Saturday, December 11, 2004

I want to see your thoughts take shape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lipton & Becker go deep, Bumiller & Nagourney skate on Superficial Pond; the editors say we need to pay attention to civil rights and liberties

The Times has a strong front page today. I would stress "Doubts Are Raised Over Push to Supply Anthrax Vaccine" by Eric Lipton (

In ordering a new $877 million anthrax vaccine last month, the federal government said it was a major step toward creating a "bioshield" to protect Americans from germ warfare. But delivering that protection may be difficult: the vaccine is unproven in humans, the maker has legal and accounting troubles, and health officials are not prepared to distribute the vaccine quickly if it is needed.

The strongest story inside the paper highlights (for this reader) the two weakest stories inside the paper.

Elisabeth Bumiller turns in "Bush Selects a New Secretary of Energy" and we'll award her a failing grade. The reporting is superficial in every way. It's not needed for her to support or condemn Samuel W. Bodman. It is necessary for her to inform readers about him. On the plus side, he's spoken in the last years of the importance of our oceans and seas. His work there is reduced by Bumiller to "In 2001, he moved to Washington to become deputy secretary of commerce, where he focused on the operations of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Patient and Trademark Office."

Is Bumiller aware of his work? There's no indication that she is aware or even interested.

We are beginning an important new era of protection for vital marine areas around the Florida Keys. On Sunday, the International Maritime Organization's historic measures protecting more than 3,000 square nautical miles as "a particularly sensitive sea area" go into effect. With this rare designation, the waters of the Keys become the first in the nation, and only the third in the world, to be highlighted on international charts with measures directing captains to navigate in an environmentally sensitive way.
The designation reflects what can be accomplished when diverse communities work collaboratively for the good of our economy and environment.
Fragile coral reefs and other vulnerable marine assets will now have safeguards to protect them from injury caused by heavy anchors and swinging chains and cables. The designation will shield sensitive coral reefs from ship groundings and pollution from accidental and operational spills. Just one spill, from one collision, can mean disaster for coral reefs and the economy associated with them. The Keys, for example, are home to the world's third-largest barrier reef system and generate more than $1.2 billion in tourism.
Seagrass meadows, extensive living coral reefs, and endangered species are part of this spectacular, highly productive and still mysterious system in the Keys. Since 1984, there have been 10 damaging ship groundings there. Since 1997, there have been at least 17 other instances of harm. The Keys are among the world's busiest sea lanes, with 40 percent of world commerce estimated to pass through the area annually. Without disturbing the flow of commerce in the Keys, there has been a compelling need to protect their finite riches as well as the tourism and recreational dollars they attract.

Whose words are those? Samuel Bodman's. They're from an op-ed he wrote for The Christian Science Monitor ( Are they sincere? I don't know. But I do know the words were written. And I didn't find out about that or anything regarding Bodman's views towards protection of our natural resources in Bumiller's article.

She finds the time to inform that "The president also named a person, as is customary, whohad not run a major energy company." Define major energy company? Texas for Public Justice ranks Cabot Corporation (which Bodman was the CEO and former chairman of) rather highly ( They're addressing the polluters "grandfathered" in under legislation signed by Bush when he was the governor in Texas, adressing who got into the first administration. Bowdan's coming in third on their list.

I'm sure Bumiller will argue she was using "major energy company" to mean ____ or ____. She doesn't say what she means. Perhaps she'd respond, "It should have been obvious." If she were to respond that way, I'd fire back, "When you're reporting, you shouldn't assume that something's obvious because the results will be superficial."

The article she's written is superficial. He's got four years under his belt in Bush's first administration and a very public career prior. But Bumiller's not able to examine anything from his past and keeps running to "analysts" who apparently only provide her with superficial information? (In fairness to those analysts who are named -- two, though she repeatedly uses "analysts" in the article -- perhaps they gave her stronger information but, for whatever reasons, Bumiller didn't include it here.) Bumiller turned in a sixteen paragraph article that tells the reader very little.

Skating along the superficial with her article is the one by Adam Nagourney entitled "Democratic Party Leader Analyzes Bush's Victory." Terry McAuliffe, according to the article, spent Friday offerring "unusual and effusive praise to the campaign run by Mr. Kerry's opponent . . ."

Readers are given thirteen paragraphs of McAuliffe's questionable opinions (if he's so smart, one might ask, why has the party had so few victories under his leadership?) before Nagourney finally gets to the fact that this speech is given at a meet up to determine who will replace McAullife as the chair of the Democratic National Party. According to Nagourney, this meet up "was filled with Democrats complaining about what they said were Republican efforts to intimidate Democrats from voting, by, for example, challenging Democrats for identification or credentials at polling places."

Yes, Nagourney, I'm sure that they spoke "about what they said were Republican efforts to intimidate" but guess what, they weren't the only ones saying that. But apparently Ohio is so off the map with the Times that statements become complaints that Nagourney doesn't have to address -- not in terms of what a court might have said before the election or of what a voter said after the election. Nagourney's too busy focusing on the departing leader's remarks on such things as fund raising to examine what, according to Nagourney himself, "the meeting was filled with."

Donnie Fowler is quoted (paragraph seventeen) , "What we've seen in the last two presidential elections is nothing less than a disgrace to the American electoral system. We used to suffer from this kind of thing in South Carolina during the 60s and early 70s from the Republicans."

Strong words from Fowler but Nagourney's moving straight on to paragraph eighteen (the conclusion) and is back on McAullife. Where was the news value in this story?

McAullife once again focused on what the Republicans did and had no answers for the failures of his leadership. (That's my interpretation, not Nagourney's.) And at the meeting itself the topic is voter suppression. So Nagourney chooses to present McAullife's view (it's not our fault; no one could have beaten Bush, blah, blah, blah) for thirteen paragraphs instead of focusing on something other than self-justification by McAlluife?

If Nagourney wants to focus on McAullife's remarks, then focus on it. Tell us what those listening thought of those remarks or what someone you called with those remarks thought of them. Call up any of the many public critics (and there are tons) of McAullife and get their reactions to his self-justifications. If that's the thurst of the article then readers need to know not just the speech but how people are reacting to that.

But it seems to me the story wasn't about McAullife; it was about a "meeting filled with Democrats complaining." That's where the story was. Bumiller turns in a superficial article and Nagourney turns in one. The readers get cheated.

In the three years since the Sept. 11 attacks, millions of pounds of ground beef suspected of contamination by the E. coli pathogen were shipped around the country, sold at countless grocery stores, and sickened several dozen people.

That's Elizabeth Becker reporting (reporting!) in "Shared Nightmare Over the Food Supply." Using Tommy Thompson's remarks from last week as well as Bush's response (and Thompson's backing off from his remarks), Becker looks into the safety of the food supply.

The article's not long enough for me personally. But in twenty-three paragraphs (remember, check my math always), Becker examines the situation and finds that "food and safety experts agree with Mr. Thompson's [original] message that the job of ensuring a safe food supply is far from finished."

For all I know, Becker attended a party with every expert she quotes the night before she wrote the article, that, through luck, the quotes and research fell into her lap. Were that true, it doesn't matter. She's reporting. She's got quotes, she's got background, she's got perspective. Those are things that Nagourney & Bumiller are capable of including. They didn't in today's paper which is why they get failing grades and I'm recommending that if you dig through the paper today you go with Becker's article.

For those wondering why there was no additional post on Friday, like many of you, I listened to The Majority Report last night and, like many of you, was very disappointed in the Simon Rosenberg interview. I intended to comment on that last night but went to the site's e-mail to check that first and ended up responding to the fifty-two people who had e-mailed about their disbelief over the interview.

Some of you have e-mailed this morning on David Brook's op-ed in today's Times. (Shondra says, "Well he finally got close to one truth: '"I may be an idiot.'") Though I'd rather not focus on op-eds, I was thinking it did need commenting on. But we're all in luck because Bob Somerby
(who says it better than I ever could) is already on this subject. Please check out The Daily Howler today ( because Somersby is outlining exactly what is wrong with Brook's column.

I want to note an editorial, "Intelligence and Civil Rights" (

Based on the Bush administration's record of trampling on individual rights, Americans can have little faith that the new police powers will be used with proper discretion by the Justice Department.
This risk is only compounded by Congress's decision to cave in to right-wing objections and gut the new law's proposal for a watchdog panel to protect Americans from government abuse. The new law protects the administration's free rein in ignoring the Constitution in the pursuit and detention of suspects. Since 9/11, the Bush record has been a retrogressive muddle of open-ended preventive detention and ginned-up lawyers' rationales for operating beyond the Bill of Rights.
It is true that even worse abuses of constitutional protections were struck from the compromise law. But this government's leeway to track and harass individuals will probably grow with new powers to focus on "lone wolf" suspects, not connected to known terrorist groups.
The law provides that some of these crackdown provisions will require reauthorization in a few years. But the public cannot expect much protection from a Congress that passed intelligence reform but glaringly failed to overhaul its own morass of oversight committees. The 9/11 panel warned that this meant Congress could only remain "dysfunctional" in keeping watch on the sprawling, secretive intelligence bureaucracy.

Why am I quoting that? Not because I find the sentiments expressed outrageous. Nor to say, "Way to go editorial board at the Times!" They're stating the obvious. (And in fairness, the editorials have been strongly supportive of civil rights and civil liberties for the most part even when every other paper caved in to the "I got the post-9-11 presidential fever!")

I'm quoting it because the Times is saying that we need to realize our rights are important and we need to be vigil. Let's drop back to a blog entry from last weekend:

With Abu Ghraib, a war waging and a host of other issues, might it not be time for the paper to provide a columnist who knows Constitutional law?
During the boom-boom-stock-market-nineties, Krugman was hired to offer an economic view. Perhaps in this decade we need someone writing on civil liberties? David Cole? Nancy Chang?

That was on who should replace William Safire. I'm going to repeat it again, the Times needs to consider bringing on a full time columnist who will write about civil liberties. They just said the topic was important in this morning's paper. If "Americans can have little faith that the new police powers will be used with proper discretion by the Justice Department" (I agree with that), doesn't that suggest that the Times could address this by providing readers with a columnist who can cover the civil rights and liberties because her/his background is in that area?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Bumiller on the excess of the Inauguration, Shanker & Schmitt on Armor, Gross writes of autism, Lipton looks at Kerik

Elisabeth Bumiller's "At Bush Inauguration, Lunch Will Set You Back $250,000"
( is already resulting in e-mails to this site. "Why is this badly written nonsense on the front page of The New York Times?" wonders Shondra. Matt, Ben, Sally, Maria, Carl, Frank and Ty make similar comments.

If the title was the same as the online title ("It's Inauguration Time Again, and Access Still Has Its Price"), or if it lived up to either title, would it still seem a poor choice for the front page?

My personal opinion is that the topic is worthy of the front page, but the article, as written, isn't.

The only attempt at perspective comes from Fred Wertheimer who is "the president of Democracy 21, an organization that seeks to prevent the influence of big money." His comments are appreciated but where is anyone who can address this historically?

Bumiller attempts to contrast the donation made by Kenneth Lay and Enron in 2001 with what people are donating today -- that's really not enough to provide perspective. Nor is her single sentence citing how much Bill Clinton raised in 1993 and 1997. (According to the article, 1993's figure was $33 million; 1997 was $23.7 million -- for those interested. )

Perhaps a few historians could have offered information that would round out the piece and provide it (and readers) with a sense of perspective?

Bumiller may have intended this as one of her floating op-eds ("White House Letter"). The writing is up to the standard she's set for those. But it's not a front page piece.

If you're hoping to attend Bush's cornation, remember that $250,000 gets you & a guest "an exclusive lunch" with Bush and Cheney -- Cheney's needed to remind Bush to chew? -- plus twenty tickets to a "dinner" featuring "special appearances" by Laura & George and Dick & Lynne. No mention of any Log Republican events but maybe Lynne will throw them a bone and stage a reading from her infamous Sisters?

From the flash and greed needed to pull of the pagentry of crowning Miss America, er Bush, we move on to Thom Shanker & Eric Schmitt's "Armor Scarce for Big Trucks Serving In Iraq"

Think of that juxtaposition for a moment. Think about the fact that "only 10 percent of the 4,814 medium-weight transport trucks have armor, and only 15 percent of the 4,314 heavy transport vehicles."

Then think again of the all the monies being poured in so Bush can be belle of the ball. This while we're seeing "stark shortages in armor for the military transport trucks." (Bumiller does briefly note the conflict in Iraq and the soliders serving there while focusing on the $40 million Bush's inauguration committee attempts "to raise.")

Or look at the story between the two, "For Siblings of the Autistic, a Burdened Youth" ( by Jane Gross. Think about the perspective of Mark and Derek in that story or of their parents. Gross writes, "With rare exceptions, no disability claims more parental time than autism."

Quite a different set of values than the ones involved in planning a second coming out party for the not-so-fresh debutante Bush.

Eric Lipton's "Security Post Would Put Kerik Atop Field That Enriched Him" ( begins:

Just five years ago, Bernard B. Kerik was facing lawsuits from a condominium association and bank over delinquent payments owed on a modest New Jersey condo he owned. Today, he is a multimillionaire as a result of a lucrative partnership with former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and an even more profitable relationship with a stun-gun manufacturer.

If he is confirmed to the post of homeland security secretary, to which President Bush nominated him last week, he will oversee an enormous department that does business with some of the companies that helped make him wealthy.

If that were it, if Lipton's article ended there, it would still be superior to the front page story that the Times ran on Sunday. "For Kerik, a Blunt New Yorker, a Complex Washington Task" ( was thirty-seven (always check my math yourself) paragraphs of gloss and puff. (I count six paragraphs containing any comments that might be construed as negative re: Kerik. That would include a paragraph containing a single sentences that was structured around this type of pattern: "He was terrific about . . . but he was often not very good about . . .").

If I seem overly sarcastic in my comments on the Times today, blame it on an hour's sleep. Or on the fact that Bumiller quotes from a song that will more than likely be performed at Bush's inauguration (it "was the anthem of the 2004 Bush campaign"):

One kid dreams of fame and fortune

One kid helps pay the rent

One could end up going to prison

One just might be president.

Anyone else hearing a first-when-there's-nothing-but-a-slow-glowing-dream "Flashdance"-type feel to that song? Anyone else, remembering Bush shaking his "bon bon" with Ricky Martin in 2001, scared at the thought of what might happen on stage this time?

Do you Yahoo!?

[Note: This post has been edited. Title's been changing and "kids" in the lyric near the end has been changed to "kid." Typos pointed out were fixed.]

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Questions for the questionable Simon Rosenberg

Type the name "Simon Rosenbergs" and the e-mails flood in. In the "Red" States series, an e-mail referred to, but did not name, Rosenberg. Didn't matter, you all knew whom the e-mailer was speaking of. And the response to him from readers of this site is overwhelmingly negative. How can that be?

An appearence on Unfiltered with Rachel Maddow & Lizz Winstead didn't seem to help judging by the blog comments. But what is it about Simon Rosenberg that upsets?

Rosenberg will be on The Majority Report Friday, December 10th to answer questions from Sam Seder and Bill Scher (Liberal Oasis) (Scher's filling in for Janeane Garofalo). With that in mind, here are some issues and some questions they should raise.

From the BBC's "Democrats Look for a Leader" by Michael Buchanan (

Many Democrats are calling for that direction to be leftwards, making the party more distinctive from the Republicans on a raft of issues like health care, social security and education.
But Simon Rosenberg, head of the New Democrats Network - a progressive think tank - says that is to fight the wrong election. He says that only two issues will matter in the next election.
"The Democratic nominee in 2004 has to understand how important the war on terrorism is and frankly have a better plan for keeping the country safe than Bush," he said.

Mr. Rosenberg, is that accurate? Was your response indeed a rejection of the party heading "leftwards from the Republicans on issues like health care, social security and education?" Or was something left out of the report?

On November 18th of this year, the AP ran a story entitled, "Democrat Slams Kerry on Hispanic Outreach." That Democrat was Rosenberg.

Maria e-mails, "When I heard Simon Rosenberg trashing Kerry for not reaching out to Latinos, I had to think, 'Gee Simons, you spent $6 million. Ever think that you MADE mistakes in your spending or advertising?' Isn't this more cover your rear nonsense? Oh, it wasn't me! It was him! I'm sick of b.s. artists like Simon."

On May 16, 2004 an AP article in The Guardian quoted you as saying:

"You are key more than any single group of people,'' said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network, a Democratic-aligned advocacy group that has launched a multimillion dollar campaign on Spanish-language television and radio.

Mr. Rosenberg, you faulted Kerry in the post-election AP article for not doing more to outreach to Latinos. Earlier that year, you'd stated that Latinos were the "key more than any single group of people." So one would assume, if you weren't attempting to "cover your rear" (as Maria suggested), that you believed that. Did you?

I've been through your blog entries at New Democrats Network. The first mention of advertising to Hispanics came not from you but from "Buck" who wrote of the then one-month old (this is April, 2004) Hispanic media campaign.

If this were such a pressing issue, shouldn't you have mentioned it? Why did you start so late if it was so important and why did you wait until August 11th to blog on this (and then only to trumpet your own horn for being a "such as" group among some credited by a Bush advisor) taking credit for Kerry's perceived gain among Hispanics?

On September 14, 22, 25 & 30th & October 28th you wrote about media buys by NDN but no mention of Hispanics. Why?

On, Oct. 5, 2004, Rosenberg did blog on it for the first time. His entire remarks on the subject:

This new effort builds on NDN's $6 million Spanish-language campaign that has been running ads in five battleground states for months. To date NDN has run television ads in seven battleground states this year - Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and Oklahoma.

He "touched" on it again on October 6, 2004:

This week, fueled by an overwhelming responsibility to have our case heard, NDN took our powerful message to new parts of America that have not been in the middle of this critical debate – the Cuban-American community in Miami, and the citizens of Alaska, Colorado and Oklahoma. Through new television ads in English and in Spanish, banner ads on national and local web sites and a new series of blog ads, NDN is stepping up its national campaign to convince Americans that together we can “Restore the Promise of America.”

Only after the election (November 10, 2004), did Rosenberg devote significant attention to the issue of Latino voters with a twelve paragraph blog entry.

Mr. Rosenberg, where were you? Presumably, your blog entries were you calling attention to what you felt were important issues. In the fourteen months preceding the election, you only blogged on it twice unless I'm missing something. The first time you deal with the subject in depth is after the election. Yet on November 18th, you told the AP, "John Kerry did not compete adequately for Hispanic votes, period." Was this a concern you had during the election? You never blogged on the Kerry campaign's efforts to reach out to Hispanics during the election and you yourself only saw fit to blog on this issue two times. Two times? Your statement, with the "period," would seem to indicate that this was an important issue to you, that's what it would convey to a reader. But in a blog when you decide what you will and will not write about, you made the decision to address this only twice over fourteen months. Period.

And what's more interesting is that the day after the election there was no mention of Hispanics in his post. Strange. In a post that began "We have much to think about today" Rosenberg never mentioned Hispanics. Much to think about, but apparently not the Hispanic vote. That wasn't on his mind then. There was time for giving thanks/shout outs. There was time to emphasize three examples of how NDN "aggressively made the case" but not one of the three examples included work on the Latino vote.

When did the Latino vote become a talking point?

Francisco writes, "I live in New Mexico and I found the NDN ads insulting. I also found Rosenberg's remarks that Bush had the vote sewn up because Jeb speaks like a Cuban [insulting]. What was that supposed to mean? Insulting it was that he thought anyone of Latino heritage belonged to some monolithic vote. Or that visiting Columbia, Bush scored with Latinos. What was that supposed to mean? Does he think we go 'Oh Columbia' in hushed voices? Does he think Columbia the motherland to every Latino? He [does] not know me, my friends, my family. I do not know who he speaks for but it is not for the Latinos in my area. He wasted six million and now he wants to blame Kerry? Kerry's wife [Teresa Heinz Kerry] reached out more to my area than Jeb Bush or the other one Rosenberg named, the nephew [George P. Bush]. And he talks about how Bush had stolen the legacy of my party by nominating a few tokens to office and whined about how my party would never think to do that."

That's how Francisco feels. That's how he interprets Rosenberg's statements.

Is Francisco's interpretation accurate? I don't know.

We do know that on the morning of the election, Rosenberg elected to blog his dream team of various possibilities for offices in a Kerry administration. By my count, there are 52 names on that list. Some appear more than once, such as Cal Dooley. I'm only counting 4 Hispanics on the list of fifty-two names. Am I adding wrong? (Wouldn't be the first time.) Even the post of Ambassador to Mexico gets dream listed to Cal Dooley. If Bush did indeed make headway via token appointments, would four out of fifty-two be representative enough? This was Rosenberg's dream list, he could have named anyone he wanted. Strange though, he could only think of four Latinos.

Women didn't fair any better. If my math is correct (always a big if), of the fifty-two names,
women are named a whopping eight times. Note, and this is true for Latinos and African-Americans, that doesn't mean they'd get every post they're mentioned for because on some posts, Rosenberg listed multiple names. For instance, two female names and one male name are mentioned for Attorney General -- Eliot Spitzer, Jamie Gorelik and Jennifer Granholm. Would Rosenberg care to count how many African-Americans make the list? Hint, it's not good news there either. What we have is a dream list thought up by Rosenberg that is overwhelming white and male.

Mr. Rosenberg, when you have vacancies to fill, why is it that you think overwhelming in terms of white male? Should that worry Democrats since you may or may not become the new chairman of the DNC?

Rosenbergs blogs on No Child Left Behind a few times. Always the problem with No Child Left Behind is the funding -- it wasn't given the funding. Standardized testing and teaching for the test is apparently fine -- the only problem is no funding.

Mr. Rosenberg, have you ever observed a classroom where they were being taught for testing? If so, did you notice that the bulk of the "education" relies on memorization? If so, did you wonder where the time for critical thought would
be scheduled in? Does that worry you?

Joe Klein wrote (,9565,641110,00.html) of Hillary Clinton addressing the NDN:

And the New Democrats she was talking to weren't the usual suspects either: not the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), which provided the intellectual muscle for Bill Clinton's presidency but a younger, newer group, the New Democrat Network, which has emerged as a significant force in Democratic politics, home to a more moderate form of moderation.

So possibly the NDN isn't "a DLC clone" (Klein) and the DLC provided the intellectual muscle for Bill Clinton's presidency. Is that true? The reason I ask is Rosenberg wrote:

If Dean wins the nomination and hopes to unify the Party behind him he must create a different narrative of the 90s then the one he has been flirting with in recent days. In this process he cannot leave any doubt that he believes the 90s were a time of tremendous progress for the country and the Party. His goal should be to build on the success of Clinton and the New Democrats, and to develop a new synthesis that addresses the new challenges and new opportunities facing the country. (

That was December 29, 2003. How could the DLC give "the intellectual muscle" in the nineties(Klein) and at the same time "Clinton and the New Democrats" build "the success" of the nineties (Rosenberg)?

In the same piece, Rosenberg wrote of "the historic contribution New Democrats have made to our Party." But these roots were when the group was tied to the DLC.

Mr. Rosenberg, if the NDN is no longer tied to the DLC, is it fair for you to claim the DLC's contributions as the NDN as late as December of last year? Isn't that a bit like Teenager Skipper being responsible for all the sales of Barbie? If the NDN has no ties to the DLC, should it be taking credit for the work the DLC did?

Here's Klein again (same source, the date is May 23, 2004):

Enter the New Democrat Network, which began life in 1996 as a political action committee—that is, a group able to raise money and donate it to candidates. It was led by a From and Joe Lieberman protege named Simon Rosenberg who, at age 40, is a generation younger than From and markedly less combative. Until this year, the ndn was regarded, accurately, as a DLC clone.

Klein says the NDN didn't begin until 1996. Why is Rosenberg speaking of the DND's "historic contribution?" Does Klein have the date wrong? No, on the DND's own web site, the same date is used. So is Rosenberg lumping together the work of the DLC in the nineties with the work of the emerging DNC in the nineties? Why is he lumping together in 2004 if they do not have the same goals. Is it fair to claim credit for something you really can't take credit for?

Klein's article again:

"There's a debate in the New Democratic world about where we are going," Rosenberg told me diplomatically. "And if it's true that the ndn and DLC are no longer 100% aligned, it's a sign of health and maturity."

Oh. So in May of 2004, Rosenberg still wasn't sure whether the two organizations were "100% aligned." If it's true that they are no longer aligned, when did the split happen?

Mr. Rosenberg, you also mention Clinton's success in reinventing government. Is that a bumper sticker or have you read the book (as a DLC-er or former DLC-er, I'm guessing you have)? If so, please explain to everyone what reinventing government is in terms of it's two-ways-to-do-things-and-here's the-right-way strategy.

Now Mr. Rosenberg, if in your answer, you didn't discuss the "two ways" of doing it, could you please attempt an explanation again? Only this time could you address the fact that "reinventing" can be read, basically, as outsourcing the jobs and tasks of government to the private industry? Do you support that concept? If that's not how you read the book, would you care to explain how you read the authors' proposals?

Perhaps Rosenberg hasn't read Reinventing Government by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler, perhaps he's just tossing out the bumper sticker slogan that was glommed onto? But this was the book that Kirkus Reviews said was, "[r]equired reading for burned-out civic reformers, and stirring stuff for socially concerned businesspeople."

Rosenberg also wrote (July 23, 2004):

In the 90s, the New Democrats were the innovators, the modernizers, the architects, the writers of a new operating system for progressive politics. And Clinton's eight years of remarkably successful government showed that this effort to adapt our principles to new times could work, and produce one of the most progressive and effective governments in our history.

That's a lot of things to be in one decade for an organization that was only created in 1996. He
also wrote this (March 18, 2004):

It is going to be interesting to see how our echo chamber grows in the years ahead. Certainly the rise of blogs like Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, and Atrios was an unanticipated but very welcome development.
Will the new progressive media infrastructure be more Internet based than the conservative one built in the 70s, 80s, and 90s? What do we do about the rise of Fox News? Do you know that for the first time in history more people watched the State of the Union on Fox than any of the three major networks?
We would love to hear from you. What websites, blogs, and magazines do you read? Will you listen to Al Franken in the afternoons?

Rosenberg, writing about the network, only mentions a white male? "Will you listen to Al Franken in the afternoons?"

Isn't it a little strange (and not unlike his dream casting) that although press accounts prior to March 18th had already mentioned Janeane Garofalo and Chuck D (both famous in their own fields), they're not mentioned by Rosenberg? Nor is Randi Rhodes who was already a name in radio? She's not cited either.

Mr. Rosenberg, do you feel you have a tendency to cite males over women? Whites over people of color? Reading through your blogs, I noted that repeatedly as you cited one article after another. Was that accidental? Should anyone worry?

In the December 24, 2003 L.A. Times Rosenberg was quoted as saying of Dean:

Is he going to present a new synthesis that incorporates all the best of all the traditions in the party … or is he going to be the leader of the counterrevolution?

Mr. Rosenberg, could you please define your term "counterrevolution?"

On December 15, 2003 Rosenberg wrote:

The capture of Saddam Hussein is an important step towards democracy, peace and prosperity in the Middle East. A hearty thank you to our military men and women on the ground in Iraq who brought Saddam to justice and continue to serve our country with honor and dignity every day, and to the administration for achieving this important milestone.
Let us all hope that Saddam's capture will bring an end to the organized opposition to our presence on the ground there, and accelerate the careful transfer of sovereignty to the people of Iraq already underway.

Mr. Rosenberg, has your hope been realized? Was it a foolish hope? Howard Dean didn't think it would result in any huge changes and he's been proven right. But was it his remarks on Hussein's capture that led you to raise the issue of "leader of the counterrevolution?"

On December 2, 2003 Rosenberg wrote:

Today, for the first time since FDR was President, more Americans identify themselves as Republicans than Democrats. It is close – 33-34% for the GOP, 32-33% for the Dems – but it represents a gradual, historic shift in American politics. The Republicans have formable majorities in Congress, more control in the states, and have broken the back of our governing consensus.

Mr. Rosenberg, do you have a background in the social sciences? You're citing a poll. Polls have margins of errors. Assuming that this poll had a margin of error of plus or minus five percent, then it's not true that "more Americans identify themselves as Republicans than Democrats," is it? In fact, it's probably too close to call. It's what's known as a statistical dead heat. Is that correct? You don't credit an actual poll or link to one. Did NDN do the poll? Does the "33-34%" and "32-33%" suggest that you are claiming, in a scientific poll, that you've managed to get the margin of error down to one percent? If so, will you be sharing this revolutionary way of polling with Zogby, Pew and others? From research and methodology classes, I must say that it is amazing if you've managed to reduce the margin of error to one percent.

Let's now focus on three specific people.

1) Mr. Rosenberg, what is the nature of your disagreement with Marian Wright Edelman of the Childrens' Defense Fund? On your blog you saw fit to quote a jab at her. Is "liberal" a bad thing?

In addition to that, The New Democrat ran an article (July/August 1996) on Marian Wright Edelman while Rosenberg served on the editorial board:

Until liberals confront the real choices facing the country, they will continue to lose ground in the political wars. Stand for Children was a prime example of what Bill Galston and Elaine Kamarck so aptly described a few years ago as “the politics of evasion,” a liberalism so deeply involved in the denial of its creeping irrelevance that its progressive energy is entirely sapped.
So come to the Mall. Help build Marian Wright Edelman’s mailing list. Pray to the god of your choice. Sing “Kum Bah Ya.” Catch some rays. Take a nap.

Mr. Rosenberg, did that article strike you then (or now) as being snide and smary? Or perhaps you thought Marian Wright Edelman had it coming to her?
If so, why?

The article maintained that "current programs" were "undermining the family structure." Did you share that sentiment? If so, what were the programs threatening "family structure?"

2) Rosenberg wrote (August 17, 2004 ) in praise of a Bernard Aronson (George H.W. Bush's assistant secretary "for interAmerican affairs" -- PBS Think Tank bio) article on the recall election in Venezuela:

the victory of Hugo Chávez poses a very significant challenge to American foreign policy in the years ahead. [. . . . Note: here you quotes Aronson] While we should be relieved that the recall was without incident, we should not take comfort in the increasing power of Latin America's most powerful autocrat.

Mr. Rosenberg, would you care to explain your position re: Chavez and why you feel he is "a very significant challenge to American foreign policy in the years ahead?" Would you advocate regime change in Venezuela?

3) Ten months after Cal Dooley voted for the Bush Medicare plan (one of only 16 Democrats in the House to do so, 189 voted against it according to LA Weekly), Rosenberg wrote (September 29, 2004) a puff piece praising him for his leadership and "fighting hard for good legislation."

Mr. Rosenberg, were you praising his vote on the Medicare plan? Was this an example of how he was "looking always, always at the long term?" (Your words.)

Rosenberg also wrote "There is no one I've worked harder with, or respect more, than Cal Dooley. As I've often said I moved to Washington in 1993 to work for Bill Clinton but have ended up following Cal Dooley. Congratulations Cal!"

Mr. Rosenberg, the same month that you wrote these words of praise to Dooley you also noted that "Medicare premiums increased by the largest amount in history." How do you reconcile that statement and your praise of Dooley in the same month?

Remember when Rosenberg's made this statement: "John Kerry did not compete adequately for Hispanic votes, period." That was when (as the same AP article carrying Rosenberg's statement noted):

Exit polls found Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote -- up from 35 percent four years ago. Kerry won 53 percent -- down from the 62 percent Al Gore won.

Since then Ana Maria Arumi of NBC News has corrected those findings. Bush's 44% lead now stands at 40%. Arumi still calls this a signficant gain; however:

Another pollster, Antonio Gonzalez, president of the Velasquez Institute in Los Angeles, said the group's exit polls showed Bush receiving 35 percent of the Hispanic vote, the same percentage as in 2000.
"There was not a significant change in the partisanship of the Latino vote," Gonzalez said.


Mr. Rosenberg, you said, "John Kerry did not compete adequately for Hispanic votes, period." Do you feel the need to retract or modify any of the statements you made on this topic back when you believed Bush had 44% of the Hispanic vote? Would you consider retracting the "period?"

Lastly, Mr. Rosenberg, Rachel Maddow gave you the opportunity to comment on the disenfranchisement of African-American voters when she and Lizz Winstead interviewed you, would you like to comment on that now?

In fact, maybe you'd like to answer what Carol posted to the blog during that show:

After asking the question re: where is the Democratic party's outrage over black voter disenfranchisement and hearing him segue quite nicely to Hispanics without ever addressing the original question, I expected either Rachel or Liz to return to the question to get his take on the problem. More blacks were disenfranchised in 2004 than in 2000. Can we expect that ALL blacks will be disenfranchised in 2008. Is black support a liability to the Democratic party since it seems that white male voters, high on viagra, are voting nearly en masse in the Republican Party?

I think Carol deserves an answer. In fact, I think we deserve answers to all these questions.

[Note: this post has been edited. Thanks as always to Shirley for e-mailing typos and clarifications needed.]

For everyone writing re: posted replies on the blog

Yes, I know that another posted reply that irriates so many of you went up. I have been working on this and am testing something right now. Thus far it works. If that is still the case, then this weekend we'll address the situation. I'm posting this so that I can just say "see blog" in the replies that are coming in on this. (I'm pulling from e-mails for the Simon Rosenberg post but the flood of e-mails on the topic of the posted reply are slowing me down which is why I will be referring all e-mails to this entry.)

What to do this weekend? Weapons of Mass Deceptions? Exception to the Rulers?

What to do this weekend? Hmmm.

If you live in or near San Francisco, Berkeley or D.C. you could see Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception:


SAN FRANCISCO: Landmark Embarcadero Center Cinema#1 Embarcadero Ctr,
Prom. Level San Francisco, CA 94111
Show times: 12:00, 2:30, 4:50, 7:30, 9:50
(Please call theater to check for times)
(415) 352-0810

Danny Schechter does Q&A after 7:30pm Friday (premiere), Saturday, and Sunday's 4:50pm show.
Media Alliance's Jeff Perlstein will be hosting Friday nights 7:30pm premiere.
Bay Area United Against the War's Bonnie Weinstein will be hosting Saturday nights 7:30pm showing.
Global Exchange & Code Pink's Medea Benjamin will be hosting Sunday's 4:50pm show.

BERKELEY:The Oaks Theater1875 Solano Ave.Berkeley, CA 94707
Show times: 7:15, 9:20
(Please call theater to check for times)
(510) 526.1836

CorpWatch's Pratrap Chatterjee will host Friday's 7:15pm premiere.

WASHINGTON, D.C. :Landmark E Street Cinema555 11th Street NWWashington, DC 20004
Show Times: 11:55am, 2:25, 4:50, 7:10, 9:30
(Please call theater to check for times)
(202) 452-7672

NPR host David Rabin & Jeff Chester from the Center for Digital Democracy will host premiere. Post opening party to follow.

If you live in or near Middletown, CT or Hempstead, NY then you could see Amy Goodman:


Amy Goodman in Middletown, CT: Fri, Dec 10
*TIME: 7 PM LOCATION: Wesleyan University Õs Memorial Chapel. This event is sponsored by WESU the second-oldest college radio station and one of the oldest non-commercial stations in the country, successfully run by students and community members since 1939. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Nora Connor at (860) 685-4429*

Amy Goodman in Hempstead, NY: Sat, Dec 11
Kairos Honorees include: Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Rev. Mark Lukens, Evelyn and Herbert Robb, Cynthia Bogard. Hofstra University, Heampstead, LI Student Center, Plaza Rooms A,B,&C ( North Campus ) (Hempstead Turnpike, west of Nassau Coliseum)
Buffet Dinner - $50 per person ( $55 at the door )
Please reserve by Dec. 3rd
For more info call 516-741-4360email:

Torture & Liberties coverage: Democracy Now!, ACLU, CJR, We Do Not Concede & Mother Jones

Three of you wrote to say that due to Richard Clarke's speech highlighted yesterday, you went to Democracy Now! for the first time and found it very informative.

Here's what they're covering today:

- CIA Agent Says Bosses Ordered Him To Falsify WMD Reports
- Sammara Police Chief Resigns; Police Station Blown Up
- Shelters Report Seeing Homeless Iraq Vets
- Sen. Rockefeller Warns Against Top-Secret Spy Program
- Howard Dean: "We Cannot Win by Being Republican-Lite"
- Palestinian Presidential Candidate Detained & Beaten
- Blair Pressures Bush on Global Warming
- White House Backs Display of 10 Commandments on Gov't Property

Intel Agent Strapped to Gurney and Flown Out of Iraq by U.S. Army After Reporting Torture of Detainees
Contains an interview with journalist David DeBatto.

Will the AFL-CIO Split? A Debate on the Future of Organized Labor

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales host:

  • Chris Chafe, Chief of Staff and Political Director at Unite Here.
  • Bob Master, Political Director of Communications Workers of America in District 1 and co-chair of the Working Families Party.
  • Bill Fletcher, President of TransAfrica. He formally served as Education Director and Assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO.

  • Is Puerto Rico the Florida of 2004?

    Interview with Juan Manuel Garcia-Passalacqua.

    The web site is

    Tamara and Ben wondered about the national i.d. story, Matthew L. Wald's "U.S. to Specify Documents Needed for Driver's Licenses" ( and for those with questions, I'd recommend the ACLU's comments:

    The final bill also lays the foundation for a de facto national ID card. Opposition for the intrusive measure came from the ACLU and numerous groups across the political spectrum, including the American Conservative Union and the Free Congress Foundation. A national ID card is unproven to deter terrorism or weed out terrorists, but it would strip away our privacy and inch us closer to a Big Brother society.

    Finally, the intelligence reform bill unnecessarily expands upon law enforcement powers - several of which were seen in the draft Patriot Act 2 - a measure so controversial, it was never considered by Congress. Specifically, it unnecessarily expands wiretapping to erase a key constitutional safeguard and expands the "guilt by association" material support law, including making mere membership in a designated terrorist organization a criminal offense for the first time. It should be remembered that the 9/11 Commission did not call for any of these provisions in its report.

    The current issue of Columbia Journalism Review (November/December 2004) has a commentary by Jacob Levenson that's worth reading. It's entitled "The War On What Exactly? Why the Press Must Be Precise."

    It's not available online but I'll draw attention to this:

    Setting aside the political and practical merits of the president's definition of the war on terror, the important question here is should the media, as custodians of the public discourse, have immediately pressed the president to sharpen his definitions? On a certain level the answer is unequivocally yes. Slogans like the "war on terror" are carefully crafted political bumper stickers developed by politicians to generate support for their policies. Think of the "death tax," No Child Left Behind, or the Healthy Forest initiative. The political significance of these phrases is hard to overstate. It's reasonable to ask, for instance, that if the war on terror had been called the war on Islamic extremism, would the American public have supported the invasion of a country, like Iraq, with a secular government? Similarly, had it been called the war for global democracy, would the Patriot Act have become law? What if it hadn't been called a war at all? Journalists, in other words, must resist employing political jargon -- it tends to shortcut analysis in favor of mobilization.

    Ohio activisim continues, from We Do Not Concede:




    DECEMBER 12, 2004
    12 - 2 PM
    Ohio Statehouse

    E Broad and High Streets

    DECEMBER 13, 2004
    11 AM - 1 PM

    Ohio Statehouse
    E Broad and High Streets

    bring banners, signs, flags, marching bands, and your indomitable spirit
    reclaim the power of the vote
    protest the selection of GOP slate of electors prior to completion of the RECOUNT
    march in support of fair elections and REVOTE if necessary
    stand in support of those voters who were not allowed to vote (DISENFRANCHISED)

    For more information, visit Also worth checking out is Dave Gilson's interview with Mark Danner ( "Torture and Truth": No one's really talking about Abu Ghraib right now, and the new Red Cross report about abuse "tantamount to torture" at Guantanamo was barely a blip. Why don't Americans care more about this issue?

    Mark Danner: I think this isn't really a question of public opinion, but of the government not having instituted any process of formal investigation that can really get at the broad issues of treatment of prisoners and torture. This isn't an accident. What you have here actually is a strategy from the Bush administration to contain what could have been a scandal that could have brought down senior officials and could have lost them the election. After the disclosure of the photographs in late April, they put in place a plan of action designed to contain the scandal. Essentially, you had a chain of responsibility that began on the ground level at Abu Ghraib with soldiers who actually were abusing and torturing detainees and stretched up into the White House, ending ultimately with the president himself. Each of the investigations put in place looked at several links in that long chain. None of them actually was able, or even empowered, to look at the entire scandal and the entire chain of responsibility. Only Congress or some kind of special prosecutor would have been able to do that. And because Congress was in Republican hands, the administration was able to quash any such broad investigation. Now, all of that is deeply regrettable, but I don't necessary think it means the public doesn't care about it. It simply means that the government is in the hands of one party and that one party has been extremely disciplined and effective in containing the scandal from the beginning.

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    NY Times editorial staff has questions re: Bernard Kerik, four days after the paper runs a front page puff piece on Kerik

    The link to the NPR story on the Ohio voting issue is  Pam Fessler reported on the issue on Morning Edition.  (She's reported it on previously.  See Media Matters' "Beyond 'conspiracy theories,' election irregularities get scant media attention" for further information and the link to Fessler's earlier story.)
    I'm listening to Unfiltered now and only caught the end of the NPR segment when it aired this morning (as I was getting out of the shower).
    Dustin mentions the story on Rumsfeld on the front page of the Times.  Here's the link for that story 
    about how that darn ol' reality-based community inserted itself into Rumsfeld's hoped for p.r. stunt.  Specialist Thomas Wilson asked:  "Why don't we have those resources readily available to us?"  The question drew "cheers and applause."
    You'll be hearing about this all day (and it is news).  Randi Rhodes addressed it yesterday at length and I honestly didn't see anything in the Times story that she didn't touch on.  (While she may have read an early version of this story online, it's also true that Rhodes utilized additional information that isn't in this story.  So she was probably pulling from a variety of news sources.)
    Four of you asked about Juan Forero's story on A5.  Yes, it's irritating.  I just wasn't in the mood to address it.  Headline "Venezuela Chief Signs Press Law Some See as Aimed at His Critics."  Forero tells us that the new law may be aimed at media critics (private broadcast stations).  And it may not be, he tells us.  The "law is . . . vaguely defined" and Article 29 is the biggest concern.  Teodoro Petkoff calls it "venomous."  and notes it is "suffiiciently vague" and prior to that we also are told by Forero that the law is "vaguely worded."  Get it?  It's vague.  It's vague.  It's vauge.  Three times we're made aware of that.
    Forero never tells us anything of substance.  Just that this vague new law may or may not curtail press freedom. 
    Does it?  That's a story.  It doesn't even though some are saying it does?  That's a story.  What's printed today had this reader thinking there was either no story yet or, if there was a story here, Forero wasn't able to find it.
    Carl and Matt e-mailed regarding "Questions for Mr. Kerik" which is an editorial on issues revolving around Bernard Kerik who is the nominee to replace Tom Ridge as the secretary of Homeland Security.  Carl and Matt both wonder how the Times could have run the puff piece on Sunday (see and now this editorial.  We can talk about the wall between editorial and reporting all we want, that doesn't dismiss the question Carl & Matt are asking.
    How can a story move up the channels onto the front page when it's pretty much useless?
    The "wall" exists (and before Ashcroft tries to pin it on her, it wasn't created by Jamie Gorlick!) and that's well and good.  So stories can run that don't back up or support the editorial positions.  But that's not what Matt and Carl are talking about.  They're asking why the editorial staff can have concerns (read the editorial, there are concerns) on a topic and yet the paper runs a puff piece on the front page.
    Matt and Carl aren't asking how a story can go against an editorial, they're asking why a weak story (on an important topic, since this person could be over Homeland Security) was tossed on the front page instead of some editor saying,  "This needs some work, it's not ready to print."
    I have no idea how that happened.  I'm sure it has something to do with the rush to put out a daily paper. 
    Here are some points the editorial raises:

    But other parts of his record are less reassuring. A homeland security secretary should be above politics and respectful of civil liberties. But when he stumped for President Bush this year, Mr. Kerik engaged in fearmongering. He told The New York Daily News that he was worried about another terrorist attack and that "if you put Senator Kerry in the White House, I think you are going to see that happen." And he was quoted in Newsday as saying this about opponents of the Iraq war: "Political criticism is our enemies' best friend."

    There are chapters of Mr. Kerik's career that are worthy of particular scrutiny. In the summer of 2003, he spent several months in Iraq training police officers. But his time there appears to have been cut short, right around the time of some serious terrorist attacks, and the state of the force since his departure has been bleak. Given the relevance of that work to his new duties, it would be instructive to know what, if anything, went wrong.

    The public is also entitled to know more about his work for Giuliani-Kerik L.L.C., a consulting business he operates with Mr. Giuliani, who reportedly had a large hand in getting him his new position. Mr. Kerik should offer assurances that former clients and colleagues will not get preferential treatment. He has had difficulty with ethical lines in the past. In 2002, he paid a fine for using a police sergeant and two detectives to research his autobiography.

    It's a real shame that Sunday's front page, getting-to-know-him piece on Kerik couldn't have explored any of the above.  

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    NY Times covers Dean, Snow, national i.d. card and HRC

    NPR did a story on the Ohio voting issue and I'll try to link to it later today.

    This morning's New York Times has a strong front page. I'll even allow that the hockey strike story may be worthy (since it addresses the effects of the strike on Buffalo's economy).

    David E. Sanger's "Snow to Remain Treasury's Chief, White House Says" ( is revealing for this paragraph explaining why John Snow will remain on the job:

    With the dollar hovering at historic lows against the euro and Mr. Bush preparing for a two-day meeting next week to lay out economic strategy for the next term, one senior administration official said that "this was no time to send a signal of uncertainty."

    That's what it comes down to, sadly, with this administration. Not whether you've done the job well (and Snow may very well have done the best job possible, I have no idea), but how it will appear. That's what gets "graded" in this administration. And probably why they can never admit a mistake (though they've made plenty), because of how that would "appear" or what message that would "send."

    John M. Broder weighs in on with "Groups Debate Slower Strategy on Gay Rights" ( which is worth a read. I'll note that the much discussed HRC, much discussed in this story, has been put into perspective by Lizz Winstead & Rachel Maddow on Unfiltered this week. This is the group that's "answer" during the convention was to uninvite Margaret Cho to avoid controversy, a group that's just appointed a straight person to leadership in the organization and a group that doesn't acknowledge sexuality in it's name (Human Rights Commission).

    Jumping inside to A18, we find Adam Nagourney's "Howard Dean Runs Again. But for What? Stay Tuned" ( which reports on Dean's plans and the speech given yesterday but largely just allows former Senator Bob Kerrey to "advise." No offense to Bob Kerrey (whom I supported in the 1992 primaries) but focus on the New School or focus on the 9-11 Commission.

    Mr. Kerrey makes the mistake (one Nagrouney does as well) of thinking Kerrey has some national following. Nagourney shorts Dean on the accomplishments that his group Democracy for America had in election 2004 (and Kerrey seems unaware of the group or else Nagourney elected not to quote Kerrey on that topic). Instead we get talk of "[t]he depth of Dr. Dean's fame and popularity" and quotes from the self-serving Simon Rosenberg (we'll be addressing him tonight because of the constant stream of e-mails regarding him -- you pretty much universally hate him).

    From the article:

    "But if he runs, he's going to have some 'splaining' to do, as Ricky Ricardo used to say," Mr. Kerrey continued. "People remember him saying, 'I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party' - which means the liberal wing of the Democratic Party."
    "Which Howard Dean are we talking about?" Mr. Kerrey said. "If we're talking about the Howard Dean who was governor of Vermont, I would say fine. But if it's presidential candidate Dean, I would say probably no. The committee has got to figure out how to keep people like me in it. If he's firing people up and he's saying we've got to swing to the left - it's harder to swing along with him. And hell, I live in New York City. I don't live in Nebraska anymore."

    Bob Kerrey's qualified to speak of the national needs of the party based on? His failed run for presidential nominee in 1992? No, he doesn't live in Nebraska anymore. He also doesn't date Debra Winger anymore. And both of those items have about the same weight, which is to say, none.

    Lastly, be sure to check out Matthew L. Wald's "U.S. to Specify Documents Needed for Driver's Licenses" ( Why?

    The intelligence agency overhaul given final approval on Wednesday by the Senate also reorganizes the way the states grant driver's licenses, a change that civil liberties advocates and some security experts say could have far-reaching consequences.
    Issuing driver's licenses has always been mostly a state function, but the new law requires the federal Department of Homeland Security to issue regulations on what documentation a state must require before it can grant a license. It also requires that the licenses be "machine readable," which will probably be accomplished through a magnetic stripe or a bar code or both.

    Get it? Clinton's national health care plan led to hand wringing by some over a national i.d. card with some evangicals saying it was the "mark of the beast" and warning "end of times." But who does it appear will be bringing us the national i.d. card? George W. Bush. There's some irony in that. Though I doubt the evangicals will do any hand wringing or fretting over this national i.d. card.