Saturday, January 08, 2005

Editorial: The Comment Ills does not engage in tracking visitors nor does it support the practice

Privacy is a primary concern to members of The Common Ills community.

As someone who worked in my area with our local Bill of Rights Defense Committee, I do understand that and I respect that. When members were uncomfortable with posts (either due to spam concerns or not wanting to have to register at a site to comment), we made e-mails the source of our interaction.

When the Times published a story on a Saturday (it was in December, I believe) about efforts to data mine by an organization hired by the ACLU, I noted that while I personally supported the ACLU, I opposed data mining. Your e-mails agreed that the ACLU needed to take a strong stand against tracking of their membership.

Thursday was a record day for e-mails to this site ( 397 of you shared your feelings on how the Ohio vote played out in Congress. I e-mailed and asked for permission to quote. I even e-mailed the ones who stated "Please quote me" in their original e-mail because of the fact that we were very passionate about what happened (for good reason) and I wanted to be sure that everyone stood by their statements after they had time to digest them.

A number of you didn't want to be quoted and that was fine. One of you responded that you felt you had wasted my time by weighing in and then deciding you didn't want to be quoted. That's not the case at all. What I wrote on Thursday was influenced by your reactions. It's never a problem to weigh in on something even if you don't want to be quoted, cited or mentioned. That's your call and it will be respected.

There were other e-mails on Thursday that didn't address Congress. One of them was from Molly. I wasn't focused on Thursday (no surprise there) and she got a reply that a few other people got as well which was basically: "I'm printing up your e-mail and deleting it. We've had so many weighing in on Congress today that I'm concentrating on that. But I will reply to your e-mail in a few days. Sorry for the delay. -- CI"

I read Molly's e-mail today and it was pretty important. A site that I had provided a link to was visited by Molly and as she read entries on the site, she discovered that the site tracked where you came from and where you went.

Molly's first question is do we track at The Common Ills. The answer is no. And I'll get back to that in moment.

Her second question was: "Is this standard policy?" I actually learned of it happening for the first time on Friday night/Saturday morning. (I was up all night. I hadn't been to sleep yet, so in my mind it was Friday night still.)

This may very well be standard policy. I don't know. I do feel is that if you're tracking visitors to your site, you should post a note stating that at the top of your site so that every visitor is aware that they are being tracked.

The issue of whatever two things the New York Times web site is trying to install when you visit has been one that has outraged many of you. (Thanks to whomever told me to install Spybot. It has allowed me to block the installations. Two other members have also e-mailed that they installed it as well.) That caused anger just over the fact that something (which might or might not have been spyware) was being installed without your knowledge (unless you utilized Spybot or some other software).

Tracking where you came from and where you're going may be a standard practice. I'm sure many corporations do it. Should a personal web site do so?

My personal opinion, I don't think they should. If they're going to, however, they should notify you at the top of the page that you are being tracked.

If Joanne Smith buys a teddy at Victoria's Secret and, unbeknownst to her, there's a device in the store's sack that allows them to know the next store that Joanne visits, I think she would be outraged. By the same token, I don't think anyone has the right to track someone's movements online without the visitor's knowledge.

Again, I'm sure some corporations due. And I'm sure the government does in some form. But a personal web site, one that wants you to visit, shouldn't be tracking your movements (my opinion).

Someone can argue that they are just gathering statistical information. I majored in the social sciences and we asked permission when gathering statistical information from someone.
What is statistical information to someone running a web site may be very personal information to the person visiting.

Let's say your a closeted John Denver fan and you visit a web site devoted to him daily. Is that the business of Generic Web Blog that you happened to visit earlier that day?

What if your someone struggling with your religion and you're visiting sites for that? Or if your a closeted gay or lesbian and you're visiting sites that reveal your sexuality? What if you're visiting porn sites and you don't want anyone to know that?

Generic Web Blog might shoot back, "I only know that you came to my site from ___ and that you then went on to ____ and ____."

After I read Molly's e-mail this morning, I went to work trying to educate myself on this issue.
A friend was kind enough to set up a meet- up with some web gurus in the UK. I thank them for their advice and for talking me through the realities of what's going on.

Your isp address can be tracked by some, but not all, programs that can track your web traffic. So Generic Web Blog may have access to your isp address. Your region and location may be revealed to Generic Web Blog as well.

That there is no privacy on the web was a point that stressed repeatedly. But we do have a right to expect that when we're going to non-corporate sites, people aren't tracking us without notifying us.

I'm not a computer expert but I was instructed to install Mozilla Firefox which, according to them, will offer more protection as a browser. I'd suggest that anyone concerned about privacy consider looking into Firefox and judging for themselves whether it's something they want to utilize or not. (Mozilla Firefox is a free download.) The only problem I've encountered since installing is that when importing my bookmarks from Explorer, it messed up the order. I can fix that (and will whenever I find the time). If someone has another program (or knows of flaws with Firefox) you can e-mail and we'll be happy to share what you know.

In addition to Firefox, GhostSurf Web Browsing was recommended. This is a program with a thirty day free trial but to keep it after that you have to pay around forty dollars. Those with the money to spare might want to consider looking into GhostSurf.

Molly's question about this site? We don't track you. I wouldn't know how. (Google runs and I wouldn't be surprised if they track in some way.) If you're e-mailing me that you are the ultimate goth or grunge or whatever music fan but you're secretely going to a John Denver site, rest assured, I have no way of knowing that.

The only thing I know is what you choose to share in e-mails. If you've gone to the blogger profile for this site -- don't bother, there's nothing there as most of you know already -- you are aware that each time that's visited, the number of views is recorded. No report on that is sent to me and, if I have access to anything other than the number of visits -- the same thing you see online at that page, my computer ignorance keeps me in the dark.

The UK gurus think we need to worry more about protecting our privacy and I agree with them.
Frank in Orlando feels I've gotten "snarky" in my comments about the Times in recent weeks.
I am offering more of my opinion (or Rob's or anyone that chooses to share). The reason for that is that a number of you have stated you're not visiting that site because of whatever program it is that Spybot reports the site's attempting to install.

If I do a pull quote, it's the section that I think is most important. That's my opinion and, when I make that call, I'm deciding with the knowledge that many of you are just reading what is getting pulled. Some articles are resulting in coverage that's my opinion (or a member like Rob's) of what the "use factor" of the story is or isn't. Opinions have increased (Frank in Orlando's correct, snarky or not is open to debate) because I know a number of you do not want to visit the Times now.

When I recommend something in the future (from any site), I'll try to provide you with enough information so that you have a snapshot of what it is in case you're not going to visit the site. But if you do visit, you're taking the same risk that someone in a work environment that closely regulates the language acceptable on the net takes when they leave this site to visit a linked page. In other words, you're on your own.

That shouldn't be the case. People should be posting if they are tracking -- at the top of their web page so that you know as soon as you pull up the site that you are being tracked. The site Molly e-mailed about did an entry on where visitors were coming from and apparently where you were going after. (I couldn't find the post on the site which is one reason we're not naming the site, the other reason is that this isn't about one person or one site, this is an ethical question.) Whether or not the person running that site has additional information, Molly didn't know.

But she knew enough that she was offended.

Back at the end of November, Jim began asking if we'd install a counter. I have enough trouble doing permalinks that I told Jim I knew nothing about how to install one and honestly didn't have the time to learn. We didn't install a counter. We won't install a counter now that I've spoken to the UK gurus.

I'm not interested in your web traffic or in tracking where you go after. (Or even in the curiosity factor of how many hits/visits we get.) If you choose to share something, that's fine. If you don't, that's fine too.

It's none of my business where you were before you came to the site or where you went after. Your isp address is none of my business. (And don't worry, if there's a way to pull it off your e-mails, I don't know how. Once again, my ignorance works in everyone's favor.) Your location is none of my business.

Your safe on this site from me. (Hopefully from Google as well but I can't speak for Google.)

As for other sites, that's beyond any control I have. So when you visit a site, you need to know that you may or may not be tracked. And the person running Generic Web Blog may not feel it's a big deal. But I'd argue that if they're tracking you, they need to notify you of that -- not in an entry that pops up occassionally but as soon as their site loads.

I kept saying today, "Maybe I'm just too far left, but the idea of someone watching me because I visited their site bothers me." It's not just me that's bothered by that or just Molly. And, again, the UK gurus think we need to be more concerned with this issue.

I realize that most people gathering the information from Generic Web Blog are just trying to figure out where their traffic is coming from. Whether you accept that argument as valid or not is up to you. For me, personally, it's not a valid argument.

We're members here, not readers. We all participate. So maybe we're different from some sites. But if this was a site that only allowed you to post replies, I'd still say it wasn't valid. In that instance, I'm wanting your traffic, I'm wanting you to visit, and I'm tracking you, but I'm not notifying you of that?

I subscribe to a number of publications and, from time to time, I get a survey asking how I learned of the publication. I'm happy to answer that question. But it's asked of me. There's a difference between asking me to volunteer information (and I can refuse any request) and just collecting that information without informing me.

While in college, I worked at a dry cleaners. (For those keeping track, I've now mentioned working at libraries (two), a Church day care and tonight a dry cleaners. That's not the end of the list my jobs while getting my degrees.) There was a woman who was just determined to know my middle name. (It's nothing embarrassing and, sadly, very common now. Sadly because it was more unique awhile back.)

It may have been her second day when she asked for that information. I didn't know her, I didn't work near her, and I didn't like her attitude. I certainly wasn't going to share my information with her. She stormed off in a huff saying she'd find out with or without me. (I have no idea why she was that inquisitive. She was fired a few weeks later for what we'll politely call "data mining" of customers.)

So Nosy Parker next comes up to me to say that her boyfriend is a police officer and she wrote down the plates on my car and would soon have that important information (my middle
name). My car was being fixed that week (actually was fixed, I was just waiting for payday
to be able to get it back) and I knew her information would be on the friend who'd loaned me
the car. I did tell her that I believed it was some sort of violation for her to utilize her
boyfriend to look up personal information on people she knew.

Nosy Parker shows up next when she's upset that it wasn't my car. (I hadn't told her that, it was none of her business.) But she knows I live in that city so she's going to find it that way (again, via her boyfriend looking it up). No luck for Nosy Parker because I hadn't updated my license since I'd moved into the city.

As irritating as Nosy Parker was, at least I knew she was trying to gather information about me. (Why, I have no idea.) She was very vocal about it. If someone's tracking you when you visit their site, they need to be telling you that (my opinion).

Again, someone might argue, "It's just statistical information." So is trailing me as I walk through my neighborhood, but I'd want to know if someone was doing that as well.

Molly had named the site and I didn't want to name it here. (Molly agreed to that.) The reason for that? This is apparently very common. Highlighting one individual makes it about one individual. I'd argue this is an ethical question and needs to be addressed in that manner.

If you feel there's nothing wrong with tracking site visitors, then you should have no problem posting a warning somewhere at the top of your site.

Someone may not currently post a warning because the practice is so common. "Everyone does it." Again, that's why we aren't going to make this about one site. According to the UK gurus, it is quite common. Gurus everywhere may be aware of it. I'm not. I'm a computer idiot. I go to the sites I go to for news and information. I expected that since I'm not tracking the visits of someone running a site, they're not tracking mine as a visitor.

That may not be the case. If it's not, I think it's incumbent upon a site to notify you that they are going to track you.

There may be a solid justification to be made for tracking. But if your a blogger, and you track the visitors to your site via some program, you should be willing to post on your site that you do that. Not everyone is going to agree that it's okay to track them. People should be warned if tracking is going to take place.

I'm not attempting to embarrass anyone here. I'm trying to raise an ethical issue.

I will note that A Winding Road ( does not track. That blog was started by a member of this community. (So of course it's a great blog and one you should check out daily!) Because they are a member of our community and they are now running a web site, I did contact them to see if they were tracking. They aren't. They're surprised that any blogger would be tracking. No one should have to be surprised (my opinion). If someone's tracking, they should declare it prominently on their web site (again, my opinion).

The New York Times floats the idea of becoming a for-pay web site and Marcia is upset (I don't blame her)

Marcia's upset and I don't blame her.

She e-mailed about two stories. (I believe she saw them on Poynter Online -- Romensko,, because that's where I saw them.)

What's going on?

From Reuters (

The New York Times Co. (NYT.N: Quote, Profile, Research) is considering subscription fees to the online version of its flagship newspaper, which now is available for free, but it has no immediate plans to do so, the company said on Friday.
One of the paper's biggest rivals, Dow Jones & Co. Inc.'s (DJ.N:
Quote, Profile, Research) Wall Street Journal, charges for its online edition. A New York Times spokeswoman said the company is reviewing whether it should make any business changes to the online version but that no shifts were imminent.
"We are reviewing the site to see whether or not there would be any areas where we should change the business model," said the spokeswoman, Catherine Mathis, adding: "This is not new. We've been discussing this for some time."
According to the upcoming issue of BusinessWeek magazine, whose cover story focuses on The New York Times Co., an internal debate has been raging at the newspaper over whether its online edition, which had about 18.5 million unique monthly visitors as of November, should adopt a subscription fee.
N.Y. Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. was quoted in the article as saying: "It gets to the issue of how comfortable are we training a generation of readers to get quality information for free. That is troubling."

That's troubling?

Marcia: "They're already trying to install two tracking devices on my computer everytime I visit their web site and now they're wanting to charge me for it?"

[Note, something's attempting to install. I have no idea what it is. One is called "Double Ads" or something like that. But Marcia and the others who pointed that out last week or the week before are correct that a visit to the Times web site results in an attempt to install something.]

First, it's not surprising that they want to charge, greed's a basic value. And we'll pick up on the greed in a moment.

But the reality is that a lot of "free" sites will probably become view-for-fee in the future. The Christian Science Monitor had an online survey (this summer?) asking visitors whether or not they'd be willing to pay for some content.

I am a regular visitor to BuzzFlash. And a year ago, I wondered what would happen to the web if and when the dailies moved to fee-to-read status?

They'd be the least effected because they have a variety of features. For instance, we've
linked to their interviews (and interview archives) and to columns exclusive to BuzzFlash (like Maureen Farrell's) and to their editorials (I'll check later for their latest one). They produce exclusive content. But what happens when and if the dailies all begin charging? I'm sure that BuzzFlash has thought about that and have a plan for if that happens. (I believe they've already announced that they will be increasing their exclusive content. The 20 editorials, one each day, leading up to the inauguration may be a part of that.)

But it will change the web if the dailies start charging.

How will it change this site? I already subscribe to the Times so we'll continue to quote and note. Unless I cancel my subscription (which is always a possibility). But in that case, we'll move on and focus on another paper. I've stayed with the Times despite any shortcomings due to the international coverage and the editorials. While every editorial does not reflect my personal opinion, most of them are are close to, or approach, my own personal beliefs and I can't see paying money for a paper whose editorial board is in direct opposition with every personal belief I hold.

But let's talk about greed for a moment.

The New York Times, USA Today and the Wall St. Journal have the largest print circulation in the country. (Wall St. Journal may, at some point, be asked to explain whether or not their circulation figures include papers never read but dropped off at hotels? Ones that are disposed of unread at the end of the day by hotel staff. Four of you e-mailed about that, four who work at hotels, and I did follow up on that with two visits to hotels where I asked the night staff what was done with the large stack of Wall St. Journals that remained in the lobby apparently unread.) (If this is an issue the Wall St. Journal wants to pursue -- whether or not the papers are being read -- the two hotels I visited were part of the Marriott chain.)

At a time when many papers have seen huge losses in circulation, the Times has maintained their position as one of the top three. (The largest circulation is Wall St. Journal, then USA Today, then the Times, if I remember the last round of figures correctly.)

They're being short sighted if they fail to grasp that the net has impacted their circulation. I read the Times in college. I've lived in a variety of areas, many of which the paper does not service. My most recent move resulted in an area that the paper does service so I can subscribe. But when I wasn't able to subscribe, I did visit the web site.

That kept me interested in the paper and it does the same thing for many people. It also increases the word of the mouth on the paper (good and bad).

The Times should throw out their greed and think about the fact that the paper's maintained it's prominence by being available online. (Though not all articles are available online. Reading the print edition of the business section on Sundays, I've noted articles that I've wanted to send to friends. When I got online, they weren't available.) If they move to a for-pay site, they better be prepared for a huge drop off not only in terms of visits but in terms of prestige.

Marcia: "Yes, my local papers carries two or more stories from NYT each day. But most people don't notice that byline. When I, or one of my co-workers, am online at the NYT we're reading it and it's getting credit for the stories it publishes in a way that doesn't happen with syndicated stories. We know we're at NYT and we know we're reading NYT."

It's advertising for the paper. There are many people who've written this site that they never considered subscribing to the Times until they started visiting the web site online. (All e-mails to this site are deleted. If it's something you want to be quoted on, I print up the e-mail and then delete it after you have been quoted -- similar to a good library's policy on purging records immediately. I do not keep physical copies of them after they're quoted in an entry. Point, I can't cite those of you who have written in the past that now subscribe to the Times because of the web site, sorry.)

It's free and it's free publicity. At a time when many "big time" papers have lost their prominence, the Times has continued to be in the forefront. The web site has a great deal to do with that.

Do they lose money on it? I don't see how. They're advertising on the site and that should cover the people who are reading for free. (And, again, there are Common Ills members who've cited the Times web site as the reason they ended up subscribing.)

Take away your web visits and you may still have an article that you post via yahoo or some other service, but you won't be getting the credit you get when someone's reading it at your site. It will be talked about as: "Did you see that story on Yahoo?"

I won't be at all surprised if greed wins out. But the Times needs to think seriously about what's kept them prominent. There online site has helped them continue to be talked of in ways that becoming a for-pay medium will not.

Sulzberger worries about the training of future readers. He should worry more about the present of the paper.

We have three members of The Common Ills who've written in that they are going to start subscribing. Two had mentioned their locations so in my reply, I noted that unless they planned to have it mailed to them, they weren't going to be able to get the paper. (The third e-mailed me back that they couldn't believe it but the paper didn't deliver in their area despite the fact that it was sold at stores in their area.) That's something Sulzberger should worry about right now, not in the future, right now.

How many readers are you losing because your paper's not availble in their areas as a subscription? One reader lives right next to a book store that gets the paper every day but he's not able to subscribe because you don't have delivery in his area. That makes sense how? The person delivering to the bookstore goes right past his apartment. How is this making sense?

If Sulzberger wants to offer that the paper's available at the book store, he's missing the point that most people already know, just because a store carries it, doesn't mean they'll have it when you get there.

Friday's paper circulated around the office and never made it back to me. When I got home and realized I didn't have it (and needed it to note the tsunami coverage), I was faced with what many people are dealing with (a problem Sulzberger may be unaware of): where am I going to get a copy?

It's Friday evening. I have five options for purchasing the Times all within a block of me in different directions. (If I'm willing to go further, I've got many more options.) I know four are sold out because they always are long before nine in the morning. So I call the bookstore a block in front of me and ask if they have any copies of Friday's paper left. "Yes." Will they hold a copy and I'll come right over? "Oh, there's no need for that, we've got tons." Tons? Tons is actually one. I'm glad I didn't wait (experience had taught me not to).

So if Sulzberger is under the impression that the Times is reaching everyone in an area that it's stocked in, he needs to rethink that.

Eli has written about purchasing the Times (in a very funny e-mail that I still remember). He has to make sure he's out the door at 6:30 to pick up a copy because they're all gone by seven. If it's a day that he's feeling under the weather (he just turned 72 and we congratulate him on that), he knows he'll have to miss out on the print edition of the paper.

This is an issue I'd think the Times would be better off addressing, making sure that they're adequately servicing the areas where people are willing to pay for the paper. That might mean doing a better job of pushing stores, who regularly sell out, to increase the amount of copies they carry. Maybe there's some sort of option they could propose to retailers where, when they think it's a big news day and a subject that people will be especially interested in, they increase the amount they drop off automatically? That might mean expanding the delivery areas. (I can think of no logic behind the decision to deliver to a book store daily but to ignore the apartment complex right next to it. You're already paying transportation costs to get the paper to the book store.)

I don't know. I'm not in the publishing business. I do know that people regularly complain about the fact that, if they're not at a store when the paper gets delivered (or at a store when it first opens -- if it opens later in the day), they can't get a copy of the New York Times.

As the publisher of the paper (and from the family that has long published the paper), I doubt
Sulzberger has very often (if ever) found himself in the position of wanting a copy of the day's paper but being unable to get one. Many of the rest of us have been in that position.

Seems to me that when people willing to pay for it can't because it's not available (due to the area not being serviced or due to the edition regularly selling out) that's something you
examine before you focus on should-we-drive-off-our-online-traffic-by-becoming-a

[Note: This post has been corrected of the errors that Shirley caught. Thank you Shirley, you work so hard to make us look like better spellers and better grammarians.]

A note regarding the praise and lack of it for tsunami coverage in the New York Times

Well it had to happen, the "pedistrian reporters" (as Rob called them) "are trying to glom onto the tsunami coverage." He's referring to Jodi Wilgoren and Tom Zeller. (As have a number of e-mails.)

I think at a time when new stories develop so the spotlight could fall of the human costs of the tsunami, the paper should be using their strong reporters. I said "strong," not "star."

15 e-mails regarding Wilgoren (five regarding Zeller) all decry the superficial writing. That may be all either's capable of.

I know that I personally spent a half hour with a friend lampooning Wilgorne's "coverage." (That may end up being a post tonight.)

At this point, bad reporting won't keep the story alive.

Professional journalist: "The easiest way to kill this coverage is to run with bad reporting. Wilgoren's disinterested, lackadaisical style will kill this story."

Last weekend, we were happy to note everyone even if, in one case, there was an attitude that we didn't appreciate. They were keeping the story alive. Bad writing is going to kill it. Someone's mistaken Wilgoren for a professional, interested reporter. We don't mistake her (or Zeller) for reporters. We're past the point that they can be "thanked" with others who are busting their butts to get this story out. Their reporting "style" trivializes the issue.

Krista: "Where's Amy Waldman? Jane [Perlez] and Alan [Cowell] and [Scott] Shane are keeping this story alive but when [Tom] Zeller and [Jodi] Wilgoren show up with their bored attitudes, they turn out boring pieces."

We'll highlight stand out pieces in the future. We won't do blanket congratulations. (And all the people noted in the post immediately below as well as in all previous posts earned the thanks and the attention they received.)

Professional Journalist said their paper could be listed, the Washington Post, but wants to otherwise remain anonymous. That's his/her right and the same right extended to everyone else who is a member of this community. But PJ wanted it noted that Zeller and Wilgoren have turned in the type of pieces that will tear down all the Times has accomplished in covering the tsunami and that he/she was speaking as someone with experience in reporting and working for a newspaper.

I agree with PJ's opinion. The e-mails coming in agree with that. We're not going to praise silly writers who write silly stories.

I had intended to quote from the stories that were worthy but it was pointed out by Elaine that you can't search photos at the Times. So for the post below, photographers and reporters writing articles were given the same attention.

Elaine: "Does the web site think that the only reporters, the only real ones, are the ones writing words?"

I have no idea. And I won't throw stones at them because I did the same thing in my earliest remarks. That's why, when I realized I'd done that, I used the words "my failure" that some of you objected to. It was my failure not to note the photographers who are journalists and are conveying the story. My eyes happened to wonder over to the nearest shelf and land on a book about Diane Arbus which is why it hit me that I was failing to note the contributions of the photo journalists. The Times web site manager might need to be prompted.

This isn't to castigate the person. Again, I made the same mistake. But take it up with the web site if you want to see any changes. (We'll be blogging on the web site -- either later tonight or tomorrow.) The thought might not have even occurred, no one may have pointed it out. So before you get upset with the person, you might want to contact them. (The e-mail address should be on the site. Due to Marcia's blistering e-mail, one that I agree with, I'm really not in a linking mood right now, so you'll have to look it up for yourself.) (We'll pick up on Marcia's e-mail in the next post.)

If someone's choosing not to highlight photography as reporting, then that's a problem. But if it's a case of them not thinking of it yet, then remind them. (I won't say it's a "failure" on his/her part. I'll gladly use the term for myself, however.)

Serious coverage of this story (in words or pictures) needs to be noted. We're not a community that gives shout outs for what we see as fluff. Boring stories will kill the coverage.

Sidebar, Maxine Waters will be on The Laura Flanders Show tomorrow night (Sunday). Flanders just noted that.

Tsunami coverage in the Times

The following people deserve credit for their coverage (in the New York Times) of the human costs of the tsunami (from Thursday until today):

For Thursday:

Scott Eells (for Thursday's front page photo of a survivor in Indonesia)

Jane Perlez for Thursday's "For Many Tusnami Survivors, Battered Bodies, Grim Choices"

Tyler Hicks for his photo of a deceased person being carried through the rubble in Banda Aceh by Indonesian soldiers. (A very powerful picture.)

Elizabeth Becker for "U.S. Losses Raised to 36; 3,000 Cases Are Still Open" which deals with the numbers of Americans thought to be in the area when the tsunami hit. [Perlez's article was noted on Thursday.]

Scott Shane & Eric Lipton for "Solid Progress Reported in Relief Effort for Devastated Indonesian Area."

Thomas Crampton for "Death and Damage in Myanmar Are Now Believed to Be Relatively Light, U.N. Study Says."

Torsten Silz (Agence France-Press/Getty Images) and Christof Stache (Associated Press) for a photos of Gremans for a silence observation in memory of the victims.

Mark Lander for "Germany Mourns Its Dead as It Aids the Tsunami Survivors."

Scott Eellis for a photo of "an overcrowded hospital in Banda Aceh."

For Friday:

Sriyantha Walpola for a photo of "Thanaranjani, 28, swears she never let og of her 4-year-old daughter, who nevertheless perished in the tsunmi in Soranpattue, Sri Lanka."

David Rohde for "Tsunami's Cruelest Toll: Sons and Daughters Lost" adds to the power of the phot above. (And Rohde's story was highlighted Friday.)

Raymond Bonner for "Once-Critical Indonesians Are Grateful to U.S. for Aid."

Scott Shane and Raymond Bonner for "Annan Nudges Donors to Make Good on Full Pledges."

Tyler Hicks for his powerful photos of the destruction of Banda Aceh.

Sriyantha Walpola for her photos of mothers (such as Thanaranjani who was also pictured on Thursday) dealing with the loss of their children in the tsunami.

Scott Eells for his photo of Iabal Fernando (12 years-old) who lost both parents in the tsunami.

Jane Perlez & Evelyn Rusli for "Uncounted Costs: Legions of Orphans and Broken Hearts"

James Brooke for "Thais Use Heavy Equipment: Elephants Help Recover Bodies."

Jean Chung for the photo of the elephants that illustrates Brooke's article.

Alan Cowell for his article "For Swedes, Tsunami Evokes Sense of National Tragedy."

Rob Schoenbaum for his photo that accompanies that article.

Andrew C. Revkin for "Tsunami's Ripples, Unnoticed, Washed Along Atlantic Coast."

For Saturday:

Chang W. Lee for the photo illustrating the destruction surrounding a woman showering outside what was her home. Note, this is a powerful photo. Note also, this isn't a cheesecake photo, the woman is fully covered. There's something about the very basic act of showering juxtaposed with the surrounding destruction that makes this photo very powerful.

David Longstreath (Associated Press) for his photo of bodies in a mass grave.

James Brooke for "2 Visitors Ask, How Can They Leave Without Their Son?"

Scott Shane for "Powell, Praising Relief Effort, Views Sri Lanka Devestation."

How bad is the Times today? Wilgoren and sports make the front page

The Times front page is best read selectively. Sports and Jodi Wilgoren (or as Melanie suggests we call her "Jo-Jo Wilogren") make the front page.

Hey, wasn't history made Thursday? Didn't something happen that will be a footnote in our nation's history? If you read just the front page of the New York Times, you'd never know it. Maybe someone at the paper should give some thought to that?

Let's focus on the positive, Randal C. Archibold and Michelle O'Donnell have a strong story with
'64 Case Revisited, Mothers' Wounds Reopened:

Fannie Lee Chaney, 82, spoke of her son James and the recent turn of events early yesterday in her tidy bungalow in Willingboro, N.J. She fled Mississippi in 1965 after shots were fired into her house, amid other threats.
She said she knew Mr. Killen, the first person to face murder charges in the 40-year-old killings. He was the preacher, she said, who visited the home of a white woman Mrs. Chaney was cleaning for shortly after the murders. A young boy came in the kitchen, where Mrs. Chaney was washing the dishes, and asked her if she had heard the preacher's words: "God bless the black hands."
She had, she said.
"Oh yeah," she said, bristling. "I never could forget."
Carolyn Goodman, 89, living in the same Upper West Side apartment where she raised her son, meticulously prepared her breakfast of sliced bananas and English muffins as her telephone trilled and a friend scrambled to organize a cavalcade of interviews. She wanted to make one thing clear, that all along she was after justice, not revenge.
"I am not an eye-for-an-eye person," said Dr. Goodman, a clinical psychologist. "I want justice to be done, that he and the others involved be off the streets."

Steven Erlanger's Palestinian Ballot Presents Quandary for Hamas continues the coverage on the Palestinian election.

And I think Rob will once again feel, "Mahmoud Abbas is a mystery because the Times won't tell us anything about him. Who is he? What does he stand for? A paragraph biography has been repeatedly stretched out into multiple columns day after day. Is the Times ever going to get serious or are they saying the leader of the Palestinians is so unimportant, whomever he is, that all we need to know is that there's guarded hope? I don't know if this was why Kara was asking for comments but I have read everything on this in the paper in the last month and I know absolutely nothing. A rule for all future pieces should be: What are you telling me? If there's a paragraph of speculation that you're rounding out with 'some people say' and 'other people say' then wad up your journalism degree and throw it in the trash. This is embarrassing. It's pedistrian journalism. At a time when the Times continue to highlight the tsunami after effects in amazing detail they still can't report on Mahmoud Abbas. Oh wait, they did pass on the earth shattering news about his scarf the other day. Either start reporting on the story or quit covering it."

Rob, you'll probably want to skip today's story on Hammas that contains a lot of declarative statements such as "Hammas is . . ." -- statements that may or may not be verifiable.
There's a lot of speculation being stretched out to fill space. (Who knew they sold Reporter Helper? Must be on the shelf next to the tuna and hamburger?)

Focus instead on Douglas Jehl & Neil A. Lewis's U.S. Said to Hold More Foreigners in Iraq Fighting:

After raids in recent months that captured hundreds of insurgents in Iraq, the United States has significantly increased the number of prisoners it says are foreign fighters, a group the Bush administration contends are not protected by the Geneva Conventions, American officials said.

Do they consider anyone protected by the Geneva Conventions? Did the wig-hatted Alberto Gonzales's performance of "Brand New Me" fool anyone Thursday?

Okay, so they're not protected by the Geneva Conventions if they're foreign fighters. That's interesting. So in Nazi Germany, which troops would have been protected by the Geneva Conventions? It's really interesting the way Bullies Without Borders thinks that these rules they make up as they go along will never effect anyone. Maybe they scream judicial activism so much because the very concept of "precedent" is so far beyond their grasp?

Should the words "Geneva Conventions" even be spoken by this administration except to set off howls of laughter across the globe?

We've made a joke of the Geneva Conventions but what's being done in our name is not a laughing matter. It's laugh or cry so react to Bullies Without Borders latest pronouncement in whichever way helps you get through the day. (And yes, we will continue to mock Bullies Without Borders. The idea that a reasoned debate would reach them faded long ago.)

Also, heads up, The Laura Flanders Show is all new tonight on Air America ( The front page shows a list of the guests (scroll down for "Today on Air America") and I'm sure Barbara Olshansky will have a great deal to say about the Geneva Conventions (but no doubt it will all be over the Bullies Without Borders' heads).
Ring of Fire and Marty Kaplin's So What Else Is News? are also both new episodes. (Warning, Simon Rosenberg will be on Kaplin's show. Hey, don't throw that ___ at me! I was just warning you.)

(Later today, we'll highlight the tsunami coverage in the Times for Thursday, Friday and today.)

Friday, January 07, 2005

Your comments on how the Ohio vote played out in Congress Thursday

Melanie: "I cried and cried over Senator [Barbara] Boxer's courage and over the weak spines of the other Democrats in the Senate."

Ben: "Where were they? The rest in the Senate? Hiding under their desks? Or maybe globe trotting with John Kerry?"

Erika: "The easiest thing in the world is to slam John Kerry right now. Why should he be there? If the argument is that it will not change the outcome, Kerry's presence would not have helped that argument. I do not blame people who express anger or disgust with Kerry for giving up so quickly after he promised during the campaign that every vote would be counted. But as for him being there, it would have been on Fox, it would have been the focus on Rush. The argument that was raised in the Senate was that 'we are not questioning the outcome of the presidency' and that would be hard to make if Kerry is sitting in the chamber. All eyes and all cameras would have been focused on him and any statement he made would have been the issue. If he'd spoken with Boxer, it would be 'Kerry refuses to face the truth!' and if he was silent the right wing echo chamber would have said, 'Even Kerry doesn't agree with that woman!' So it was best that he stayed out of it. And I'm sure the troops in Iraq appreciated him visiting as they appreciate anyone taking the time to visit them."

Keesha: "I was in high school in 1992 and Hillary Rodham Clinton was almost heroic then. When she wasn't able to move mountains, I noted that she moved hills and that the right wing never stopped attacking her. In November of 2000 she made history as the first former first lady to serve in the Senate. After that stolen presidential election, I took tremendous comfort in the fact that we at least had her in the Senate. There were some votes she made as a senator that I could live with and some that I really supported. But as an African-American woman I will not vote for her in 2008 should she make a run for the presidency. I will not vote her. African-Americans were disenfranchised in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004. Hillary Clinton should have voted with Barbara Boxer. She didn't. Actions have meaning and when she refused to stand up for African-Americans she fell tremendously in my eyes. There is no comeback from this."

Trevor: "If your last name is not Boxer and you are a senator, what good are you? If anyone wants to redeem themselves they can do it by insisting upon a paper ballot for all votes."

Yazz: "I'm not surprised that the Democrats caved, I'm surprised that one stood up. The party never wanted to make this an issue. They were ready to move on after the election was called. They didn't realize the passion involved on this issue for voters. And I think this will hurt them.
They're now going to have to work twice as hard to find support."

Kara: "You either stand up for democracy or you don't. Today we saw only one person support voters and no one in the Senate support her. It was telling and it was hurtful."

Dominick: "In this month's issue of The Progressive, they quote Grover Norquist saying it will be easy to have bipartisanship in Congress because 'Any farmer can tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they're fixed then they are happy and sedate.' I saw a lot of Democratic senators who'd been fixed and were eager to wag their tails at their GOP masters."

Elaine: "What does it take for them to wake up? Randi [Rhodes] was talking all week about the strength in a united front. If this was somehow news to them, she'd pointed it out. Did they still not understand? Is this how it will be? Each time there's a vote, they'll choose one person to stick their necks out? Or are they waiting to see if this destroys Boxer and if she lives through it, they'll grow some guts on their own? There's no excuse for it. [Ted] Kennedy is never going to lose his seat. That's a reality. It would have cost him nothing to have stood with Boxer. He speaks a great deal about his brothers. I'm having a hard time believing the Bobby Kennedy of 1968 wouldn't be standing right beside Boxer if we were lucky enough to still have him with us."

Trina: "Have you no shame? I'm not speaking to the Republicans. We know they have no shame and no ethics. I'm speaking to the Democrats in Congress who could not show the same guts and bravery that some House members and one Senator did."

Bob: "Sheila Jackson Lee deserves credit for her passion on this issue. She and House members like John Conyers Jr., Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee and Jesse Jackson Jr. are the real leaders in the House. They are the only leaders in the House, the 31 who stood up for democracy and were counted. Let's remember them and support them. The rest of them are the cousin who borrows twenty bucks and then avoids you for a few months hoping you forgot. After that, they're back trying to scam you again. Remember that when the fundraising letters start arriving."

Tammi: "Living in Barbara Lee's district, I can tell you she hasn't forgotten her constituents and she hasn't forgotten what democracy means. She's a true hero. I lost respect for the so-called leadership in the House and for all the senators with the exception of Boxer. Don't show up asking for me to donate if you didn't stand up today [Thursday]."

Clayton: "Randi Rhodes should be where the Democratic Congress members go when they're in doubt or needing a spine transplant. That is one voice of truth and it's shameful they way so many of them behaved. I feel like my child came home saying 'They teased me' and when I asked him if he stood up for himself, he said 'no.' Why should I defend you cowards when you won't even defend yourselves?"

Rob: "Can someone tell Al Franken to shut the hell up? I didn't need to be called a 'conspiracy theorist' because I do not believe that Bush won. I don't think that Laura Flanders or Janeane Garofalo or Randi Rhodes or Mike Malloy need that either. Al, you're a weak willed cry baby. Randi could destroy you with her pinky finger. Which probably means you'll be elected to the Senate in 2006 because you will fit in so well with all the Democrat Senators except for Barbara Boxer."

Joan: "My rep is Major Owens, someone who knows how to fight and when to stand up. I have no idea why the 'fraidy cats' are so eager to to reveal their yellow streak but they were sporting it prominetly."

Trey: "Don't forget Lane Evans! He's my guy and he fights for us!"

CeCe: "Am I the only one thinking Corinne Brown is ready for the Senate? Am I the only one thinking that the Senate ain't ready for her? Get ready coz she's leading and there's no stopping her. They struck her remarks from the record about Bush stealing the election and that didn't silence her. Nothing will. She carries on the legacy of Shirley Chisholm. Remember her name and get ready because she's the real deal and we're all going to be hearing from her."

Erik: "Anyone else notice that one person who wanted to be president in 2004 and ran a brave fight demonstrated that same bravery on the floor of Congress today? I'm talking about Dennis Kucinich. He didn't pull a Kerry and leave the country, he didn't pull a Lieberman and act the doofus. He was there fighting same as every other day he's served. I hope people will remember that next time when someone says he's 'unelectable.' If you'd known of only half the bravery and strength this man has, we would have all been uniting around him this summer and the election would have turned out differently. I want to also note Randi Rhodes who was our candle in the dark showing us the way. She inspired me. Not everyone at Air America did. I think it's really lousy when someone at that network thinks they are being 'reasonable' when they insult their own listeners. I won't name the person, I'll just say it wasn't anyone with a weekend show, it wasn't Mark & Marc, it wasn't Lizz & Rachel, it wasn't Janeane & Sam and it wasn't Malloy. And you know it wasn't Randi because she never backs down. Keep being our candle, Randi, in these dark times we need you so bad."

Dallas: "Redistricting was a nightmare for our state. The only bright spot for me is a personal one. I'm stuck with Kay Bailey Hutchinson and John Cornyn for senators and I was stuck with Pete Sessions for my rep. Redistricting finally gave me a Democratic voice to represent me. And it's a real Democratic voice, a true one: Eddie Bernice Johnson. I was at the redistricting hearings in Dallas and I'll never forget that though she didn't serve on the committee, she showed up, all in white and looking incredible, and stood up. I thought, 'Damn, why can't I have her as a representative?' Now it's been a hideous year and I look for small satisfactions. Having a real voice like Eddie Bernice Johnson as a voice for me in the Congress is no small satisfaction, it's an outright miracle. Seeing her stand and be counted on Thursday made me feel like after years of no representation, I finally have someone fighting for me."

Lonnie: "They said she was over and they said we'd seen the last of her. But she reclaimed her seat and she showed the Bully Boy and his fan club that she will not be hushed and she will not be stilled. Cynthia McKinney is my Congress woman and I say that bursting with pride not just because today [Thursday] she was one of the few standing and being counted but because she does that each and every day."

Julie: "Wonder why Randi [Rhodes] and the Black Caucus get along so well? Because they both believe in fighting and they both refused to be cowed. Boxer deserves our praise as does Conyers and the entire Black Caucus but don't forget Randi or Laura [Flanders] because they were there for us the whole time. It won't be forgotten."

Francisco: "Living in New Mexico, I had no one to stand up for me. Surrounded by cobardes, I hope those of you who are represented by the likes of Boxer, Conyers and Tubbs Jones will allow me to share in your pride for them."

Lynda: "Stephanie Tubbs Jones should be remembered by everyone regardless of where they live. You need to remember that she'll be up for re-election in 2006. It's easy to say 'I'm so proud of her' right now. Try remembering her bravery in 2006 with any money you can spare, even five dollars. People who stood up should be supported when they face re-election."

Gore Vidal is God: "I don't want to hear one person slam Randi [Rhodes] in the coming months. She fought this battle and she fought it hard. She didn't get a lot of support from the rest of the media, including bloggers, and she didn't seem to get a lot of support from her own network. Especially in the early days [,] when people were trying to write her off as a crack
pot [,] it would have been easy for her to back off. But she kept pushing and we might not have made history today if it weren't for her. What's the point of having a liberal radio network if you're just going to back down when the right wing media and the mainstream media says 'Keep it moving, nothing to see here?' Randi showed the power Air America can have. If I just wanted pleasant chatter, I'd listen to NPR. Randi demonstrated the difference Air America can make. Others better follow her example."

Tina: "What does it take to get Democratic leadership enraged? I thought one Florida was more than enough to learn from. But apparently that's not enough. If it weren't for David Cobb and Michael Badnarik would we have even gotten this far? It's a real shame when the party has to look for leadership from outside. That goes for Laura Flanders and Randi Rhodes too. They're not in Congress but they were willing to fight. I thank those four. I am thankful for those four."

Krista: "David Cobb and Michael Badnarik. I got Cobb's first name wrong and I feel so bad about that. But I want to repeat what I said in the 'Year in Review.'"

From the 'Year in Review' [see]:

Thanks Go To:

David Cobb & Michael Badnarik

Krista: 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.

???: "Randi Rhodes kept me focused on this issue. And when I was ready to slit my wrists after Congress voted, it was Randi that put me back together. We made history and we can do it again. And we will do it again. I want to also mention my representative Julia Carson because she didn't back down. Today we couldn't get forty votes in the House and we couldn't get two in the Senate. But we will keep fighting until the party realizes that we will be heard."

Bernado: "A lot of people shut their eyes and their mouths today. I will not forget the bravery or the cowardice. And I will not overlook Randi who got me through this hideous day."

Rolondo: "Face it, people like Maxine Waters and Jan Schakowsky gave a damn. The wimps didn't. They better come to realize that if you aren't going to fight for us you aren't going to stay in Congress."

Abhilasha: "I was raised to believe in proverbs such as: 'Help thy brother's boat across, and lo! Thine own has reached the shore.' Where were the Democrats in Congress willing to help Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Barbara Boxer's boats? The ones who were there for them are on the shore now. The ones who were ruled by cowardice remain in murky waters. They may find it hard to navigate those waters by themselves. So be it."

Dona: "If no one thanks Raul Grijalva then let me be the first. I'll also thank Randi Rhodes of Air America because I'm afraid she might be overlooked as well."

[Of 397 e-mails, 221 praised Randi Rhodes. If she's overlooked for her hard work, it's not by The Common Ills community.]

Tori: "You reep what you sow. Crops ain't looking good for the Democratic party right now. The party members got soul and drive, too bad the leaders don't."

Jim: "We are not defeated even if so many of our leaders rolled over on this one. And if they're thinking we're going to take this as a lesson, they don't know how much we intend to bother them with phone calls, faxes, letters and e-mails in the coming months."

Liang: "I choose to see Boxer as a lotus blooming in a furnace. When those around her see that she continues to bloom, they will not fear the heat. Boxer was a test case and she will succeed and inspire others in Congress. The time to shrink has passed, we are all blooming and we will be noticed."

Shawn: "I prefer to be hopeful and remember that history was made today and we will fight harder each time until we get a responsive Congress. I think the success of thirty-one in the House and of Boxer in the Senate will have long lasting effects in future battles. I think this was a learning experience and that even those who could not find their voice today will find it later on. We will help them find it."

[Note the above are excerpts from e-mails that arrived Thursday. 397 e-mailed the site about what they felt. The less than forty quoted above all agreed to be quoted.]

[Note II: My apologies to anyone whose quote I screwed up. Keesha, "feel" has been corrected to "fell." Dominick, "were" has been added to your statement. Clatyon, "of" has been removed. Gore Vidal is God, I added commas to your post to clairfy at Shirley's request. If you want them removed, please e-mail]

"Bush's Drug Videos Broke Law, Accountability Office Decides"; Democracy Now!: Loaded Mouth; BuzzFlash; Ms. Musing and more Alberto's slip

The Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said on Thursday that the Bush administration violated federal law by producing and distributing television news segments about the effects of drug use among young people.

The accountability office said the videos "constitute covert propaganda" because the government was not identified as the source of the materials, which were distributed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

From John Files' New York Times story (tucked inside the paper on page A11) Bush's Drug Videos Broke Law, Accountability Office Decides which tells us there is some accountability, there's just no "law enforcement powers" to this accountability.

From this morning's Democracy Now!:
Headlines for January 7, 2005

- Nine U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq
- French Journalist Still Missing in Baghdad
- Tsunami: Annan Tours Aceh
- Indonesian Military Beats Acehnese, Bars Journalists
- Mandela Son Dies of AIDS
- Palestinian Candidate Barghouti Detained Again by Israelis
- Neocon Bolton To Quit
- Klansman Arrested in 1964 Murders of Civil Rights Workers
Gonzales Grilled on Role in Torture at Confirmation Hearing

Alberto Gonzales' role in paving the legal groundwork that led to the torture of detainees in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay was the central focus of a Senate hearing yesterday, which is considering his nomination to succeed John Ashcroft as attorney general. Gonzales delivered more than seven hours of testimony, most of it responding to questions from Committee members on his role in setting the stage for the abuse of detainees. We hear excerpts of the hearing and speak with journalist Mark Danner of the New Yorker and author of Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror. [includes rush transcript]
History in the Making: Dems Force Debate on Ohio Voting Irregularities

For only the second time in over a century, Congress debated certification of the Electoral College vote. The joint session vote tally was interrupted by Rep. Stephanie Tubbs (D-OH) who, along with other House Democrats, mounted a challenge to Ohio's 20 electoral votes. The challenge was signed by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), forcing the House and Senate to split and have a two-hour debate on voting irregularities. We hear excerpts of Republicans and Democrats in both chambers. [includes rush transcript - partial]
A heads up for web surfing this weekend, Why Are We Back In Iraq will be guest blogging at Loaded Mouth:

I'd also like to announce that I'm guest-blogging at Tas' Loaded Mouth this weekend. I've posted two articles there already, and although I jumped at the chance because I wanted to write about something else (not that I'm tired of writing about this, only that I feel it's important to stay on topic for-the-now HERE since the bigger bloggers don't really give a shit). But wouldn't you know it? Both of my posts on Tas' blog were still about this fraud of an election that nobody thinks they should care about (except us loony tuneheads). (

For those who've wondered in e-mails, Ms. Musing is back up and one of their posts tackles yesterday's historic moment:

“And I do have a senator.”

That was Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones yesterday declaring that Senator Barbara Boxer was joining the protest against OhioÂ’s election results, chiefly to draw attention to voter irregularities and disenfranchisement. (Feminist Majority Foundation has issued an action alert, calling on supporters to thank Boxer for taking a stand and to urge Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to take leadership roles in election reform.)

Watching C-SPAN, the moment came across as urgent and historical, particularly for anyone who remembers how events played out in 2000 -- when every black representative who sought a senatorÂ’s support was rebuffed.

Unfortunately, however, the urgency was short-lived. Armed with talking points titled "Propagandist Michael Moore and Democrats: Separated at birth!", Republicans were dismissive of concerns about voter irregularities. And few Democrats stepped up to show support (my love for my new senator, Barack Obama, continues to grow).     (

Here's an editorial you won't want to miss:

I think it's safe to say, from stitching together news accounts, that the Bush twins don't practice sexual abstinence, aren't teetotalers, and have indulged from time to time in marijuana use -- and that's just what we know.

Dear me, does that make them victims of the liberal press? Or does it just prove that if George and Laura can't get their own daughters to practice their calculated hypocritical political "values" that it is the Bush rhetoric that is out of sync with society?

We ask this rather obvious question because it leads into an important point, one that the right wing has been tossing out like red meat to culturally populist fundamentalist Christian carnivores for years. You know, the guys who read Playboy, watch raunchy FOX television programming, swear in front of their kids, go to Hooters -- and then nod when the preacher discusses how depraved American society has become.

The American press isn't liberal. It is merely secular and modern, which does indeed make it "liberal" to the right wing amen chorus that sings in the GOP gospel pundit and think tank choir. If it's not pre-enlightenment and creationist in its outlook, it's "liberal."  (

That's the opening of BuzzFlash's latest editorial (remember, they're doing one a day in the lead up to the inauguration).  Make time to read it.

And I'll note an editorial (for the second time this week) from the New York Times.  A number of you are e-mailing about the duties of the White House counsel Mr. Gonzales Speaks :

Even his vows of allegiance to the rule of law were rather peculiar. He said that as White House counsel, he had represented "only the White House," while as attorney general, he "would have a far broader responsibility: to pursue justice for all the people of our great nation, to see that the laws are enforced in a fair and impartial manner for all Americans." We thought that was also the obligation of the president and his staff.

Hopefully, the New York Times editorial board better illuminates Gonzales' "slip" as we've called it on this site.

Do you Yahoo!?
Read only the mail you want - Yahoo! Mail SpamGuard.

Other stories worth reading on the front page of this morning's New York Times

Mary Jansia, 26, thought the safest place for her 3-year-old daughter was on her shoulders. Thanaranjani, 28, swears that she never let go of her 4-year-old daughter. Bamini, 29, said she left her 6-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son alone for only five minutes.
The three women, who are all from northeastern Sri Lanka, are members of a group that may emerge as one more grim legacy of the tsunami that ravaged Indian Ocean coastlines on Dec. 26. An unusually high number of the victims appear to have been children, lost to epic waves that swept away the weak, the old and the young.
Unicef officials estimate that of the 30,000 people killed by the tsunamis in Sri Lanka, at least 10,000 were children. At the same time, Sri Lankan officials say the tsunamis created only about 200 orphans. Martin Dawes, a Unicef spokesman, said he believed that the number of children who had died would rise.

So begins David Rohde's Tsunami's Cruelest Toll: Sons and Daughters Lost on the front page of this morning's Times.

Doulgas Jehl's C.I.A. Report Finds Its Officials Failed in Pre-9/11 Efforts explains the latest accountability dance (haven't we learned by now that failure only results in praise from the Bully Boy?):

An internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that officials who served at the highest levels of the agency should be held accountable for failing to allocate adequate resources to combating terrorism before the Sept. 11 attacks, according to current and former intelligence officials.
The conclusion is spelled out in a near-final version of a report by John Helgerson, the agency's inspector general, who reports to Congress as well as to the C.I.A. Among those most sharply criticized in the report, the officials said, are George J. Tenet, the former intelligence chief, and James L. Pavitt, the former deputy director of operations. Both Mr. Tenet and Mr. Pavitt stepped down from their posts last summer.
The findings, which are still classified, pose a quandary for the C.I.A. and the administration, particularly since President Bush awarded a Medal of Freedom to Mr. Tenet last month. It is not clear whether either the agency or the White House has the appetite to reprimand Mr. Tenet, Mr. Pavitt or others.

Also check out Robert D. McFadden's First Murder Charge in '64 Civil Rights Killings of 3:

The most infamous unresolved case from America's civil rights struggle four decades ago - the 1964 abduction and killing of three voter-registration volunteers by nightriders on a lonely rural road in Mississippi - was revived last night with the arrest of a longtime leader of the Ku Klux Klan, the authorities announced.
The suspect, Edgar Ray Killen, a 79-year-old preacher who, investigators say, organized and led two carloads of Klansmen on the night of the killings, was arrested at his home in Philadelphia, Miss., and charged with the murders of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney, Sheriff Larry Myers of Neshoba County said.
The sheriff said there would be more arrests in the notorious case, which helped to cement Mississippi's image as a haven of hatred and violence in the 1960's, when black churches, homes and businesses were firebombed and civil rights volunteers were beaten by white mobs. The case was the subject of several books and was dramatized in the 1988 movie "Mississippi Burning."

Maybe in forty years, America can have some accountability for the actions of the current administration?

Who knew Alberto Gonzales's secret desire was to toss on a wig and sing Dusty's "Brand New Me?"

On the front page of this morning's New York Times Eric Lichtblau's Gonzales Speaks Against Torture During Hearing documents yesterday's attempt by Alberto Gonzales to perform the old Dusty Springfield song "Brand New Me" to the Senate.

This is my same old coat
And my same old shoes
I was the same old me
With the same old blues

"I don't recall today whether or not I was in agreement with all of the analysis," Mr. Gonzales said. While the administration has since disavowed the memorandum's narrow definition of what constitutes torture, Mr. Gonzales said that at the time he did not "have a disagreement with the conclusions then reached by the department" and that he did not want to politicize the process by dictating what the Justice Department's conclusions should be. "Ultimately it is the responsibility of the department to tell us what the law means," he said.

Then you touched my life
Just by holding my hand
Now I look in the mirror
And see a brand new girl

"Do I regret the abuses at Abu Ghraib?" he asked. "Absolutely. I condemn them. Do I believe that they may have hurt us in winning the hearts and minds of Muslims around the world? Yes, and I do regret that."

I got the same old friends
They got the same old sins
I tell the same old jokes

"This administration does not engage in torture and will not condone torture," Mr. Gonzales said during a daylong hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering his nomination to succeed John Ashcroft as attorney general.

Give the same old grins
But now the jokes sound new
And the laughter does too

He said that he was "deeply committed to ensuring that the United States government complies with all of its legal obligations as it fights the war on terror, whether those obligations arise from domestic or international law."

I go to the same old places
See the same old faces

Mr. Gonzales also promised to personally look into recent reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the possible mistreatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, and he disclosed that the administration had had preliminary discussions about seeking to amend prisoner protections in the Geneva Conventions.

I was the same old me
With the same old blues

Mr. Gonzales, who is the White House counsel, said he understood that, if confirmed, "I will no longer represent only the White House, I will represent the United States of America and its people."
"I understand the differences between the two roles," he added.

Sorry to rain on his American Idol chances, but Gonzales still doesn't understand. He was never working for the Bully Boy, he was supposed to be working for the people. His role was to maintain the rule of law and to advise the office of the president (regardless of who the president was) in such a manner that the laws of the land were maintained. Gonzales obviously failed at that task.

["Brand New Me" written by Theresa Bell, Jerry Butler, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff]

[Note: This post has been corrected. The title is now listed as "Brand New Me" throughout. The first names of three writers has been added to the song credit as well as a fourth writer of the song and was left out. Recommended albums for this song: Marcia recommends Dusty Springfield's The Very Best of Dusty Springfield; I think in addition to Springfield's well known version, Aretha Franklin also has a strong version of it on the album Young, Gifted & Black. On Franklin's album the song is listed as "A Brand New Me" and with three songwriters credited. The Songwriter's Hall of Fame lists four writers and calls it "Brand New Me" so we'll let The Songwriter's Hall of Fame have the last word on this unless someone can track down another source.]

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Senator Barbara Boxer stood up for Democracy

I think this is the first time in my life I ever voted alone in the United States Senate, and I have to tell you, I think it was the right thing to do.

One brave person stood up in the Senate today. Only one. And let's hope no one else in the Senate is dreaming of a presidential run because the 397 e-mails that arrived on this issue are blistering. Unlike Daniel Okrent, I don't have Arthur Bovino or his computer program to count my e-mails for me, I had to do it by hand -- hand count, kind of appropriate considering the issue involved. All praised Senator Barbara Boxer.

This wasn't the Patriot Act where the majority of us were in the dark (including those in Congress who voted for it) over what was going on. This was something closely monitored all over the web. This is something that registered with people.

It was time to stand and be counted and only one senator did.

Presidential aspirants on the Democratic side of the Senate will have to work really hard to wash away this memory.

Randi Rhodes was mentioned in 221 e-mails. All positive. She made many wonderful points (which is why phrases like "Randi told it like it was" and "thank God for Randi" popped up in so many e-mails). [Sorry, Randi Rhodes hosts The Randi Rhodes Show on Air America Radio each afternoon. Obviously, many of you, 221 of you in fact, heard her show today but for anyone who didn't, the web site to listen online or to check to see if there is a station in your area broadcasting her show is Her own site is]

The point that stood out the most to me was when she said that yes, today wasn't all that it could have been but we needed to realize that we moved Congress today, we made them do their job, to be responsive to the people.

Or, as Why Are We In Iraq put it:

But I am proud of all that we've done the last two months. Everyone who took the time to call a senator is a true patriot. It would be really nice if many of you took the time to call Senator Boxer's office again and thank her for her courage.

Senator Boxer was responsive. (The House was so much better on this issue than the Senate and that should be noted. Hopefully, e-mails will come in praising House members tomorrow.)

This was a hard decision, but I feel really good about this decision. . . We cannot keep turning our eyes away from a flawed system particularly as we have people dying in Iraq every day to bring democracy to those people.

A Winding Road:

Today was a day of ups and downs. First, the incredible news that Senator Barbara Boxer had demonstrated the courage so often lacking these days among many of her colleagues and had signed the objection to the certification of Ohio's electoral votes.I'm sure many of you felt the same all too rare sense of pride I felt over this news. We all owe Senator Boxer a huge debt of gratitude for her resolution and courage in coming forward on this matter, for doing the right thing. And we all owe the same debt of gratitude to Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and all of the other members of the House who worked with her on making this happen.It's also further proof that the progressive movement that we've all felt growing over the past few years is still very much alive and in force. Our voices, our calls, our letters, our signatures on the petitions were a large part of what convinced Senator Boxer to sign on.
. . .
I, political junkie that I can be, watched all of this unfold on CSPAN and CSPAN 2 this afternoon. In the Senate, I watched as Democrat and Democrat came forward and praised Senator Boxer for giving them the chance to discuss this, watched as most of them gave stirring speeches about the need for electoral reform, several of them laying out in detail the problems that had occurred in Ohio.I also watched, though, with a sinking sense of disgust as one after another, in the midst of their praise for Boxer and their listings of the faults of Ohio election and the calls for reform, as they expressed the feeling that they had no question as to the validity of the Ohio electoral vote.My anger and depression grew as the roll call vote was called. One by one, all of the Democrats who cast their votes, with the exception of Senator Boxer, voted against the Objection. This in spite of the evidence that many of them had cited in their own stirring speeches calling for reform.

Interesting Times weighed in on what was needed yesterday:

Some advice to Democratic Senators.
If at least one of your colleagues decides to stand up on Jan. 6th and sign on to Rep. Conyers objection to the Ohio electors than you should demonstrate party unity by all standing with that Senator.


And iddybud outlined it very clearly (what was needed and the fact that there was no "risk"):

A formal challenge would not affect the outcome of the election, because both houses of Congress are controlled by Republicans, who promise to certify Mr. Bush as the winner. But it would force lawmakers to abandon the ordinarily polite ritual, which takes place in the House chamber. Instead, the House and Senate would retreat to their own chambers, on opposite sides of the Capitol, for a two-hour debate and a formal vote on the objection.

Liberal Oasis offers some advice to the reticent Democratic senators:

OK, Senate Dems. Here’s your chance for a little redemption.
Know that some in the liberal grassroots were greatly displeased (
granted, not everyone) when you all distanced yourselves from Sen. Boxer’s gutsy challenge to the Ohio electors.
That is not something you should take lightly. You need those folks energized if you are to have a prayer in the low-turnout ‘06 elections.


Jessica at Feministing ( may have put it best:

Two Women I F--king Love
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH).

[Note, that's The Common Ills' edit above.]

It was a roller coaster ride today and the end wasn't pretty. But we did accomplish something: Congress had to respond. I'm not trying to be a cheerleader, just noting a fact. Our voices combined made a difference. Boxer didn't have to step up. Tubbs, Conyers, Waters and the other strong voices in the House could have been left stranded. (And let's not forget the work of individuals l-- Jesse Jackson, to name but one -- and parties -- the Greens and the Libertarians.) As the House was left stranded in 2001.

This is on the record now. It's history. Every battle will not be won. (Boy did we learn that one in November!) But when we speak out collectively, it can make a difference. Today it did. Not what we dreamed of, not the way we hoped. But if we hadn't bothered, would this have been January, 2001 all over again?

I've responded to each e-mail on this topic and I'm sorry to people who will have to wait until tomorrow for responses on other topics. I hope the post below gave someone a needed laugh.
I know we're disappointed. But imagine how much worse it would be if we hadn't spoken out?

We accomplished something. We'll be more determined next time. Maybe the results will be better, maybe they won't. But no one said going up against the Bully Boy would be easy. And if Senator Barbara Boxer could stand alone in the Senate today when it was time to vote, then we can all find the strength and the courage to fight tomorrow and every day after.

Democracy isn't something that you work on today and then you're done for four years. It's a process and we need to make sure our voices are heard. I think everyone not in Congress did a great job. We had leaders in the House and we had one leader in the Senate. We'll work on getting more next time.

Let's end this entry with Senator Boxer's words, a section she used to highlight the bravery of another:

Before I close, I want to thank my colleague from the House, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones.
Her letter to me asking for my intervention was substantive and compelling.
As I wrote to her, I was particularly moved by her point that it is virtually impossible to get official House consideration of the whole issue of election reform, including these irregularities.
The Congresswoman has tremendous respect in her state of Ohio, which is at the center of this fight.
Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones was a judge for 10 years. She was a prosecutor for 8 years. She was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002.
I am proud to stand with her in filing this objection

[Note: "Posts" was meant to be "points." It has been corrected. Note II: font correction and quotation done as well.]

Senator Dumb Butt on Senator Boxer and Hollywood (parody)

Transcription of Senator Dum Butt's remarks:

Uh, my fellow ... elected people. He-he-he. I just want to voice my objections to that woman Boxer. Now I never was too fond of women in sports and boxing's a man's sport so let me just get that into the record. But today, I'm just spitting mad over that Boxer woman. I've been sputtering and spitting and spitting and sputtering and just well everything.

Cause now that Boxer woman pretends to be just like you and me and America, you know? But I stand before you today to say that Boxer woman is not who she appears. No! Let the record show that woman is treasoner or treasonist or whatever you call them people who do the those weird things. I have proof, actual proof, and this includes that lefty rag the New York Times, that that Boxer woman went and seen Michah Moore's Fahrenheit: 9-11. Yes, it is shocking! Shocking!

Shocking! Shock and awe-ing! She's one of them Hollywooders, you see. And being from California, we all should have known it. Should have known it! Hollywood started this conspiracy that there were voting problems. Heck, they put it on Will & Grace and all them other gay shows like that Seven Heaven. Seven Heaven! There is one heaven and only one heaven. But Hollywood wants you to think there are seven! So that you think there are seven gods and all equal: Jesus, . . . Buddah, . . . Allah McGraw and Barbra Streisand! Those seven are not gods. There is only one god, and you know that even though Hollywood tells you different.
Hollywood has seeped into that woman's mind!

America and Americans, you know Hollywood is full of sinners and . . . sinners. Can't trust a one of them. Why if it weren't for Hollywood, that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be just another aged jock with man boobs! But Hollywood, liberal Hollywood, takes a commie like Arn --

[aide whispers in Senator Dumb Butt's ear]

Uh . . .

Hollywood, liberal Hollywood, is out to destroy your family! With TV shows that destroy the family! Liberal TV shows from Hollywood like Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire about money grubbing women throwing themselves at a man! Or Temptation Island, a show about cheating!
Or Who's Your Daddy? about a woman that didn't know who her father was! How do you think that happens, huh? Them liberals want to destroy you and your family. And Fox TV is the worst liberal of them all and Rupert Murdoch wasn't even in born in this country, he is a foreig--

[aide whispers in Senator Dumb Butt's ear]

Him too?

Uh, Hollywood, liberal Hollywood, Hollyweird, like that sugar britches who makes Richard Simmons seem like John Wayne, Kelsey Grammer! Flouncing around on that Fraiser acting effete and feminine, I tell you it's an abomination! Abom-- Huh?

[aide whispers in Senator Dumb Butt's ear]


Uh, Hollywood liberals like that foul mouthed Dennis Miller who's not funny. He's filthy.
And his career has gone the way of -- Huh?

[aide whispers in Senator Dumb Butt's ear]

Do we really need him?

[aide whispers in Senator Dumb Butt's ear]

Well, there's . . . Them Hollywood liberals!

Hollywood liberals! Like that woman I see on my TV hawking every product but a bra, Patricia Heaton! She's not even pretty. And what is with that hair color? God didn't make that hair color, so don't be blaming him. What is that color? Purple! Lumbering around, hectoring that husband, hen pecking him like a woman who doesn't know the good book's message, Patricia Heaton is a jeza- What!

[aide whispers in Senator Dumb Butt's ear]

Golly. . . .

Liberal Hollywood destroying you and your family with the . . . the devil music.
Yes, the devil music. Like that Kid Rock who -- Huh?

[aide whispers in Senator Dumb Butt's ear]

There going let him curse like that at the inaugaration?

[aide whispers in Senator Dumb Butt's ear]

Well then what's he going to sing? "I Am the Bullgod!" "Early Mornin' Pimp!" "Wax the Booty!"

[aide whispers in Senator Dumb Butt's ear]


Uh, liberal Hollywood which, uh, spits on your traditional values. Like . . . like that woman who made all that pornography with her husband, Bo Derek! Bo? No, B.O! And her lusty movies stink so good America says N.O. to B.O. and --

[aide whispers to Senator Dumb Butt]


Uh . . . I have proven my point! Hollywood is nothing but commies who want to destroy you and your family and your country! And that Boxer woman is a dupe! She has fallen for those Hollywood conspiracies. Unlike that Boxer woman, I stand for America! The America that's not afraid to bully and be uninformed and don't let no words of reality stop me from staying the course. The America that's not afraid to tell it like it is even if facts don't support us cause we go by the guts!

[Note: Post corrected. Fraiser italicized, "my" changed to "me." As always, thank you Shirley for catching those.]

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