Saturday, February 05, 2005

Jimarcus Highlights Harriet Tubman for Black History Month

Jimarcus: I am going to focus on Harriet Tubman who is often called the Moses of the people because of her Underground Railroad work.
In 1819 or 1820 Harriet Tubman was born a fighter but seen only as a slave. As a young girl she refused to help tie up a slave and she was hit in the head resulting in an injury that would cause her pain all her life.
She married a free black man at 25 but still feared for her own freedom. She escaped Canada. Escaping took great bravery and planning. She had assistance from friends in finding safe houses.
St. Catharines in Canada became her home and where she'd do work for the Underground Railroad. She returned to Maryland to bring family members to freedom and she would bring at least 300 additional people to freedom.
During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman served the north as a nurse and as a spy. After the Civil War, Harriet Tubman moved to Auburn, New York where she would work on women's rights and start a home for the poor and elderly.
When she died in 1935 she received a funeral with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetary.
Born a fighter, called a slave, Harriet Tubman proved that with help from others, grace and determination we can overcome many obstacles.

BuzzFlash and Stephanie Miller

I don't see a BuzzFlash "GOP Hypocrite of the Week" for this weekend but you can read or listen to the past ones by clicking on the link.
I'll also add, while searching, I saw that BuzzFlash does radio ads. (Text is provided so it's L,R -- listen or read.)
Friday, I was able to listen to The Stephanie Miller Show from Democracy Radio.
I think she has a great style, a wonderful voice and I'd encourage people to check her show out.
Some of you complain about the comedy bits on Unfiltered (I love those bits) and if you don't enjoy those, you'll probably enjoy Stephanie Miller's show because she's taking calls and commenting on the news of the day.
I'll listen again (hopefully sometime next week) but I believe I've noted before that I'm not a big fan of the call in format. I do think Miller handles calls very well and moves them along quickly so that you're not wishing she'd moved on about thirty seconds before.
I'm not seeing an archive so I believe you have to listen live (Monday through Fridays -- in the morning) or you miss it. If anyone knows of an archive for Miller's program (or for Ed Schultz's) please e-mail the site and we'll note it. [E-mail address is]
Frank in Orlando e-mailed about my taking the day off. I did two posts this morning. I had to meet with a study group today and I also did some volunteering. Saturday's a cleaning day as well. Add in that I've got a number of people over (and had to cook for that) and I realize I've been out of pocket. More posts will go up tonight but probably not for an hour (possibly two). (Our Black History Month highlight for sure. Hopefully, I'll also be able to grab time for the Magazine Report.)
Remember that tomorrow we highlight your picks for best song so if you have a favorite song and you haven't yet weighed in, please e-mail your choice (

Katrina vanden Heuvel on The Chris Matthews Show Sunday

Watch Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel tomorrow on NBC's The Chris Matthews Show. She'll be joining Sam Donaldson and other journalists in a discussion on Bush's plans for Social Security, the Administration's agenda for Iran and Howard Dean's expected election to head the DNC.

The show is broadcast at 11:30am in New York and many other places. Check the link below and local listings for confirmation of air times in your locale.

WNBC's Chris Matthews Show with Katrina vanden Heuvel Sunday, February 6, 11:30am

And check out vanden Heuvel's weblog Editor's Cut, updated many times each week.

Her most recent post, "Deeds, Not Words," makes the case for and details what a progressive alternative to the Bush Doctrine could look like.

And in "The Power of Nightmares," she highlights a new BBC documentary which offers a rigorously documented and credible counter to the conventional narrative of a "war on terror," and asks why is it that no television outlet in the US has yet to broadcast this critically-acclaimed film.

Finally, please visit regularly for new weblog postings; exclusive online reports; the RadioNation AudioBlog; info on nationwide activist campaigns; Nation History offerings; reader letters and special weekly selections from The Nation magazine--this week we're featuring new magazine pieces by Katha Pollitt, Daniel Frosch, Brooke Allen and Richard Goldstein!

The above is a heads up. I've copied and pasted an e-mail. I know a lot of you enjoy Katrina vanden Heuvel's writing and Majority Report appearences (as do I), so I wanted to give a heads up to her appearence on The Chris Matthews Show.

As Denny notes, the New York Times spotlights "perks" for "Top Bosses on Wall St." and buries cuts in health service spending

Denny e-mails about this morning's New York Times noting the article (by Robert Pear) "Bush Budget Calls for Cuts in Health Services."

Denny: Why isn't this on the front page in place of the useless "Working for Top Bosses on Wall St. Has Its Perks?" Is it because the insulated Times doesn't know anyone receiving aid but they rub elbows with plenty on Wall Street? Doesn't a paper have a responsibility to serve the public interest? Isn't that why we had a First Amendment to begin with? I'm beginning to questing the paper's definition of 'fit' in their upper left hand corner slogan: 'All the News That's Fit to Print.' Erika steered me to this site and I find it very useful . . . * Back to the Times, I see that monies for AIDS will increase (as will military spending) and I'm not sure that's a good thing with this administration."

I don't blame you for questioning. In the Days of Gauzy Haze following 9-11 when the Bully Boy couldn't be questioned, there was a rush to proclaim his committment to AIDS spending something worthy of beatification. Not quite and I was lucky enough not to ever sample that Kool Aid. Scrapping existing teachings to stress his abstinence only mantra would have the effect (and I believe we'll see the fall out from this) of confusing the message in cultures we've never (under this administration for sure) bothered to understand or study.

There is a lot of skepticism and hostility, for instance, on the African continent towards our policies and, among some, a belief that we created AIDS to wipe people out. (I'm not weighing in on that, if someone else wants to, feel free. E-mail address is So when we've made some headway in education along comes the Bully Boy to distort and confuse the medical message with his faith-based reality.

We also have seen NGO's with strong histories of effective results be stripped of funds as a result of their science-based, medical-based approaches. To be faith-based (and medically stunted), new organizations would have to be created (and were) and the monies (which were a shell game con, not a true increase in funding) would be wasted.

Saying that in the Days of Guazy Haze meant being met with hostility because we didn't question the Bully Boy and you were usually met with "What have you got against AIDS funding!" So I'll take a moment here to praise Nicholas Kristof (whom we have criticized and ridiculed) for realizing the reality early on and writing at length about it.

But this is just more money wasted by the administration as it attempts to curry favor with the extreme right and ignore scientific, medical realities. If I'm broke-busted, tapped out when I have a flat tire and the Bully Boy gives me money for new rims, that doesn't change the fact that I still have a flat tire. Tossing money around doesn't effectively address the situation.
We've seen that with the administration's war on reality as they've demonized and stripped of funding numerous groups that have been at the forefront of addressing the AIDS crisis globably.
Another point to remember is that the administration can request any amount of money -- that doesn't mean they get it. Congress controls the purse.

Lastly, I'll note that Clamor has an article (not available online) entitled "Infected by Inequality" that's well worth reading. The magazine interviews Alison Katz (social scientist working "on issues of AIDS, poverty, and development") via e-mail and there are some strong points being made.


[Clamor:] What accounts for such high HIV prevalence rates in Africa?

[Alison Katz:] The international health community, which includes UNAIDS and WHO and unfortunately many NGOs who take their cues from them, would have us believe that individual behavior accounts for the high prevalence rates in Africa. Given the enormous differences between regions in prevalence, one might expect that this would be met with disbelief or at least puzzlement. Mostly, however, people don't question the racist notion that black people are "promiscuous." It is so deeply ingrained, and at the same time sex and death are such taboo subjects, that it is rarely scrutinized. Few people stop to think, "Now is that reasonable as an explanation?"
Let us remember that African women face a risk of HIV infection which is 500 to 1000 times greater than European women. That is rather a large difference to explain in terms of African and European male sexual behavior respectively.

If individual sexual behaivor is not responsible what is the explanation?

No one is denying that HIV is transmitted sexually, among other modes of transmission. At an individual level, the only protection is safe sex, condom use, or abstinence. But public health has to address larger questions of vulnerability at the level of populations. Individual behaivour cannot account for the enormous variation between countries. What has to be explained is the very high population transmission rates, the extreme susceptibility to infection, and then extreme infectiousness to others once infected. We need to look at biological vulnerability in terms of weakened immune systems as a result of miserable living conditions -- as we would for any infectious disease. The neglect of this factor is extraordinary and may not be all that innocent either.

That's something we could be addressing. But somehow the Bully Boy's extreme brigade will solve it all by scattering around simplistic slogans. Translation, more money wasted (tax payer money) on what the American Taliban wants at the expense of what medical science tells us is needed.

If I've lost anyone (I know I'm rushing), let's put it another way. You're getting engaged and you've got X amount to spend on a dinner. You put the Bully Boy in charge of planning and spending in his pre-conversion days. Though some guests may be thrilled at the vast amounts of booze offered, many will wonder why, other than a few bags of chips, there's no food at the dinner. Pre-conversion, it was a mistake to trust the Bully Boy with money (as so many who invested in his companies discovered), post-conversion the money is still being wasted.

[Note: Denny said to feel free to quote from his e-mail. I've edited out -- "*" -- his kind words about The Common Ills. Happy to include the shout out to Erika -- a community member whose insight we enjoy. But I didn't want to risk the focus going into self-referential territory.]

"Under the plan President Bush outlined . . . retirees' traditional Social Security benefits would be reduced"

Under the plan President Bush outlined Wednesday night in his State of the Union Message, retirees' traditional Social Security benefits would be reduced if they had diverted some of their tax money into private investment accounts, according to memorandum that the chief actuary of the Social Security system sent to the White House on the day of the president's address.
. . .
In his speech to the nation, the president never said, although it has always been implicit, that workers' retirement benefits from the government would be lowered if they chose to put tax money into personaal accounts.

That's from David E. Rosenbaum's "Memo Gives New Details on Workings of Bush's Social Security Plan" in this morning's New York Times (page A11).

Wendy e-mailed about that article and asked if we could highlight it.

A few notes.

The Bully Boy has spoken about how if you die, you take your benefits/monies with you under the current system. That is, of course, incorrect. (Perhaps it's "implicit" that when Bully Boy's lips move, falsehoods fly out?) Rebecca's blogged on this at Sex and Lies and Screeds and Attitude and probably some of you have also heard Al Franken refute this by noting his wife (Frannie) -- Frannie Franken's father passed away before she was an adult, she and her mother were able to keep their heads above water as a result of the current plan which does provide benefits/monies. (Ron also had a really strong post at Why Are We Back In Iraq? dealing with social security. Use the permalinks to access either site -- I'm in a huge rush this morning and I'm not doing links for this entry.)

But the Bully Boy's built his case around several points and one of the many lies is that you'll be able to "will" your monies to someone in the case that you die.

Who's going to be doing that sort of passing along? It's not you, it's not me. It will effect the same people who push for the end of the estate tax. That small group of overly monied people that the Bully Boy caters to with every round of tax cuts -- so don't be surprised that once again "Lap Dog" (ref to Rickie Lee Jones' song off her latest album) is rushing to help that tiny group while turning his back on the rest of us.

[If you're a community member belonging to that small group, congratulations on having no money worries. Now do something good and think about donating monies to Democracy Now!, Dahr Jamail, The Nation, In These Times, Pacifica Radio, etc.]

As for Rosembaum's claim that this "has always been implicit" -- not in the reporting in the Times. (Where is David Cay Johnson? Shouldn't the Times be assigning him to this story?)

Wendy notes this is "sort of big news, shouldn't it be on the front page?"

The Times doesn't like to break news (this story's already been covered on Air America Radio at length) and they appear to frown more and more on front paging any realities that might embarrass the Bully Boy. Maybe one Sunday, we'll find a serious article as the main story in the Sunday Magazine? That may be all we can hope for as the paper continues its attempt to curry favor with the administration.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Highlighting Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee for Black History Month

Shirley was the first to point out (though Martha, Ben, Billie and Joel also made similar statements) that you can't honor/highlight Ossie Davis without highlighting Ruby Davis as well.
Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis. Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee. Great point. A number of you noted that your thoughts were with Dee and with the children of Davis & Dee.

As Billie noted: "They were a team. They were partners. I'm thirty-nine and I can not remember anyone ever mentioning Ossie without then mentioning Ruby or the other way around. They were hope and they were the dream. They were the examples of what you could do. And what you could have if you really worked at it."

From The Kennedy Center:
They are one of the most revered couples of the American stage, two of the most prolific and fearless artists in American culture. As individuals and as a team they have created profound and lasting work that has touched us all. With courage and tenacity they have thrown open many a door previously shut tight to African American artists and planted the seed for the flowering of America's multicultural humanity. "When Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee were honored by the Screen Actors' Guild with its highest honor, the Life Achievement Award, SAG president William Daniels said: "For more than half a century, they have enriched and transformed American life as brilliant actors, writers, directors, producers, and passionate advocates for social justice, human dignity, and creative excellence."

From the Washington Post:
They're an ageless couple, products of a world of art and protest that seems long gone now.
To hear Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee tell it, the '40s and '50s were beautiful, a time to accomplish things on both the stage and the picket line.

"I had been profoundly influenced by Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson and Langston Hughes," says Davis.
"I'd come from a background in New York of picketing and protesting," says Dee.

From The History Makers:
Davis was born on December 18, 1917, in Cogdell, Georgia, to loving parents and a supportive extended family. Graduating in the top 5 percent of his class with an already burgeoning interest in theater, Davis had to earn enough money before venturing on to college. A year after graduation, with his savings in tow, Davis hitchhiked to Washington, D.C., to live with his aunts. There, he received a National Youth Administration scholarship and enrolled at Howard University in the fall of 1935. At Howard, Davis found a nurturing environment to cultivate both his ideas and his talents. Impatient to try his luck on the stage, Davis left for New York City. It was in Harlem in 1939 that he became involved with the Rose McClendon Players.

From The Cornell Chronicle:
On influences in his life: "Dr. Alan Leroy Locke, the first black Rhodes Scholar, the man who discovered Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, was always on the lookout for talent. I was in his class. He encouraged me to go out to the theater. On April 16, 1939, I heard Marian Anderson at the Lincoln Memorial because she had been barred from singing at Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C. I understood fully for the first time, the importance of black song, black music, black arts. I was handed my spiritual assignment that night."

From The History Makers:
Almost a lifelong New Yorker, Ruby Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace October 27, 1924 in Cleveland, Ohio. Her family soon moved to New York and Ruby was raised during the golden age of Harlem. After high school she attended New York's Hunter College, graduating in 1945. Expressive and literate, Dee was drawn to the theatre while still a college student. Dee acted in small Shakespearian productions and landed a role in the play, South Pacific in 1943. She also began to study with the American Negro Theatre, where she would meet her future husband Ossie Davis. They would fall in love during a cross-country tour of Anna Lucasta.

From Media Relations:
Since meeting on Broadway in the 1946 production of Jeb, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee have excelled as collaborators and as individuals (they married in 1948), and they often broke new ground for African Americans. They made their film debuts in 1950 in No Way Out with Sidney Poitier, then starred together on Broadway in A Raisin in the Sun.

From African American Registry:
In 1946, Davis made his Broadway debut in Jeb, winning rave reviews. He went on to perform in many Broadway productions, including Anna Lucasta, The Wisteria Trees, Green Pastures, Jamaica, Ballad for Bimshire, The Zulu and the Zayda, and the stage version of I'm Not Rappaport. Davis is also widely acclaimed for his role in A Raisin in the Sun (1959) and its 1961-film version, as well as for The Joe Louis Story (1953). In 1961, Davis wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed Purlie Victorious. He has written and directed many films, including Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) and Countdown at Kusini (co-produced with his wife, Ruby Dee,1976), the first American feature film to be shot entirely in Africa by Black professionals. Other Davis credits include Do the Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991), and Malcolm X (1994).

From CBS News' Early Show:
What was her first impression of Ossie Davis? "A country bumpkin," Dee says, laughing. "He was tall and skinny and his clothes didn't fit. His sleeves landed in the middle of his arms and his pants didn't fit him."

From the Washington Post:
"His father, my father, were role models of different sorts," Dee says. "We learned about the importance of being black. You had to amount to something. It wasn't always Robeson, but the little people who pushed us, sensing that there was more to life than their own experiences. They sacrificed. It was an extraordinary and unconditional love."

From The Cornell Chronicle:
On his parent's response to intimidation from the Ku Klux Klan: "Mama took the note up to daddy, and a gun. It was then I appreciated my father as a hero and my mother as a heroine."

From the Washington Post:
He served in the Army with a Negro medical unit that eventually would send him to Liberia. While in the Army, he read plenty of W.E.B. Du Bois and honed his political mind.
"When World War II was over, there was a strong feeling in the country that racism had to be attacked," Davis says. "The artistic community seemed to be leading the way. It wasn't just stories for dramatic purpose, and it wasn't just white folks doing good. It was a series of serious statements made by Americans of what kind of world we would have from here on in. And in that background, there were questions about the Sovet Union and colonization in Africa."

From Howard University:
He was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1994. Mr. Davis is also widely acclaimed for his role in Lorraine Hansberry's award-winning Broadway play, A Raisin in the Sun (1959) and its 1961 film version, as well as for The Joe Louis Story (1953). He has written and directed numerous films, including Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) and Countdown at Kusini (co-produced with his wife, Ruby Dee, in 1976), the first American feature film to be shot entirely in Africa by black professionals. Mr. Davis has also starred in numerous films that address issues critical to African Americans, such as Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991), and Malcolm X (1994).
Mr. Davis most recently appeared in the film, Dr. Doolittle, with Eddie Murphy; Get on the Bus for Spike Lee; I'm Not Rappaport with Walter Matthau; 12 Angry Men for Showtime Network; and on the CBS television series, Promised Land.
Mr. Davis has received innumerable honors and citations, including the Hall of Fame Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement in 1989; the U.S. National Medal for the Arts in 1995; the New York Urban League Frederick Douglass Award; the NAACP Image Award. He is the author of three children's books, Escape to Freedom, which was honored by the American Library Association and the Jane Addams Children's Book Award; Langston; and Just Like Martin.

From New York Living:
What do you miss most about your early years in Harlem?
Mr. Davis: I miss the sense of community and camaraderie. A few things happened to change that: the suburbs, the automobile, and the mechanical means that allows us to exist apart from each other. The shift in power and opportunity from the cities to the suburbs changed things, and the human relationships that were possible in a mixed community where you not only saw the beggar, but you saw the "top cat" walking on the same street-I miss that. Now we have gated communities on one end, and the other end where people are viewed like lepers. But a society can't last if it segregates and splits community on the lines of class. And we're paying an awful price. But maybe we're coming back. People are moving back to the cities, new economic opportunities are being created, but the degree to which people have real roots in the life of the community is still to be determined. There are new things going up on 125th Street, and I think-yes and no. There's a certain inevitability about it, but I don't know how it's going to play itself out. I miss what we had in the past, yet I'm not a romantic or a sentimentalist, and I'd be the last one to say this way back to the past. The future has to embrace a lot of what was in the past to enable us to sustain a life and make a future possible. We need wisdom, reflection, common sense, but I'm not sure we have enough of it at the moment to do the job.
Ms. Dee: I miss when we were on the road and we'd see Lena and Cab-just everybody. We were all on the same circuit. We ate together, and stayed in the same houses. Some were grand places, some were little hotels. Some where magnificent mansions, with velvet drapes, and pictures of all the people who stayed there. It was an extraordinary time, but when hotels were no longer segregated and the entertainers began to stay where they liked, we didn't see each other anymore. It was the end of a good time.
Mr. Davis: Every blessing is mixed.

From the Washington Post:
"The McCarthy years cut so much out from under us," he says.
For a period, they were blacklisted. They survived McCarthyism, though FBI agents trailed them around; they suffered the pain of being out of work, and remained determined to keep raising money for families of lynch victims.
Their politics could be called radical by some standards, constantly challenging the status quo, as they planted their feet on many an occasion to the left of the Democratic Party. Like Robeson, one of their heroes, their astonishing artistic credentials flowed into their political activities.
"They have a political resonance not all artists have," says civil rights historian Taylor Branch. "Ossie delivered the eulogy at Malcolm X's funeral at a time when not many Americans -- even blacks -- knew what to make of Malcolm. And there was Ossie, calling him 'my sweet black prince.' "

[As Matthew Rothschild (editor of The Progressive) noted in his McCarthyism Watch, May 11, 2003, right-wing hatred of Ossie Davis didn't abate.]

From The Daily Texan:
"I think the struggle is one of the reasons we live," Dee said. "I think the struggle brings us dignity, gives us a weakness before we can make sense of our existence."

From "A free-wheeling conversation with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee" (Hartford Web Publishing):
"After all," Dee mocks the dated stereotypes, " 'African-Americans don't do ballet or play tennis or golf.' Critics still see blacks as 'the other,' an 'exotic.' What amazes me are the critics' audacity and lack of humility in response to other people's cultures. There's a bedrock of meanness and a tone of superiority."
Davis sees the "critics' cultural bias" as part of a larger problem. "Criticism used to be an art practiced by educated people. Now you don't know what any of them are looking for in anything."
Both Dee and Davis make the point that racism is, for the most part, much subtler-and therefore more difficult to combat--than it used to be. "Years ago, it was personal. Someone was a racist and you could address that," recalls Dee. "Now you have people-and these include friends of ours whom we like and respect-who don't see themselves as racists. They don't have racist ideas. But because they are in some ways the beneficiaries of racism-they are racists!" Interestingly, neither has found ageism-and for Dee sexism-too problematic. Dee says she has been restricted in the roles available to her because she is an African-American, but being a woman is ultimately more defining to her. "Wherever I go, I'm a woman." She adds, "When I was doing voice-overs years ago, the only producers in the room were white men. Now you see as many women and quite a few are women of color."

Ossie Davis on art and race (The First Amendment Center):
For me, yes. It — the arts, for the black community, were always a form of our politics, our protests. I would imagine — and I tell people this sometimes — that when we were slaves, you know, huddled in the work camps and all, there must have been times when the old master sent down to the slave quarters and said, "That gal who was singin' as I crossed the field — the senator's coming tonight; get her up to the house." And that girl would be taken and bathed and put on her best clothes. She'd come to the house, she'd sing, and the master would be absolutely ecstatic. The senator would be smiling. So, out of the fullness of his heart, he would say to her, "Ah, you done good, gal. What can I do for you? What do you want to show my appreciation?" And then she would say, in addition to a few things for herself, "Well, if we could have some corn that didn't have bugs in it or if we had a place where the water didn't come in the roof, we sure would feel better." So, our arts were always, from the very beginning, a means of protest. It was the one way we had where we were free to truly declare that we were human beings and not cattle. So, art was always very political for us. And, when I came into the theater, the people who were most important to me were the heroes of the theater at that time — Paul Robeson and Canada Lee and Lena Horne. And they were all a part of the struggle. So, I came in at that level and sort of joined the theater and joined in the struggle. And they were always, and still are, in my mind, intertwined in my experience.

Ruby Dee's career highlights noted by the AARP:
Award-winning stage performances include Boemsman and Lena; Wedding Band, for the NY Shakespeare Festival; Long Day's Journey into Night; Agamemnon; and The Glass Menagerie. She and Davis hosted The Forgotten Cinema, the African Heritage Movie Network series of Black film classics, for five seasons.
Dee's book, My One Good Nerve, is a compilation of her short stories and poems and is also the title of her solo performance; she is working on volume two. She and Davis wrote a joint autobiography, With Ossie and Ruby: In this Life Together.
Dee and Davis have produced several television specials including Martin Luther King: The Dream and the Drum; A Walk Through the 20th Century with Bill Moyers; and the critically acclaimed series, With Ossie and Ruby. In 1995, Dee and Davis were recipients of the prestigious National Medal of Arts Award, bestowed at the White House by President and Mrs. Clinton. They are both longstanding political activists.

Arts and activism from Jim Crow History:
Racial prejudice ushered Dee into what she calls "the Struggle" or working for racial equality. Toward that effort, and, occasionally under threat of losing her job, Dee has held membership in the NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Her name has appeared on letterhead for committees supporting the Black Panthers and Angela Davis and she has been acquainted with a number of late twentieth century notable African-American leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Dee has written several plays and musicals and has published a book of poetry, My One Good Nerve. She has received numerous awards among them an Emmy, ACE, and Drama Desk Award as well as a Presidential Medal for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts in 1995. Dee and Davis live in New Rochelle, New York.

From ACLU News Winter 2001:
Author, activist and U.C. Santa Cruz professor Angela Davis presented the Earl Warren Award to Davis and Dee. "They have been associated with literally every progressive movement for justice and peace for #at least # the last fifty years," Davis said. "How auspicious it is for us to gather at this time when civil liberties is under attack, to honor these two people. Never have we had to worry that Ossie and Ruby would be frightened away from anything!"

Ossie Davis speaking of MLK (from The University Record):
"Martin said it to us loud and clear," said Davis. "We must either live together as brothers or perish together as fools. Shall we be brothers? Shall we be fools? The choice is up to us.
"I look for those who will say to themselves, 'Yes, yes, yes, this is what we must do, even at the cost of lives for some of us. We mustn't be impatient. We mustn't be in too much of a hurry. We must give time, time to do its work. For us, we need to be in a stand by mode. Ready when the call comes to pick up the knapsack, rejoin the line and march."
"We can't afford to let Martin go just yet," said Davis. "There’s juice in the old man that we’ve still got to have access to." The life of King, according to Davis, is a model of leadership. It shows the "craft of being in a position to help lead people to a fairer and more just society."

Davis eulogizing Malcolm X (from Hartford Web Publishing):
I say the word again, as he would want me to: Afro-American -- Afro-American Malcolm, who was a master, was most meticulous in his use of words. Nobody knew better than he the power words have over minds of men.
Malcolm had stopped being a Negro years ago. It had become too small, too puny, too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that. Malcolm had become an Afro-American, and he wanted -- so desperately -- that we, that all his people, would become Afro-Americans, too.

Davis on Mumia Abu-Jamal (Socialist Action):
After spending almost two hours with Mumia Abu-Jamal on death row at State Correctional Institution Greene in Waynesburg, Pa., on May 12, Ossie Davis called for a new trial for Mr. Jamal and released the following statement:
"It was an extraordinary visit because I was dealing with, I think, an extraordinary man. There was a talent that I respected because I had read his writings before. But in conversations I became aware that this was a deeply spiritual human being who was capable of love, and that love was wide enough to embrace even those who would kill him.
"That's not always the case when you are dealing with somebody who is a prisoner. As we talked, I became conscious of those many things in our past as Black people that have been imposed upon us, but which we've overcome. Asking ourselves how was it, how did we overcome slavery, how did we overcome Jim Crow, how did we overcome lynching."

Davis on the Iraq war and the administration (from Editor's Cut -- blog of Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation.):
"One reason the Right rolled over us in these last months," Davis declared, "is that it controlled the definition of patriotism with television, images, language. I'd like our fellow hip-hoppers to come up with our own definition of patriotism. No stiff declarations, please. We can use humor. Raise tough questions. Expose the corruption and absurdity of those who say if you didn't support the war you're unpatriotic. We can be clever too--use a song, a joke or an argument to define true patriotism--so it speaks to brothers on the street, in jail, in the military. We have to do it. People in Congress ain't going to do it for us."

[Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were both Associates of The Nation.]

From Democracy Now!'s Maya Angelou, Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee Pay Tribute to Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party :
OSSIE DAVIS: For African Americans in the South at mid-century, the injustices had become routine.
RUBY DEE: If you were thirsty, you had to go to a water fountain for colored people. And you had to hope that that fountain was working. And it wasn't broken.
OSSIE DAVIS: If you needed a ride, you had to move to the back of the bus. And even if you could afford to travel by car, you had to drive miles out of your way to find a hotel that would take you. Long terrifying miles down dark country roads, patrolled by the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.
RUBY DEE: And you had to hope that the single bare light bulb in your motel room hadn't burned out. And if you went to school, you had to get used to learning the same thing every year because your district had only one teacher.

From The Kennedy Center:
"Intensely committed they are to the idea that art and politics are inseparable. They both firmly believe that the arts have the capacity to make viewers more human and teach them, at least on some level, how to live (Stagebill)." Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee have been teaching us how to live all our lives.

From ACLU News Winter 2001:
Dee closed her remarks with a dramatic, optimistic recitation of her own composition "The Dream Droppers," ending with the lines:
From time to time though

I sneak a peak around a corner
To see if one of those explosive ethereal
Dangerous aspirations
Takes hold, stays alive.
Because every now and then
A dream does put on flesh, stands tall
And walks!
A dream does happen every once in a while, you know.

Additional resources:
Democracy Now! will have a tribute to Ossie Davis in their February 7, 2004 show.
Indiana University has a great interview (listen only) with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee (January, 2002).
NPR's Morning Edition also has an interview with Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis that you can listen to (March, 2001).
A list of plays written by Ossie Davis can be found at
Ossie Davis joined U.S. Congress Representative Maxine Water in speaking out against the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Ruby Dee can heard in A Pacifica Radio Special: Ruby Dee & Others Read John Hersey’s Hiroshima (August, 2003) via Democracy Now!.
Internet Broadway Database offers a listing of Ruby Dee's Broadway credits. has a MP3 of an excerpt of Ruby Dee reading from Zora Neale Hurston's Mules and Men.
A 2001 interview with Ruby Dee can be found at The Diane Rehm Show.
The Center for Black Culture Leadership Awards gives out a Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis award.
MP3s of Ossie Davis reading Langston Hughes can be found at Internet Multicasting Service.
WoMo (Women's Monthly) has a nice feature article on Ruby Dee.
Danny Schechter has an article at AlterNet about a documentary (on African-Americans being denied the right to vote in 2004) narrated by Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis that PBS refused to air.
Ossie Davis was among the signers of the Not In Our Name petition.
Amy Goodman interviews Davis as "Millions Protest Around the World, Hundreds of Thousands Protest in NYC" (2003).
"Black Entertainers Honor Actors, Reflect On Impeachment" (from Democracy Now!) notes the celebration of "the 50th wedding anniversary of actors Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis at a community theater benefit in New York."
Ossie Davis can also be heard in Democracy Now!'s N.Y. Celebration Remembers Paul Robeson.

[Note: This post has been corrected -- typos and font errors -- that I caught in a quick read. I'm sure there are more.]

Danny Schechter: Media Dissector (and Ned Martel: Disinformation Guru/Prat)

We've linked to Danny Schechter's Media Dissector (thanks Billy for the making the case for the link -- you were right).

Media Dissector is something I visit often. We do "community member spotlights" (or whatever they're called) and the reason for that is primarily Ms. Magazine. At a time when so many publications were doing these paragraph or two excerts from letters to the publication, Ms. ran full letters and (as I've noted before) the letters in Ms. could frequently be articles.
Ms. has smart readers who are aware. And it built a sense of community if you were a Ms. reader.

But, as Billie (not Billy) pointed out, Danny does a section in each daily blog where he notes e-mails from readers. That probably also impacted the decision to highlight your voices.

What I responded to in Danny's blog was that he wasn't afraid to take on anyone who got it wrong. He truly dissects the media. But it's not just in a campaign sense or a domestic view.
He's interested in the international community and I really responded to that in his entries.

In the dark days of being new to online resources, I had Media Wh*res Online (now gone) , Bartcop and Media Dissector. Between Bartcop and MWO, I learned of BuzzFlash. These were important voices to me. MWO or Bartcop (or a combo) led me to The Daily Howler which became another important voice.

I don't claim to be a computer "expert" or an online guru. I was lucky enough to be tipped off and that's what I hope we'll do here. That we'll share resources. Cedric might know a site that you or I don't. Sally might suggest something that some of us didn't know was out there. And we need to share with one another because there's not "one voice."

You saw the lists of books and the list of movies. (Remember, Eli's suggested we pick our favorite song -- that's one song -- and that will hopefully be going up Sunday.) With the movies, over a hundred community members weighed in and wanted to be quoted. Look at that list and look at the various films on it. What meant the world to one person, might not to someone else.
But maybe you saw a film on the list you'd never heard of or had heard of but never seen and you watched it and thought, 'That was pretty good, I really liked it."

That's what we do here, we share, we pool resources. And you might not care for BuzzFlash (I can't remember anyone complaining about BuzzFlash which is why I chose it for this example), but someone else might. And to repeat again, we never ever want to be in a position of feeling that we are alone, that we're the only ones who feel that way. (We've discussed this at length and recently quoted Noam Chomsky on this issue.) We don't need to feel we're in the wilderness all alone.

So with that in mind, I would urge you to check out Danny's blog. It's one of my favorites (friends can attest it's one I often e-mail out). He's an important voice and firmly believes in justice -- that's media justice, that's social justice.

And when I saw that review in the New York Times today, I wanted to leave work, come home and tear the Times a new one. (Thanks to Kara and Roy for the heads up because the arts section is so consistently disappointing that I often don't even bother to read it lately. I wouldn't have seen the "review" without your heads up.)

Let's talk about the "review."

Ned Martel's "Turning a Critical Lens on Television News" truly disgusted me. Not because he didn't like the movie. I loved WMD. But maybe it didn't speak to Martel. That's fine. He's entitled to say so. But he's not allowed to get it so wrong in the "paper of record."

It seems that the media gadfly Danny Schechter took one look at "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Roger and Me" and thought to himself, "I can do that."

Does it seem that way to you, Martel? WMD apparently is new to you. It's not new to me. I may have seen it prior to Moore's film. (That time period is a blur of activity.) It's "new" to you because it finally opened in New York City. But you reveal a huge ignorance if you truly think Schecter saw Farenheit 9/11 and quickly assembled a film -- and ignorance of both the history of WMD itself and an ignorance of the "pipeline" aspect of film making.

(Of course Martel uses "seems.")

Martel's b*tchy writing is a little surprising popping up in the Times (his use of the term "self-anointed" is the sort of 'b*tchy' writing that one expects from John Simon).

We've dealt with Martel's gross ignorance of Schechter's work (decades) highlighting the problems in South Africa (at a time when the Reagan administration wouldn't even impose sanctions). Had Schechter spotted Nelson Mandela, chances are they too would have greeted one another warmly. But Martel's ignorant of Schechter's work and he embarrasses himself with a cheap shot that not only reveals his ignorance, but also makes you question whether he caught the entire film.

I want to focus on the final paragraph because it goes to a huge problem with the New York Times:

Mr. Schechter's final conspiracy theories are thinly supported, as he accuses the networks of softening coverage to advance the deregulatory goals of corporate parents. He asserts that powerful media leaders identify with powerful government leaders. Then as evidence, the film quotes the CBS anchor Dan Rather offering "the benefit of any doubt" to the White House and the Pentagon, just after Sept. 11, 2001, although that was obviously not the entire history of Mr. Rather's relationship with the Bushes.

"Conspiracy theories" is a favorite catch phrase for the gatekeeper of record. And it's probably not a good time for Martel to be coming off like a gatekeeper.

We could talk about the Times' lack of coverage of Metro Boston or we could talk about Starbucks & the Times. But let's focus on another issue.

Have you checked out the latest edition of Extra!?

"The Emperor's New Hump: The New York Times killed a story that could have changed the election—because it could have changed the election" by Dave Lindorff is a story worth reading.

Not only did the Times kill the story but they went out of the way to gloss over it after the fact.
Yes, people, that means it was time to send in the Elite Fluff Patrol squadron leader: Elisabeth Bumiller. Read the article. Find out that reporters researched the issue, wanted to run the story, but it got killed. More importantly, after it was killed, EFP squad leader rushes in with her usual fluff.

The Times may very well have felt it was "too close" to an election to run a damaging story. I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case (they don't break news). But it's not just that they killed off the story, it's that fluffed up the truth via Bumiller (among others). After they knew the truth, they were still fine with printing untruths.

What sort of term did they toss around for those commenting (elsewhere, of course, not in the paper of record) "bulge gate"? "Political conspiracists." They just love that term at the Times whenever something makes them uncomfortable. They really glom on it. (They're not the only ones. Another post tonight will deal with that.)

Let's highlight the Elite Fluff Patrol squadron leader (as noted in Extra!):

The only subsequent reference to the bulge was a light post-election piece by Times Washington reporter Elizabeth Bumiller (11/8/04), who cited the anonymously sourced Hill story saying the bulge was body armor (an odd decision by the Times, which officially frowns on unidentified sources even for its own pieces). She reported that the White House tailor was miffed at having earlier been blamed for the bulge by the White House.

But she didn't report what the paper's own reporters (John Schwartz and Andrew Revkin) believed, did she?

Martel's rush to toss stones only makes WMD more impressive. The Times generally only rushes over to slam the gate when they're quaking in their timid booties.

Let's quote from Martel's paragraph above one more time:

He asserts that powerful media leaders identify with powerful government leaders. Then as evidence, the film quotes the CBS anchor Dan Rather offering "the benefit of any doubt" to the White House and the Pentagon, just after Sept. 11, 2001, although that was obviously not the entire history of Mr. Rather's relationship with the Bushes.

Schechter, according to Martel, "asserts the powerful media leaders identify with powerful government leaders. Then as, evidence, the film quotes the CBS anchor Dan Rather . . ."


Does it now?

Martel apparently slept through the first part of the movie (Danny's reporting on South Africa is mentioned early on) but Dan Rather's quote? Does it really come after such a suggestion?

Shall we go to the final script of WMD? (Yes, we shall.)

Danny v.o.: Much of the coverage fueld demands for retaliation [9-11 coverage]. There was often more debate in the streets than on TV. Many networks said they didn't want to get ahead of public opinion, or be baited as soft on terrorism.

[This voice over goes on over a protest at Ground Zero.]

Activist: The same hatred that killed so many people.
Woman: They don't love me and I don't love them, okay.
Activist: Love thy neighbor?
Woman: They don't love me and I don't love them.
Activist: Well I love them.

Danny v.o.: This confrontation at Ground Zero in New York shows what happened when a peace activist called for global understanding:

Older woman: What about us? Do you care about every human being here?
Young man: It's September 11, you're at Ground Zero.
Young woman: If they do something to us, we're not going to nothing back? We're not going to do nothin' back?
Activist: They didn't do anything. Iraq did not do sh*t to America.
Activist: So you're saying it's okay to kill innocent people.
Another man: Listen. If it's for a better good. Let's do it.
Third man's friend: Yeah I volunteered. You know why?
Third man's friend: "To keep your ass free." To keep your hippie ass free, he puts on the line.

Peter Arnett: Don't forget the American media is based in NYC. Every reporter in NYC saw the World Trade Towers collapse -- they took it personally. There was a sense of revenge and fear, and that was reflected in the coverage of Afghanistan War and the War on Terrorism.

Dan Rather: We may be wrong in some of the things we pass along . . .

Danny v.o.: CBS's Dan Rather September 22, 2001: "I am willing to give the president and the military the benefit of any doubt."

Peter Arnett: As we moved into Iraq, a more pre-emptive strike, the media maintained this sort of romance, you might say, with government.

Eric Alterman: But the fact that they allowed the Bush administration to manipulate the truth so grossly and so nakedly in the run up to the war made the war possible.

A romance, suggested by Arnett, is not "identify"ing.

My thesaurus doesn't suggest an equivalence. (For Martel's benefit, "thesaurus" isn't a sex toy.)
Maybe it's a slip, a confession, on Martel's part? Maybe Martel's one sided romance feels more noble to him when he calls it "identifying?"

Regardless, he doesn't know what he's talking about.

He's slamming for the sake of slamming.

And his self-importance may be so great that he may assume that since it just opened in NYC, he can get away with it. It's not a movie (or a play) until it debuts in NYC, apparently.

But Maria saw the film and e-mailed this:

He's not reviewing the film I saw. I don't know what he saw. But it was not Weapons of Mass Deception because he has lied about the narrative. Why does he have to lie? Why does the paper have to print this? A student showed me this review and she was so upset. She said, "He's just lying." You mentioned how the spin on the poll about students not trusting the media was that it was the result of Rush Limbaugh and others. That is spin, you are right, the reason they don't trust the media is because they do these petty, mean spirited, lie based reviews. What the media fails to grasp is how fast information travels now and that people no longer fail to notice when they're being lied to or managed. This isn't a review, this is an attack.

That's exactly what it is. And I would urge everyone to see this film because when a reviewer for the Times is so bothered by a film that he has to lie about it in print, that's a sign of how powerful the film is.

By the way, Dan Rather's quote? It's from September 22, 2001. Here he is (from the BBC) on June 6, 2002 on why the media doesn't ask the tough questions:

It's an obscene comparison but there was a time in South Africa when people would put flaming tyres around people's necks if they dissented. In some ways, the fear is that you will be neck-laced here, you will have a flaming tyre of lack of patriotism put around your neck. It's that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions and to continue to bore-in on the tough questions so often. Again, I'm humbled to say I do not except myself from this criticism.

Read that quote again because Charlie Rose got his panties in a wad when Amy Goodman quoted it on The Charlie Rose Show. He told Goodman "It's wrong to impugn their integrity." To which Goodman responded, "I was just quoting Dan Rather." [Exception to the Rulers, pp. 163-167.]

So read it to make sure you're more informed than Charlie Rose (who didn't "doubt" the quote, didn't "question" Goodman's "source"). And read it again to make sure you are apparently more informed than Martel who feels that something's left out by Danny quoting Rather ("the entire history").

Martel's a prat and his work can be found online at Rotten Tomatoes. Somehow, that's rather appropriate.
Disclosure, I've met Danny Schechter.
Community members know I'm dyslexic so they won't be surprised that he's referred to as "Danny" so often. (When I type Schechter, I have to stop and study to make sure I got it right.)
The script for WMD can be found at ColdType online. Along with many other articles and books and thanks to Maria for passing that on in an e-mail today.
The Daily Howler and BuzzFlash are permalinks. WARNING LANGUAGE FLAG coming up -- Bartcop isn't (yet). There may be language issues or photo issues if you're viewing it in a work place environment. You've been warned about the language, but otherwise check it out to see if it's something that speaks to you.
Lastly, there's no great writing in this post so focus on the points and rewrite in your heads. My stomach truly is hurting and I'm kind of hoping when I hit "publish post" that it will release all the turmoil I feel over Martel's ill informed review.
[Note: This post has been corrected for some -- though not all -- grammer and spelling errors. As always, thanks go to Shirley for catching them.]

General Note

My stomach's killing me. It's been that kind of a day. I'm not sure when the e-mailed post finally went up. But I'll be working on a post on Danny Schechter and possibly one other (magazine report) thing before doing the post on Ossie Davis so there's still time to weigh in (at
Oh, I also didn't listen to Ed Schultz today. Sorry. Thirty minutes before he came on, I found out I was supposed to be at a meeting across town that had already started. My apologies to anyone who was expecting a post on that tonight. (I did listen to Stephanie Miller today and I'll blog on that.)

Democracy Now!: Tort Reform: The Big Payoff for Corporations; Soaring Medical Costs, Elliott Abrams, Paul Robeson; Ossie Davis; Times slams WMD

Democracy Now! "always worth watching" as Marcia points out.

Headlines for February 4, 2005

- Gonzales Confirmed As Attorney General in 60-36 Vote
- Lieberman Among Six Democrats Backing Gonzales
- ACLU Calls For Special Counsel To Investigate Torture
- Rice: Attack On Iran is "Not on the Agenda at This Point"
- CNN: U.S. Knew About Embargo-Breaking Oil Sales in Iraq
- U.S. Ambassador Calls for Renewed Military Ties With Indonesia
- Democrats Call Social Security Privatization "Immoral"
- School Bars Peace Groups From Distributing "Antimilitary" Material
- Los Angeles DA Won't Prosecute Officer in Rodney King-Like Beating
- Granny D Hospitalized in New Hampshire

Tort Reform: The Big Payoff for Corporations, Curbing the Lawsuits that Hold them Accountable

In his State of the Union address, President Bush urged lawmakers to rewrite tort law rules to do away with class action lawsuits. We take a look at medical malpractice with Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy. [includes rush transcript]

Study: Soaring Medical Bills Account for Half of All U.S. Bankruptcies

A new study in the journal Health Affairs has found that half of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are now caused by soaring medical bills. We speak with the author of the report, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler. [includes rush transcript]
Bush Taps Iran-Contra Figure Elliot Abrams to Promote Democracy

President Bush promoted Elliott Abrams to be his deputy national security adviser. played a key role in the Iran-Contra scandal and pleaded guilty in 1991 to withholding information from Congress. We speak with veteran investigative journalist Robert Parry who exposed Iran-Contra in the 1980s.
Black History Month Tribute to Paul Robeson

In this first week of Black History month, we pay tribute to the great actor, singer, athlete, scholar: Paul Robeson. We hear a recording of Robeson, courtesy of the Pacifica Radio Archives.

A number of you have e-mailed regarding this:

Actor Ossie Davis found dead in hotel

By Hillel Italie, Associated Press Writer
Ossie Davis, an actor distinguished for roles dealing with racial injustice on stage, screen and in real life — and perhaps best known as the husband and partner of actress Ruby Dee — has died at the age of 87.
Davis was found dead on Friday in his hotel room in Miami, where he was making a film called "Retirement," according to Arminda Thomas, who works in his office in New Rochelle, N.Y.
. . .

We'll highlight Ossie Davis tonight. If you have any comments you'd like to make, the e-mail address is

Here's a link to the New York Times obit: Ossie Davis, 87, Actor
And Kara and Roy have already e-mailed about this story in the arts section of today's New York Times:
Turning a Critical Lens on Television News by Ned Martel

It's a slam job by an uninformed "reviewer." Martel (and the Times?) seems very bothered by Danny Schechter's film WMD. Which leads Martel to provide his ignorance such as here:

He embraces a startled Archbishop Desmond Tutu at a peace rally, and there's a suggestion that the two had met in past media moments and that his sense of journalism includes fandom.

Uh, yeah, they have met. Many, many times. But Martel knows nothing about this. He parades his ignorance throughout the slam passing as a review.

Here are some links because God forbid any of us end up as ignorant as Martel (or the editor that let this piece sail through):

Globalization & Human Rights:Un-Cut Interviews:Desmond Tutu --1998 interview
Little Steven Online about the Sun City project -- as in, "I ain't gonna play Sun City"; excerpt from Schechter's book THE MORE YOU WATCH THE LESS YOU KNOW
Do you Yahoo!?Yahoo! Search presents - Jib Jab's 'Second Term'
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Amy Goodman's appearence schedule for this weekend

Amy Goodman's Exception to the Rulers tour continues and here are appearences for this weekend:

2/4: Sarasota, FL
2/5: Bradenton, FL
2/6: New York, NY

And remember this from Wednesday:

This Sunday, Amy Goodman, Dahr Jamail (via sattelite) and others will be at Joe's Pub:

Sunday February 6
7:30 PM $20

On February 6th, while much of America will be watching the Superbowl, leading organizers and voices of the antiwar movement in America will gather at Joe’s Pub in The Public Theater for an inspiring evening of testimonies and performances to renew the spirit of peace. Iraq Veteran, former Marine Sgt. Jimmy Massey will read from his memoir "Cowboys From Hell," describing the indiscriminate killing of civilians during the invasion that lead to the chaos now engulfing the country of Iraq. United For Peace and Justice Director Leslie Cagan will speak on directions for the peace and justice movement. Host of Democracy Now! Amy Goodman will lead a conversation with acclaimed independent journalist Dahr Jamail via satellite live from Baghdad, on the elections and current conditions. America’s two most prominent Iraqi-American artists, pop/folk musician and Artemis Records recording artist Stephan Smith, who’s being hailed as “this generation’s Woody Guthrie,” and playwright-actress Heather Raffo, whose play “Nine Parts of Desire,” depicting the plight of women in war torn Iraq, is receiving widespread acclaim, will perform. Other guests are being confirmed. A live conversation with a doctor currently working in one of Baghdad's main hospitals is also planned. And surprise guests.
For more information, go to the web site for Joe's Pub ( and one more time, it's this coming Sunday.

Felicity Barringer's "E.P.A." Accused of a Predetermined Finding on Mecury" is buried inside the paper (page A13)

While Judy Miller's grudge-f---ing the UN one more time, anyone else noting Felicity Barringer's story inside the paper? "E.P.A. Accused of a Predetermined Finding on Mercury"
seems more than worthy of the front page.

Here's the opening paragraph:

The Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general charged on Thursday that the agency's senior management instructed staff members to arrive at a predetermined conclusion favoring industry when they prepared a proposed rule last year to reduce the amount of mercury emitted from coal-fired power plants.

Barringer's story even includes the remarks of two senators (John Kerry and "outraged by the outrage" James M. Inhofe).

So why isn't this on the front page?

Let's see . . . EPA, mercury poisoning . . . Seems kind of big. So why is it buried inside the paper when Miller's on the front page along with John Markoff and Nat Ives writing the world shattering (I'm sure) "Web Search Sites See Clicks Add Up to Big Ad Dollas."

Guess we're back to the 'matter of emphasis.' Certainly isn't a "public service" issue since obviously Barringer's story trumps another fluff piece regarding "there's money to be made on the net!"

Judith Miller's been on the UN beat since June of 2004 but still can't grasp the story

Judith Miller (with Warren Hoge's assist) is off the chat circuit (where she attempts to build sympathy) long enough to pick up her axe and go after the UN again with a front page story in this morning's New York Times entitled "Inquiry on Food-for-Oil Plan Cites U.N. Diplomat for Conflict."

We've dealt with Miller's reporting "style" before [see "Parody: Rudith Miller weighs in on journalism and Judith Miller's front page story in this morning's Times"] but let's note something else, Miller's working that rolodex, at least on the Republican side:

Representative Henry J. Hyde, the Illinois Republican who is the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said in a statement that the report painted a picture of "mismanagement, neglect and political manipulation that resulted in significant corruption of the oil-for-food program."
"I am reluctant to conclude that the U.N. is damaged beyond repair," he said, "but these revelations certainly point in this direction."
A similar, but even harsher reaction came from Senator Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican and chairman of the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations, who called on Mr. Annan to lift Mr. Sevan's diplomatic immunity immediately. "The report shows that he repeatedly lied to investigators, has misled the inquiry about the source of $160,000 in cash deposits and unethically steered oil-for-food contracts to close associates and lied about those relationships to authorities," he said.

But there's a side the Miller and the Times refuse to seriously address (and Miller's been on this beat since June of 2004).

Joy Gordon appearing on Democracy Now! December 3, 2004:

In fact, what's crucial here is to make a distinction about the different entries within the U.N. There's a difference between the Security Council and the Secretariat, and many of the policies that permitted the smuggling and kickback to take place were, cannot be laid at the feet of the Secretary General. They are the policies of the Security Council and the Secretary General has no control over the Security Council. And if we look at the claim that the U.N. failed to catch contracts with pricing irregularities, well again, that goes to the Security Council whose job was to review all of these contracts and if we look at the policies and the failures of, that are now being laid at the feet of the United Nations, many of them, in fact, are due not only to the Security Council but to particular members within the Security Council. For many of these things, the policy for example that allowed the Iraqi government to choose who it would trade with, well that was a Security Council Resolution 986 in combination with a Security Council-approved memorandum of understanding. And the member states, including the United States, were in support of that. If we look at the committees, if we look at the Council's failure to block contracts with pricing irregularities, and it was the Security Council's responsibility, not the Oil-For-Food staff, they did not have the authority to block contracts, only to present information to the Security Council, then in fact what we see is none of the members of the Security Council, including the United States, chose to block contracts where there were obvious price irregularities, even when U.N. staff presented that information with documentation to them.

Key element to the story. One that Miller and the Times don't appear willing to address or even acknowledge.

While you hear from the Republican sources, remember no one in Miller's article is noting what Gordon has "Meanwhile, all of the major policies that allowed the smuggling and kickbacks to occur were those established by the Security Council -- with the approval and participation of the United States. It was the Security Council -- including the U.S.-- that allowed Iraq to choose its trading partners."

And they probably won't note it at the Times. Might upset someone to really go deep into the story. Better to keep it on the playing field dictated by "official sources" that the Times is so fond of.

Gordon's November 18, 2004 "UN Oil for Food 'Scandal'" appeared in The Nation.

Gordon's been covering this beat for some time and also of interest is a 2002 Harper's article entitled "Cool War."

It's a real shame that so much energy must be supplementing the Times and the work of their "star reporter" Miller who, again, has been on the UN beat since June of 2004.

Condi Rice's thinking again -- "I don't think anybody . . ."

"I don't think anybody thinks that the unelected mullahs who run that regime are a good thing for the Iranian people or for the region. I think our European allies agree that the Iranian regime's human rights behavior and its behavior toward its own population is something to be loathed."

That's Condi Rice and the "quotation of the day" as picked by the merry pranksters at the New York Times.

Shouldn't we all panic when Condi puts on that thinking cap and starts sentences with the phrase: "I don't think anybody . . ." -- shouldn't we?

Flashback (courtesy of The Center for American Progress):

"I don't think anybody could have predicted that those people could take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."

I guess that was the "quotation of the day" on May 16, 2002?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

community members questions

Terrance: I have a suggestion for Black History Month but is it okay to send links?

It's more than okay. Demetrika did that today and wanted us both billed. (I corrected that after it posted, by the way. It had said "cowritten" and we actually compiled. No note on that because if I catch it in the first moments, I do consider it a draft, right or wrong.) I would argue that post was more Demetrika but she wanted to share. You can do whatever you want on those entries. Just choose someone you think should be highlighted this month and do bullets, do paragraphs, do links, whatever you'd like. And of course, you can just suggest someone if you'd prefer. (E-mail address is

Krista: The Friday after the inaguration, you highlighted several Indy Media cites, could you do that again?

Yes. I think we'll change AW Review to AMR for alternative media review. The reason for that is a large number of the alternatives are the same from one area to the next. You'll get the same columns, the same articles. If they have a big story, I might highlight them and certainly they'll be highlighted if you send something in from one. But I really think Indy Media needs to be spotlighted and thank Krista for pointing out the need.

Susan: What are you listening to right now?

Right now at this moment, I'm listening to Bright Eyes. Hold on and let me check the title to see which CD it is. I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning. I also have the other one that came out but it's in the stereo in the living room (and I'm too lazy to get up and go get it). I was also asked by someone who didn't give permission to be quoted if I had Ani DiFranco's new one. Yes, I try to buy Ani the day she comes out. I haven't had time to get into it. With DiFranco, I really need to enter it slowly. In the last years, I've missed a great deal of the beauty of her work initially so I try to listen to it repeatedly before committing. I honestly haven't had time in the week and two days to do that. (I listened to Tori Amos's Tales of a Libraian today and now Bright Eyes. And that may be all I've listened to this week.) On the subject of music, Kat's working on a Kat's Korner and said I could pass that on. Three e-mails asking her to weigh in on something have resulted in two paragraphs. She says if she doesn't trash it, it should be ready sometime in the next seven days.

Billy: I appreciate that you're not taking sides regarding and Danny Schechter but if you're truly not taking sides, shouldn't you have a link to Schechter's blog since there's one to

Good point. And I've added the link before I started this post. (I also corrected "CodePink" which had been "Code Pink." Thanks to Tracee for e-mailing on that.)

Ralph: You said you weren't taking sides with MOo and D Schechter but I feel that you did and you weighted it in D's favor.

I may have. If I did, I'm sorry. There was a longer section on that which I deleted before the post went up. I also deleted a section on something I highlighted where I agreed with the blogger's commentary but not with a statement from a person being quoted (whom I felt didn't know what they were talking about). I got bogged down in that and ended up calling a friend who knows about what the quoted person didn't. This resulted in six paragraphs explaining why I thought the person quoted (not the commentator at the web site) was wrong.

I'd spent forever on that post. Then I saw another post from the same site and went with that.
That allowed me to delete the six paragraphs and I felt the entry was far too wordy from me so I deleted some of the comments on Schechter and I was tired and just wanting it up so if got the short end of the stick (or if Schecter did) it's very likely that deleting two paragraphs from the middle of that entry caused that.

I do think WMD is a great documentary. I do think has a right to decide what they want to highlight. We'll continue to highlight WMD (and Schechter here) and we'll continue to highlight

Both do great work. But, Danny Schechter's question is a solid one and not for alone, for everyone. Criticizing Fox "News" is easy criticism because they aren't news in any manner. We need to criticize all the mainstream media that's not doing their job or duty. (My opinion.) I believe has criticized mainstream media in the past and that they will continue to do so. But I do think we need to ask ourselves if we're going to do the sort of strong job that FAIR does (for instance) or if we're just going to focus on Fox, Limbaugh, et al.

I'm sure MoveOn could care less about 'respectability.' But if others have any hesitation of criticizing NPR, or the New York Times, or ABC World News Tonight or whatever, they need to get over it (my opinion) because Fox may be the worst offender but we're seeing a lot of journalistic "crimes" and the impression shouldn't be that the rest are doing a fine job.

Troy: The entries today were so brief when I think about what's usually up.

Yes, they were. I woke up thirty minutes late, had to workout (for sanity) and then had to do the normal morning pre-work junk. I avoided Robin Toner's article on the front page because I've been told (face to face) that I'm too easy on Toner. (I don't believe Toner's ever made the blog. And it's for that reason.) So I avoided commenting on that article. I also read Todd Purdum's article twice because I couldn't believe it was labeled "news analysis" (and might have read it a third time to be sure had I not read Bernado's e-mail and known I wasn't the only one dropping a jaw over that "news analysis").

That said, short entries should be a part of the mix. And I grasped onto that belief as an excuse this morning. I'm also dealing with e-mails today, one specifically which brings up the next question.

Keesha: What is ____'s response to Rebecca's post on Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude and are those the type of e-mails you've been receiving?

____ wants to make a comment to the community but ____ keeps changing ____'s mind about what it is _____ wants to say.
If you read Rebecca's post (which I'm not going to link to until ____ decides what ___ wants posted), it's probably obvious whom Rebecca is talking about.
The issue was not questions on my end. The issue was statements that were untrue. I don't mean opinions. I mean the sort of things Rebecca referred to where _____ wrote her and claimed she had blogged about a vacation we took together or an affair we had. Those are lies.
They didn't happen and Rebecca didn't blog on them.
And Rebecca's sharper than I am because when I get that sort of e-mail, I freak out and think, "My God, how tired was I when I blogged? I must have been falling asleep or something that I could write something that lacked so much clarity that ____ now thinks I was saying . . ." So I end up wasting time searching the blog for these "statements" and not finding them because they weren't blogged on.
And ___ noted I was frustrated with ___ when I made statements this week on ____ and questions. I was frustrated. I'd been told I'd said all these personal things about Donnie Fowler, things I wouldn't even know about. And I'd given ____ the benefit of the doubt and thought, "Well ___'s misunderstood and I need to find this post and clear it up because others might be misunderstanding as well."
Unlike Rebecca, I didn't read e-mails from ____ and catch on that they were intentional lies. But having read Rebecca's blog, I know what she's talked about. And Rebecca's response was to recognize a lie.
____'s problem in multiple e-mails today and last night revolve around ___'s belief that Rebecca and I arranged that entry. I read it after ____ e-mailed about it.
___ also feels that Rebecca broke a rule by quoting her without permission. I don't think Rebecca broke a rule because Rebecca has no such rule at her blog. (And a week or two ago, she quoted another person who'd been harrassing her in e-mails. So by that, a pattern should have been established that was obvious.)
Rebecca's blog is not The Common Ills. She can follow whatever policy she wants and she can disagree with anything here if she wants. Just the fact that she doesn't follow the same language policy we do here should indicate that she's not working out of some Common Ills rule book.
_____ had some good questions when they didn't include "You said"s that I'd never written.
If we didn't have our policy on quoting, I would have done what Rebecca did at some point because it was really beginning to irritate me -- being told I blogged about this personal experience with someone when I never did (and usually didn't have the sort of personal experience ___ was suggesting I'd had).

Brian: I wrote yesterday about a Times article but I didn't get the usual automatic reply.

I didn't have an e-mail from you yesterday and I don't have one on the Times from you as of right before I started blogging on this. If you don't get the automated reply, assume that it didn't go through and try writing again.
I know that's frustrating. As Wendy has pointed up, the Elisabeth Bumiller post today is up multiple times. That's because I wrote it around eight-thirty and sent it but it wasn't showing up, so I sent it again and again and again . . . I'll keep the first one that hit. (And others may show up, there are three more out there.) I have no idea why an e-mail didn't go through. I do check the bulk mail folder before deleting to make sure no one's personal e-mail went there by accident.

Lyle: Focusing on Black History Month each day currently, does that mean you'll focus on Women's History next month?

I would like to. I'll note that if we're still up this time next year, unless new entries are sent in by members, we'll probably do reposts. The Julian Bond entry (which is just "snapshots") took a couple of hours. If we do a mixture, we'll probably only repeat the ones you request be repeated.

Eli: Can we have a favorite song poll?

I think that's a great idea. So start e-mailing on that if you have a favorite song and we'll try to do a post on that for Sunday. Again, one song. It would help if you'd identify the artist you enjoy performing the song since many songs are covered by several artists. You can mention song writers or an album you enjoy the song on. But I'm not going to do links. (If you provide one, it will be included.) You can talk about the song in any way you like, what it means to you, what it reminds you of, what you think of when you hear it or any comments you'd like to make. And if those comments are to be quoted, please note that in the e-mails.

Rod: Where's the post Kara and Rob wanted on the middle east coverage in The New York Times?

I was taking too long on that (as I always do, sorry) and Rob and Kara are e-mailing each other and trying to come up with a post they'll write themselves. Since they are working on it, I've tossed out my clippings (after making sure they didn't need them). So it will be done by them or not at all.

Lyle: No offense, but I don't feel you've been on top of your game since the inauguration. Other than the post on Jacksonville, Florida, I really haven't been too impressed.

I'm not offended by that comment. Your opinion is welcome and is probably correct. I was wiped out from the protests and then coming back to the ever increasing e-mails. Add in that winter is my least favorite season (everything dies) and all I want to do when it gets really cold is sleep, I wouldn't argue with you and claim to be "on top of" my "game." I do think the post "Amy Goodman Warned Us About 'The Lies of the Times'" was a strong one because it revolved around Goodman and around resources for honest coverage of the protests. Other than that, I'm not sure that I've been overly impressed with anything I've done of late either.

Frank in Orlando: I feel you've really begun attacking the Times and not with humor.

You may be right. I am very frustrated with the paper and with superficial coverage.

Gina: I am glad you've taken a firmer tone with NYT and are expressing your opinions and not being all Oprah-like.

And you weren't the only one wanting more opinion of what was in the paper. Frank in Orlando does have a point, though. When I started commenting on the Times, I did try to just say: "Here's something worth reading" or "Avoid this." But many of you have e-mailed that you want more opinion so I've put in more opinion. I'm also very offended by the Times' obit on John L. Hess and probably feel a need to climb up on my soap-box as a result of what he stood for and how the Times portrayed him. Add to that the superficial job that has replaced the outstanding coverage of the tsunami and my disappointments in the paper are probably very strong. I really did hope that what we were seeing those first two weeks were a sign of where the paper could go in 2005. Now, I think that, as many of you pointed out during those first two weeks, what we saw was the paper scrambling to cover a big story when the "all stars" were on "holiday" and so real reporters (and real editors and real photographers) got to roll up their sleeves and shine. I think they did incredible work those first two weeks and I think they've fallen back into lazy habits since. Frank in Orlando's probably hearing my frustration over how quickly the Times fell from their high point.

Trina: That was a lot of links to add in one day and I'm trying to absorb them.

Wasn't it? I think it was too many as well. I'd already stated that we'd be linking to the NAACP and the ACLU and CodePink earlier in the month. (I believe I'd stated that.) Then when I was doing those links, I thought about the attacks on MoveOn and how important it was to support them because they are doing grass roots work and their spirit and activism is to be applauded.
Danny Schechter's blog is up now as well (and I'll try to do an entry on that tomorrow -- Billy's point was more than valid and I wanted to reply immediately by linking to Schechter's blog but I hadn't thought of what to say about it so it will have to wait until tomorrow).

Brenda: If I start a blog, can I count on some help from you?

Yes, but it may not be much help to you. I'm a computer idiot. But if any community member wants to start a blog, I will try to assist in whatever way I can. If you want to e-mail a draft, I'll be happy to read over it and give you whatever input you need. (Don't count on me to check spelling though. You don't want my help on that.) I can talk you through some basics that I've learned through trial and error re: technical issues. But I will try to be there in any way I can.
And I hope other people are thinking about it. Even if they don't end up blogging. Rebecca made a comment in her interview in The Third Estate Review about how my posts were very do-it-yourself. And they are. Full of typos and glitches. If I can do this, anyone can.

Cedric: Is there a reason you don't highlight Democracy Radio?

Yes, I wasn't aware of it. I wasn't aware that you could listen online. I was completely ignorant of it. That's why we need you to pass on what you're interested in and what you know about so that we can all be informed. I'll try to listen to Stephanie Miller's show in the next few days. (No later than Tuesday.) And I'll try to grab at least a half hour of Ed Schultz tomorrow.

Free Speech Radio News is a program I listen to daily and will probably provide a permalink to next month.

Cedric notes that "Air America isn't the only game in town." No, it's not. And we're lucky to have so many great voices available and hopefully can find someone that speaks to each of us. I do start my day with Morning Edition on NPR, then listen to Unfiltered on Air America. After that I'm usually catching Democracy Now! if I'm able to at that point. After lunch, I'll grab Free Speech Radio News (if I'm able to). Then I'll listen to The Randi Rhodes Show. By the time I'm home and settled, I'm listening to The Majority Report. If I'm not talk radio-ed out, I'll catch The Mike Malloy Show and/or the BBC. Before Air America started, I'd sworn off TV "news" and was existing on Democracy Now!, the BBC and NPR (I like The Diane Rhemes Show and Terry Gross's Fresh Air -- I listen to both now based on the guests they have; I listen to Morning Edition because it's a wide range of reports and, honestly, easier for me to switch off and get out the door than listening to Air America Radio's Morning Sedition -- I'm always rushing in the morning but I get caught up in Morning Sedition and I honestly, and sadly, don't have the time for that).

That's my schedule based on what speaks to me. There are other alternatives and if, for instance, Lizz Winstead and Rachel Maddow are doing a segment I'm not enjoying, I'll flip over to NPR and catch something there. (I need to become more familiar with the Pacifica stations.)
There are people who e-mail that they hate this show or that show. Obviously, that show's not speaking to you. So you should explore to see if you can find something that does speak to you.

During the lead up to the war, there was very little to listen to. (I did listen to The Randi Rhodes Show and The Mike Malloy Show pre-Air America Radio.) That we now have so many more voices is a plus. Hopefully, there are enough programs currently that we can all find something to listen to. There's Air America Radio, Democracy Radio, Fire on the Prarie from In These Times, The Nation's Radio Nation, The Progressive's Progressive Radio and Matthew Rothschild's Progressive Point of View, Pacifica, Fair's CounterSpin, Democracy Now!, Take Back the Media's TBTM Radio, and others that we'll all be able to find something that speaks to us. [BuzzFlash will choose their hypocrite of the week tomorrow. I always read that but you can also listen to it. So tomorrow, I'll highlight that.]

But those are the ones that I know. If there's a show you like (that can be heard nationally -- broadcast, sattelite or online), please share it so that we can all sample. We need more voices, not less voices. And they don't have to agree with one another. There's not one right point of view for the left. So if you know some show that hasn't been highlighted, do like Cedric did and e-mail in about it.

Bernado: Can you do a "magazine report" today?

Not today, I need to go to bed. But I'll do one tomorrow (Saturday at the latest) highlighting the mags I read in print this week, okay? That will consist of The Nation, The Progressive, In These Times and (hopefully) Mother Jones. (Hopefully means I need to finish the issue.) (We highlighted three things from Rolling Stone magazine this weekend, so I'll leave it out of the mix.) And if I'm really industrious, I'll finish Left Turn which Sally recommended I pick up.