Monday, January 30, 2006

It was a dirty day (community note)

It was a dirty day, to note U2 (Zooropa).

All day there were e-mails asking for this to be weighed in on or that to be weighed in on. Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote a post that enraged the community. NARAL seemed to be the focus of new members and visitors.

On Katrina vanden Heuvel, I disagree with her post. Rebecca's writing on that, we'll post Rebecca's entry in full here. (With "*" for any curse words she uses.)


There seems to be some confusion that we have promoted the organization here. Check our links on the left. Our links are on the left and of the left. You won't find NARAL.

If you were a member when Hillary Clinton began her slide away from support for reproductive rights, you will find strong critiques of NARAL from members and myself. Why? NARAL carried water for Hillary. They said it wasn't anything different than what she has said for years.

NARAL's out there, it exists. If someone wants to support it, more power to them. It's not an organization I support. I have in the past. In the past, they've had strong leadership.

They don't now. I'm not sure whether that's (as some suspect) because they've confused their access with actually having a seat at the table or because (as others suspect) they have a weak leader.

But when NARAL rallied for about five seconds with an advertisement, we didn't sound the horns here. We didn't applaud it, we didn't get caught up in it. Five members did note it in e-mails and I responded to all of them explaining that I'd prefer not to highlight it because it was my belief that NARAL would cave under pressure.

Which is exactly what happened.

But we didn't make it an issue when they caved because they're so far from what we try to do here that there was no point in wasting the space.

Kim Gandy is a strong leader. She's one of the strongest leaders in the country (male or female) of any organization. We note NOW, we link to NOW.

Maybe this will be a wake up call for NARAL?

I hope so. But I think the focus in the e-mails on Lincoln Chafee misses the point. NARAL didn't just support him or other Republicans, they supported Democrats as well. NARAL got slapped in the face by all who didn't have the last name Kerry or Kennedy.

Now NARAL could have let the alarms sound when Hillary repositioned herself. They didn't. They came running in to carry her water. Did Hillary step up to the plate last week and demand a filibuster? No, she didn't. And that's as much a slap in the face as were the actions of the ever-spineless Chafee.

There's nothing wrong with being a single-issue organization. And there's not even anything wrong with them choosing to support Republicans they believe are supportive of choice. It's their organization, they can run it however they see fit.

But to clear up some confusion on the part of new members and visitors, this site has not been a cheerleader for NARAL. We'll note former members and former leaders who were fighters. But the way the organization's been run for the last few years, there's no need to note it here. We have NOW, we have Planned Parenthood.

Maybe they learned something from the experience?

Whether they did or not, it's a lesson for everyone. If you don't demand, you don't get anything. Now some would say, "This community demanded a filibuster and you didn't get it!" No, we didn't. But we didn't play appeasement. We didn't kid ourselves that because a few weak lines of support were uttered in public, certain individuals were on our side.

The "tone" argument gets pressed all the time. "You win more flies with honey!" And who wants to be covered with flies?

The right played it to win. Not just with Alito, but for how many decades now?

When they write a newspaper, they're not saying, "Excuse me, but I must state that I took offense to a report in yesterday's paper that I feel wrongly characterized . . ."

They blast in their correspondence. And that's one of the reasons networks and newspapers listen to them. Don't believe whatever nonsense comes out of someone's mouth. Talk to editors privately and they'll tell you how they dread facing those e-mails. That response influences the coverage. Don't kid yourself that it doesn't. Don't kid yourself that The Book of Daniel got cancelled because 'vangical voters wrote, "Dear friend in Christ, I would like to politely share my thoughts on . . ."

Who insists on "tone"? People who want to make a name for themselves with the mainstream. The easiest way to do that is to trash the left. (You saw it with the former Wonkette and no, I didn't miss her lunatic ravings and we'll take them on this week, hopefully.) Besides those looking to fatten their wallets and bolster their non-existant images, you hear it from the people who receive the correspondence.

"Tone"? In the everything's a sport world, they want to talk to us about tone?

I don't know of many sports discussions that aren't impassioned. And I don't know of many in which the speakers worry about tone. I personally believe that politics are a great deal more important than sports (as always, I could be wrong). I think that people should bring at the least the level of enthusiasm they hold for sports into their discussion on politics.

"Tone" is nonsense.

When Bob Somerby was a fighter (and, heads up, he was a fighter for two-thirds of his entry today), he did have an impact. There was a claim in CJR (the magazine) from a New York Times reporter that no one he (the reporter) knew read Somerby. Somerby was well known to the New York Times. I took a lot of crap (in those pre-The Common Ills days) for defending him to friends at the paper. He had an impact. Was it huge? I think it was considering you're talking about one person.

They made complaints, the paper, about Sam Seder (of The Majority Report) when he was on Adam Nagourney and Jodi Wilgoren's case (there was talk of pulling the ads airing). Tone didn't get their attention. Seder speaking his mind in a passionate manner did.

With regards to NARAL, I think they fell into the belief that "tone" would save them. If that was the case, I hope they now realize that "tone" didn't help one bit. But it's their organization and they'll do what they want.

Tomorrow night, Tim Kaine is expected to give a speech stressing, among other things, "bipartisanship." Kaine, I should point out since it may confuse due to his speech, will be giving the Democratic rebuttal. I only got to attend one day of the Bush commission hearings and only part of that (less than an hour) because I was speaking against Alito to various groups. But it's too bad that someone didn't send Kaine.

Bipartisanship? We've got an impeachable Bully Boy. We've got someone who lied us into war.
The administration has a policy of torture. American citizens are being spied upon with warrants. And Kaine's going to lecture on bipartisanship?

We are living with an executive branch that has been allowed to operate with no checks or balances. We are living in a time when the most vocal nationally known Democrat is someone not holding elected office (Al Gore). We don't hear sop tomorrow night.

And we don't need organizations that make nice with the people they are supposed to hold accountable. NARAL can fund any election they choose to. That's their business. This is where I usually say "More power to them" but the fact is they don't have any power. They've traded that power away by making nice. Hopefully, today was a wake up call to them.

If it wasn't, no great loss. NOW and Kim Gandy exist. Gandy is a leader and a fighter. It would be great if we had a million more Gandys, but we've got one and we're damn lucky to have her.

What got accomplished? Through the efforts of many we (Rebecca's phrase) moved the mountain. Did we stop Alito? No.

Did we make it an issue when weak willed Dems didn't want to? Yes, we did.

It was supposed to have been over after the lackluster hearings. A done deal. We fought, we battled, and we made them respond. Given more time, we might have been able to have had a filibuster. (One of the two reasons Frist pushed for the vote. The GOP knew they couldn't take a prolonged grassroots uprising and they also wanted Bully Boy to be a "victor" going into his speech Tuesday night.)

We saw two senators fight for the filibuster publicly, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy.

I'm not trying to put a happy face on this. We lost. I'm fully aware of that.

But what was our argument against Dems just going along to get along? That you fight for what matters. That you stand up.

We did that. We have nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

Party leadership chose Kaine to deliver the rebuttal tomorrow night. It's pure happen-stance, I'm sure, that he's one of those 'I'm for the right to abortion but my faith makes me personally oppose the procedure' type Dems. Katrina vanden Heuvel didn't note that. We'll note it here because it's worth noting. This is another slap in the face.

And intended as such. Message received.

Now we can spend the rest of the leadup to the election sending our own message. Our votes are for up grabs.

What's the Democratic Party going to say this time? "Vote for us or risk losing Roe! Roe hangs by the balance!" Roe did hang by the balance. Roe's over. Don't kid yourself otherwise. During the Alito hearings, Republicans were convinced (yes, I do have Republican friends) that Bully Boy would get more one nomination to the Court. Whether that was wishful thinking or some non-public knowledge, I have no idea. But this came from staffers and two Republican senators.
After the failure to filibuster on Alito, there's no pro-choice advocate who should hear empty words and think, "Hey, they're going to fight for reproductive rights this time!" They're not going to fight for it.

They don't want to fight for it. They see abortion as an issue that divides. Now the split is in the favor of reproductive rights. But they don't want our votes. They got tired of their base. They wanted to be a rich party, so they turned on the union members. They wanted to be a White party, so they made sure that African-Americans were sidelined. They wanted to be a manly party, so they turn on women voters.

I'm speaking of the leadership. There are indivudal members who are brave and fight for what the party is supposed to stand for. We know their names. But the rest of them?

Well there's talk that Cindy Sheehan may run against Dianne Feinstein. If she doesn't, I'd like to see Barbara Lee or Maxine Waters challenge Feinstein. Feinstein acted like a fool in the hearings and she acted like a coward after the hearings. As Kat has noted, Feinstein's support is very weak. The voters aren't thrilled with her war vote or her failure to speak out against the war now. Talk to her constituents and you'll realize what the national audience may not, which is that people are distrubed by her husband's profits from the war.

Incumbents who counted on pro-choice support, should prepare for challenges and for weak support. The kind of support they offered the base.

Now they'll trot out the "But we'll never impeach if we don't take control so you have to vote for us!" We don't "have to" do anything. But which Party-backed candidates are even saying the word "impeachment"?

I wasn't able to hear Michael Ratner's speech in person (at The Bush Commission) but I did get a tape of it. (And I need to transcribe that because Ruth wants it in her entry. Ruth will go up tomorrow morning if I have time to transcribe tonight. If I don't, her latest will go up Wednesday.)

Ratner says flat out, and rightly, don't count on your Congress members. Where have they been on Guantanamo? Oh that's right, they were praised for the anti-torture amendment while they stripped the right of detainees to have their day in court.

So we can see this as a defeat. It's a blow to Roe. But our deepest fear (those who support reproductive rights) has always been that this day would come. It came. We know who are friends are.

Our votes are not automatic. You want them, you'll have to earn them. And any sense of loyalty went out the window when the Senate Dems proved that they had no loyalty to the base.

We're not a "Democratic site."

I have been a lifelong Democrat (though I have voted for other parties in local races), but we don't exist to push the latest talking point coming from the DNC and we don't shy away from holding anyone accountable.

I do, personally, resist the urge to dogpile on John Kerry. It was a close election and late comers destroyed the work Mary Beth had done (the strong work, in my opinion) as they rushed to "simplify" the message. Those late comers were among the first, after the election, to get out the knives.

I also have the knee-jerk reaction/response to what I feel are unfair attacks on Bill or Hillary Clinton. I think that's ingrained in many of us. Isaiah's comic Sunday was something he was worried about. He shouldn't have been worried. Members loved it and it's his editorial space.
(For those who missed it, go to Sunday, I'm not doing links or tags for this post, it's for members only, and you'll see his "Got War? It does a Hillary good." comic.)

But I'm upfront about that and it certainly hasn't prevented me from criticizing Hillary.

We're a site for the left. We're not here to carry water for the Democrats and say, "Isn't Carl Levin dreamy!" We deal in reality. (Ouch to Levin.) Some won't like it, but too bad. This is a private conversation in a public space. If you're not a member, you're eavesdropping. Enjoy that aspect of it (if that does it for you).

There are serious issues and if some don't want to address them, that's their business. (If they're running for office, it's our business.) But here we don't fundraise for candidates or believe that electoral politics are the be-all, end-all in politics.

Here's what I want to focus on this week. The Church Commission entry is one that members want. I want it to. I have the research down, it's a matter of finding time to write the post. In Saturday's original post, which got lost when the friend I was dictating it to saved it (it saved, it only saved the part I'd written at the computer myself, however), explained that the post couldn't go up that weekend due to obligations (speaking and The Third Estate Sunday Review and, I thought, the evening posts, but I forgot a business thing I had Sunday evening until Jess and Ty reminded me of it). Monday was obviously going to go the Senate's actions. We'll get that up this week. However, it may mean dropping indymedia for this Thursday. If that's a problem, weigh in. I also want to write about the Bush Commission and have already started an entry on that. Our NYC members have asked for that and I think we'd all benefit from that. The other entry that's being requested is on Wonkette (former Wonkette, I'm sure Ezra Klein will do a much better job than Wonkette -- which is why her employers wanted to get rid of her, which they did want to and which we did note here months ago, by the way). Due to the focus on Alito a lot of things had to be put on hold. According to Jess and Ava's count of the e-mail requests, this is the top rated thing. So I'd like to get all three done this week and not have anything that's postponed.

I'm planning to take Friday evening off. I'm not burnt out. I am tired. That leaves us with Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. So, unless there are objections, we'll be focusing on those three things this week (in the evenings). What I'd like to do is Tuesday: Bush Commission; Wednesday: Church Committee; and Thursday: Wonkette. If we can go in that order, I think we can still have indymedia roundup on Thursday because Wonkette is so slight and unimportant that there's not much in a long entry. (The former Wonkette, I should say.)

If there's a problem with that schedule, let me know. If you've requested a topic or issue be dealt with and it's not listed, remind me. (And know that some require thought as well as constant reminders.) If you have a new topic, could you please hold it until we get the deck cleared? That would mean until Thursday, if that's okay.

For any member confused, I'm not speaking of highlights (or for that matter anything that a member wants to write and have shared here). I am speaking of, "What's your opinion of . . ."
or "Could you please write about ___ because I'm not seeing a lot of attention to it."

Personally, I'd prefer to drop the Times for the next three mornings and do the three entries planned as morning entries. However, I know that won't fly. So we will do the Times.

But, for instance, the KvH thing. It was a bad post. People write bad posts. I have. (I have done many bad entries and will do many again.) Jess told me about all the e-mails coming in on that this morning and I spent an hour trying to get a response to that into the previous entry today. (And thanks to ___ for taking the dictation that they assumed would be no more than twenty minutes.)

Nobody expects gatekeeping from KvH which is what seemed to bother people the most. Well maybe she was having a bad day. Maybe she had a larger point that she couldn't express or that she thought she was expressing but wasn't clear to those reading it. I know that in the end, I said, "Delete it all." The Alito vote would be happening and I made the call that it was more important than a post someone had written. (If you disagree, Beth's the ombudsperson, send your concerns to her and she'll weigh in.) (Beth hates it when I write that, by the way. She says, "There are enough complaints without you stirring the pot!")

If KvH comes out in favor of torture, we'll drop everything and respond to that, but otherwise, I'd really like to get the three entries written and up. They're on my post-its as reminders and it makes me anxious when I can't get through my things-to-do checklist.

Now for the community. I've spent a lot of time on the phone with Gina, Krista, Beth, Wally, Rebecca, Mike, Elaine, Betty, Cedric and Trina tonight. Wally's depressed as hell. I told him not to bother with The Daily Jot right now. He needs some time for him and members need to respect his right to take that time. Gina and Krista wanted to have a special round-robin for tomorrow. They also are exhausted. I will say it again and I hope you've said it to them, "Thank you." Gina and Krista did amazing work with their special round-robins. They gave more than they had in them. They'll be doing their regular Friday edition but there's not going to be a special-edition tomorrow. People need to take time for themselves. Trina?

I love Trina. Mike says Trina and I are alike and her problem Saturday may add fuel to his fire. She wrote an entry. She attempted to publish and got an error message. I know the message. With it, you just check a square and then click on "Publish Post" and it will publish. Trina didn't know that. And we were all working on The Third Estate Sunday Review. She said she went by Mike's room (Mike is Trina's son for anyone who missed that) and could hear him on the phone. She kept hoping she'd catch him on a break (we were all working on The Third Estate Sunday Review's latest edition). She didn't and finally went to bed, leaving the computer she uses on.
Her husband thought she'd forgotten to turn it off when he saw it the next morning and he turned it off. Post lost.

She could have interrupted. Any member that has a site and has a problem can interrupt. I may be speaking only for me, but that's fine. If it happens again (and this was only her fourth time attempting to blog, I believe) and she doesn't want to bother Mike (who can't believe she didn't just come into his room and ask for help), I'll make time. Mike will make time. But that's why there's no new post at Trina's Kitchen.

Seth? I don't know. I don't mean that in a rude way. I've had e-mails where he's twice spoken of how he was blogging right after he sent the e-mail and there's been nothing. Contact him.

But Rebecca is back and working on an entry. (She's going to call me as soon as she has it up and hasn't thus far so I'm guessing she's still working on it.) Elaine and Mike say they're posting every day this week. That's to make sure Wally doesn't have any guilt over taking time for himself. Betty says there will be a post on Tuesday. Hopefully a new chapter but she'll have something up. Cedric says he'll post twice this week.

Elaine got an e-mail about the "silence" in the community. None of us have computers attached to our limbs. But no one's stopping their sites. The only monkey wrench the Senate's created with their actions today is that Ava and I won't be reviewing Jenna Elfman's new sitcom for this Sunday's Third Estate Sunday Review. We'd hoped to but we both caught up in the Alito mess. So we'll probably be doing The Office. (Probably.) That and Wally's needing some time off are the total effect from Alito. The community continues.

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