Saturday, December 25, 2004

Mama was a Heavy Weight

Where's Kat? A number of you are e-mailing asking that. I don't know, she's turning into the Hunter S. Thompson of this site. Seriously though, there's a piece she's working on that she's sent a part of. From what I've read, I think you'll enjoy it.

But Kat's Korner is highlighting the need for us to weigh in on our popular culture with regard to music. Music is a driving force. And as Kat noted (and Frank in Orlando quoted her on in the Year in Review) if the right wants to play cultural wars, bring it on. We'll win. We have in the past and we will again.

I had a poli sci professor who was once asked why so many of artists were of the left and she offered the opinion that artists have to be more in touch with their feelings and expressing them so, therefore, they would be more outwardly concerned. I don't know how much validity is in that statement but I'd enjoy your feedback on the statement and/or why you think artists are more likely to be of the left. (I'll weigh in too when we do an entry on that.) (This is an opinion topic. And the site e-mail is

But as Kat noted ( we drew the line in the "sixties" and we can do so again. (Personally, I define "the sixties" by the mood, not the calender. I feel it begins with the arrival of the Beatles and ends with Watergate.) We can draw the line again and, I think, we should.

I'm going to quote from a section in Michelle Phillips book California Dreamin': The True Story of the Mamas and the Papas (Warner Books: New York, New York. 1986). The book is now out of print but you can buy it used in a variety of places (including Amazon and, again, you can check your local libraries. Librarians have been at the forefront of taking on the Patriot Act so please visit your local library if time permits.

The point in highlighting this section is two-fold (though there may be more than two things you can get from it). First, so many of us are trying to hang on to hope in these "interesting times."
I expected to get a lot of "Oh, we're going to start celebrating birthdays, are we?" e-mails decrying that an entry was used to note a birthday (belated due to posting problems) (see Instead, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Fans of Jane Fonda and those not familiar with her wrote in to say how much they enjoyed that post. Rob: "These are dark times, but we have seen dark times before. And just reading that and thinking about it reminds me that we do have power. Erika's right, we always have the power of 'yes' and the power of 'no.' We can go along blindly and keep our mouths shut or we can use our voices and our power of affirmation or negation." Erika noted: "I always loved Fonda's films but thank you for reminding us of her activism and her survival. We are sorely in need of a few like Fonda, [Phil] Ochs and [Joan] Baez today. Where are they in the latest crop of celebrities?" One may be Natalie Portman according to Domnick: "The tribute to Jane Fonda's birthday was great and reminded me of Natalie Portman's Good Morning America appearence and how they wanted her to change shirts and when she refused to remove her John Kerry t-shirt they refused to show it on the screen."

Keesha noted, "I like that we have a plate at the table for people who speak out. Whether it's Chevy Chase or Whoopi Goldberg or Michael Moore or Jane Fonda. We need to be sure that people know that we support them. The right is so organized about slapping them down in an attempt to silence them. When someone's trying to tell the truth and speak truth to power, we need to say, 'We suppport you.' We don't need to say, 'Oh well Whoopi's not my style' or anything similar. Whoopi is my style. She's an incredible woman who's very funny and also a strong dramatic actress. The posts on Chevy Chase, the birthday recognition for Jane Fonda and Kat's Korner, I've decided my monies will only go to films and CDs that feature artists who share my beliefs. I'm drawing the line firmly."

for the Chevy Chase & Whoopi Goldberg entry Keesha is referring to.]

Which is the second reason. The line gets drawn all the time. And in many ways, it currently exists. You can't listen to most talk radio (that includes sports talk radio) that doesn't express outright hostility towards people who have spoken out. (Personally, I love the "out" that so many "sports" talkers give themselves when they're caught in an inaccuracy or outright lie. "We don't do corrections because this isn't news, we're just average guys talking about what average guys talk about.") (That was sarcasm on my point, that I "love" that "out.")

They're dictating it and they're following a play book. It's the same one that was unleashed on Congress Rep. Barbara Lee among others. Attack, attack, attack and show America what happens when you don't "watch what you say" (to quote Ari on the last four words). Take 'em out and everyone else will be too imitidated to speak out. (Barbara Lee's web site is If you're unfamiliar with this strong and vocal voice in the U.S. Congress, please check out her web site.)

The one small voice factor only works when we back up those lonely voices. Frank in Orlando noted that he made his family go see Meet the Fockers this weekend. There was a split on what to see and Frank weighed in that a film starring Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand and Robert De Niro was one that they needed to not only see but also to support as well. (He reports it's hilarious and Hoffman and Streisand have great chemisty.)

Maybe you don't like comedies. Or you don't have the money for a ticket. That's fine. You can show your support in other ways. Someone at work is ragging on Hoffman or Streisand or De Niro, Susan Sarandon or whomever, you just say, "Oh, that's too bad you feel that way because I really enjoy ____." You don't have to start an argument. You don't have to yell. You're just noting your support for people on the left.

If you think about your workplace or your campus or your peer group, I'm sure you'll realize there's someone in the group who works extra hard at being funny. Extra, extra hard. They steal material. I'm sure most of us know something like that. Many of the people repeating "jokes" are only repeating them because some RNC stooge on talk radio said it. It was on the radio, so it must be funny! It was on radio, so it must be how all of America feels! Rush chuckled so it's gold, baby, it's gold!!!!

Noting your support will force those "borrowers" of material to rethink whom they take jokes "on loan" from. There are people who truly hate those on the left. If someone like that is in your circle a statement like, "Oh, that's too bad you feel that way because I really enjoy ___" will put them on notice. If they try to debate you and you're not suited for that or in the mood for that, you can respond, "I'm not going to argue this point with you."

We've allowed the right to use their echo chamber to redefine who is acceptable and who isn't.
Draw the line and start supporting people. And on the left, hold people accountable. You can do it in private, one on one. You can say, "That joke wasn't funny." Or, "I can't believe you stated you support ___'s right to free speech and agree with them on that but you think they can't sing/act/whatever. And you think that while they're being attacked this is really the time to offer pithy putdowns. I don't see that as supportive."

But the second point (getting back on topic) is that historically this has happened. People have drawn the lines. And when that happens we win. The music world can honestly live without Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake. We're not talking artists here, we're talking product with a shelf date. And both have them passed the expiration date sometime ago but a corporate owned and run radio system is more than happy to keep playing their nonsense instead of broadcasting songs that speak of the world today.

When we draw the line, we force them to answer to us. They may not want to get behind John Fogerty's new album, for instance, but if we're letting them know this is what we want and that we will say "no" to anything else, we can force this issue. But to do that, we have to be willing to draw the line and support the people who are attempting to relate to the world as it is, in a reality based way.

With that in mind, here's a section from Michelle Phillips book California Dreamin' (this cutting is from pages 142-143) that will either remind you or explain for the first time that, in the sixties, people were held to higher standards. When "J"'s poem went up last week (see
a few of you wrote in asking who the Mamas and the Papas were. They were a folk rock band (vocal) of the sixties: Michelle & John Phillips, Denny Doherty and Cass (Mama Cass to many) Elliott. I'll provide some links to web sites at the end of this post. Unlike Destiny's Child, this was a group that was a part of the world around them.

The sixties produced a very special combination of people with good intentions and a generous, sharing spirit, some of whom also had wealth, though that certainly wasn't the most important ingredient. It wasn't a myth; it was real. . . . We believed the media was increasingly on the side of the right against might. We were for peace, an end to the war in Vietnam, for sure, and it was a badge of honor to be disapproved by those who believed in the war. I remember I was asked to do a cover of Teen magazine. It was a very important monthly then and now. I was anxious to do it; it was a good opportunity to do something on my own -- not a Mamas and Papas thing but a Mama Michelle thing -- and I found it exciting. At the magazine's studio I found an art director and a photographer, of course, and they'd brought Carrie White in to dress my hair. The idea was to put my hair in braids, which was fine with me because that was how I often wore it.

Then I glanced into the art director's bag and noticed a green beret, neatly folded in a piece of tissue. "Look," I said, "that isn't for me, is it?" The art director said it was, and added that it was going to look great. I said, "I don't know whom you have to call, but you better call someone right now because I'm not going to wear that beret." She asked me what I was talking about. It was what they'd planned for the cover of that issue; it had all been decided. I had to wear it.

"I'm not going to wear a green beret," I said. "It's contrary to everything I believe in and everything I stand for. I cannot, will not put it on." In that case, the art director told me, I couldn't do the cover. "Fine," I said. She changed tactics, switching from threats to persuasion: hey, come on, no big deal, it's just fashion. . . . But nothing she could say would sway me on this issue. These were the days when every subtlety of people's views was examined: political stance, song lyrics, and everything else. Hard to remember that now, when everyone's buying GI Joe dolls for their kids. In the sixties (and, in fact, today) I certainly didn't buy war toys or wear green berets. Anyhow, that was the end of the Teen cover. They were not going to be pushed around by this little rock 'n' roller, so I was replaced this time. I felt good about it. There wasn't a person I knew who would have said, "You should have worn the green beret." There was an article in the following issue of Teen magazine called "Mama was a Heavyweight," with a picture of the four of us and a script that began: "You probably think we're talking about Cass but you're wrong. . . . " They ripped me apart for being un-American and all of that. I loved the article. I couldn't have put it better myself. Ha! Once again the idea was more important than the person. They, those green berets, were the
f---ing heroes. They were murderers. They said, some of them, later: "When it got right down to it, we were the guys slitting throats with piano wire." They were, however, glorified then.


The Mamas and the Papas recorded four albums by choice and one under threat of legal action (People Like Us). Their hits included "California Dreamin'" (written by Michelle & John Phillips), "Creeque Alley" (ditto) (and "Bullies Without Borders" was inspired by that --
"Monday, Monday," "Dedicated to the One I Love," "Dream a Little Dream of Me" and several other songs are among their hits.

Information about Michelle Phillips can be found at IMDB;fc=1;ft=9;fm=1

Information about Cass Elliott can be found at The Official Cass Elliott Web Site

Denny Doherty's web site is Dream a Little Dream ( "The Internet Obituary Network" offers an obituary on John Phillips (

(John Phillips, as a composer, does have an IMDB entry; however, the page loads blank currently. You can search IMDB ( for Elliott and Doherty as well. The entry was provided for Michelle Phillips because she has been acting for more years than she was singing with the Mamas and the Papas.)

Information about the Mamas and the Papas can be found at Creeque Alley ( as well as at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum ( You can also check out Rolling Stone magazine's web site for their data base on the Mamas and the Papas (

Wikipedia ("the free encyclopedia") has entries on the Mamas and the Papas (; Michelle Phillips (; John Phillips (; Denny Doherty (; and Cass Elliott (

In addition to those web sites, there are numerous books about the Mamas and the Papas.
I'd recommend Michelle's book California' Dreamin' which is informative about the times and offers a well written insider's look. Matthew Greenwald's Go Where You Wanna Go: The Oral History of the Mamas & the Papas is a comprehensive look at the group and (coming out in 2002) is still in print.

I've spent a half hour going through my book shelves for my paperback copy of Papa John. Either I'm missing it or it's walked off without permission. John Phillips co-wrote Papa John with Jim Jerome. It's a thick book (I'm guessing over three hundred pages) and as I'm remembering it, we're not even to page one hundred when John Phillips loses his virginity.

My point here isn't, "Geez, I wanted some sex!" (The book portrays a sexual experience later in the sixties involving multiple well known people.) It's that I think very few people have a childhood that's so interesting it can take up a great deal of space in an autobiography. John's book focuses on his early life, his first marriage (Michelle is his second marriage), then finally the Mamas and the Papas.

While Michelle to chooses to end her narrative in 1968 (with the official end of the group) and then tack on an epilogue; but in John's book, we have approximately eighteen more years of narrative which includes his drug problems in great detail. Someone else might read it and love the book. I didn't. (Both Michelle and John's books came out in 1986.) I did enjoy the middle section, on the Mamas and the Papas.

To further contrast the two books, on page fourteen of Michelle's book, she's already seventeen and moving away from home and by page seventeen has met John Phillips.

I wouldn't have been bothered if Michelle's book had been longer (it's 178 pages); but with Papa John, I kept wishing it would move more quickly. John had kicked a very public addiction by the time he co-wrote his book and I'm sure his book helped many people and more power to him for that but I was hoping for a little more "Papa" John and a little less pre-Mamas and Papas and post-Mamas and Papas.

That seems so negative. But if you should pick it up (out of print, so seek out used copies or check your local library) because it's co-written by a founding member of the Mamas and the Papas, don't blame me if you're left wondering, "Where are the Mamas and the Papas?"
Keith Richards and Mick Jagger show up briefly in the seventies section so Rolling Stones fans might enjoy that. You'll learn about the classic folk song "500 Miles" and how John was wrongly credited with co-writing that. (That's not the hit from Benny & Joon' soundtrack by the Proclaimers. Nor is it written by "Red West" as some web sites claim -- I looked online in an attempt to avoid another physical search. Looking at the sheet music and CDs crediting the writer, Hedy West wrote the song.)

Point? There's information in the book (which I'm thinking now is over 410 pages) but if you're expecting John to relate a lot of great stories about the Mamas and the Papas, you'll probably be disappointed.

I think that "J" captured the era very well in the poem "I Was a Child When Things Mattered" so I'll steer you to

For a more somber view of this period, pick up Joan Didion's The White Album and read the first essay ("The White Album"). In my copy that's pages eleven to forty-eight. (Michelle & John Phillips are mentioned briefly, in passing, on page twenty-six.) This book remains in print and you can check, other book dealers (online and physical stores), used bookstores (ibid) and your local library.

(And I've been repeating myself as I do when it's late and I'm tired so, in the words of Carly Simon, "Let's close now.")

Where Are You Now, My Son?

They say that the war is done,
Where are you now, my son?
-- "Where Are You Now, My Son?" words and music by Joan Baez

Liang e-mailed asking if we could note another Christmas. December 1972. Liang wasn't born yet and her parents hadn't yet moved to the United States. Press clippings and the song by Joan Baez ("Where Are You Now, My Son?") round out the stories she's heard from her family about that Christmas.

It rained when I was in Hanoi. It rained into the bomb craters and made brown swimming pools. The people were carrying their bicycles over the ruins, packing up with nowhere to go.
After the first few nights of bombing, most of the city was evacuated. During the seventh and eighth days of bombing, the city began to fill up again. The B-52's were hitting the countryside at the edges of the city, and I suppose people felt they'd rather die at home. I didn't want to die anywhere.
This is the story of my thirteen day stay in Hanoi, eleven of them the days of the Christmas bombing, the result of the "most difficult decision" President Nixon had to make during his term in office. The Christmas bombing was, as it turned out, the heaviest bomging in the history of the world.
In December of 1972 I was on the road in the eastern United States when I received a telephone call from Cora Weiss. The group The Liaison Committee, which Cora headed, had been sending a steady flow of American visitors to North Vietnam to try to keep up some kind of friendly relations with the Vietnamese people even as our country continued to bomb the hell out of them, burn their villages, and napalm their children. Before Watergate, anyone who talked or wrote about the atrocities the U.S. military was performing in Vietnam was looked upon skeptically, or with great annoyance and anger, by a high percentage of the American population.
I would be the guest of a North Vietnamese group called the Committee for Solidarity with the American People. No serious fighting had taken place in the north for many months, and four Americans were being invited, among other things to deliver Christmas mail to the POW's in Hanoi. Gabriel would be with his dad at the time. I could return by Christmas day.
-- Baez, Joan. And A Voice to Sing With. Plume Trademark: New York. 1987. pp. 193-194

It's walking to the battleground that always makes me cry
I've met so few folks in my time who weren't afraid to die
But dawn bleeds with the people here and the morning skies are red
As young girls load up bicycles with flowers for the dead.

An aging woman picks along the craters and the rubble
A piece of cloth, a bit of shoe, a whole lifetime of trouble
A sobbing chant comes from her throat and splits the morning air
The single son she had last night was buried under her
They say that the war is done,
Where are you now, my son?

And A Voice to Sing With offers a harrowing 30-page account of Joan's thirteen days in Hanoi entitled "Where Are You Now My Son?," the longest chapter in the book. Those words, translated from the French, were being sung in "the depths of sadness" by a lone Vietnamese woman hobbling over a crater made by carpet bombing the night before in Kan Thiem. Joan came home with fifteen hours of cassette recordings, "including the sirens, the bombs, Phantoms, B-52's, anti-aircraft, children laughing, Veitnamese singing, myself singing in the shelter." She composed a long poem in rememberance of what she witnessed and did a rough edit of the tapes, intending to release it as soon as possible.
-- from the booklet to Joan Baez: The Complete A&M Recordings. 2003. Essay by Arthur Levy, pp. 6-7.

On the third night I cleaned up and went down to dinner. From that point on, my mind contains only strong flashbacks of what took place. I remember that we were again shown films, but these interested me because they were about children and what the different kinds of poison chemicals used by the United States military had done to unborn infants. I remember a sequence of a cat in a cage dying from a kind of gas, and a monkey dying from the same thing. I remember an American soldier shooting fire from a hose at a small hut and planes spraying miles of jungle with poisonous white clouds. There was a picture of a baby born abnormal because of chemicals. She was lying on her stomach and appeared to have no muscles. A nurse and doctor were standing next to her; they lifted her arm and when they let it go it dropped to her side like a piece of butterfish.
. . .
The electricity in the building failed, leaving us sitting in the dark. Everyone stiffened, the Americans uneasy, the Vietnamese speaking rapidly to each other in quiet tones. Then, as though I'd been whirled back in time, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I heard a siren coming from a distance, starting at zero bass and rising evenly to a solid, steady high note where it stayed for a second or two and then slid back down through all the notes like a glider. All I could think of was the civil defense drills we'd had in grammar school. I sat still, aware that my heart had doubled in pace, and waited for instructions from the Vietnamese. By the time the siren began its second wail, one of our hosts had lit a candle and broken out of Vietnamese to say to us, calmly and with a smile, "Please excuse me. Alert."
. . .
"What's going on?" I asked a Latin man. He was Cuban.
"They don't know anything. Maybe planes. I don't hear them. We'll just wait. Hasn't been any bombing for a long time."
Bombing? I heard the word, and I surely suspected that's what the sirens were all about, but hearing this man say it as he looked so matter-of-factly at the sky, was something different. . . .
A tall Indian held up his forefinger and said, "Shhh." In the distance I heard them . . . the planes. Everyone went on standing there in the moonlight, but now we were not talking. The sound faded into the distance and the voices came back, only much softer. People let out sighs. My heart was slamming again. I felt alone with my panic. There were a few more jokes, the voices almost back to normal.
And then it hit.
The planes were coming fast, and they were loud. The group jumped as a unit, heading for the door of the shelter down the narrow stairs. A big boom happened somewhere, and it shook the shelter walls and sent a wave of adrenaline through all of us. People hurried down the steps. The Cuban sat me down at the end of a long narrow bench which faced another long narrow bench. I had to go to the bathroom. There was another blast.
-- And A Voice to Sing With, pp. 201-202

There were over sixty bombing raids in eleven days, in what turned out to be the heaviest bombing in the history of the world.
Mike Allen, Episcopal minister travelling with our party of four Americans, also carried a cassette maching, so the male narrative voice is his. Much of the loud bomb and jet sounds, anti-aircraft, etc were taped by him from the balcony of the third floor of our hotel -- the living quarters of Jean Thoroval of Agence France Press, his wife Marie Claud, and their friends. Bless them all for the courage they gave me.
. . .
The war in Indochina is not yet over, and the war against violence has barely begun.
-- from Baez's liner notes on the back of the vinyl copy of Joan Baez's Where Are You Now, My Son? A&M Records, Inc. 1973 [thanks Liang for e-mailing a copy of that]

On the third day the Bach Mai Hospital was bombed. I saw a dead woman laid out by the roadside. There were corpses around her carefully covered with mats. She had not yet been covered up. She was old. I wanted to go and lie next to her and put my arms around her and kiss her. I would have done it if there had been no people around but I was afraid that I would be accused of being theatrical. We walked around what had been the largest hospital in North Vietnam. The head of the hospital was speaking rapidly, pointing to the wreckage of three-sided rooms on second stories where beds hung partially over the floor's edge, bits of sheet dangling in the breeze.
"This was X-ray," he said, waving towards the remnants of a wall, as we labored over slippery debris. . . .
A woman hurried by carrying a bandaged boy on her back, her face set but tears undried on her cheeks. Telford was asking the dates of when certain craters had been made. Was this one fresh or was it from the June bombing? The Vietnamese spoke quietly, explaining everything. Quat was there. He asked me to sit down and go no further while the others went ahead. Barry stayed with me. From around the corner came the smell of burnt flesh. Near the entrance of the grounds we could see a crane and some small equipment struggling to lift concrete and bricks from the mouth of the shelter in which a number of people were still alive. The last I heard, the attempt was not successful, and eighteen people died there.
-- And a Voice to Sing With, pp. 209-210

Oh, people of the shelters what a gift you've given me
To smile at me and quietly let me share your agony
And I can only bow in utter humbleness and ask
Forgiveness and forgiveness for the things we've brought to pass.

The black pajama'd culture that we've tried to kill with pellet holes
And rows of tiny coffins we've paid for with our souls
Have built a spirit seldom seen in women and in men,
And the flower of Bac Mai will surely blossom once again.
I've heard that the war is done,
Then where are you now, my son?

Our visit to the POW camp was even more bizarre than the press conference. It began with the same red tape I'd been through at prisons everywhere, except that I was never before given tea in the warden's office. . . . I had my guitar, Mike had his Bible, Telford had his notepad, and Barry had a stomachache. . . .
We were closely supervised as the pilots showed us around their barracks. Flying shrapnel had severely damaged their bunkhouse the night before, and they were irate about not having any shelters provided for them. . . . They didn't understand what was happening. One of them held up a large piece of shrapnel.
"This thing came right through the ceiling. We was hiding under the beds. We've kinda made our own shelters, but they don't amount to much. I don't understand."
"What don't you understand?" I asked.
"This," he said, holding up the deadly looking piece of steel again. "I mean, I don't understand what's happening." He was absolutely serious.
"Well," I ventured. "There are these planes flying over here every night carrying bombs."
"I know that. But I don't understand what's happening," he repeated for the third time.
"Well, it's really very simple," I explained. "These people drop the bombs out of the planes and the bombs fall to the earth where they explode and cause tremendous damage to people and things. Apparently one or several of these bombs landed close enough to your compound to send that piece of metal flying through your roof."
"But what I mean is," he persisted, "Kissinger said peace was at hand, isn't that what he said?" The sarcasm drained out of me like milk pouring from the tipped cup of a child. I wanted to cry.
"That's what he said," I told the expectant pilot. "Maybe he didn't mean it. They lie a lot."
-- And A Voice to Sing With p.213

In a damaged prison camp where they no longer had command
They shook their heads, what irony we thought peace was at hand
The preacher read a Christmas prayer and the men kneeled on the ground
Then sheepishly asked me to sing "They Drove Old Dixie Down."
Yours was the righteous gun,
Where are you now, my son?

We came to what looked like a large expensive movie set of a piece of the moon. Men were standing atop craters banked with mud and trash, shouting out the number of the dead. Today they wanted us to know. The number was mounting in the hundreds. The white headbands were a part of the moon people's costume. Some of the younger children were laughing excitedly and scrambling from crater to crater like extras. Many people walked in slow motion. Barry guided me around the edges of a crater. We were walking on top of what had been people's homes. Here was a shoe, here was a half-buried little sweater, a piece of broken dish jammed into the earth, a book lying open, its damp pages stuck together. The press were there with their cameras. Barry and I were walking just behind Jean Thoroval and his interpreter. On the other side of a thirty-foot abyss I saw a woman bending low to the ground singing a strange little song as she hobbled back and forth over an area of ten or twelve feet of ground. At first I thought she was singing a song of joy that she was all right and her family had been spared. But as we got closer her song grew strange to my ears. She was alone. Thoroval asked his interpreter what she was singing. The interpreter listened closely for a few seconds and said to him, "Elle dit, 'Mon fils, mon fils, ou êtes vous maintenant, mon fils?' -- My son, my son. Where are you now, my son?"
Oh, heaven and earth. Such depths of sadness cannot exist. I crumpled to the ground and covered my face and sobbed. That woman's boy lay somewhere under her feet packed into an instantaneous grave of mud, and she, like a wounded old cat, could only tread back and forth over the place she'd last seen him, moaning her futile song. Where are you now, my son?
And a Voice to Sing With, p.218

Liang wants us to think about, on this day of peace, the effects our actions are having. "Bombs don't just fall and knock out a building. People live in those areas. Precision bomb is a term that does nothing to describe the effects the bombing has on the people. I grew up hearing about the bombing at Christmas in 1972. To this day, my father can't listen to Baez's song because it brings up too many painful memories but my mother always insisted that all of us [children] heard it and realized that war isn't just some sort of game like chess, it takes people lives and people are dying now, right now. Do we even know why? Do we even press for an explanation? Or are we just going about our lives and dismissing the casualties from our heads? Even while giving lip service to the spirit of Christmas?"

[Baez's book, And A Voice to Sing With, is out of print but you can buy used copies at Amazon -- -- and you can also check for it in your local libraries. "Where Are You Now, My Son?" is a 21 minutes and forty-two seconds song. In the days of vinyl, it took up an entire side of the record. It's available now on CD as part of the boxed set Joan Baez: The Complete A&M Recordings which came out in the fall of 2003. Joan Baez's official web site is Clicking on "lyrics" at that page will allow you to access a variety of her songs including "Where Are You Now, My Son?" I'd also recommend the Criterion Collection DVD edition of Hearts & Minds, the 1974 film by Peter Davis that won an Oscar for best documentary.]

[Note: Quick proofreading done on this has resulted in typos in being corrected. I'm sure there are many I didn't catch.]

New York Times December 25th

Today's Times doesn't seem to have many stories that are must reads. (I may be too tired to properly appreciate it.)

For Krista, I'll highlight an editorial (something we rarely do):

The White House deserves kudos for protesting Russian President Vladimir Putin's sale of the main production unit of the oil giant Yukos to a company that no one had ever heard of before. Sure, the rebuke came a full day after President Bush passed up a chance to publicly criticize his good friend, Mr. Putin, for the Kremlin's clumsy efforts to smother Yukos and other private enterprises in Russia, but at least it happened.
The tale is just about as sorry a story as business enterprise can get in Russia, and it keeps getting weirder. Mr. Putin, bent on destroying Yukos and its jailed founder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was preparing for what was to be the final swing of his dull ax, the "auction" of Yukos's most critical asset to Gazprom, the Russian state energy behemoth. But Yukos's remaining managers, now wisely living abroad, hit on the idea of filing for bankruptcy protection in Houston.

. . .
Nobody argues that Yukos, a product of the piratical privatizations of the early 1990's, is an innocent victim. Russia certainly can choose to nationalize the industry. But reversing a piratical privatization through a piratical nationalization only confirms that doing business in Russia remains highly risky.

That's from "The Strange Yukos Sale" ( "Piratical" is an adjective. From "pirate." (Yes, I had to look it up.)

"Remembering the Dead and the Horror of Mosul" ( by Christine Hauser may be the finest article on the front page:

On Tuesday, Sgt. Michael S. Posner was standing in the middle of a crowded dining hall at Forward Operating Base Marez, holding a cheeseburger and fries on a lunch tray and looking for his friends, when a huge force blew him off his feet.
The rows of tables and chairs shattered into a chaos of debris and blood. Screams tore through the room. The air turned dusky with the gray aftermath of smoke and dust, out of which the faces of the living and the dead slowly emerged.
On Friday, Sergeant Posner, 34, from Farmingville, N.Y., was one of hundreds of service members who went to the base's movie theater to honor two of the 14 American soldiers killed in the attack. In pairs, they filed past a now-familiar battlefield monument: the dead men's helmets and dog tags slung on their M-16's, propped up between their combat boots.
The mourners touched the helmets, sobbed, bowed their heads.

The Year in Review for this site just went up. It's under 10:46 p.m. for Thursday (when I began working on the post). Scroll down past this item or click to read it.

That took forever to complete and hopefully will be considered a Friday entry even though this program elects to place it on the day the post was begun. I've been cooking pies and assorted other things all night while I was pulling from the e-mails for that entry. I've got three hours before guest arrive and I'm tired enough that I'm willing to risk not basting the turkey for those hours (plus, I know from past experience, chicken stock can revive an underbasted turkey if used in the last hour and a half of cooking). Kit may post a Kit's Korner today but I'm not sure about that. This may be it for posting on this site from me for at least eight hours.

A number of you wrote that for whatever reasons (religion, such as being Jewish; being alone this holiday, etc.) that you were hoping a post would be up for today. There's the very lengthy year in review to read through. You can also check various links that are noted in it. We did not go on vacation at this site as you worried we might. We're here (and mainly due to the fact that so many of you noted other sites that were not going to be posting today). But I do need to grab three hours sleep and then there will be a steady stream of guests. Though it's listed as a Friday post (at ten something, I'm too tired to flip screens), I hope you will consider it a Friday entry.

Friday, December 24, 2004

The Common Ills Year in Review

The Common Ills Year in Review
Highs and Lows and we're as rude and as nasty as we want to be
[Yazz should enjoy most of this]

2004, the year where "everything changed" except the presidency. Think Bush has an easy ride now? That's pre-November 2nd thinking!

Headed for a Tumble Award:

George W. Bush


I teach at a high school and what I saw in the last years is adults who were unwilling to speak out or question. Students weren't intimidated and wouldn't be silenced -- one of the miracles of youth. In my school, they were the leaders on raising questions that teachers were scared to bring up on their own. We've seen a huge shift in the response (silence) nation wide to Bush and his policies. We are all of us asking questions and the genie's out of the bottle now.
His "leadership" has been a miserable failure and almost half of us who voted registered that. The world is registering that. Even the media is being pushed into doing their job (though some like Cokie Roberts and Matt Lauer resist). Things have changed and there's no turning back now. He will be held accountable in the next four years and the free ride is over. The right wingers can scream and try to silence us but our numbers will only increase. Had we been anywhere near as vocal in 2002 as we were in 2004, he wouldn't be in the White House right now. He's headed for a fall. Even his own party in Congress is showing signs of spunk. There will be stumbles and failures but we as a people will persevere and we will be heard. 2004 marks the end of the myth of Bully Boy Bush.

Person of note for 2004:

Medea Benjamin


Medea Benjamin and the organizations she works with spoke for all of us. Whether standing up and being counted against the war or addressing the problems with our FCC, Benjamin gave voice to various issues that effect us all.
Her thanks? Being arrested at the Democratic Convention and the Republican one as well. She's a fighter and she won't be silenced. Like Joan Baez before her, where there's a voice needing to be heard, Benjamin is there. She inspires more people than she could ever imagine. And she was a driving force in 2004.

[Medea Benjamin is associated with many organizations. We'll highlight Code Pink here]

Organization of the Year:

MoveOn. org


Mobolizing and creating a new sense of community in a nation that's grown ever more disconnected, [] has demonstrated courage and backbone.

Marc Cooper might argue that choice. He wrote in LA Weekly []:

Just the title alone under which the meetings took place is enough to make you scratch ... um ... your head. "Bush Beat Kerry But He Didnt Beat Me" was the perky slogan that brought what MoveOn says are "tens of thousands" of supporters to these post-defeat huddles. And I do mean defeat. Because while Bush didnt beat MoveOn, he sure as hell whipped MoveOns candidate which, the last time I checked, is the only thing that counts in an election.

Cooper's entitled to his opinion but from a poli sci point of view, one could easily argue that one election cycle isn't the "whole game." has laid groundwork and inspired.

The 527s did some outstanding work this election but deserves special note because they're not turning into appeasers now. The infamous "We Bought it, We Own It" e-mail led to hand wringing from various pundits. But the fact of the matter is that is right there at the forefront. And they're not going to go "soft" on reproductive rights just because some weak a--ed whiner wants to push the party to the right.

To quote from Eli ["Pariser, Justin Ruben, and the whole MoveOn PAC team"] 's December 9th e-mail:

MoveOn includes Republicans, Greens, and independents. But all of us who are struggling for health care, clean air, decent jobs, and a sane foreign policy can agree on one thing: we're better off with a vibrant, populist Democratic Party that's strong enough to challenge the extreme-right Republican leadership.
Why haven't we had one? Under outgoing DNC chair Terry McAuliffe, the Party cozied up to many of the same corporate donors that fund the Republicans -- drug companies, HMO's, media conglomerates, big banks, polluting industries. The result was watered down, play-it-safe politics that kept the money flowing but alienated traditional Democrats as well as reform-minded independents in search of vision and integrity. And so the Party lost ground.
But in 2004, something incredible happened: hundreds of thousands of small contributors gave millions and millions of dollars and changed the way politics works forever. New we have an opportunity to birth a new Democratic Party -- a Party of the people that's funded by the people and that fights for the people.

Those who try to degrade only reveal how scared and frightened they are of the power and potential of

Best Blogging by a Professional Writer:

Gloria Steinem.


Steinem's blog was everything we've come to expect from her: inclusive, full of telling details and focused on the people, not the power players. When time constraints set in, instead of scribbling something, anything, she turned the writing over to the talented Alison Friedman. Between the two of them, we heard and met voices that went beyond what [Maureen] Dowd noted in the New York Times or [Richard] Cohen noted in the Washington Post: we went back to the people and not in a "On my way to the airport" or "while being served" Thomas Friedman [op-ed columnist for the Times] manner that patronized the "common person" but in a manner that treated everyone with the respect we'd like to be treated.

Best newscaster:

Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!)

If you're not watching Democracy Now! you're not watching news. While the media monopolies have focused too often on reassuring and underinforming, Democracy Now! has provided real points of view and real issues. This year, Democracy Now! broadcast internationally and provided us with music and voices that our domestic media has apparently judged not worthy of notice.
At a time when "broadcast news" has become entertainment and lost it's public service role, Democracy Now! reminds us of what the role of electronic journalism can be and should be.
While others worry and fret over the departure of Tom Brokaw and the impending one of Dan Rather, Democracy Now! viewers take pride in the committment Goodman and Gonzalez bring to their job but realize, as Goodman and Gonzalez continuously demonstrate, it's about the news, not the person.
Fifty of you wrote in to urge this award (some of you called it "Best TV journalism," some called it "Best Webcast," and some of you called it "Best Radio journalism" -- it is all three and much more). By maintaining a standard of journalism that far exceeds the budget limitations (should you be able to donate to Democracy Now! please consider donating), Democracy Now! consistently proves that the media conglomerates excuse of "budget cutbacks" and "layoffs" are no excuse for failing to provide the information we need as a people to participate in our democracy.

As Francisco noted:

While Brian Williams [is] telling Jay Leno that he would factor in whether a subject was appropriate for his children in deciding what to cover and while the story of the "get" becomes more important than the actual interview, while all big three morning shows pass of pretaped comments from their evening anchors as live "tosses" to them, Democracy Now! remains the only news show on my TV that I trust. To Amy Goodman, I would say "Thank you, you inspire me." To Juan Gonzalez, I would say, "Continúe, mi hermano."


Worst Broadcaster:



Because it's supposed to be news oriented but isn't. I suppose we should be grateful that it's dropped the Cooking With Judy (Woodruff) segments but that was the least of its problems.
Each time it's lost to Fox News it's moved further and further away from news. The crawl gets on my nerves. I don't need that much information. If you can't report on screen via a person the needed news, then maybe it's time to pack it in? There's not a face on the network I have any trust in. Time and again, they've all disappointed me. Crossfire long ago outlived any pupose and by the time Jon Stewart (of The Daily Show) went on and pointed out how damaging the show was, CNN should have gotten the message. Janeane Garofalo's guest hosting may have been the last time a true voice from the left was represented. I've also noted that Julian Epstein has apparently vanished from the network. I have no ill will towards Anderson Cooper but when it was discovered that staffers had planted a question during a debate, his show should have been pulled from the network. He lost his credibility and it's impossible for him to regain it with me after that. Larry King's babbles still have the I-Can't-Believe-I'm-Hearing-This factor to them but I lost respect for him after he refused to book Kitty Kelley to discuss The Family. I don't even read Kelley but darned if King has been force feeding her to us for years as some sort of Princess Di expert. Yet let her write a book about an American political family and suddenly King can't find her number in his rolodex? Soledad O'Brien's pinched face and expressions which go from dour to jubiliant detract from any reporting she might be able to do. Judging by the grim expression she utilizes when reporting on Democrats, she hates them. I have better things to do with my time, the same attitude, I might add, that led me to dumping ABC's This Week when Cokie Roberts was added to the show. I know she's technically left so it should be safe to return to viewing it but everytime I try, there she is giggling with George Will who's a whole nother reason not to watch. I've found that breaking news can be found better online (even at yahoo news) and that I can get more out of an hour of Democracy Now! than CNN delivers in a full day.

Most Improved Magazine:

Rolling Stone.

Suffering a mid-life crisis, they hired a "laddie mag" editor who came close to destroying the magazine and all it's stood for. The reign of Ed Needham will probably be most famous for the questionable "bug chasers" article (one that featured at least one source who publicly refuted the quotes attributed to him). With his departure, Rolling Stone has worked hard to recover their momentum. The soft ball (and continuous, as Kat noted in an e-mail) coverage of the likes of Justin Timberlake have been replaced with writing more along the lines of "Naked Lunchbox."

It's been a return to form that's resulted in some amazing articles and a renewed sense of purpose. The days of being a magazine for "non readers" appear to have ended with Ed Needham's departure and the Gary Trodeau illustrated cover was frame worthy. The coverage of the efforts to boost youth turnout this election was consistently strong (and often only addressed in Rolling Stone). The magazine matters once again and, right or wrong, Kara, Jonah, Ben and I all credit the return of journalism and significance to Jann Wenner and his renewed interest in the magazine.

Most Useless Magazine:

The New Republic (print) and Slate (online)

Tony on The New Republic:

You couldn't pay me to read The New Republic. The commercials on Air America are seductive but if you know anything about the magazine, even just a little familiar with, you know this is just another case of Madison Avenue trying to get inside your head. They supported the war. Now they're launching a new one [war] on the left. The magazine is completely useless to the left. The Nation, The Progressive, In These Times all came out against the war while TNR tried to mark time by playing appeasement and attempting to calm us. I quit buying it a year ago and it was the smartest decision I ever made. In it's heart, it's really Joe Lieberman.

Dallas on Slate:

Have a bigger bunch of uniformed prattling fools existed? The news that the Washington Post was buying it only demonstrated how out of touch they and Slate are, so it should be the perfect marriage! Jack Shafer veers from topic to topic with no consistency and writes like the demon spawn of Howie Kurtz and Cokie Roberts. Dahlia Lithwick may be worth the cost [it's free online] of Slate but as a subscriber to the New York Times, I feel she owes me money for the time she spent subbing for Maureen Dowd. I don't pay for that bull s---. I'm going to provide a link to The Daily Howler on Lithwick's first column and I'd say it applies to all of them.

But other things don’t make this gang mad. A question: When did Lithwick complain about the trashing handed to Candidate Gore? She’s troubled now when anonymous people dare to say that Bush is a dummy. But Gore was called a liar for two solid years, almost always because of stories that Lithwick’s press corps simply made up. Did Lithwick find herself troubled by that? Where are the plaints that she offered?
And one more thing doesn’t trouble this scribe. Where are the plaints that Lithwick pens about the American vice president, Dick Cheney? Last week, Cheney paraded across the land, lying through his teeth about Kerry. Does Lithwick stand up to complain about that? Of course not! Lithwick, writing her first Times piece, voices concern about all the Bush-bashing! Cheney can lie to you all that he likes. Lithwick has deeper concerns.


But I'm not done yet. I want to note the nonsense that is Jacob Weisberg's writing too! The man's a menace to democracy and lazy to the point that "phoning it in" doesn't describe the tone of his work. It's bad enough that his writing is in Slate but I can't believe the New York Times chooses to publish him as well.

I know you don't focus on the [New York Times] Book Review section but I want to draw attention to a review penned by this fool.

He ridiculed James Wolcott's Attack Poodles (and Wolcott [as] "someone who had spent far too much time watching ''The O'Reilly Factor'' with a notepad in hand") while claiming that
"[t]here was, as I remember it, a fairly vigorous debate about the wisdom of invading Iraq in the months leading up to the war, even if one did not find the most sophisticated expressions of it on cable news." What were you watching Weisberg because it wasn't on my TV and studies from everyone (including FAIR) have demonstrated repeatedly that voices opposed to the war were shut out from the discussion.

The Times printed this review which included this assertion by Weisberg:

The liberal caricature Phil Donahue was axed after a few months by MSNBC not because it prefers Republicans but because his ratings were too weak to make the show profitable. The problem may be that libs don't look to politics for entertainment the way cons do, preferring their news straight up, without a twist.

They printed that! And they never ran a correction! Despite the fact that their very own Bill Carter had reported in real time when Donahue was cancelled that it was MSNBC's highest rated show. Facts don't matter to Weisberg, he writes from the gut of "conventional wisdom." That seems to be reflected in all of Slate's article and that may be fine in a freebie but keep your lazy a-- "journalism" out of the paper I pay hard earned money for!

Periodicals That Nourish the heart, soul and mind:

Alternative Press Review
The Advocate
Columbia Journalism Review
Global Outlook
In These Times
The Jackson Advocate
Little Blue World
Mother Jones
The Nation
The New York Review of Books
The New Yorker
The Progressive
Sierra Magazine
Utne Magazine
Z Magazine

[The above were submitted as stand out periodicals by Susan, Brad, Kara, Cedric, Bernardo, Kurt, Ben, Francisco, Liang, Erika, Abhilasha, Krista and Domnick.]

Best Fact Checker:

Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler


I learn so much from The Daily Howler. [] It exposes and educates -- usually with a large whopping of humor. Weekends without a post from The Daily Howler (which are most weekends) leave me feeling deprived! I wish that Bob was ten people and posted every hour.

Most Annoying News Trend:

"Values from the Heartland"


If I hear one more NPR correspondent or ABC reporter telling me that this is the heartland while they push their mikes on some homophobe, I will scream! I have no problem with other voices being heard (even racists or homophobes). I do have a problem with correspondents who present these people as representative of entire communities. Living in a community that's been profiled this week on NPR, I can say for the record that we're not all homophobes and we don't all tremble at the thought of two men or two women marrying. But to listen to NPR's report on my home town, I'm surrounded by homophobes. Actually, the voices quoted in that story are pretty much in the minority in my community. Had NPR not decided the slant of the story before arriving here, they might have put on some voices more reflective of my area. Instead, I suffered through the sort of "reporting" Cokie Roberts does in between pedicures.

Best Songs of the year:

Patti Smith's "Radio Baghdad"; Prince's "Cinnamon Girl"; Eminem's "Mosh"
Eminem's "Mosh"

Eminem's "Mosh"


I know some people will groan over this but of all the songs getting heavy rotation this is the only one that mattered. I'll grant that there were many great songs that never were heard in the mainstream but this one was. Listen to the chorus:

Come along, follow me as I lead through the darkness
As I provide just enough spark, that we need to proceed
Carry on, give me hope, give me strength,
Come with me, and I won't stear you wrong
Put your faith and your trust as I guide us through the fog
Till the light, at the end, of the tunnel, we gonna fight,
We gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march through the swamp
We gonna mosh through the marsh, take us right through the doors
(this song can be found on Eminem's album Encore)

I know Em's been sexist and homophobic and Kat may be upset with my choice but I do think it was an important song. I also think he's lightening up on the sexim and homophobia. Like in "Just Lose It":

Now I'm gonna make you dance
It's your chance
Yeah boy shake that ass
Oops I mean girl girl girl girl
Girl you know you're my world

Or in "Ass Like That":

Jessica Simpson, looks oh so tempting
Nick, I ain’t never seen an ass like that
Every time I see that show on MTV my pee pee goes DOING DOING DOING

I know he could be saying, "Nick, I ain't never seen one like that one on your wife" but that's not the way it sounds to me. Sounds like he's d.o.d. over both of their rears! I hope you'll use this and offer my reasoning so that people don't think I'm a sexist or gay hating loon.

[Cedric says "D.O.D." means "dropped over drooling."]

Prince's "Cinnamon Girl"


The song's amazing musically and you can get so caught up in the chords and Prince's guitar playing that you overlook the lyrics. They shouldn't be overlooked:

As war drums beat in Babylon
Cinnamon girl starts 2 pray
Eye've never heard a prayer like this 1
Never b4 that day
Tearful words of love 4 people she had never met b4
Asking God 2 grant them mercy in this face of a holy war
Cinnamon Girl Cinnamon Girl of mixed heritage
Never knew the meaning of color lines 911 turned that all around
When she got accused of this crime
So began the mass illusion, war on terror alibi
What's the use when the god of confusion keeps on telling the same lie?
(available on Prince's album Musicology)

Patti Smith's "Radio Baghdad"


It's the voices of ages combining a history lesson with social justice. Patti wouldn't bite when people tried to get her to slam [Ralph] Nader and that goes to her own principals of justice and truth all of which are in this amazing song. I play it nonstop and think that when the next Coppola (Sofia?) makes their Apocalypse Now this song should be featured as prominently as The Doors were. Blast the song as loud as your speakers can handle and prepare to be amazed:

Oh Baghdad
Center of the world
City of ashes
With its great mosques
Erupting from the mouth of god
Rising from the ashes likea speckled bird
Splayed against the mosaic sky
Oh, clouds around
We created the zero
But we mean nothing to you
You would believe
That we are just some mystical tale
We are just a swollen belly
That gave birth to Sinbad, Scheherazade
We gave birth
Oh, oh, to the zero
The perfect number
We invented the zero
And we mean nothing to you
Our children run through the streets
And you sent your flames
Your shooting stars
Shock and awe
Shock and awe
Like some, some
Imagined warrior production
Twenty-first century
No chivalry involved
No Bushido
(this song can be found on Patti Smith's album Trampin')

Worst Song, Worst Act

"Soldier," Destiny's Child

Frank in Orlando:

Embarrassing. Either these three empty headed women have no idea what they're singing or they're gearing up for the big inaug celebration. Either way they disappoint like no one else. In a year when artists were on the road representing for Kerry, against the war, and/or for increased voter turnout, what Kat calls the Children of Destiny were no where to be found.

Think about the list of people who got involved! It includes names like:
Puffy, Jay Z, Bruce Springsteen, Ben Harper, R.E.M., Mary J. Blige, Bonnie Raitt, Russell Simmons, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, the Dixie Chicks, Green Day, Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Melissa Etheridge, Dave Matthews, Incubus, Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, Paul Simon, John Mellencamp, Moby, Blink 182, Sheryl Crow, Chuck D, Neil Diamond, Missy Elliott, Carole King, and Randy Newman to name just a few of the artists that come to mind.

People were out representing and where were the Children of Destiny? Living high and helping no one but themselves. "Solider" is an insult and they should be held accountable for it.

But people should remember that they played at Bush's 2001 inauguration. Kat's drawn the line and I intend to follow it. In 2001 Destiny's Child, Ricky Martin, Jessica Simpson and 98 Degrees played the fool for Bush. Show up this year at your own risk because anyone who does loses my support. You're fighting the good fight or you're selling out and sucking up to the dark side.

I'm with Kat: if the right wants a cultural war, bring it on!

Biggest Bonehead of the Year Award (Democrat):

James Carville

Appearing in Rolling Stone to talk up the Democratic Party while Frank Luntz talked up the Republican Party, Carville offered this "insight" to Rolling Stone readers when asked about the importance of the youth vote:

We're supposed to pay great homage to the youth vote, but I don't see any significant mobilization among young people in the country right now. The youth vote is less important than the elderly vote, because the old people actually vote.

Whether one feels Carville's remarks are accurate or not, what was he thinking! Did he think he was being interviewed by the AARP?

By contrast, in the same article Luntz is telling Rolling Stone readers, "It's important, and I'm worried that the GOP hasn't developed the language for the next generation, but still I think Bush is in better touch with the next generation of voters."

Rolling Stone is not made up soley of young readers but they are a significant part of the magazine's base. And Carville chooses this interview to tell them they're not important? What was he thinking? Sounding more like Bill O'Reilly stereotyping The Daily Show audience, Carville's remarks put him head and shoulders above anyone else who suffered the taste of their own foot in 2004 (on the Democratic side).

Biggest Bonehead of the Year (Republican):

Too many to list


Where would I begin. There's Bush, of course. But is he even paying attention? If not, does that make him the biggest bonehead? There's Senator Bill Frist who's willing to risk his reputation and right to practice medicine by offering up questionable assertions regarding AIDS. There's Jerry Falwell who, not unlike a herpe sore, always seems to pop back up just when you were starting to feel safe again. There's the "family values" Cheneys who appear to feel it's okay that Mary is a lesbian as long as no one uses that term. The acceptance goes out the window the minute any descriptive terminology beyond "unmarried" enters the room. There's Laura Bush who may win points for not coming off as embittered and angry as her mother-in-law but the fact remains bland is her dominat color. She piped off about the conditions of Afghan women (in a radio address no less!) at the start of that war but the issue seems to have fallen from her radar ever since. There's Tom DeLay who appears to work harder on his skin care regime than on any other issue not involving lobbyists. There's Orrin Hatch surrounded by his boy-toy posse that includes Rick Santorum and John Cornyn. I'm trying to figure out which one of the two is Mary and which one is Flo. Orrin's obviously Diana Ross calling all the shots. There's Kerik and there's Alberto Gonzales. Don't forget John Ashcroft, the lovely J-Ass. Condi Rice and her insufferable "Mr. Grrrr-aaaaa-nnntttt" imitation. When Mary Tyler Moore did it as Mary Richards, it was cute. Coming from the head of National Security is frighteningly immature. There's Ralph Hall who spent a lifetime in the closet before redistricting finally forced him to come out of the closet and declare what whispers of his voting record had long noted: he's a Republican. When Trent Lott is coming off as the more moderate voice in that party, I don't know where to start. There are just too many to list and too many to list just one.

Biggest Bonehead Move by this web site:

Linking to a Fox News item

The e-mails poured in over that (thirty-seven).


I understand the point you were making. It is a sad day when Fox "News" does a better job of representing the voices against the war in a story than the New York Times. It is a good point but please, please, I'm begging you, never link to Fox "News" again. Quote them if there's a reason for comparison but do not help them add to the hits their web site gets.

Point taken. We'll avoid linking to that site in the future. Even in an attempt to compare and contrast when the Times does an incredibly poor job of representing the various voices of America.

Thanks Go To:

David Cobb & Michael Badnarik


While the Democratic Party was willing to roll over and play dead regarding the Ohio voting issue, I think we should all take a moment to thank David Cobb and Michael Badnarik, presidential nominees of the Green and Libertarian parties. They forced this issue and without them the recounts wouldn't have happened.
I'd also like to note the work of Jesse Jackson, John Conyers Jr., Laura Flanders, Randi Rhodes, Common Cause, the Ohio Democratic Party and citizens in Ohio and elsewhere who were outraged by the lack of transperancy. Big media didn't want the recounts, the DNC didn't fight for them, even John Kerry has stood in the shadows. But with the work of these people and the attention they brought to the issue through a variety of forums and demonstrations, we got recounts. The recounts themselves don't inspire my trust but when you consider all the resistance to them, I'll count it as a win that we forced this issue.

Web Site You Should Visit:



The right has kept Drudge alive via monies but most of all visits. If people didn't visit The Drudge Report, the mainstream media would be less enthralled with it. Buzzflash does an incredible job highlighting a variety of issues and news sources and if we'd all take the time to visit it, we could get the media to stop this nonsense about we're in the minority and the country has gone overwhelmingly to the right.

Maureen Farrell puts Maureen Dowd to shame. Thom Hartman and P.M. Carpenter are always sharp and on the money. You're able to read the stories worth reading without having to wade through the junk that pads out most newspapers. It only takes one click a day to show your support for the left by clicking on Buzzflash (

Web Sites That Nourish the heart, mind and soul:

AlterNet (
Baghdad Burning (
The Black Commentator (
Common Dreams (
Editor's Cut (The Nation) (*
Feministing (
Interesting Times (
Intervention Magazine ( )
Liberal Artists .Com (
Liberal Oasis (
Media Channel .Org (
Media Dissector (
Ms. Musings ( )
No Logo (
OpEd News (
Progressive Trail Org. (
Righteous Babe News (Ani Di Franco web site) (
This Just In (The Progressive) (*
Truth Alerts (Barbara Streisand web site)(*
Why Are We Back In Iraq? ( )
James Wolcott (
Women's E News (

These sites were cited by Maria, Alabama, Brad, Kara, Gore Vidal Is God, Dallas, Shondra, Rolanda, Rolondo, Maggie, Stephen, Andrew, Ethan, Rose, Eli, Dona, Jim, Rachel, Scott, Rob, Shirley, Martha, Yazz, Susan, Ben, Karl, Liang, Francisco, Kay, Melody, Kurt, Julia, Gary and Denise.

[Note: * indicates that you are going to a main page and must select from that page. Katrina vaden Heuvel does The Editor's Cut for The Nation, Matthew Rothschild does "This Just In" for The Progressive. Also note that web sites mentioned individually elsewhere in the awards were not mentioned in this section since they've already been highlighted.]

Web Sites You're Sick Of:

Diarists Passing Themselves Off as Bloggers

This is Jim & Dona's category.


I'm sick of sites where one person gets all the recognition but the work is being done by a multitude of people who are never brought into the spotlight. The ones getting the attention have turned into gatekeepers and are this generation's Cokie Roberts. They have grown infatuated with their own voices and mistake babble for "wisdom."


It's not just that certain individuals are bad at sharing the credit, it's that they appear to have become so addicted to the spotlight that they have to be forced by their own constituencies to deal with the issues that matter. I'd prefer it you'd never name them or link to them at this site.
I'm really serious about this. The web wasn't created so that two voices could dominate. I don't go online to reflect in the self-glory of those two.

Okay. Well, I've linked to one of the them already this month but unless a reader e-mails the site ( requesting a link or a mention, consider it done.

The Littlest Judy Miller:

Juan Forero


Juan Forero is the one to watch. FAIR has documented the problems with Forero's 'reporting' for some time now. There's no fact he's unable to spin. Because he does international coverage a lot of people aren't familiar with his work [Forero is a reporter for the New York Times] the way they are Miller's but trust me on this because Forero is Judith Miller in waiting. In fact, right now he's the littlest Judith Miller, el Molinero más pequeño de Judith.

[Note: If the n with the tilda doesn't turn out correctly or appears in smaller or larger type than the other letters in the word, that's due to the fact that this program doesn't allow for that in typing so I've copied and pasted in that one letter, as well as "A"s with accents over them, from other web pages to reproduce the e-mail the way Francisco has written it. ]

Most Surprising Blogger Turn:

Kit Seelye

Her work during the 2000 campaign has been rightly criticized. As a print writer, Seeyle has much animosity to overcome (and that's a result of her own work, sorry). But as a blogger for the Times during the debates (billed as "Kit" not Katharine), Seeyle offered some instant analysis that should have made it into print articles (but often didn't) and was frequently entertaining and -- in the instant analysis, blow by blow -- attempting to set the record straight.

Here are some moments that stood out to me:

Debate two:

8:55 p.m.This is Kit Seelye, tuning in with you to watch the second presidential debate. This one will be town-hall style in St. Louis.

9:03 p.m.Did Kerry just swipe Bush's back to see if there was a transmitter?

9:16 p.m.Bush is smirking. Did the White House shield him from the reviews of the first debate?

9:22 p.m.This may be as close as Bush comes to admitting that even if he didn't make a mistake, something went awry by invading Iraq: "I recognize that I've made some decisions that have caused people to not understand the great values of our country."

9:30 p.m.Kerry needs to curtail this tendency toward over-explanation when answering a question. But his style tonight is a lot like the arc of his political life: starting off indirect and unfocused but closing with a bang. Here's the bang: "If we have to get tough with Iran, believe me, we will get tough.'' Listening to that, Bush tried to wipe out the memory of his expressions in the first debate, saying Kerry's answer almost made him "want to scowl.'' But no one laughed.

9:45 p.m.Bush is trying to have it both ways on the importation of drugs from Canada. He wants to make sure that they cure you instead of kill you. But he is reserving the right to approve the importation in December -- AFTER the election. But, Kerry suggests, would he really go back on his inclination to do what's best for the big drug companies? Bush comes back to say, "If they're safe, they're coming.'' (Where are the dead Canadians?)

10:26 p.m.Bush has a simple answer: "We're not going to pay taxpayer money on abortion." There are no federal payments for abortion now. Bush is more comfortable saying he opposes abortion than Kerry is saying that he favors abortion rights.

10:28 p.m.Bush gets a second chance to say whether he has made any mistakes, after being put on the spot last spring at a press conference when he said he couldn't think of a one. The questioner asks for three examples. Bush still can't think of one. He says he made some mistakes in appointing people but won't mention their names on TV.

Debate three:

9:00 p.m.This is Kit Seelye strapping in with you for the last of our real-time debate rides. The polls have Bush and Kerry dead even, and this is their last formal chance to break out.

9:18 p.m.Bush says he "sent up my budget man" to Congress. A whiff of the lord of the manor sending one of his workers off on another task...

9:33 p.m.Bush should probably not laugh in response to a question about why health care costs so much.

[Yazz, one attempt at fairness shouldn't bother anyone. I really do think that Seelye was entertaining and, via common sense, refuting some of the things that would later appear in print -- at all outlets -- without comment. When the Times chooses to do instant analysis of another event, I hope they consider going with Seelye again. I never read any blogs or articles on her debate writing this go round, so if you want to be offended that she got a mention, considering it done in the interest of the preserving the public record.]

Most Mentioned Person Who Almost Didn't Receive an Award

Cokie Roberts, Lead Performer in the Clutch the Pearls School of Melodrama

Maybe it was Frank in Orlando's insistence that we quote from the pretend Cokie Roberts' "coverage" of Jodi Wilgoren's wedding [see]? Since that moment, e-mails have streamed in constantly mentioning the real Cokie Roberts. Her ears may be burning but she shouldn't feel beloved.

"A one woman echo chamber!" exclaims Gary. "The most irritating voice on NPR!" judges
Krista. And those are the kinder remarks. I was expecting that someone would e-mail the site with an award category just for Roberts. They didn't. So this one has been created just for her.

In an e-mail, Maggie noted an appearence (on Nightline) where Cokie's pearls were substituted with metal (Maggie thought they were silver or silver plated) ones. Details like that (and her hoarse voice during some NPR reports) tend to emerge in e-mails about Roberts. When asked if she had any idea why she focused on the metal beads, Maggie e-mailed back that with Roberts, "Discussions are so devoid of facts and common sense, that you focus on whatever can get you through. I've also begun to study her jowls and slight modifications in her hair do."

Or as Rob wrote, "She's speaking on NPR right now but all I hear is blah-blah-blah, evil Michael Moore, blah, blah, blah." Trina swore she wasn't "normally a violent person, but still I wish she'd clutch the pearls just a little bit tighter. Not enough to kill herself, mind you, but enough to make herself pass out. Charlie Gibson shouldn't be the only person sleeping on air."

Most Inspiring:

Julian Bond

E-mails to this site have repeatedly noted hearing Bond speak in person, hearing him on the radio or on television and being, in Trey's words, "blown away."


Get this man on regular rotation as a guest! He's not just 'still amazing,' he's even more amazing than he's ever been before. Like a proud panther, he moves with amazing grace that leaves you spellbound.


The NAACP [] is an important organization historically but it's easy for me to dub it "old school." Everytime I hear Julian Bond on the radio, I'm reminded me of how much it still matters, how the struggle still goes on and how the last of the brave pioneers is more important and more needed today than ever before.


This white woman is in awe of Julian Bond. If you have time, go to the archives [at Air America Place] and listen to his May 17th interview on The Majority Report. I've never felt more inspired or more in awe. If there's anyone deserving an award at the end of this dismal year, it's Julian Bond.


I don't care if he's on Tavis [Smiley]'s show, on with Tom Joyner, on Democracy Now! or The Majority Report, I'm front and center. There are so many who turn into gas bags as they age and have nothing to offer but dusty recollections of the way things were and what they once did to change them -- not Julian Bond. He's still pertinent and vital and a part of today's struggle.
Lead on Mr. Bond, I'm marching right behind you.

Embedded in Our Hearts:

Dahr Jamail

With his Iraq Dispatches (, Dahr Jamail has won the admiration of many. Tony feels "the real bravery in covering Iraq is in doing it solo, the way a real journalist should. Dahr's doing that. He's the real deal." Gore Vidal Is God feels that, "Years from now, history will look back and very few reporters will be remembered positively for their Iraq coverage. Jamail will be the exception." Marcia feels "that when it comes to international reporting, there are only two names that are worth listening to, Dahr Jamail and Christian Parenti." Bradley, "When Dan Rather grows up, he wishes he could be like Dahr."
Sophie telegraphs her feelings: "Brave. Insightful. Brave. Reporter." Alabama writes, "Call me stupid, but until I started reading Iraq Dispatches, it really hadn't hit home how out of touch and distant most reporters 'in' Iraq are from the actual people and places. Iraq Dispatches should be required reading." Krista jokes, "Let me live up to what I'm sure is my reputation for being shallow, Dahr's a great reporter, but he's also kind of hot." As stated before (re: Yukos), as long as you're following it, Krista, any reason is valid.

[Note: This post has had a quick edit for typos and to put in bold type awards that were in plain type. The last entry also cut off in the original posting so it's been added.]

[Note II: I got on to do a quick post for today -- Saturday -- but had two e-mails. Frank in Orlando wondered why we didn't use his award and remarks. Honestly, they never arrived before. Blame it on the fickle fate of the internet. But it's posted now and, quite honestly, I was wondering if we'd have a readers' post in which Frank in Orlando wasn't represented. Thanks for sending it again, Frank, and sorry that it didn't arrive before. Keesha notified us that her post wasn't up. It was supposed to be. Keesha and Hank decided on the title of the honor for Julian Bond in various e-mails over the last three weeks. I know it was written in long hand on the legal pad when I was pulling from the e-mail print outs. Either I had a mind meltdown while I was typing -- highly possible -- or, like with Dahr Jamail's, it was part of the first attempt at this post that got lost in the posting stage. Both categories have been added and my apologies to Keesha for not proof reading better to make sure Julian Bond was recognized. Frank in Orlando forwarded his sent copy of the e-mail. If there's a category that you created or made an argument for prior to December 25th and it's not here, please follow Frank's lead and contact the site so we can add it. If you have input regarding who made the list and who you wish had, we'll try to do a response e-mail in the next few days.]

[Note III: This post has been corrected in terms of the "Thanks to" award. David Cobb was the Green Party presidential candidate. I take responsibilty for that mistake because I should have carefully checked all readers comments in terms of names. Krista wrote an e-mail and the blame shouldn't fall on her because she's not posting this site. My apologies to David Cobb and the Green Party. And thanks to a reader for catching my mistake. David Cobb appeared on Democracy Now! June 23rd of this year and you can read the transcript of that segment, listen to it or watch it at Again, my apologies to Cobb and the Green Party.] [Note IV: Kit Seelye's name has been corrected in the heading for her award and a link has been fixed and closed parenthesis added to two others.]

[Note IV: Juan Gonzalez's name was spelled wrong. It has been corrected. Francisco caught that. Our apologies to Juan Gonzalez.]

Democracy Now! and replies to your e-mails

Democracy Now! devotes the full hour to Bill Moyers.

Bill Moyers: "Our Democracy is in Danger of Being Paralyzed"

Bill Moyers has retired from his weekly public affairs show "Now" on PBS. Over the past three decades, he became an icon of American journalism. He recently gave the keynote address before 2,000 people at the first ever National Conference on Media Reform where he warned, "What we're talking about is nothing less than rescuing a democracy that is so polarized it is in danger of being paralyzed and pulverized. Alarming words, I know. But the realities we face should trigger alarms. Free and responsible government by popular consent just can't exist without an informed public."

It's worth listening or to watching but there's no transcript. However, there is a transcript to this speech at Common Dreams (

Courage is a timeless quality and surfaces when the government is tempted to hit the bottle of censorship again during national emergencies, real or manufactured. As so many of you will recall, in 1971, during the Vietnam War, the Nixon administration resurrected the doctrine of “prior restraint” from the crypt and tried to ban the publication of the Pentagon Papers by the New York Times and the Washington Post – even though the documents themselves were a classified history of events during four earlier Presidencies. Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher of the Times, and Katherine Graham of the Post were both warned by their lawyers that they and their top managers could face criminal prosecution under espionage laws if they printed the material that Daniel Ellsberg had leaked – and, by the way, offered without success to the three major television networks. Or at the least, punitive lawsuits or whatever political reprisals a furious Nixon team could devise. But after internal debates – and the threats of some of their best-known editors to resign rather than fold under pressure – both owners gave the green light – and were vindicated by the Supreme Court. Score a round for democracy.
Bi-partisan fairness requires me to note that the Carter administration, in 1979, tried to prevent the Progressive magazine, published right here in Madison, from running an article called “How to Make an H-Bomb.” The grounds were a supposed threat to “national security.” But Howard Morland had compiled the piece entirely from sources open to the public, mainly to show that much of the classification system was Wizard of Oz smoke and mirrors. The courts again rejected the government’s claim, but it’s noteworthy that the journalism of defiance by that time had retreated to a small left-wing publication like the Progressive.
In all three of those cases, confronted with a clear and present danger of punishment, none of the owners flinched. Can we think of a single executive of today’s big media conglomerates showing the kind of resistance that Sulzberger, Graham, and Erwin Knoll did? Certainly not Michael Eisner. He said he didn’t even want ABC News reporting on its parent company, Disney. Certainly not General Electric/NBC’s Robert Wright. He took Phil Donahue off MNBC because the network didn’t want to offend conservatives with a liberal sensibility during the invasion of Iraq. Instead, NBC brought to its cable channel one Michael Savage whose diatribes on radio had described non-white countries as “turd-world nations” and who characterized gay men and women as part of “the grand plan to cut down on the white race.” I am not sure what it says that the GE/NBC executives calculated that while Donahue was offensive to conservatives, Savage was not.

If you're able to listen or watch because you'll be able to enjoy Moyers' passion; however, if you're unable to watch or listen, please click on the Common Dreams link so that you do not miss the points Moyers raised.

Cedric writes to say, "I'm sorry you were sick this weekend, but are you just taking the whole week off?"

No. In fact, right now there's a blog entry that was posted five hours ago but still isn't showing up on the blog for some reason. I don't know why that is.

Shirley writes in to say there must be heavy traffic again because the blog cuts off midway and you can't even scroll down to the permanent links.

The belated birthday greeting for Jane Fonda was done on the 21st. And didn't post and wouldn't post. I tried repeatedly and started adding "belated" to it on the 22nd. On the 23rd, I was surprised to find it was up.

It's similar to what happened with the "Tony, Tony, Tony" entry. That entry was tried repeatedly and I had honestly given up on it when I was surprised to find it up the next day.

There's a "Kat's Korner" that Kat is working on. It may be completed this evening but as to when the web gods will decide to let it be on the blog, I have no idea.

I do know that we will try to have the year end review completed today. Whether it will post right away is another issue.

A number of you wrote to note that Christmas is not your holiday and wondering whether there would be anything new up on Christmas. That's the intent.

Yes, as Brad noticed, the comments option has finally been removed.

That general attidude was to shut if down so that's what's been done. If you click on the permalink, you can still see comments that were posted already; however, as I understand it, comments are now closed to all.

I know that many of you were upset with two people who kept posting (on only one item as many of you noted) because it appeared they were trying to say, "Okay, now follow us to the right wing." Your impassioned e-mails each time one of the two posted a comment were well written. I noted during this that we wouldn't turn to the right. And we won't. Because it's not me or one reader like Kara, or Keesha, or Ben or any two or three. This is about the community that we have and we can't turn right and we won't turn right. We won't move to the center to make someone more comfortable or to make someone like us more. We're a site that support peace and we support nonviolence. Had we been up during the presidential campaign, we wouldn't have held our tongue regarding the issue of Iraq. We couldn't have because you are vocal and you will be heard here.

I understand not wanting to do public comments. You had to register and that was off putting to many of you. I understand that (and wasn't aware that was the case when the blog was created). In these days of spam and hate mail and with J-Ass still heading the Justice Dept and spying becoming the new porn, I understand not wanting your e-mail address or web page visible to someone who gets angry over your comments.

I know I mention printing up the e-mails and going over them. That's what I pull from. And once they're printed, I delete them to protect your privacy the same way many great libraries around the country are purging their records on book check outs as soon as possible.

You have a right to express yourself and a right to believe that your correspondence is safe. The one thing, though, that bothers me about the closing of the comments is that we won't get to hear from some of the people who shared in the comments. One person shared their opinions of Ron Kirk, another the experience with his own local NPR station. Hopefully, we can still get those stories in e-mails (

The response to "I" and "J"'s poems and to Kat Korner's have been very positive and very large. And the comments section was always seen as the fallback (by me) for those things to be noted when my attention was focused on something bone-headed that the New York Times had done or on something that e-mails were saying "address this."

If there's something pressing to you that did not get mentioned within a week, please e-mail the site again to remind me because it's easy to get distracted by some current event or some blog problem. (I'm trying to practice acceptance regarding the current time lag problems with the blog to avoid getting frustrated the way I repeatedly did Tuesday.)

Andy's "Jesus Is a Liberal" also got a positive response as did "Bullies Without Borders." If you'd like to have something you've written posted remember to watch the language because we're tying to be a blog that makes sure no one gets in trouble due to some work place guidelines on language. And it helps to if it's something we're discussing. But we're happy to post and we're happy to link to something you've written.

We want more voices speaking up, not less. We saw ourselves silenced this week by the Times
[see]. We saw ourselves silenced during the Democratic convention. (And the idea of a "free speech area" is something the party should be ashamed of.) A number of you have written in to say that now the party is attempting to silence pro-choice beliefs. I think you're right to be worried but I also know certain individuals try this every now and then. They went after NOW in the late eighties and that didn't help them ("certain individuals") one bit.

On the subject of NOW, I want to note something that happened a year ago (so it won't be eligible for inclusion/mention in our year's notable events): a New York Times editorial.
Maybe you read it, maybe you heard of it, or maybe this is your first encounter with it.
If so, I'm going to refer you to NOW for more information

Now documents six points that our problematic with the Times editorial. One point though that I feel needs to be made is that in the slap-down of NOW (National Organization for Women) by the Times applied only to Moseley Braun. You never saw anyone else taken to task for endorsing a candidate. Did the unions that endorsed Howard Dean during the primaries get slapped down? No, they did not. Were they told that they were "silly" or that they were detracting from other issues or that they should wait for endorsements? No, they werent.
And when John Kerry won the nomination did the Times then editorialize about the various endorsements that went to Dean, Dennis Kucinnich or anyone else? No.

Only NOW got the slap-down. Where was the common sense on the editorial board? On vacation? We'll have another presidential election cycle and when it comes along, during the primaries, let's watch closely to see who is allowed to endorse and who isn't? Which endorsements lead to frantic editorials from the New York Times and which don't even raise a peep.

[To read the NOW pac endorsement that got the Times editorial board into a tizzy click]

They can hold any opinion they want, the Times editorial board; however, by electing to single out NOW, and only NOW, for their endorsement of a candidate during the primary, the Times appears to think that an organization for women can be bullied and shamed. (NOW didn't back down -- they have a long, proud history of standing strong.) Would the Times have been so patronizing with an organization for men? I don't think so. There were no other editorials telling organizations they were being "silly." Only NOW got that 'special' treatment.

We honored Jane Fonda for her birthday because she has stood strong and remained active. And we need to honor and note others that do the same. NOW has done incredible work and will continue to do so. I'm not asking you to make a donation -- we're all pretty tapped out at this point. But in the next round of additions to permanent links, you'll find one for NOW (probably right after the first of January). What I am asking you to do is to check that link from time to time (when it goes up). If you read something you like and your fortunate enough to have the cash to spare, make a donation. But if you can't do that (and I know many of us can't) you'll still be doing yourself and the organization a "good deed" by checking in with them via the link.

You'll become more informed and that will help you and help them.

After the "red" states series went up, the one constant in the e-mails (the non-hate e-mails) was that you were all tired of hearing from the DNC only when they wanted money and many of you shared lists of things you had done without to donate to an organization or a candidate already.
NOW always needs more members, true. But they, and other organizations -- other worthy organizations -- realize that not everyone can give money. If you can give a little time to check out NOW's web site, even once a month, you will be making a difference.

Go to the site and read information or utilize one of their "Take Action" alerts to voice your protest over an issue or event.

The address for NOW is (that's for NOW itself, not their political action committee) and, again, it will become one of the permanent links in January.

Trevor e-mailed wanting more permanent links "right now." I understand that. But rather than dump a lengthy list onto the page, I'd like to continue adding a few at a time so that, if you choose to go to one of the permanent links, you can familiarize yourself with it.

A lot of people have e-mailed that they were aware of Democracy Now!, for instance, but that since it was one of only two links and now one of six links, they found themselves going to it more often. Three of you are checking out Ms. Musings daily and four of you say the same about Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches. I'm busy and I know most of you are as well so I'd rather move slowly on the links so that when something's up, it means something. We've added The Daily Howler and Naomi Klein's No Logo which brings us to six (seven if you count Google News which I keep meaning to remove -- if comes with this blog package). (If anyone enjoys Google News, please e-mail the site and I'll leave it up.)

Four of you have requested that I provide a link to the New York Times website itself. Considering that there are days when I don't even want to comment on stories, let alone link to them, I'm going to take a pass on that.

For Rob and Dallas, I am working on an entry on Daniel Okrent. I'm doing it in long hand on paper and hope to have it finished soon. (But Rob, you know from before, this can easily get postponed when something comes up -- either something that a reader raises or just time constraints.)

Your response this week [see] have resulted in the blog entry that I'm most proud of personally.
(I also enjoyed reading your comments on Elisabeth Bumiller's Sunday New York Times article which resulted in "When Bully Boy Met Kerik . . .") I think those are our better entries because they are your voices.

I want to comment on Rob's comments from "'No, we don't do that, not us'; 'I cry every night over this American tragedy' -- your responses" ( I felt Rob's concerns were more than worth hearing but I did contact him prior to doing that blog entry to suggest that "The Common Ills exception" (my term) be taken out. His e-mail was quoted in full because it was interesting and it had some issues no one else was raising. Rob wanted that left in. So it was left in. But I'm not sure that a line can be drawn for The Common Ills. Or that one should be drawn. We're focusing on outrages daily just like other sites are. I'm sure that in the entries I do, I overplay it sometime. (Taking the Times to task for silencing a third of the population wasn't one of those times in my opinion.)

You can criticize this site and still get your comments up. (Which Rob knows.) I'd really prefer that we not become self-referential. (We're only linking to ourselves within posts because Shirley pointed out if we're mentioning something people will look and it's easier and more user friendly to provide the link.)

There are two e-mailers who feel the same people are always quoted. They write in everytime a person is quoted. The two never want to be quoted themselves, but they're unhappy that the "same people" are being quoted. (They also write in regarding David Corn, which I'll address later in this blog.)

If you write this site and you don't want to be quoted, you're not going to be quoted with an attribution. If I'm selecting from a number of people who don't mind being quoted, I'm going to be more likely to use one of them than rely on "an e-mailer" or "one e-mailer." I don't think Gore Vidal Is God was born with that name (I could be wrong). S/he has chosen that way to be listed at this site and that's not a problem. But if you're unhappy that the same voices are being quoted and you're not wanting to be quoted by a name (even one you give yourself) then I'm not sure why you're complaining. Short of using a swear word, you can be quoted by whatever name you give yourself.

While I was sick someone posted a comment that I never was able to reply to (either to the person or on the site). We're glad that someone shared but we're not going to link up with some site or organization to self-promote. One reason (selfish) is that I can now almost handle all the e-mails coming in to the site. Another reason is that we've got a dialogue going that's very important. If someone hears about the site and wants to join in, great. But we're not actively seeking out new people.

A number of you (Jim being one example) are trying to get us linked at various sites and commented on. And some of you have had success there and are disappointed that there's been no gushing of "We were just linked at . . .!" If you want to pass on an entry to a friend or to a web site, that's your business. (And it's really nice of you and is appreciated that you enjoy the site so much.) But we existed without testimonials and we'll continue to do so. I see no point in trumpeting "As linked to by . . ." or "As praised by . . ." because we're the story here, we're not pursuing outside validation.

I understand Jim's anger (when someone replied via an e-mail he forwarded that we were "too controversial and not supportive enough of the DNC" because we linked to comments by Medea Benjamin). But that's a reflection on someone else and not a reflection on us. We're not DNC cheerleaders here. We are of the left. And we have Green readers and third party readers and they are welcome here. If Medea Benjamin is "too controversial" or if Jane Fonda is, then we'll take the "too controversial" path and let others continue down whatever path they choose. That's their choice. But here we speak in our voice and that means we won't temper our remarks to curry favor with the DNC or the New York Times or anyone else.

Martha's a member of our community and she was a friend of Gary Webb so we are more than happy to link to stories on him. But I've looked over the blog repeatedly to find out where I've praised David Corn as "the only true voice of the left" as two e-mailers continue to insist I did in November. I'm not finding it. It doesn't sound like something I'd say. (If I said that, I need to apologize for it because there's no one true voice of the left.) (These are the same two e-mailers who feel the same people are always quoted on this site.)

In what I believe was the first (and, until now, the only) mention of David Corn on this site [see], I stated:

This also ties into Martha's e-mail today regarding David Corn and why do I defend everyone that works for The Nation. I don't believe (I could be wrong) that I've ever mentioned David Corn on this site. Eric Alterman does a column for The Nation and I've mentioned that I don't care for him. Corn wrote a good book (The Lies of George W. Bush), which I will recommend now, but I'm not a big fan of his columns. Eddie points out that Corn is in a squabble with Greg Palast (among others) in the letters section of the current issue (of The Nation).Yes, he is. Some people feel he plays the guard-at-the-gate and decides what is and what isn't permissable. I'm not sure if that's what he does so much as state his opinions strongly. I do agree that his columns can often be read as, "This is how it is! Do it!" (Martha's words.) Whether that's how he means them or not (his response to the letters indicated to me that this might not be the case), that is how they can come off.

That's the only mention of David Corn I'm finding on the site. If there's another mention of him and you're e-mailing about it, please reference it because I haven't been able to find it.

An e-mailer who doesn't want to be named (or create a name) said, "See and now you're pushing David Corn's book! You suck up to David Corn every day!" I enjoyed Corn's The Lies of George W. Bush but stating that doesn't, to me, qualify as sucking up to David Corn. (Martha, by the way, is not one of the two e-mailers.) Nor does it explain where my "constant drooling over David Corn" occurs on the blog elsewhere.

If I'm correct, and he hasn't been mentioned prior, then that means either the two are confusing The Common Ills with another site or else they're intentionally pushing a non-issue. If someone is aware of where David Corn's been mentioned prior, please e-mail the site. Again, if I stated he was "the only true voice of the left," that would be wrong. There's not "one" true voice. And if I typed that, I need to apologize and be accountable for that (but I can't find it). But if this is someone's personal problem with Corn they need to work it out somewhere else because I don't believe that his name has come up prior to Martha e-mailing regarding Gary Webb (I believe this is now the second time it's come up -- although he may have been on Democracy Now! and we may have linked to that as we do to most of Democracy Now!'s stories).

I gave Corn credit for writing a strong book and I'll also give him credit right now for being one of the first (I believe he was the first) to highlight the outing of Valerie Plame by the administration and being one of the few who stayed on that story while others either ignored it or "moved on."

When I do things like that, I irritate Yazz who writes: "I wish you'd just offer your opinions more and stop trying to be fair." I understand what Yazz is saying and even agree with him in many ways. But I do try to be fair (two e-mailers claiming to be from the New York Times, who didn't want to be quoted, feel differently). I'm sure I fail at that. But I do strive towards it. When something outrages me, I'm pretty vocal. Yazz wishes I was more vocal and feels that when the Times was taken to task for ignoring a third of the domestic population I wasn't vocal enough.

Yazz is probably more right on that than I am. As Shirley has noted in e-mails, I have a tendency to an "online stammer" when I'm really upset. (To type something like: "What I'm I'm getting at here" and not notice that I've repeated a word twice.) I am taking your comments seriously, Yazz, and trying to see how to improve that.

And I do understand what Rob is getting at. That's why, before he e-mailed, the site had already done two poems that weekend. And why "Kat's Korner" was already initiated. You shouldn't be coming to this site curious and leaving with nothing but blood boiling over something the administration or the Times has done. (Or any other media for that matter, but we emphasize the Times here.) So hopefully, there will be other things available (and hopefully other voices as well). But at the same time, and this isn't what Rob's advocating, we aren't going to start doing fluff just for fluff's sake.

"Kat's Korner" deals with music and that's important to me and to many of you (including Susan who's always asking for more songs, I'll try to quote one in this before I hit "publish"). She's attempting to put into a socialogical perspective and use it as a comment on the times we're in now.

But we're not going to start tracking who got kicked off the island or lost out on some reality show or something similar just to lighten the mood. These are "interesting times" (and let me plug that web site Interesting Times because so many of you have written that you enjoy it and I think we get enough meaningless fluff on network television (and nothing but on the majority of cable television).

Hopefully, within a week, there are some entries that make you think but don't leave you feeling angry or outraged. But there are things and events that we will note even if it we've been on an outrage kick just because they need to be noted.

For Susan, here's are some lyrics for a song:

Oh things are getting real crucial
Up the old wazoo
Yet you cry, why am I the victim?
When the culprit is y-o-u
What did your mama tell you about lies
She said it wasn't polite to tell a white one
What did your daddy tell you about lies
He said one white one turns into a black one
So it's getting ready to blow
It's getting ready to show
Somebody shot off at the mouth and
We're getting ready to know
-- "Skeletons" words & music by Stevie Wonder
(available on the album Characters)