Saturday, December 11, 2004

I want to see your thoughts take shape

I want to trip inside your head
Spend the day there . . .
To hear the things you haven't said
And see what you might see

I want to hear you when you call
Do you feel anything at all?
I want to see your thoughts take shape
And walk right out
-- "Miracle Drug" written by U2
available on the album How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

The e-mails have been coming in since last night regarding Simon Rosenberg's appearence on The Majority Report. The hosts were Sam Seder and Bill Scher (filling in for the vacationing Janeane). Let's start with Frank in Orlando.

"I couldn't believe Sam had to explain himself on air. You attack Judy Miller and Adam Nagourney all the time so I know you're going to pick on Sam now. What do you expect??????
Perfection?????? Sam gave Simon enough rope to hang himself and Simon did. What did you want for Sam to go nah nah nah you are dead now you are dead?????????? I was reading the blog during the interview and kept seeing all these people talking and talking about ask this or ask that. Well get your own f___ing shows then and leave Sam alone!!!!!!!!"

So that was Frank in Orlando's take on it. And the rest of us? (E-mail address is

Elaine: "I sent that thing ["Questions for the Questionable Simon Rosenberg] in hoping they would use it for questions. I'm just shocked. "

Jim's girlfriend was so upset, she had to take a valium after the interview. He also says: "I don't know why it went the way it did Friday night. I do think Sam was getting his first snow job. Although he ended up swallowing, not Rosenberg."

Jim reports that he and his girlfriend are heading to the mountains for the rest of the weekend. Can't say I blame you or that you're alone in wanting to get away.

Kara: "I just turned off the radio, turned off all the lights, and went and locked myself in a dark bathroom. If I had the money, I would've gone somewhere, anywhere, just to get away from the scene of the crime -- Simon's mugging Howard Dean of all Dean's slogans and no one screaming, 'Stop thief!'"

Franciso: "When is this man going to stop riding on the backs of Latinos? What did the NDN do anyway? Run a few ads that nobody I knew liked to begin with. And stealing Dean's words and passing them off as [his] own! Imitador! Mentiroso!"

Ben took exception to Sam's comments on Dean: "Oh so this is how it is, right? We get to slam Dean for his history while letting poor little Simon off for his? Who has the more repugnant history? What does Dean's history have to do with Rosenberg anyway?"

I remember a caller, in the last hour, bringing up Dean (she was for him) and I'm almost sure I remember Seder making a comment about the blog bringing up Dean. If I had to guess, I'd say that he felt the comparison was already being made (without him) and he wanted to address it.

Rory: "Sammy cakes lied about Dean! He lied!"

Actually, although he did highlight the negative, he didn't lie. It was his opinion of Dean's record as governor and a point can be made for Sedar's evaluation.

That said, I do question why Dean's record was highlighted in terms of what he did as governor. Rosenberg's record of the last two years wasn't highlighted. I wasn't reading the blog (although a lot of you were judging by e-mails) and I think Seder was referring to the blog and forgetting that all listeners don't read the blog. Also that all Majority Report listeners do not have computers. As I remember it, he wasn't precise on that point; however, he had alluded to the blog. But that's my memory and I was already disappointed in the interview.

And I'll add that I think (my opinion) that Dean was transformed on the campaign trail. Up close, I've seen enough candidates change in the course of a campaign. Usually, that means they start believing their press and get an inflated idea of their "greatness" which leads to a lot of third person statements. With Dean, it reminded me of something I saw twice before in campaigns I worked on. He actually found inspiration and transformation during the campaign. I saw a speech early on and was, honestly, not impressed. I saw him again the summer of 2003 and he was on fire. I don't just mean he spoke with conviction or worked the crowd (though he did both of those things), I mean he took off. He became the Dean of today.

Trolonda wants to know: "What was Mr. Liberal Oasis doing during all of this? I kept expecting Mr. Liberal Oasis to jump in! To say something about Marian Wright Edelman at least because that made it to the blog a couple of times. Mr. Liberal Oasis didn't say a word! If you were on, you would have!"

That would be Bill Scher of The Liberal Oasis ( To deal with the first section of where was he, I don't remember him saying a great deal. When Janeane Garofalo is on, she has noted that she doesn't want to getting in a nudging match (my term, not her's) over who gets to ask questions. Scher may have felt Seder was asking the right questions, may have felt Seder was dominating the interview, may have been stunned, may have been paying close attention to figure out Rosenberg -- we can only speculate. But the fact is that he was co-hosting the whole week and he did a good job of it even though he's not co-hosted before. (If he has, I don't recall it.)

As for me, I wasn't on the show so who knows how I would've responded. Nor would I be on. My attitude is the blog is the story and it's very easy for it to turn into "Oh you're so wonderful!"
The blog is wonderful, I'm just an a__.

I do know that listening, as I went for a glass of water, I stopped and my mouth dropped open in shock. I have no idea how long I was standing there but based on that, I don't know that, had it been me in front of a mike, I would've said anything. I might have been too stunned to speak.

Regarding Tammy who wonders about the difference in how Scher speaks and how he writes, Maureen Dowd has pointed out that people have an opinion of her (Pauline Kael made similar comments) based on her writing that's not really who she is. So the point here is that there is the written voice and there is the spoken voice. (And I have neither!)

If you have doubts about Scher now (as Trolonda, Ben, Krista, Andy and Beth do), read The Liberal Oasis and see if his written voice speaks to you. If it doesn't, don't read it. But make sure you're judging Liberal Oasis for what's there and not for what was (my opinion) a lousy interview.

And let me repeat again (Gina calls this "Your Oprah moments!") that we seem to be searching for heroes but finding people and then being disappointed. Maybe our expectations are too high? Something to consider. I could be wrong. (I often am.)

Shondra writes: "I was outraged that after 2000 and 2004, Mr. Rosenberg wasn't forced to address the disenfranchisement of black voters. I keep hearing over and over people saying that [they] think the party has abandoned us. I think the party has taken us for granted. And I'm tired of it. And before anyone steps in to be the new head of the DNC, they need to address this. I'm sick of it I'm fed up with it I'm not going to take it!"

Shondra wasn't the only one who felt that way. Toby, Tamara and Cool Dude In Oakland also brought that up.

I think (and boy do I feel right now like "the schill for Air America" as Rhonda calls me) that Seder was trying to get at a theme, a general vision for where the party was headed. For me, a general vision includes the concepts or building blocks. That means you ask about African-Americans, you ask about Latinos, you ask about Muslims, you ask about Asian-Americans, you ask about women, you ask about gays and lesbians, you ask about farmers, you ask . . . And had Rosenberg not been held over (I believe he got three segments but don't take my word for that and don't expect me to check it out by listening to that interview again), there would be a solid argument for Seder's concentrating on themes.

(If Seder did deal with the blocks that make up the vision/theme, I've forgotten it. I've honestly tried to forget that interview and, although my shock still lives on, many of the actual comments have faded from my memory.)

Jobi: "I'm not going to harm the Democratic party. That's what sniveling Sam whined. And then he attacks Dean. And what's the harming the party more? Letting someone like Rosenberg go unaccounted for his actions? What's next? Justifying death camps in WWII!"

Okay, that's hyperbole. The interview was bad and I felt devastated by it. But if the implication is that the next step on the ladder is revisionism re: WWII, there's a problem. I had a problem with that kind of thinking when Daniel Okrent of The New York Times tried to do it and I've got a problem with it now. It was a bad interview. It was even a really bad interview. But it's not one step away from genocide.

I'm sure I've done the same thing in conversation (and possibly on the blog) but it's always easier to spot it when someone else does it. And right now, if that's the implication, then it's hyperbole. (Rob the Okrent piece will be done but I don't think it will be this weekend after all. The interview depressed me as much as it did everyone. I should have been working on Okrent to have it ready for tomorrow but I wasn't. I'm sorry.)

I understand Jobi's anger and what he's feeling. And I included it (with his permission) because when you're mad, get it out. Your feelings are what they are. But in a calmer moment, step back and take a look at the words.

If you had called Seder a sell out or something similar, that's would be one thing. But I do have a problem with going from a disastorous interview to the Holocaust. However, others may disagree and people can express themselves as they desire.

Sidebar: On that subject, a number of you wondered if there was any response from Sue in Waterbury over the post ("One Small Voice? No, Many, Many Voices"). Yes, there was. She responded angrily that she was credited as "Sue in Waterbury" when she signed (and gave permission to be quoted) as "Sue in Waterbury, CT." I only used "Waterbury" because I didn't want to later hear from Sue that she'd received a negative response from someone in her area who recognized her comments. But she wants it noted that she is Sue from Waterbury, CT. Duly noted.

Joni says she cried: "I cried for Sam, I cried for Bill, I cried for myself because I felt like this is a snowball gathering speed and there's no way we will ever have a voice in the party as a result. It will be just like this year where we're told we have to go along and support the candidate who won't say that the war is wrong. We have to suck it up for the good of the party. Why is it always the base that has to give?"

Good question. But first, Kerry said, at least once that I remember, that Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time. But I do understand what Joni's talking about. If you were against the war, you were told, "Being for peace killed McCarthy/McGovern's campaign!" And you were supposed to just go along.

That is wrong. Nixon ran as a peace candidate (with a secret plan). When people say that McGovern/McCarthy lost because he was for peace, they're ignoring (or unaware) that Nixon presented himself as the peace candidate.

Does anybody know how many lives we've lost
Can anybody ever pay the cost
What will it take for us to join in peace my friends
Does anybody out there even care
-- "Does Anybody Out There Even Care" words & music by Lenny Kravitz
available on Let Love Rule

Those of us opposed to the war and supporting the Democratic ticket did have to suck it up. And the convention was often shocking in that regard. Medea Benjamin being accosted (I won't use "arrested" since no charges were filed). War war war. Who's the better warrior? Whose missile is bigger? I'm sure that wasn't everyone's reaction but if you were opposed to the war and you already felt you were being told that this was an issue that can't be addressed you may have felt that way. I know I did.

Edwards even did a Bush imitation, telling "Al Qaeda and the rest of these terrorists: You cannot run. You cannot hide. And we will destroy you."
He showed none of the subtlety or sophistication of Bill Clinton, who on Monday night grasped that the United States must get to the root of terrorism. Said Clinton, "we cannot possibly kill, jail, or occupy all of our potential adversaries."
But Edwards really bottomed out on Iraq. He actually said, "We will win this war."
How's that going to happen? And how many more U.S. soldiers are going to die as a result?
Edwards plucked at the heartstrings of America by invoking images of wounded soldiers who now "need their mother to tie their shoe. Their husband to brush their hair. And their wife's arm to help them across the room." But his vow to win this war, which has already taken more than 900 American lives and wounded thousands more, will only compound these human tragedies.

That's Matthew Rothchild (editor of The Progressive) on Edwards' convention speech. (There are other remarks on it, so click the link.)

So maybe some of the anger is about the fact that Bush may be sworn in (Ohio's still not over, according to Randi Rhodes) and that we held our tongues time and again for the "good of the party" so to now be told (this is how twenty-one of you interpreted Seder's remarks) that for the good of the party we can't call Simon Rosenberg on his ___ may be asking too much.

I believe Seder was speaking of why he behaved the way he did. I do not know that he was advocating that for everyone.

It was a bad interview. I'm not defending it. I'm not saying, "Okay but the thing we're all forgetting is . . . ."

Peaches (for those who are long term Majority Report listeners) was a bad interview. This topped Peaches for me.

But Erika's reminding us of the power we do have. "Yes" and "no." She e-mailed this morning: "The party will do what it wants. If it rejects the base, that's fine. They've got 2006 elections coming up. If someone feels rejected they don't have to give to the DNC. They can donate to a candidate but they don't have to donate to the DNC."

And if the roster lands you with a Zell Miller clone, you don't have to vote for that. See, most of us looked at the results of 2002 and said, "The party's hit bottom." Apparently that's not the case. Apparently, they're not over their addiction to "me too!" They want to play Repube-lite, let 'em. But not in my yard. Run along down the street, Dems wanting to be Repubes, you're not welcome here.

And, as I'm sure our third party readers would point out, this might be a wonderful opportunity to get to know some of the third party candidates. Marci says she's going to try to follow some of the Green races and keep us posted.

These guys think they must
Try and just get over us
-- "A Sort of Fairytale" words and music by Tori Amos
available on Scarlet's Walk

A lot of people on the left sucked it in for 2004. We didn't raise this issue or that issue for the "good" of the party. I wonder if Republicans ever did that? Said, "These zealots pushing end of times are going to destroy my party. I won't say a word. For the good of the party." Maybe they did. As early as 1992, I started hearing moderate Republicans worrying about their party being hijacked. So if someone wants to hijack the Democratic party, if people aren't going to stand up and fight, we don't have to play that.

The interview wasn't a hijacking. It was a disappointment. And we seem to be getting a lot of those these days. I'm sure we'll have plenty more in the next four years.

Bob writes: "I just can't take much more. Bush won [me: if he did -- I'm still holding out hope for Ohio], we have no control of Congress, the judiciary is a joke. I've done all I know and it wasn't enough. And everyone I know pulled together and it wasn't enough. I'm just trying to keep it together at this point to make it through the day. I don't need this sort of s__ that I got tonight on The Majority Report."

Bob, we hear you. We are all on edge. These are not the sunshine days. But the country has been through worse before and it's survived because people have stood up and spoken out. That's what we do here. That's what we do out there. As important as is it is that we stay mobolized, it's okay to say, "I need a break." It's okay to take a walk, zone out in front of the TV, do whatever you need to that makes you feel sane. Take a little time for yourself.

And this works in perfectly with the song Susan has repeatedly requested be used on the blog:

If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we're all OK
And not to worry 'cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these
I won't be made useless
I won't be idle with despair
. . . .
We'll fight, not out of spite
For someone must stand up for what's right
Cause where there's a man who has no voice
There ours shall go singing
My hands are small I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken
. . . .
We are never broken
-- "Hands" words & music by Jewel
available on Spirit

I'm sure Gina will call that another "Oprah moment." That's fine. But, to be honest, I made so much fun of that song and the video when it was on the charts. Yet when every half-wit who could rhyme "USA" and another word was getting played and played and played in the days after 9-11, I kept wondering why that song wasn't being played.

Seems it had a lot more to offer than songs about retaliation and angry Americans. But a message of hope doesn't appear to be what we were being sold. We needed to be scared and riled up. We needed to be enraged and frightened.

We couldn't have a national day of mourning. That might have interfered with the get-back-to-shopping theme. So instead, those who healed had to do it on their own. (I'm speaking of people who were not personally touched by the tragic events. For those who were personally touched, it was much, much worse.)

There was a crowd of people who loved to mock Bill Clinton's 'I feel your pain' attitude. But I have to wonder how things would have played out if he'd been president in 2001. We all seem to be in agreement that the right wing echo chamber would have crucified him. But they did that before. (In fact, it's one of the reasons that so many of us who were less and less enchanted kept rallying back around him. Fair criticism is one thing, sliming is another.)

Clinton could express himself (remember when that was important in a president?) and I think we would have seen a different mood in the country. I think we would have grieved and we would have come together. Then we could have started healing.

I lost my mother a few years before 9-11. There was so much to do and so many expectations (including how she'd want reaction to be at her funeral -- underplayed) that there wasn't time to really absorb what had happened. And I put it off and put it off. Scheduled a vacation to deal with it. You can't run from it and that was a hard lesson for me.

Watching Bush tell us to go shopping and to tell us that people were with us or against us and all the other nonsense . . . It just reminded me of that. An attempt to ignore and escape grief. We can't turn the clocks back but we can be prepared for what to do if it happens again.

And quite frankly, that's turn off TV news. I'm really tired of hearing what a great job they did covering that. Over and over and over the same footage. Over and over and over. And the scare tactics over and over and over. "Someone's on the bridge! Oh, no one's on the bridge."

If it happens again, we need to find our center. I don't mean move to the center externally, I mean center ourselves and take care of ourselves because our "leader" didn't help us with it before so there's no reason to think he could if it happened again.

That's really what it comes down to. With Clinton, for all his faults, we had someone who wanted to lead. Maybe we didn't like everywhere he took us, but he wanted to lead. He wanted to inspire. He failed sometimes but he wanted to be better and he wanted us to be better. Now we've got a "leader" who's gotten by all his life on the bare minimum and doesn't seem all that interested in whether or not we're going to advance.

After all the self-righteous clutch-the-pearls talk of Clinton's "lie about sex, but it's not about sex, it's about how he lied," we now may be stuck with a man who spent the last four years lying. (I don't know what I'll do if and when Ohio is no longer a possible out to this nightmare. Probably be as depressed as Bob was last night.) We've been so debased by him that we're not even shocked anymore. And certainly the clutch-the-pearls crowd doesn't seem too concerned by it. All the pundits (yes, Cokie Roberts, this would include you) who fretted over the children and how this "lie" was sending a message don't seem the least bit concerned about the lies that have gone down for the last four years.

Children learned (if they paid attention) that someone lies about sex. Maybe not the best lesson in the world but certainly one that prepared them for reality. What about the children today (if they pay attention), what are they learning? You can lie about "yellow cake." You can lie about providing the troops with armor. You can lie about major combat being over. You can lie about being arrested and that won't even hurt you at the polls. You can lie about "no one ever could have imagined that a plane could be used as a weapon." You can lie about tax cuts, about Medicare, about WMD being found. It's just one lie after another.

And it hurts us as a country. It damages our soul. But, as Erika points out, we have control -- we can say "yes" or we can say "no."

Seder didn't set out to do a bad interview. I believe that was clear was by his on air reaction after the interview. But people were saying "no" to that interview. That's a power and one that we need to excercise.

If Jobi blogged his (possible) implication that the next step was revisionism of the Holocaust, it was hyperbole. But he said "no." He can reword it better next time or try to. But he registered his "no." It can be scary to be the first one to say no, but scary or not, we can all say it.

If you can stomach Eric Alterman (I can't), listen to Majority Report Monday. If not, listen when Naomi Klein's co-hosting this week. (Tuesday?) Seder had a bad interview, he's not demonstrated that he's a bad person. He is not the face of all evil (that would be me -- as Frank in Orlando said weeks ago). If you've listened to the show up till now and never had this reaction before, write it off as a glitch unless you hear something else.

If you don't listen normally and you listened because of my heads up to Rosenberg's appearence, I apologize to you. I am so sorry. I had no idea that the interview would go the way it did. I take responsibilty for that and I'm sorry. Feel free to toss some of that anger you're feeling my way because I did think that the interview was going to be one worth listening to.

I was wrong (and I'll be wrong again).

I also want to apologize to those of you who had taken the time to send in your comments on Rosenberg's view of the war. There were so many good things in those e-mails but I couldn't pull it together. I kept trying and I couldn't get it across.

I was trying to present what he had said or written and ask a question about it. I couldn't do that with his support of the war. That's why, when he wasn't mentioned in the AP article last weekend, I was able to do the Sunday post on your thoughts regarding the DNC chair. I'd tried to pull together an entry on him the Thursday before and junked it because it just wasn't working.

With "Questions for the Questionable Simon Rosenberg," I spent two hours trying to cover Iraq before I bailed on it because it just wouldn't come. I tried turning it over for that section to Sara ("Mr. Rosenberg, Sara would like to know if you support the war and you supported it at the time and you still maintain that it was the right thing to do, aren't you really, at this point, just haggling over who pays the bill?"). [Italicized section of previous sentence is a direct quote from Sara.] I tried working in Martha and Ray's questions.

I couldn't pull that off. When it was finally three o'clock in the morning and I had to face that it was call off from work and keep working or put it out there without it, I went for out there without it. That wasn't a reflection on any of your comments, I just couldn't pull it off.

I was too angry that, even though Rosenberg felt that way, he might be our next DNC chair. There's a Goldie Hawn story that is pretty much my attitude to this blog. I'd like it to be perfect (without typos and mispellings and poorly worded sentences and . . . .) but I'll go with getting it posted as is. Goldie Hawn had filmed Private Benjamin and the movie was then in post- production. As a producer, she still had responsibilities. She was filming Seems Like Old Times and had to dictate a memo (regarding Private Benjamin) on a break. She's signing the memo while she's at a table ready for the next scene to be shot. She picks up the memo and notices it has food stains on it (from the plate she sat it on). Do you redo the memo and take up more time? She just wiped the sauce off it and sent it on.

That applies to the blog but it also goes back to Seder's interview (and Scher's as well). Sometimes you have to face that it's not going to be everything that you want it to be. Do your best and when the times up on that, focus on the next thing that you can work on.

Again, I haven't heard anything like Friday's interview since Peaches was on. (Was that April?)

So it's not like a pattern. If it becomes a pattern, that's different. (My view. You don't have to agree and I'm sure I'll hear if you don't.) It was a bad interview but the response to it is good.

Rosenberg didn't get tested but we did. And we said "no." The DNC may listen, it may not. But we're saying no and everytime we say no, it makes it that much easier to say no the next time.
(We're also saying "yes" -- this blog -- to Howard Dean.)

[Note: This post has been edited for typos and clarity thanks to Shirley who caught typos and points where things were clear -- a post referred to but not named -- and e-mailed them in. She also caught my stammer when I wrote of Rosenberg and Iraq -- "you really were angry, you started repeating the same word." Yes, I really do get very upset that someone like Rosenberg, with his stated views on the war, might be the new chair of the DNC. Also, for Tony and Kara who asked when this was originally posted, I'd say it was around five in the morning EST, four in the morning central, two in the morning pacific. The time signature says 8:38 p.m. That's when it was started, the time signature apparently goes on when I hit "create" and not when I hit "post." And for those who wrote in saying there were problems with viewing the blog, I had them too. I have no idea what was going on. Shirley thinks it might have been due to increased traffice to the site.]