cats than little 'ol Mahatma Gandhi had" and Shelly Winters playing a matron on acid could have transported J-Ass into an alternate reality. (Wild in the Streets always makes Ben "howl with laughter" and he's e-mailed to request that we work it into a blog entry somehow. It's now been done.)

If you do have time to check out the Buzzlfash premiums ( you'll notice a number of interesting items. I want to stress the DVD Orwell Rolls Over In His Grave. Buzzflash is the exclusive source for that DVD and it's an amazing documentary about the sorry state of "news" today. (Disclosure, I buy many Buzzflash premiums. Further disclosure, like many, I'm waiting on that first check after the holidays having spent too much on gifts and food for entertaining.) What's catching my eye of the newer premiums is the book Guantanamo: What the World Should Know by Michael Ratner and Ellen Ray ( which would be a 'high brow' purchase and National Corporation Radio's satirical spoofs of NPR (a target well deserving of mockery for most readers of this site). Marty Kaplan had NCR on his So What Else Is News? radio show (on Air America) and they were very funny. I'd love to go with a 'high brow' premium, but I have a feeling that once the first post-holiday check comes in, I'll be going with NCR (

While we're talking about Buzzflash, they've picked their "Failure of the Year" and to see their choice click on Also worthy of note (and I saw this on Buzzflash, lest I pass myself off as someone who visits every strong web site first thing every day) TV News Lies has their year in review posted. It's entitled "2005 Ill Fated New Year" and can be read at

Francisco wrote in that he can't believe how many people are on vacation, not just the "stars" of the New York Times (as Dona dubbed them) but so many others. Democracy Now! hasn't gone on vacation, Buzzflash hasn't gone on vacation. I want to take a moment to highlight a few web sites that haven't gone on vacation:

Interesting Times ( (a favorite of many who e-mail The Common Ills).

Katrina vanden Heuvel (editor of The Nation) hasn't gone on vacation at the "Editor's Cut" and you can read her latest post at

The Brad Blog hasn't gone on vacation (

Science and Politics (Kara and Erika's favorite blog) hasn't gone on vacation (

NOTE: Though the above is a wonderful entry, it's from November. It's worth reading; however, I intended to link to the site itself and not to a specific post. Science And Politics'
web site is

Random Thoughts (a favorite of Bernardo's) hasn't gone on vacation (

Bartcop has been posting throughout this. [Warning re: workplace guidelines regarding the web, Bartcop let's it all hang out. I believe I also once saw topless shots of Dr. Laura on the site -- though that might just have been a bad nightmare!] (

Matthew Rothschild hasn't disappeared on some ski trail in Aspen. He's been posting at The Progressive's home page throughout the holidays ( To read his latest "McCarthyism Watch" entry (Dec. 27th) or to check out the previous posts on this topic
click on And to read his latest from "This Just In" ("New York Times Says Tsunami Kills White People, Too!" which posted today) click on

Feministing did take off from the 24th to the 26th but they're blogging again at

Dahr Jamail had a post that went up on the 26th at Iraq Dispatches (

We highlighted Naomi Klein's latest ( yesterday.

OpEd News is offering not just their usual outstanding op-eds but also blogging (

I'm not disagreeing that a number of people are taking time off and I'm not saying that "we don't need to maintain our focus" (as Krista feels the "on vacation, be back soon" message is sending out). I agree we need the strong voices we've grown accustomed to.

And your e-mails asking that we not reduce our posts during the holidays were the reason we rushed our year in review out (it's posted as being up at six something the evening of Dec. 24th, but again, that thing went up well after midnight on the 25th -- the time on each entry is apparently based on when the post was started). The plan had been to work on that at a later date (which was planned for today, right about now in fact). And I'm sorry to the two readers who were working on their picks for the best book of 2004. (If you select those, we'll be happy to post them when you send them in.)

I do know that not everyone celebrates, for instance, Christmas. And that some of you who do were away from your usual circles (such as Jim who was home from the holidays and therefore away from most of his friends on campus) and that, as two of you pointed out, you'd be sending the 25th alone. Even for those who were going to be busy (for any holiday or whatever), I know that when you get online, the expectation is that a page is going to load with something other than "on holiday."

So the choice here was to not "go on holiday" by reducing our posts. (I feel like we increased posts during this "break" but that just might be due to the amount of time spent on research --
Daniel Okrent's columns, scanning Susan Sontag's writings for quotes, piecing together the post
on Joan Baez that Liang requested, etc.)

Joan: "I can't believe that the left has decided that following this election, now is the perfect time to go on holiday! I can't believe that Air America thinks listening to repeats of Unfiltered, Al Franken and other shows is somehow keeping the focus and fighting the fight. Reno could have been substitute host during this time. Any number of people could have been substitute hosts. Don't want to call it 'Unfiltered,' then don't. But give the week to something that matters.
With the network not having one Latino host on its schedule, they could have brought in someone to address that need during this break. They could have brought on Tom Hayden during this period and let him host a radio mini-series. Gloria Steinem could have hosted a program and the rest of the week could have been her picks of voices that we don't hear on mainstream radio as hosts. I don't think that various voices from the left such as African-Americans, feminists, environmentalists, Asian-Americans, Latinos, and others would have responded universally 'no, we're all on holiday' to an offer to reach the nation wide audience that Air America has done an outstanding job building. I do not begrudge Lizz [Winstead], Al [Franken], Sam [Seder] or anyone a vacation. I do question the decision to give us dead air.
I've never listened to Rush Limbaugh but, during his quick leap into rehab, I learned from the press coverage that he had a guest host fill in. That's what Air America should have done for anyone who wanted to take a vacation -- one that was earned, I'm not arguing that it wasn't.
Instead, I've depended on Democracy Now!, KPFA's Free Speech Radio [] and Free Speech Radio News []. If I want to hear a repeat or check a show I've missed on Air America, I'm perfectly able to go to Air America Place [] and download it. Had Air America done special programming with a comedy special (one they could broadcast every holiday, hint, hint) that would have been fine for a day. But to expect listeners who tune in to hear about the day's events to be satisfied with repeats wall to wall is asking too much of the listeners."

I do understand what Joan's saying. But my understanding is that Mike Malloy's show didn't go into repeats. (I'm listening tonight, Joe, who feels Malloy hasn't been properly highlighted on this site.) I know that Morning Sedition (hosted by Mark Riley and Marc Maron) wasn't airing repeats and Thom Hartmann has filled in for Randi Rhodes. But as someone who listens to Air America, I do understand your frustration. I also think your idea of a taped special to be aired yearly would be a good one. They could make it a political comedy special and just update it with an introduction each year ("Now flashback with us to December, 2005 when the White House was brimming with their own idea of 'holiday cheer' . . .). Al Franken does a very strong impersonation of Dick Cheney so it would be very easy to center it around that. Lizz Winstead and Rachel Maddow do a great job at their "Transcript Theater." (Or is "Transcript Theatre?")
With them, Randi Rhodes, Sam Seder, Janeane Garofalo, Laura Flanders, the Marc/ks, Mike Malloy, Chuck D, Kyle Jason, Marty Kaplan, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mike Papantonio, Katherine Lanpher, Steve Earle and Betsy Rosenberg, the network has a host of talent that could really shine in something like that which would be worthy of repeating each year. It would also require a great deal of work in terms of writing it and recording it. But maybe they'll do something like that next year.

On the plus side, it's given Joan the opportunity to explore other programs she hadn't listened to before.

Joan: "I listen to Air America. I swore off NPR three years ago and in the time since have just listened to music at work. I've read a link to Democracy Now! every now and then but with Air America on vacation, I was finally able to check it out. It's a great show. Then the woman who's desk is next to mine told me I should check out KPFA and then I discovered Free Speech Radio News. When new programming resumes on Air America, I'll listen but not non-stop anymore. I'll take an hour for Amy Goodman's show [Democracy Now!] and thirty minutes for Free Speech Radio News. But the whole thing has been like CBS's Monday nights in the nineties.
They took Cybill off for about six weeks in the fall. That show was the only reason I watched their Monday night programming. I could take one week. But by the second week, I'd flipped over to Ally McBeal on Fox. I'd argue that CBS gave Fox that hit because the women I knew were big fans of Cybill and watched it regularly until CBS decided to pull it for some lame show I don't even remember now for sure but it may have been another of the many shows revolving around a a portly male married to a thin woman who was probably a homemaker. Otherwise it was George & Leo which featured such 'eye candy' as Bob Newhart and Judd Hirsch and no strong woman in the cast. CBS basically handed the season over to the new and struggling Ally McBeal right then and there. When CBS finally returned Cybill to the air, we were too caught up in Ally to switch back."

[Note: This post has been corrected to site correctly the home page of Science And Politics.]