Thursday, January 06, 2005

What happens when you take on the Bully Boy in his own backyard? (Alt Press roundup)

Leon Smith was all but run out of a small Texas town, not so much for what he did as for where and when he did it. After all, hundreds of others across the country did exactly the same thing at about the same time for perhaps similar reasons without noticeable consequences. Even Smith himself was able to commit his deed a second time a short drive down the road without tumult and uproar.

The Lone Star Iconoclast was banned from the Coffee Station over its Kerry endorsement.
‘We yanked the Iconoclast from the store and pulled our ads.’
But Smith’s decision last fall, as editor and publisher of The Lone Star Iconoclast, to endorse Democrat John Kerry for president in George W. Bush’s adopted hometown — on one of the busiest tourist weekends of the year, when Bush and the national media were in town — nearly killed his newspaper (and may well yet), turned Smith’s name to mud among many of his former customers, and made him and his employees bubbas non gratas in Crawford, Texas.


To find out what happens next, read Dan Malone's "Living on Ink and Ether" from the Fort Worth Weekly. (Thanks Billie, for sending this in.)

And now let's turn to the Lone Star Iconoclast:

Like more than a few Americans, fashion designer Julia Gerard, 50, reacted personally to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. She wanted revenge to those who committed such an atrocity. Bear no expense. Hunt them. Annihlate them!As a Russian immigrant, however, the daughter of a seventh rabbi-generation butcher who survived five years in one of Hitler’s concentration camps remembered the reason — peace — her father moved their family to the City of Angels, Los Angeles, Calif., from Riga, Latvia, which was once known as “the Paris of the Baltics.”“My father was a visionary. Simply put. He was someone who dreamed about something and then created the dream,” she said. “When he came out of the concentration camps, he had no family left. He just wanted to rebuild his life. He had a few relatives in Los Angeles, and he was always talking about it. As soon as I was born, he worked his way — it took us 10 years to get here. It was very difficult to get out of there.”Instead of hiding her feelings about peace in the U.S., she chose to share them on her clothing in the form of activist Gerald Holtom’s design based on two letters of the international semaphore alphabet superimposed on each other, N and D, which stand for “nuclear disarmdisarmament.” The positive response to her fashion statement grew into her expanding her gallery space to include her first exclusive “Clothing for Peace” Collection. The peace symbol adorns not only every piece of clothing in her new “Increase the Peace” gallery but also merchandise such as wine glasses, candles, jewelry, and furniture. Some of her clientelle includes internationally-reknown entertainers, actors and sports icons: Tina Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Cheryl Ladd, Sally Kirkland, Chris Evert, Natalie Cole, Gloria Estefan, Bette Midler, and Dave Matthews.

To read Nathan Diebenow's interview with Julia Gerard ("FASHION THREADS PEACEPeace Symbol Making Comeback As Fashion Icon") click here (Go ahead and do it, click here, you're standing with those who stand up for truth and reality.)

Bush's Mystery Bulge
If President Bush's piss-poor performance at the first debate against John Kerry weren't scandalous enough (this cantankerous rube is our president?), post-debate photos of a mysterious bulge beneath W's jacket promised a bona fide brouhaha. But the public never latched onto the bulge, and the story faded away. While it would be easy to dismiss photos that showed a rectangular protrusion between Bush's shoulder blades as so much Photoshop chicanery, Fox News shot and distributed the footage of the debate—and while Fox can't be counted on to report fairly or accurately, you can bet they didn't doctor any photos of their commander in chief. A host of experts went on the record to say Bush was indeed wired and possibly receiving a live feed during the debate from Karl Rove or some other White House puppet master. Dr. Robert M. Nelson, a senior research scientist for NASA and for Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and an authority on image analysis, told that he'd stake his career on the fact that the President was wearing something under his jacket. And after viewing photos from the first two debates, master tailor Frank Shattuck told the New York Daily News there was "definitely" something hidden under Bush's jacket.
Bush's best defense against those trying to make a mountain out of his bulge would have been his debate performance itself. If someone was feeding me information, the president could have said, don't you think I woulda sounded a lot smarter and had some coherent answers? Instead, Bush relied on a much lamer excuse: The president dismissed the bulge as bad tailoring. Right. As a man of wealth and privilege, Bush didn't dash into a Men's Wearhouse and grab his suit and shirt off the rack at a downtown mall. I guarantee it.

That's Stett Holbrook, one of many writers covering "The year in scandals, in titillating 20/20 vision" (

In Las Vegas City Life, Mike Zigler's "The Art of Compromise" reflects on the choice of Harry Reid for Senate Minority Leader:

So at a time when the obvious Democratic objective should be rebranding and distancing itself from Republicans, who's leading the party as Senate minority leader? Nevada's Harry Reid, one of the most conservative Democratic senators and someone whose positions often coincide with those of his right-wing counterparts.
Reid's against abortion and same-sex marriage, but supports an amendment to ban flag-burning. He downplayed the idea of making a sharp left turn with the party, believing it already holds progressive positions.


Reid flashes true colors on the subject of DNC chair (in the same article):

"I'm not sure Howard Dean is the answer to our problems," Reid said. "What we need is not someone who only speaks to the progressive wing of the party, but all wings of the party."

Mary O'Bryan (Eugene Weekly) weighs in on deaths everywhere in "No More, No Less: We Are What We Allow":

While people are dying in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India from the Earth shuddering and the ocean heaving, the 45-year-old brother of one of my friends is dying of lymphoma in a Utah neighborhood that was downwind of Nevada atmospheric nuclear tests in the 1950s. He's the fourth person to die of cancer around that age in that neighborhood in recent years. Each day on Earth, approximately 35,000 children under 5 die of malnutrition or starvation. As we speak, men are dying under torture by our government.
How do we hold all this?
The instant mass, community death, caused by no one, evokes mass sympathy and an inspiring mobilization of aid.
The delayed individual adult death, caused by a nuclear arms race, is largely denied.
The daily mass death of sparrow-like children, caused by desperation, greed, and deliberate policies is largely ignored.
The death of a person we never met from purposely administered, hideous pain is accepted for "national security."
I see no way to grieve more for one early death than another. I do not intend to downplay Southeast Asia's current agony. I cannot help placing it alongside the agony of my friend's brother and that of the 35,000 children who starved to death today and that of a mortally beaten prisoner, far from a newspaper's front page.


Shirley Chisholm is remembered in the Baltimore City Paper by Brian Morton:

When your Political Animal was young and innocent, there was a woman from New York who had the stones to call them as she saw them. She helped found the Congressional Black Caucus. She knew enough in a time when many fledgling politicos were just wetting their feet to go and visit George Wallace—the man who ran for president on a ticket of pure divisiveness—in the hospital after he was gunned down in a Laurel shopping center, which set her own people against her. She knew the real political rule has always been: “no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.”
Shirley Chisholm, who died Jan. 1, said she wanted her epitaph to say, “That woman had guts.”


and by Becky O'Malley in the Berkeley Daily Planet:

When she launched her campaign in the 1972 election, a group of us who had never met her, almost all women, created an organization to support her in the Michigan primary. We were by and large Democrats who had been working since the early sixties to end housing discrimination and other forms of segregation in the north, and since 1964 to convince our party that supporting the war in Vietnam was a bad idea. Most of us were in our early thirties, with children and other family obligations, and were unwilling or unable to join the cultural revolution that had younger people and those with fewer constraints taking to the streets on a regular basis. We marched in Washington in the springtime with our babies in backpacks, but the rest of the time we slogged away at the hard work of changing voters’ hearts and minds back home.
For us, Shirley Chisholm was the dream candidate, the perfect antidote to the parade of colorless (literally and figuratively) interchangeable white men that the Democratic establishment fronted in every election. After almost a decade of hearing grey and humorless party leaders explain why we needed to support the likes of Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphery, her slogan “unbossed and unbought” was music to our ears.


From the New York Observer, Lizzy Ratner's "Ramsey Clark: Why I’m Taking Saddam’s Case:"

"You can’t be sure of how the trial will go," said longtime Manhattan civil-rights attorney Ramsey Clark, wagging a long, slender forefinger. "But you could say that if it’s properly done, it will be the biggest trial of this century."
Mr. Clark was talking about the trial of Saddam Hussein, whom he recently signed on to represent before a special tribunal in Baghdad. For the man who has represented Leonard Peltier, the Harrisburg Seven and the Attica Brothers, but also prosecuted war resisters in the Johnson administration—indeed, for the man who, as a young Marine Corps courier, witnessed the Nuremberg trials after World War II—calling it the "trial of the century" was no small thing.


Eugene Weekly continues to spotlight organizations providing tsunami relief on it's home page (

The Austin Chronicle has a round up of "The Top Ten Media Stories" by Dick Ellis. We'll highlight number nine:

9) Lefties Will Survive: The Texas Observer and KOOP Radio celebrated 50- and 10-year milestones, respectively, despite suffering at various points in their history the usual bugaboos of such entities: shoestring budgets and staff infighting. Both provide an alternative to the right wing in a state that desperately needs it, and – despite the very public disagreements we've had with KOOP – we hope both live to at least double their tenures.

Matt Taibbi examines Tucker Carlson in "Bow Tie Me Up" (New York Press):

More seriously, Carlson has been known to do things like falsely report that Al Gore decided to go campaigning on the day his sister died, and that Republican speakers were booed and hounded by angry activists at Paul Wellstone's memorial service (they were not). But this is academic. You play a conservative pundit on television long enough, and anyone will be able to find a whole pile of objectionable statements in your past. The real significance of Carlson, as the celebrated exchange with Jon Stewart incoherently hinted at, is not what he says about the right, but what he says about television.
Stewart was right to target Crossfire. The Carlson/Paul Begala "debate" show is not only one of the biggest con games in the informational arena, it's the archetypal blueprint for the larger con game of American politics. In the show, the "left" battles the "right," and the segments are structured in such a way that the commentary is bound to outrage virtually every viewer away from one or the other debate participant. Taking sides, the viewer accepts the black-and-white left-right paradigm and focuses exclusively on the two debaters. As a result, he doesn't ask the important question, which is this: If Tucker Carlson represents the right and Paul Begala represents the left, what is the ideology of the tv studio in which they sit? What's the politics of that dull white table upon which their arms rest? Because the unspoken assumption of the show is that the debate is held in a perfectly neutral medium—and this is a false assumption.


One day in his first year in the U.S., Rubén, now 26, left his apartment at 15th and Bainbridge, where he lived with seven other men, to go to work. With the other men at work too, the house was empty all day.
When Rubén returned that evening everything was missing--the TV, VCR, PlayStation, telephone, stereo, CDs (most of them Mexican), air conditioner, bed covers and clothes. Their collective hidden savings--totaling $11,000--were gone. None of the men spoke much English, or knew where to turn for help. One of the men told his boss, a restaurant owner, who said that because they were illegal, there was nothing he could do. No one contacted the police.
This story's far from unusual. Those in South Philadelphia's Mexican community say they're the victims of countless crimes--muggings, bike thefts, robberies, armed assaults, rapes--that never get reported.


So begins "Borderine Realities" by Kate Kilpatrick in Philadelphia Weekly.

Meanwhile, Karyn Quinlan recounts her experience during the Washington recounts (Seattle Weekly):

Early Wednesday, Dec. 8, partisans began lining up for the first day of work. Fittingly for me, a Green, Democrats were obliged to wear green badges. The Republican badges were lavender, which, ironically, is the unofficial color of the gay and lesbian community. For Democrats, the only thing more amusing about this trifling detail was that the irony was totally lost on the Republicans.
Even without badges, it was not hard to tell Democrats from Republicans. Sadly, the Democrats' rainbow coalition was looking rather long in the tooth in contrast to their relatively youthful, white-bread Republican counterparts. Some among us gleefully bandied about the nom de guerre "purple people eaters" to describe our ever-angry Republican cohorts. No doubt, the Republicans had fun at our expense, too. But playful backbiting aside, the Dante's rings I had feared were nowhere in evidence—except maybe in the parking lot. The intense clash of vehicles, bumper stickers, Darwins, and fish was more than a little unnerving.
However, as Democrats and Republicans were paired up to sort ballots into precincts, the atmosphere was convivial, almost giddy. I was lucky enough to be coupled with a funny, and intelligent, young woman I'll call Ellie. Ellie was a recently laid off Web developer. As an outsourced computer professional, I found that we had some common ground. Together we got through the tedious task and even managed to have a good time. Ellie and I agreed that we had had worse jobs. In fact, I was enjoying Ellie's company so much that it barely registered when she joked (I hoped it was a joke) that the oath we had taken was invalid without a Bible to swear on. I made a mental note to keep my cursing to a minimum and to stop using the Lord's name in vain when I made a mistake.


In the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Steven T. Jones' "Burning womenThe guys make a lot of noise – but women are increasingly making Burning Man happen" is a worthy read:

At the Commonwealth Club of California Dec. 14, a panel on the "Impact of Counterculture" featured four men – and moderator and journalist Laura Fraser, who took the group to task for giving short shrift to the role women have played in rebellious cultural movements.
After Mondo 2000 founder Ken Goffman, a.k.a. R.U. Sirius, fumbled to explain why so few women appear in his new book, Counterculture Through the Ages, Burning Man founder Larry Harvey took a stab at the topic.
It's true, he said, that men have often led counterculture movements like his through their early transgressive phases, when they argue loudly over the vision, rail against the status quo, and blow things up. But by the time Burning Man moved from Baker Beach to the inhospitable Black Rock Desert a few years into its existence, it was the women who ensured its survival and sustainability.
"Once we got into the desert," Harvey told the crowd, "the women took over."


Also in the San Francisco Bay Guardian is Matthew Hirsch weighing in on the economics of same-sex marriage:

As legal arguments in the same-sex marriage case got underway Dec. 22, City Attorney Dennis Herrera set out to convince the San Francisco Superior Court that discrimination against gays and lesbians affects all of us, not just the narrow interests of those couples wishing to get married. To help make the point, Herrera asked Controller Ed Harrington to examine just how much it costs to restrict marriage in San Francisco as a union between a man and a woman.
Harrington's conclusions were startling, especially because the city is laying off employees and cutting services in an effort to balance the budget. He estimated that a favorable ruling in the same-sex marriage case could boost the city budget anywhere from $15 million to $20 million a year.
Most of the estimated savings would come from having lower public health costs, including visits to city hospitals and health clinics. That's because same-sex couples are much more likely to be uninsured than married couples, according to recent studies by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics. If same-sex couples were allowed to marry, Harrington reasoned, more of them would qualify for spousal health benefits.

The cost of discriminationSame-sex marriage isn't just about civil rights. It's about your money too