Monday, June 26, 2006

Mag report: July issue of The Progressive

None of us spoke their language and
none of them spoke ours.
We went in breaking down doors.

They told us to force the whoel scrum
-- men women kids -- into one room.
We went in punchin kicking yelling out orders

So begins Maxine Kumin's "Entering Houses at Night" on page 42 of the July issue of The Progressive. That's exactly a third of the poem so be sure to look for it at stores and libraries. I could be wrong on this but I don't think the poetry is usually put online each month so you'll need to pick up a hard copy to read the poem.

This is just a basic overview of the issue. Kumin's poem deserves attention especially, so we're noting it. Three members, responding to Sunday's entry, asked, "Who is Anne Sexton?" They were e-mailed "For John, Who Begs Me Not to Enquire Further" which is my favorite. (I love many others -- including "Her Kind," "Flee on Your Donkey," "For My Love, Returning to His Wife" among them.) Sexton was a contemporary of Kumin's and the two were also very good friends. For more Kumin, you can also check, as Vic noted, "Poets Against the War" (The Nation).

Page four contains "Bad Analogy" by Matthew Rothschild which is a must read. It's on Bully Boy equating his so-called war on terrorism (so-called Long War, so-called whatever the p.r. firms can churn out next) with the Cold War. Remember how long that lasted? Are you ready to go through that nonsense? As Rothschild points out, "This is fearmongering of the most grotesque sort." There's an additional four paragraphs discussing the issue.

The letters pages contain a lot of angry letters. They aren't all angry but I'm not remembering seeing so many people threatening to cancel their subscriptions before or cancelling. One person felt Kate Clinton bashed Catholics. Another felt The Progressive was too tough on Union Carbide's Warren Anderson. Someone's angry with Lewis Lapham over comments in the interview Ruth Conniff conducted -- but no threat of cancellation. And a would-be chat & chewer weighs in to say that if Dems take back the House, they shouldn't go for impeachment. They should instead "enjoy the pleasure of watching Dubya squirm." Because, apparently, that's what it's all about. As opposed to setting down a marker for him and everyone who will come after that says: This is illegal, this is unacceptable.

Moving to page eight's "Comment," Jobie e-mailed about "The Horrors of Haditha." He feels that it's wrong from Matthew Rothschild to call Dahr Jamail a "war critic." He's upset about the entire sentence: "It's one thing for a war critic like Jamail to say the atrocities are occurring on a daily basis." Rothschild then writes of when Nuri Kamal al-Maliki (that's how it's spelled in the magazine and I'm sure Rothschild's correct, I won't lose any sleep over the fact that I've repeatedly spelled it "Nouri" -- nor will I correct it -- we only correct writers' names here). Jobie feels that it's implying several things. (And Jobie's very angry.) Since Jamail's an independent journalist, I don't know that "war critic" is the term I'd used. Jamail's a reporter, not a columnist and has actually been on the ground reporting (without military escorts or a Team New York Times!'s bodyguards -- decked out in black t-shirts). I think that sentence will bother a few people but I think it's more the wording than the actual intent (I'm offering my opinion -- I could be, and often am -- wrong). What stood out to me when I read it was the sources which really worked something far beyond the usual "The New York Times reports . . . and the Washington Post reports . . ." sort of things that columns so often are full of. I think the sentence Jobie noted could be worded differently (and Jobie notes: "The word journalist is never used. The word reporters is never used.") but due to Rothschild's strong efforts to work a variety of media into the comment, I don't think it was intended as insult. (My opinion, see previous note.)

That's not a "glass is half full" thing. You've got Dahr (and Truthout) noted, ITV News, BBC, Time, Washington Post, The Nation, so it's an interesting mix that goes beyond the big print dailys. (Were I to go "half-full," I'd point out, "Does anyone realize how much Rothschild writes? He's got the This Just In and McCarthyism Watch at the site, Comment and Editor's Note in the mag, he does interviews, etc. I think, for this community -- including myself, the sentence will lead to a stopping in the midst of a flow due to the wording -- but if I was doing "half-full," I'd be pointing out the number of times he writes a week, etc. He's the editor of the magazine. And I'll stop there before we're in "half-full" territory.) Ty just pointed out Tra Selhtrow's illustration that accomanies the commentary. If you get a hold a print copy, check out the illustration. (I'm sure someone will write the magazine to complain. I think it's a brave illustration.)

Page ten is "No Comment." Page ten and eleven is Ruth Conniff and I skipped it (no offense to Conniff, I wasn't in the mood to read about the Democratic Party today). Howard Zinn's "No Human Being Is Illegal" runs from page 14 to page 16 and traces the American history of demonizing immigrants and how "It was part of that long train of irrational fears in which one generation of immigrants, now partly assimilated, reacts with hatred to the next." I'd call this a must read.

Page 17 is Barbara Ehrenreich's "Your Brain at Work" and there was something someone sent in on Ehrenreich but they didn't note the author or where it was. It reads like The New Republican but it may just be one of their refugees. I think the writer (I'm sure it's a man) is writing about the so-called Take Back America meet-up. He writes, with little grasp of history -- recent history, of how he (again, I'm sure it's a man by the sentences more than the opinion) saw Michael "Tomasky seeking to put at ease her concerns that" . . . Well wasn't that sweet of the Big Man. Trying to help the little lady put her irrational fears to rest. She sure is lucky to have a Big Man around to explain those Big Ideas to her because, after all, she's just a little girl, right?

Ehrenreich knows the problems with the "let's big tent it." Tomasky can't put those concerns "at ease" because he made his 90s opus all about attacking those concerns/issues. Only a man (and one ignorant of Tomasky's history or, for that matter, Ehrenriech's on the money criticism of the don't-worry-your-little-head-we'll-decide-what's-an-issue-for-you) could have written such an insulting passage and, the thing is, he probably has no idea how insulting it is.

If it's a woman, I'll note it here. I have no problem admitting I'm wrong when I'm wrong but, the thing is, I'm not wrong on this. The section e-mailed was written by a man and it's very obvious in the way the sentences are structured, the word choice and the overall tone.

Back to Ehrenreich. "Your Brain's Work" takes a look at mice in mazes (and birds in cages) with regards to the effect they have on your neurons. How does that apply to the work force? (Ehrenreich covers the work force, feminism, class, race and just about everything else but she's the one, she's the one, who needs a lecture on what a big tent is?) Read it and ponder the conclusions and how they apply to your own life.

Page 18-19 is Matthew Rothschild's McCarthyism Watch and I belive we noted the topics here. On the young girl (age ten) not being allowed to perform Pink's "Dear Mr. President" at the talent show, I think Kat had the best comment in her review:

Want to argue it wasn't censorship? Again, she wanted to perform the song at her school's talent show. Pull "cocaine." Pull "whiskey" if you must. (I won't support the pulling of "gay.") But there's no reason, other than the message, that this song can't be sung.
When the Stones went on Ed Sullivan, they had to sing "Let's spend some time together" (and not "let's spend the night . . ."). Mick Jagger, back in the days before every piece of video came back to haunt you, used to claim that he hadn't sung that. He can be fact checked today. (He did sing "time.") But it happens all the time and always has. It's what the school could suggest be done with "Dear Mr. President" if they really weren't censoring Molly Shoul's song choice.

Luis J. Rodriquez's "A Single Movement" prompted an e-mail from Miguel who states he likes the article, he's glad it's being covered but looking at Rodriquez's photo and hearing about "grandchildren made me wonder why the magazine didn't have someone younger writing about this? This movement was sparked by students, students younger than me. I think it's a bit like hiring a man to write about the sexism women face in the workplace. If he's talented and aware he can write about it but there's another level to it when a woman's gone through it herself." Jess also made a similar comment (and due to the students I know who put it on the line, repeatedly, I would agree as well). (Not in an e-mail, Jess, Ty, Ava, Rebecca, Flyboy -- is that one or two words? Mike dubbed him that and I can never remember if it's one word or two -- are houseguests.) Miguel doesn't have a problem with Rodriquez (and notes he enjoyed the column) but he also notes, "I'm in college. There are a lot of great writers at the magazine but where are the young writers? "

He also notes, sidebar, there's a magazine embargo. He works at a library and they aren't putting the magazine out yet. They're waiting for July 1st.

Stephen Elliott has a very funny, very sad take on a campaign with "On the Bus with Katherine Harris" -- pages 29-31. You won't want to miss how Harris interacts with college journalists (or at least one). (Which FYI, doesn't have to mean she wants to sleep with him, just that she thinks his thinking that will lead to better copy or possibly that how she relates -- she seems to be very physical in the article -- in her interaction with others.)

We've noted Stephen Smith-Said "Why Neil Young Is Wrong" already. That, pages 32-33, is available online. Pages 35 through 39 is Greg Palast's interview with Hugo Chavez. Pull quote:

[Palast] Q: Is the U.S. interfering in your election here?
Chavez: They have interfered for 200 years. They have tried to prevent us from winning the elections, they supported the coup d'etat, they gave millions of dollars to the coup plotters, they supported the media, newspapers, outlaw movements, military intervention, and espionage. But here the empire is finished, and I believe that before the end of this century, it will be finished in the rest of the world. We will see the burial of the empire of the eagle.

Kate Clinton tackles the NSA, Verizon and more on page 41. (No excerpt, I'm not spoiling her jokes or the enjoyment of coming across them as you read through.)

Pages 43-44 is Elizabeth DiNovella's "An American Story" which examines David Maraniss' Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero. I've said it before, I enjoy The Progressive's reviews the most. Whether it's Matthew Rothschild, DiNovella or Ruth Conniff, they all write wonderful reviews. It can be a book on sports as it is here, books on poetry (as Rothschild did . . . last summer?), it can be a book on motherhood (Conniff reviewed that wonderfully), but they're always accessible, entertaining and well written. (If writing style is a concern at the magazine, see editor's note, it's always present in the book reviews.)

Rebecca wrote about Molly Ivin's column (page 46). I'm skipping the cover story because I haven't read it yet. I always read in order but I wanted to read the issue (or enough of it) to note it here tonight. I had other things to read today and other things to do so the cover story went the way side and Conniff got skipped over (reason stated above).

For West, note that last issue they had an interview with Dar Williams and this issue they have a commentary written by Stephen Smith-Said.

Lucy noted that she went to her Borders attempting to buy Said's latest and couldn't find it. (Or any of his other CDs.) She special ordered but suggested that if others visit Borders, they ask at the store for it. Lucy: "He has a new CD coming out soon and for it to sell, it would help if it were in stores. It takes just a second to stop someone and ask them if they have any of his CDs. If enough people do it at their stores, they might remember the name when his new CD comes out and stock it." Good idea. Also note that you can purchase his already released CDs at his website (Stephen Smith-Said) and, I'm sure, at (though I doubt Kate Clinton will be doing that -- read her column).

Laura Flanders is filling in for Mike Malloy all week on The Mike Malloy Show (which airs live on Air America Radio from ten p.m. to one a.m. EST) and she's noted Rush Limbaugh got stopped at the airport for having a prescription, not in his name (in the doctor's name). Supposedly, it's viagra but that could be a cover story because who wants to think too long picturing Limbaugh on viagra. That ends the discussion right there. Here are her guests for the next three days:

Tues -- Fred Clarkson
Wednesday -- Alexander Cockburn (CounterPunch)
Thursday -- Dave Zirin

By the way, we'll do a mag report on the next issue of Ms. Kat grabbed it here (and noted some of it at her site) when my copy arrived. When I got around to reading it, I was in flight and a woman was looking at the cover. I asked her if she wanted to look at it, and she was reading it the entire flight. She was in the middle of the story on slave labor in sweat shops (and lobbying, written by Rebecca Clarren) when we landed and I told her to finish it and pass it on to someone. I intended to buy a copy at the store but I always forget. The new issue should be out shortly and we'll note it in full here when it is. (Hold me to that if I forget.)

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