Saturday, April 02, 2005

Grab bag or clearing house post

Bloggers being "testy" at best today. (Blogger is the program used for this site.) This morning's post was lost and had to be recreated. I apologize for the delay.

A number of e-mails came in over the lack of posts last night. There were three but wanting to avoid another all nighter (daylight savings time, by the way -- turn the clocks forward an hour tonight), The Third Estate Sunday Review gang, Rebecca, Betty and myself all attempted to do some work last night. Whether that will prevent another all nighter or not, I have no idea.

A number of you have written in asking questions about Betty. If you want your e-mail forwarded to Betty, please note that in your e-mail. (Betty's e-mail address is If you're just curious about Betty beyond the information on her "about me" page, there will be an interview with her in this Sunday's TheThird Estate Sunday Review . Other than that and what's been said here, anything else Betty chooses to reveal is up to her and you should address your questions to her. (Or note "please forward" on your e-mails to this site.)

But there is an issue that Gina brings up which is she feels that there are more and more resources/reviews and not enough "opinion. And when we did get opinion this week, it was on The Progressive which struck me as the ultimate Oprah moment, no easy task for you."

You could pin it down to just "low energy levels" due to a vast increase in work demands (which should be easing any day now) or any number of reasons. I know that from my viewpoint, learning March 3rd that Lizz Winstead was off Unfiltered and why wasn't a high point and sent me into a long period of less than cheerful. (Mentioning it here would have risked revealing the source. Those who wrote in response to the March 4th Unfiltered post, did get a brief explanation and those who wrote at length on the subject usually got a longer explanation. Rebecca, Folding Star and Ron of Why Are We Back In Iraq? usually had to suffer through long -- and I'm sure depressing -- e-mails for probably a full week beginning March 3rd.) (Which doesn't make me the source for all of Rebecca's comments regarding what went down on Unfiltered. She mentioned that I'd given a heads up to some details and mentioned some details she'd gotten elsewhere in at least one post. That resulted in several e-mails to this site from members asking my opinion. I haven't read Rebecca's post or posts on Unfiltered because the entire topic depressed me too much. If you want clarity on what was information I'd passed on and what wasn't, you can check with Rebecca. Though she may pull a Judy Miller on you. But I know one of her sources and I also know that she had a few others she was speaking to.)

So it wasn't a fun time. Add in the increasing disillusionment with the Times and I'm sure Gina has a valid complaint. But to clarify for the five members who e-mailed this week asking when I was going to address Elisbeth Bumiller's writing on the Bully Boy, Bumiller wrote a White House Letter. To me, that's a floating op-ed and when she's doing that, I don't comment because I really attempt to avoid addressing the op-eds. (Addressing the lack of diversity on the op-ed pages is not addressing the op-eds themselves, to answer a question Skip e-mailed.)

And as long as I'm clarifying, Skip got a reply to his question. A writer for a paper that will remain unnamed didn't get a reply. But since ___ claims to follow this site for "your hilarious mistakes," I will address an issue ___ raised. First of all, glad you garner entertainment from the site. Wish I could say the same for my reaction to your writing. However, before you attempt to correct me on comments regarding Judith N. Shklar and Michael Walzer, you might want to do more than fact check who was a student of whom. For instance, Shklar's disagreements with Spheres of Justice was not breaking news at this site. Just because you were unfamiliar with them doesn't mean that I was "off the deep end again."

Shklar's opposition to Spheres of Justice was well known but possibly it didn't get covered in a general interest course in journalism. It's not my job to spoonfeed the press, especially someone who apparently has a very large beef with this site but doesn't want to publicly address the community. Which is a shame because you could be right and I could be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time. However, on the subject of Shklar & Spheres of Justice, you're talking out of your ___ and I'd refer you to footnote 39 on page 138 of Shklar's The Faces of Injustice. For additional research, you'll have to do the work yourself.

But before you write that I'm "off the deep end again" and that I don't know what I'm speaking of with a list of bonds you perceive between Walzer and Shklar that prevents Shklar (who is deceased) from disagreeing with Walzer, you might want to check out the footnote.

For the record, here's the footnote:

39. This is clearly an argument directed against Michael Walzer's Spheres of Justice, Basic Books, New York, 1983, esp. pp. 26028, 313-315, with which I disagree on almost every point.

Pretty clear to me. Again, there are additional resources but you'll need to find them yourself.
Did your journalism degree not require learning how to do research? (That would explain a great deal about your writing.)

So that takes care of Skip and apparently my personal fan club as well.

Back to Gina's issue.

There's also the fact that we were doing Women's History Month (on the heels of Black History Month) which involved member's contributions. After rushing through our year-in-review awards Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (and forgetting one category and failing to check names on another), I do make a point to make sure that when I read something, it doesn't just "sound right." Any member could (and can) offer any opinion they want and that's fine. But when they're mentioning facts, I do have to check that out. That involves research and sometimes trying to see if the fact they're offering can be seen that way. (All posted could be.) Liang, for instance, did a wonderful timeline entry that was informative and a pleasure to read. But it was a nightmare to fact check. (Liang's facts were all correct.)

If the facts seem iffy or wrong, I e-mail the member about that and they can beef up that section or they can just delete it. (Or they can say, "Screw you, I don't want to post after all!")
(No one's ever done that.)

Frank in Orlando felt he was made a fool of when his comments were posted. In his comments, he made the point that when covering a story on Hillary Clinton in the Times, whether or not the Times got it right should have been suggested. When I read that e-mail, I dashed off a reply to Frank in Orlando asking him to re-read the post he was commenting on. He e-mailed back that he had and he wanted his comments posted. Since that point was raised in the text as well as in the headline (believe the phrasing was something like "if the Times is correct and . . ."), he really needs to take responsibility for any embarrassment he felt after his comments were posted.

But the point is that with "Highlights" and "Notes" in February and March, it involved more than just retyping an e-mail I'd printed up or copying and pasting if I'd just read it. All highlights and notes were wonderful and I think we all learned something about the people and events highlighted and noted as well as about our fellow members. But if anyone thought that those posts meant some sort of a break for me (a number e-mailed to complain that there weren't more posts by me during March), please note that besides providing links if someone asked me to add some to their comments, I also had to fact check the posts before they went up.

I'd also point out that when I was originally thinking about this site, I really had planned to do only an entry or two a day and then during December holidays, a number of members spoke of the fact that so many sites were going on holiday. As I've said before, in college, I spent my share of holidays alone so I certainly understand when someone writes that the day would be a little easier for them if something they were counting on was there for them. (As I remember holidays alone, TV provided repeats and parades -- and parades weren't a great deal of fun, for me, to watch alone.) So the posts got increased and that was intended only as a short term measure.

A few members this week expressed outrage over a CounterPunch article that I linked to. (Yes, a member brought it -- the article -- to my attention, as noted in the entry.) They felt that Naomi Klein was attacked in that article. Some wanted to know why I didn't defend Klein.

If a member wants something highlighted (from the left), we'll highlight it. If it's something that might create controversy, I don't think it's my role to rush in and say, "Okay, we're linking to this but everyone be aware . . ." (I would do a disclaimer if we were linking to a parody.) (And have done that when we've linked to a parody.)

I didn't intend for this to ever come off like an op-ed column (though that's what my posts seem like more and more to me) but as a resource/review. Part of being a resource/review is addressing other viewpoints. The woman who wrote the article, Sharon Smith, is of the left. As is Naomi Klein.

I had assumed that members would have their say and, if my own opinion was requested, I'd deal with that in another post. (But we never got a post by members because no one wanted to be quoted.)

With regard to my own feelings for Klein, somewhere on this site, early on, you'll find a statement about me to the effect that I attempt to avoid hero worship but if I fail in that regard it has to do with Naomi Klein.

I think she's a valuable voice and hope she becomes even more valuable and that, in old age, those of us who are still around, speak of her in the manner that we speak of Howard Zinn or Gloria Steinem or Alice Walker or Gore Vidal . . . The way we speak of any number of people who've led a long life of truth telling.

Sharon Smith attended a conference (I believe it was a conference, maybe it was a panel) and wrote what she saw and felt. She's entitled to do that. There's nothing wrong with her offering her opinion.

Did I agree with her evaluation on what Klein meant? No. (But Smith was there and I wasn't.) As I read the comments -- of Klein -- that she noted, I felt Klein was attempting to pick up two threads at once. I also felt that, from her AlterNet interview we'd previously linked to as well as an article in The Nation that we'd noted (the article appeared September 30th, The Common Ills started mid-November, but we have noted this article -- both because it's important and because it makes me laugh), anyone who'd read those two pieces would understand what she was short-handing. When she spoke, as quoted by Smith, about some "dueling fundamentalists" and some being "enemies of the Iraqi people" she was touching on topics in both of those articles.

That's not, how dare she short-hand! (I don't know that she did short-hand. From what's quoted by Smith, it looks like she short-handed. As someone who resorts to allusions and impressions frequently, far be it from me to suggest that anyone else pull out all the building blocks every time they speak or write.) It's also not, "It should have been obvious to Smith!"
The two appear to have a disagreement. (Though my opinion, asked for in e-mails, it's not as different as Smith thinks. I could be wrong. Smith has an e-mail address at the bottom of the article, there's an administrator's e-mail address for Klein's site, so feel free to take the issue up with them.)

Ignoring discussions or topics isn't really serving anyone. Smith offered a view point and it was valid to raise it. I'm hoping that the focus of the e-mails (on Smith and Klein) was the result of the fact that Klein is held in high esteem and not the result of "oh two women are battling! Cat fight!" They aren't having a cat fight, as I see it, they're both addressing where the movement stands and what they feel needs to be done. (And doing so in a grown up manner which does allow for disagreement.) But not one e-mail mentioned Smith's remarks on Geov Parrish. (There's a member contribution that will go up later tonight on this site regarding Geov Parrish.)
Hopefully, that's due to the fact that people are either unfamiliar with Parrish or don't hold him in as high regard as they do Klein. Otherwise, we might need to examine ourselves on why we focused on a Smith v. Klein battle. (Which is not calling any e-mailer sexist. But it is noting that we're conditioned as a culture to respond in certain ways when two women have a civilized disagreement that we wouldn't think twice of if it involved two men.)

Just as I feel Klein short-handed (and I don't condemn or criticize her for that -- the alternative would be for her to take over the panel and deliver a lengthy speech), Smith short-handed as well. There are a number of topics where we're understanding what Smith's saying by what she's alluding to or implying and not from what she's outright stated. (It's a short article.)

But they are allowed to disagree and to debate. (Again, my opinion, I don't think they are as far apart as Smith does. I could be wrong.) And we will certainly highlight Smith again if a member comes across her writing or if I do on my own.

On the subject of highlighting, four e-mails came in this week asking why we don't highlight Media Matters. Since we have often linked to their site, I'm guessing that the question means why don't we highlight their individual writing.

Take it up with Media Matters. Ask them if they can be quoted as long as they are credited. Point, they do short entries. They are to-the-point entries. They are packed with information. But as I understand fair use, it's pretty much impossible to highlight one of their standard posts because they're short. I could pull a sentence. Maybe two. But the reality is that this is a community that (unless a new influx of members have come in that I'm unaware of) has serious privacy concerns. They do not like being tracked online and the fact that, other than Ron of Why Are We Back In Iraq, no one's dealt with what information is being tracked has resulted in the fact that most members do not visit links.

That's been addressed here before which is why I've asked you to choose your excerpt carefully if you're excerpting. If something made you laugh and that's why you want it highlighted and you're offering an excerpt, make sure it includes the laugh. If, from an article you think is strong, there was a passage that just stood out to you for whatever reason (point being made, beautifully written, whatever) make sure that's what you're highlighting -- or asking to be highlighted.

I'm looking in my e-mails of another account (you can sign up and receive Media Matters via e-mail) and the first Media Matters e-mail I opened is two paragraphs and the second paragraph is one sentence. That's the text. The contact info at the bottom doesn't count as text. Unless Media Matters is offering that their items, as long as they are properly credited, can be quoted in full, we won't do it due to fair use issues.

Jude had a one paragraph post that we quoted half of (Friday) because it was just too important and I thought, "Okay, if we exceeded fair use, I think Jude will understand and not take offense." It was an important post and she made her comments cleary and with great brevity. She summed up what most of us were feeling beautifully. (And briefly, I would've gone on for the equivalent of five pages on the same topic.) We posted the petition from Tom Hayden's site for the same reasons: it was important and I didn't think he would take offense to it.

I have no assumptions on Media Matters's policy on quoting them, however. And since they do write brief entries, they could clarify it. (Don't even suggest that I e-mail them and ask them. I was telling Ron this morning that the e-mails reached such a peak in the last few days that I'm now having trouble just keeping up with reading them. So if you want them to quoted here, I'm happy to, but take the lead on that and get their permission because I don't have the time to.)

I don't think a month goes by that we don't mention David Brock (and we've quoted from his book, possibly from "books.") There's no attempt on my part to overlook what they do at Media Matters, but there are concerns regarding fair use.

As for this site, we have a Creative Commons agreement. That was added when The Majority Report had someone on speaking of that. That was done so that statements couldn't be altered. By that I mean, my statements. As long as they aren't altered, I don't care if anyone posts them in full. (By altered, I don't mean edited such as including ". . ." I do, however, mean that words I disagree with aren't put in my mouth to convey an endorsement for something I don't believe in.) As for members posts, they're posted so fair use applies. Quoting from a member's post in full is something I can't give permission for. (That includes Kat's posts here under Kat's Korner. Kat would need to give you permission. If she gives you permission, you have mine as well.)

Our UK members frequently post entries from this site onto various sites (usually in DVD reviews where they're quickly pulled down). That doesn't bother me at all. If someone's highlighting an issue on their site and wants to use something here (that I've written) as a jumping point or entry point or as the full point, feel free. (Of course, in my mind, that means someone of the left, but anyone could do so, as long as they didn't alter the comments to endorse something that wasn't being endorsed.)

So again, no, there's no problem with Media Matters. We've linked to them before, we'll link to them again. It's hard to do a pull quote from a brief item. But we have quoted from David Brock's longer writing.

I e-mailed a draft of this post to Shirley. She wants two points clarified/made. 1) If anyone ever feels the quote used from their writing borrowed too much, please e-mail the site immediately.
2) Reposting any item by me from this site is allowed as "a courtesty one blogger to another and is does not apply to any use by an institution or individual attempting to profit from their own writing or someone else's." (If that's not clear to you, I'm a little confused too. I'll re-read her e-mail and make sure I posted that correctly.) (I think she's saying, an individual blogger or any indy media is more than welcome to repost a full entry but a magazine or a for pay site is not.)
Clarification: Shirley adds "For profit." Reposting full entries is not allowed for profit.

This is a long post, but Shirley also reminded me in her e-mail to do a heads up on Jane Fonda's upcoming 60 Minutes interview. I'll try to mention that in another entry because I know this one is one long run on.

On the plus side, maybe there won't be any e-mails saying that Third Estate Sunday Review is resulting in no lengthy posts on Saturdays anymore. Back to Gina, she notes that in TV reviews at Third Estate Sunday Review with Ava, I've been full of observations lately, just not here. It's fun to write with Ava. And on a TV review, I'm assuming more people get that even when we're making a point, we're being silly and that it's okay to laugh. In writing those, we're usually throwing out observations to each other trying to get a response (laughter) and then from our various one and two-liners we pull together a review. And in a pretty depressing month, where most days I just wanted to come home and crawl into bed, that's been one of the few highlights.
So let me say thank you to Ava because writing TV reviews with her has been fun, entertaining and a huge joy.

The e-mail address for this site is (Shirley wants this put in in every entry and she has a reason for that).
Note: Any typos or word errors are there for your amusement. If I've mispelled a proper name, please advise me so I can correct it.
Note II: Post corrected for clarity, thanks to Kara, and "for profit" point added per Shirley.