Saturday, April 09, 2005

Heads up for The Laura Flanders Show and Ring of Fire

Marty Kaplin's So What Else Is News? is on Air America right now and always worth listening to. After he goes off, Ring of Fire comes on followed by Laura Flanders.
I intend to post on last week's Ring of Fire this weekend (and meant to last night). But last Saturday's episode was pretty amazing so you might want to make a point to check it out today.
Below are summaries from the Air America page of what's on Ring of Fire and The Laura Flanders Show today.

If you're not sure if Air America broadcasts over the airwaves in your area, you can check that page to find out. In addition, it streams over the net.

Ring of Fire
What is Big Tobacco up to these days as they watch their cigarette sales drop in this country? Mike talks with Katherine Mulvey, director of Corporate Accountability International, about the tobacco companies' latest scheme to exploit developing countries...and American children.
Bobby turns up the heat on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and his cronies, who are leaving Americans exposed to toxic mercury. Dr. Boyd Haley joins us to talk about childhood vaccinations and dental fillings, and their link to neurological problems like Alzheimer's, A.D.D. and autism. "An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Join Mike and his law partner, Fred Levin, as they pay tribute to their late friend and colleague, Johnnie Cochran. [permalink]

The Laura Flanders Show
Hello? What happened to the secular state? Is America disappearing as arch-conservatives attack everything outside their view of God and country? We’ve had enough news dominated by the rabid right: Terri Schaivo's feeding tube; Tom Delay’s attacks on judges; the Pope 24-7; the Arizona ‘Minutemen’ border patrols. Who is standing up for secular society? For NOT taking the law into one’s own hands?
Saturday's report from the border includes Arizona State Representative KYRSTEN SINEMA, Arizona "Minuteman Project" co-founder CHRIS SIMCOX and Arizona ACLU Vice-President CAROLYN TROBRIDGE. We check in with "Guantanamo: Honor bound to defend Freedom," the play about U.S. abuses in the war on terrorism, and NYC singer-songwriter NORA YORK and her new CD titled, "What I Want." [permalink]

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Times fluffs for most of this morning's paper

Miss America and the Pope (buried) on the front page. The Times seems unaware of it's faltering reputation. (Maybe "indifferent to" is the more appropriate term?) And inside the paper, Charlie LeDuff continues to do the folks proud and justify the monies spent on j-school so by continuing his coverage of the most pressing issue of our times: the Michael Jackson case.
Do current j-school students debate whether to aspire to become the next Jane Mayer or Charlie LeDuff? Do they finally decide, "I think I'll go with LeDuff because it's so damn important and does such a public service." If so, pray for us all, pray for us all.

On the front page, note Sharon La Franiere and Denise Grady's "Fear and Violence Accompany a Deadly Virus Across Angola:"

The death toll in Angola from an epidemic caused by an Ebola-like virus rose to 174 Friday as aid workers in one northern provincial town reported that terrified people had attacked them and that a number of health workers had fled out of fear of catching the disease.
International health officials said the epidemic, already the largest outbreak of Marburg virus ever recorded, showed no signs of abating. Seven of Angola's 18 provinces have now reported suspected cases and several neighboring countries have announced health alerts.

Inside the paper, you'll find Adam Nagourney's "G.O.P. Consultant's Marriage Is a Gay One:"

Arthur J. Finkelstein, a prominent Republican consultant who has directed a series of hard-edged political campaigns to elect conservatives in the United States and Israel over the last 25 years, said Friday that he had married his male partner in a civil ceremony at his home in Massachusetts.
Mr. Finkelstein, 59, who has made a practice of defeating Democrats by trying to demonize them as liberal, said in a brief interview that he had married his partner of 40 years to ensure that the couple had the same benefits available to married heterosexual couples.

In Pennsylvania, a sixteen-year-old girl is being held, Nina Bernstein reports in "Teachers and Classmates Express Outrage at Arrest of Girl, 16, as a Terrorist Threat:"

According to a government document provided to The New York Times by a federal official earlier this week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has asserted that both girls are "an imminent threat to the security of the United States based on evidence that they plan to be suicide bombers." No evidence was cited, and federal officials will not comment on the case.
[. . .]
"I just can't fathom this," said her art teacher, Kimberly Lane, who has repeatedly called the youth detention center but like Ms. Carr was not allowed to speak to the girl, who has no lawyer. Among the unanswered questions they raised was why, if she was really a suspect, no F.B.I. agent had shown up to search her school locker or question her classmates, who sent her letters of support.

And David D. Kirkpatrick reports that as the heat on Tom DeLay turns up, even the Bully Boy seeks shelter in "After DeLay Remarks, Bush Says He Supports 'Independent Judiciary.'"

Tom DeLay. More and more, it's as though he's living Stevie Wonder's "Skeletons:"

Oh things are gettin' real crucial
Up the old wazoo
Yet you cry, why am I the victim?
When the culprit is y-o-u
What did your mama tell you about lies
She said it wasn't polite to tell a white one
What did your daddy tell you about lies
He said one white one turns into a black one
So, it's getting ready to blow
It's getting ready to show
Somebody shot off at the mouth and
We're getting ready to know . . .

("Skeletons," words & music by Stevie Wonder, can be found on the Stevie Wonder album Characters.)

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Friday, April 08, 2005

Let's talk New York Times . . .

Let's talk New York Times.

First off, I'll note that Betty has another post up at her blog Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man.
I won't quote from it because when dealing with humor, it's very easy to spoil a joke. So visit it and read the latest PARODY of Thomas Friedman.

Now let's note Rebecca who addressed the issue of news and p.r. today at her blog Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. [Disclosure, as Rebecca notes, I passed an article on to her Thursday. I do that quite often to many people, and many do the same for me. Since Thursdays is supposed to be independent media focus, I felt she'd be able to get to the issue of what the Times didn't tell you faster than I would. Blogger put us both behind schedule.]
From Rebecca's entry "lost in pope-arama, the new york times chooses public relations over journalism:"

and while the pope-arama went on, you missed out on some serious stories.
'but becky,' you say, 'the new york times was caught up in the pope-arama like every 1 else.'
that doesn't wash.
they ran 2 stories on torture czar alberto gonzales. on tuesday he was questioned by the senate. on wednesday eric lichtblau turned in his article on that. but he didn't tell you about brandon mayfield. he took dictation but seemed to put his pen down when he came across some thing that was actually news, that actually mattered.
as if it wasn't bad enough that lichtblau ignored it on wednesday, he returned to the same topic on thursday to explain to us that 'hey alberto's pretty groovy.'
that piece of printed drool made wednesday's story look better but even it could turn wednesday's story into news.
how does the new york times miss this story? how does eric lichtblau? he was assigned to cover gonzales's appearence before the senate.
[. . .]
the 'all the news that's fit to print' new york times could have had a story, a real story. they didn't bother. unless they want to change the slogan to 'all the p.r. that's fit to spin,' they need to take a hard look at their actions this week. there is news and there is p.r. and they might be able to argue with me of how news worthy a news story was, but i was trained in public relations and i know p.r. when i see it. that's basically what we got, p.r., in this week's new york times.
and they still haven't told readers that the government has lied repeatedly. that the government did use a sneak & peak aspect of the patriot act to search brandon mayfield's home.and that they lied when they repeatedly stated that they hadn't done that.
they did do it. and gonzales admitted it or bragged about it tuesday on the senate floor. why didn't the new york times cover that?

Why didn't the Times make that a front page story? "Despite Claiming Otherwise, A Sneak & Peak Was Used On Mayfield." That's a story. But we got p.r. about how Gonzales bravely spoke to the Senate. The day after that story ran, we got how Brand New Me Alberto was building a following. At what point do we get the truth?

Or is the Times too busy cozing up, yet again, for access, that the truth no longer matters?

Even when it's spoken on the Senate floor?

Like their trading access for basic journalism to get ahold of the report from Columbia University last week, are they making promises behind the scenes that will question their credibility?

And what exactly is going on behind the scenes?

Ron (Why Are We Back In Iraq?) e-mailed me a story from Editor & Publisher. (Thank you, Ron.)

Joe Strupp's "Fired 'NYT' Foreign Correspondent Angrily Denies
" doesn't paint a picture of a responsible press.

From Strupp's article:

New York Times foreign correspondent Susan Sachs, who lost her job for allegedly sending anonymous e-mails to the wives of Times reporters in Baghdad commenting on their sexual behavior, contends she is innocent and will fight the charges against her.
"I am completely absolutely innocent of the accusations made by The Times," Sachs said in an e-mail to E&P late Friday. "To underline that fact, I have taken a polygraph test administered by a competent and independent expert, during which I repeated that I am innocent of these accusations, and I passed the polygraph test with flying colors."

Anyone want to try to explain that?

Who's telling the truth? Who knows?

Will give Sachs the benefit of the doubt. (She's not been convicted of anything, just lost her job.)
But what if Sachs did send e-mails out? (She denies it and we're not calling her a liar.)

The Editor & Publisher article references The New York Daily News. There you'll find Lloyd Groves' "Times' Iraq bureau grief."

From Groves' article:

The Gray Lady's management has just fired Sachs, a widely respected and experienced journalist who has tangled bitterly with Burns and Filkins, over allegations that she sent anonymous letters and an E-mail to their wives alleging bad behavior with women in the war zone.
Sachs - who didn't respond to a message left for her in France yesterday - has stoutly denied the charges, and the Newspaper Guild is defending her in arbitration proceedings against The Times.

[. . .]
According to my sources, Filkins' wife, novelist Ana Menendez, and Burns' wife, Jane Scott-Long, received the mystery missives in the past few months, purporting to rat out their husbands' alleged infidelities.
I hear that The Times conducted an investigation and linked postmarks on the envelopes to Sachs' purported whereabouts on the dates the letters were apparently sent - and also claimed to have linked an E-mail to Sachs.

Let's say for a moment that Sach's was guilty of what the Times alleges (for speculation sake).
What does that have to do with her job? Let's say she was doing that, that she was the worst office gossip in the world. So what?

If bad reporting can't get you fired (Judith Miller), apparently the only thing that can is alleged loose lips (about staff members of the Times).

What could cause this kind of reaction (very over the top reaction)? I'd be inclined to guess that whomever passed on the news wasn't off the mark. If that's the case, Sach's firing makes perfect sense from a paper that's long believed in the "male perogative." If whomever wrote the letters and e-mails was correct, maybe we've found yet another reason why Times reporters are so reluctant to leave the Green Zone -- and we suspected it was just the danger!

You'll learn that Filkins was packing a piece. He probably sees himself as a big bad ass. Of course, his whimpering interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air destroyed that image, but hey, he can dream.

And about Filkins. The Peabody awards have been announced. That's the spotlight story now in terms of journalism awards. So let's talk about his Polk.

He won it for an article ("In Faulluja, Young Marines Saw the Savagery of an Urban War") that appeared in the Sunday paper, many, many days after it the event took place. (The destruction of Falluja.) Absent from his "award winning" piece was any perspective. It was a "I'm embedded with the troops!" and he came off as peaking behind the shoulders. He can win any award someone's foolish enough to give to him. That still doesn't make it reporting.

[Note "an article." That takes you to the official George Polk Award page. There you will find, that contrary to what was implied by the Associated Press, Filkins won for one article, not for a series of articles. Those winning for more than one article have all the articles they won for listed. Filkins, on the official George Polk Award page is only listed for the Nov. 21st article.]

Reporting requires that he write what happened. And what happened wasn't just one-sided.
Filkins didn't fill you in on how men and older boys were not allowed to leave Falluja. He wasn't too concerned about those killed and the possibilities that some were not resistors or insurgents.
Males were not allowed to leave the city as Filkins & co. moved in.

It was glorification of violence, it was a video game, a feature story, but it wasn't hard news.
And it was six days old by the time it made the front page of the November 21st Sunday edition of the New York Times.

"Miller!" the marines called from below. "Miller!"With that, the marines' near mystical commandment against leaving a comrade behind seized the group. One after another, the young marines dashed into the minaret, into darkness and into gunfire, and wound their way up the stairs.
After four attempts, Corporal Miller's lifeless body emerged from the tower, his comrades choking and covered with dust. With more insurgents closing in, the marines ran through volleys of machine-gun fire back to their base.
"I was trying to be careful, but I was trying to get him out, you know what I'm saying?" Lance Cpl. Michael Gogin, 19, said afterward.

Next on Inside Edition!

Filkins might get the uber patriot of the year award, but at some point, his article will be looked at closely and people will wonder where in the overwrought, non-objective piece was there anything worth praising as "hard news."

Or breaking news -- not only did it take six days for it to appear in print, it took three days for it to be written. What was the reason for the delay? Did it need approval from someone or did Filkins just need to get his whatever up to write such purple prose?

I don't know.

And I have no idea what's going on re: Filkins (or Burns) in the Green Zone.

But I do know that having embarrassed themselves with the Green Zone reporting repeatedly (which is getting as bad as Judith Miller's pre-invasion reporting), the last thing the Times needs is another scandal. But they have it now by firing someone they allege gossipped.

Having pushed the "values debate" (Adam Nagourney) over and over until January rolled around when suddenly they (Adam Nagourney) scratched their heads and seemed to wonder how that false narrative got started (one Frank Rich said at the time was false), maybe they shouldn't fire someone they allege squealed on extra-marital going ons in the Green Zone?

Hey, the Times pushed that "values" nonsense like crazy. They pushed the "red" state/"blue" state narrative like crazy. (Whether they realized it or not, it was in their own interests to do so.
The Times is centerists and the centerists Dems were trying to use that nonsense -- and continue to try to use it -- to push the party to the right.) Having done their part (and then some) to force the "values" debate, if Sachs squealed (if, we're giving her the benefit of the doubt) on affairs (I have no idea if the charges are true) then wouldn't that be her "value" responsibility? Didn't we have a preacher, not all that long ago, get away with squealing on a woman who was having an affair? She spoke to the clergy member in privacy but he felt his duty to the bounds of marriage was to great to remain silent. (Or that's what he said anyway.)
So by the same token, having pushed the "values" narrative, maybe the Times is in no position to fire anyone they think might have passed on extra-marital rumors or news?

But they did that. And now they look silly. And this will be talked about and talked about. (Hey, anything to take the focus of Judith Miller, I guess.) If the rumors were false, then Burns & Filkins should be able to straighten their own personal lives out without anyone being fired.
If they were true, the Times operates under some "what happens in the Green Zone, stays in the Green Zone" policy that's unwritten but long in play at the Grey Lady.

Sachs was fired for allegedy outing alleged private behaviors of Dexter Filkins and John F. Burns. Anyone else raising an eye brow?

Anyone else thinking, "But Daniel Okrent outed a private citizen, named him, gave his city and state, over his objection. Over a private e-mail to a reporter for the Times. It wasn't meant for publication, though Okrent quoted from this private correspondence without permission which is legally questionable since he identified the author, and he put the paper of record in a strange position to say the least.

According to Randy Cohen, Okrent was "censured" over that. The paper never saw fit to inform the readers of that. But, if Cohen was correct, he wasn't fired over it. Guess that tells you whom the Times values and whom it doesn't.

Okrent's stepping down (at the pre-arranged end of his tenure) and some of his peers rush up to toss a halo on him and speak of all the great things he did as the public editor, as the readers' advocate. They ignore that he outed a reader, that he behaved in a manner that not only appeared petty but also appeared to place himself and the paper on questionable legal grounds.
Now we learn that Sachs is fired for allegedly outing two alleged cheaters.

If Filkins and Burns are humiliated (or their spouses), blame the Times and not Sachs. If she were guilty (if), the Times botched it (as usual) and thereby allowed the news to travel far beyond anything that whomever wrote the letters and e-mails did.

The New York Times just can't seem to get its act together these days. There are a lot of people putting things into print about the paper. There's the rumor that Judith Miller forced Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.'s hand. (E-mails to this site state his hand wasn't forced. He was backing Miller from day one. Due to the long nature of his and Miller's relationship, I'm inclined to believe those e-mails.)

In the past year, we've seen a lot of journalists make news. Jane Mayer and Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker, for instance. But they made news on the basis of their reporting. More and more, the Times is making news not for anything in the paper but for what's going on behind the scenes. That ought to worry the paper because image is what has always kept it afloat.

People should be talking about the front page (and if the Times would lay off the p.r. and break more stories, maybe that would happen). They shouldn't be discussing who may or may not be
living it up like a heavy metal rock star.

In another period, the Times could probably shrug off the increasingly embarrassing behind the scenes revelations. They could do it today if they were breaking any news. (As opposed to their breathless "scoops" on reports due to be released hours after the paper hits the doorsteps.)

I've praised John F. Burns' reporting here many times. Even knowing that it would mean e-mails coming in questioning that. (Which is fine. And anyone can be quoted on that. My opinion's aren't always correct. I'm wrong many times over.) But Burns has gotten sloppy. Filkins never had a high point to fall from.

My opinion, the Times has two high periods for regular readers. The first is the initial two weeks of tsunami coverage when reporters such as Amy Waldman and Ian Fisher filled in for the regulars (who were on holiday) and actually wrote honest to God news stories. The second high would be Jodi Wilgoren who has gone from the worst, my opinion, journalist at the paper to a serious journalist worth reading.

That's really it. You could include Scott Shane's Saturday reporting where he grabs the mop to clean up the earlier reporting by others. No offense to Shane, but it's hard to get really excited since he's writing to correct earlier reporting. We could get excited over Douglas Jehl's inside the paper reporting (such as the Nazi stories) or but that would mean we'd have to overlook the front page "scoops" bearing his name. When he does have an honest to God scoop, he's forced to sit it out. Why is the New York Timid refusing to let him break news even when he has a scoop? (As opposed to a "scoop.") The same comments could be made of Eric Schmitt's reporting. Or for Raymond Bonner who gets printed occassionally but no one at the paper seems to read his articles since his revelations vanish into a memory hole. And let's not forget that while they were rushing to sing the praises of Bernie Kerik, practically every other paper was breaking news. Or that from the start, they couldn't accurately report the Giuliana Sgrena story.

The Timid's given America so little to talk about, that of course they'll focus on this personal, behind the scenes, story. Starved for real news (and conditioned by the paper to get excited over the tawdry -- no one forced them to treat the Michael Jackson case as an earth shattering story in need of five days a week reporting), why wouldn't readers enjoy the titilation factor of this tale full of alleged sex, alleged backstabbing, and a firing?

No one forced the paper of record to play tabloid. No one forced them to send out the Elite Fluff Patrol to the front page repeatedly. They've made these decisions. They've also allowed a hell of a lot of attitude to creep into the hard news. (And sports metaphors. Every story is ripe for sports metaphors in the Times these days.) I'm not referring to Bumiller's floating op-ed "White House Letter." I'm speaking of supposed news stories that try to strut with all sorts of lingo and attitude.

No one loves the master narrative like the Times. Well here's a master narrative for you: the paper has embarrassed itself in print repeatedly, perhaps that's the result of embarrassments going on behind the scenes? And if some people want to start peering into the early childhoods of Sachs and Burns and Filkins to find some "life altering & shaping event" -- well, hey, the paper's encouraged that for some time with their own articles (and book reviews).

Bill Keller should realize how the paper's image is in increasing danger and he should start advocating for hard news on the front page. And for real scoops, not "scoops." Unless that happens, people will be more focused on what goes on behind the scenes then what makes the front page. (My opinion, as always, I could be wrong.)

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Belated heads up for Amy Goodman on Hardball and where she'll be this weekend (NE & CO)

"Amy Goodman will be on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews tonight (Friday,April 8) at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. EDT."

You've already missed the original telecast; however, you can catch the repeat if you happen to catch this and act quickly.

Amy Goodman hosts Democracy Now! (with Juan Gonzalez) and she and her brother David wrote The Exceptions to the Rulers.

From the above link (book):

Omaha, NE:
Saturday, April 9, 1 pm
The Second Omaha Peace & Justice Expo
Lewis and Clark Middle School

6901 Burt St.Omaha, Nebraska
$5 donation
For more information, go to

Lincoln, NE:
Saturday, April 9, 7:00 PM
Mary Riepma Ross Film Festival
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

313 N. 13th Street, Suite 128Lincoln
This event is free and open to the public
For more information, visit

Boulder, CO:
Sunday, April 10, 7:00PM
Live taping of radio program etown

Boulder Theater in Boulder, CO
2032 14th St.
Tickets: $15
For directions and to purchase tickets, go to
For more information, go to

Sunday Chat & Chews -- and will Meet the Press ever learn to spell "Steinem" (as in Gloria)

The Sunday chat and chews. Yawn.

Before we start off with that, let's note that on the NBC's Meet the Press "about page" the mistake still stands:

Since those beginning days, "Meet the Press" has interviewed First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, Nancy Reagan, Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush appeared on "Meet the Press" the first three years of her husband’s presidency. Other notable women appearing as guests over the years on "Meet the Press" include: Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, Jane Fonda, Phyllis Schlafly, Geraldine Ferraro, Gloria Steiner, Elizabeth Dole, Madeleine Albright, Tipper Gore, Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Shirley Temple Black and Caroline Kennedy.

There is no "Gloria Steiner." It's Gloria Steinem. That mistake has been up for years. We'll continue to note it until they correct it. It's insulting at this point, they have been advised (if you'd like to be listed as someone notifying them, just add to your e-mail to and we'll start noting it.

The point of their list is to give the impression that Meet the Press does a good job including women on the show. It doesn't. It wants you to have that impression.

And it's apparently not important to the nonsense show (or to NBC or MSNBC) that they brag about having "Steiner" on as a guest. It's insulting to Gloria Steinem and it's past time Tim Russert's joke of a show and the apparent joke of a staff said, "Enough, we'll fix the mistake. We're sorry." (At The Common Ills we won't hold our breath on that happening. Though we may start doing a count down of each day.)

So here's the group that Tim Russert & staff feel you need to hear from:

Chairman, Intelligence Committee

Vice Chairman, Intelligence Committee


Author, "One Soldier's Story"
1996 Republican Presidential Nominee


National Review

Washington Post

Will Russert ask Bob Dole about the fact that he was awarded a Purple Heart for an injury he wrote of (previously) as something he caused himself (by accident)? Considering that Dole questioned John Kerry's Purple Hearts, perhaps Russert could ask that?

(Again, we won't hold our breath here at The Common Ills.)

Diversity? Let's see there's one woman to four men, plus big Tim of course. What about the political spectrum? Three Republicans and two Democrats. Plus big Tim.

Don't expect much from "quiet game" playing "liberal" Eugene Robinson.

From Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler on February 18, 2005:

Pretending to love the working class, Robinson rues his cohort's advantages. We have options, but our gardeners don't. And not only that: Unlike Robinson's privileged liberals, his gardeners "have no forum to bemoan the state of the political economy."
But why don't Robinson’s various servants have a useful forum like that? Of course! They don't have it because people like Robinson help run the press corps--vacuous people who say that they’re "liberals," although it's quite clear that they're aren't. Indeed, how does a modern press "liberal" behave? Robinson shows us this morning:
First, they create burlesques of liberal concerns, pretending that "liberals" are running around saying that Wal-Mart is "the face of pure evil." The public hears a silly burlesque of a progressive concern, not an intelligent formulation.
Second, they please the Limbaugh World by saying the press corps is full of such liberals. Everywhere he looks he sees them, the pundit lets us know.
Then, of course, the key final point: Man, are we liberals a bunch of big hypocrites! We pretend to care about working people. The fact is, we just flat-out don't.
Readers, why is it? Why don't Robinson’s various servants have a "forum" to further their interests? Let's say it again: They don't have a forum like that because men like Robinson talk about drivel. Indeed, such pundits may even believe that they’re "liberals"--but it's time someone informed them they're not. There are real concerns real progressives express, concerning the real welfare of Robinson's servants. But Robinson, yelling "liberal," will never express them. He says he's a liberal--and he may even think it. But someone should tell him--he's not!

Over at ABC's This Week, the guests are:

Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., Republican Conference chairman

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., senior member, Foreign Relations Committee

Eliot Spitzer, New York attorney general

Andrew Motion, British poet laureate

A poet? Well he's going to read a poem to Charles and Camilla, as in Prince Charles. This Week, always hitting the hard topics everyone else shys from. (That was sarcasm.)

And just when you thought things couldn't get worse, check out the "roundtable:"

Washington Post columnist EJ Dionne

Cokie Roberts, "just back from Rome"

George Will

Just back from Rome? Of course, where else would an old gas bag like Cokes Roberts go? Where's there's no story, there is Cokie Roberts.

And what of Blinky? Over at CBS's Face the Nation, Blinky's topic will be Iraq, Social Security and judges.

Guests will be:

Sen. Harry Reid
Minority Leader
Democrat - Nevada

Sen. John McCain
Republican - Arizona

Michael Duffy
TIME Magazine

If you drink early, remember that the hot new drinking game is taking a sip every time Blinky Bob Schieffer blinks. (Stock up on the booze, you'll need it for the half hour.)

Whenever we do the Sunday Chat & Chews announcement here (which were asked for, I have no interest in these programs), there's always a number of e-mails saying it's important to watch these shows to find out "what's going on." As if.

You're going to hear the same thing you've heard them say everywhere else, more often than not. You'll have a lot of white men. You'll have a lot of timid hosts or lackies. And good grief, you'll have Cokes Roberts again. We'll be doing an entry on Ring of Fire tonight and for those who delight in the continual decline of Cokes and her ever tarnished reputation, look for that.

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Democracy Now: victims of war and more; Pam (Big Brass Blog), Rothschild (Progressive), Daily Howler & The Black Commentator celebrates 3rd year

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching") has several stories you won't want to miss:

Headlines for April 8, 2005
- The Largest Funeral in History
- Jaafari Named Iraq PM
- Hans Blix Says Iraq War Motivated by Oil
- Cairo Bomb Kills 3
- Bextra Taken Off Market
- Senate Votes to Repeal Bush Abortion Policy
- Italian Police Stand Trial for Raid on Activists
- Landless Workers in Brazil Occupy Farms

The Funeral of Pope John Paul II
As the funeral of Pope John Paul II takes place in Saint Peter's Square, we go to Rome to get a report on what is being called one of the most momentous funerals in world history.

War Surgeon Gino Strada: "Media Not Interested in Human Tragedies" of War
We speak with Dr. Gino Strada, a war surgeon and the founder of Emergency, a nonprofit, humanitarian organization dedicated to providing assistance to civilian victims of war.

Three People Forcibly Removed From Bush "Town Hall" Meeting on Social Security
As President Bush continues touring the country to promote his plans for overhauling social security, we speak with one of the three people forcibly removed from Bush's Town-Hall-Style "Conversation on Social Security," in Denver on last month. [includes rush transcript]

Undocumented Border Patrol Target Undocumented Immigrants
We speak with Magdalano Rose-Avila, the executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project about the Minuteman Project, comparing street gangs to al Qaeda, Homeland Security and much more.

Over at Big Brass Blog, don't miss Pam's post on Sgt. Robert Stout who was awarded the Purple Heart . . . and oh, yeah, he happens to be gay.

This is amazing news and an opportunity for the Dems to stick it to the White House if they have the freaking balls to do it.
With military recruitment numbers falling through the floor, relaxing educational standards for the National Guard, and a President constantly talking about rewarding service and commitment, what are they going to do with Sgt. Robert Stout and its "don't ask, don't tell" policy?

Read Pam's piece and you'll learn that the twenty-three-year-old Stout would like to remain in the military . . . but there's that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Over at The Progressive, Matthew Rothschild has a new "This Just In" entitled "Some Non-Pope News." Excerpt:

While all the media's eyes are on Rome, and as the networks shuttle their celebrities to makeshift studios at Vatican City, other stuff--real news--is happening.
A U.S. chopper goes down in Afghanistan, killing at least 16 people and underscoring the fact that this forgotten war is still raging.
A study by the National Academy of Sciences reveals that our nuclear power plants, and especially the pools of spent fuel around them, are highly vulnerable to attack, three and a half years after 9/11.
And 32 Nobel Prize-winners come out with a statement urging the members of the nuclear weapons club to take their lethal loads off of hair-trigger alert.

Over at The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby continues to explore those liberal and "liberal" pundits who love to play the "quiet game." Here are the first three paragraphs from Somerby:

BUNGLING RATHER (PART 8, GRAND FINALE): OK, let's make it short and sweet. Our modern press corps has two major parts. On the one hand, we have an aggressive pseudo-con press corps which is constantly yelling liberal bias. And then, we have the mainstream press corps, which actually tends towards that "right-leaning dinner-party centrism" which Josh Marshall correctly describes and correctly says that he fails to discuss.
Due to its right-leaning dinner-party centrism, what does that mainstream press corps do? For one thing, when kooky-con books ascend the best-seller lists, the mainstream press corps doesn't point out how kooky these books really are. The free pass being handed to Mark Levin has been handed to many others before him--including John O'Neill and Jerome Corsi, whose absurd, kooky book, Unfit for Command, rearranged last year's White House race.
But there's something else the mainstream press tends to do--over the course of the past dozen years, it has tended to savage Big Democrats. For reasons they've never much been asked to explain, they trashed Bill Clinton through his years in the White House, then conducted a two-year War Against Gore--a war which put George Bush in the White House. That War Against Gore may have been the most remarkable press event in our lifetime. But try to find the "liberal spokesman" who discusses that war today! That press corps war changed American history--and "liberal spokesmen" all seem to know that they just mustn't bring that war up!

Over at The Black Commentator, Dr. Martin Kilson has "Probing the Black Elite's Role for the 21st Century." This is part one of a three part series. From the first installment:

Writing a century ago in the quintessential African-American text, The Souls of Black Folk (1903), the great W.E.B. DuBois committed himself to and charged the then fledgling Negro elite -- the "Talented Tenth" as DuBois called it -- with the obligation of advancing the racist-ravaged plight of the masses of Negro Americans. In general, the role of the Black elite in 21st century African-American society should be the same role it has played since the dawn of its existence among the small Free Negro communities in pre-Emancipation Era American society. Namely, the outreach-to-Black-popular-society-leadership role, the outreach-to-Black-masses-leadership role, if you will.
In this essay I want to reflect on the issue of what the outreach-to-Black-masses-leadership profile of today's Black elite should be by looking back historically to how this leadership profile evolved out of fragile Free Negro communities in the pre-Emancipation Era. It is unmistakably clear from today’s vantage point that the Black elite at the dawn of the 21st century is better situated -- has more social, economic, and political capabilities -- to fulfill its outreach-to-Black-masses-leadership obligation than any previous generation of African-Americans with middle-class and professional-class attributes.

I want to note again that this is the third anniversary for The Black Commentator. Yesterday's e-mailed entry never hit (and then couldn't go up until this morning due to problems with Blogger) but, as stated in that post, this is an important milestone. The Black Commentator comes out once a week, on Thursdays, and contains articles and illustrations that will make you think. They are independent and not afraid to tackle topics that the mainstream media often is reluctant to even mention.

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In this morning's New York Times "Pope-arama" goes on but there are other stories

In this morning's New York Times "Pope-arama" goes on but there are other stories

In the New York Times this morning you will find that regardless of what term you use ("pope-arama" -- Danny Schechter; "The Pope Goes On" -- community member Dallas), we're still in the land of non-stop coverage.Let's be clear this, isn't about legacy. This is about celebrity. Cult of personality.

Ruth e-mailed yesterday that Renee Montagne is reporting from Vatican city.

Ruth: "This doesn't strike me as how funds for NPR were supposed to be spent. Under LBJ's Great Society, NPR and PBS were sold as a forum that would allow voices and issues to be heard that were not getting out in the mainstream. This was to be the public's broadcasting which is why we end up with National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting System. Money spent to send an anchor, not a reporter, out of this country to broadcast from a funeral is pretty much beyond news. This is not 'news' this is a 'tribute.' That's gone on for days and that violates the spirit of what NPR is supposed to be doing -- going where no one else goes."

If the Pope's burial today is news from someone, I'm wondering where they've been for the last week and a half that the death watch has gone on. But you can hardly have a death pageant without covering its equivalent of the beauty pageant "crowning."

This is not going to where the news is because this truly is not news. You might be able to get a feature story or two out of it (though after the saturation coverage, I'm disinclined to believe that there's any feature angle that hasn't already been covered many times over), but it's not news.It's an easy story to do because there are elements that provide for hyped copy and strong visuals, but it's not news. It's one brief story:

Today, Pope John Paul II was buried. ____ mourners turned out to pay their respects.Sources close to the Vatican say that Pope John Paul II's successor will be named in ___ days.

Flooding the zone, as all outlets have done, with this one story is neither a public service nor news.We shouldn't mistake it as news.But the death pageant goes on. (Stealing from Dallas.)

And it's not confined to our domestic media. As the UK computer gurus can tell you. Right now as I listen to BBC radio, the funeral is covered live. And it will be interesting to see how our domestic media (United States) covers this since the funeral is taking place so early (for our time).

Let's try to find some real news in this morning's New York Times.Carl Hulse and David D. Kirkpatrick have "DeLay Says Federal Judiciary Has 'Run Amok,' Adding Congress is Partly to Blame:"

"Judicial independence does not equal judicial supremacy," Mr. DeLay said in a videotaped speech delivered to a conservative conference in Washington entitled "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith."

An ethical lecture from Tom DeLay? And you thought the burial of the Pope might mean all news would be heavy and serious? DeLay unintentionally lightens things up for us by providing us with some strong belly laughs.

Let's note Neil A. Lewis' "Administration Urges Appeals Court to Let Guantanamo War Crimes Trials Resume." From that article:
A senior lawyer in the Bush administration urged a federal appeals court on Thursday to allow the resumption of war crimes trials in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as part of the effort to defend against terrorists.

The lawyer, Peter D. Keisler, the assistant attorney general who heads the civil division of the Justice Department, said the trials that a federal judge halted on Nov. 8 were an important part of the fight against terrorism. The trials, Mr. Keisler said, "send a message that if you commit terrible crimes, we will capture you, we will give you a fair trial, and if you're convicted, we will impose a just sentence."

The trials say all of that, do they? The courts haven't found those statements to be made nor have many who've followed the cases. We've got secret trials with the presumption of guilt from the start and secret evidence used as the norm.

Richard W. Stevenson and Matthew L. Wald have distrubing news in "U.S. Report Sees Gasoline Prices Moving Higher Still." According to Stevenson and Wald's article, The Energy Information Administration has found, in a report, that gas prices will increase over the next few weeks and remain high throughout the summer.

From the article:

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey published Thursday showed a drop in approval of Mr. Bush's handling of the economy to 41 percent from 46 percent two months ago. A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll released this week found an even sharper drop, to 41 percent from 48 percent five weeks earlier.
Analysts said consumer concern about what it costs to fill up at the pump was also pulling down the percentage of people who think the country is on the right track. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 34 percent of respondents said the country was headed in the right direction, down from 42 percent in February.
The USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll found the price of gasoline rivaling terrorism and health care as the top issues among respondents, well ahead of the priority Mr. Bush has put at the top of his agenda, overhauling Social Security.

Douglas Jehl's "C.I.A. Chief Orders 'Curveball' Review" tells us that Porter Goss has ordered an internal review to find out how "Curveball" was allowed to feed information when he was a questionable asset (one not trusted by the Clinton adminstration and not trusted by German Intel). Someone on the BBC (radio) just said that "certainly the media has whipped up a hysteria" but he's commenting on the selection of the next Pope and not on the death pageant itself, sadly.

Brad e-mails noting a curious item online at the Times. It's credited to "By The New York Times" and it is entitled "U.N. Nominee's Case." This sixty-one word item (check my math, as always) tells us that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be interviewing four people (with the State Department's permission) "four officials" -- two of which are named Thomas Fingar and Christian P. Westermann (the latter says Bolton "ousted him").There seems to be a story here but the Times has apparently decided to run it more like a public announcement in a legal proceeding. Those e-mailing, by the way, have been advised that this site is being utilized for today's The Common Ills. Why is that? Ask Blogger.

Jim Yardley and Thom Shankar have "Chinese Navy Buildup Gives Pentagon New Worries." The headline captures the article and those interested in the topic should click on the link.Ginger Thompson and James C. McKinley Jr. have "Opposition Chief at Risk in Mexico City."From the article:

In a vote that casts doubt on the strength of Mexico's fledgling democracy, this city's popular leftist mayor lost a critical battle in Congress on Thursday over a measure that is likely to force him off the ballot in presidential elections next year and could lead to his imprisonment.
Hundreds of thousands of people were gathered in Mexico City's central square throughout the day to protest the action, a rare proceeding known in Mexico as a "desafuero," in which Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador was stripped of his official immunity so he could stand trial in a minor land dispute.
In terms of political rights, the Mexican Constitution holds suspects guilty until proved innocent, so Mr. Lopez will be banned from politics until the end of a trial.

Guilty until proven innocent? Kind of like Guantanomo.

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[Note: This is a repost from alternate site: and the post originally appeared under this address: this morning. Thanks to my friend -- and the UK computer gurus for all their help. If you're reading this here, especially thanks to my friend who's agreed to attempt reposts this morning.]

The Common Ills is posting today

The Common Ills is posting today

If you're new to The Common Ills, welcome. We've been around since November (The Common Ills).

We're a resource/review and a community.

We're here today and may be here from now on. I have no idea. We usually use the Blogger program and post via that at our original site.

But to bring you (and members who hopefully have gotten word on where we are today) up to speed, Blogger's not working.

As TCI members know, we're all doing what we can to stop the extension of aspects of the Patriot Act due to sunset. I got home very late yesterday due to working on that in the evening. As I attempted to log in repeatedly and without success to the Blogger problem, I checked the site e-mail ( only to find e-mails from Betty (who does Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man) and Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude). Betty has small children and not all evening to waste. After an hour, she gave up on posting. Rebecca spent two hours attempting to post before she gave up. This morning, news comes from everyone but Blogger. Ron of Why Are We Back In Iraq? advised that he can't log into Blogger, Folding Star e-mails the same thing re: A Winding Road.

As usual, when faced with a computer problem of any kind, I got on the line to community members UK Computer Gurus. Within a very short time, they determined that the problem was with Blogger and it was system wide. I used the remaineder of the evening to actually respond to e-mails (something I'm rarely able to do due to the volume of e-mail that comes in each day).

I assumed that Friday morning, Blogger would have fixed their problem and we'd begin posting there again. That's not the case this morning.

As community members know, I criticize the New York Times loudly and freely. I also note that many beliefs I operate under come via the New York Times. The Times got a paper out on September 12, 2001. Later, when New York was in blackout due to "going off the grid," they still got a paper out. There's no way I could not post with that sort of an example/challenge.

So with the help of the UK Computer Gurus, we've got this today. Whether this will be a backup site or the new home, I honestly don't know. But there are entries up today.

I've attempted to notify as many members as I could about today's entries. I apologize for any troubles/problems/what have yous this may have caused.

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[This is a repost from the back up site: ;
is the address for this entry. Thanks again to my friend who gets these up if Blogger starts working again.]

Democracy Now: Realities re: Iraq, DeLay and Celebrating The Black Commentator's Third Anniversary

Posted on back up site:
The Common Ills
This entry was done for yesterday. Problems with the program Blogger prevented it from going up.
UK Gurus have helped set up this space you're viewing and firstly, thank you as always to our UK Computer Gurus who save my butt more times than one would think possible; secondly, no decision has been made re: walking away from Blogger at this time.
The title for this entry is "Democracy Now: Realities re: Iraq, DeLay and Celebrating The Black Commentator's Third Anniversary."Democracy Now! "always worth watching" (Marica):

Headlines for April 7, 2005
- Kurdish Leader Talabani Sworn In As Iraqi President- U.S. Accused of Taking Iraqi Women Hostage- Gonzales: Secret Warrant Used in Botched Terror Case- Report: Valerie Plame Investigation Wrapped Up- Schiavo Memo Linked to GOP Senate Office- Gov't Criticized For Plans to Safeguard Nuclear Plants- White supremacist Matthew Hale Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison

Iraq's New President Jalal Talabani: Ally of CIA, Iranian Intelligence and Saddam Hussein

Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani is named president of Iraq, becoming the first non-Arab president of an Arab country. Veteran Middle East journalist Dilip Hiro talks about Talabani's ties to the CIA, Iranian intelligence and Saddam Hussein. [includes rush transcript]

Washington's Trojan Horse in the New Iraqi Government: Vice President Abdel Mahdi
Outgoing finance minister Adel Abdel Mahdi was named by the Iraqi parliament to be one of the country's two vice presidents. We speak with author and activist Antonia Juhasz about Abdel Mahdi's ties to neo-liberal institutions and his plans to privatize Iraq's oil.

Washington's Neocon in Baghdad? Zalmay Khalilzad Nominated as U.S. Ambassador
Zalmay Khalilzad, the current U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan prepares to head to Iraq. We look at his history from supporting the mujahadeen in the 1980s, his relationship to big oil and his role in the Project for the New American Century.

DeLay Under Scrutiny Again for Ethics Violations
Pressure mounts on House majority leader Tom DeLay to resign after several more scandals come to light. We'll speak with Texas journalist Lou DuBose, author of "The Hammer: Tom DeLay: God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress." [includes rush transcript]

Rod e-mails to note Steven Sherman's "Why the NYT is Not 'Assertively Left'" from CounterPunch. Here is an excerpt:

There isn't anything wrong with producing a publication with a political agenda. But there is a problem with two ways of describing the Times, both of which you (somewhat inconsistently) indulge in. First, when one describes the Times news reporting as striving for 'objectivity', there is implicit the notion that this is a high-minded enterprise better able to arrive at the truth than those who openly admit to a political agenda, whether of the right or the left. In fact, the Times has as much of an agenda as anyone else. Readers ultimately need to critically scrutinize all journalism and opinion pieces for logic and evidence, and try to consider what is left out, rather than trust that some techniques can arrive at an 'objective' standpoint.
The second position, that the Times is a liberal or even a left paper, is usually associated with ideologues of the right. It is easy enough to see what is gained when the right denounces the Times (and NPR, CBS, etc) as 'liberal'. It undermines The Times' claim to objectivity. It may, at first, be a little more confusing to understand why the Times' public editor would make a similar claim. There are two possibilities. By describing the Times as liberal or left, you are basically trying to delegitimize opinion further to the left of the Times. As the late John Hess, a former Times reporter, noted in his memoirs, My Times, the Times is notoriously intolerant of dissent from its left. You are basically saying, why bother? We are the liberals/left! As you noted in another column, readers who dissent from the Times from the left only raise points of economics or foreign policy (as if these aren't important), unlike right wingers, who disagree with the Times about everything (including the presumably more important social issues, which the major political parties also openly debate-although I'm not so sure that those on the left agree with the Times about all of these, particularly recent celebrations of stay-at-home mothering). The other possibility is that the Times is trying to demonstrate to the right that it is fair and willing to accept criticism. In general, in your columns you seem almost deferential to critics to your right, while irritated with those on your left.

Becky points us to corrente, where RDF has some strong, to the point commentary:

With the continuing pope-o-rama, endless shots of an old man’s corpse lying on a bier, relentless detailed coverage of his every living and dying fart and belch (you reckon the Dalai Lama will get this coverage when he cashes it in?), it’s easy to miss interesting stories like this one from AP:
Gov. Jeb Bush said Tuesday he intends to sign a bill that would allow people who feel threatened -- even on the street or at a baseball game -- to "meet force with force" and defend themselves without fear of prosecution.
[. . .]
So, say I’m at a bar in Pensacola and someone says, “I oughtta kick your ass for taking the last peanut,” I can whip out my jammy and fill him full of lead. After all, I was threatened. Like mini-W says about the law, “it’s a good, common sense, anti-crime issue." Ah, the NRA, long noted for its common sense.

We'll note that The Black Commentator is celebrating it's third anniversary. Glen Ford and Peter Gamble explain the meaning of this important milestone in "The Crying Need for Black Journalism:"

On this occasion of The Black Commentator’s Third Anniversary, we the publishers salute you, our readers. You are a very special group of people, now numbering between 30,000 and 40,000 unique visitors per weekly issue – nearly 100,000 individuals per month.
We know you are a special group, because we picked the first 20,000 or so of you, based on your political activism and influence, as we prepared to launch the site on April 5, 2002. Most of the rest of you were introduced to us by extremely intelligent friends and co-strugglers. Without a doubt, The Black Commentator is blessed with the smartest audience on the Internet -- people whose opinions shape the views of many others. You are the catalysts for change; we are simply here to assist as you contemplate how to effect these changes.
[. . .]
For most of the history of Black people in the United States, the obligations of advocacy for justice were a given among African American journalists. Oppression and exploitation are objective realities, not questionable notions to be carefully balanced by lies. Liars and thieves have no rights that honest men and women are bound to respect. There was a time when such values were near-universally understood among African Americans who called themselves journalists. No more. Now, for far too many, journalism has become simply one more route to individual upward mobility, devoid of social obligation and contemptuous of truth.

So congratulations to The Black Commentator as it celebrates its third anniversary. From The Black Commentator, we'll also note Norman (Otis) Richmond's "Lawyers Against the War are After Bush:"

The movement of international lawyers is a good thing and should be supported. This is a people-to-people action which is positive. However, we should not be so naive as to believe that the governments of the U.S. or Germany have good intentions for the world’s people. Both are concerned about their bottom lines. German imperialists are no different than American or Canadian imperialists. We must always remember there is such an animal as inter-imperialist rivalry that will cause the imperialists to fight among themselves for a slice of the capitalist pie. While Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin refused to join the U.S. on the question of Missile Defense he did so to save his politic life.
Gerald Horne, author of a new book Black and Brown: African Americans and the Mexican revolution, 1910-1920 supports Law’s international efforts. Horne feels that internationalist has always aided African Americans. International support has always helped African Americans and American working people. There is a historic precedent for this. On Dec.17, 1951, Paul Robeson and William L.Patterson, two giants of the international African Liberation Struggle, delivered to the United Nations a petition titled, "
We Charge Genocide: The Crime of Government Against the Negro People." Many feel that this act helped spark the modern civil rights and black power movements. The great El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) was talking about an updated version of what Robeson, Patterson, George Crockett, Dr. W.E.B. Dubois, Claudia Jones and others had started in 1951.

At The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby is addressing a number of topics this morning including what Dallas has labeled "The Pope Goes On" (and the Sonny & Cher song "The Beat Goes On" has been trapped in my head ever since). Somerby on the coverage:

No, there's nothing wrong with referring to one's religion on the air. And there's not necessarily anything wrong with "sharing a Catholic bond" with one's employers--even if that bond seems to produce an oddly monochromatic gang of big players at a powerful network. But there was something wrong--something badly wrong--with last night's MSNBC programming, which mixed computer doves and lachrymose hymns with a papal pep rally so unbalanced and silly that the evening would have seemed out of place even on EWTN (Eterrnal Word Television Network). On and on the Catholic piety went, through hour-long shows by Matthews, Tucker Carlson, and Joe Scarborough. Did anything actually happen this week right here in your actual country? You'd never know it on MSNBC! For a taste of how silly the programming was, read Keith Morrison's endless, ghoulish report about how blue John Paul's eyes really were (on Carlson's program; at some point, they'll get around to posting the transcripts here). But we suggest you read the transcripts from all three cited shows to get a taste of where NBC's "Catholic bond" may be taking this "news" operation.

Somerby also begins a paragraph with this:

And yes, at the risk of engaging in that “repeated and convulsive _expression of more or less contrived outrage” that Josh Marshall so piously warns us against,
[. . .]

Lynda: When I read that, I thought, little Josh Mikey Marsh, shut the f**k up. Who asked you? This has been Bob Somerby's best week and that's saying a lot. I think it's 'interesting' how certain people show up to clutch the pearls and cluck whenever someone's doing ground breaking work. Joshy Mikey Marsh as an aging matron? Maybe Cokes Roberts loaned him the pearls?

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Backup site

Due to problems with Blogger, a back up site has been used to post entries this morning:

[Note: This post was prepared ahead of time and a friend is posting it as soon as she can get into Blogger -- should the problems with Blogger be fixed.]

Thursday, April 07, 2005

IPS & the Patriot Act

At IPS Thalif Deen's "U.S. Pursues Disruptive Anti-Abortion Agenda" is worth noting:

As expected, the United States has once again raised the politically divisive issue of abortion at a crucial U.N. meeting here, refusing to reaffirm the landmark Programme of Action unanimously adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. According to an amendment introduced by the United States, Washington has indicated its willingness to support the ICPD programme of action only ”with the understanding that nothing therein creates a right to abortion.” ”As everyone knows, the Cairo conference made it clear that abortion was a national matter, not an international matter,” a Third World delegate told IPS. ”The (George W.) Bush administration is obviously bent on sabotaging these post-Cairo meetings with a politically sensitive issue that was settled as far back as 1994,” he added.

Via BuzzFlash, Marica found this from The Berkshire Eagle: "Kennedy leads fight to alter Patriot Act" by Evan Lehmann. From that article:

The mood of an attacked nation has changed since 9/11 and so should the USA Patriot Act, says a Massachusetts senator involved in the debate over renewing the law.
Passed 45 days after four airliners were hijacked and used as weapons in 2001, the Patriot Act will be scrutinized and studied before year's end, when 16 of its provisions are due to expire.
At the center of attention are the law's most controversial elements: those that broadened the government's ability to investigate library records and conduct searches without notifying suspects.
"In the years since 9/11, many of us have become concerned that the act needlessly overrides basic freedoms, and we have an opportunity to restore them without in any way endangering our national security," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

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This morning's Times

With this morning's New York Times, we'll start by noting Douglas Jehl and Steven R. Weisman's "Bush Nominee for U.N. Post Faces Hurdles at Senate Panel" (David E. Sanger helped with the article):

A former chief of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research is expected to testify in opposition to John R. Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds hearings on Mr. Bolton next week.
With one Republican member, Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, reserving final judgment, the committee's approval of Mr. Bolton's nomination does not appear to be certain, senior Congressional officials said.

Brad e-mails to alert us to Carl Hulse and Philip Shenon's "DeLay Denounces Report on Payments to His Family:"

Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, on Wednesday angrily dismissed newspaper accounts that focused on payments to his wife and daughter as well as on additional trips taken by him that have come under scrutiny.
In an interview with CNN, Mr. DeLay criticized an article in The New York Times on Wednesday that said his wife, Christine A. DeLay, and his daughter, Dani Ferro, had received more than $500,000 since 2001 from his political action and campaign committees. He called the article "just another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me," contending that his wife and daughter had legitimately earned the money by working as valued members of his political team.

DeLay, DeLay, DeLay. "Liberal media?" That's the best you can do? You must be as weary of being exposed as we are all are weary of you.

Larry notes Matthew L. Wald's "Study Finds Vulnerabilities in Pools of Spent Nuclear Fuel:"

Terrorists could plausibly mount a successful attack on the pool of spent fuel at a nuclear power reactor, according to a study done for Congress by the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists said federal regulators should evaluate each plant to determine if some of the fuel should be moved into dry casks to lower the risks.
The report contradicts the position of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which says that the pools, maintained at more than 100 reactors, are as safe as casks, which reactor owners have turned to only as their pools have reached capacity.

For an in depth report on this topic, read Anne-Marie Cusac's "Fire HazardBush Leaves Nuclear Plants at Risk" from The Progressive. From Cusac's article:

The Bush Administration is actually relaxing the fire safeguards there.
Instead of insisting that the plants have heat-protected mechanical systems in place that will shut down reactors automatically in case of fire, which is the current standard, the Bush Administration would actually let the power companies rely on workers to run through the plants and try to turn off the reactors by hand while parts of the facilities are engulfed in flames.
"The result could be catastrophic," says a March 3 letter from Representative Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Representative John Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, to Nils J. Diaz, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). "This would assign reactor personnel the duty of rushing directly to the shutdown equipment located throughout the reactor complex to shut down the reactors manually, and would potentially take place in station areas affected by smoke, fire, and radiation and possibly under attack by terrorists."
Inside the NRC, the idea of people dodging flames and possibly high radiation areas to try to avert a meltown has raised some eyebrows. In a September 2003 meeting, one member of a panel on reactor fire safety repeatedly pointed out that relying on humans to do work in dangerous conditions and under stress was asking for trouble. It's difficult to prepare operators, said Dana Powers, a member of the Fire Protection Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards. "How do you do that?" he asked. "How do you simulate smoke, light, fire, ringing bells, fire engines, crazy people running around?"
So why is the NRC proposing to relax the fire safety standard? Amazingly, because many nuclear power plants have not been abiding by current regulations to put up proven fire barriers. Rather than demanding better fire safeguards or insisting that nuclear power companies at least abide by the current ones, the NRC wants to let them off the hook. It's as if car drivers were regularly going 90 mph, so the government raised the speed limit to 90.

Krista e-mails noting Alan Cowell's "Sinn Fein Leader Offers I.R.A. an 'Alternative' to Violence" which she feels needs rounding out. First the excerpt:

Gerry Adams, the leader of the Sinn Fein political wing of the Irish Republican Army, urged I.R.A. fighters on Wednesday to pursue their goals through politics as an alternative to "armed struggle."
His statement, made under strong political pressure and read to reporters in Belfast, seemed to be the closest he had come in public to urging the I.R.A. to renounce violence and transform itself into an open political movement from a secretive, underground guerrilla force.

We are told Bully Boy and Blair (are they this century's Jonathan & Jennifer Hart -- when they met, it was murder!) are waiting and seeing.

Krista and I'll refer you to the CounterPunch article we linked to yesterday, Cindy Ellen Hill's "On the Lists What's the Patriot Act Doing in Belfast?" From that article:

If the IRA is placed on President Bush's Terrorist Exclusion List, charitable organizations whose activities include support of families experiencing trauma or economic difficulty due to a family member's involvement in IRA activity run the risk of being shut down and having their assets seized, much as has occurred with several large Islamic charities. If the IRA is placed on the State Department list of Designated Terrorist Organizations, any American who "materially supports' the IRA -- again, including public advocacy, or humanitarian aid to those who have been disadvantaged by the troubles -- will be prosecuted as a terrorist. The devil will then meet the deep blue sea on the question of what position the U.S. will take regarding Sinn Fein's relationship with the IRA.
The fate of Northern Ireland stands on the edge of a knife, and Irish Americans have much on the line. The question remains whether the Bush administration betrayal of the cause of peace in Northern Ireland is enough to reawaken the Irish American community as a political block to be reckoned with, and whether that Irish American community can compel the U.S. Government to once again stand as guarantors of the cause of Irish freedom.

Barbara e-mails to note Jodi Wilgoren's "40-Year Term for Supremacist in Plot on Judge:"

Matthew Hale, the white supremacist convicted last year of plotting to assassinate a federal judge, was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years in prison for what the sentencing judge described as an "egregious act against the rule of law in the United States."
"I consider Mr. Hale to be extremely dangerous," the judge, James T. Moody of Federal District Court, said in imposing the maximum sentence.

Reason to stay focused on opposition to extending the sunset provisions of the Patriot Act?
According to Eric Lichtblau's "Less Prickly Than Ashcroft, Gonzales Wins Some Fans," Alberto "Brand New Me" Gonzales is winning fans. Don't be shocked, Jean-Claude Van Damme had them once too and look at him today. Stay active.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

AP on CIA, Regina (Chicana on the Edge) on stereotypes, Pam (Big Brass Blog)on NAACP, Dhar Jamail, Medea Benjamin and Peter Camejo

From the Associated Press, note Katherine Shrader's "Officials Ask Why Iraq Details Surface Now:"

The CIA and members of Congress said they want to know how a presidential commission unearthed details on intelligence failures about Iraq's prewar weapons programs that previous investigations missed.

Make of it what you will -- shifting the blame, shifting the focus.

Now, in the reality based world, let's note a few things.

Over at Chicana on the Edge, Regina's addressing stereotypes:

Why is it so hard to accept the existence of someone whose nationality is blurred? Why can so few people understand that since I'm not white enough to count as white, but not Mexican enough to count as Mexican, I occupy a rather lonely middle ground where I seem doomed to disappoint everyone? All my life people have passed judgment on me when they've learned how poor my Spanish is. At least my co-workers aren't doing that. On the contrary, they're refusing to accept the reality of my limited bilingualism. It almost feels like a compliment: maybe I've been accepted as "one of them." Only I know I haven't been every time I have to stop the conversation and say, "No te entiendo. No te entiendo."

Billie notes that Ron's addressing the John Cornyn issue over at Why Are We Back in Iraq?:

But here's the best part of this campaign to prevent the Solomon Amendment (which allows the military to recruit on campuses) from being overruled by "activist judges."
"Tell the U.S. Senate that America deserves conservative judges, not legislators in robes." (
You see, this has nothing to do with "activist judges", it's just another half-baked partisan distortion by Republicans. Cornyn isn't looking for "non-activist" judges, he wants to pack the courts with conservative judges.

Over at Big Brass Blog, Pam's examing "Calif. NAACP is first chapter to endorse same-sex marriage:"

This is good news, but sad, because all chapters of the NAACP should be against discrimination of any kind. When the organization held its national convention in Philly in 2004, the topic of gay civil marriage was purposefully missing from the agenda. Julian Bond, head of the organization, said that "it would be a healthy discussion to have...but I would be fearful of what might happen." So much for courage in the midst of states writing bigotry into their respective Constitutions. The NAACP's ball-less homo-bigots are content to let it all slide, save Alice Huffman with her big brass ones in California.

Krista: Remember the Dahr Jamail interview that you couldn't find at the online magazine? Well Dahr's posted it at Iraq Dispatches:

What happened was that most of the fighters in the city left even before the siege began--even the military admitted to that. So of the roughly 3,000 people killed, the vast majority were civilians. Falluja was declared a "free-fire" zone for the military, meaning that they were not distinguishing between civilians and fighters, which is, of course, a violation of international law in a city where there might be civilians.
As far as accomplishing this goal of "rooting out fighters" and/or providing "security and stability" for the January 30 election, we can see that neither have been accomplished.

The magazine was Socialist Worker Magazine and the interview is conducted by Eric Ruder. It's entitled "Independent journalist Dahr Jamail:“Life in Falluja is a horror story.”

At CodePink, Medea Benjamin has an essay (with photos) entitled "The Salinas 24-Hour Emergency Read-In, Chicken Soup for the Soul:"

Looking around the Cesar Chavez library at 5 am was a sight to behold. To my right I counted 32 tents pitched in the grass, tents of library-loving campers who had come from San Diego and Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Sacramento, Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo, as well as local campers from Salinas. In the front of the library, where we had set up a "Seat of Wisdom", a group of students was quietly reading a novel to each other.

Third Party alerts us to Peter Camejo's "The Crisis in the Green Party" from CounterPunch:

When I speak of Cobb supporters I mean precisely those who are in the leadership of that current. Many of the Greens who voted for or supported Cobb are not in agreement with many of the views being projected by what I call the "Lesser Evil" current. I define that current based on the statement by 18 Green leader supporters of Cobb that refer to themselves as supporters of voting for the Lesser Evil (their word).
They wanted to "win", to defeat Nader. Looking back we can now see clearly that after being crushed in the primaries (they received 12%) and in most state conventions, the Cobb supporters could not win unless they stacked the convention. By stacking I mean something quite simple. Regardless of the vote in a state convention or primary the Lesser Evil current set out to get as many of their supporters to become delegates. An example would be if in a State Cobb got 26% of the vote instead of only 26% of the delegates from among those who voted for Cobb going to the convention and 74% of those who voted for another candidate going the majority of delegates going to the convention were Greens who voted for Cobb. To do this is not only anti-democratic it is a conscious effort to over turn the will of the membership.
By doing this "packing" they refused to accept the wishes of the membership. This fact more than anything else is what threatens the Green Party today. If democracy is not respected within the Green Party then what exactly is the Party? Internal democracy is not a negotiable issue. When the membership votes, its collective will must be respected and recognized.

For the record, community member Third Party is a Green Party member. If someone comes across an article offering a different view, we'll be happy to link to it. And if any member wants to comment on the article (in a private e-mail or with comments to be shared with the community), they are free to do so. I feel the need to add this paragraph because I am not a Green Party member and I'm not an expert on the Green Party. I do have friends who will agree with the above article and I do have friends who will disagree (friends who are Greens) so I am aware that Camejo's views are shared by some in the Green Party and hopefully Camejo
is addressing a concern that others share. With this link, I am not taking sides. This site doesn't exist to beat up on the Green Party. But we're also not here to look the other way. I thank Third Party for bringing the article to our attention and if this is an issue the community wants to address, we will. And we will link to alternate views as well.

The e-mail address for this site is

Ruth: NPR doesn't "need anymore passes"

Ruth: I'm old enough to remember before there was NPR in my area. When we first got NPR it was a breath of fresh air and there are people like Nina Totenberg who've remained excellent (and possibly gotten better). But overwhelmingly, NPR has shifted to the right.

Cokie Roberts is a waste of air time. She's Miss Rona Barrett for D.C. telling us nothing but gossip and her predictions are almost always wrong which suggests she's either trying to spin to influence or else she's not even a good gossip.

Her increasing "stature" at NPR is one of the biggest problems the network has.
I know people who loathe her and have yet to find one in my circle who likes her.
She's pompous and pushy.

I'm very disturbed by the commercials NPR airs. Today, I heard about a plug for The West Wing on DVD. But I'll take entertainment over another corporate sponsor.
Juan Williams and Mara Liasson are serial offenders. Daniel Shorr just plays it safe like he's glad to have an outlet after the CBS disaster.

I don't buy for a moment that [Steve] Inskeep and NPR's Renee [Montagne] know what they're talking about Morning Edition. Bob Edwards gave you the sense that he was informed and he cared about the stories but Steve and Renee come off like snickering school kids.

I have no problem with attitude, and love Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
but I don't think it should have a place in the anchors.

Steve's voice drips with self-enjoyment at his attempts to be witty while Renee comes off like an eatery hostess: "How's the meal? Good. Is everything fine? Good."

I love The Diane Rehm Show. I don't always enjoy the guests but I do enjoy the fact that's she's obviously listening to what's being said and basing her questions on that, not a list she's working off of. Her show works because she actually listens.

I think Terry Gross is usually good but that man from The New York Times [Dexter Filkins]
got a pass from her and the question that begged asking is, "From your comments about how they save you and all the rest, it doesn't appear you subscribe to the belief of journalism objectivity?"

She also should have asked him how often he leaves the Green Zone.

Tavis Smiley had an interesting show that was worth listening to more often than not. Talk of the Nation needs real guests.

I say all of that to explain that I do listen to NPR and have since it arrived in my area.
The network has shifted to the right.

The topics have nothing to do with workers and we get a corporate take on everything.
We've also lost any ability to question the official line from the administration in the actual news programs. I find that very distressing.

I find the way the anti-war movement has been shunted aside by NPR very depressing.
I'm comfortable econmically but I know many seniors aren't and I'm very bothered that seniors only appear as topics on NPR if they're some sort of globe trotting, vacation, second house owning group. That's not reality and NPR was not created to do "lifestyle" reporting.
Morning Edition has gone so far downhill.

With Bob Edwards, I never felt he was liberal or conservative, I just felt he was interested in the news, all the news. With Steve and Renee, I just feel like they're interested only in the easy stories, the ones don't question. They come off as scripted and overly polished as they rush in with their "witty" remarks. It's as though Good Morning America has taken over Morning Edition.

Bob Edwards may be the most conservative man on the face of the earth or the most liberal, but I never got the impression he cared about anything other than telling me what happened and how.

My night ends around the time the local news goes off after the prime time line up. But I don't watch it because I'm not interested in crime reports and what stores are opening or having a sale or trend stories. I usually end the night reading a book and listening to an old vinyl album.
Tell Kat I hope she will review something from the sixties but I'd also be pleased with a review of Stevie Wonder's Talking Book or Carole King's Tapestry. And let her know this grandmother enjoys reading her reviews even when I don't know a thing about the group or album.

My day starts with The Common Ills and I'm catching up on what I missed since the previous morning. I have the radio on to NPR and listen to that. I did listen to Chuck D and the ladies of Unfiltered. And sometimes would let it run through to Al Franken (last time when he had Julian Epstein on who's very smart and reminds me of my oldest son). But I'm too old to listen to Jerry Springer talk to me like I'm in pre-K. So it's NPR all the way through except on the weekends when I listen to The Laura Flanders Show. If Sam Seder would let Janeane [Garofalo] speak, I'd listen to The Majority Report at night but I can't take the way he always cuts her off and I also don't feel that they have enough female guests.

That's something NPR used to be better about. They would have women and people of color. Now they rely on just these mouth pieces that aren't any different than what I could find on CNN. That was not how LBJ sold this project to America.

But I'll start off the day with NPR on the radio and The Common Ills on my computer screen. I'll read the excerpts and click on some links but I am opposed to any tracking so I'm careful about what I visit.

I'm one of the people who really depends on the pull quote because I do not believe that people have a right to invade my privacy because I visit their site.

I love hearing what's on members minds and I agree with what was said Saturday that a lot of important voices are my age or older and of the new crop only Naomi Klein consistently impresses me.

The resource and review nature here is very valuable to me. I'd never heard of Democracy Now! until my granddaughter Tracey showed me this site at Christmas. That's now the only news program I watch on TV. (I have a dish because my kids and grandkids like to watch a variety of programming.) Amy Goodman could have held her own back when TV news was in the news business and I'll either Tivo the episode or watch it right then if Miles is sleeping. Miles is my ten month old grandson that I watch each day.

He's a handful and more spirited than I remember any of the others being. He keeps me on my toes and brings me a great deal of joy as do all my grandkids.

Four years ago, I didn't have to worry about their futures. I felt like we realized that we could destroy the earth if we weren't careful and that we were going to address issues like pollution and alternative energy. I felt like we were taking these big steps towards dignity for everyone.

Bill Clinton was not the perfect president and I didn't agree with all of his policies but I didn't feel like we were all in danger of destruction because an idiot was in the White House.

These days I do. My oldest grandchild is sixteen and I can't believe the state of the world today and think of what she faces because the Bully Boy, I think that's the perfect name for him, was all set to break every rule of tradition and decency that allowed us to interact with each other and other countries.

He's trashed our image and destroyed the rule of the law and that honestly frightens me because I can remember Richard Nixon being president and things were bad but there were places you could go for the truth and the news didn't always look the other way.

My oldest son, Stan, bought me this computer and I've used it for gardening and cooking information. Tracey kept telling me, "Granny, Common Ills" over and like a broken record.

I like the sense of community. And I like it that people stand up here.

Like with Ireland and how the entire media was willing to go along with the administration and trash the tentative peace that had begun there. I'm old enough to remember when Ireland would be in the news and it wasn't pretty or happy. I like that issues like that are dealt with here when no one else wants to.

I love all the members for different reasons. Third Estate Sunday Review is my wake up on Sunday as I make sure the roast is almost done for when everyone comes over. I love it when they're silly, I love it when they're serious. They're doing good work. Folding Star's book chats on Saturdays are something I really look forward to because I do enjoy a wide variety books and the book chat seems to be done out of a real love for the written word. Rebecca cracks me up and reminds me of my best friend from college and a little of me back in those days.

We weren't going to live our mothers' lives and we weren't going to try to fit any box someone wanted to put us in. We can't say that or do that? Oh just watch us. And that struggle to speak in her own voice, to hold on to what is real to her, really comes through when I read her.

I buried my husband five years ago and it was a good marriage filled with love and fights and you name it but it was the end of a large chapter in my life.

Part of my reaction after that was due to grief and it was a long process. But when I wasn't part of a couple for the first time in forever, I wasn't sure what I was other than to my children and my grandchildren.

I have friends my age in similar situations who lose themselves in soap operas or talk shows. For instance, their lives are about what Erica's doing.

My best friend Treva, the one Rebecca really reminds me of, is a lifelong activist and she knew I was in a stage where it was time to move beyond the grief. She invited me to spend a month with her and I'm sure she was hoping I'd be traveling the country the way she does. I don't know where she gets her energy but besides being worn out, I also missed my family and really couldn't see a life on the road even when it's dedicated to fighting the good fight.

And I came back here and probably would've ended up parked in front of the TV becoming the good consumer they encourage us to be. But then the Bully Boy started making war noises nonstop and no one ever questioned him. That's when I gave up on TV news.

I lived on letters from Treva, telling it like it was really was and letting me know all the rallies and all the people that never made it into "that's the way it was."

Then Tracey started getting political and I was just so proud of her. I'd ask where she heard about this or that and she'd tell me from a friend and beg me to tag along but I always felt like a third wheel, a very old third wheel.

So this community has given me a great deal. When I read about NPR, I thought, "Okay, this is something I can give back." Because they have shifted to the right, not the center.

This didn't happen last year or three years ago, it's been going on for some time. I was nodding at the part about giving them a pass allowing them to continue moving right.

Right now they're doing a lazy, uninformed report on Social Security. Earlier, they had a strong interview with Jane Fonda. In the past, I would have given them a pass and taken the attitude of "well it evened out in the wash."

I would have been so grateful that in these dark times we could hear Jane Fonda on the radio that I would've given them a pass on other things. But why should I be grateful?

NPR's lucky Jane Fonda agreed to an interview. She's a two time Oscar award winning actress who is an international celebrity.

I shouldn't be grateful that she's on NPR, I should expect it. And pushing talking points of the administration in other stories shouldn't be a trade off I'd have to make to hear her.

I started thinking about how far I've seen NPR sink and how in ten more years, at this rate, I'll be listening to someone who won a reality show contest because they will have become so afraid of booking anyone that might upset the loud but small right wing.

They do not need anymore passes. Near the end of Morning Edition, my daughter usually drops off Miles. Sometimes she's early and if that happens, I won't be able to get an e-mail out to you. But on days when I am, I'll try to do a little review of what stood out on Morning Edition that morning. I'm not sure what time you post on your end and it may not be soon enough to go up that morning but you're welcome to use it because that's something I can do and this community is about finding out what can we do.

I'm getting my friends up to speed on the sunset provisions of the Patriot Act and why those don't need to be extended. We're working on letters because, although I've offered the use of this computer, they're really more comfortable with writing a letter.

But I think I can do this too. I may not be able to get something to you five times a week but I will get something to you to share with the community.