Thursday, December 16, 2004

Ms.; The Daily Howler; and a look at the alternative weeklies

A few of you have mailed in to say you can't find the new Ms. I looked around tonight and most stores still have the old copy (elections cover) up. In that issue Robin Morgan addresses the issue of the American Taliban:

Alert: Americans who honor the U.S. Constitution’s strict separation of church and state are now genuinely alarmed. Agnostics and atheists, as well as observant people of every faith, fear — sensibly — that the religious right is gaining historic political power, via an ultraconservative movement with highly placed friends.
But many of us feel helpless. We haven’t read the Founding Documents since school (if then). We lack arguing tools, “verbal karate” evidence we can cite in defending a secular United States.
For instance, such extremists claim — and, too often, we ourselves assume — that U.S. law has religious roots. Yet the Constitution contains no reference to a deity.
The Declaration of Independence contains not one word on religion, basing its authority on the shocking idea that power is derived from ordinary people, which challenged European traditions of rule by divine right and/or heavenly authority. (Remember, George III was king of England and anointed head of its church.)
The words “Nature’s God,” the “Creator” and “divine Providence ” do appear in the Declaration. But in its context — an era, and author, Thomas Jefferson, that celebrated science and the Enlightenment — these words are analogous to our contemporary phrase “life force.”

I'm highlighting that because I know a number of people who were putting off buying that issue and then, after the election, didn't want to be reminded of the election so they skipped the issue. So if you've missed Robin Morgan's "Fighting Words For A Secular America: Ashcroft & Friends VS.George Washington & The Framers" please consider reading it. It's available online at

For those who wrote in regarding The Majority Report, I agree that Naomi Klein did an incredible job. Klein's web site is and I'll try to make it a permanent link this weekend. I also intend to add Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler this weekend as a permanent link.

Somersby did address the New York Times article in today's Daily Howler (in great detail) so if you missed that, pleace click This issue is only going to become bigger -- Bush will be pulling out all the big names he can to try to force this off on America so arm yourself with knowledge now.

WARNING: All links below you click on at your own risk. Nothing stood out to me in them in terms of language that might get you into trouble in the work place but I may have missed something.

For social security, I'd also recommend Bill Gallagher "BUSH'S SOCIAL SECURITY C---SHOOT"[me: I've edited "C---" so if that's a word that will get you in trouble, don't go there on a work computer) in the Niagra Falls Reporter ( where Gallagher contrasts Bully Boy Bush with Tupac Shakur:

Shakur, while claiming to dismiss reality, actually had a better grasp of it than Bush is now demonstrating in his clouded vision and plan to increase dramatically government borrowing and indebtedness in order to finance a transition to add personal retirement accounts to Social Security.
Bush essentially wants to borrow money -- experts estimate $2 trillion over the next 10 years -- and gamble your money on his bet that government speculating on stocks will "fix" the system. Much of Bush's plan, projections and assumptions are kept deliberately vague. But he's clear in the promise no taxes will increase, no benefits will be reduced for this generation of retirees and that the best road to privatizing Social Security investments is paved with public debt.
We can only dream how this will work.

Rhonda has risen to orders and followed rules for the past six years at Milledgeville's Central State Hospital, Georgia's largest mental institute. Diagnosed with schizophrenic affective disorder and borderline personality disorder, the 33-year-old retains the mental capacity of a fourth-grader. She's never gone swimming. She rarely receives hugs. She's told what to eat, what to wear, when to wake and when to sleep. She perpetually enters and exits the locked doors of the Freeman building, which houses long-term mentally ill patients. She only gets to leave the isolated, 1,125-bed, 1,750-acre property for special occasions. On Thursdays, she can take a bus ride around downtown Milledgeville, but she can't get off the bus. She just stares out the window at the shops, restaurants, office buildings and gas stations.
She wonders when she'll be able to escape the strange place that serves as her home. She wonders if she'll always live with two roommates in a stark room. She wonders if she'll ever get to play in a creek, buy a sweater at the mall or eat pancakes on a Saturday morning.
In December 2002, Rhonda's chances of leaving the institution seemed to have improved. Her doctor deemed her capable of living in the community, an evaluation that by law gives her the option to leave a state institution and live in a community-based setting. The law that granted Rhonda that right, an amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act, was prompted by a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision. The case involved two mentally retarded women who fought for the right to leave Georgia Regional Hospital Atlanta in Decatur and move to a setting where they could interact with the outside world.
Called the Olmstead ruling, because the women's case began as an action against Georgia's then-commissioner of the state Department of Human Resources, Tommy Olmstead, the 6-3 opinion found that "unjustified institutional isolation of persons with disabilities is a form of discrimination."
. . . .

Advocates thought Georgia -- the birthplace of the case -- would be among the first to implement the monumental change.
But it hasn't been.
More than five years have passed since the decision was handed down, and today Georgia ranks among the slowest states to de-institutionalize those capable of living outside institutions. More than 4,000 Georgians living in institutions and nursing homes have expressed a desire to live in the community, and that number only represents those people whom advocates have reached so far.

That's from Alyssa Abkowitz's "Trapped" ( in The Creative Loafing Atlanta.

Thinking "Poor Rhonda" but that it just applies to her? Today.

In its rush to pass an omnibus federal budget, the U.S. Congress recently approved measures to possibly promote the involuntary screening and consequent medication of students for suspected mental illnesses. The legislation, which passed both the House and Senate, conjoins with two Bush administration pet projects: the president’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health and No Child Left Behind.
In a telephone interview, lobbyist Michael Ostrolenk, M.A., explained that the Mental Health Commission’s recommendations for universal and mandatory mental illness screening remain just that: recommendations. Individual states remain free to decide how or if they would implement them. Ostrolenk cites the example of the state of Illinois, which attempted to force screening protocols on all pregnant women and public school children. Public outcry forced that state to retreat. Nevertheless, President Bush and the Senate requested $44 million toward block grants to states to support universal and mandatory measures, although the House cut the allocation down to $20 million.

Boise Weekly's "Push It to the Kids" ( by Peter Wollheim . In the Ithaca Times, Mary Bulkot's "Military Ban"
( covers the court case four of you have written in about:

A federal appeals court recently ruled that the Department of Defense cannot withhold funds from colleges and universities that bar military recruiters from campus. Although the immediate impact of this ruling on area schools is questionable given the limited jurisdiction of the Philadelphia-based, third Circuit Court, its long-term implications bear watching.
"It may have little impact initially. The more interesting thing will be to see whether the third Circuit Court tries to extend it nationally and whether the Supreme Court ends up hearing it," said Mathew dos Santos, a second-year law student and co-president of LAMDA, a gay and lesbian student group at Cornell's Law School. "There's a lot of legal wrassling to go." The lawsuit was brought by a coalition of more than a dozen law schools, including Cornell's, who argued that the government's threat to withhold funding amounted to compelling the schools to take part in speech they didn't agree with. The military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is inconsistent with the schools' own policies of non-discrimination.
The case has been sent back to the district court to be reheard.

For Martha who considered Gary Webb a friend, the LA Weekly has a piece on Webb by Marc Cooper entitled "DissonanceGary Webb, RIP" ( If you knew or knew of Webb, you should enjoy the piece. If you're unfamiliar with Webb, it's a piece that will underscore the power of the press when someone gets on the wrong side of the big guns:

First the L.A. Times helped kill off Gary Webb’s career. Then, eight years later, after Webb committed suicide this past weekend, the Times decided to give his corpse another kick or two, in a scandalous, self-serving and ultimately shameful obituary. It was the culmination of the long, inglorious saga of a major newspaper dropping the ball journalistically, and then extracting relentless revenge on an out-of-town reporter who embarrassed it.
Webb was the 49-year-old former Pulitzer-winning reporter who in 1996, while working for the San Jose Mercury News, touched off a national debate with a three-part series that linked the CIA-sponsored Nicaraguan Contras to a crack-dealing epidemic in Los Angeles and other American cities.
A cold panic set in at the L.A. Times when Webb’s so-called Dark Alliance story first appeared. Just two years before, the Times had published a long takeout on local crack dealer Rickey Ross and no mention was made of his possible link to and financing by CIA-backed Contras. Now the Times feared it was being scooped in its own backyard by a second-tier Bay Area paper.
The Times mustered an army of 25 reporters, led by Doyle McManus, to take down Webb’s reporting. It was, apparently, more important to the Times to defend its own inadequate reporting on the CIA-drug connection than it was to advance Webb’s important work (a charge consistently denied by the Times). The New York Times and the Washington Post also joined in on the public lynching of Webb. Webb’s own editor, Jerry Ceppos, also helped do him in, with a public mea culpa backing away from his own paper’s stories.

Nüz also addresses Webb's death in the Santa Cruz Metroactive News (

Webb's work also unwittingly revealed another grave and ongoing problem--the callous and cowardly incompetence of the major U.S. news media. Indeed, the best we can hope to come of his death is that other journalists will (a) be inspired to investigate his "suicide" and (b) be inspired to live up to his standards of journalism.

Tim Redmond also weighs in on Webb:

When I met Webb, he was just starting to feel the heat. What he told me – and he often repeated later – was that an old Air Force pilot he'd befriended had warned him that "you get the most heavy flak when you're right over the target."
You can argue that Webb fell a half millimeter short of proving his point. But nobody with any sense can claim there wasn't a huge amount of truth to what he wrote. Yes, the CIA had close links to narcotics kingpins in Central America; yes, drug money was used to support the Contras. Yes, the CIA knew that was going on.

That's from The San Francisco Bay Guardian (

New York Press provides some startling information:

With everyone focused on a few spots on the Supreme Court, over a third of the Environmental Protection Agency's staff will become eligible for retirement during the next four years. Future Bush appointees will dismantle the agency from the inside while a Republican Congress hacks away from the outside, teamwork that could very well result in the disappearance of the EPA as we know it by 2008. If this happens, there will simply be nothing left to save; the rebuilding will have to begin from scratch.
The party will pursue this scorched-earth policy as if there were a mandate behind it. As the current EPA head Mike Leavitt recently told the UK's Independent, "The election was a validation of the philosophy and the agenda." Bush and Cheney were smart enough not to discuss this agenda in their campaign speeches, but it's known to include fiercer attacks on such landmark legislation as the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act, the prying open of protected lands to mining and drilling—in the new Senate, the ANWR fight is all but lost—and the weakening or elimination of mandatory emission controls on a range of pollutants. On climate change, the administration will feel free to ignore even the tepid action recently recommended by the bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy. In short, the agenda is radical and sweeping, with the last four years offering an aftertaste of what's in store. Given the impact this will have on millions of American families and upon creation itself, you might expect at least a few words of concern from influential pro-family Christian Right groups like Eagle Forum.

That's from "JESUS WORE BIRKS: Pro-life, pro-Federal Marriage Amendment—and pro-Kyoto" ( which finds reporter
Alexander Zaitchik looking into the Christian right to determine where they stand on the environment.

In Las Vegas City Life, Ryan Slattery weighs in on tasers (and no, the story has nothing to do with Kerik):

Amnesty International says the use of Taser guns on pregnant women, children as young as 6, handcuffed suspects, a female skinny-dipper and at least one foul-mouthed tree-climber is proof that police officers nationwide are abusing stun-gun technology.
These cases and the documented deaths of more than 70 people who died after being "tased" have the human-rights organization calling for a ban on the use of electronic Tasers in the United States and Canada, until an independent study concludes the guns are safe and law-enforcement agencies adopt strict policies regarding their use.

To read more of "Stunned" clik

For those wondering about possible directions for rescuing the country, Matt Smith's "Housing Democrats" ( argues Democratic mayors are the hope for the future. (From the San Francisco Weekly.)

Zach Dundas writes about Oregon's delegation that attended the Orlando DNC meetup last weekend where various people vied for DNC chair in "Dean's Revenge" ( in Willamette Week.

[David] Miller gets straight to the point in his memoir, relating the draft card burning in the first chapter: "I said the first thing that came to mind," he told an anti-war assembly in Battery Park. "'I am not going to give my prepared speech. I am going to let this action speak for itself. I know that you people across the street really know what is happening in Vietnam. I am opposed to the draft and the war in Vietnam.' "I pulled my draft classification card from my suitcoat pocket along with a book of matches brought especially for the occasion since I did not smoke. I lit a match, then another. They blew out in the late afternoon breeze. As I struggled with the matches, a young man held up a cigarette lighter. It worked just fine.
"The draft card burned as I raised it aloft between the thumb and index finger of my left hand. A roar of approval from the rally crowd greeted the enflamed card."
Though almost 40 years old, David Miller's action relates to what is going on today in Iraq. Thousands in the United States and millions of people around the world have marched in protest against the Bush administration's invasion of that country, and many continue to perceive it as an unnecessary and immoral action.

That's from John P. Griffin "Fire Starter: Syracusan David Miller was the first activist to defy the law and burn his Vietnam War draft card" ( in The Syracuse New Times.

And Dan Frosch and Peter Gorman write of the problems and new realities greeting troops returning from combat in "Soldier’s Heart":

There are thousands of Operation Iraqi Freedom soldiers across the country like Matthew Williams and Joshua Peterson. A December 2003 Army study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that about 16 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a psychologically debilitating condition causing intense nightmares, paranoia, and anxiety. Now, after a particularly bloody summer and fall, many military and mental health experts predict the rate of PTSD will actually run nearly twice what the study found, approximately the same level suffered by Vietnam veterans. Others think it could go even higher and note that rarely before has such a dramatic rate of PTSD manifested itself so soon after combat.
Those troubled veterans, by and large, will go knocking on the door of the Department of Veteran Affairs. And many will find that, just like the military that often couldn’t adequately equip them in Iraq, the VA, according to numerous studies, does not have many of the essential services the veterans desperately need.

This article is many weeklies but it was sent to this site ( by Billie from her local Fort Worth Weekly and can be found at

That's what had me thinking about the post. A number of you have written about about how expensive print editions of papers are. (And they are expensive.) But there's some strong work being done in the alternative weeklies, many of which are free. We're all scanning the net for news and trying to stay informed. On this site, we're focusing on The New York Times daily.
But there are other news sources and hopefully, if anyone was unaware of these, we'll be more likely to check them out in the future. (And should the major dailies ever decide to charge people to view stories on the web, we may all be reading weeklies.)

Ideally, once a week, we'll highlight some of the stories from the weeklies. Feel free to send in something you'd like included or that you feel was overlooked. A big thanks to Billie for sending the article from the Fort Worth Weekly which kick started this idea.

Reaction to "In New York, Only Older Officers Pack the Old .38" by Michael Wilson is still coming in so I'll grab that as an excuse to wait another day. If you've read the article and want to weigh in you've got about seventeen hours. Or, to put that in simpler terms, I'll probably start working on it during the second hour of The Majority Report tomorrow.