Saturday, January 22, 2005

The 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade

The National Organization for Women and Capital City NOW are hosting a candlelight vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court to commemorate the anniversary of Roe, the landmark Supreme Court decision which recognized a woman's right to privacy in deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy.

That's today. Today is the thirty-second anniversary. The candlelight vigil was to begin at five o'clock and by the time this posts, it will be too late for anyone.

My apologies to you and to NOW for not giving a heads up to this. But if, like me, you're wishing you'd known ahead of time, you can turn that wish into a donation or into pledge to action. (Or both.) If you're fortunate enough to have the money to donate, you can find information about donating to NOW on their home page (look at the options at the top of the page). But more than money is needed.

Did you check out The Third Estate Sunday Review this past week? If so, you found "Abortion Why It Still Matters." What happens when the man impregnating you, raping you, is your own father? This is one young woman's powerful story.

I know from e-mails that this story is being passed around via e-mailing and that's good. That's one way to drive the point home about the importance of reproductive choice. To those of you who've written expressing your surprise that certain places didn't link to it -- don't be so surprised. It's a young adult female. They're often the most quickly dismissed and just as it takes courage for her to tell her story, it takes courage -- apparently -- for some sites to link to it. You're e-mailing it to people in your circle does more good than a link on any site.

You'll note that the sites you've named, if they covered abortion at all this week, did so in a historical manner. That means they gave you statistics or they told you a "musty old boomer tale" (Shirley, who says to put in that she's a "musty old baby boomer").

While those stories are important to explaining why it was important that reproductive rights were recognized as a privacy right, they apparently aren't touching our college-age members (male or female). That's not surprising because we're dealing with the right now. But it's much easier (and far less "messy") to focus on the sixties (and focus on them and focus on them and focus on them . . .)

"Karla" tells a story that is all too familiar to many Common Ills members and apparently others have never heard of incest or would prefer not to allude to it (as Shirley will point out at the end, thanks Shirley for allowing us to quote you). That's their loss. If some want to treat abortion as something that "just needs to stay legal" for "historical reasons" then that's their business.

But abortion matters today, right now, to so many. And with all the problems facing access at present, you don't have to repeatedly dig up tales from the pre Roe v. Wade days to find out why abortion still matters. Katha Pollitt does a great job in The Nation highlighting the continued need for reproductive rights not just because of the lessons of the past but also because of the constraints of the present. (To read some of her articles on the subject, click on her name and you'll be taken to an archive of her writings for The Nation.)

Natalie e-mailed this in from The Metroactive News:

Shortly before Christmas 2004, as Democrats were picking through the rubble of another disastrous election, news broke that former Indiana Rep. and abortion foe Tim Roemer was joining the race for chair of the Democratic National Committee. Not only that, he was reportedly doing so at the urging of pro-choice House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The news sent shock waves through the Democratic universe.
As bloggers were quick to note, were Roemer to succeed Terry McAuliffe as Democratic chair, the party known as the champion of women's reproductive rights would have not one but two antiabortion leaders at its helm, given that anti-choice Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada has just taken over as Senate Minority Leader, after pro-choice Democrat Tom Daschle lost his seat in the Senate.
Roemer was quoted in the Dec. 23 issue of the Los Angeles Times as saying that he would not try to change the minds of abortion rights supporters, but he also said he would try to encourage the party to eliminate its "moral blind spot" when it comes to late-term abortions.
"We should be talking more about adoption as an alternative, and working with our churches to sponsor some of those adoptions," Roemer said.
Roemer thinks that abortion opponents would be more comfortable if the party talked about the issue in a more open-minded manner.
"We should be able to campaign in 50 states, not just the blue states or 20 states," he said.
Meanwhile, Roemer's foremost competition is former Vermont governor and pro-choicer Howard Dean, who has also entered the race for DNC chair. In response to Roemer's comments, Dean told NBC's Tim Russert, "We can change our vocabulary, but I don't think we ought to change our principles."
Reached last week by Metro Santa Cruz, Nancy Pelosi's press secretary Jennifer Crider emphasized that Pelosi had not endorsed anyone.
"Nancy basically said Roemer would make a good chair. There are many good candidates in a very rich field, and Mr. Roemer is one of them."

Sarah Phelan's "Skid Roe" addresses not only the danger in some Democrats' rush to the center, but also with the very real picture of access today throughout the country.

I'd also recommend that you read Katha Pollitt's "Stuff These Stockings (Please)" which details
a number of ways you can effectively donate your money.

Within a week of The Common Ills becoming a web site, a number of you began e-mailing about an article posted on Tom Paine wherein a presumably pro-choice woman took issue with a young woman for wearing a t-shirt as she attempted to register voters. That Tom Paine (which is a great site) would run such nonsense is sad. Shirley brought it up in an e-mail again this week (responding to the remarks that The Common Ills wouldn't take marching orders from anyone).

Shirley: This up-tight "expert" wants to act as though she's done the world some huge favor by mixing with the working class while I got the clear impression that she didn't understand the first thing about the working class. I grew up working class and there's not one of my friends who wouldn't have seen the young woman's t-shirt warning others to keep their hands off her
f--king body and applauded. Ms. Up-tight obviously knows very little about the socio-economic realites of the working class. She's a little too genteel to reach the working class.
And one of the things that bothers me the most about my generation is how quick we are to blame and dismiss the young women and men coming after. If abortion rights are going to remain a right, not a passing fad, we need those people coming up. Mocking them or telling them how they should conduct themselves is self-defeating.
Ms. Up-tight came off like the ultimate prude in her op-ed and I wouldn't be surprised to find out she offended many working class people with her Town & Country mind set. She seemed to feel that gracing the working class with her presence did more than the young woman's plain spoken t-shirt. People respond to basic messages, they aren't motivated by what the social set declares acceptable.
This week, I've sent out The Third Estate Story to many sites that cater to a left audience. Seeing their refusal to link to it reminds me of the time before Gloria Steinem and others had to weigh in on the importance of the new generation of feminists. Before that happened, these young women (and some men) were being dismissed and mocked. That's no way to build a movement. That's no way to continue and expand a struggle for equality. Apparently the lock-jaw set finds 'Karla' and her story offensive to their genteel sensibilities.
I knew girls like 'Karla' growing up. And in those days, we whispered about it, if we discussed their situations at all. That all these years later (I'll be 57 this year) we're still treating incest as a tale we can't face head on is shocking. The left better start recommitting themselves to telling all the stories and not just the ones that are currently socially acceptable. I thought we had stripped away the idea that victims of rape and victims of incest had anything to be ashamed of?
I was obviously mistaken.
Now maybe if 'Karla' was fifty-years-old and could point to a history of social activism, we'd tell her firmly-in-the-past teenage story? But as any feminist with any sense of awareness can tell you, incest has not vanished just because we've apparently grown more uncomfortable addressing it.
'Karla' had the guts to share her story and it's too bad that so many sites elected to respond to her bravery by deciding 'Oh, incest . . . Can't we talk about something nicer?' I'm really appalled by the silence that has greeted 'Karla''s story online.
You said that we don't take marching orders and I hope you stick to that because this is one fastly approaching retirement woman that has seen too many censors on the left over the years.
And the women of my generation need to either commit themselves to making sure the voices of younger generations are heard (as Gloria Steinem has) or they need to create their own nostalgic publications and sites because they're doing very little to address real problems when they so pointedly ignore 'Karla' and stories like this. The feminist message of the seventies stands: If every woman told her truth, the world as we know it would never be the same.
It seems a number of people (on the left) have moved away from that idea towards one of what is "prudent" or "socially acceptable."
My generation, in their youth, was about taking on the idea of "socially acceptable." We brought issues out of the shadows and gave them names. We spoke truths that weren't "polite." Instead of glorifying events of the past and coating them in a nostalgic glow, we need to focus on returning to their power and passion of that period.
As a feminist, I take pride in the fact that my generation was able to pick up the baton and carry the struggle further. But unless we're thinking this is all we were fighting for we need to continue to commit ourselves to the struggle, not just bask on our fond memories as we pat ourselves on the backs. The time for action isn't yesterday, action is something we strive for each day because the world's far from perfect and the struggle continues on so many issues.

[Note: As most members know, Shirley regularly lets me know when I've got a typo or confusing point that needs clarifying so if there's an error in the above, assume it's mine and not Shirley's. Any errors in her quote will be corrected at her request which is the same policy for all members. However, one person who is still wanting changes in their book listings is arguing that those are "errors" even though the person admits those were the books listed in the e-mail. I'm not going back and correcting changes of hearts. Ryan notes on that: "That's already yesterday" and I agree.]

The New York Times is still fawning over the inauguration


Let's start with the positive of this morning's New York Times.

Mix of Quake Aid and Preaching Stirs Concern by David Rohde details the efforts by one American church to prosletyze in Sri Lanka and the harm it may be causing.

Dexter Filkins attempts to figure out the Mystery in Iraq as $300 Million is Taken Abroad
("attempts" is not an insult to Filkins, details are sketchy, but better he and the Times cover it now then do their usual wait until the story's dead -- more on that later).

Also attempting to piece together an important issue is Charlie LeDuff ("Mystery Oil Slick Kills Seabirds Off California"). Stephanie Strom's "A.C.L.U. Committee Declines to Discipline Board Members" is more than worthy of a read.

And . . .

That may be about it. (And only Rhodes and Filkins appear on the front page.)

(If you see something you want highlighted, e-mail the site Luke in Australia had a story from yesterday or Thursday that he wanted highlighted and we'll mention it at the end of this entry.)

Eric Wilson's "Never Mind the Parade; What Did They Wear?" is at least labeled "style" --though why it appears in the main section of the paper . . . A more fitting title might be: "Never Mind the Protests; What Did the Bushes Wear?" since the parade and inauguration have been covered at length already.

But if Wilson fancies himself a future Women's Wear Daily reporter, he might want to invest in some eye glasses. The news here isn't that "[a]ll that was missing . . . was Star Jones Reynolds or Joan Rivers to comment on the Bushes . . ." No, the news here is that what's apparent to the naked eye is missed by Wilson. Running yet another photo of that hideous "Austrian crystal" gown in the paper with Wilson (and the Times) wasting our time on this ugly dress, the obvious apparently can't be stated: "classy" is not a dress that emphasizes your middle age belly pooch.
(Kara's term.) In Dallas made comments about that yesterday and a number of e-mails have come in echoing his sentiment that "control top panty hose are a must!" (Shirley).

I don't usually look at the pictures. That's not meant as a slap against photo-journalists, I'm just more of a text person. But when seventy e-mails come in on the "pooch," it's got to be rather obvious. This morning's edition runs yet another photo of Laura Bush who couldn't dress worth ___ four years ago and still can't. If not in hell, then in purgatory there should be a special circle reserved for butt kissers like Wilson who fawn and flatter the obviously undeserving.

As a woman of a certain age, if she's comfortable with her body, more power to Laura Bush. But Times reporters don't need to outright lie in their attempt to curry favor with the administration.

It's a fashion disaster that maybe someone will have the guts to call: "Laura Bush Lose the Pooch and We Don't Mean Barney!"

There's no reason for the nonsesne to appear in the paper yet again. But having committed to "covering" it, they need to report reality, not act as though the unsightly tummy bulge isn't there.

Other embarrassments include the seven paragraph piece of nonsense that Elisabeth Bumiller turns in on Colin Powell's new Corvette. ("If there's a Washington lesson here, it is don't put your Vette ahead of your vetting" may rank as one of Bumiller's all-time groaners, but I know that's fastly becoming a crowded list that grows more difficult to rank everyday.)

At least the photo that illustrates Bumiller's open mouthed drooling is a good one of Powell -- it caught my eye because of that fact -- he looks more relaxed than he's appeared in years (leaving the administration must agree with him). But where was Condi in Wilson's "style" discussion?
As Krista e-mails: "Oh Condi, honey, bad hair day?" Perhaps, or maybe she just decided to attend in Raisa Gorbachev drag?

Richard Bernstein's "British Major Says Looting Led to Abuse of Prisoners" is our "more later."
Filkins is attempting to piece together a story while it's still hot and I'll applaud that. As for this article? Let me be clear that Bernstein just happens to be holding the hot potato this morning. (I believe it was Alan Cowell yesterday.) The Times can't find this story because they can't get the details right. Has no one at the paper seen the photos?

This story broke in the British press back in 2003. I remember seeing the photos online at one of the British paper's web sites. (I'm remembering a red border around the screen -- is that The Daily Mirror?) "The photographs in the British case show Iraqi soldiers naked and seemingly forced to perform simulated sex acts with one another while British soldiers pretend to punch and kick them." Seemingly forced? Isn't that "caution" or has the Times just not made sure their reporters (and editors) have viewed the photos?

As I'm remembering the photos (I haven't seen them since that -- Daily Mirror? -- story in 2003), we've got at least one Iraqi strung up and in another photo a prisoner is crouched at crotch level to what is obviously a non-Arab. (The caption indicated it was a British soldier.)
Has Bernstein seen the photos? Has Cowell? Have any of the editors of the New York Times?

I don't understand how something that's been public record for over a year and a half can repeatedly be described so incorrectly in the paper?

It was The Sun, apparently, and not The Daily Mirror:

One allegedly shows a man stripped to the waist and suspended in the air by a rope attached to one of the forks of a forklift truck. Another is said to show a pair of white legs and the head of an Iraqi male. The hand of a man behind the Iraq's head appears to be forcing him to perform oral sex.

That's from 2003. And I believe this is a reprint of that story. And here's a Christian Science Monitor story from 2003. Is it too much for the Times, when reporting on the photos, get what they depict correct?

Before anyone writes in to praise the article on the global reaction to the Bully Boy's speech, yeah, it was a good story in most papers yesterday. When the Times is caught playing catch up, they really need strong writing to make up for the fact that they're (yet again?) behind the curve of a story.

Here's a story they missed as they continued to flatter Laura Bush, John Files, in the National Briefing, gets a paragraph about how "Ashcroft Won't Aid Asylum Seeker." Even after Homeland Securtiy recommends that a Guatemalan woman be given sanctuary, J-Ass refuses.
She's fleeing an abusive husband (and the Department of Homeland Security doesn't question her version of the events). Why would she be denied?

Seems there's a story there. One worthy of more than a mere paragraph.

Luke wanted to draw our attention to a story in Friday's New York Times on Barbara Boxer.
If there's something you want to highlight e-mail the site ( and if your comments on it are meant to be included on the site, please note that in your e-mail.

[Post corrected due to Shirley's catching a thread I dropped but never developed. Can't remember where I was headed with that sentence originally so I've just altered the ending. Thanks Shirley.]

Friday, January 21, 2005

Amy Goodman in Europe

I want to do a heads up because we have some members in Europe: Amy Goodman (author of Exception to the Rulers and host of Democracy Now!) will be in Europe at the end of the month:

Amy Goodman Comes to Ireland and London

Saturday, January 29th, 14:30
Feile Bride 2005
Afri Conference
Celebrating Solidarity
St Joseph's Academy
Kildare townIreland

For more information, contact Joe Murray on 01-8827563 or 086 3946893

Saturday, January 29th, 20:00
Independent Media in the Time of War
Chaired by Vincente Browne
ATGWU Building
55 Middle Abbey St.
Dublin City CentreIreland
Free admission

For more information, contact Damien Moran, 087 963 8398

Sunday, Janurary 30th, 14:00
THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULERS: Independent Media in a Time of War
Room D202, Clement House
London School of Economics
Aldwych, London WC2 UK
Free admission

Organized with Red Pepper magazine and the Radical Activist Network. For more information, contact Omar Waraich:

If you're in Europe or have friends or family in Europe, please get the word out.

Amy Goodman warned us about "The Lies of the Times"

Amy Goodman (with David Goodman) has written an excellent book that we've mentioned on this site many times: The Exception to the Rulers. And on Sunday's lists of books you cited, with forty-five members going on the record noting their favorite books, The Exception to the Rulers was noted eight times. (As always, check my math. And I'm counting the five members who now put out the incredible Third Estate Sunday Review as one since they weighed in as a group.)

The point? Most of you know how wonderful this book is. And those of you who haven't yet read it, know Amy Goodman as a host (along with Juan Gonzalez) of Democracy Now! which may be the last broadcast news that still focuses on news that actually impacts our lives.

If you haven't read the book, please consider reading it. Check your library or check your bookstores.

Today the New York Times dismissed the nation wide protests against the Bully Boy's inauguration. With a snarky, dismissive tone, they dismissed the protestors in D.C. and they rendered the protestors across the nation invisible. Hard to believe the Times of all papers would do that?

Maybe not so hard to believe. We're quoting from Goodman (and Goodman)'s The Exception to the Rulers, chapter seven "The Lies of Our Times." And we're focusing on pages 147 to 149:

On October 26, 2002, the Democracy Now! crew headed to Washington, D.C., to cover a major protest against an attack on Iraq. Although the police in Washington, D.C., no longer issue official estimates of crowd size, they told us unofficially that there were between 150,000 and 200,000 people.
The next day, The New York Times reported that "fewer people had attended than organizers had hoped for . . . even though the sun came out." NPR reported "fewer than 10,000" showed up.
It was clear to all of us who were actually there (more on this in a moment), including the police, that the size of the crowd was significant. In addition to our broadcast on Pacifica, C-Span was carrying the protest live. Anyone watching from home could clearly see the masses of people. And not all media outlets misreported the event. The Washington Post headline was ANTIWAR PROTEST THE LARGEST SINCE '60S; ORGANIZERS SAY 100,000 TURNED OUT.
The Times had gotten it so wrong that we had to ask: Was the reporter even there?
. . .
[Mike Burke, Democracy Now! producer, tracked down some of the people quoted in the Times and found out that the Times reporter interviewed them . . . by phone.]
The UNC student said, "She did interview me at the rally -- on my cell phone. I asked her why she wasn't here. She said she was working on another story." It turns out that the Times reporter covering the rally was pulled away to work on the Washington sniper story that day.
Now, we all know that the Times has an army of reporters it could deploy to cover any story, but it's a matter of what they care about and where they decide to put their resources.
Three days later, The New York Times ran another story on the same protest. . . . "The turnout startled even organizers . . ." stated this new, improved Times report. The article continued, "The demonstrations on Saturday in Washington drew 100,000 by police estimates and 200,000 by organizers.'"
. . .
Who do you believe: The New York Times . . . or The New York Times?
Democracy Now! attempted to question the reporter and her editors at the Times about their coverage, but the Times declined to comment. Finally, after we did our show on the misreporting, the reporter called us and confirmed that she had left the protest before it had even started. She had seen only the early crowds trickling in, not the actual demonstration. When she realized that the rally was much bigger, she called in a correction to her editors, but they didn't change the numbers.

. . .
After Democracy Now! ran a story on the rally article discrepancies, producer Kris Abrams asked a Times editor, "Why didn't you print a correction stating that your first article was wrong?"
Because we didn't make a mistake, he replied.
"Well, what do you call it, then?" she asked.
A matter of emphasis, he answered.

Why did members of The Common Ills heap praise on the Times for their first two weeks coverage of the human costs of the tsunami? Because the paper chose to work that story from every angle. They "flooded the zone" with that story as only they can still do (because they're one of the few papers that still has a huge staff and originates the bulk of the stories their paper carries). We learned about victims in various areas, we learned about countries that some of you admitted you were new to (don't ever feel bad for admitting to learning something, I learned many new things as well -- including countries), we learned about the warnings that were registered outside of the region, we learned about scientists who were working towards ways to avoid a similar event from being as damaging, we learned about the tourists as well as the citizens of the area, we learned about the reactions of other countries, we heard from groups and organizations that were giving (and would be giving) aid, we heard from the UN and we heard from the administration, but most of all we heard from people effected by the events.

("Heard" includes "saw" -- certainly the Times ran some of the most powerful images in recent times and those photo-journalists certainly helped get the story out and enlarge our scope and understanding of the tragedy.)

This happened during a vacation period when so many people were off on holiday. That the Amy Waldmans and Ian Fishers (to name only two) were able to convey the scope of the damage and destruction is all the more amazing when you realize that this disaster occurred in what should have been a "slow news" period (there's no such thing). But with a limited staff (and no so-called "all stars" as so many of you pointed out) the paper did the best work they've done in years. It was truly something that they could take pride in.

The inauguration was a planned event. That they couldn't staff this to cover it from the same wide perspective is truly saddening. It's, as a Times editor told Democracy Now!'s Kris Abrams, a matter of emphasis.

And somewhere along the line, the paper decided the emphasis and the spotlight should go on the official events and only on those events. The people who traveled huge distances (and I met a great many of them) didn't matter. Why they were there was of no concern. The only thing that mattered was covering the balls and the speeches.

Guess what, that's not the full picture and the Times damn well knows that or should.

Even if they wanted to place more emphasis on the "action" -- the inauguration -- there was no reason for them to deny the "reaction" -- the activities of the people. But that's what they did.
And what could have been this wonderful portrait of all the aspects of the inauguration became instead a summary of the official events.

It's not reporting. And it's not up to any standard that the Times should hold itself to.
I saw a NPR reporter interviewing protestors. (I'm not sure whether she was local or national.) I saw Democracy Now! there. I saw people from independent media. I didn't see anyone from the Times interview anyone (and I was at several of the protests including the one covered by Democracy Now! at the Quaker church).

Where was the Times?

A number of us meeting for the first time, exchanged e-mails. This morning I sent out forty-two e-mails asking if anyone had spoken to any reporters for the Times or if they knew anyone who had. The forty-two contacted various people they knew from the protests. Out of close to 4,000 people, no one recalled a New York Times reporter speaking to them or anyone around them. (Four, however, recalled a LA Times reporter. Hopefully, the story by that reporter is linked to below.)

Where was the Times?

It is a matter of emphasis and if you weren't an elected official or someone "in power," you were rendered invisible by the Times. (They did slightly better covering Bush supporters attending events, but only slightly better.)

To read the Times, you learned nothing of the events along the parade route ("Turn Your Back on Bush"), you learned nothing of the moving speeches at the Quaker church, you learned nothing of Medea Benjamin and Code Pink's activities, of the various people who traveled from all over the nation (I spoke to two people who came from Hawaii just to protest, I didn't encounter anyone from Alaska but I'm told at least three people from that state traveled to the D.C. as well).

And guess what, those of us lucky enough to swing a trip to D.C. weren't the only ones protesting. Community members Dallas and In Dallas reported on the turnout for the protest they attended in Dallas, TX. Portland reported on what was happening in his city. Three NYC community members reported on the huge turnout in their city. (Which, of course, is the base of the New York Times but apparently, no reporter from the paper could be spared to cover even that.) I could go on. (And anyone who says: "Please share this" will be quoted on this site.)

It is a matter of emphasis in terms of deciding what you want to report on. And the Times showed no interest in reporting on the reactions of average citizens. They were more concerned with covering the official events.

That's not reporting.

With the tsunami, the Times poured all their resources (at a time when the resources were probably limited due to so many being on "holiday") into covering every aspect. Yesterday, they couldn't be bothered with recording (for history) a very vocal, nation wide movement.
It was shoddy reporting. The sort that if you found it in a small town weekly, you'd tell yourself, "Well they're turning out a paper on a shoe-string budget and they've got such a small staff."

The paper doesn't have that excuse. It won't wash. The reason this site was flooded with so much praise for the Times' initial coverage of the tsunami was because there was something to reach everyone. It wasn't "Oh my God, the tragedy of it all!" Each reporter (text or visual) was giving a "snapshot" of one area of the costs of the tsunami.

The paper was working the way it should, illuminating many areas and when you bumped into someone who read the Times, you shared what stood out to you and they shared what stood out to them.

If the paper wants to maintain their prominence, that's what they're going to have to do. Now maybe the "all stars" will resist mixing with the "common people." Then you assign one of your strong reporters who doesn't garner the attention of Elisbeth Bumiller, for instance. (And the "common people" probably aren't any more interested in mixing with Bumiller than she is with them.)

You do not render a national outpouring like this invisible.

Kara wondered if the Times disliked like protestors? I have no idea. But it really doesn't matter what they like or what they don't like because the job of the paper is to report.

It's been a crappy week for the Times (and judging by e-mails to this site, they've pretty much destroyed the good will they had built up early in the month) as they decided to turn the main section into a style section. A number of you have e-mailed, "I'm not paying for this ___!"
I hear you.

Let's hope the Times does. Let's hope they wake up at some point to the fact that they are a newspaper and not some house organ for the administration. I mean, if they want to be that, by all means do. But start charging them for the paper because your subscribers and your buyers are e-mailing this site that they won't continue to stand for this nonsense.

Brad: "If the paper doesn't start recognizing us as individuals and not poll respondents, if they don't start acknowledging the people of this country and not just the D.C. class, I'm not going to read the paper anymore. I didn't read crap like this when I was a kid, I've never had the need to press my face against the glass. The whole week read like pantings over those in power. There's a whole country, hell there's a whole world, out there that the paper is ignoring. And I'm in that world and if they want to ignore me they'll find out real quick that I can do the same with them."

Additional resources on the Times' poor coverage of the protests in October 2002 can be found at Democracy Now (, specifically
Who Do You Believe the New York Times Or the New York Times?: As the Nation's Paper of Record Changes Its Story On This Weekend's Anti-War Protests, We Look at How the Times and National Public Radio Have Minimized the Peace Movement .

To get the coverage that the Times overlooked of those protests, see the following Democracy Now! stories:

Saying "No" to War: From Boston to Washington, D.C. to Madison, Wisconsin, We Hear From Howard Zinn, Medea Benjamin and Others

Hundreds of Thousands Protest War From Coast to Coast: From D.C. to San Francisco to Seattle, to the Twin Cities and Dozens of Other Cities; We Hear From Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Cynthia Mckinney (D-Ga), Former U.S. Attorney

For the coverage the Times failed to provide you today, check these links:

Democracy Now!:
Activists Disrupt Bush Inauguration Ceremony
Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark Calls For Bush Impeachment
Scenes from the Streets of DC: Democracy Now! Speaks With Supporters and Critics of Bush's Inauguration
Pentagon Turns Away Mothers of Soldiers Killed in Iraq
Undercover Police Dressed Like Activists Arrest Anti-Inauguration Protesters
Cynthia McKinney: "We Should Export Dignity Not Dictatorship"

DC Indymedia ( where you'll find the following:
* Protesters the big "tease" in evening news, Public security suffocating and obscene for what amounts to a private event
* Convergence Observance
* Police beat, pepper-spray anarchist march
* Washington DC Inaugural Protest Pictures 2005
* "Insurgents" Delay "Second Coming" of Bush
* One of the Most Powerful at the Vigil
* WSQT on the Counterinaugural-and the Inter-County Connector
* PHOTOS of Cops using pepper guns on protesters in DC

In Dallas sent this AP article from the Dallas Morning News "Scattered protests mark inauguration" which does acknowledge that protests were going on in places other than D.C.

Erika sent another AP article on the same topic "Thousands protest Bush's inauguration."

Tara sent this (go to the end of the article) about Maine's protest ("about a hundred" in Portland, Maine) "One Mainer's inspiration is another's reason to protest."

Information on the Jazz Funeral in New Orleans can be found here and here and at New Orleans Indy Media and also from New Orleans Indy (thanks Rob).

You should also check out Houston Indy Media (thanks Lois).

Please also check out NYC IndyMediaCenter for DC coverage and for the link to coverage from across the nation.

For more DC protest coverage, see (thanks Elaine).

Check out The Chicago Tribune for an article about nation wide protests (thanks go to BuzzFlash which has a number of articles on their site about the protests)

To read about protests in Berkeley and San Francisco read this San Francisco Chronicle article (again, the thanks on that go to BuzzFlash -- the site is worth visiting)

More news on Berkeley's protests can be found at the Berkeley Daily Planet.

To read about the protests in Boulder (including the high school students walk out) please read this Denver Post article.

Also check out the LA Times' "Mock Coffins, Real Anger" for D.C. coverage. (I believe this is the reporter that four people remember conducting interviews at the protests.)

For more information about Amy Goodman's Exception to the Rulers (and if you're interested in obtaining a copy signed by Goodman) click here. To read an excerpt (on blowback) from the book, click here.

I'll also note that Lizz Winstead and Rachel Maddow interviewed Medea Benjamin (of Code Pink among other organizations) on this morning's Unfiltered on Air America Radio. An archived broadcast should be posted here at some point, so please check (you're looking for the January 21st episode).

Code Pink really registered their presence at the organization and to learn more about this organization click here.

Democracy Now! always worth watching: activists, Ramsey Clark, Celeste Zappala & Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney and Jatrice Martel Gaiter

Democracy Now! for Friday, January 21, 2005.  Make time for this episode because the rest of the media appears to be taking a pass on the realities of yesterday.
Headlines for January 21, 2005

- Bush: Spreading Liberty Is The "Calling Of Our Time"
- Bush Praises Liberty But Not Human Rights
- Over 10,000 Protest Inauguration
- Cheney: Israel May Attack Iran
- Cheney Surprised By Slow Recovery in Iraq
- Report: Hundreds of Pre-Election Attacks Expected in Iraq
Inauguration 2005: Bush Vows to Spread "Freedom" and Target World's "Tyrannies" in Second Term

President Bush vowed to spread freedom around the globe and to target the world's tyrannies in his second inauguration address. In his speech, Bush mentioned used the words "freedom" and "liberty" more than 40 times but he never directly mentioned the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We hear an excerpt of his address.
Activists Disrupt Bush Inauguration Ceremony

A few seconds before Bush was sworn in by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a group of 3 activists from Eugene, Oregon disrupted the ceremony. One of the activists, Carol Melia, filmed their action. We spoke with her after they were escorted out of the ceremony.
Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark Calls For Bush Impeachment

We hear a speech by former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, speaking at an anti-inauguration protest staged by the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition at John Marshall Park in Washington DC.
Scenes from the Streets of DC: Democracy Now! Speaks With Supporters and Critics of Bush's Inauguration

Democracy Now! takes to the streets of Washington DC to speak with protesters, who faced off against the massive security apparatus deployed in the nation's capital, as well as supporters of President Bush's second inauguration.
Pentagon Turns Away Mothers of Soldiers Killed in Iraq

Members of Military Families Speak Out and veterans of the Iraq invasion and occupation gathered at National City Christian Church in Washington DC to remember the over 1,300 U.S. soldiers and the more than 100,000 Iraqis killed in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. We hear the words of two mothers whose sons died in Iraq: Celeste Zappala and Cindy Sheehan.
Cynthia McKinney Cynthia McKinney: "We Should Export Dignity Not Dictatorship"

We hear an address by Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) speaking out against the Bush administration at an anti-inauguration protest staged by the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition.
A Look at Roe v. Wade 32 Years Later

Thirty-two years ago this weekend, the Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in the landmark case Row v. Wage. By a vote of 7 to 2, the justices legalized abortion and instantly voided state laws prohibiting abortion. We speak with Jatrice Martel Gaiter of Planned Parenthood.
As Marcia says:  "Democracy Now! always worth watching."

Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Search presents - Jib Jab's 'Second Term'

The New York Times, more worthless every day

Sheryl Gay Stolberg's probably feeling a little heady these days. She got off her little slam against John Kerry this week with little notice. She may feel that this was her finest moment since she fed Maureen Dowd a false quote.

Today she turns in more fluff.

The headline gives the reader the idea that all voices will be heard ("Love Him or Hate Him, All Vie for a Good Perch") but that's not the case.

In this article that runs over twenty paragraph you can hear the voices of how many protestors? Exactly one.

(But Stolberg finds the time to tell us that Kerry was booed.)

The Times has done another lousy job covering protests. (The Poor People's March during the GOP convention was "covered" via a single AP article; the poor coverage of the anti-war protests during the lead up to the war have been addressed in numberous places including the books by Amy Goodman, Exception to the Rulers, and James Wolcott, Attack Poodles.)

But the I Don't Know What the Hell I'm Writing About award goes to Michael Janofksy for his stab at protestors (can't call it a stab at reporting) with "Demonstrators Revel In Opposition on Big Day for President."

Janofsky can't be bothered with estimating the amount of protestors (the Washington Post did attempt an estimate, one I'd argue was low balled, but they did attempt to estimate) or really even reporting in a precise way. At one point he tells of us of "one woman, naked but for red, white and blue underpants . . ." Uh, that would be topless and wearing panties. But he can't let go of the nudity notion in his snarky treatment (bringing up the non-issue again with "several demonstrators (fully clothed) . . ."

Janofsky, they aren't the joke; you passing yourself off as a reporter is. And it's a tired joke.

I was there. Reading Janofsky's report, I'm not sure he was. (Remember, with one anti-war protest, the Times' reporter left before they started, but that didn't stop her from "reporting." We'll quote from Amy Goodman's book on that this evening.)

It's an insulting dismissal by a paper that seems less and less concerned with anything that's not spoken or done by an "administrative official."

Which no doubt explains why the various protests across the country (many of which I saw photos of via a friend's cell phone) also don't register in this morning's paper.

Were the protests news?

I'd argue they were. I'd argue they were at least as news worthy as a Times/CBS News poll that the paper elected to give front page play to yesterday.

But the Times can't suck up to the administration and also inform the readers.

Ben e-mails: "Toad Purdum has another groaner, "Focus on Ideals Not the Details." He should talk!"

Check out Ian Fisher who may write one of the few articles worth reading in today's paper (I'm still going through the main section) -- he's covering the death toll of the tsunami in Indonesia.

Otherwise, this is shaping up to be another useless edition of the paper with a main section reads alternately like the style section and fan club bulletins.

Democracy Now! Thursday has Howard Zinn among other worthwhile (and news worthy) segments

Leaving the fluff that so often is the New York Times, let's take a moment to highlight a source of real news.
If you caught Democracy Now! yesterday, good for you. If you didn't, among other things, you've missed Howard Zinn. (I didn't catch it yesterday. I'll be watching it later this morning.)
All segments are LWR (listen, watch or read).

Headlines for January 20, 2005
- Bush To Emphasize "Freedom" in Inauguration Speech
- Washington To See Largest Security Effort Ever
- Bush Criticized For Staging Lavish Wartime Inauguration
- Senate Postpones Rice & Gonzales Votes
- Bush Decides Not To Re-Nominate Daniel Pipes
- UK Gov't Calls For U.S. Timetable To Withdraw From Iraq
- FBI Investigates Murder of U.S. Contractor in Iraq
- U.S. Pushes Out UN Palestinian Refugee Chief Peter Hansen

Corporate America Pours in Millions to Fund President Bush's Second InaugurationDemocracy Now! broadcasts from Washington DC where President George W Bush is being sworn in for a second term. The inauguration is expected to be the most lavish in history, with an estimated $40 million to be spent over four days of celebrations - and the hefty price is being footed largely by U.S. corporations. We speak with Joan Claybrook, president of the consumer-advocacy organization Public Citizen which has analyzed the contribution records released by Bush's inaugural committee. [includes rush transcript]

Energy Secretary Nominee Calls for New Generation of Power Plants and Drilling in Alaskan ArcticWe take a look at Energy Secretary nominee, Samuel Bodman. At his Senate confirmation hearing, Bodman said he would advocate for oil and natural-gas drilling exploration to take place in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and called for the jumpstarting of the construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants. [includes rush transcript]

Lockdown in DC: Unprecedented Security For Bush Inauguration and ProtestsWashington DC is in a state of lockdown for the most heavily guarded presidential inauguration in history. Along with the customary inauguration address and parade, a number of protests are being planned in Washington and around the country. We speak with Shahid Buttar, a member of the Guerilla Poetry Insurgency affinity group for the anti-inauguration protests and Mark Goldstone, of the Demonstration Support Committee for the National Lawyers Guild. [includes rush transcript]

Historian Howard Zinn: "Bush Represents Everything That Martin Luther King Opposed"We speak with Howard Zinn, renowned historian and author of "A People's History of the United States." Zinn says: "People all over the world are mourning the ascension of Bush to his second term as president... that's something to feel encouraged about, even as all this pomp and circumstance of the inauguration goes on." [includes rush transcript]

The New York Times photos of the Bully Boy and Laura

In Dallas: "If no one else has said it, let me be the first. The Bully Boy looks like Cotton Hill of King of the Hill in the photo where he's dancing with Laura. He looks like an old, old man. It's amazing how quickly he's aged beyond his years. But being spiteful and ignorant obviously takes a toll. As for Laura, looking at various photos in the paper, I'm reminded of the shock I had as a child when that funny lady Carol Burnett was on TV explaining she didn't wear undergarments while wearing Bob Mackie because it interfered with the line of the garment. I'd never heard of anyone not wearing undergarments before and this was long before Sharon Stone would invite the country to be her gynecoligist in Basic Instinct. Looking at the photos of Laura in the Oscar de la Renta, I have to wonder if she's wearing undergarments. She certainly needs some sort of control top panty hose to deal with the unsightly bulge. Having neither the class nor the body of Carol Burnett, Laura desperately needs firm foundation undergarments."

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Gina speaks to the New York Times

After reading Keesha's comments [see,] I just wanted to weigh in as well.

MLK stood for many things. Folding under pressure and giving factually challenged speeches to the UN wasn't one of them nor was courting the favor of those in power at the expense of the people.

That NYT uses text and photos to equate MLK day with a private moment (it should have been private, they're practically humping!) between the Bully Boy and Colin Powell is disgraceful.

NYT appears to think MLK day is about being black. It's our national black day. That's not what it's about. It's about honoring a leader who motivated and inspired us to all be the better person inside of us. It's about honoring a leader who challenged not one system, but many.

To reduce it to, look a black man made it into the cabinet is insulting to everyone. On George Washington day will we see a photo of Rummy rubbing up against the Bully Boy?

NYT's view of MLK is so narrow that it goes beyond stereotypical.

They ought to be ashamed that a day chosen to celebrate one of our most important leaders (of any race) is reduced to Elisabeth Bummiler's usual sub-standard reporting as she sucks up to the administration and a photo of the Bully Boy in some sort of mating dance with Powell.

They have reduced all that MLK stood for and fought for to one thing: the color of one's skin.
And this from a supposedly social responsible paper? I'm outraged.

[Note, the post above was typed up from Gina's e-mail early Wednesday morning. It was saved to draft for later posting.]


A number of you have e-mailed regarding an organization called Blogpac and begging that The Common Ills not join it.

Don't worry, we won't. I have no idea what the organization is (again, we're all saved my lack of knowledge).

The organziation may be a strong one and it may be worth supporting.

But we don't take talking points from anyone at this site. We come up with our own. Sometimes that's me introducing a topic, sometimes it's you introducing a topic. (Sometimes, it's me introducing a topic that a reader didn't want to bring up on his or her own. So don't be so quick to credit me with a brilliant topic.)

If they're an organization attempting to weigh in and help the country, good for them. And may they have much success. However, a blogger from another site (and not a community member or anyone we link to) e-mailed (what I'm sure was a mass e-mailing to all left sites) about them that we could "find the way to stay on message."

Who's message?

Thanks for the invitation (it's always nice to be invited) but who's message?

At this site, we determine our own message. We don't need talking points or Katherine Graham rapping the table and telling us to bring the conversation "back to the center." (Graham's deceased but the analogy stands. And in fairness to Grahm, she served a meal first.)

The reason we've been able to build this community is because we've followed our own interests in what to discuss. The idea that suddenly a page of talking points would appear and I'll be building an entry off that leaves me cold and I can't imagine it does much for anyone reading such an entry.

Again, if they're trying to help, more power to them.

But the twenty-seven who wrote to express their concern that we might sign up don't need to worry. I do not have the time to look into the organization and determine what they stand for or where the funding, if any, comes from.

We've got our own concerns in this community and they may overlap with some of the concerns of an organization attempting to get people "on message" but many of them won't.

We'll wish them well, but we'll retain our independence. As Jim pointed out in his e-mail, "The rush to the middle road usually results in road kill." Too true.

And though the e-mail promoting blogpac (again, I think it was a spam e-mail) promises "networking" opportunities, we network with another here.

I'm writing this two days ahead of when it will be posted and more e-mails on this group may have come in. But there's no need to worry that we're going to join it. There are organizations that we will permalink to (NAACP and Code Pink will be going up by the end of the month) and we will permalink to various resources.

However, we haven't joined any organizations and have no intention of. The Air America Radio ads for The Nation usually feature Janeane Garofalo saying, "No one owns The Nation." No one owns our Common Ills community either.

And I think it's great that when something like Blogpac comes up, so many of you care enough to start e-mailing about it.

I'd also like to note that Australia says it's fine to identify him, he's Luke. And he has his own web site if anyone would like to check it out: He warns that he does the use the "f-word" from time to time, so anyone viewing at work has been warned.

[Note, this post was written on Wednesday morning and will post later in the week.]

Coming Home

Choosing just one film is difficult and it can be a snapshot of where you were at the time you first saw it or at the time you selected it.

Hopefully, you're already weighing in with your own choice. (The e-mail is

My choice (and let's note that Eli came up with this topic -- thank you, Eli) would be Coming Home.

Briefly, I think the acting is amazing. My favorite scene is when Sally (Jane Fonda) and Luke (Jon Voight) are outside talking about perceptions.

I also enjoy the look of the film and the way music is so much a part of it.

The film looks at the destruction of war and how it impacts the domestic scene. The scenes in the VA hospital are very powerful.

I think it's one of the better films of the seventies and one that still has something to say today.

That's my personal choice. If you haven't weighed in when you read this, please do so. Ideally, a post would go up Friday evening, but it may be Saturday instead.

[Note, this post was written on Tuesday and saved to draft. Thursday, I'm in D.C. for the protests.]

Kat's Korner: Why Does Music Suck So Bad? Part II

Why does music suck so bad?

I dealt with when the problem is you and me in part one. Now we're going to talk about the hacks.

You probably think I mean performers but I'm talking about critics.

Dumb asses with the space to discuss an album that can't or won't because they lack the brains to. They think they're there to give a history lesson (one they don't really understand) and then find a few sentences to talk about the current album.

Prissy (Priscilla) Becker is one of those (she writes for Tracks) but there are many, many more.

Take The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones for instance. I'm looking at The New Yorker's January 17, 2005 issue. The "review" is "When I'm Sixty-Four: Aging Rockers Onstage."
The author is Sasha and he's completely useless.

If there's any life left in music, Sasha's lifeless prose will drain it out. Like Prissy, Sashie is all about "I know everything." Like Prissy, he's more interested in giving us a history lesson (which, by the very nature of a history lesson, removes us further from the reality of the music).
And like Prissy, Sashie doesn't know crap.

Now he runs a blog, Sashie does. And if he made a mistake there, who cares? Seriously. But The New Yorker is infamous for their fact checking. The fact that they let Sashie slide demonstrates that they don't care a damn about music.

Sashie has so many howlers we'll just focus on one:

In 1992, "Everybody Hurts," a dismayingly obvious but affecting ballad, found its way onto the television show "My So-Called Life," and made the band's music ubiquitous.

Sashie's words kill any interest in music. (And wake up if he put you to sleep.) But you have to write in such a self-important manner when you're desperate to pass yourself off as an expert.
Maybe his writing put the fact checker to sleep?

R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" (a great song) did come out in 1992. But it didn't find it's way onto "My So-Called Life" in 1992! It couldn't. My So-Called Life didn't come on until 1994!

Sashie the blowhard wants you to think him an expert (as opposed to someone passionate about music) but he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. And a fact checker should have damn well caught his mistake.

For the record, My So-Called Life did use "Everybody Hurts" in 1994. As did some films that year (1994) (When a Man Loves a Woman, Radio Inside would be two) and other TV shows (including Friends and Party of Five -- both of which have more viewers -- therefore more impact and reach -- than did My So-Called Life).

It's a stupid mistake by a stupid man. That the infamous fact checkers at The New Yorker didn't catch it is embarrassing.

But maybe if Sashie was interested in reviewing and not lecturing, he could tell us something. Instead he wants to present himself as an expert. An "expert" who defended Justin Timberlake's solo album as music!

When trying to justify Justin, Sashie falls into the same trap the New York Times' Kelefa Sanneh fell into: "Critics of this crap are just falling into out-moded thinking that just because they don't make music, these 'artists' aren't artists."

Hey Kelefa and Sashie, if you want to drool over Justin's abs, do so honestly. Don't try to justify the freeze dried crap as music. Music means making music.

Kelefa, to her credit, was trying to address a sexist, racist and homophobic attitude that keeps many real musicians from entering the inner critical circle. But she screws up her argument when she tries to justify mechanical "music" (samples, synthesizers) as real music. I think Kelefa fell into the "I am an expert" trap which led her to believe she understood an argument she went on to bastardize.

It doesn't matter. She's too distant and removed from music (any music) to ever convey to a listener why they should listen to something.

Sashie's the same way.

What's killing music? How about the people who can't write about it. People who think that it's more important to give a history lesson than to weigh in on what they're hearing.

See, they've either lost their enthusiasm for music or they're publications won't let them show enthusiasm. They want distant voices, not passionate ones. (Has the Times ever welcomed passion?)

When you read Ellen Willis (or more recently Ann Powers), you knew what they were feeling.
You understood when they walked you through a song or an album because they cared and they were given the room to discuss.

Over at Rolling Stone, Ed Needham is thankfully gone; however, the change he imposed on album reviews remains. In the latest issue (with Gwen Stefani, looking better than she ever has, on the cover), Rob Sheffield manages to perfectly capture the latest stink bomb from Ashanti. But it's amazing that he's able to do so in what is basically a single paragraph.

Reading the issue, I was happy to see that online voters in the readers' poll were "weighted." Thank you, Jann Wenner. From the bottom of my heart, sincerely. It's a blessing to go through the readers' top ten picks and not feel like I've picked up Tiger Beat by mistake.

But if you want to help a little more, Wenner, how about dropping the Needham instigated Blender-type reviews? Want to help Save the Music without writing a check or showing up at a dinner? Then extend the reviews.

And if a David Wild wants to write a clincial, cold review, ditch it, don't run it. Scheffield can be a real smart ass, no argument here. But he's bringing an attitude and an excitement to his writing that the cold eyes of the Wild will never reflect.

Give the guys and gals room to get exicted in the review section. That'll help music more than any charity event, Jann Wenner.

But the rest of you, the Prissys, the Sashies, the Kelefas, do us all a favor and find something you're interested in to write about. All you do is bore us and make music boring. Start writing about Broadway, maybe, but quit inflicting your boredom upon us. And stop thinking that because you grabbed a few facts online, you're now an "expert" or at least we'll mistake you for one.

Sashie, My So-Called Life had a cult following on ABC. (On MTV, it had a larger cult following.) It wasn't on in 1992. It had nothing to do with the success of "Everybody Hurts." Even if you want to now try to argue that it furthered the song, Party of Five and Friends had more viewers the same year that all three used the song. (And again, in 1994, movies were also using the song.)

You don't know what you are talking about Sashie. You're trying to come off as an expert on things you honestly know nothing about. Why even bother? Your piece ran under "pop music,"
not "histories of human kind." Drop the self-important voice and the random facts you've rushed to find so that you could present yourself as an expert. Instead, why don't you write about the music? If that task is too much for you, or for any of you lame asses writing about music, do music a favor and find something else to write about.

You're lifeless prose drains all the energy out of music. You're killing it and it's time you stopped. Jon Stewart said similar words to the people at Crossfire, I'm saying them to you.

We, as music lovers, aren't blameless (see part one), but you critics that write in a detached manner are sapping the music. Your "history lessons" and presenting yourselves as "experts" does nothing to tell us about the music. Your detachment and distance helps no one.

Self-check and change or, do us all a favor, stop writing about music releases.

Kat's Korner: Why Does Music Suck So Bad, Part I

Why does music suck so damn bad?

I can't tell you how many e-mails come in asking that question.

We all know about the glorification of the Disney Kids. And the consolidation and the corporation that has left us largely as one nation, one radio station isn't exactly news to any of us.

There are two other issues. The first has to do with us and I'm going to address that because we have the power to change it.

Cedric e-mailed me that he went to the barbershop this weekend and what does he get? You probably think I'm asking you to figure out how he wears his hair. I'm not. He walks in and there on the TV is Coach Carter. It's Saturday morning and they're playing a bootleg DVD of a film that opened the day before (Friday).

Cedric writes, "I tried to do the right thing, I walked out."

What's the right thing to do?

I don't know. I do know that if more people see Coach Carter on bootleg DVDs than at the movies, don't whine later on if studios look at the box office returns and decide Samuel L. Jackson is "unbankable."

I mentioned Cedric's quandry to my friend Latrice who said, "That's so disgusting. Our grandparents turned out in droves not just for a film starring Sidney Poitier, but for anything that even had a strong supporting part by a black actor. We have not come far enough that we can start stealing freebies. Halle Berry may have won an Oscar, Denzel may have as well, but if you think about it, there have been only three black stars of the box office since Sidney, Richard Pryor in the seventies, Eddie Murphy in the eighties and Will Smith in the nineties. Are we going to see anyone in this decade? Not if we're buying bootlegs at flea markets and gas stations instead of buying tickets to movies. I could care less if megaconglomerate like AOL Time Warner CNN Disney ABC loses money. I do care when we're ripping off our own futures."

I think we have all ripped off our own musical futures. We didn't mean to. It was there, it was free, we are short on cash, why not grab that download?

I mean aren't the Rolling Stones rich enough? After all these years of huge sales, isn't it greedy for EMI/Capitol to keep charging the same price for Abbey Road (or any Beatles album) as they do for a new release?

The labels are greedy. They are also liars. They told us CDs would bring down the cost of albums as the format became more popular. And that really hasn't happened. So I could care less that they've lost any money.

But if you're living on burned copies, I don't know that you've got any right to complain that music sucks. Forget legality and morality for a moment and just focus on the fact that the album you listen to over and over, that one you put on when you're tired or feeling good, you didn't show any support for it. The label has no record of a purchase and this band that you think it is the greatest thing in the world got one less "vote" because you weren't willing to fork over the almost 20 bucks the labels are asking for.

This isn't boo-hoo for the labels. Like most people I know, I bought the stripped down version of U2's How to Build an Atomic Bomb. The label offered various versions with "bonuses." Bonuses? I could pay an extra ten bucks for some remixes and videos. Pay extra for "bonuses?"
Shouldn't an extra, a bonus, be given freely? I think the labels need to rethink that. If they want to give a bonus (give being the operative word), then they might try enclosing a coupon for a few bucks off your next purchase of a CD on that label. They want to give a bonus? How about an instant saving on these over priced CDs?

But we need to take a long hard look at ourselves as well. A friend of mine has a kid brother who is a total metal head. Carlos loves his Incubus, Slipknot and Rancid. Every album he has by those groups is a burned CD. And it's really hard for me to work up any sympathy for Carlos about labels gouging the customers when I look through his collection and find he's paid for three Shanai Twain albums and for a Britney Spears and a Justin Timberlake among others.

When Carlos can't get a hold of an album and burn it, he will go out and buy it. And what does he pay for? Prepackaged crap.

Carlos is 17 and his biggest beef is that he can't listen to the radio these days because it sucks. It does suck. And who helps it suck, Carlos? You do.

The only time Carlos' music interests registered with the labels were when he bought crap. Incubus, he says, is his favorite band. He brags about having every CD they've ever released. But he didn't buy any of them.

He can only open the wallet for the likes of Twain, Britty and Justy. So when he's complaining that Jessica Simpson is on the radio, he needs to shut his damn pie hole. It's people like Carlos that ensure the labels go looking for the next Britty or Justy. When he's griping that his "rock" radio station won't play Slipknot but will play Faith Hill, he needs to look in his own damn mirror and see what his greed has allowed.

I'm not shedding tears for the labels. All five of them. (Or is four now? Three?) The bootlegging has done one thing positive, it's made Wall Street nervous. If Wall Street gets nervous enough, maybe some of the larger labels will break up and return to be being owned by individuals and not conglomerations? Maybe we could see a Jerry Moss or a Herb Albert making decisions about what music to put out based upon what they actually like as opposed to some demographic study about what will have the best chances of a BK tie in?

Who knows?

And I'm not trying to make anyone feel guilty about what they've done in the past.
But if you're someone who says ___ is my favorite group and you can look through your CD collection and see nothing but burned bootlegs of ____ then I think starting today you need to start putting some economic power behind your support of ____.

Crap will always sell. There's always some great aunt or uncle who'll dash into Target at Christmas time and ask a clerk, "What are the kids listening to? Is it clean or dirty?" and buy it for you based on that. But if you're tired of all the crap from Britty and Justy and Vegas-adult- contemporary passing itself off as country music, quit burning and start buying.

To the labels, all they know of someone like Carlos is that he buys Twain, Timberlake and Twatty, er Britty. Those three "artists" sold. They're going to be looking for other "artists" like those three so they can sell more CDs. The days when an independent label could be a player in the industry are long gone. Now everyone's been absorbed and has a board to answer to. The decisions are not being based on music on any level. There's no Jac Holzman pushing a group that might sell eventually. It's "Did they sell? No, well drop 'em and tell me what did sell? Okay, get me twenty more artists like Britney!"

Today, I doubt Warner Bros., for instance, would carry a Bonnie Raitt as long as they once did. (I believe they dropped her in 1984 when they dropped a number of acts. I'm speaking of the time they carried her when the only "hit" she had was "Runaway.") In the current climate, that drop would have been the end of Raitt. There wouldn't have been a Nine Lives or any of the other Grammy award winning work she went on to do.

If you're reading this and feeling real smug, don't. Maybe you don't burn off copies of your favorite band or musician. Good for you. But that's not where it ends. I was sleeping with a guy I called Silicone Toby and one morning he asks if he can take one of my PJ Harvey CDs to work. Sure, why not?

That evening, he's so proud of himself and thinks I'm going to be thrilled. He's downloaded it to the hard drive of his computer at work and he "probably burned 15 copies today." Silicone Toby pulled down five figures, he and his coworkers could damn well afford to go out and buy an album by PJ Harvey. But music didn't matter, other things mattered. I broke it up with him. (A good call because this so-called Dem later tried to hit up my friends for donations to Ahnuld's campaign.)

So just because you're rightly opposed to burning off copies doesn't mean you have any right to be smug unless you're making sure others aren't copying your CDs. As irritating as Maggie can be with her "borrowing" of CDs (if she borrows from you, she never gives it back, you have to wait until she's drunk off her ass and then liberate it yourself), at least someone like that isn't destroying the sales of real music.

I've got nothing against a mix CD. (Or a bootleg of a concert, but that's another issue.) A mix CD can highlight various artists and various songs and motivate you to go out and buy some music. But if someone gives you a burned copy of a complete album, what does that mean? Are you going to say, "Well I don't have the booklet, so I'll go out and buy it just for the booklet."

Most people won't. And if you're getting this as a gift, you might want to ask yourself how cheap is this giver? She or he gave you a "gift" that basically cost them nothing. What's the Bette Davis line? "I'll admit I may have seen better days . . . but I'm still not to be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut."

Even a mix CD takes some thought and work. Bootlegging a whole album? Why don't you just steal me some flowers as you pass a grave yard while you're at it?

If you're reading this and you truly have no money, I'm not speaking to you. I'm talking to the people who could pick up a check but are grabbing free meals instead.

Music, like therapy, means more when you pay for it. A pushy little Kimberly e-mailed me about the list of albums saying, "I can't believe you didn't put Sheryl Crow on the list! She's taking stands! She's being counted! Her greatest hits album is great that I can't stop burning it for friends! How dare you leave her off!"

Well, Kimberly, there were no greatest hits or best of collections on the list. But if you feel Sheryl Crow is standing up and "being counted" why are you stripping her of potential sales by burning off copies for your friends? I don't know how much the album costs today but I do know it was part of a program by that label to make CDs available at a lower cost. I can go to any music store and find it for less than fifteen bucks. Sheryl Crow's so lucky to have a fan like you who takes time away from burning copies of her albums to dash off an e-mail griping at me about a list.

Out of curiousity, I e-mailed Kimberly (no, I don't respond to most of the e-mail). Exactly how many friends have you "shared" the music of Sheryl Crow with? Kimberly boasted of over fifty.
Kimberly, if there are ten other people like you, that's 500 copies of the album that didn't sell.
If there are a hundred other people like you, that's 5,000 copies. If there are a thousand people like you, that's 50,000. Ten thousand would provide us with 500,000 copies out there that didn't sell.

Get the point, Kimberly? "My" list didn't include best ofs (and no one nominated Sheryl Crow at either party). "My" list didn't provide free copies of her album. "My" list didn't cut into her sales. Maybe none of Kimberly's friends would have bought the album if they'd had to pay for it. But we'll never know. But you can be sure that if the sales didn't meet expectations, someone's in an office somewhere using her as an example to try to persuade some other act to speak out.

People, we gotta draw a line.

Kat's Korner: Wilco's A Ghost Is Born

I always liked Wilco, as a live band. They play real music, they have energy and you get caught up in their enjoyment. But as a recording band, they've always left me, if not unimpressed, unmoved.

My general feeling was, yeah, the Cruzados did that. A long time ago.

Wilco's base is devoted and try saying that in a bar. Only order a shot of whiskey first because you'll need the courage.

As much as I loved them as a live band (which I did and do), as recording artists, they never really made it for me. A few weekends ago, when Maggie was suffering yet another break up and Iwan and I were trying to cheer her up, he puts on A Ghost Is Born. There's no mistaking it for anyone else but Wilco -- almost insulting to say because it's so superior to anything they've ever done.

This isn't a great Wilco album, it's a great album. For the first time ever, the influences don't overwhelm their own output. No longer are a group of boys trying to act like Dean or Brando or Travolta or Leo or whomever's been dubbed by the fickle finger of pop culture fate. These are men rising above their influences and making a statement and sound that is unique only to them.

Yes, it does appear that Tweedy's been listening to Tim Buckley -- specifically Goodbye and Hello. That's something that's escaped all the so-called music lovers who wrote such "knowledge" reviews. (I've had 16 different reviews e-mailed me to by Common Ills members. Thanks for sharing, but not one of those self-important voices knew what they were talking about as they recycled "shout outs" from press kits and past reviews.)

Tweedy's even doing a similar thing to Buckley in terms of range. Check out "Carnival" on Goodbye and Hello and compare it to what Tweedy is doing on "Hell Is Chrome." (I find the music to "Spiders" more similar to the music of "Carnival.") Maybe by going with a less obvious influence, they were able to do something completely different? I mean the number of bands trying to redo Pet Sounds, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's, et al is . . . well, pretty much everyone.

his goal in life was to be an echo
riding alone, town after town, toll after toll
a fixed bayonet through the great southwest
to forget her

she appears
in his dreams
but in his car, and in his arms
a dream could mean anything
a cheap sunset on a television set could upset her
but he never could

The entire album is an echo. Not of Tim Buckley, and certainly not of every band Wilco's been compared to in the past. But it feels like an echo of our own lives. They lyrics are certainly open to interpretation but there's enough there to indicate our own lives.

Snot dripping from her nose and tears streaming down her face, Maggie stopped her wailing long enough to look up and ask, "What's that?"

I'd completely forgotten she was in the room and was so into the music that she had to repeat herself. While Iwan was filling her in, I was wishing I had a headphones on to concentrate on the music.

I bought the CD that same day and I still find myself feeling selfish when people start talking when it's on. There's something so emotionally bare about the music that, if it touches you, makes you want to tell the world to shut the hell up and just listen.

I'm a wheel
I will
turn on you


I'm a wheel, I will
I'm a wheel, I will
I'm a wheel, I will
turn on you

turn on you turn on you turn on you turn on turn

Maybe they've never heard Buckley (though I doubt it) but he achieved that with "Once I Was a Soldier" -- that haunting sound that was part music, part floating space. Call it the anti-wall of sound, but Wilco's got it here. And just when you're floating along and reflecting, the rhythm picks up and carries you a little further. To use sixties jargon, this album is a trip.

And it's one you should book yourself on. Wilco's been the next bit thing for so long, it's easy to turn on them, to look at the state of radio and think, "Why didn't you get it together and send all the posers packing?" It's because we're all so trained to think in terms of who's got the bullet, who's the greatest gainers, who shipped X number of units. As the mind boggles with all those statistics, it's easy to lose sight of the purpose of buying an album. It's not so we can flash the CD to our friends and say, "Got it!" These aren't posters we hang on our walls or jerseys we pull over our heads. This is music.

And maybe Wilco will find the huge audience they deserve at some point and maybe they won't. But this album is solid. And the fact that people have been rooting for them (intensely) for so long may actually help you. There's probably someone you know who has a copy of this. Ask around. Borrow it, give it a listen.

I defy you to listen to "Hand Shake Drug" and not move around the room. Even Maggie had to wipe her nose, get off her knees and start shaking it to that song. There we were in her living room, Iwan, Maggie and me, dancing around, lost in the music. Nodding at one another to the beat.

Maggie begged Iwan to leave the album with her so she could listen some more. Just "borrowing," you understand. But Maggie never returns. I could see Iwan hesitate and I honestly didn't blame him. Feeling anything was better than another tear and sob filled phone call from Maggie, he relented.

But I also wasn't surprised as we were rolling down the road when he announced that we were stopping. He bought another copy, I bought one for myself.

So borrow from a friend, but don't be a Maggie! -- return it, and see if it doesn't move you and speak to you. See if you're not suprised by the music that quietly and gently replaces the drone of "Handshake Drugs" as "Wishful Thinking" comes on. Song after song will surprise you. Speak to you for reasons you might not even realize at first. But A Ghost Is Born will haunt you. Let it haunt you.

the best songs will never get sung
the best life never leaves your lungs
so good you won't even know
you'll never hear it on the radio
can't hear it on the radio

Probably not in most areas of the nation. But you can hear it on your CD player. The news of 2004 was that Wilco finally arrived. They finally turned in their must-have, classic album.
But the news was a whisper. Pass it around softly in 2005 to trusted friends you feel should be "in the know."
The Times must realize how weak they've been all week, they bring out one of the true all stars for this morning's front page: John F. Burns.

Capturing reality, a lost art on the paper's front page this week, Burns easily has the best front page piece all week with "5 Bomb Attacks Kill 26 As Vote By Iraqis Nears."

But Dr. Allawi raised the tantalizing prospect of an eventual American withdrawal while giving little away, insisting that a pullout could not be tied to a fixed timetable, but rather to the Iraqi forces' progress toward standing on their own. That formula is similar to what President Bush and other senior administration officials have spoken about.
Some American military commanders have said privately that with this approach and considering the demoralization, desertion and unwillingness to fight common among Iraqi forces trained so far, American troops could be tied down for years, unless elections or other political developments bring the war to an unexpected end.

I'll also suggest that Mary Williams Walsh's "Talk of Changing Pension Math Raises Concern of Benefit Cuts" appears worth reading. Note the appears. I'm in D.C. for the protests and honoring the "Not a Damn Dime Day" boycott (no spending today). A very nice older woman passed her copy of the paper onto me but part of this article is missing due to something she clipped. Common Ills members would love her -- as she passed the paper on, she noted, "You're welcome to it but honestly it's been useless most of the month."

And useless is Toady S. Purdam. Todd by birth, Toady by choice. "A More Relaxed Laura Bush Shows Complexity Under Calm" doesn't belong on the front page unless it's there to make the writers of Ladies' Home Journal feel like hard hitting journalists. Toady's pretty much useless (obviously angling for an award in next year's review!) but he does pass on that even Laura laughs at Jenna and only finds it more humorous when the laughter humiliates Jenna. Briefly,
Jenna pronounced "Sioux City" as "Sigh-yocks City."

"Don't put that in!" Mrs. Bush said quickly, as her listeners exploded in laughter. "It was so funny. She was totally humiliated."

What a sweet family. And so highly educated. Who knows what other "scoops" sob-sister Toady will unearth in the coming months? Pads or tampons? We all wait breathlessly.

What else is wrong with today's front page?

The Times pushes a poll they were part of. It's November all over again as Adam Nagourney and Janet Elcer once again summarize polling data. Maybe they got it right this time?

It's Thursday morning. The story's on the front page. The polling finished Tuesday night. Which means we're looking at them doing another quick summary.

But even if they got it right this time (don't place any bets), does a New York Times/CBS poll actually make for front page news?

Well, maybe on a day when Toady and the Times think "A More Relaxed Laura Bush . . ." the results of a poll are front page news.

William Glaberson actually brings perspective to the front page of the Times in his "Focus Changes in Terror Case Against Sheik." Make time to read that article.

Martha Stewart fans may be glad to know the company's doing well, but I question "As Martha Stewart Does Time, Flush Times for Her Company" being placed on the front page.

That said, it's the strongest front page all week. And any edition that features the real reporting of John F. Burns on the front page is going to be graded on a curve. The older woman who kindly passed her paper onto me noted Burns and Maureen Dowd as the only things worth reading in this morning's paper.

As a thank you to that woman, we'll note Dowd's op-ed briefly. For those of you who are Dowd fans and always asking that her work be addressed: yes, it's a funny op-ed today. There is a sense of perspective in it sorely missing in the bulk of the paper (as Brad has e-mailed repeatedly). However, how could Dowd (of all people!) miss the most obvious pop cultural ref?
She begins her column by tossing out Lawrence Summer's and his inane (and sexist) remarks that have gotten him in trouble. Dowd using that as a spring board practically demands that she start off with something like: "Sounding like that discontinued talking Barbie ("Math is hard!"), Harvard president Lawrence Summers . . ."

It's the one comparison no one has yet to make and one that I fully expected her to. That said, it's a to-the-point op-ed and one that most of you will enjoy. She's using Summers math comments to explain how the administration's own statements and 'logic' don't add up.

We're not going to now be discussing the op-ed pages but with the strong reporting of John Burns making the front page and the woman who gave me the paper stressing how much she enjoyed Dowd (she quoted a line of the op-ed), I'll break pattern and note the column.

Remember, if you're observing "Not One Damn Dime Day" that means no spending until midnight tonight, your time.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

MLK: "Beyond Vietnam"

A number of you have e-mailed regarding Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech highlighted on Democracy Now!, not "I Have Been to the Mountain Top," but the other one. [Note this post is being written on Tuesday.]

[The link to that Common Ills post is More importantly, the link to that episode of Democracy Now! is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968 .]

The name of the speech is "Beyond Vietnam." Democracy Now! noted this about it:

By 1967, King had also become the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 -- a year to the day before he was murdered -- King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."
Time magazine called the speech "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi," and the Washington Post declared that King had "diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."

Here are some sections of MLK's "Beyond Vietnam" speech:

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only non-Communist revolutionary political force -- the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?
Now there is little left to build on -- save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.
. . .
Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.
This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:
"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."
If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.
The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.
. . .
These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain."
A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

To read the speech in full (and there's much more to it than what I've quoted), please go to: .

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[Note: This post was written early Tuesday morning, right after midnight, and was saved to draft to be posted later.]