Wednesday, May 11, 2005

BuzzFlash highlight and other topics

Having done the Times, we'll now go to BuzzFlash because Cindy e-mailed with some questions.

Members who noted the Sunday post Ava and I did on the Times will be interested in Jim Pittman's "Times of London -- Iraq Memo -- NY Times???" Here's an excerpt of Pittman's letter to Bill Keller (and note that the memo is linked to):

Dear Mr Keller,
I just spoke with your secretary, who says nobody has seen the minutes wherein Blair's Intelligence Chief reported that Bush, in July of 2002, had already decided on war with Iraq no matter what and that "... the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Let that sink in. "... the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."How do you define High Treason? Would that include, oh, subverting the Constitution? Waging a war under false pretenses? Maybe lying under oath? Your paper sure was shocked, just shocked, at Clinton's lies. Is one semen-stained dress important, but 30,000 blood-stained American uniforms of no real consequence?
We need this story, above-the-fold, day after day, in all its details (remember Clarke, O'Neill, the October 2000 PNAC "global-dominance through war paper," all the testimony that Bush wanted Iraq, the "evidence" based on drunks and forged documents etc. etc). Cover it or watch your sales hit the trash-can, if appeals to honor and defense of America carry no weight with you or your paper.

Let's note Laura Flander's contribution entitled "Democracy, what Democracy? Troops Out Now:"

Did Prime Minister Blair get reelected? Yes, and as you've heard, he's starting an historic third term. But what was also historic was the beating he took -- losing more than half of his majority in Parliament -- down from around 160 seats to 66. It's especially stark, given the state of the British economy. Britain's booming, but the voters are mad, and they're mad about one thing: the war.
In case you're in any doubt about that, check out a BBC poll published election night. Hostility to the war was the big issue. Among those who were reluctant to vote for Blair's party, Labour, 23% said it was the war specifically; 21% said they just didn't trust Blair. The party took a special beating in Muslim districts, and places heavy with young people and students. People were mad and they had a third party to vote for. The Liberal Democrats. Labour's share of the vote went down 4 percent. The Lib-Dems went up by the same amount.
Read the New York Times, the Wash Post, AP and your eyes will go blurry before you see it stated clearly. Labor's support is said to have "eroded" "shrank" "reduced" and "weakened" but let's be clear: lots of British Labour voters chose Lib-Dem candidates this election because Liberal Democrats, unlike Labour, are the only political party that opposed the invasion of Iraq.

Matthew Cardinale, BuzzFlash contributor, has "Catching Up With Carol Moseley Braun." Here's the opening (click the link to read in full):

"Right now I'm a recovering politician and a committed private citizen," said former Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun in a phone interview for the progressive news community.
The former US Senator, US Presidential Candidate in 2004, and US Ambassador to New Zealand, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Antarctica, is currently focusing her energies on her new law firm, Moseley Braun, LLC, as well as her new small business.
During the past year, spent largely out of the public eye, she's continued her lifetime work of public service on behalf of the disadvantaged through private practice. However, she still has a lot to say about politics, past, present and future.

We'll note Shirley Smith's "Friends and Enemies ... Who's Who? MS. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON." Here's an excerpt:

Bush and his administration attacked Afghanistan, going after bin Laden, who had gone to Afghanistan (like the US) to help fight against the Soviet Union during their ten year war. President Reagan and Dick Cheney referred to Osama and his fighters as "freedom fighters" until they weren't needed anymore then, they went from heroes to "terrorists." A half year after Bush attacked Afghanistan, it was said that the US killed 4,000 innocent victims and the bereaved families number 20,000 people. I read reports during that fighting that the US had cornered Osama and his fighters in the mountains. After that, a cease fire was put in effect by the US and the men could hear helicopters airlifting people from the mountains into Pakistan. No more Osama in Afghanistan. Within a short time, Osama disappeared off Bush's radar screen and suddenly we hear the drum beat to invade Iraq and one of the most bizarre reasons, in my opinion, given by Bush was that Saddam could attack the US with WMD within 45 minutes. After hearing that statement, the disappointment to me was that there was no laughter heard immediately following it.

Why are we noting BuzzFlash in a spotlight? Cindy e-mailed with a few questions (no time to reply this morning, so I hope this helps Cindy). Among her questions were:
"Why purchase BuzzFlash premiums?"
"If their links are so great, why aren't their headlines on this site?"

To take the second question first, their headlines aren't on this site (BuzzFlash offers web sites the opportunity to syndicate their headlines) because I'm no computer genius. I'm sure our wonderful members the UK Computer Gurus could post the code as needed in a snap but they're always working on something for us as it is. (Currently, they're working on more security measures as members who read their last UK Computer Gurus newsletter know.)

When The Third Estate Sunday Review was started, I was helping them out (as noted yesterday) when their template crashed. I'm very wary of doing anything here I don't know of. (Even with permalinks on the left, I add one, republish, make sure nothing's gone wrong, then add the next one.) At some point, we may add them but in the meantime, members can use the permalink (besides going to any entry that members highlight).

As for the first question, BuzzFlash is independent media. It and Democracy Now! were our first two links. (The links are in order with one exception, The Third Estate Sunday Review. I didn't do that link. I believe I was out of town -- maybe attending the protests for the Bully Boy's inauguration in D.C., I'd have to look at the calender. But I did ask a friend who often helps post items -- and will be helping again this Friday -- to add the link. It went up at the top and that's fine. I'm not going to mess with it and I was and am just glad it got up.)

You don't find permalinks to the big newspapers or the big networks here. An e-mailer once made a comment that I thought I was "so punk" with the things we elect to highlight. I shared that e-mail with an old friend who did go through a punk phase in the seventies so we could laugh together. Independent media is supported here for the same reason that before I go buy a book at Borders or another chain, I check my own local independent bookstore first to see if they have it. (And if they don't and I can wait, I order it through them.)

It's important to support independent organizations because they're not taking orders. Whether it influences the news or not (ABC would argue it doesn't), ABC Time Warner Disney AOL et al
has many "issues" to grapple with when breaking news or even delivering programming. Independent organizations don't have to clear decisions with a host of "oversearers." Which is why I can find a book by Seven Stories Press or Nation Books at my independent bookstore easily but might not be able to find it at Borders. I can find a host of romance novels, diet books, et al at a chain bookstore but independent bookstores go beyond the bestseller lists.

Independent news organizations go beyond the obvious stories (and don't trade in "lifestyle" journalism). I personally don't eat at chain establishments and make an effort to go beyond the obvious sources. (Tower is an exception but in a day and age when music stores have fallen by the way side as more and more people purchase their music at Wal-Marts, I've never felt guilt for supporting Tower.)

So that's one reason that BuzzFlash premiums are so frequently mentioned here (and again, on our second day we began linking to them).

To summarize one question of Cindy's, isn't is just a series of links to stories in other publications? No, it's not. And that's my fault if I haven't gotten that across. That's why we highlighted a series of posts above that are BuzzFlash posts.

Does it provide links? Yes, it does. And the benefit (Cindy's last question) to that is, my opinion, that stories that don't make the front page of the Times, for instance, have a chance to be noticed. In addition, you can see it as the big stories from a variety of sources that you might miss otherwise. It's also true that BuzzFlash highlights independent media, whether it's The Nation, Democracy Now!, The Progressive, In These Times, blogs, web sites [disclosure: we've been highlighted there -- further disclosure, I've recently exchanged e-mails with someone who says they're a part of BuzzFlash], and many other news and opinion sources you're not going to find noticed in other places.

Cindy notes that she's a big fan of Raw Story and that we don't highlight them. We have highlighted them. If someone wants them highlighted, they need to e-mail something from Raw Story. Time permitting, I will visit a certain number of web sites. More often than not, time does not permit. Saturday's web surfing consisted of an early Sunday morning trip to BuzzFlash with Ava. Early Sunday, The Third Estate Sunday Review and those of us helping are hitting that site hard to come up with ideas for the editorial. (The editorial is never determined ahead of time. The one time they did do one ahead of time, it became old news by the time Sunday rolled around and was scrapped.)

There are days when that may be all that I have time for. (And that's why it took Rachel highlighting the Saturday entry of The Daily Howler to get it noticed here.) I'm going through e-mails where members are commenting and highlighting items. I spend three hours minimum on the e-mails each day. I do have a job (and, yes, a life) and reading the e-mails and posting here takes up the time I would have for web surfing.

If you see something highlighted, it's usually sent in. Some members want to be mentioned (and if they do, they're named) and some don't. If they indicate that they don't want to be mentioned, I'll merely type "Check out . . ." That's why the automated e-mail states that you make this community. It's more true now than ever.

If you want The Raw Story highlighted, or any other site, you need to e-mail in. I've also stated that I don't highlight people I know personally. That's led to some questions about do I have something against this person or that. For the record, the only person there's a decision not to highlight here is Geov Parrish. (BuzzFlash has a link to him for anyone who enjoys Parrish's work.) Members were very offended by a post he did. My own opinion was it was lazy to attack puppetteers. It showed a lack of appreciation for the importance of visuals. But if someone wanted him highlighted, I'd be happy to do so. But members were very offended by that post and his comments on the peace movement. If the membership changes their minds on this (and there are some people that early on I would catch hell for highlighting that members are now okay with highlighting), we'll highlight him.

We do highlight from the left. There are enough "mainstream" sites (and, Lord knows, enough right wing ones) that can take up their cause. But that's really the only criteria.

We highlighted an article by John Walsh from CounterPunch and a number of e-mails came in on that (sixteen?) over the weekend. Laura Flanders had spoken about Walsh's article on her program and noted, rightly, that she has not waffled on her stance (she's for bringing the troops home). A member wanted it highlighted, we highlighted it.

The article didn't mention Flanders. (Like The Nation article we commented on last week, weekend hosts -- and Mike Malloy -- were left out of the discussion.) It did mention Sam Seder and Janeane Garofalo. Walsh noted that he had called in and his feelings on how his call went.
I heard that phone call and my own interpretation of the way it played out was different from Walsh's. But I didn't hear the conversation with the screener.

And I'm aware that the idea of "one big family" vanished a long time ago. To the point that, post-Lizz Winstead's "vanishing," many hosts have made the point (repeatedly) that they are only responsible for their own shows.

The "vanishing" of Lizz Winstead was ugly and uncalled for (my opinion). I held my tongue (and still do to a great deal) but my attitude here is that I'm not spotlighting any show I'm don't agree with. Members can note any shows they want and it will go up here. But in terms of Air America, it should be obvious from posts here which shows I personally support and which ones I don't.

As a Majority Report listener, I was aware (and maybe Walsh is as well, maybe he's not) that Janeane Garofalo is for ending the invasion/occupation now. Not in a few year, right now. And in her responses (and Seder's as well) to the phone call they were quite clear about their feelings and that they weren't responsible for what went out on other shows.

Walsh was obviously very passionate about the issue and apparently had to argue with a screener to get on air. Had he been put through with no hassle, he might have phrased his question differently so that it addressed just The Majority Report. But he might not have. And since AAR promoted the idea of "one big happy family" they're (the network) going to have take the fallout when listeners see it as such.

It's not one big family all operating off the same page. But Walsh's points were worth hearing.
To Laura Flanders' listeners (and I am obviously one, we highlight her show all the time and she was highlighted on the second day of this site) who were offended, I'd suggest you read the article. She and others on the weekend (as well as Mike Malloy who is firmly opposed to this invasion/occupation) weren't mentioned in the article.

Flanders addressed the issue on her show last weekend because she is for bringing the troops home now. Walsh may or may not believe that AAR is "one big family" (he may merely be addressing the way the network was promoted). He didn't comment on Flanders (and others) and, personally, I felt he should have. Flanders had a right to respond and clarify her own stance since readers of the article might be left with an incorrect impression.

But Walsh had a right to address the issue of AAR's stance on the war. To be clear, it's not "one big family." (Unless it's a dysfunctional one and after the way Winstead was treated . . .) But in the past, it's been promoted that way. I wish he had named Malloy (as someone for bringing the troops home now) and the weekend hosts but he wrote the article he wanted to write and it raised an issue worth considering.

With regard to Air America Radio, in the early days of this site, I said if someone on the network speaks to you, listen. If they don't, don't listen. Myself, I've only highlighted the shows that speak to me. (Members are free to highlight whatever they want.)

At this site, members can critique any AAR show (positively or negatively). If you're wondering which shows I support personally, you can see which ones I mention (and which ones I don't).
(And Janeane Garofalo has done a great job solo this week. Tomorrow night Sam Seder will back on -- he's filling in for Springer and I'm sure doing a wonderful job but I won't listen to any program in that time slot.)

The fact that not a weekend goes by where Laura Flanders' show isn't highlighted should tell you something. I'd prefer to leave it at that.

Had the article been an attack on Flanders we wouldn't have highlighted it. (A member currently wants an article highlighted on Naomi Klein. I disagree with the article but am attempting to read it again closely. If it's a difference of opinion and strategy, it will be highlighted. If it's a personal attack on Klein, it won't be. For the same reason, I e-mailed someone last week that an article on Jane Fonda wouldn't be highlighted. The writer is of the left and he's entitled to his opinion. But the comments, my opinion, did not reflect what Fonda said on 60 Minutes.)

Walsh was addressing a number of issues in his article and I support not only his right to address whatever he wants, I also support the addressing of those issues. I disagreed with him regarding The Majority Report (but I didn't hear the conversation with the screener). Randi Rhodes was mentioned in the article and she has said herself on her show that she's of two minds (or still considering) on what is the proper path re: Iraq (pull out immediately or stay awhile longer). (That's a summary of Rhodes remarks and if I've done her a disservice, none was intentional. We've spotlighted Rhodes. We will continue to spotlight her.)

I feel the article would provide a stronger overview if it had addressed all the shows. But as I noted of The Nation article last week, it didn't even mention Laura Flanders (who's contributed articles to The Nation) or any of the weekend hosts.

But Walsh was bothered by, my opinion, an attitude of Bob Hope-ism (as several members have called it to refer to one host in particular). I'm bothered by that as well. Hopefully, his article will be a starting point. (And hopefully, he'll pursue the topic futher.) Because it does need to be addressed. If you disagreed with him on some aspects (I disagreed on The Majority Report remarks), hopefully you were able to see the larger issue he was addressing and support that.

Laura Flanders clarified her position on her show. And that's probably the wrong wording. Clarifying, to me, implies that Flanders' remarks had created questions. That's not the case. Again, she has been for bringing the troops home all along. This isn't a new position for her. Or one she's "waffled" on. This has been her position from the beginning. Her show wasn't addressed in the article and she had every right to respond.

What he did address was the myth of "one big family" and an attitude coming from the "flagship" show. I'm not sure whether it was fair to Rhodes (she cuts every caller off and that's her style) since she has been open about her opinions on the occupation/invasion. I did disagree with the summary of the call to The Majority Report (but, again, didn't hear the conversation with the screener and do understand that by the time he got through he was frustrated). I think it was a mistake not to mention Mike Malloy or Laura Flanders (among others). (He did have praise for Rachel Maddow.)

But we linked to it and we will if he writes another piece addressing the issue. (If he writes a back and forth with Flanders, we won't link to it. Flanders expressed, re-expressed her feelings, and she's been clear on that from the start.) When we linked to Sharon Smith's CounterPunch article, we did so because it was about an issue. It wasn't a slam piece on Naomi Klein. I'm attempting to figure out if the current article is or isn't. (And am obviously prejudiced because I think Klein is one of our important voices. That doesn't mean she can't be wrong. And certainly we don't want to turn into a cult of personality here. If it's about issues and not a slam on her, we'll link to it.)

To the sixteen who wrote regarding Flanders, I hope that clears it up.

Lastly, twenty-two of you wondered if this weekend's posts were harmed by my assisting The Third Estate Sunday Review? The Sunday posts were especially disappointing to me. (We didn't get around to highlighting Amy Goodman's appearences until yesterday, to offer but one example.) However, I was also attempting to organize an entry (that went up finally -- and was far from perfect but don't come here for spelling) on the problems subscribers to the Times have with delivery (Dallas had requested that be addressed two weeks prior).

In addition, on a personal note, there was another problem beyond health or rest and I'll toss that out here because the person reads this site and maybe that will stop the requests. X has a new script and seems to forget that people who take money from you are working for you. Instead X has rewritten a script (at the last minute) to include a subplot about the war. I do not have the time or the desire to do a line by line edit. (I have done that before for this friend.) I do not support your script, I think the tacked on story destroys it, and I think your grossly misunderstanding the impact of visuals when you offer that it's anti-war. I've repeatedly told you that. For the sake of friendship, let it go. Or walk on,

You had a nice screenplay that you sharpened through various drafts. Then you forgot who works for whom and decided to follow orders that you should have refused. I hope you finish it in time, and best of luck to you, but I'm not helping you with that. And repeated statements of "I'm not helping you, quit asking" don't seem to register. So, since the question of what happened this weekend popped up from members and since you read this site, let me state it clearly and let's hope it's for the last time.

The e-mail address for this site is