Monday, May 16, 2005

Magazine spotlight: The Progressive

Friday, there were entries highlighting The Nation, In These Times and Rolling Stone. Ned e-mailed in to ask if there was a problem with The Progressive?

Actually there is. Here's the problem. There's a story that people should be interested in, in the current issue, but it's not available online. Friday I was out of pocket, Saturday and Sunday were catch ups (plus help Third Estate Sunday Review in whatever limited manner I can). So we'll do, quickly, a spotlight on The Progressive.

Let's start with the story that's not available online but should be, Nina Segal's "Bioethics, Bush Style."

"There's a black cloud that's been hanging over this research," says [Dr. Robert] Lanza. That cloud has been created by Bush and legitimized by Dr. Leon Kass, head of the President's Council on Bioethics, a panel of experts who advise the Administration on the ethical implications of biomedical innovation. Since Bush's panel was convened in August 2001, the council has politicized biotech research to an extreme previously unimaginable, say top scientists and progressive bioethicists. They charge that the council is promulgating Bush's
anti-scientific policy agenda, and making it all but impossible for scientists like Lanza to do their work.
Kass, a member of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, promised to promote open debate about the important scientific questions of our time when he became head of the council in 2001. But critics say he hasn't quite kept his word.
[. . .]
Council member Janet Rowley, a professor of medicine, molecular genetics, cell biology, and human genetics at the University of Chicago Medical School, says she had concerns that staff members weren't adequately conveying the diseenting views in their published reports. "On occasion when these discrepancies were brought to their attention, they were more or less ignored." she said.
[Council members are let go who disagree. One possibly for saying that Bully Boy's Medicare proposal was "mysticism of the marketplace run amok." Their spots are filled. Including by Benjamin Carson who has offered "we live in a nation where we can't talk about God in public."
Yes, he was speaking of the United States. Yes, he's supposedly educated. No, I have no idea what he's whining about either.]
Rowley, who remains on the council, says the panel has become less diverse since the new appointments.
[. . .]
Rowley says Kass has discontinued the process of taking votes on issues and "runs this like a graduate seminar," she says. "You don't get council members who are expressing points of view that are at variance with the President's point of view."

A member serving on the panel, among others, was willing to go on record regarding what's happening with "Bioethics, Bush Style." Now granted, magazine "reports" at various sites ignore The Progressive. Lynda did a thing, for instance, on CJR Daily that she was wanting help with. I had no problem assisting in any way other than math. (You don't want me checking your figures, trust me.) If I remembering her figures correctly, she had over a hundred citations of The Weekly Standard and The New Republic in the CJR Daily "Magazine Report." There were no citations for The Progressive or In These Times. The Nation had less than ten (I'm thinking the number Lynda had was four). CJR Daily appears to be going beyond the repeated citations and expanding the "Magazine Report." But the new issue of The Progressive is about to come out and I doubt very seriously that they will address "Bioethics, Bush Style." (I could be wrong and wouldn't mind at all being wrong on this.)

Along with that article, Nina Siegal also conducted an e-mail interview with Kass which The Progressive runs as well. Readers of The Progressive (a large number of people, more so, than for instance, the amount that reads The New Republic) will no doubt pass the information on.
And, again, it's doubtful that any "Magazine Report" from any web site would have highlighted the article. But I do think readers of The Progressive would have e-mailed it to friends. And I suspect that BuzzFlash would have linked to it.

But I didn't have the time or energy to attempt an excerpt (like the bad one above) prior. Which is the reason for the delay. (And part of that problem with excerting was that my issue has no staples. Which, hopefully, is good for the environement but doesn't stop it from sliding around in my lap -- and falling apart -- as I'm trying to type up the excerpt.)

Also in the print edition (and also not available online) is Nancy Shepherdson's "Republican Wing of the Republican Party." In this article, Shepherdson attends a "national board meeting of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies . . . in the post St. Louis suburb of Frontenac." She meets a variety of people concerned with God & country. One 'kind soul' shares the 'Christian sentiment,' I'm sure, that Carol Mosely Braun, "was more like an ape." When not offering up examples of what Jesus wouldn't do, they work on things like "banning abortion for any reason." And we learn, from these psuedo scientiests, that "There's a worker shortage . . . Forty-two percent of the U.S. population isn't here -- they were aborted. When you look at NASA photos of the Earth [at night] from space, most of it is dark!"

Ruth Conniff takes on the book Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety. That's worth reading if you come across a print edition of the issue. I love The Nation, The Progressive and In These Times equally but I do find myself nodding more with the book reviews in The Progressive than any other. (And as I've noted here before, Matthew Rothschild is an excellent reviewer -- my opinion.)

And that's it. The issue's slid to the floor and fallen apart for the last time this morning. We'll note what's available online.

The Commentary is available online and worth reading. It's entitled "Musical Chairs:"

In retrospect, one of the pivotal moments of the last six years came after George W. Bush had secured the 2000 nomination and Papa Bush tapped Dick Cheney to find Georgie a Vice President who could run the shop on the day to day. As John Nichols notes in Dick: The Man Who Is President, Cheney looked high and low and then gazed in the mirror and declared himself the fairest of them all.
Cheney believes the President has unlimited authority to wage war. He believes that Bush Senior didn't even need Congress's approval to go to war against Iraq back in 1991. "I firmly believe to this day even if the Congress had voted no we had no option but to proceed," Cheney told The Washington Post on January 20 of this year.
To watch the way Bush and Cheney promote the wrong people is to glimpse the arrogance of power. They don't care what the reaction is to their choices. They believe they can appoint whomever they want. And the more galling, the better. If anyone disapproves, tough.
They dare the Democrats to stop them. They dare the media to squawk. They dare the American people to rise up in revulsion.
But for the most part, neither the Democrats nor the media nor the American people have bestirred themselves.
And until they do, the second Cheney Administration will keep going its unmerry way.

Molly Ivin's column entitled "The Whim of a Hat" is available online. From the opening of her column:

Hey, the sun is shining, the bluebonnets are out, our big music festival, South by Southwest, rocked, and the puppy wants to play. You expect me to write about Terri Schiavo, Iraq, and Paul ("There is no history of ethnic strife in Iraq") Wolfowitz?
Instead, let us celebrate spring with a roundup of the President's verbal gaffes, boners, grammatical errors, and immortal contributions to logic. Remember, this is a contest between George Bush père and George Bush fils, with the old man still well ahead at this point, though I think you will agree, after reading the latest, that our boy is gaining on him.
These are, as always, taken straight from life and from W.'s mouth.
First of all, there's the ongoing situation in Iraq, where, as he put it, "it is a time of sorrow and sadness when we lose a loss of life." Our enemies in Iraq are very resourceful, he adds. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people and neither do we," says the Prez.

Also available online is Amitabh Pal's interview with the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. From that interview, here's an excerpt:

Q: Why were you attacked for planting trees?
Maathai: Planting trees, per se, would not have been a problem. Nobody would have bothered me if all I did was to encourage women to plant trees. But I started seeing the linkages between the problems that we were dealing with and the root causes. And one of those root causes was misgovernance. The government had approved the clear-cutting of forests that were catchment areas for water and encouraged the cultivating of exotic plantations. It was the government that had allowed the people to go into the forests and to start cultivating food crops. All this had caused the massive destruction of forests, which could absorb water, which could give us normal rain patterns, and which could sustain the rivers. So I knew that even if I planted all the trees downstream, the stream itself was being destroyed by the government. It was important for us to address the government and to ask the government to stop destroying the catchment areas upstream.
The other problem we were facing was that a lot of our leaders in the government, especially in the 1980s, privatized a lot of these common goods. They would literally cut sections of the forest and privatize them, or they would take open spaces in the cities and urban centers and privatize them. So I knew that a major culprit of environmental destruction was the government. I started raising my voice and started holding seminars educating the public on how the environment was being destroyed and who was destroying it. And how it was important for us to hold our leaders accountable for the better management of resources.
This is what the government did not like because the ruling elite was the beneficiary of these malpractices. And so their reaction was to intimidate, arrest, harass, in the hope that I would give up, or the people with whom I was working would give up, and the movement would die. We knew they were greedy and corrupt. So it was a matter of fighting corruption and fighting greed among the ruling elite.
The women were the major force in the movement. We were the ones who were being harassed. We were the ones who were being prevented from meeting. We were the ones who were the victims of the destruction that was going on. We, therefore, eventually adopted a campaign for our rights, to assert ourselves and to demand better treatment from the government. So the tree planting campaign has always been in the forefront. It is the most visible campaign. But we branched into many other activities in an effort to deal with the root causes of environmental degradation.

[. . .]
Q: How do you respond to people who say fighting poverty takes precedence over protecting the environment?
Maathai: Poverty is both a cause and a symptom of environmental degradation. You can't say you'll start to deal with just one. You're trapped. When you're in poverty, you're trapped because the poorer you become, the more you degrade the environment, and the more you degrade the environment, the poorer you become.
So it's a matter of breaking the cycle. From the very beginning, that's what I was telling the women, that we cannot solve all the problems that we face: We are poor, we don't have water, we don't have energy, we don't have food, we don't have income, we're not able to send our children to school. There are too many problems we face. We have to break the cycle, and the way to break the cycle for us is to do something that is doable, is to do something that is cheap, do something that is within our power, our capacity, our resources.

There are other features available in print and it's worth checking out. If you're planning on purchasing the issue, you'd better do so soon because the next issue is about to come out.

Online currently, you can find Anne-Marie Cusac's "Saul Bellow Reconsidered" and Howard Zinn's "The Scourge of Nationalism." From the latter, here's an excerpt of the opening:

I cannot get out of my mind the recent news photos of ordinary Americans sitting on chairs, guns on laps, standing unofficial guard on the Arizona border, to make sure no Mexicans cross over into the United States. There was something horrifying in the realization that, in this twenty-first century of what we call "civilization," we have carved up what we claim is one world into 200 artificially created entities we call "nations" and armed to apprehend or kill anyone who crosses a boundary.
Is not nationalism--that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder--one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred? These ways of thinking--cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on--have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.
National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica, and many more). But in a nation like ours--huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction--what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.

Click the link above to continue reading (I'm waiting for it to arrive in the mail at which point I'll read Zinn and Cusac).

But, to note Ned's question again, the only "problem" with The Progressive was that the articles weren't available online and I didn't have the time to go through the issue typing things up.

Seek it out (there's an article on Columbia that's worth reading as well). And hopefully, at some point, they'll add Nina Siegal's "Bioethics Bush Style" to their Best of The Progressive archives.

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