Saturday, May 07, 2005

Melody Townsel at Daily Kos and in The Dallas Observer

I'm helping The Third Estate Sunday Review currently but we're all on a break and I'm reading through as many e-mails as I can.

Stephanie found something via BuzzFlash from Daily Kos that she wanted to highlight. Melody Townsel's "Townsel: Help Me Keep It Real!" Townsel is the one, my opinion, who by coming forward about Bolton, forced people to take another look. (And I believe that Sam Seder is the one who broke Townsel's story, on The Majority Report, which was probably in conjunction with actions of The Daily Kos web site.) From Townsel's post:

Apparently, the SFRC staff began distributing the transcripts related to my story regarding John Bolton late yesterday -- and the MSM coverage is already frustrating at best.
In one AP story, they pull a single quote out of context and say that I've softened my criticism of Mr. Bolton. If you read my entire transcript, you'll know that that's simply not true. More below:
Diaries :: Melody Townsel's diary :: :: Trackback ::
The Washington Post says the transcripts provide a "murky picture" of what happened back in Moscow -- although they received the transcript of a contemporaneous witness able to verify all parts of my story. In fact, Fox News last night even reported the contemporaneous verification of Bolton's behavior toward me.

That is an excerpt so use the link to read in full.

Billie also e-mailed regarding Townsel to highlight something from one of our her local alternative weeklies, The Dallas Observer. From Kelsey Guy's "Undiplomatic: Plus: UTD orders investigation of Waterview:"

On a warm, windy morning last week, in front of a neighborhood coffee shop, Melody Townsel asks herself the question that hangs in the air. "Would I do it again?" she says. She doesn't know the answer; she's leaning, at this moment, toward a big, fat no. She says it with a rueful smile, though any smile at this point is a far cry from the way she felt the day before, when she answered the question "How are you doing?" with a simple "Suicidal."
A month ago you did not know the name Melody Townsel, and a month from now you probably will have forgotten it, unless you are family or a friend or a client of the public relations woman whose business shrinks a little more each week. But now, her name shows up regularly in newspapers and weekly magazines and on Web sites devoted to the bickering of political partisans.

There she is in last week's Time, her picture next to that of Colin Powell; there she is being mentioned on CNN and Fox News Channel. She's inescapable as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ponders her allegations that President Bush's nominee for United Nations ambassador, John Bolton, is a bully who, in the summer of 1994, put her "through hell."
Over the last three weeks, Townsel has become the target of Republican businessmen who charge she's lying and cannon fodder for right-wing bloggers who say much worse, because she sent the committee a letter urging its members "to consider blocking in committee" Bolton's nomination.

It was her complaint that caused Republican Senator George Voinovich to claim "my conscience got the best of me" two weeks ago, causing a delay in a vote once considered a slam dunk. (There are 10 Republicans on the committee and eight Democrats, including Joseph Biden.) The vote is now scheduled to take place May 12.
All this began on April 8, when Townsel wrote to the committee about an incident she says occurred while she was working for a private contractor on a U.S. Agency for International Development mission in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic. It was her job in the summer of 1994 to sell the economic reformation of that country, creating TV programs and T-shirts and even comic books informing citizens how to use their new privatization coupons that, more or less, gave them ownership in the formerly Communist republic.

If you click the link and read the article in full, Daily Kos did break the story. I could go back up and change the earlier paragraph but besides being crunched for time, it underscores the importance of this community. I assumed Daily Kos helped break the story, but wouldn't have known that for a fact had Billie not passed on this article (which I read only as I started pulling from it). Individually, we may each know a few things and see a few things, combined we're quite a force of brain power and information gathering.

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A Winding Road, Third Estate Sunday Review, Guerrilla News Network

Carl e-mailed to highlight Folding Star's "Harry Reid is at it Again:"

Senator Harry Reid is at it again. According to a news report, the Democratic Minority Leader in the Senate has been assuring Republican colleagues that he has no plans to filibuster any Supreme Court Nominees, except in 'extreme' cases. This from the very man who pledged to stand firm on the issue of judicial filibusters to begin with and then caved and offered the Republicans a deal that would have effectively killed the filibuster in practice while saving it in theory.
The leader of the Opposition (though I wonder if Harry Reid has any idea that that's what he is? He doesn't act like it!) shouldn't be rushing around assuring Republicans that his party has no plans to filibuster a Supreme Court Nominee. Let's get real- Bush isn't going to nominate a moderate to the Supreme Court! Should he have the chance, he'll go with another Scalia or Rehnquist. He aims to reshape that court, above all others, into a place of far right judicial activism.

As long term members know, Folding Star is a Common Ills member who decided to DIY (do it yourself) and start a blog: A Winding Road. The focus is primarily the Senate (when it's in session) and Folding Star does a wonderful job.

I wished I'd seen this earlier today when I was having a conversation with a friend who's primary focus is the environment. She self-identifies Democrat (but admits to leaning Green more and more) and in a long conversation, she brought up the issue of a "coward" in the Senate.
Someone was apologizing for calling the Bully Boy a "loser." I knew right away it was Harry Reid. I didn't need to read the brief item in this morning's Times to know that Harry Reid had called Bully Boy a loser or to hear any news report that he'd backed down to know it was the increasingly spineless Reid. When I offered his name, she said that was indeed who was apologizing. (And then did a funny riff on Amy Heckerling's film Loser which, had I taken notes, I'd note here.) Reid continues to disappoint. For anyone who missed the send up to the spineless Reid at The Third Estate Sunday Reveiw, I'd refer you to "Harry Reid: Determined to lead us to the promissory note land?" Here's a highlight:

"Dems Adjust on Literature"
Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times)
June 15, 2005
Following what some are terming a "focus group" and others are calling a very painful blood letting on Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor, stinky Senator Harry Reid warily approached the press this afternoon to announce that the Democrats were strongly against literature.
"Uh, well," Reid began wiping some fop sweat from his brow, "I don't know what to tell you. Somewhere, somebody spread a nasty rumor that we supported literature. It's not true, it never was. Have you read Nabokov? Lolita? That's just smut. What about D.H. Lawrence? Smut, smut, smut, smut."
When asked if the Democratic Party was against reading, Reid appeared to backtrack as the Democrats so often do."We are for children's picture books -- especially if they're retelling Bible stories -- and we are for coffee table books. We are also for cook books."
When an aide to Senator Reid reminded him of all the monies the TV dinner industry had contributed, he corrected the last remark. "Cook books are smutty. We are officially against them and, of course, Martha Stewart as well."
Asked of education, Reid stated that as long as he was a functioning adult, the Democratic Party would continue it's "historical" support of education.
(Unfounded) Rumors abound that the suit Harry Reid was wearing was picked out by infamous feminist Naomi Wolf prompting some (in the press corps) to make cheap jokes at his expense.
America's mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, long term education maven and all round round-the-way-gal, declared Reid's remarks repugnant.
"How dare he leave out Jokes for the John?" admonished the lovely Mrs. Bush. "My family is a typical family, like everyone else's, and we have long enjoyed fart jokes. When Senator Reid refuses to include them but includes coffee table books, it's obvious that this is one more example of a Democrat elitist who's less interested in the people and more interested in being . . . well, I won't say the word but it rhymes with 'bitch.'"

The piece is a send up. (To be clear after the confusion that came from Alexander Cockburn article we highlighted awhile back.) (And, disclosure, I assisted with this article, as did Rebecca and, if I'm remembering correctly, so did Betty and Kat.)

Heath notes that Anthony Lappé was on The Majority Report with Janeane Garofalo Friday (he will be a regular Friday night guest on The Majority Report) and that he highlighted a story he felt hadn't gotten enough attention. So from Guerrilla News Network, Heath refers us to Greg Palast's "Impeachment Time: 'Fact Were Fixed:'"

Here it is. The smoking gun. The memo that has "IMPEACH HIM" written all over it.
The top-level government memo marked "SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL," dated eight months before Bush sent us into Iraq, following a closed meeting with the President, reads, "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
Read that again: "The intelligence and facts were being fixed...."
For years, after each damning report on BBC TV, viewers inevitably ask me, "Isn't this grounds for impeachment?" -- vote rigging, a blind eye to terror and the bin Ladens before 9-11, and so on. Evil, stupidity and self-dealing are shameful but not impeachable. What's needed is a "high crime or misdemeanor."
And if this ain't it, nothing is.
The memo, uncovered this week by the Times [of London], goes on to describe an elaborate plan by George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to hoodwink the planet into supporting an attack on Iraq knowing full well the evidence for war was a phony.

We highlighted this via a BuzzFlash thing this week (if I'm remembering right and I could be wrong) but it bears noting again. And more information can be found at Greg Palast's web site.

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Book: Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism

Alice Walker
Medea Benjamin
Jodie Evans
Arundhati Roy
Camilo Mejia
Nancy Lessin
Cindy Sheehan
Carly Sheehan
Marti Hiken
MaryAnn Wright
Kit Gage
Patricia Foulkrod
Eve Ensler
Terry Tempest Williams
Rose Kabuye
Elise Boulding
Riane Eisler
Joan Almon
Catherine Ingram
Susan Griffin
Phyllis Bennis
Leslie Cagan
Fridea Berrigan
Eisha Mason
Rebecca Solnit
Diane Wilson
Marti Hiken
Becky Bond
Barbara Ehrenreich
Beth Osnes
Julia Ward Howe
Laura Flanders
Sonali Kolhatkar
Kavita N. Ramdas
Neela Marikkar
Sumaya Farhat-Naser
Gila Svirsky
Shirin Ebadi
Nurit Peled-Elhanan
Rabia Roberts
Jasmina Tesanovic
Pramila Jayapal
Mary Robinson
Helen Thomas
Gael Murphy
Katrina vanden Heuvel
Amy Goodman
Janine Jackson
Andrea Buffa
Nina Rothschild Utne
Tad Bartimus
Patricia Scott Schroeder
Doris "Granny D" Haddock
Chellie Pingree
Lynn Woolsey
Barbara Lee
Jody Williams
Noeleen Heyzer
Helen Caldicott
Randall Forsberg
Joseph Gerson
Gar Smith
Arianna Huffington
Julia Butterfly Hill
Jennifer Krill
Naomi Klein
Benazir Bhutto
Wangari Maathai
Aya de Leon
Alli Chagi-Starr
Holly Near
Juana Alicia
Kathryn Blume
Cynthia McKinney
Adrienne Maree Brwon
Sharon Salzberg

What is the above? A list of the people contributing to Stop the Next War Now which Dallas compiled and e-mailed in hoping it might interest some members in the book. Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism is a book attempting to increase our understanding of possible solutions and responses.

As we noted on Wednesday:

Code Pink has a book out entitled How to Stop the Next War Now. For more information, see Code Pink or BuzzFlash. The book contains contributions from a number of women this community has noted and highlighted. Among the contributors: Medea Benjamin, Amy Goodman, Maxine Hong Kinston, Barbara Lee, Naomi Klein, Eve Ensler, Janeane Garofalo and Arianna Huffington.

Dallas ordered the book via BuzzFlash and he e-mailed this afternoon to pass on the list of contributors thinking it might raise interest in the book. I agree this is an important book. I hadn't thought of purchasing it online from Code Pink or BuzzFlash when I saw it in my local independent bookstore -- I don't think BuzzFlash had offered it yet as a premium because the first I knew of the book was when the cover caught my eye. Whether you purchase the book from an independent bookstore, Code Pink, BuzzFlash, or wherever you usually purchase your books, I'd urge you to consider purchasing it. And for those on limited funds, check your local libraries and utilize their inter or intra library loan programs.

There are responses other than drop bombs and starve off a population (of food or medical supplies). Our current administration knows only war. Which is why so many of us flinch when someone starts saying "We have to do something about ___" -- fill in the blank. In five years our world view has been dangerously warped and our options reduced to one: war.

Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism is an attempt to raise our understanding and provide us with other tools. If it's not your "bag," that's fine. But, like Dallas, I feel strongly about the issue. As does Rebecca and The Third Estate Sunday Review which is why, with Dallas' permission, this entry will be posted at both of their sites as well.

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Air America this weekend (Laura Flanders, Ring of Fire, Politically Direct have guests announced)

From the Air America home page:

Ring of Fire
Ring of Fire
is now 5:00-7:00 p.m EST Saturday (re-airs Sunday 3:00-5:00 p.m .EST). If you want to talk with Bobby and Mike on the show, call our hotline anytime and leave us a message. 1-866-389-FIRE (3473)
The great muckraking novelist Upton Sinclair exposed the filthy secrets of American industry in the early 20th century and changed the course of history. Where are the Upton Sinclairs of today? (Hint: John Stossel need not apply. Mike talks with
Lauren Coodley, author of a new anthology of Sinclair's work titled, "The Land of Oranges and Jails".
Which is more "fair and balanced" -- Fox News or Al Jazeera? Bobby talks with Hugh Miles, who used to work for a Rupert Murdoch-owned news service in England and monitored the Arab T.V. network's broadcasts. Hugh is the author of of a new book titled, "Al Jazeera: How Arab TV News Challenges America".
Agent orange, the toxic defoliant sprayed by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, is linked to birth defects and cancer in civilians and veterans and their offspring. A federal judge recently ruled that South Vietnamese victims of the toxin (our allies during the war) are not entitled to compensation from Dow and Monsanto, the makers of agent orange. But the legal battle continues. Mike talks with attorney Dean Kokkoris.

The Laura Flanders Show
What to do when military recruiters come to your school? And how to take a lying war-monger down... We'll talk to TODD BOYLE on efforts to
limit military recruiting in high schools and Colorado High School journalist DAVID MCSWANE on how he went undercover and taped recruiters telling him to lie. Novelist and historian TARIQ ALI, analyzes the the U.K. elections, and we speak to REG KEYS, who lost his son in Iraq and ran against Prime Minister Tony Blair in his hometown, Sedgefield, England. Then the Punk Rock Feminist Band LE TIGRE on their recent tour and new CD, "This Island". They get audiences to dance and think - and we can too!

There is no information given on the home page (or on the pages for their shows) for Marty Kaplan's So What Else Is News? or Kyle Jason's The Kyle Jason Show.

Betsy Rosenberg's Eco-Talk (airs Sunday mornings at seven to eight a.m. eastern time) has no information posted at it's AAR web site or at it's blog on topic or guests for this Sunday.

I've done a very poor job highlighting Eco-Talk because it airs much too early for me (though, come to think of it, many Sunday mornings, I'm still up helping The Third Estate Sunday Review, so I could easily flip on the radio and listen). I have listened to Eco-Talk, via Air America Place's audio archives, and is a strong show.

We'll note this interview with Betsy Rosenberg by Grist magazine:

Grist: What work do you do?
Betsy Rosenberg: I've gone from 20 years of general news reporting and anchoring for the CBS Radio network to creating an environmental radio minute to hosting and producing a one-hour nationally syndicated eco-awareness program called
EcoTalk. I transitioned from journalist to activist a few years ago when, in the wake of 9/11, I decided that "saving the planet one sound bite at a time" was not enough and founded a gasroots group called Don't Be Fueled! Mothers for Clean and Safe Vehicles. The aim of the campaign is to tell the truth about unsafe SUVs and to promote hybrid vehicles. So I guess the combination of eco-activities makes me "radioactive"!
Grist: How does it relate to the environment?
Besty Rosenberg: In both my radio shows and activist campaign, I aim to demonstrate why people should take environmental problems more seriously, but I try to do it with a sense of humor. I try to show how these challenges relate to their own lives and families, and to help connect the dots between personal health and planetary health.
Grist: What do you really do, on a day-to-day basis? What are you working on at the moment?
Betsy Rosenberg: In addition to my radio production, being a wife and mom, and attending environmental events and talks, I work on Don't Be Fueled! by trying to convince "soccer moms" in my community that bigger is not necessarily better. At the moment, my primary work focus is on securing advertising sponsors for
my one-hour show on Air America. If anyone knows any green-leaning companies, please send 'em my way!

David Bender's Politically Direct started last Sunday. It airs from two p.m. to three p.m. easter time. Here's what's on tap for tomorrow as well as information on it from the show's Air America web page:

This Sunday, May 8th on Politically Direct, special guest Alec Baldwin will be on. The show will be taking calls live, so be sure to tune in! So you can have your phones at the ready the call in number will be: 1-866-303-2270About Politically Direct
The newest addition to Air America's expanding line-up of progressive talk is Politically Direct, a news and interview program broadcasting live every Sunday directly from Washington, DC, also known as our nation's temporarily-occupied capitol.
Sponsored by People for the American Way, Politically Direct will be hosted by veteran activist David Bender, who served as Air America's political director during the 2004 presidential campaign.
Bender says he hopes the show will serve as 'an antidote to the deadly and deadening diet of neo-cons, theo-cons and the journalists who enable them' by providing in-depth conversations with major progressive voices from across America.
So tune-in to Politically Direct every Sunday on Air America Radio for what you won't hear anywhere else: the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help us.

Steve Earle's The Revolution Starts Now airs from ten p.m. to eleven p.m. eastern time each Sunday night. There is no guest information currently posted for this Sunday's show.

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This morning's New York Times, Bolton, Sibel Edmonds, Microsoft

We're going to focus on only three stories in this morning's New York Times. Kara had a good point in her e-mail this morning and, acting on that, I e-mailed members who were suggesting links* to make sure they were fine with it.

So let's open with Douglas Jehl's "Ex-C.I.A. Official Says Bolton Interfered:"

John R. Bolton's effort in 2002 to oust a top Central Intelligence Agency analyst from his post in a dispute over Cuba represented a troubling breach of the line between policy makers and intelligence, the agency's former deputy director has told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to a transcript of the exchange.
The ex-official, John E. McLaughlin, who spent 32 years in the C.I.A., said the episode was "the only time I had ever heard of such a request" from a policy maker, that a C.I.A. officer or analyst be transferred.
The analyst, Fulton Armstrong, was the national intelligence officer for Latin America and had clashed with Mr. Bolton's office about a speech that Mr. Armstrong thought overstated the extent of Cuba's weapons programs.


Rob: The case is still not being made. Why is this a problem? I get why. I don't get why Democrats aren't all over the place explaining why. Bolton is a nightmare and the last thing we need at the U.N. But the case is still not being made.

Kara: The argument is still not stated. The argument goes to the way we see the world and our place in it. Possibly they fear distortions and lies like 'global consenst' when John Kerry attempted to broach this subject in a debate but the Democratic Party needs to engage in this discussion unless they're counting on those who've suffered under a bad boss to rise up and lead.
They have been handed one horror story after another but largely they have avoided both connecting dots and explaining the broader theme. The nation needs to be engaged on this debate that goes to the fundamental nature of our character.

Shirley wonders if this is a "disconnect deriving from the fact that it is so obvious to Senate Dems" what is wrong with Bolton? "The average person, hearing or reading a report or two, grasps that Bolton is a bully. The average person has also suffered under decades of bully bosses being applauded and held up by the press, most often the financial press, as a 'leader.'
The message that is not getting out is why Bolton is not right for the U.N. Certain senators may feel it is obvious, which I agree it should be, but in conversations I've had, I'm repeatedly struck by how often I'm forced to give a primer on the U.N.'s goals and what we're supposed to stand for. That is the argument that is not being made strongly to the people."

Ben: If you've followed Bolton's nomination closely you can argue the reasons for his being unqualified. But outside of printed editorials and op-eds, the issue isn't being raised. Any other nominee suffering these embarrassing revelations would have sunk a long time ago. Kerik was sunk by sex which didn't require much more than shock and disgust over his ground-zero love nest. Bolton's problems go to larger issues that are lost on a public that's been misled to see bullying as strength. With a list of incidents handed to them, Democrats now need to to make a coherent argument building on those incidents that goes to who and what we are as a people and country and how Bolton's actions spit on our self-concepts.

We'll move now to John Files' "Appeals Court Backs Dismissal of Suit on F.B.I.:"

A federal appeals court agreed with the government on Friday that a suit by an F.B.I. translator who was fired after accusing the bureau of ineptitude could expose government secrets and jeopardize national security.
The decision, by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, effectively ends the suit by the translator, Sibel Edmonds.
Her lawyer said, however, that she planned to take the case to the Supreme Court.

[. . .]
A lawyer for Ms. Edmonds, Ann Beeson, said in a telephone interview: "This vast expansion of the state secret privilege by the government makes us less safe, not more. If government employees cannot report security breaches without retaliation, then American national security suffers."

Lloyd: Near daily briefings on the [Michael] Jackson case contrast poorly with the paper's coverage of Sibel Edmonds's case. The headlines reads like a confession by the paper of how poorly it's stepped up to the plate on this case, Edmonds's name doesn't even make the headline because the casual reader hasn't noticed this case that has not been featured prominetly in the paper. While Nicholas Kristof rouses himself every few weeks to scream 'threat of a dirty bomb isn't getting the attention needed!' he's opted out of any attempts to drive the Edmonds case. If a dirty bomb is a threat, that threat is made stronger by allegations that the F.B.I. might be blowing translations of key information they have. For all the talk of reforming intelligence that the paper and others did after the 9-11 committee's findings, when presented with an opening to address this head on, they close their eyes and shut their mouths. Kristof should temper his incessent outrage of late since he's failed to take leadership on the Edmonds's case. [Paul] Krugman and [Bob] Herbert have used their columns to hammer home points which have sometimes resulted in the reporters at the paper awakening to issues ignored. Kristof shows up every few weeks to scream "Sudan!" or "Dirty bomb!" and then goes back into hibernation. The Edmonds's case has national implications and should have been covered with twice the attention of the celebrity scandal [Michael Jackson] but reporters and eternally outraged Kristof have ignored press conferences held by Edmonds and have refused to dig into the story on their own.

The ACLU has a statement posted on the Edmonds' case:

In a one-line order with no explanation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today upheld the dismissal of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds' case, despite a Justice Department Inspector General’s report which concluded that Edmonds' whistleblower allegations were in fact "the most significant factor" in the FBI’s decision to terminate her.
"First the government claims that everything about me is a state secret, then the court hearing is closed to the public, and now the court issues a decision without any public explanation. The government is going to great lengths to cover up its mistakes," Edmonds said. "If the courts aren't going to protect us, then Congress must act."
Edmonds, a former Middle Eastern language specialist hired by the FBI shortly after 9/11, was fired in 2002 after repeatedly reporting serious security breaches and misconduct. Edmonds challenged her retaliatory dismissal by filing a lawsuit in federal court, but her case was dismissed last July after Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the so-called "state secrets privilege," and retroactively classified briefings to Congress related to her case.
"This decision endangers us all. If government employees cannot report security breaches without retaliation, then national security, and all Americans, suffer," said Ann Beeson, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU, who argued the case on behalf of Edmonds. "We are determined to take this case all the way to the Supreme Court."
The state secrets privilege has historically been rarely invoked, and even more rarely employed to dismiss an entire case at the outset. When properly invoked, it permits the government to block disclosure of evidence that would cause harm to national security. In the Edmonds case, however, the government used the privilege to urge dismissal of the entire lawsuit, insisting that every aspect of Edmonds' case involves state secrets--including where she was born and what languages she speaks.
In a surprise move last month, the appeals court closed the courtroom during the oral argument in Edmonds' appeal to members of the press and general public. Several media organizations, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, Reuters America, the Associated Press and The Hearst Corporation, filed emergency motions to open the courtroom. The motions were denied without opinion.

For more of the ACLU's statements click the link preceding or click here. That the Times and other media organizations would file an appeal to be in the court and then, after being refused, appear to back down on an issue their actions indicate they felt was important is rather sad. Especially when a "happy talk" article on jobs' "creation" makes the front page even as it gets a slap down from the editorial board on A26.

Lastly, we'll note Sarah Kershaw's "In a Reverse, Microsoft Says It Supports Gay Rights Bill:"

Microsoft, faced with unrelenting criticism from employees and gay rights groups over its decision to abandon support of a gay rights bill in Washington state, reversed course again yesterday and announced that it was now in support of the bill.
[. . .]
The bill, which would have extended protections against discrimination in employment, housing and other areas to gay men and lesbians, failed by one vote on April 21. But it is automatically up for a new vote next year because bills introduced in the Washington Legislature are active for two years even if they are voted down the first time.

Marcia notes that the "reverse" is after the fact: "Only after the outrage and after the vote is killed does Microsoft take action. I won't take any comfort in their new claims since by next April they may decide to pursue another back-door, in secret attempt to derail the bill yet again.
The heat from their actions they never expected. Their actions becoming public they never expected. This is damage control and until they demonstrate that their public remarks and their private lobbying efforts go hand in hand it's just empty talk."

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*Which brings us to this footnote. Yesterday, while attempting to explain to "Flower" that there would be no weekend reply to her e-mail, I confused long term members. My apologies for that.
Long term members who have needed replies to e-mails have always gotten some badly dashed off reply when possible that immediately gets sent.
Each day, however, brings new e-mails from new people. They may or may not be whom they present themselves to be. I don't know, I don't know them. For this reason, those without a long term e-mail relationship, do not get an immediate reply. If a reply is written, it's saved to draft and sent out the following day by a friend. On Friday, there were over eighty such e-mails that were sent out. This is one of many filters put in place to ensure privacy. When Krista replied to my e-mail this morning, she was the first to note her surprise over hearing from me after last night's remarks. Krista and Gina do their round-robin and get e-mail replies at all times of the day that go out immediately. The same is true for other long term members.
If, however, I don't know you, the filter is used for privacy reasons. Everyone who e-mails receives the automatic generic e-mail. The volume of e-mail is too much for everyone to receive a reply but when a reply is done (either immediately or through the filter) members should receive top priority. That's not always the case, such as Thursday when a first time e-mailer requested some information about domestic abuse resources, but that is the goal.
Hopefully these comments clarify the confusion but, if not, Krista and Gina will be addressing this in their round-robin next Friday with a series of questions they're currently formulating so look for that and if there's a question you have in the meantime, e-mail the site and I'll attempt to address it my responses to Gina and Krista's questions.

Friday, May 06, 2005

BuzzFlash's GOP Hypocrite of the Week, topito on Mexican legislators, Patrick Cockburn on Iraq, Baghdad Burning

BuzzFlash's GOP Hypocrite of the Week is Elaine L. Chao:

The slogan you'll find on the home page of our Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, would be enough -- in and of itself -- to make her our Hypocrite of the Week. It reads, "Getting people back to work is what this Department does. Giving people hope in their future is our job."
Yeah, right!
The Bush administration has the worst job creation record since Herbert Hoover, yet Chao marches on like some Soviet poster extolling a worker's paradise.
In addition to her cynical cliche duties, Chao is also another lackey shoveling the Bush daily pile of hypocrisy. For instance, this week, her department
warned unions not to use pension funds to oppose Bush's social "insecurity" plans. The unions were also warned not to "hire or fire service providers primarily on the basis of their positions on Social Security legislation."
Are you finished laughing yet?

(Please note, besides reading the text, you can also listen online -- text and audio is offered.)

From IMC, we'll note topito's "Mexican legislators open the door to genetic privatisation:"

During the media screen generated by the presidential succesion, on the 27th of April the Mexican Senator opened the door to the privatisation of genetic resources by means of the unanimous approval of the "Initiative of federal law for access and exploitation of biological and genetic resources", which will no doubt gravely affect, amongst other things, the food sovereignty of Mexico, as in the case of corn which has already been contaminated from its center of origin. This is a legal proposal originally presented by senator Jorge Nordhausen of the far-right and governing Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) party in 2001 and was suspended in 2004. Amongst his "motives" Nordhausen put forward that: (...) For living beings and their derivatives to be transformed into resources with economic and social value, the constant contribution of relevant knowledge is necessary. This initiative was approved at the "last minute", as is common for mexican legislators before the end of their legislative period.

From The Independent, we'll note Patrick Cockburn's "Suicide bomber kills 58 as tensions rise in Baghdad:"

A suicide car-bomber killed at least 58 people in the mostly Shia town of Suwayra, near Baghdad. The attack increases the risk of sectarian warfare between Shias and Sunnis.
The bomber detonated the explosives in the vegetable market of the town, 25 miles south of the capital, yesterday, leaving no doubt that he intended to cause maximum civilian casualties. The Shia, 60 per cent of the Iraqi population, won the election in January which the Sunni boycotted and are forming a government. So far, they have not retaliated.
Earlier, at least a dozen bodies were found in a rubbish dump on the outskirts of Baghdad. Some of the dead had been blindfolded and shot in the head. They were found by scavengers searching the rubbish for items to sell.

We'll note Riverbend/Girl Blogger who has a new post up this week at Baghdad Burning:

These last few days have been explosive- quite literally. It started about 4 days ago and it hasn't let up since. They say there were around 14 car bombs in Baghdad alone a couple of days ago- although we only heard 6 from our area. Cars are making me very nervous lately. All cars look suspicious- small ones and large ones. Old cars and new cars. Cars with drivers and cars parked in front of restaurants and shops. They all have a sinister look to them these days. The worst day for us was the day before yesterday.
We were sitting in the living room with an aunt and her 16-year-old son and listening patiently as she scolded the household for *still* having our rugs spread. In Iraq, people don't keep their carpeting all year round. We begin removing the carpeting around April and it doesn't come back until around October. We don't have wall to wall carpeting here like abroad. Instead, we have lovely rugs that we usually spread in the middle of the room. The best kinds are made in Iran, specifically in Tabriz or Kashan. They are often large, heavy and intricately designed. Tabriz and Kashan rugs are very expensive and few families actually have them any more. Most people who do have Tabriz rugs in Baghdad got them through an inheritance.
[. . .]
Back in the house, E. and I decided he'd go back and see if he could help. We gathered up some gauze, medical tape, antiseptic and a couple of bottles of cold water. I turned back to my cousin after E. had left. He was excited and tense, eyes wide with disbelief. His voice was shaking slightly as he spoke and his lower lip trembled.
"I was just going to cross the street but I remembered I should buy the carrots" He spoke rapidly, "So I stopped by that guy who sells vegetables and just as I was buying them- a big BOOM and a car exploded and the one next to it began to burn... If I hadn't stopped for the carrots..." The cousin began waving his arms around in the air and I leaned back to avoid one in the face.
My aunt gasped, stopping in the living room, "The carrots saved you!" She cried out, holding a hand to her heart. My cousin looked at her incredulously and the color slowly began to return to his face. "Carrots." He murmured, throwing himself down on the sofa and grabbing one of the cushions, "Carrots saved me."

Reminder Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog From Iraq is available as a BuzzFlash premium.

[Note: For anyone new to this site who's scratching their jaw and narrowing their eyes, yes, BuzzFlash did link to Ruth's Morning Edition Report today. There was no trade off. I've been accused of pimping for BuzzFlash since day five of this site. If you check the archives, you'll see that on the second day of this site, November 20, 2004, links were offered to BuzzFlash premiums. We provide those links because we support independent media and because, as I've stated here before, I am a BuzzFlash reader and my place is full of BuzzFlash premiums. Looking over to the TV set, I see two DVDs out of five -- all should be on the DVD rack -- that came via BuzzFlash, on the table behind me are ten books and three were purchased as BuzzFlash premiums. They'll go back to the bookshelves later tonight but the place is a mess tonight, for anyone wondering.]

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Jude (Iddybud), RDF (Corrente) and Pam (Big Brass Blog)

Kirk e-mails to note Jude of Iddybud today. Kirk wants everyone to know that there's a great piece on John Edwards and he also found this of interest:

At the One America website, Cate Edwards has blogged about a new organization which was started by Adrian and Devin Talbott after the last election. It's called Generation Engage, and it is a non-partisan group geared towards getting young people involved in the world of politics. Generation Engage allows its members to become a part of something bigger, a national movement of engaged young people committed to ensuring that their voices are heard. Young people have been unable to unite or coalesce behind a single issue or organization, as other age groups and demographics have. Generation Engage hopes to create a network that defines itself by inclusion, a community that welcomes and joins all young people in a national political discourse.

Shawn e-mailed to highlight RDF at Corrente:

I'm trying hard to make sense of the economic news. Granted, I'm no economist, and I'm lousy at capitalism, but I'm reasonably intelligent and should be able to figure this out. Unless the idea is to make it so complicated that nobody can figure it out.
First, jobs were added in April, but mostly from what I can tell, McJobs in the "retail and service sectors," while manufacturing is still tanking. So, jobs that don't pay well or carry benefits are being added.
Yet, "consumer confidence" is down, and unemployment remains the same.
The logic of this defies me. If consumers aren't buying, how in the hell are jobs being added in retail and services? Unless we're talking about dollar stores and Waljobs (which is like a job, but not really). And how does unemployment stay the same when jobs are being added? It must be a numbers game. Especially when I hear about all of these massive layoffs.
Economic growth is dropping, but productivity is up. So, more people are working harder to produce more, but that doesn't translate into growth. Huh? And, in my simple mind, if the jobs that are mostly available are in retail or service, what the hell are these workers producing at a greater rate? Ten McBurgers a minute instead of five? Five shoe sales an hour instead of three?

Melissa e-mails to note that at Big Brass Blog, Pam's been "covering the Jim West story from the start." Melissa notes this from Pam today:

Well folks, I am still in the thick of things gathering the facts about our lovely homo-bigot mayor. In the meantime, I thought I would post some comments from his peers in the area.
Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, said from what he's read, "it's a pretty sad situation for Jim ... It will be very difficult for him, if these allegations are true."
Honeyford, a Republican leader in Olympia, said he and his party oppose issues such as gay marriage because, he said, homosexuality is immoral.
He said West "must have kept his personal life separate from his political life." If West is gay, Honeyford said, he would be at odds with GOP values.
"For the Republican mainstream I would say, yes, probably it would be incompatible."

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Community notes: Bruce Springsteen, Love Green Zone Style, 20/20, et al

My apologies for the delay in posting tonight. Ava and I had planned to review Less Than Perfect for The Third Estate Sunday Review but it wasn't on. They had two episodes of Hope & Faith (which we've reviewed) and the other sitcoms on had also been reviewed (Reba and Living With Fran, the latter is a funny show). We debated 20/20 and Numbers (hope that's the name of the show -- it's the one we'll be reviewing) but 20/20's doing a "hard hitting," "ground breaking," journalistic look at the story of our times, ABC's Lost. The "lead story" is nothing but a commerical for a TV show and the commercial's being passed off as news.

So the scramble to figure out what to watch took more time than I'd imagined.

While we're in this community note, thank you to Heath and to Susan who both e-mailed asking if I was sure I had Bruce Springsteen's Devils & Dust in the CD player correctly since I couldn't get it to play on the JVC or Sony. No, I wasn't sure. And no, I didn't have it in there right. Having flipped the disc over, it is now playing.

For Susan, here's the opening to "Devils & Dust:"

I got my finger on the trigger
But I don't know who to trust
When I look into your eyes
There's just devils and dust
We're a long, long way from home, Bobbie
Home's a long, long way from us
I feel a dirty wind blowing
Devils and dust
-- "Devils & Dust" words & music by Bruce Springsteen

To an e-mailer I'll dub "Flower," who wrote in re: Dexter Filkins and John Burns asking "any word?" I'm not clear what the question is about, sorry. (And e-mail replies probably won't go out until Monday so I'm tossing this out here so you don't feel ignored -- e-mails are saved to draft and then a friend e-mails them out; this weekend, my friend will be out of town.)

If you're asking have I heard anything about the rumors of the "lively going ons in the Green Zone" of the personal nature, yes, many rumors but I'm sure they are just rumors. I haven't seen anything printed on Love Green Zone Style, no.

If you're asking why they weren't noted, I don't even know that they were in the paper today (though you may be asking about earlier in the week). We don't highlight the Green Zone reporting from the Times. Others (such as Ron of Why Are We Back In Iraq?) were much more skeptical of the reporting coming out of the Green Zone than I was. They were proven right. (Or to be Judy Miller about it, "They were proved f**king right!")

I have no interest in highlighting Filkins ever. History won't be kind to his award winning, rah-rah story of the destruction of Falluja -- a story that honestly reminds me of the story in Amy & David Goodman's Exceptions to the Rulers about the Times reporter, William L. Laurence, who covered up for the destruction of nukes. Laurence wrote for the Times. He even won a Pulitzer. For many years after WWII he was held in high esteem. But truth does come out and he's known today, if at all, as the cheerleader for nukes who down played their costs.

Sidebar: William L. Laurence is also now known for "not only receiving a salary from The New York Times. He was also on the payroll of the War Department (p. 297)." The Goodmans note Harold Evans on Laurence:

After the bombing, the brilliant but bullying [General] Groves continually suppressed or distorted the effects of radiation. He dismissed reports of Japanese deaths as "hoax or propaganda." The Times' Laurence weighed in, too, after [Wilfred] Burchet's reports, and parroted the government line.

Awards are forgotten, the truth outlives us all. Christian Parenti and Dahr Jamail are two examples of reporters taking their job seriously. When we note Iraq stories from the Times at all these days, we go with an Associated Press or Reuters article. I believe it was Lizz Winstead and Rachel Maddow on Unfiltered who noted that reporters reporting from the Green Zone should note that. When those comments were made, we stopped making it a point to highlight the Times's coverage of Iraq.

If that didn't answer your question, Flower, please e-mail again and let me know what you were asking because I wasn't clear on my end, sorry.

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Congratulations to Ruth for being linked by BuzzFlash

Congratulations to Ruth. Her Wednesday's Ruth's Morning Edition Report was linked to by BuzzFlash today. The Third Estate Sunday Review will be interviewing her tomorrow for an article in this Sunday's edition.

We noted when Dallas was linked and I asked at the time if anyone had any objections to noting when members were linked? No objections were raised so we'll note Ruth's wonderful accomplishment and let her know how proud we are of her.

We are very fortunate to have so many talented members sharing with the community (and whether anyone is linked or not, they are talented and their contributions are appreciated).

We're very happy for, and proud of, Ruth being linked to by a site we all enjoy so much.

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[Note: This post has been corrected. Commas were added to the second to last sentence ("We're very happy . . .") and the verb tense was changed to "being." In addition, the e-mail address was added per Shirley. Thanks to Shirley for catching all changes needed.]

Sunday Chat & Chews

Get your day planners out, here's the Sunday Chat & Chews.

Due to Chris Donovan (see Monday's entry), I was thinking this afternoon that there must be something nice to be said about Meet the Press. I was thinking that maybe, for instance, Robin Wright (reporter, not actress) would be part of the roundtable and I could note that as a positive. I wasn't planning on fluffing for Meet the Press, but I was thinking that after noting its problems, there would be one thing I could find to praise. Call me ungrateful, Donovan, but I can't. The community appreciates what you did and thanks you. But I lack Elisabeth Bumiller's ability to fluff.

Here are the guests for Sunday's Meet the Press on NBC (check your local listings for air

Former Senior CIA Officer
Author, "First In: An Insider's Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan"
Democratic Strategist
Republican Strategist

Gary Schroen? I'm with Ruth on his revelations. (And what he wrote did have to be cleared.)

James Carville & Mary Matalin? It's like Crossfire with less chemistry.

Seriously, Carville will shake his head "no" repeatedly while staring down at the desk/table. Matalin will tilt her head and roll her eyes while sighing heavily. Tim Russert will chuckle at each of Matalin's lackadaisical remarks as if they're riveting and witty. It's as though we're watching Sonny & Cher on The Mike Douglas Show many years after the show was cancelled (for the second time) and long after we stopped caring. (I'll dub Carville the Cher because he does posses the sparkle and talent.) The act is tired. We've seen it a hundred times over. May they go to their graves (after long, long lives) still singing "I've Got You Babe" but it's not really anything I care to watch.

We will say thank you, again, to Chris Donovan for seeing to it that the "about" page had the proper spelling of Gloria Steinem's name.

Let's note the guests for ABC's This Week (Sunday, check your local listings):

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric and co-author of "Winning"
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., member of the Foreign Relations Committee
Seb. Carl Levin, D-Mich., ranking member of the Armed Services Committee*
Comedian Jerry Lewis
[*"Seb." should probably be "Sen." but I'm going by what's written.]

Jack Welch, hmm. Will he be asked about allegedly screaming, "Call the election!" back on election night November, 2000? No, he won't. (And he refused to turn over the tape from the set -- he sees himself as a journalist. Who knew?) So what's he doing on this show? Will he be asked about what G.E.'s done to the Hudson River? I doubt it. Winning? Guess it's not a book dedicated to stock holders unless it's intended to be read as nah-nah-nah.

Jerry Lewis? What? He's going to talk about his pain (physical). Apparently this is important news. Apparently, This Week is going for the Oprah audience (though Oprah chooses better guests). Maybe Lewis can cause a stir by insulting female comedians again?

But when you think it can't get worse and more non-newsworthy, along comes the roundtable:

Our classic roundtable is back this week -- Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts and George Will -- to chew over the week's big stories.

Classic? It's back, at any rate, like a herpes outbreak. But note, to those who e-mail saying something along the lines of, "I know you're being funny, but it is fair to call it the 'Chat & Chew?" Presumably, we're all on the same page that "chatting" goes on. But note that ABC, their own words, uses "chew." Chat & Chews.

Let's check in with Blinky and see what's coming up on CBS's Face The Nation this Sunday (check your local listings for air times):

Social Security; The Filibuster Fight;
The Bolton Nomination
Sen. Chuck Hagel
Foreign Relations Committee
Republican - Nebraska
Rep. Sam Brownback
Judiciary Committee
Republican - Kansas
Sen. Dick Durbin
Minority Whip
Democrat - Illinois
Karen Tumulty
TIME Magazine

Oh wait, that's last week! Yes, it's Friday evening and they still haven't posted whom their guests will be this Sunday. Which is why my friend at CBS mocks the show so much, it is that out of touch. It still thinks we live in a world of three chanels and all flip through our TV schedules when deciding what to watch. Playing it like it's still 1972 probably helps the show take a more serious tone than the other two shows, but it also means that more often than not, viewers have no idea what's coming up on Face The Nation.

If I had to watch, if someone had a gun to my head, I'd pick Face The Nation. "But you pick that every week and you don't even know who's on it this week!" True. But, as always, it's a half-hour so I'm spared thirty additional minutes of skin crawling. Second, of the three, it does aspire to something more serious. (Bob Schieffer, to his credit -- and he earned respect for this from many in the news at CBS -- refused to chase after the Michael Jackson story because he, rightly, realized that "news story" has no place on a Sunday talk show about issues facing the nation.)

If you love the Chat & Chews, tape all three. Just remember not to go in the water for at least an hour after.

By the way, if someone else finds out what's on Face the Nation before Sunday and e-mails about it, we'll note it.

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Democracy Now: Tari Ali, Tony Benn, Bloomington on occupation, Patriot Act .., Dr. Martha Crouch; Katrina vanden Heuvel; Cynthia McKinney; Bob Somerby

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching"):

Headlines for May 6, 2005
- Blair Opponent Demands Apology for Soldiers Killed in Iraq
- Iraqi Resistance Carry Out Attacks
- Iraqi Resistance Carry Out Attacks
- U.S. Holding Journalists Without Charge in Iraq
- Gen. Karpinski Demoted for Abu Ghraib
- U.S. Cannot Find $100 Million in Iraq Money
- Colombia Returns U.S. soldiers Accused of Weapons Trafficking
- Fatah Leads in Palestinian Local Elections
- FDA to Recommend Ban on Gay Sperm Donors

Blair Wins Third Term; Majority Reduced Over Iraq War
Prime Minister Tony Blair wins a historic third term in government but with a drastically reduced majority in parliament for his Labour party. We go to London to speak with longtime British politician, Tony Benn, the political editor of the Guardian (UK) and Tariq Ali, author and editor of the New Left Review.

Bloomington Resolutions Oppose Iraq War, Patriot Act, Seek Higher Minimum Wage
We speak with a member of the Bloomington City Council which has passed several bills and resolutions opposing the invasion of Iraq and the Patriot Act, promoting fair elections through a verifiable paper trail and seeking a higher minimum wage. [includes rush transcript]

Biology Prof. Resigns Over Gvt. Use of Plant Research
We speak Dr. Martha Crouch, a former biology professor at the University of Indiana. She ran a lab dedicated to cutting edge plant research but decided to end her career when she found out that biotechnology companies were co-opting her research for profit.

Julia Ward Howe: The Woman Behind Mother's DayWe take a look at the woman behind Mother's Day, Julia Ward Howe. The author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, she began advocating for a mother's day for peace in 1870. [includes rush transcript]

Keesha e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's wrote : "In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask...that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace."
A hundred and thirty-five Mother's Days later, the feisty and fiercely intelligent women of
Code Pink--the largest women-initiated, antiwar activist group in the country--are fulfilling Howe's call to action. Founded in 2002 during the run-up to war in Iraq, Code Pink has grabbed the nation's attention with some of the boldest, most direct, creative (and good-humored) protests against the war.
Among our favorite Code Pink actions: their four-month vigil in front of the White House; the
"pink slip" campaign; crashing the RNC three nights in a row; interrupting hearings to demand the firing of Donald Rumsfeld, and, later, to protest the nomination of John Bolton.

Cedric e-mails to note that The Black Commentator has a speech by House Rep. Cynthia McKinney:

In the political world, our hesitation about flexing our muscle and standing firm for our Constitutional rights has made us political roadkill.
How else can you describe Republican audacity to roll back the voting laws in our State to almost pre-Voting Rights Act times.
Georgia, whose leaders' words used to drip with interposition and nullification at the time that Dr. King led millions in marches for our rights, now has one of the most – if not the most – restrictive voter ID bills in the country.
Georgia, whose electorate is fully 30% black, has a history of hatred that is well chronicled in the annals of Supreme Court voting decisions.
Georgia, where crossover voting allows white Democrats and white Republicans to come together to oust anyone not to their liking despite the overwhelming presence of black Democrats in the Democratic primary.
Georgia, so sweet and clear as moonlight in the pines.
Leadership in a changing time. That's your theme tonight.
But tell me. From this just-passed Legislative Session, and everything that you've witnessed in your lifetimes, tell me – what has changed?
Our story in this country has been one of struggle, optimism, faith, belief, in the system, in the Constitution, belief in what the leaders of this country have told us.
Our history in this country has been one of triumph and travail. And through it all, we've had inspiring leadership and we've had not-so-inspiring leadership.

Heath e-mails regarding Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler today and picked the section he wanted highlighted (Somerby's addressing Charles Krauthammer's op-ed claim that Bully Boy's plan for Social Security will not result in a cut in benefits):

"No one gets cut," Krauthammer says--and he makes the case here as well as it can be made. Democrats badly need to know how to respond to this fusillade.
Let's start by debunking some flat-out misstatements. In the first of these three quoted paragraphs, Krauthammer discusses the future benefits that Social Security currently promises. And uh-oh! He says those future benefits "are entirely unsustainable. They cannot possibly be paid by the taxes of the fewer workers in the future who will be supporting the many retirees." But this statement is plainly untrue; if we make fairly minor adjustments to existing taxes, it would be entirely possible to pay promised SS benefits over the next 75 years. As Chris Dodd noted on Sunday's Meet the Press, less than one-third of Bush's sweeping tax cuts erases the projected 75-year shortfall. Clearly, taxpayers could support these benefit levels, if we decide we want to do it. Krauthammer may think this would be bad policy. But it’s absurd to say it "cannot possibly" be done.
But after he makes these flat misstatements, Krauthammer's argument rallies. It's true! Under the benefit levels Bush proposed last week, future retirees would get "at least as much or more than any retiree today" -- even if those future benefit checks are adjusted for inflation ("in nominal or real dollars"). For example, consider an average-income worker who retires in 2045. His monthly check will contain more dollars than the check sent to such retirees today. And his monthly check will be bigger than today's check even if you adjust for inflation! This is what Republicans mean when they say there are no "cuts" in Bush’s proposal. If Dems want to win this fight on the merits, they need to know what to say when someone makes these basic points. Drum's response ("So what? It's less than Congress promised in 1983!") isn't likely to help in this fight.
So let’s get at it. Why should Dems care about the benefit levels Bush has now proposed? Why should Dems complain if average retirees get more money in the future, even adjusted for inflation? Simple: Over the course of the next 40 or 50 (or 70) years, living standards are going to change a great deal; if retirees are going to be able to approximate the living standard they maintained while they were working, benefit levels have to reflect that. And Bush's proposal massively changes the ability of the average worker to do that.

Heath alerts us that there's a planned Saturday Daily Howler tomorrow. Heath also informs me that Somerby had a Saturday entry last week. I'm sorry that I missed that and wasn't aware of it. We'll try to grab something from it tomorrow.

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BuzzFlash Intereviews one of the Denver Three and other things of note this morning

From BuzzFlash, we'll note "Leslie Weise of the Denver Three Asks On Whose Authority They Were Expelled? It Sure Wasn't the Secret Service ..." From that interview:

BuzzFlash: Last week Scott McClellan admitted that the White House unilaterally reserves the right to forcibly remove any American from a taxpayer-funded, official Presidential event, based on the suspicion that an attendee might disrupt the event. It seems that the strategy of preemption has now permeated into the domestic arena, dictating who is allowed to hear the President speak or not -- or who will have their constitutional rights denied or not. This is a disturbing trend. Clearly what happened to you, the "Denver 3," was not an accident or a mistake, but part of a larger strategy to keep anyone who disagrees with the President away from the President.
Leslie Weise: That's made clear from the fact that this has been a repeating occurrence at town hall meetings. This happened not only to us, but also to a student in Tucson, Arizona, the same day of our encounter. It happened in Fargo, North Dakota, where 42 people were denied entry because they had some affiliation with an organization or a viewpoint that was in some way different from Bush's. And it happened in New Hampshire, where a few middle-aged women were removed from the event because of t-shirts they were wearing. So not only has Scott McClellan admitted it, but they've shown that it is a pattern.
BuzzFlash: You have a lawyer. You guys are hot on the case. You have been pressuring the powers-that-be in the White House to release the identity of the man who evidently impersonated a Secret Service agent -- which prompted the Secret Service to launch a criminal investigation. The White House and the Secret Service know the identity of the "mystery man" but they won't release his name. What's the next step for the "Denver 3"?
Leslie Weise: The next step is the step we've been wanting all along, and we still haven't reached -- which is to find out who did this to us. More importantly, who instructed him, and the people he was working with, to throw us out of the event? We also need to find out why -- what is the set of instructions given to these people? And does that cross the Constitutional line? We believe preemptively and forcibly removing Americans from seeing the President based solely on suspicions from the White House -- or because we drove to the event with a "No More Blood for Oil" bumper sticker -- does violate the Constitution. Clearly our First Amendment rights were violated. We were denied the opportunity to participate in this public event despite holding valid tickets, which we received from Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez. It is disturbing to us, as it should be to all Americans, that the threat of having a different viewpoint on any policy with the Bush administration means that action is going to be taken against you. Quite frankly, you'll be considered un-American.

For information on the Denver Three and other similar actions, check out Matthew Rothschild's "McCarthyism Watch." You can also refer to Democracy Now!'s "Three People Forcibly Removed From Bush "Town Hall" Meeting on Social Security."

On The Rachel Maddow Show this morning, Maddow noted that Jane's Defence Weekly was reporting on the defense budget in the U.S. Maddow noted that, "Our spending in twelve months on our defense will equal what the entire rest of the world spends on defense this year."

From The Independent, we'll note Andrew Grice's "Blair secures his third term - but how long will he last at No 10?" From that article:

Tony Blair saw his majority cut sharply today as Labour was hit by a Tory revival and a protest vote over the Iraq war. The party was still heading for a third successive general election victory for the first time in its history, but suffered a string of surprise defeats.
A BBC projection at 4am forecast that Labour's majority would be slashed from 167 at the 2001 election to 70. A Sky News projection put Labour's majority at 72 ­ still more than halved.
The early results showed that many people who voted Labour in 1997 and 2001 had deserted the party to give Mr Blair a "bloody nose" over the Iraq war, which became the dominant issue in the second half of the election campaign.
Labour suffered a spectacular defeat in Hornsey and Wood Green, north London, where the war was a big issue, at the hands of the Liberal Democrats, who achieved a huge 14.6 per cent swing.
In a clear sign of an "Iraq effect", Labour performed much worse in the capital than other regions. It lost Enfield Southgate, Putney, Hammersmith, Ilford North and Wimbledon to the Conservatives.

Folding Star is also addressing the elections at A Winding Road:

The system is so different from ours. Here in America, we elect our Legislative and Executive branches completely separately. In the UK, it's all one and the same, really. Whichever party has a majority in the House of Commons gets to form the Government, its party leader (who is elected to the House of Commons along with everyone else) becomes Prime Minister and chooses his Cabinet from among his colleagues in the House.
I've tried to explain this to friends before. When you're only familiar with our system here in the US, it can be hard to grasp that voters in Britain (or in most parliamentary Governments) don't go to the polls to elect a Prime Minister. The country at large does NOT elect Tony Blair. Each district votes for their own local Member of Parliament and that is the extent of it.
The equivalent would be if our President was picked based on which party had the majority in the House of Representatives. Given the make up right now, the Republicans have the majority and their leader- Tom DeLay (shudder)- would be President and would choose his Cabinet from among fellow Republicans in the House. They'd all continue to serve in the House and represent their districts in addition to their Government roles.

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[Note: This post has been corrected to make the Rachel Maddow paragraph more clear. This includes noting that Jane's is a magazine.]

Noting The Nation

As promised last night, here are some stories from the latest issue of The Nation. (Check out their new online look.)

Let's start with one that Ruth should enjoy, Scott Sherman's "Good, Gray NPR:"

In its journalism and its financial structure, NPR has indeed evolved into a somewhat different entity from what its founders envisioned. On May 3, 1971, it went on the air with the first broadcast of All Things Considered. The program began with a kaleidoscopic account of a major antiwar rally in Washington, DC, at which more than 6,000 people were arrested. "Excuse me," NPR's reporter asked a police sergeant attempting to quell the protests, "Is that a technique? Where the men actually try to drive the motorcycles right into the demonstrators?" Three decades later, rough-edged, in-your-face reportage has largely been supplanted by conventional punditry from the likes of Cokie Roberts, Daniel Schorr and David Brooks, and by consciously mainstream news reporting by correspondents whose voices are often indistinguishable from one another.
To some extent, financial and political pressures help to explain NPR's turn toward mainstream respectability and high-minded professionalism: NPR's founders had every expectation that public funds would cover the budget, but Republican hostility to public broadcasting thwarted those early hopes and dreams. Three decades after its creation, NPR now draws a significant portion of its funding from corporations such as Wal-Mart, Sodexho and Archer Daniels Midland. Likewise, NPR had sound journalistic reasons for turning away from its edgy, countercultural roots. Over the past decade, as media conglomerates dumped public-affairs programming in favor of "infotainment" and tabloid trash, NPR recognized the void and moved to fill it with high-quality news reporting. That news-oriented model, by drawing in listeners hungry for substantial coverage of politics and public affairs, has enabled NPR to thrive: Today, it continues to add correspondents and bureaus at a time when most other major news organizations are trimming them. A fair-minded evaluation must conclude that if NPR has turned its back on some of the values enshrined in its original mission statement, it has also, in other ways and despite enormous political pressure from its detractors, remained true to them as well.
But a price was paid on the road to respectability. With growth and stability has come stodginess, predictability and excessive caution. NPR was founded as an antidote to the mainstream media. Its founders had a unique journalistic and cultural vision that contrasted sharply with the values of establishment publications like the New York Times and the Washington Post. As NPR began its transformation into a middle-of-the-road, "hard news" entity in the mid-1970s, some of the founders warned that the experiment could end badly, with NPR sounding like an aural equivalent of The Congressional Record. That didn't happen, but today's NPR does, at times, seem quite empty and soulless, very much like the eminent daily newspapers its executives venerate.

Some NPR veterans are acutely aware of what has been lost since NPR's birth in 1971. "Over the years, we've become much more sober," says Susan Stamberg, who was an early co-host of All Things Considered, and who remains a lively and mischievous presence at NPR today. "We've become the good, gray Times. They've put color on their front page"--Stamberg pauses for her trademark cackle--"but we're upholding the gray. We're not nearly as quirky as we used to be. And I miss it."

The article is worth reading and a good history of NPR.

Also worth reading is Rep. Dennis Kucinich's "An Open Letter to Howard Dean:"

Perhaps you now believe that an electoral victory for Democrats in 2006 and beyond requires sweeping this war under the rug. If so, you are only the latest in a long line of recent Democratic leaders who chose a strategy of letting "no light show" between Democrats and the President on the war. Emphasize the economy, instead, they advised, in 2002 and again in 2004.
Following this advice has kept us in the minority. During the 2002 election cycle, when Democrats felt they had historical precedent on their side (the President's party always loses seats in the midterm election), the Democratic leadership in Congress cut a deal with the President to bring the war resolution to a vote, and appeared with him in a Rose Garden ceremony. The "no light" strategy yielded a historic result: For the first time since Franklin Roosevelt, a President increased his majorities in both houses of Congress during a recession.

Members would be advised to avoid the cover story. There's no mention of Laura Flanders, Mike Papantonio and Bobby Kennedy, Marty Kaplin, Mike Malloy . . . Janeane Garofalo is "chanced" upon while doing a bit (and the writer uses a word that not only would we not put on this site but is also a word that Garofalo didn't use on the radio -- maybe he's got Bumillie fever?). That's it. She's reduced to a bit and I know the e-mails will come in on that. Randi Rhodes is noted largely for the Ralph Nadar phone call on her first show. What? She's only done one show?

They cover Democracy Radio by apparently not mentioning Stephanie Miller.

Maybe it's a behind the scenes look? (The story on Al Gore's new network was, a point that Candy Perfume Boy missed over at his site. They interviewed investors and people involved with the project. Or rather, Ari Berman interviewed them. I thought it was a strong article, but, hey, at least CJR Daily finally discussed a cover story by The Nation, right?)

I wasn't impressed with the article. Others may be. If it wanted to be behind the scenes, it should have been. Instead it (my opinion) goes for some blend it never achieves. (And no, Lizz Winstead and Chuck D aren't mentioned. Jerry Springer is mentioned but there's no story about the pulling of Unfiltered -- which is a story and if you're going to write about Air America Radio today, seems to me you need to include it. Martha noted in an e-mail this week that it was still a topic popping up on the AAR boards.)

I gave it a quick read. I'd planned to pull something on Janeane Garofalo because she is very popular with members. Maybe a comment on Laura Flanders (who has contributed articles to The Nation) or other favorites. But they aren't in the story or they're mentioned in passing.

Sorry to be negative on The Nation but members will want to skip the story. (And those who don't, I'm sure, will e-mail. If that happens, we'll post a reply this weekend.)

Instead check out Lizzy Ratner's article on Amy Goodman, "Amy Goodman's 'Empire:'"

Amy Goodman didn't know if anyone was listening.
It was the morning of September 11, 2001, and the host of the muckraking radio news program Democracy Now! was broadcasting from her studio in a converted firehouse just blocks from the World Trade Center. She was hunched over her microphone, intent on painting an audio portrait of the "horrific scene of explosions and fires," but the truth was she didn't know if anyone could hear her. The phone lines were dead or temporarily blocked, and she had already overshot her slated hourlong broadcast time. More serious, she had recently been banished from her professional home at Pacifica Radio after a hostile internal shake-up, and she was only being aired by twenty or so affiliate stations.
Still, as the neighboring businesses evacuated into the streets, Goodman decided to go on talking. She kept the lines open and the microphones hot, throwing her voice into the radio murk in case any stations chose to pick up the feed. "We are not going to draw any conclusions at this point, just reporting the information of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center buildings, the plane crashing into the Pentagon, a fire at the Pentagon right now," Goodman said in her grainy alto, at the beginning of what would become an eight-hour marathon broadcast that was eventually picked up by KPFA, the one Pacifica station still airing her broadcasts. And then, shortly after 10 am, she announced: "It looks like the south tower of the World Trade Center has collapsed..."

There are many good articles in the issue so please check out the web site to see the magazine's new look. The cover story is a clunker to me but maybe I'm focused too much on picturing the e-mails that might come in over this if a warning wasn't given? Regardless, you have been warned.

The e-mail address for this site is

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: If you write to me care of, C.I. does forward them to me.

There are so many wonderful e-mails. Most of you write along the lines of "I thought I was crazy. Anytime I complain about NPR, people look at me like I'm crazy." I'd argue those people aren't listening or they aren't listening closely. Possibly, they are getting all the news from NPR and are unaware of certain details that skew or get omitted.

A few e-mailed to ask if I hated NPR? No, I do not hate NPR. It is not what it used to be by a long shot. But there are still strong stories most days and there are some people who obviously care about what they do.

Do I hate Morning Edition? I thought hard on that one. I was a huge Morning Edition fan in the days of Bob Edwards. He was on top of each broadcast. These days, it's like we've got the kiddie patrol making jokes and asking their carefully rehearsed questions.

I noted The Diane Rehm Show this week and that's the example of a strong broadcaster. When people are speaking, she's not attempting to fire off her next question, she's actively listening and responding to what they are saying.

On Morning Edition, and this is most obvious when Cokie Roberts does her political "analysis," there is no listening. Cokie says whatever she wants to say and no one asks her to explain what she's talking about. She'll offer a bit of jargon and a good broadcaster would follow up by asking her to explain what that means? When she makes one of her "people are reporting . . ." statements, a good broadcaster would ask who is reporting?

Cokie Roberts is useless to me as a listener but she's made more useless by the fact that no one wants to get her to credit sources or to explain jargon.

But even with that, there is no excuse for her to get away with the claim that the Washington Post editorial board favors the Democrats. What world does Cokie live in?

Long before I ever started doing the Morning Edition Report, I heard Cokie say something that was so off base from what The Washington Post was reporting. I e-mailed C.I. and got sent back a thing from The Daily Howler by Bob Somerby where he noted that it appeared Cokie just read the headlines of The Washington Post and not the actual articles. That's a highly likely proposition.

But this week when she got off her charge that The Washington Post favored the Democrats, I really expected someone to call her on it.
For anyone who missed it, check Monday's post.

Here's the exchange from that post:

Renee: The Democrats have yet to come up with a solution to the long term problems that social security will face are they starting for-to feel any heat about-about that?
Cokie: Again, not so far. But they can't be happy that the usually friendly Washington Post editorial page is now saying that they will have to come up with some specifics given the fact that the *Bully Boy* has. And people do seem to be taking something of a serious look at the *Bully Boy*'s proposal.
[I've substituted any term such as "president" or his last name with "Bully Boy" and noted it with astericks.]

The usually friendly Washington Post editorial page is usually friendly, but to the Bully Boy. Cokie got that off unchallenged, pushed the unfounded myth of "the liberal media" on NPR, and no one appeared to notice.

That's what a great deal of the e-mails are about and usually end with, "Why didn't anyone notice?" I have to wonder if anyone pays that close attention to NPR, honestly.

Were Cokie fact checked, she'd fail more often than not.

I do support NPR (less so PBS) and that was another big question. But I find it very hard to support Morning Edition which grows more juvenile every day. What was an audio version of a daily paper has become a show filled with "happy talk" by the anchors. It's hard to take the show seriously when it doesn't appear to take itself too seriously.

Bob Edwards was not a grinch but he could set a relaxed mood and still bring you the news. These days, it seems more and more that two airheads have taken over two hours of NPR's time.

Now the NPR ombudsman would disagree. He recently wrote about how ratings were up for Morning Edition. Does it matter if the rise comes from dumbing down the show?

I still don't know if the story ("for balance") about a wildcat that was saved was a joke or for real? I'm not questioning that it happened but when NPR gets angry e-mail regarding a true story on wildcats and then decides to later "balance" it out with a happy story, you can call the show whatever you want, but don't call it Morning Edition.

I was honestly surprised that they even responded to the e-mails because I was one of the people e-mailing in October to complain that Robert Kagan was brought on to evaluate John Kerry. For those who are not aware of this, Robert Kagan's wife [Victoria Nuland] worked for Dick Cheney. So you had a man married to a woman working for one ticket critiquing the statements of the head of another ticket. How did that pass muster?

Where was the outcry? (I know The Common Ills dealt with this not long after it started up in November. But why did we have a month of silence before The Common Ills came along.) I e-mailed to the ombudsman who did what he usually does, ignored my e-mail. Then he wrote the column dealing with the complaints from listeners and wrote, basically, "Robert Kagan may be pro-war" or some such nonsense. But did Mr. [Jefferey] Dvorkin ever address the issue of conflict of interest due to Mr. Kagan's marriage? No, he didn't.

What is the purpose of the ombudsman if not to address something that serious? He didn't want to know about it. Robert Kagan was allowed to present himself on Morning Edition as an objective analyst because Morning Edition refused to inform their listeners who Mr. Kagan was married to. When the issue was raised with Mr. Dvorkin, he decided to ignore it.

I'm sure many listeners have no idea to this day how "questionable" (I'd call it wrong) the decision to bring Mr. Kagan on was.

Do I hate Morning Edition? I wish it were better. I wish it were worth listening to. Now that I keep my grandson each weekday, Morning Edition is often the only show I can pay full attention to on NPR. Sometimes, if I'm rocking him, I can hear a large segment of another show. But he's very active and we're all over the house. So I really count on Morning Edition to provide me with solid information and it is, frankly, no longer doing that.

The other big question this week was how did I miss the big scoop about the CIA plan to capture bin Laden, behead him, etc.? I missed it because I didn't think it was a story.

This wasn't a reporter breaking a story they had come across. This was a former agent revealing a plan. That has to be cleared with the CIA ahead of time.

Here is the summary from the first part of that two-part story:

Morning Edition, May 2, 2005 · Gary Schroen is one of the CIA's most respected and experienced spies. Two days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, his bosses handed him a new mission targeting Osama bin Laden: "Bring his head back in a box" is the phrase Schroen remembers. Five days later, the veteran operative and his six-man team were on a plane.
They were the first Americans to enter Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. Over the next few weeks, Schroen paid $5 million in bribes to Afghan commanders, paved the way for U.S. military forces to enter the country, and armed anti-al Qaeda fighters with silencer-equipped machine guns and grenades.
Schroen's work with the Northern Alliance and smaller groups led to some successes, but he says his team never got close to killing the al Qaeda leader -- or his top deputy, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was reportedly in the eastern section of Kabul.

That's a lot of information for the C.I.A. to allow Mr. Schroen to release. It struck me as "news management." I wasn't impressed with the story because I felt it was an attempt at manipulation. The administration has been very good about saying, "Look at this hand, not at that one!" To me, this was another example of a "release" that attempted to cover something else. I have no idea what.

Bully Boy is under a great deal of criticisim for not having found bin Laden all these years later. Perhaps this was an effort to get us to care that there was a "plan" or that people "tried?" I don't have the slightest clue.

But when I talked to my granddaughter Tracey about it and told her my concerns, she said, "Grandma, don't write about it then." If it was indeed an attempt to get this story to overwhelm something the administration found embarrassing, I didn't want to ignore my own suspicions and play into the administration's hands.

Agent Schroen had a great deal to say. My question was how he got clearence for his remarks?

Some e-mailed to ask if I could please do an NPR report or a Morning Edition report every day?

I would love to but time doesn't permit that. I'm not able to actively listen to all the NPR shows and if my grandson is sick or dropped off early, that cuts into the time I would have to write down a report.

I have no problem with someone else also doing a Morning Report report. They might pick up something I missed or they might offer a different perspective on the same story. But like everyone who wrote, I, too, feel that NPR has been overlooked. It needs to be examined and held accountable the same way that a newspaper like The New York Times is. NPR has a great deal of influence.

With friends my age who listen to NPR, I don't usually have to explain in great detail when NPR gets something wrong because we're old enough to remember when it was a first rate source of news. Back then, it earned it's reputation. You can still get quality reporting from Nina Totenberg. But more and more, the voices like Ms. Totenberg's are overwhelmed by people reporting silly stories. This may or may not attract more listeners but it weakens what NPR stood for.

Today [Thursday], we heard the tale of the runaway groom. That was apparently another "balance" story to even out the reports of the runaway bride. I listened to that story and wondered exactly who made the call that this was a story important enough to air on Morning Edition?

C.I. has written about how, especially on Sundays, "lifestyle stories" make the front page of The New York Times. The runaway groom was a "lifestyle story." It wasn't a news story.

I'm also bothered by the reading of listener's e-mails which focuses on grammar as opposed to serious issues with reporting. I certainly don't need mocking voices of the anchors rotating out line by line to tell me that "an" was used instead of "and" or something equally worthless. (This week it was that Bill Gates used "irregardless." Does anyone really care?)

People listen to Morning Edition while they're getting ready for their day, while they're eating breakfast or on their way to work, and I don't think they're hoping to hear a Bob Newhart comedy lp. (Tracey will reprimand me for that with, "Grandma! We call them CDS!") I believe they are hoping to get some solid news in that two hour period.

I also don't believe listeners want to hear Cokie play Carnac the Magnificent. Cokie makes far too many predicitions and offers far too little "analysis." Not to kick her when she's down, but if Cokie's E.S.P. was so good, wouldn't she have realized she was being dumped as the co-host of ABC This Week and done something to keep that job?

Rebecca e-mailed me that she thought Cokie was the Rona Barrett of NPR and I have to agree with that. It is like listening to a gossip maven as opposed to a reporter.

I'm an old woman and Mr. Dvorkin would probably dismiss me as such (though we may be around the same age). But I have children and grandchildren and I do worry about the world they're facing now. I support NPR and will do everything in my power to see that it remains free from attempts to turn it into an opinion-journal. But fighting that fight means also holding NPR accountable for what it is doing on air. (That's in response to a question about what I see my "mission" as.) I've also noted before how much I have received from the community in terms of insight and common sense so I hope I give back a little of that in each post.

With the C.I.A. story, I was specifically thinking back to reports that NPR did, strong reports, on the manipulation and back alley ways of the C.I.A. in the seventies. Maybe you have to be old enough to remember those to raise an eyebrow this week when the two-parter story about a plan, almost four-years-old, airs? Tracey's always after me to be funnier and more of a letz. She'll try to get me to work in some hip lingo or tell a joke she's heard on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. She'll say, "Don't come off like such a mensh." (I don't think she's learned the meanings of some of the Yiddish words she's picked up from me.)

But, to quote her quoting Kat, "It is what it is." I wonder if Kat realizes how popular that saying has become in my family? "The potato salad didn't turn out too good, did it?" "It is what it is."

Gina e-mailed (and I'm assuming it's okay to quote her here) that she really enjoys me adding my two-cents worth. I really enjoy adding it too. Before I started doing this, my children would have to hear from me about Morning Edition each Sunday at lunch. Now they're usually saying, "Mama, you got that right this week" or "Mama, you were so wrong." It's really nice to have this outlet (in answer to another question).

One of my favorite features at The Common Ills is when members sound off or ask questions. If I'd prepared ahead of time, I would have gotten permission from everyone who wrote so that I could name them here. But when I was reading over the e-mails, I realized this would be a nice thing to focus on and plunged right in. If you could note if you want to be named, I'll do that next time I do a response to the e-mails.