Saturday, November 27, 2004

"Red" States Part IV

"Red" States Part I was mainly an e-mail that's acting as a summary of this series.
"Red" States Part II contained the belated set up and addressed the harm and hurt generalizing and stereotyping of people in "red" states is causing.
"Red" States Part III dealt with some "unsexy" issues the press isn't exploring and that the DNC might not address: the breakdown of party infrastructure and allowing "undercover"
Democrats to run with party money.

Shirley e-mailed suggesting that I offer a summary of what's already been discussed so that anyone coming in late will know what's being discussed and what has been discussed. It was a great idea and thank you.

She also notes something that bothered her. I didn't catch Letterman on Friday night (CBS's The Late Show with David Letterman) but Shirley did and was bothered by a statement that incoming Senator Barack Obama made. As she reports it, Letterman was "pressing" Obama to name mistakes made by the Kerry campaign and the one Obama elected to cite was "wind surfing." Shirley reports that was the extent of it (along with chuckles). Perhaps Obama intended to go into further detail or perhaps, talking off the top of his head, that's what came to mind.

I have no idea (and, again, didn't see the show). But if anyone really believes that Kerry electing to go wind surfing cost him the election, I'd argue they're either suffering from or attempting to comment on "media damage." (With a nod to Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner who used "damage" in another context in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe to comment on "Cosmo damage" -- a critique that Cosmopolitan narratives aren't capturing reality: "the "Lib" in Women's Lib stands for liberation, not libido.")

Let's discuss wind surfing for a moment.

Wind Surfing magazine defines the sport as:

Windsurfing is the most amazing of sports. It combines the thrills of surfing, the tranquility of sailing, and puts you in touch with nature better than a good hike. It is a sport that you can go off by yourself for some amazing peace of mind, or sail with a crowd of 200 other windsurfers for unbeatable camaraderie.

Under their "myths" section, they note:

Maybe you've heard windsurfing is expensive. It can be. But it also can be cheap. $500 can get you a good, basic setup, and from there, you have no lift tickets, no registration fees, no nothing. The wind is free!

Okay, I want you to think for a moment about the way Kerry's wind surfing was reported. It was a rich sport, it was out of touch (the magazine notes that it's been an Olympic sport for ten years now) with the "common man." (Why is that no one ever worries about the "common woman"?)

That's not what the sport is. It's also not some "delicate" sport (a quick search will turn up listings for wind surfing with other "extreme sports").

Wind surfing shouldn't have been an issue. (I will say it could have been done in Hawaii at the same time, during the Republican convention, and allowed the campaign to visit the state in August which would have prevented the last minute scramble the week before the election.) The media amplified it into one.

Just as Howard Dean's "scream" was something the media ran with, the wind surfing was mocked and ridiculed. (Republicans and Fox "News" helped further both "stories." I'm focusing on the mainstream media.)

Thanks to Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler we can find some comments on Kerry's wind surfing. Here's Jodi Wilgoren in the New York Times:

Asked whether final-stretch photo opportunities might include windsurfing, the hobby that has helped tag Mr. Kerry with an elitist's image, Mr. McCurry said, "It's too cold this time of year.”

You can also check for an example of when Dee Dee Myers chose to bring up the wind surfing as an apparent strategic error.

In fact, search for wind surfing if you're unaware of how big a deal the media made of this.

Perhaps Obama meant that wind surfing cost Kerry the election because of the way the press elected to play this non-story? If so, he's correct. During the campaign, I saw photos of Kerry playing basketball with kids previous to Dee Dee Myers telling Chris Matthews that Kerry should be doing so (see Daily Howler listed next to Dee Dee Myers above for that story). So Dee Dee Myers is complaing that Kerry's wind surfing instead of doing a pick up game of basketball.
But Kerry had already done that (and continued to do it during the campaign).

If Myers is truly unaware of this, that's underscoring the point of this installment: "media damage." Checking yahoo news ( daily for photos of the Kerry campaign, I would see Kerry playing hockey, tossing a football, playing basketball and with a group of kids playing with a soccer ball (a friend who teaches ESL said her students loved those photos). I'm sure there were other sports but those are the ones that come to mind. If I'd watched television (or read The New York Times unguided by people like Bob Somerby), I might have come away with the idea that all Kerry did or knew how to do was wind surf. Why that wind surfing, prissy pants, full of soy beans Bostonian!

But Kerry didn't just wind surf. And that wasn't the only footage or photos the press had of him. That's what they glommed on, the same way they glommed on the Dean "scream." (I'm assuming everyone is aware that Diane Sawyer explained on Good Morning America, days after the "scream" had been in the news cycle, that the audio played did not contain the crowd's reaction. Dean was addressing a cheering crowd that was applauding loudly.)

I'm not a wind surfer but, even at the time, common sense had me asking what is the big deal?

I didn't know it was an Olympic sport until I started working on this entry. Did you? Did the press tell you that? Did the press explain that it was no more of an elitist sport than, for instance, sky diving -- which former President George H.W. Bush did to celebrate his birthday this year? Anyone who wants to argue that parachuting is more "manly" than wind surfing obviously missed the photos of the Bush in mid-air strapped beneath another man.

Did those photos lead to "Poppy" being questioned about his manhood? (Has anyone forgotten that the 1984 vice presidential debate largely revolved around Poppy attempting to prove his "manhood"?) No. It was something that happened and we all moved on.

But Kerry wind surfing would not die -- with commentary that must have been insulting to anyone who actually knew about the sport or participated in it.

It's not as though George W. Bush didn't make actual mistakes they had footage of. The Majority Report ran his remarks in Florida shortly before the election -- of Bush addressing the rumors of an impending draft by saying that we would not have an all volunteer army (that would mean a draft) and then saying that there will be an all volunteer army. That was Air America, which is making it's presence known but I wouldn't yet say it has the power of the big three or cable TV.

Obama may have meant that it was the media's playing of that footage over and over and acting as though wind surfing was something so far out of the norm that it was embarrassing. (I thought the point of "extreme sports" was that they had a high "rush" level? And didn't Mountain Dew build a series of ads around the notion of "extreme sports" being cool?)

But what you heard about, what you saw, was this "elitist" sport that would make the "common man" recoil. Wind surfing. "Media damage."

Or you might get additional "media damage" courtesy of the New York Times writer Jodi Wilogern counting how many times the terms "vet" or "veterans" were used in a speech. Or, later, counting contractions. (See for Wilgoren's "reporting" on the great contraction "issue.")

Health care plans? Raising the minimum wage? The environment? Those weren't issues the press felt we cared about. We must be far more interested in the fact that Kerry had told a joke and, to read Wilgoren's account, that when she attempted to ask him on the plane where the joke came from, Kerry avoided her like the plague. (Considering Wilgoren's coverage of the campaign, I wish he'd avoided her throughout and asked all of his surrogates not to speak to her.)

Wilgoren may be an easy target. If so, it's because she's made herself one. Others at the Times were far from blameless, but sometimes Robin Toner would turn in a piece that was actually about something. Or Adam Nagourney would challenge an administration spin.

Wilgoren's pieces tended to be content free, void of anything resembling issues and often downright puzzling. Take for example when she filed a story that, in part, read remarkably like a piece done by Lois Romano in the Washington Post:

Courtesty of Sommerby again:

WILGOREN (10/22/04): “I understand he bought a new camouflage jacket for the occasion, which did make me wonder how regularly he does go goose hunting," Mr. Cheney said to a chorus of boos. “My personal opinion is his new camo jacket is an October disguise, an effort he's making to hide the fact that he votes against gun-owner rights at every turn.”
In fact, the outfit was borrowed, along with the shotgun, from the farm's owner, and within hours Mr. Kerry was back in tailored suit and rose-colored tie for another photo-op, hugging the widow of the actor Christopher Reeve, who endorsed him because of his backing embryonic stem-cell research.

ROMANO (10/22/04): Vice President Cheney, also campaigning in Ohio, mocked Kerry. "The senator who gets a grade of 'F' from the National Rifle Association went hunting this morning," Cheney said to a crowd in a soccer arena outside Toledo.
"I understand he bought a new camouflage jacket for the occasion, which did make me wonder how regularly he does go goose hunting." Waiting for the howls to recede, the vice president continued, "My personal opinion is that his new camo jacket is an October disguise, an effort he's making to hide the fact that he votes against gun-owner rights at every turn."
In fact, Kerry borrowed a jacket from one of the other hunters, said a Kerry spokesman, adding that the candidate has three similar jackets at home.

Were they using pool reports to write their stories? How else to explain that two reporters from competing papers both chose to highlight the same bit of nonsense? And, minor point, if both reporters were covering the Kerry campaign, how did they both happen to hear Cheney's remark? Were Kerry and Cheney doing a joint appearence?

Wilgoren was a target on The Majority Report when Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder asked listeners to send coloring books, comic books, etc. to them and they'd forward them onto Wilgoren. The reason? Her reporting left them with the impression that she was bored with her job. Boredom could lead to contraction counting, for instance.

But I'll argue another theory (and if they later argued it, I missed that segment). It's just a theory, but maybe she wasn't bored, maybe she was just too preoccupied with her own impending wedding to cover the campaign?

"My engagement was first announced on Howard Dean's campaign Web log. I addressed and stamped my save-the-date cards at a hotel in Washington while John Kerry spent a slow weekend attending the dedication of the World War II memorial. "

On that self-important note, so begins Wilgoren's piece (in the style section of the Times) entitled "View: The Wedding Candidate on the Trail" (October 24, 2004).

Make no mistake, there were hardships Wilgoren had to endure to do . . . well, her job:

Like the Tuesday evening in October when Mr. Kerry's motorcade pulled up to a hotel in Colorado and I filed the third rewrite of that day's bickering over Iraq from the lobby, only to find on my vibrating cellphone the distraught voice of Julie, the manager of the Chinatown restaurant where we were having our night-before-nuptials dinner. The good news, as I told Gary long-distance a few minutes later: 20 percent off, a free Champagne toast, and dinner on the house as soon as I was back in town. The bad? Someone had double-booked the party room with the dramatic downtown view, so our 100 out-of-town guests would be shunted to the L-shaped dining area across the hall.

Bickering over Iraq? That about sums up the depth of reporting she "filed." A minor issue to the country (the seating of Wilgoren's guests) is explained in more detail than any of her "bickering" over Iraq coverage on the campaign trail. And why? Is her personal event far more important to the country, the Times and the world than what goes on in a war torn country where casualities mount with every week? Media damage.

Understand, while waiting for Kerry to show at a photo op, Wilgoren suffered, she missed the first fitting for her wedding dress! She had to shop for "flower-girl frocks" online!

It was only a movie, but, hey, Rosalind Russell was able to break off an engagement and get back together with Cary Grant while doing her job and landing & filing an important story in His Girl Friday. Movie or not, we're under the impression that reporters are interested in getting a story. Was Wilgoren focusing on her job or her wedding?

Her words:

The count down calendar at the front of the Kerry plane's press cabin shows nine days left. For me, the critical number is 42. The dress shop has assured me I can do the fittings after the election (one bride came home from Iraq just three days before taking her vows). The invitations are out, and I have already started stitching together the cotton squares our friends and family members made to form our wedding canopy.

Where was her attention? Long before Wilgoren started covering Kerry, she was the Times' reporter on the Dean campaign. For an example of her coverage there (which is before she was engaged -- to her husband-to-be, not engaged with her job) you can read this Buzzflash Reader Commentary . My point in directing you there is that there were problems with her reporting well before 2004. Yet, the Times elected to assign her to the Kerry campaign. For another view of the coverage Wilgoren offered (Katha Pollitt uses the term "catty" and that pretty much captures the Wilgoren reporting "style") check out And for a parody of the Times addressing the problems with Wilgoren's reporting, check out and WARNING this is a blog with posted comments, I have not read all the comments so there may be objectionable language that could get you in trouble according to some work place guidelines.

I'm not saying that a reporter can't count carbs to lose weight for their wedding day (Wilgoren confides that she lost 24 pounds) or have a personal life or plan a big event. Heartburn (the novel) not withstanding, Carl Bernstein managed to have a personal life while being a working reporter. (Maybe that should read "As Heartburn may suggest, Carl Bernstein managed to have quite a lively personal life while being a working reporter"? Heartburn is Nora Ephron's novel that's rumored, true or not, to be about her marriage to and divorce from Bernstein. Regardless of the basis, it's a funny book and one worth reading. And regardless of whether it's based on Bernstein or not, it doesn't diminish his accomplishments as a reporter.) But Wilgoren's "View: The Wedding Candidate on the Trail" doesn't imply that her personal business came second to her job when she was, in effect, on the clock.

When Wilgoren turned in this vanity article (one that presumably her editors requested), didn't any alarm bells go off over which day she was counting?

Or how about when she wrote "My day-to-day log of Mr. Kerry's itinerary and what he says runs 19 pages; my wedding planner outline, 17"?

Look, if Wilgoren's my fitness trainer, she can obsess to that degree over her wedding all she wants. We can even talk about it during sets, or on runs, jogs, or walks or whatever. But if she's a reporter for a paper as important as the Times and this is what's going on, maybe someone needs to find a new reporter to assign to the campaign?

I have a friend who's an attorney. She got engaged and had to be in court constantly leading up to the big event. She wasn't on the phone between court breaks dialing numbers to check on the catering. She pulled off a "small" (two hundred plus guest) wedding via two scheduled days off. Wilgoren has chosen to work for the Times in a demanding job. If she's not up to, she's not up to it.

Had my friend pulled a Wilgoren and let her personal life dominate her work time, I'm sure her firm would have pulled her off her cases. Wilgoren writes of how her "Waits for the chronically late candidate turned into Web-search sessions for tuxedo vests, ring-bearer pillows and honeymoon destinations." Excuse me, but isn't that time that could be spent exploring the campaign? "News" isn't just what Kerry said in public (a joke, contractions, etc.) or what he does (wind-surfing). It's about giving the readers a perspective. He's talking about healthcare. Do his remarks reflect the plan he's proposed? Is his proposal workable?

Seems to me that's what the "down time" is for. I mean, I'm glad that Wilgoren reports that other reporters on the campaign trail understood when they heard her on the phone having "arguments about procession order, catering costs and what we are going to do about a last name, they are also a ready-made focus group for all my bridal angst." But I'm not really sure such a confession improves one's view of the working press.

Did no one ever holler, "Hey Wilgoren, pipe down! I'm trying to work here! You know this election is a little more important to the country than your wedding!"

I knew a Wilgoren-like person at one of the jobs I had while in college. It was at a church run day care. And everytime the four-year-olds were napping or out on the playground, she was running off to the phone asking someone to cover her class. The director had to pull her aside and tell her that she was not hired to plan her wedding, she was hired to do a job. Did that reality never cross the minds of the editors at the Times?

This would-be-Wilgoren told the director, "Nothing is happening! They are asleep!" The director responded, "You never know when something's going to happen. That's why you need to be there with your eyes open, paying attention." Great advice for child care, but it seems to me it's good advice for a reporter as well.

Wilgoren confesses:

The hardest part was not picking table cloths (which we did on Oct. 13, on my way to watch the third debate in Iowa with undecided voters) or even losing weight (exercise is scarce in a campaign schedule, but low-carb grazing through the nonstop buffets helped me drop 24 pounds). It was all those nights in all those hotel rooms, crying into the telephone, not about which videographer to hire, but about being apart.

Seems there's one more thing that wasn't the hardest part, doing her job. Look, I'm not a huge fan of celebrity profiles, but while increasing her name and profile by doing them, it was hard to question Barbara Walters' committment to her job. Whether it was a head of state or a movie star, if something came up, the results that aired gave the impression Walters was giving her full attention to that task. Now Wilgoren might not wish to be a pioneer the way Walters has been. It's certainly her right to choose her own path. But is this the attitude one expects from a reporter at one of the most important papers in the nation covering a presidential campaign?

Could no one have pulled her aside and told her they had an opening in soft news? Maybe softened the blow by saying, "And I understand Calvin's got some lovely bridal dresses in the show you'll be reporting on?" I don't get the impression that Christian Parenti would be rushing to the web and using the cell phone from Afghanistan to plan his own wedding while waiting for violence to erput. I don't think Parenti would write, "Or that frustrating August when I was stuck covering an attack on ____ while back home, my bride-to-be was picking out china patterns." I doubt Christiane Amanpour's plotting social events while covering hate crimes in France: "The victim's still not here! Get me my day planner!" Maybe I'm wrong.

But this goes to a level of professionalism in their job. When Parenti's writing or Amanpour's broadcasting, they are informing their readers and viewers of facts, not trivia. So if it turned out that either were addicted to X-box and spent every other moment concentrating on that, who could criticize?

Wilgoren was not showing the level of professionalism that this reader expects. She's not the only one. And possibly her lack of experience on the campaign trail led her to believe that this was the way campaigns should be covered. Or perhaps the Times feels that issues aren't something to be addressed when we can learn of valets or clothing or contractions or some other issue that's not going to pay for you or your child's dental bills or put food on your table or, for that matter, effect America's standing in the court of world opinion.

I stated before that Wilgoren set herself up to be an easy target. And I've stated that this is my theory for one of the reasons her "reporting" was so sloppy. But, at any point, the Times could have stepped in. That they didn't implies that they were happy with the articles she completed.

I'm not. I'm not happy with the lack of serious attention to issues or serious discussions of them in the paper. Someone asked, in a column, if we were electing a Prom King or a president? (I'm sure a reader will advise me on who wrote the column but I'm blanking right now.) That's a question that the press coverage on the campaign begs not only be asked but be answered.

And it's not just Wilgoren, nor is it just the ones covering the Kerry campaign. The reporters (in general) for the mainstream press that covered the Bush campaign didn't do a better job than the ones covering the Kerry campaign. But that's an issue for a right wing blog to cover. We're focusing on the coverage of the Kerry campaign here. (Matt Taibbi covered the press coverage of the campaigns for the New York Press. To read his comments on the Times' Elisabeth Bumiller's coverage of the Bush campaign click here . WARNING: Some language may be objectionable in some work place environments so click at your own risk.)

Barack Obama can speak to Letterman and honestly state that one of Kerry's campaign mistakes was wind surfing. And if he was referring to it because of the way the press covered it, he's entirely right.

I have a friend whose make-it-or-break-it issue is the environment. She cares about other things but if you're not a friend of the environment, you're not someone she's going to cheer for.

And at election time, if you get her vote, it's only because she's decided your opponent is more anti-environment than you are. So in July of this year, right before the convention, I was surprised when she stated she'd like to vote for Kerry but he's not very environmental.

Unlike me, she can still stomach TV news and often watches CNN in addition to one of the big three's evening broadcasts. The environment is her big issue. And she's wishing that she could vote for Kerry but he's not very environmental? She's an intelligent person. She's watching television news to keep up with the issues and what's going on in our world.

But apparently in none of the hours she watched did anyone bother to emphasize that, according to the League of Conservation Voters, Kerry was "one of America's premier environmental leaders." Or that the LCV gave him a "Lifetime Environmental Voting Record" of 96% and that, out of nine of the 16 ratings periods, he scored 100%. Or how about the fact that he helped organize the first Earth Day in 1970?

This wasn't deemed news. Kerry wind surfing was judged to be news. I gave a speech after the election where I stated, "Your media has failed you." And it has. And we're all suffering, as a nation, from media damage.

The false narrative of "red" states tells you that based on "values" the "red" states voted for Bush. As Frank Rich of The New York Times has noted, we're talking about 22% of the voters.

Not a majority, not even a third of voters, identified this as their "issue." The press wants to run with it and we're not apparently going to explore what "values" means (to those who cited it or the rest of the people who voted). But we are going to have superficial discussions on it in the mainstream while acting as though it was the only concern on the mind of voters, this undefined "issue."

To judge what issues mattered in the campaign, perhaps the media should address which issues (and trivia) they chose to embrace? And when judging the Kerry campaign's turnout in states that they didn't even make campaign priorities, we might want to consider the type of "informed" coverage they were left with since their state wasn't deemed a battle ground.

On Ring of Fire (the same episode repeats later today, Sunday, see Part III for the schedule and where the archives for the show can be found), Bobby Kennedy made the point about how you've got people in their cars and what they're hearing, if they're listening to "news," is often AM radio which tilts overwhelmingly to the right. This is a media issue. And when you're dealing with a rural area or a small town area, people are traveling mainly in cars. If they are tuning in to NPR, they are facing the kind of "reporting" that Kyle notes in an e-mail where Cokie Roberts tells Morning Edition listeners that Osama bin Laden's latest tape has him sounding like Michael Moore. She's not explaining what ObL said, Kyle notes, she's giving a pop cultural reference and apparently that's "cool" enough that we shouldn't be bothered by the fact that she's failed to inform us what was on the tape. (Yes, there is Satellite Radio, but, no, a majority of Americans do not have access to it in their homes, let alone in their cars.)

So when someone argues that Kerry or his message or his plan couldn't compete with the "values" they maintain Bush offered, it needs to be noted that most Americans who were trying to follow the campaign were short changed by the media. It is not as though Kerry's health care plan, for instance, got as much attention in the mainstream media as did Dean's "scream" or Kerry's wind surfing. This myth operates under the mistaken assumption that when offered up the details about Kerry's record or his plans, voters said, "You know what, thanks for explaining that to me, but Bush's values just mean more to me than any of that."

That didn't happen. But some reporters and campaign "experts" are trying to tell you that it did. What's in it for the Democratic campaign "experts" who keep putting forth this "red" state-values myth?

There are people who are working seriously on the issue of reframing and have been working on that issue during the campaign. (Buzzflash offers both a book on this and a DVD at for those interested.) These people are interested in how you take what we stand for as a party and translate that into words that are more easily understood. George Lakoff is doing strong work and deserves to be noted for it.

But there's another element that's trying to jump on Lakoff's bandwagon not to take a complex message and put it into simpler terms, but to argue that "reframing" means we need to drop certain stances. For instance, the Democratic party is too identified with pro-choice. Rather than explain that position, we should drop it. Or we're too GLBT friendly and, rather than explain our position, we should drop it.

That's not reframing. That's distorting what Lakoff and others have been working on. And as the e-mailer who's e-mail kicked off this series in "Red" States Part I noted:

Strip away the party base and strip away what the party has stood for and you're next presidential candidate will rightly be dubbed a "flip-flopper."

We'll discuss this more in the next installment but the point of this one was media damage and how this "red" state narrative of "values" is based on the mistaken assumption that voters were presented with the information they needed by the mainstream media to make an informed decision but then chose this undefined term of "values."

[Note: Jack e-mailed me correcting a statement I'd written. The statement has been changed in this post. Former president George H.W. Bush was not on top of another man during the sky diving referred to above (as I had wrongly remembered), he was strapped beneath another man. Jack writes, "There's a world of a difference between a top and a bottom." Thanks for catching that for me, Jack. He provided a link to a web page with the photo, WARNING: I've only looked at the photos, if there's objectionable language on the page that could get you into trouble if you're viewing this on a work computer you are clicking at your own risk. To see the photo click It's the third photo from the top. Also, heads up, the link takes you to a right-wing blog.]

"Red" States Part III

If you heard Ring of Fire tonight on Air America, you have a pretty good idea of some of the other points in this series. During a discussion with Thomas Frank (author of What's the Matter With Kansas?) many points came up. If you weren't able to hear tonight's episode, it will be rebroadcast tomorrow (Sunday).

Online listeners can go to for information on when it will air. (Six p.m. eastern standard time, if that helps.) Should you be unable to listen then and still want to hear it, you can check which archives broadcasts of each show. (Saturday's Ring of Fire is not yet in their archives.)

Did the "red" states "go" to Bush? Yes, they did. Which is an electoral college issue. I'm not going to dwell on this too much because I think we all got an education in the electoral college during November & December of 2000 (like Randi Rhodes, I won't call that period a recount). But the point is we do not directly elect a president in this country.

As a result, "effective" campaigning focuses on swing states that are considered up for grabs. This should worry every voter regardless of whether someone grabbing the crayons is planning on coloring you blue, red or whatever. On the ground reporting via e-mails of election 2004 consistently speak of problems that go beyond whether or not Kerry visited a state or advertised there.

This is what "Red" States Part I's e-mail was referring to regarding party structure. The e-mailer visited various states while working for a 527 and time and again a decaying infrastructure was found. E-mails from "blue" states and "red" states echo this. If you were fortunate enough to live in a swing state, monies were being spent on your local Democratic headquarters. For the rest of the states that weren't considered to be in play, e-mailers consistently complain about either no headquarters in their area, or understaffed headquarters, or headquarters with inadequate campaign materials.

"Effective" campaigning may help with one election but when it's done repeatedly, when "bean counters" are utilizing the party infrastructure work laid down in the past but not putting time into maintaining the infrastructure (or increasing it), it's hurting the party and this needs to be addressed.

Let's say there's Highway X and Highway Z. Highway X is a competative state so each time Congress funds monies for highway repairs, Highway X gets redone. That's great for Highway X and everyone using Highway X but in the meantime Highway Z is falling apart if this pattern continues.

And from the e-mails it appears that non-swing states, "red" or "blue," are turning into Highway Z.

Falling into the "red" states myth lets the DNC skirt this issue. But this is a serious issue the party needs to address.

In the past, we've heard the argument that there wasn't enough money. That the Democratic party didn't have the money to compete with the Republican party. That argument's been used to death for everything from headquarters to the underfunding of College Democrats (College Republicans are invested in by their party).

The issue of college organizations came up mainly with Gen X-ers who e-mailed their recollections of campus days when they were lucky to have the money, for instance, for coffee and sodas at their meetings but College Republicans were doing movies or having speakers address them. (The organizational skill and push behind College Republicans beginning in the eighties is a topic Janeane Garofalo has addressed on The Majority Report. I'd encourage people interested in this topic to ask that the show devote a segment to it. Garofalo's enthusiasm on the subject indicates to me that she'd be receptive to the idea if the listeners were interested in. You can also read David Brock's Blinded by the Right for his own experience on campus as well as his latest book The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy.)

Today's college students who e-mailed were asked about this issue and apparently if you're at a big enough school you usually have a fairly well funded organization. But regardless of big (or "important") campus or small campus, time and again the e-mailers stated it was the 527s who were doing the most work with them.

If it's a money issue, then it's one the DNC needs to be addressing with members of the Democratic party. Not making decisions on their own that are never discussed or commented on with us "average folks." (Also known as voters, contributers and the life-blood of the Democratic party.)

As for the local headquarters, from "red" states I heard repeatedly that the county headquarters were a gathering place where people (especially people over the age of fifty) would drop in for coffee. They'd grab up fact sheets and study them, talk about them. "I felt armed with information," wrote seventy-one-year-old Eli. "I could talk to my grandchildren about these things and say, 'Look, here's what's being proposed.'" This election cycle, Eli had to get online to find out what the Kerry campaign was proposing ("Peter Jennings and Terry Moran didn't seem to want me to know") and whereas before he could sharpen his points by discussing them with others at his local headquarters, this election "I felt like I was just saying, 'Yes, it is!' to their 'No, it isn't!' I wasn't prepared because I didn't have anyone to bounce it off of ahead of time."

In rural counties especially, the county headquarter acted as a public common where Democrats could meet. One woman who was sixty-eight e-mailed that when their headquarters didn't open this election year it "felt like a slap in the face." As a widow of many years with children living in other states, she wrote that she had come to count on that interaction a great deal. "Did they lose my vote?" she asked. "No, but who knows how many walk ins they lost out on? Old, young, we all gathered there, some with minds decided, others looking for reasons to even vote, not just vote for a specific candidate."

These were places to connect and to provide information and the e-mails lamenting the demise of the ones in their area is seventy-five.

This may seem like a small issue but think about how, in many towns and cities, when a factory closes down the people are left out of work. They may not want to go to work for Wal-Mart but that might be the only thing the town has to offer. In terms of social interaction, the Democratic party closed down the factories in many areas. Lifelong Democrats like the woman above and Eli aren't going to sign up with their local Republican chapter but both wondered whether younger people might just for the interaction that's no longer present in their areas?

"Foreman says these jobs are going boys, and they ain't coming back," as Bruce Springsteen sang/wrote in "My Hometown."

What is our party doing?

Maybe they're doing the right thing, maybe they are not. But that's an issue and, when we're lost in talk of "Jesus Land," that's an issue that's not being addressed or even acknowledged. Decisions were made, right or wrong, and we're now in the autoposy stage and these decisions aren't being noted, let alone questioned.

Here's another issue that's not being addressed, the funding of candidates for races, candidates who act as though it's embarrassing to be a Democrat and as such will not admit in advertising that they are a member of the Democratic party.

I had fourteen e-mails complaining about Texan Martin Frost who was running for the U.S. House this year and lost. Due to redistricting, incumbent Congressman Frost found himself competing against Republican incumbent Pete Sessions. This race may have been so well funded because it was two incumbents duking it out.

But the questions the fourteen e-mails asked were questions that deserve answers. If Frost will not use the term "Democrat" in his advertising, if he will not put that term or "Democratic Party" on his yard signs, and if he's running commericals to demonstrate how much closer he is to George W. Bush, why is all that money being poured into his race?

Does the party exist to further one person, or does it exist for the party? Even had Frost won, the questions here would still be valid. As the fourteen noted, when adults in that Congressional district went to vote, the ballot clearly told them which candidate was of which party. So what's the message a campaign like Frost's sends out? That you need to hide in the partisan closet if you're a Democrat? That being a member of the Democratic party is a liability?

Is the goal just to get Frost elected? If so, that short term goal is harmful to the party if the underlying message is "we can't compete if people know we're Democrats." Frost wasn't the only example I received e-mails on. He was, however, the candidate that I received the most e-mails about.

In 1992, I can remember hearing that some candidates for Congress and state wide office were not "comfortable" being linked to the presidential nominee Bill Clinton. And the "solution" utilized was to let them run on their own: Don't make them be linked to Clinton because it could hurt them. I didn't agree with that policy in 1992. But now we're entering an even worse stage -- where some candidates are happy to take the monies but apparently being linked to the party that provides the monies is not something they're willing to do.

If that's the case, I'd argue those candidates need to find a new party. I don't care if it was Ted Kennedy saying, "I can't run as an acknowledged Democrat" (which, granted, Senator Kennedy would never say); if that's the way they're going to run their campaign then they need to collect their own funds for their campaigns from individuals. They do not need Democratic Congressional Committee funds, or DNC funds or anything coming from the Democratic party.

This seems very basic to me. For instance, if you're low on cash and you need me to cover you for lunch, don't then pass me in the hall and act as though you don't me. If your car won't start and you come to me for a jump, don't then walk past my place without nodding to me.

In a campaign politics class many years ago, the professor told a story about a candidate she was a consultant for. He had recevied a large chunk of change from a local group. The head of the group (it was a GBLT group) showed up one day to have her photo taken with the candidate, something the candidate had offered to do. The professor explained, with great drama, how she couldn't allow that to happen and how hard she had to work to prevent a photo being taken of the candidate with "that kind of woman."

The class was outraged and the professor couldn't understand why. Put it off to a generational gap if not homophobia. But we're now at a point where we have candidates who want to run as a Democrat but not "a Democrat like John Kerry" or to run with Democratic money but not to advertise the fact that they are Democrats.

Not opening headquarters in local areas and funding candidates who run for election for themselves but not for the party sends a message.

"Red" States Part III was going to discuss the message in different terms (as indicated in the closing of Part II) but I've been going through the print outs of the e-mails for most of the day and the issues above were important ones that people who e-mailed were very passionate about.

Buried on page A12, Ohio gets the Times attention ... for a paragraph

The New York Times was delivered extra early this morning. (At least an hour and forty-five minutes.) I'll go ahead and address it before going to sleep. (The "Red" States Part II, for all it's typos and "I should have said"s, took over six hours to write. Hold me accountable for anything you feel is wrong but go easy on the typos please.)

What's worthy of note in today's Times? Well on page A12, they're finally talking about Ohio again. For, as was the case on Thursday, a whole paragraph. Is this the kind of attention their public editor Daniel Okrent was expecting?

Here's the paragraph:

OHIO: LAWSUITS OVER PROVISIONAL BALLOTS A watchdog group sued to try to stop Cuyahoga County's election board from rejecting thousands of provisional ballots until they were hand-checked against voter registration cards. The group, People for the American Way, contended that the board wrongly relied only on computerized registration records. Two-thirds of the 24, 472 provisional ballots cast in the county, which includes Cleveland, were found to be valid, but another 8,099 were thrown out, mostly because the people who cast them were not found on the county's computerized records. The group filed the suit in the Eighth District Court of Appeals against Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. The deadline for counties to complete their official counts is Wednesday.

Again, Ohio's voting issues remain of interest only in the National Briefing section. Sandwiched this time between news of Texas's Colorado River rising and forcing people to evacuate and a paragraph on Vandals in Lousisiana gluing the locks on stores "in and near the Mall of Acadiana."
It should also be noted that this item is an Associated Press item. Unlike Thursday, when Albert Salvato filed the story/paragraph, this isn't even an item that the Times felt worthy of assigning to a reporter on staff.

I want to note two other things. The first regards a front page story on this morning's Times (it's also a story they choose to illustrate with the largest photo on the front page) "In Annual Rite, Shoppers Mob Holiday Sales." This is a front page news story on the main section? Perhaps on the business section, but the front page of the paper? Is this "news" in the sense that it was either unexpected or something out of the ordinary? ("In Annual Rite, People Read Stories About Day-After-Thanksgiving-Shopping on the Day After the Day After Thanksgiving" wouldn't be a front page story either but perhaps that's where we're headed?)

Regarding TV news, Bonnie M. Anderson writes in News Flash:

At the same time, though, most newscast producers believe that some stories must be repeated every year. There is no evil intent in this foolishness; it is simply ingrained behavior for many news people, from news directors to producers to reporters. This explains why, every year, every station will air stories about the shopping rush the day after Thanksgiving, stories about the first day of summer (and fall, and winter), the White House Easter egg hunt and the pardon of the Thanksgiving turkey, and the pope's blessing in many languages at the end of the year. These stories are covered because they are there -- and because, quite often, producers believe there is nothing else going on that merits coverage. In the news biz, that's called "filler." And all too often, it's just stupid (pp. 105-106).

Anderson's point can be applied to print journalism as well.

The second point I want to make is that the group mentioned in the Ohio paragraph in the Times, People for the American Way, are holding an online celebrity auction begining Sunday, November 27th. Scroll down to the blog entry "PFAW Online Auction: Pearl Jam, Jane Fonda, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Noam Chomsky, Diana Ross, Gore Vidal, Madonna, REM, Prince, Drew Bledsoe, etc." Sorry to list the title in full but there were complaints as to whom made the blog title and whom didn't. To avoid complaints saying, "How could you stop the title before you got to Diana Ross" or Gore Vidal or whomever, I've listed the entire thing. And as for making the title, to those who wondered but didn't e-mail, I pulled at random hoping to represent a cross section. The names listed in the entry itself is not a complete listing either. So you should go to the web site to see if there's someone you like that I failed to mention .

For instance, if you're a Josh Grobin or Korn fan, there are items in the auction. I'd attempted to copy the page itself so that I could paste it into the entry but it wouldn't copy. This led to me pulling names as I flipped back and forth between screens and the names listed were often the ones I could most easily remember.

But if you're an Aimee Mann fan (and I am) don't e-mail me after the auction saying that you would have gone there if you'd only known that an Aimee Mann item was available. There are many people on the list (including Aimee Mann) and PFAW is saying that more items will be added. So please, if you have the time, check out the items listed.

Friday, November 26, 2004

"Red" States Part II

Five people e-mailed to say the "red" states went for Bush so what's the big deal? This series isn't about whether the count is accurate (Randi Rhodes has serious questions about the Florida count which she's addressing on her Air America Radio show and often links to articles on this subject, and others, on the show's blog
Nor is about the serious issues that Bev Harris ( is raising.

Those and other issues are very important ones. What the "Red" states series is attempting to address is a generalization that is resulting in many people feeling they are being personally attacked and how this stereotype is not going to help anyone but the RNC.

"Red" States Part I contained an e-mail that really captured the problems the stereotype is causing. I'm guessing that having read all the e-mails that have been coming in on this subject I didn't properly set up what was going on. The five readers who e-mailed today were confused as to what the issue was. So let me do the set up that I should have done in part one instead of assuming that everyone would get the points the e-mailer was making or why the e-mailer even wrote the e-mail in the first place.

After any election, there's an autopsy in the popular press of what went wrong. (There's no serious exploration of what went right for the winning side. Those on the winning side can make a comment and no matter how outrageous, the press runs with it with little or no questioning.)

We're now performing the autoposy on the presidential election of 2004. You have people rushing to offer their theories of where the Kerry campaign failed and people attempting to cover their own rears by shifting the blame. The e-mail I posted in Part I dealt with the 'cover their own rears' aspect and hopefully the NY Times story referred to in that e-mail will be discussed later in this series.

But we're seeing the usual "Guns, gays and God" talk of why Kerry lost. This will be addressed but added to that (and the reason for the series) is this hatred (that's the only word I can think of for some of the remarks I've heard and that have been sent on to me) that's being focused on the "red" states. Not on the people who in the "red" states voted for Bush, but on everyone who lives there.

If you've missed some of the remarks or articles about how the "blue" states should secede from the "red" states (some go on to suggest that the "blue" states then join Canada), you've missed part of the dialogue that's going on now. With e-mailers, I've referred to these statements as "jokes" which isn't an attempt to excuse them but I have a hard time believing anyone saying or writing secede comments is serious. I may be wrong. Some of those people may seriously think that's an option. If so, they've got more problems than than telling bad "jokes." I can't imagine this "option" being something that the adminstration would go along with or, for that matter, that Canada would. (I could be wrong.)

There's a web site that I'm going to offend some of the e-mailers by linking to. Before I link, this is not an endorsement of this web site. And WARNING this web site contains curse words. The title gives that away "F--- the south." It's listed under "political humor." So I will assume the author intends it to be humor. Okay, I'm not going to link to it. Because the only way I know how to do a link is to copy the web address and paste it in here and "f" is in the address. Again, I don't want anyone who reads this site at work to risk getting into trouble for viewing "objectionable" language in the workplace. (Which is what the friend I spoke of in an earlier post was written up for.) You can find it by typing the "f" word in full and "the south" into a search engine. Again, this will take you to a word that may or may not get you in trouble for viewing online (depending on your work guidelines) so consider yourself warned.

Here's an excerpt (and "___" indicates a swear word has been removed):

____ the South. ____ 'em. We should have let them go when they wanted to leave. But no, we had to kill half a million people so they'd stay part of our special Union. Fighting for the right to keep slaves - yeah, those are states we want to keep.
We should have let them go when they wanted to leave. But no, we had to kill half a million people so they'd stay part of our special Union. Fighting for the right to keep slaves - yeah, those are states we want to keep. And now what do we get? We're the ____ing Arrogant Northeast Liberal Elite? How about this for arrogant: the South is the Real America? The Authentic America. Really? Cause we ____ing founded this country, ___holes. [. . . .]
Get the ____ out. [. . . .] Who do you think those ____ing stripes on the flag are for? Nine are for ____ing blue states. And it would be 10 if those Vermonters had gotten their ___ing Subarus together and broken off from New York a little earlier. Get it? We started this ___, so don't get all uppity about how real you are you Johnny-come-lately "Oooooh I've been a state for almost a hundred years" _____. ____ off.

Again, this is meant as political humor.

And it's been very popular on the web.

Some people who've mentioned it in e-mails (and most e-mails mention it) feel that it's not only stereotyping the south but it's also anti-immigrant and, as Tonya wrote, "overlooks that slavery didn't come along with the addition of the south to the colonies and, this really gets me mad, overlooks what was done to Native Americans to 'found' this country in the first place." Roberto in California notes that he's originally from Honduras and when he reads ___ the South he feels that it "has an anti-immigration tone with comments about get out and who started the country." ZP from Georgia notes that a print out of ___ the south was placed on his desk by "a smug woman who's lived in Georgia for over a decade but thinks she's exempt because she was born in New Jersey!"

___ the south isn't the end of it. Similar statements have led to RS no longer listening to Air America "and I love it but I'm just so sick of being slammed." Lucinda says she'll only listen to Randi Rhodes because "Randi gets it, she really gets it, maybe because she's lived all over the United States, but she gets it, she knows that we're not all Bush lovers, she knows that some of us down here are working really hard . . ." Trey offers a similar reason for listening only to Mike Malloy's Air America show. Diana in Denver says, "I thought it was safe to listen again cause it was the weekend and then I get bummed out while listening to Marty [Kaplin host of So What Else Is News?] and all I can think as I stop [W]indows [M]edia [P]layer is, 'Et tu, Marty, et tu?'" Another writes, "As a loud and proud lesbian I listen to Rachel [Maddow, co-host of Unfiltered on Air America] and am thankful that we have representation but when she starts repeating this nonsense it's like 'Hey sister gal, you're attacking one of your own right here.' you know?" Troi writes, "Laura Flanders is real left. The shows' da bomb. But I'm spitting out my soda when this dude from the New York Times is just running off at da mouth bout how I'm living in Jesusland and bout what I believe in and what I stand for. Dude don't got a clue. And no one's going put up or shut up he just keeps spewing." Meshelle writes, "I'm done with them [Air America]. Really. Janeane [Garofalo, co-host of The Majority Report] is always going on about how Log Cabin Republicans shouldn't be in the Republican party because their party hates them. Well this Air America listener in the south is sick of being hated. And Archie Bunker didn't go to church! And if Air America wanted to make things better in the south, why didn't they get some stations down here!"

I received no e-mail regarding Ring of Fire, The Al Frankin Show, Eco-Talk, The Kyle Jason Show, The Revolution Starts Now or Morning Sedition. Either those listners aren't visiting this page or those listeners felt there was nothing to write about (good or bad) regarding comments on the "red" states. In addition, some listed local radio shows. Air America comments are noted above because they have an archive and I listen to most Air America shows. (Eco-Talk is one I want to check out but it's on so early Sunday and there's never time for me.)

[I'll also note that The Al Franken Show broadcast from Arkansas during the ceremonies for the Clinton library.]

The Laura Flanders Show had a guest on who was with The New Yorker (not the New York Times) and is the magazine's cartoon editor. It should be noted that as this episode progressed Laura Flanders did read, on air, an e-mail from a listener namded Martha who objected to what she saw as stereotyping by the New Yorker cartoonist. (Martha identified herself as an African-American living in the south and stated she was used to being stereotyped but now she was being stereotyped two times over.) Flanders and the other guest (Todd Hanson from The Onion) did address this issue. (And Hanson stated that he was bringing up similar points as they were going to a commerical break.) I'll also note that both of the guests were humorists and this wasn't an attempt on Flanders part at seriously addressing an issue but a look at the humor that was coming out of the recent election.

As for The Majority Report, Janeane Garofalo usually clarifies that she's not speaking of everyone living in the "red" states but of the "Archie Bunker types" during an episode. There was no reference to a specific episode so I wasn't able to go to the archived shows and listen to what Meshelle had heard. (And e-mails to her at present are answered with an "on vacation" automated reply.) I do listen to The Majority Report most of the time and there are segments where Garofalo doesn't specifically state "I'm referring to the Archie Bunker types only" but she's usually said that at one point during the show. It should also be noted that Garofalo is improvising off the top of her head and were this a scripted show, she'd probably make that point more often. Meaning, when we're talking (or in my case blogging) we often assume that everyone knows exactly what we mean. (That wasn't the case for the five e-mailers who were scratching their heads and wondering why I was beginning a series on the "red" states. Hopefully this clears that up for them.)

With regard to Marty Kaplan, one person I've been corresponding with had actually e-mailed Kaplan about this and he wrote back. Kaplin's e-mail was forwarded to me, not sent to me, so I won't quote it. But I do think it's fair to note that Kaplan wrote a sincere note explaining that he hadn't meant to offend and that he had been "short handing" to make a larger point, not to hurt anyone. (He also stated that he'd be more precise in the future thanks to the heads up.)

I'm currently listening to the archived broadcast of Unfiltered so I'll comment on it (if it needs additional commenting) at another point. (I've also e-mailed the author of ____ the South to see if he would like to add anything.)

As for the issue of Air America stations in the south, it should be noted that it hasn't even reached it's one year mark. In addition the following southern stations (according to their web site) feature Air America programming:

Phoenix, AZ - KXXT 1010 AM
Riverside, CA - KCAA 1050 AM
Sacramento, CA - KSQR 1240 AM
Santa Barbara, CA - KTLK 1340 AM
San Diego, CA - 1360 AM KLSD
San Luis Obisbo, CA - 1340 AM KYNS
San Francisco, CA - 960 AM KQKE
Albuquerque, NM - KABQ 1350 AM
Santa Fe, NM - KTRC 1260 AM
Asheville, NC - WPEK 880 AM
Atlanta, GA - WWAA 1690 AM
Chapel Hill, NC - WCHL 1360 AM
Key West, FL - WKIZ 1500 AM
Miami, FL - WINZ 940 AM
West Palm Beach, FL - WJNO 1290 AM
Santa Fe, NM - KTRC 1260 AM

If I've missed listing a southern state, please blame it on my sense of geography and post a reply or e-mail me. (The above was a southern state listing, not a "red" state listing which would require dropping off California, which went to Kerry, and including, for instance, Anchorage, AK - KUDO 1080 AM since Alaska was a "red" state in the 2004 election.)

This is not meant to "rescue" (in the sense the term is used in the recovery movement) Air America or ____ the South, but I will state again that my understanding is that people were attempting to be funny not hurtful. (There was a complaint regarding The Daily Show but I can't find the segment online so I'm leaving it out. Not being able to hear the local broadcasts some e-mailers were complaining about is the reason I'm leaving them unlisted.)

That said, there's another issue at play here. It's as important to me as the people who are being hurt by these attempts at humor and it was referenced in the e-mail that was posted in "Red" States Part I. The humor, whether you think it's funny or not, is leading to some people in south and some people with families and friends in the south being hurt. The e-mails to this site demonstrate that over and over. But there are other people who are using or may use this stereotype as well and they're not trying to be funny (and, I'd argue, most know better).

I'm not talking about the person at your office who repeats it as a joke or someone tacking it up on the bulletin board. I'm referring to people who should be taking responsibilty for the results of the election and are not doing it. Instead, they are using the stereotype as an excuse to say the Democratic Party needs to move to the right. (Or, as some e-mailers note, further to the right.) I'll address that in Part III of this series.

But I want to close on Air America because some people are stating that they will no longer listen to it while adding that they wish they could. Those people are going to have to make their own choices. But I doubt everyone who reads this site agrees with all of it. I know I love The Daily Howler ( but I don't always agree 100% with everything Bob Somerby writes. I can understand what he's saying but I might disagree on a point here or there.

Short of cloning, no one's going to agree 100% with someone 100% of the time. (That's not an endorsement of cloning!) We should be able to disagree and still continue the dialogue. (That's absolutely not an endorsement of the Democratic Party moving right!) There are three people who've e-mailed this site that they agree with everything on this site but that I shouldn't link to Democracy Now! and added their thoughts on Amy Goodman. Regarding agreeing with everything on this site, I'm not sure even I do -- I'm thinking it up as I type even when I'm pulling from the NY Times/CBS News poll or the e-mails for this blog entry or whatever. And I usually don't know where I'm going with even a sentence until I've typed the period to it.

As for Democracy Now!, I think it's a great source. I'm sure that Amy Goodman is not as left as the e-mailers and I can respect their feelings on that. But she is of the left and probably more left than I am. But the point is we tend to be looking for heroes and finding people. When that happens, instead of saying, "Well we all make mistakes, but _____ is useful to me because s/he provides me with ____" we want to turn them off or stop reading them or whatever.

Now let me be clear, this Nation subscriber wasn't pleased that Christopher Hitchens was brought back to the magazine for one column recently to weigh in on the election. Both because of Hitchens' writings in the last few years and also because the space he took up could have been (my opinion) better utilized by presenting someone else's voice.

But I'm not going to stop reading the Nation because of that. I find so much that I enjoy in each issue. And I'm probably close to hero-izing Naomi Klein which I know I shouldn't do. But what I can do, what we can all do, is take from the sources that are working towards the larger issues we are all attempting to work on. If something or someone has ticked you off so much that they are no longer of use, by all means give up on that person or publication or whatever.

And there is nothing "hateful" about holding people or organizations accountable for their own actions. Whether it's the New York Times or those who those who understand the policies of the Bush administration and support those policies. Or in expecting that someone who is a reporter (or an ombudsman or the host of a program or an elected official, etc.) lives up to their responsibilties.

I fully understand the hurt that comes through in so many e-mails on this "red" state issue. If that's a breaking point for you, then you need to act on it. I know I have breaking points (anyone saying the Democratic party needs to stop being pro-choice is going to lose my ear).

But if it's a disagreement that's not a breaking point for you, if it's something that you can leave on the plate and just not eat it but still sit down, continue joining the table. Register your objection, if you feel comfortable doing so, and stay for the meal because I think we all really need to be talking to each other right now.

I'm not suggesting that out of some need for common ground we should move to the right. (Believe me, I'm not suggesting that.) But I am saying that we came together in large numbers this November. Kerry's turnout was a record turnout. If the vote count is correct, it wasn't enough to gain him the White House. That doesn't, however, change the fact that he received the second largest amount of votes ever in a presidential election.

I don't think that turnout resulted from top-down actions on the part of the Democratic Party. I think people outside the party structure (which includes radio hosts from Air America, and the people who put out The Nation or In These Times or other magazines as well as average everyday people like you and me) made the difference. And I'm not going to write off or hate anyone who voted for Ralph Nadar or Peter Camejo or, for that matter, the almost forty percent plus of eligible voters who didn't vote.

I also don't think that we should be so quick to write off all the people who voted for Bush. We'll get into that in Part III so please wait for that part before e-mailing me "Why are you suggesting we move to the right?" I'm not suggesting that at all. I am referring to a problem we have with getting out the message and, as a result of that problem, losing voters that might have indeed agreed with our positions but didn't know it or didn't realize it for various reasons.

New York Times silent on Ohio, NO follow up to single paragraph that ran yesterday

Yesterday, a national briefing on the midwest contains a whopping paragraph on an Ohio judge's ruling on the prospect of a state wide recount (see blog entry "Worthy Front Page Coverage for the Times on Thanksgiving Day"), today not a word. Daniel Okrent (Times' public editor) may feel that when the Times has 'concrete' information, they'll address the story but thus far that's not the case. If they're planning on addressing the story in tomorrow's print edition, they've yet to post such a story online.

Okrent wrote on the issue of Ohio's voting in this election:

And more, I expect, will be explored and explained in future articles if meaningful allegations can indeed be established as facts. Both Matthew Purdy, the head of The Times’s investigative unit, and Rick Berke, the paper’s Washington editor, assure me that reporters will continue to look into the issue. I’m confident that if they find something, they’ll publish it. A good investigative reporter (much less a whole staff of them) turning away from a story like this one — if true — would be like a flower turning away from the sun. Careers are made by stories that detail massive election fraud.

More will be explored when? Careers will be made when? A judge ruled a statewide recount, denying "a bid" by the "Libertarian and Green Parties." Whether the Times staff has evidence of any voting irregularities (and if they don't, here's a news tip: check with your editorial board who wrote a strong editorial on this issue), they now have a court ruling to report on and thus far they've ignored it. A paragraph on a judge's ruling re: a statewide recount that could effect the electoral college vote for the presidency of the United States doesn't strike this Times reader as appropriate coverage. Unlike Okrent, I'm not "confident" that the Times will "continue to look into this issue" based on the reporting thus far.

That's it for my Times comments today because I think this was a gross failure and that it refutes the stated beliefs of Okrent in his weblog.

If you'd like to ask Okrent if he still maintains his optimistic outlook, you can e-mail him at and feel free to ask executive editor Bill Keller ( if the next editions of the Times will cover the judge's ruling of if that single paragraph is "all the news that's fit to print"
as Paul R. Lehto wondered in his Buzzflash Reader Contribution ( entitled "New York Times: 'All the News that's Fit to Print' or 'All the News that's Already Proven'?"

You might also want to ask either or both what purpose the paragraph served since until that one paragraph, the Times has been silent on the Ohio recount efforts. A reader who depended on the Times for his/her information might find the paragraph puzzling -- "A judge ruled on an Ohio recount? I haven't heard about that? What's going on?" A real story dealing with the judge's ruling could have explained what a paragraph, due to space limitations, couldn't.

"Red" States Part I

We're still having a dialogue regarding "red" states v. "blue" states in the media. (The Times touched on it again with Bill Carter's Monday front page piece on what people are watching on TV.)

This issue is the one I've gotten the most e-mail on. It started coming in after the "Bring the Boys [and Girls] Back Home" blog entry and it's continued non-stop. (The topic I've gotten the most e-mail on remains the NY Times/CBS News poll.)

I think it's a serious issue and one we need to pay attention to. And there are a lot of people in the south or with family in the south who are getting offended or hurt by the comments which sometimes pass themselves off as "jokes."

A lot of people have sent in hard data. Many more have sent in personal experiences. I've spent the better part of three hours attempting (yet again) to weave this into something coherent for a first entry on this subject. (This won't be a one entry blog.)

It's just not coming together. (Which is my fault.)

But we need to be thinking about this, all of us, "red" states resident or "blue" state resident or people interested in the politics here in the U.S. but that live elsewhere.

I read these e-mails on this subject that I've printed up and I come across phrases like "it's tearing me up"; "it's breaking my heart"; "how can people be so ugly"; etc. People are very upfront about the hurt they're feeling because they voted for Kerry and live in a "red" state or their friends or family live in a "red" state. And trying to do justice to the wealth of facts, emotions, histories and experiences these people are kind enough to share is frankly overwhelming me.

So I've decided to start with an e-mail. It has been edited (with permission) . It's been circulated to some people online so you may have already read it. But I think it brings up some important points and I think it will make a strong starting point for this series (or intended series). I'm going to swipe from Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler and title this series of entries as well as give them "Part" numbers so that it will be easier for people who choose to read previous entries on this subject to find them.

I also want to note and thank Natalie who early on shared her own feelings on this via e-mail and then went on to contact other people about sharing their stories. I apologize that this is starting so late but you know from the e-mails that you forwarded how many people have been hurt and upset.

I'm starting with the e-mail below not because I think it's better or more important than the others but because I think it touches on a large number of issues in a very concise manner. It also starts off with a mention of Kent Conrad and as KT pointed out, "You sure seem to push Senator Conrad on this blog!" [see note at end of this blog entry] :

Confronting a Republican senator on the NewsHour in 2003, Kent Conrad noted that just because you repeat something six times doesn't make it true. Yet here we are on the left endorsing spin, supporting it, spreading it. Was it only a few months ago that David Brooks' Great BoBo divide was being debunked?

Stereotypes and hate speech pass for entertaining fact and we're all nodding along about "blue" state versus "red" state while the hot meta-narrative is that the "red" states are a "Jesus Land" that can't currently be won.

While it's true that the south as a whole was written off by the Kerry-Edwards campaign (as were those states not considered "swing states"), that's not being touched on. Looking at Nov. 2nd's results, we were shocked, SHOCKED, that states that weren't on the campaign trail and didn't benefit from advertising buys didn't vote Kerry-Edwards.

If the Democratic party wanted to deliver southern states, they should have competed there. Not just in terms of the candidates visiting and advertising, but in terms of the structure. Example: A friend calls long distance wanting to know where to go to pick up some Kerry yard signs. I tell her she's just got to drive six miles to her county seat, go to the town square, and she'll see the county headquarters for the party. She does get the signs. But not there. There's no "there" there now. Turns out they closed it down. Instead, she's had to drive over an hour and a half, leaving her county, traveling through another before arriving at a third county which happens to have the closest Democratic party headquarters in her area now. This is October 2004, a month before the election. We have a problem.

The party structure in the south has gone so underfunded that voting straight ticket still requires deciding whom to vote for in many county and municipal races because there's no Democratic candidate on the ballot. We have a problem.

National Democratic organizations pour funds into Congressional campaigns in the south for candidates who won't allow the word "Democrat" to appear on their yard signs or in their advertising. (And many incumbents run on how closely they vote with Bush.) We have a problem.

The party structure in the south has gone underfunded and been allowed to wither to the point that the top of the ticket isn't campaigning there, Congressional candidates are ducking into the closet to avoid being "outed" as Democrats and we can't even fill all the races and the problem is solely southern voters? The voters have failed but not the party?

I'm sure the DNC appreciates that "logic" and I'm sure those pushing for the party to veer right are lapping it up. The DNC doesn't have to examine strategic failures if the turnout is the result of "Jesus Land." Those wanting the party to turn a hard right are of course loving it because it perpetuates the spin that "values" cost the election and that those pesky grass roots are just too darn liberal for the nation. I mean, if "Jesus Land" and "red" states are the real issues (and why would the press ever not give us the real issues?) the answer must be to distance ourselves from abortion rights, from gays and lesbians, people of color, etc. The answer is clear, after all. Or as one talking head who refused to answer if he wasn't saying that the party needed to go right responded, "I don't want to talk about left or right, I want to talk about making the party better." Better for whom?

Strip away the party base and strip away what the party has stood for and you're next presidential candidate will rightly be dubbed a "flip-flopper."

The media is a problem. They've focused on contractions and clothes and assorted other "issues" while never informing us what the campaigns were offering. So if some want to suggest that we learn how to craft our message better to convey what we stand for, great.

It's an action plan. But abandoning our message or hiding what we believe in isn't. Reframing is to be applauded, reinventing isn't. And anyone who remembers the "triangulation" that derived from "reinventing government" should be very concerned that people who never gave a thought to reframing until after the election day are now trying to co-opt the term and use it to insist that we abandon certain beliefs.

Bean counters get a lot of credit. They come along and think up a slogan like "It's the economy, stupid" and suddenly they delivered all the votes! Not quite. 1992 wasn't just about "It's the economy, stupid." That helped gain some swing voters (and mollified Wall Street) but 1992 was about firing the base up. The vision spoken of, the issues supported started the momentum going. A group of advisors to the Kerry campaign told the New York Times (post-election) about the various missteps "Kerry" committed re: messages from the campaign -- things that "Kerry" didn't do, lines that "Kerry" didn't clearly draw. But, oops, aren't these same advisors the ones who were responsible for crafting the message from the campaign?

In a campaign that never made the Court a serious issue or discussed the implications of appointments on Roe v. Wade, it's interesting that now we're being told abortion rights cost us the election. Or that a candidate who states that same-sex marriage is an issue that should be left up to the states is now judged as too "gay friendly" for the "red" states. How about the one that it was too "far left" to want to end the war -- even though our candidate never spoke of anything more than ending it in four years?

All of these "way out there" positions and many more supposedly meant we didn't have "values" and as such lost the south. The term for this tactic is "revision." It's certainly not reality.

And with an eye towards 2006 and 2008, we'd do well to evaluate reality. The first step that's going to determine where our party's headed and the next head of the DNC will play a role in that. Howard Dean noted numerous times that if you want to be competitive in the south, you have to COMPETE there. That's his strategy for all the states: communicate and compete. Maybe he doesn't want to be head of the DNC, but of the names being tossed around, there's no one I can think of who better gets the reality of what we're up against. Look at the raw data and you'll see that though the south's been left to wither, northern states aren't doing a lot better. Bean counters have been able to come along and "build" victories on the work done grassroots and party structure builders of the past. But there's been no infusion going on to maintain or rebuild the structure. This is an issue Howard Dean would address.

We can turn the party over to bean counters who'll decide which stance will win the most votes with the least work and, who knows, maybe win some elections in the short term right away. Or we can realize that there's some serious work that needs to be done and that it will take serious attention. That means relying on reality, not myths. That will mean competing not saying, "Well there's no real chance of a win there." That will mean not assuming Hawaii is a lock for the party until the week before the election and then going into a panic lining up surrogates to visit the state.

Grassroots organizations and grassroots individuals did their part in 2004. They did it with very little help from the DNC. We can get lost in the cycle of "values" and the maze of "red" states or we can be realistic and look at what actually went on. This summer, Rolling Stone interviewed a Democratic surrogate and a Republican surrogate. One spoke of the importance of the youth vote? Want to guess which one? It wasn't the Democratic surrogate, he was too busy telling readers that young people didn't vote and how he'd rather focus on retired voters. Maybe he assumed he was speaking to the AARP? But the problem is some mythical "red" state vs. "blue" state "values" narrative?

Repeating this nonsense about the south is counterproductive. For all the cathartic release it may give you in the short term, you can be sure Karl Rove or Karen Hughes have already noted it and are already prepping the "The Democrats Hate Southern People" message.

We need to quit playing into their hands and we need to stop stereotyping. Most of all, we need to seriously address the shortcomings of this presidential campaign. ABC's reporting that the vote for the next DNC head will be in February. If we're still stuck endorsing spin, we're not going to be prepared for it and we'll be spending four more years asking why Democrats are trying to "out Republican" the Republicans. There are serious issues regarding rebuilding party structure that we need to address. It might not provide the easy laughs of stereotyping, but it's the way to ensure future wins.


Note: Pushing Senator Conrad on this blog? If so, that's largely because this blog started on a Friday and by the next Saturday, Conrad was speaking out against the provision in the budget bill that would allow elected reps (and their staff) to peak into personal tax returns. Senator Conrad is a moderate Democrat so it's unlikely he would become this site's patron saint. But if a candle is lit to him here it's because in the last two years he showed more willingness to speak out than many of the other Democrat Senators. Senators Byrd and Kennedy have spoken out. They're the party elders and their outspoken natures are appreciated. Senator Barbara Boxer is another example of a strong senator -- someone who's not going to go on TV and say, "You're right! Why does my party do that? I'm so embarrassed and ashamed to be a Democrat! Can I come to a Republican mixer?"

There are other Democrats in the Senate who are doing their part and feel free to e-mail your choices at or to post your choices in the posting section.

When Conrad first started speaking out, I was honestly surprised because it didn't seem to fit the impression I had formed of him based on his previous televised moments. His new attitude on camera comes off as genuine. And anyone who says "That's a lie!" to a lie is someone this site will gladly note. Prior to this new attitude, he always struck me as the type who was constantly attempting to find common ground and work from there -- the nice, upstanding high school senior serving on the student council whose good manners and temperment meant he had to swallow a lot of ____ daily and did so with quiet reserve and a gentle smile. But something's lit a fire in him lately and for that he deserves applause.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Worthy Front Page coverage for the Times on Thanksgiving Day

The New York Times today (Thursday, November 25, 2004) featured six stories worthy of the front page: "Iranians Retain Plutonium Plan In Nuclear Deal" by William J. Broad & Elaine Sciolino; "Violence Taints Religion's Solace for China's Poor" by Joseph Kahn; "2 Top Officials Are Reported to Quit C.I.A." by Douglas Jehl; "Ukraine Premier Is Named Winner; U.S. Assails Move" by C.J. Chivers; "After 4 Hurricans, Trailers and Homelessness" by Abby Goodnough; and "Turkey Is Basic, but Immigrants Add Their Homeland Touches" by Kim Severson.

Had the Thanksgiving day crowd here today so I was able to get input on today's issue throughout the day. The only one that others questioned (was it worthy for the front page) was "Turkey Is Basic, but Immigrants Add Their Homeland Touches." I disagree for a number of reasons. Chief among them, today was Thanksgiving. But there's also the fact that Severson is attempting to deal with a cross section of people. Which is what the Nagourney & Elder piece on the NY Times/CBS News poll earlier this week attempted to do.

Severson's dealing with a smaller group. But she's dealing with them. The impression is that she spoke to these people (from various locations in the United States). This isn't a story about research conducted by others. This isn't a story about the 'wonderful' work that the Times & CBS News has done. Severson appears to have done her own research and used turkey and Thanksgiving as a road into discussions on identity and meaning.

Given the choice between Robert N. Bellah, et al's Habits of the Heart or reporters combing through the polling statistics done by their own paper (regardless of whether the poll itslef is questionable -- as I felt the one Nagourney & Elder wrote about was -- or whether the conclusions the reporters come to are questionable -- as I felt Nagourney & Elder's were) I'll always prefer Habits of the Heart.

No, Severson can't say "I spoke to 885 people." But in reality, neither can Nagourney & Elder. Severson can say that she had the opportunity to speak to people, ask them questions, hear their responses and clarify any confusion on her or their part. I have no idea how "random" her research was. For all I know, she only called numbers which she already had in her roladex or sent out e-mails to people already in her address book. But this isn't being presented as "THIS IS WHAT AMERICANS THINK AND BELIEVE." This is presented as a modest exploration.

Are there other stories within the paper that I think would have also been worthy of the front page? Yes. First of all John Burns returns with an article. Something for which I was thankful for. "Tape Condemns Sunni Muslim Clerics for Abandoning Iraqi Resistance" appears on page A14 ( and provides the solid coverage that a no-frills, old school journalist like Burns can provide. There's no "I" in the reporting, no first person, "this reporter" injecting him or herself into an event he or she should be covering (and whose presence really isn't the point of the story). (I have no general problem with "this reporter" appearing in print if there's a reason for it. If the reporter wants to make a judgement call, I'd prefer that s/he use "this reporter" instead of attributing the conclusion to conventional wisdom. But when it's used apparently to interject the reporter into the events -- "Look who I have access to!!!!" or "Look how brave I am!!! Not many people would be here!!!!!" -- I do question it being used in reporting because it strikes me as self-indulgent and it detracts from the what the focus of the story should be.)

I've provided a link to Burns' story (and note that Richard A. Oppel Jr. assisted from Mosul) but I'm not going to summarize it due to being so far behind tonight. It is worth reading and the information it contains (and the level of reporting) is worthy of the front page.

I also want to focus on page A25, specifically "National Briefing." This is the only thing that caused me to groan in the paper today. (Not that I agreed with every point in every article. I didn't. But I truly wasn't expecting a strong paper today. Page for page, the main section today was the strongest reporting overall that the Times has done thus far this year in my opinion.)

The groan occurred over a paragraph in the "National Briefing" under the MIDWEST heading:

OHIO: JUDGE REJECTS RECOUNT BID A federal judge in Toledo rejected a bid by third-party candidates for a recount of presidential ballots in Ohio before the state certifies final Election Day results. The judge, James G. Carr, ruled on Tuesday that the state must be given until Dec. 6 to complete its official count before any new recount begins. State elections officials have been checking the vote and sorting out which of hundreds of thousands of provisional ballots to count. Representatives of the Libertarian and Green Parties argued that a delay for a second recount would not leave enough time to tally the votes before the Ohio Electoral College meets in mid-December. President Bush won the state by an estimated 136,000 votes. Albert Salvato (NYT)

A ruling on a state wide recount in Ohio, a recount of a presidential election, gets a mere paragraph? The Times has mocked this issue in its reporting. (Although on the editorial side, they ran an editorial noting many of the problems with election 2004.) In a snide front page article, Tom Zeller dismissed any concerns and went for the "tin foil hat" nonsense. (Is a writer on the front page supposed to be use a mocking tone?)

But the Times public editor Daniel Okrent commented on the issue in an online blog entry

Now, though, my mailbox has begun to overflow with criticisms of The Times for not looking more deeply into allegations of large-scale vote fraud in Ohio and Florida, a story (if true) that no one can ignore. . . . [Summary of the section I'm skipping: Feels no evidence has emerged -- aren't reporters supposed to dig for evidence? -- and that since the Kerry campaign isn't questioning it, apparently the reporters shouldn't be. He then cites Zeller's article -- apparently reporting he feels the Times should be proud of.]
And more, I expect, will be explored and explained in future articles if meaningful allegations can indeed be established as facts. Both Matthew Purdy, the head of The Times’s investigative unit, and Rick Berke, the paper’s Washington editor, assure me that reporters will continue to look into the issue. I’m confident that if they find something, they’ll publish it. A good investigative reporter (much less a whole staff of them) turning away from a story like this one — if true — would be like a flower turning away from the sun. Careers are made by stories that detail massive election fraud.

More would be explored? Exactly when? Seems to me a judge's ruling on a statewide recount of a presidential election is news. And it's news that requires more than a token paragraph in "National Briefing" sandwiched between a Wal-Mart heiress who may have cheated her way through college and a plane that crashed en route to picking up George H.W. Bush. I'm sorry, Mr. Okrent, I'm not confident now that if something is found, the Times will address it in a serious manner if this one paragraph on the Ohio decision is all the attention the Times intends to give the ruling.

A search of Judge James G. Carr turns up no story online (it's after midnight in NYC so Friday's edition is already up online) for November 26th. I doubt the print edition will contain anything. Now today was a holiday and possibly Saturday or Sunday will include an article that gives serious attention to this legal ruling and what it means. Or possibly Dexter Filkin can write a six day after the fact front page article on the ruling? (See blog entry "It's Just Another Day, Another Episode.")

But if this is to be all that the Times intends to say on the subject via reporting, then Okrent might want to reconsider his faith that any developments on the topic will be covered by the Times.

Paul R. Lehto comments on issues regarding the election and Okrent's online blog entry quoted above in this Buzzflash Reader Contribution ( entitled "New York Times: 'All the News that's Fit to Print' or 'All the News that's Already Proven'?"

I want to add that I'm going to leave the comments open because there were some comments being posted. I didn't realize that until an e-mailer notified me. Two people have felt comfortable posting so I'll leave it open. If you read down to the "When NPR Fails You Who You Gonna' Call, Not the Ombudsman" you'll find a comment by jnagarya.

I want to note first (and I'll try to do an update to the NPR post to include this in the post) that jnagarya has provided a toll free number for the ombudsman: 1-800-433-1277.

jnagarya also speaks of problems with NPR's WBUR in Boston and I'd recommend that you read his post. I'm curious as to whether any other NPR listeners have attempted to contact their local station and, if so, what the response was? If you live in the Boston area, I'd encourage to you to ask WBUR about the issues jnagarya is raising. You can find a contact form to use for contacting WBUR at

Finally, to note my own ignorance: It turns out that Sarah posted on "Here Comes the Madmen" and apparently posted on the day of that entry. So all this time that I've been speaking of the e-mail responses regarding posting on this site and saying things like "since no one wants to post . . ." Someone had indeed posted. And Sarah isn't "no one" so my apologies to her. She is doing an advice site for kids and teenagers at so if anyone has any questions they'd like to ask her click on her site. And, although I'm neither a kid nor a teenager, I will ask her to please accept my apology.

PFAW Online Auction: Pearl Jam, Jane Fonda, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Noam Chomsky, Diana Ross, Gore Vidal, Madonna, REM, Prince, Drew Bledsoe, etc.

Please take a moment to look at the following:

A walk-on part on Will & Grace or Joey
The Chloe dress worn by Sarah Jessica Parker's "Carrie" on Sex in the City
Autographed items from Madonna, Pearl Jam, Rod Stewart, REM, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, Lucinda Williams, Jerry Garcia, George Harrison and others
A day with legendary Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, flying on his private plane and enjoying lunch before returning back home
A month-long internship with political documentary producer Robert Greenwald, creator of "Unprecedented," "Uncovered," and "Outfoxed"
Signed instruments from Maroon 5, Simon and Garfunkel, John Mayer, Sting, The Eagles, and Blondie
Autographed books from Guy Oseary, Dennis Weaver, David Brock, James Carville, Bill Maher, Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, Greg Palast, George Soros and others

People for the American Way will be holding their 2004 Annual Ebay Celebrity Auction beginning this Sunday (November 28th) at and they will be adding more items than are listed above. This online auction will end on December 5th.

I have no idea what any of the above will go for. Looking at the listed items, I can think of people I know who would love to have, for instance, an autographed book by Norman Mailer or Gore Vidal. But People for the American Way is a group that does good work so I wanted to pass this on. PFAW's web site is and if you go to this web page you will find more items that will be in the auction.

Other items listed on this page include a tour of FDR's residence with Evan Roosevelt (FDR's great grandson); lunches with, among others, The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel or Everybody Loves Raymond's Doris Roberts; signed instruments from Stevie Nicks, Bob Weir, Alanis Morissette, Green Day, Sting and the Goo Goo Dolls; signed handwritten music lyrics by the likes of Joan Baez, The Black Eyed Peas, Sarah McLachlan, and k.d. lang; signed CD album covers from the likes of Eric Clapton, Liz Phair, James Taylor, Van Halen, Jackson Browne, Moby and Melissa Ethridge; signed posters by Enya, Pearl Jam and the Pixies; signed photos by Bruce Springsteen, Muhammad Ali, Diana Ross, Grace Slick, the Dixie Chicks, Drew Bledsoe and Prince; signed books by Jane Fonda, Twyla Tharp, Noam Chomsky, Benjamin Barber; art work from Joni Mitchell, Natalie Merchant, Tony Bennett . . .

There's a ton of items already listed on this page. Got a friend or family member who's a huge Rickie Lee Jones fan? Check out this auction. Or Margaret Cho, Robin Williams, Mike Myers, Celine Dion, Dave Matthews, Ben Stiller, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Will Ferrell, Magic Johnson, Yao Ming, Peta Wilson, Matchbox 20, Joan Jett, Madonna, Brian Wilson, Linkin Park, Smokey Robinson, Heart, Ashton Kutcher, etc. There's a lot of items and a lot of names already up.

Check the listings out if you're interested and check out the auction once it starts this Sunday.

On the main page, you can find out more about the organization ( and there's a link to send a thank you to Senator Kent Conrad:

A Thank You to North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad Thanks to Senator Kent Conrad and the rules that give a stalwart minority a voice in the Senate, it looks like the nation will be saved from a toxic piece of legislation, and a serious threat to the personal privacy of every American who pays taxes. So this week, PFAW gives thanks that the Senate can serve as a check against the recklessness of the House of Representatives and that the threat of a filibuster can allow Senators to block dangerous legislation or other matters, including judicial nominations.

Saturday's blog entry "It's Just Another Day, Another Episode" quoted the Saturday NY Times:
Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, said he discovered a provision that would allow leaders of the House and Senate spending panels to designate people who would be given access to tax returns.


"'Are we really going to pass legislation here that says an Appropriations Committee staffer can look at the individual tax returns of any American?' Mr. Conrad asked.

So if you have the time, you might also want to send Senator Conrad a thank you via PFAW's link.

I've gotten lost in an attempt to assemble a "red" state entry that now looks as though it will be several entries. Frank in Orlando and four others are asking where's the commentary on today's Times front page? I'll try to do that right after this and put the "red" state issue on hold for a bit.

I do want to note that Thomas Friedman is in today's paper. Nicky Kristof is the Wednesday columnist (one of them). (I been wrong on that earlier in the week. All regular columnists appear twice a week in the Times unless they have the day off.) Someone asked why I call him "Nicky Kristof" as opposed to "Nicholas Kristof" -- when he overlooks groups (such as feminist groups) that have been working on global issues, he p***es me off, so I dubbed him "Nicky." Implying, I don't take him too seriously. It works the other way as well, when he's got a strong column, "Nicky" can imply "way to go!"

And as for the use of "____" and "p***es" . . . Many people read online at their jobs and some jobs have guidelines regarding language. Trust me, I have a foul mouth. And I use it often. But on this page, to avoid anyone getting into any trouble, I'll use "___"s when it's obvious and use "*"s when it may not be. That includes if I quote someone directly. I have a friend who went to a general web site and clicked on a link only to be sent to a page with the f-word used repeatedly and the following week she was reprimanded for that. So to avoid anyone getting into trouble, in blog entries on this page, "___"s and "*"s will be used.

If you go to a link from this page, consider that you're taking a risk. If I'm thinking, I'll catch it ahead of time and post a "warning foul language in this link" comment. But don't count on me to catch that every time. The Washington Post ran a story on Cheney's use of the f-word that used the actual word so I can't even say that you're safe if you study the link first and determine it to be a publication you wouldn't expect to find foul language in. The Washington Post's position was Cheney said the word so they were going to capture what was said accurately. I agree with that position. I just don't want anyone getting a warning -- oral or written -- as a result of this page. So on this page proper I'll be using "___"s and "*"s.

And to offer an example of missing something, I did an entry on Clamor, which I think is a solid magazine, yesterday. But I didn't provide a warning. WARNING: Clamor sometimes contains foul language, so if you surf the Clamor web site, do so at your home or a public library. Otherwise you're surfing it at your own risk.

And thank you to Tammy in Ohio for reminding me I was supposed to have stopped allowing posting replies on this blog. I'll probably forget again so feel free to remind me. She also asked about the yahoo message at the bottom of some posts. Those posts are posts I do via e-mail and as a result they contain the same message at the bottom that every yahoo e-mail does. I could go back later and edit them out but I've avoided that for time reasons and to avoid going through and correcting every typo.

I hope everyone had a good Thursday and those who celebrated the holiday enjoyed it.