Friday, December 31, 2004

The New York Times continues to deserve praise for their coverage of the tsunami devastation

Choo Youn-Kong (Agence France-Presse) has a photo on the front page of people in Indonesia lined up for supplies. Chang W. Lee (Times) has a photo inside of people asleep on the floors of of a school in Kalmunai, Sri Lanka. Kim Cheung (Reuters) has a photo of the remains of a market on Phi-Phi island. Dimas Ardlian (Getty Images) has a photo of supplies arriving in North Sumatra. Richard Vogel (Associated Press) has a photo of workers on power lines "working to restore power." Ed Wray (AP) has a photo of survivors in Sri Lanka drinking from a tank. Santosh Verma (Times) has a photo of aid being distributed in Madras. Dibyangshu Sarkar (Agence France-Press) has a photo of a young child amidst the destruction (Cuddalore, India) eating a coconut. Edy Pumono & Jiwa Foto share credit for a photo (Times) of two people seated in front "of a ruined house." Binsar Bakkara has an especially powerful photo (AP) of an injured female. An uncredited photo from Daily Nation shows the waves on Sunday. Catherine Stebbins (Times? no organization is credited) has a photo of Dr. Kerry Siegh. Cory Lum (Times) has a photo of geophysicists Barry Hirshorn and Stuart Weinstein.

We're starting with the photos for a reason. Three e-mails asked if "failure" wasn't a little harsh to describe what happened on this end. I don't think so. Pictures are powerful and I should have been noting them from the start. Photo-journalists are journalists and they've been an important part of getting this story out and understood. I wish I'd been noting their contributions to this story from the start and regret that I didn't. My failure and I take the blame for it.

The Times continues to cover the issue powerfully and deserves praise for the text and the photos.

Focusing on the articles:

Bhupati brought her two boys, 8 and 6, to higher ground when the tsunami struck and ran back for the baby, Preetika, 2. The girl had been rescued by someone else and survived. The mother of three, searching frantically, did not.
"We don't know how to save these children's future," their uncle Kanakaraj, 35, said on Thursday, at a village wedding hall that had been turned into a relief camp. "A mother's care is needed." His concern for his brother's children was admirable, given what had happened to his own. All three were swept away in the tsunami on Sunday as their mother, Manonamani, tried, but failed, to save them.

A childless mother, motherless children - in one extended family, a microcosm of the way the water bruised its way across Asia. Many men died, but women and children appear to have died in even larger numbers.
[Amy Waldman's " Motherless and Childless, an Indian Village's Toll"]

Abdul Hamid Ansar woke up before dawn Thursday, whispered prayers, gulped down a cup of steaming tea and resumed his surreal new existence: overseer of Sri Lanka's coast of death.
Mr. Ansar, a shy, 42-year-old divisional secretary, the Sri Lankan equivalent of an American city manager, has led the search for bodies along a four-mile stretch of congested coastline where 9,000 people are believed to have been killed when a tsunami crashed in on Sunday. His small slice of Sri Lanka appears to have the highest death toll of any single community in Asia outside of Aceh Province in Indonesia.
Mr. Ansar's neighborhood, a seaside enclave of roughly 100,000 people on the east coast of Sri Lanka, no longer exists. Twenty-seven of his relatives are dead.

[David Rohde's "In a Corner of Sri Lanka, Devastation and Divisions"]

Food drops and other aid trickled toward this region from around the world on Friday, but slowly enough that the injured and the stranded in many places still had to fend for themselves as the toll from "an unprecedented global catastrophe" surged past 120,000.
The human tally in Indonesia jumped after officials said that nearly 28,000 more bodies had been uncovered in Aceh Province, on the island of Sumatra, near the epicenter of Sunday's enormous undersea earthquake. The discovery brought the death count close to 80,000 in this country alone.
At least three times the number of dead may be seriously injured, their survival dependent on the arrival of urgent medical aid, international health experts said.

[Jane Perlez's "Many Still in Need as Aid Is Trickling to Stricken Area"]

At one camp, Zulkifli Zaelaini, 26, was trying to find medical attention for his father, a retired police officer whose hand was badly gashed after the disaster struck and was by now infected. "My father has been wounded now for three days, and no one cares," he said.
. . .
Many residents walk the streets wearing surgical masks or covering their noses with scarves to avoid the pungent stench of decaying bodies and raw sewage, the breeding ground for water-borne disease.
Tremors and aftershocks felt in recent days have regularly sent fearful residents scurrying outside those homes that are still standing.

[Eric Lichtblau's "In Indonesia's Worst-Hit Region, Relief Is Far From Swift"]

An expert in water sanitation from the World Health Organization has arrived in the Maldives to help determine the best way to restore safe water supplies, said Dr. Pino Annunziata, a member of the organization's emergency response team. He said that rainfall there would help to flush the salt out of the wells, but added that rain could also create stagnant pools of fresh water where mosquitoes could breed and spread malaria, which is already prevalent in many of the devastated areas.
Dr. David Nabarro, the director of crisis operations for the World Health Organization, said that a shipment of bottled water was being flown to the Maldives from Britain. He said the organization had been offered the use of a commercial plane heading from Manchester to Mali and had elected to fill the plane with water.

[Denise Grady & Lawrence K. Altman's "From All Corners, a Rush to Get Clean Drinking Water to Survivors in Stricken Areas"]

It was 7 p.m. Seattle time on Dec. 25 when Vasily V. Titov raced to his office, sat down at his computer and prepared to simulate an earthquake and tsunami that was already sweeping across the Indian Ocean.
He started from a blank screen and with the muted hope that just maybe he could warn officials across the globe about the magnitude of what was unfolding. But the obstacles were numerous.

. . .
As he set to work, Sumatra's shores were already a soup of human flotsam. Thailand to the east was awash. The pulse of energy transferred from seabed to water, traveling at jetliner speed, was already most of the way across the Bay of Bengal and approaching unsuspecting villagers and tourists, fishermen and bathers, from the eight-foot-high coral strands of the Maldives to the teeming shores of Sri Lanka and eastern India.
In the end, Dr. Titov could not get ahead of that wave with his numbers. He could not help avert the wreckage and death. But alone in his office, following his computer model of the real tsunami, he began to understand, as few others in the world did at that moment, that this was no local disaster.
With an eerie time lag, his data would reveal the dimensions of the catastrophe that was unfolding across eight brutal hours on Sunday, one that stole tens of thousands of lives and remade the coasts of the Asian subcontinent.

[Andrew C. Revkin's "How Scientists and Victims Watched Helplessly"]

Experts say that thousands of deaths might have been avoided if warning systems had been in place to alert the people around the rim of the Indian Ocean of the tsunami. No such system exists there now, although the United States has such a system in place for countries of the Pacific basin.
Those who design and use the wireless technology known as Short Message Service, currently used for chatter and advertisements, say it could be used to jumpstart governments' warning networks.

[John Schwartz's "Text Messaging Pushed for Use as Disaster Warning Systems"]

A senior State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that so far, there was no need to add to the $35 million set aside by the United States for immediate relief, but that the money would be available when the time came to distribute it, once assessments are made. The official said that $500 million in government aid had been raised so far around the world, and that this had been matched by a like amount of private contributions.
[Steven R. Weisman & David E. Sanger's "In Efforts to Organize Aid, Powell and Governor Bush Will Tour Ravaged Areas"]

Some here blame fate for the tsunami, others blame geology. But other factors also determined who lived and who died on that morning.
Biology, for one: the men on shore had the speed to outrun the towering wall of water, and the strength to hold onto whatever they could as the water tried to snatch them away. Sociology, for another: here, the men are the providers, and were thus away at sea about six miles from shore, which on that day proved the safest haven. The women fell prey at home, or at the fish market where the water barreled in. On a Sunday morning, the tsunami found many of the children at their homes just feet from the sea, rather than at a safer distance, at school.

[Amy Waldman's "Motherless and Childless, an Indian Village's Toll."]

Staff members also immediately traveled into the disaster zones. Celestine M. Devasahayam, a supervisor in India, set out for slums in Madras in a flooded coastal area, using a rowboat at one point to reach a hard-hit neighborhood. What he and his partners from another relief agency found was a former fishing village where not a single house was still standing, where bodies were simply piled up, and where children were searching for parents, he said.
"They were so desperate," he said in a telephone interview. After he returned inland, he and other relief workers directed medical crews to the area.

[Eric Lipton's "Even at Charity Used to Aiding, It's a Scramble."]

A senior State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that so far, there was no need to add to the $35 million set aside by the United States for immediate relief, but that the money would be available when the time came to distribute it, once assessments are made. The official said that $500 million in government aid had been raised so far around the world, and that this had been matched by a like amount of private contributions.
[Steven R. Weisman & David E. Sanger's "In Efforts to Organize Aid, Powell and Governor Bush Will Tour Ravaged Areas."]

Among them was Bustamam Zainal Abidin, 37, a car salesman who lost his wife and their four children, ages 1 to 10, to the raging waters. He was not at home when the tsunami hit on Sunday, but neighbors reported that all five family members had been swept up in the floods.
"I have nothing, zero," he said. "Where my house was, it's like a sea now. I couldn't even be there to help my family." Other members of the mosque are missing and presumed to be dead as well.

[Eric Lichtblau's "In Indonesia's Worst-Hit Region, Relief Is Far From Swift."]

At home, Manonamani was feeding Naveen Kumar, 8, and watching Priya Dharsini, 10, play with Rumani, 3, when the sea reared up and she heard screams. She grabbed Naveen and Rumani, while Priya ran at her side. But Manonamani did not know how to swim, and when the water overtook them, the children slipped from her hands.
"I had no power to run away," she said. "I lost them." Kanakaraj found her unconscious in a house, then found his brother's children safe on a top floor. "My own children I could not see," he said. He found their bodies two days later.
Manonamani said, "I would have been happy if even only one of my own had been saved."

[Amy Waldman's "Motherles and Childless, an Indian Village's Toll."]

Severe shortages exist in all the affected regions, but reports from health officials suggest that the situation may be the most dire in Indonesia and the Maldives.
[Denise Grady & Lawrence K. Altman's "From All Corners a Rush to Get Clean Drinking Water to Survivors in Striken Areas."]

A senior State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that so far, there was no need to add to the $35 million set aside by the United States for immediate relief, but that the money would be available when the time came to distribute it, once assessments are made. The official said that $500 million in government aid had been raised so far around the world, and that this had been matched by a like amount of private contributions.
[Steven R. Weisman & David Sanger's "In Efforts to Organize Aid, Powell and Governor Bush Will Tour Ravaged Areas."]

A senior State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that so far, there was no need to add to the $35 million set aside by the United States for immediate relief
. . .

A senior State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that so far, there was no need to add to the $35 million . . .

A senior State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that so far, there was no need . . .

Democracy Now! (and no, The Common Ills isn't on vacation)

Democracy Now! devotes the full show today to one topic.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: How the U.S. Uses Globalization to Cheat Poor Countries Out of Trillions
We spend the hour with John Perkins, a former respected member of the international banking community. In his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man he describes how as a highly paid professional, he helped the U.S. cheat poor countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars by lending them more money than they could possibly repay and then taking over their economies.

At this point the episode is LW only. (Listen or watch.)

To those who e-mailed the site today asking if we were going on vacation, no we aren't.

As I noted in a post last night, the power went out (probably for ten minutes). I forgot to reset clocks and overslept. When I did get up the day was already well started.

We will be highlighting the Times' front page later today but when I read the story on Novak, that became my focus. (And consumed four hours of my time further delaying the first post of today.)

"I don't know why they're upset with me. They ought to worry about themselves. I worry about myself."

Robert Novak is a strange sort of "journalist." Page A18 of today's New York Times addresses his role in the outing of Valerie Plame in Lorne Manly and Adam Liptak's "At Leak Inquiry's Center, a Circumspect Columnist." [The article can be found at]

It's there that he's quoted (answering a question from Brian Lamb on C-Span) saying, "I don't know why they're upset with me. They ought to worry about themselves. I worry about myself."

Like a character in an unfolding play by Moliere -- The School for GOP Hacks? -- Novak was trained by Rowland Evans, Jr. to always do his best to advance the interests of the GOP. Truly, he is the first act Agnes in Moliere's The School for Wives.

Joseph Wilson was bringing uncomfortable attention to the Bully Boy's remarks on yellow cake.
The echo chamber went into overdrive to discredit Wilson and Novak was there to deliver the body blow, announce in his July 14,2003 column:

Wilson never worked for the C.I.A., but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me his wife suggested sending Wilson to Niger.

With those remarks, Novak sought to discredit Wilson. Now maybe Novak wasn't aware of a number of things. Maybe he wasn't aware that he was being used to silence a critic of the Bully Boy's? Maybe he wasn't aware that he was outing Plame? [Correction: Novak was aware. He spoke on the phone with Joe Wilson on July 10th. Page 344 of Wilson's The Politics of Truth details the conversation. Without noting the conversation, or when it occurred, Novak would refer to it himself in a later column as he noted that Wilson refused to talk to him about Plame.] Robert Evans had schooled Novak to be, like Agnes, the adoring idiot.

But where Agnes's intellect slowly develops over the course of the play, Novak's gone down a different path -- schooled to be a non-thinking opinion writer, he's only excelled further at his cause.

Novak has damaged the ability of Plame to do her job. In doing so, he's put her at risk, anyone who was seen with her in her undercover days at risk and, at a time when national security at least gets lip service, she has been taken "out" an asset when one would think the nation needs her more than ever.

There's not a great deal of thought that goes into Novak's "writing," so, he very well could have had no idea that doing stenography for the Court of St. Bully Boy could imperil the nation. Once Evans steered him down the road of hack journalism, there was no controlling him.

Now he surveys the chaos he's created and shrugs. He really appears to have no grasp of the destruction he has brought about or that he was used to do just that.

Only an Agnes, perfecting the idiocy Arnolphe started her on, could be so obtuse.

At the Common Ills, we shed no tears for New York Times' reporter Judith N. Miller. Her current legal problems may be caused by Novak but there's an almost poetic quality to the fact that where the Times never demanded answers from her (over those run up to the war and after the invasion reports she filed) a prosecutor's now demanding accountability on another matter. There's almost a symmetary to it, if you think about it.

But while we may enjoy her time in the hot seat, the matter that's landed her there (at last) is another issue. One doesn't expect wisdom from Novak. But it's a real shame that Miller and Matthew Cooper are left to fight for the freedom of press while Novak grows ever more obtuse.

In the process, words like "criminal" are wrongly applied. A reporter breaking the news didn't commit a crime. The law applies only to the "two administration sources" that passed on the information to Novak. The law did not govern reporters (which would probably be seen as a restraint on the freedom of the press if it had attempted to do so).

[A reporter refusing to give the court the name of their source in this matter is a legal issue that's currently being addressed. In times more supportive of the freedom of the press, Miller and the others would be allowed to protect their sources.]

Novak didn't break the law but our modern day Agnes prefers to remain obtuse the situation he's created and leaves it for others (including Miller) to attempt to fight for the rights of the press.

If Novak had any integrity, he would have long ago stated that a reporter has a legal right to print what he did. (And Novak did have that right.) Instead others who did not break the story are left to fight for journalistic integrity and the freedom of the press.

Again, no tears for Judy at this site. But while Novak allows her and others to take the heat for his action, he demonstrates contempt for the profession he's pretended to be a part of.

There's a simple statement Novak could make to bring the focus back where it belongs, "I was doing my job." That would put the focus back on Novak's column (Miller never wrote about Plame). But it would also mean that Novak would be tested.

Would he crumple (as he's done in the past -- the Times notes that he publicly named a source before, Robert P. Hanssen)? Probably. Our Agnes wasn't in schooled in journalism ethics, only attack politics.

Were he to take the position he should take (one taken by reporters who didn't out Plame) it might be harder for him to play the uber patriot and modern day moralist he's so fond of. Difficult questions that he's largely been able to sidestep might be asked, not by a prosecutor but by a public that's largely ignored Novak's role in outing Plame. Such questions might result in a public outcry causing him to lose his cushy post at CNN. Isn't there something questionable that he's a Crossfire co-host who regularly questions others about their motives but feels he himself is beyond reproach?

Novak probably realizes that his name, such as it is, exists today not as a result of his columns (which are usually notable for being non-noteworthy) but on his self-presentation as one of the last voices standing up for decency. He probably realizes that taking a stand for free speech would destroy his "fan base."

They're accustomed to swallowing the manufactured outrage of a blow hard. Having to confront the fact that the uber patriot was willing to toss aside the "good of the country" wouldn't play well.

So he appears perfectly willing to let others fight the battle he should be fighting: the rights of a free press. I don't think he should have outed Plame. She wasn't central to the story and the outing was nothing but an attempt to divert attention from the fact that a known falsehood appeared in a State of the Union address.

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

That's the allegation Bully Boy made in a State of the Union address. An allegation the CIA had removed from an earlier speech because they knew it to be false. Wilson wrote of his visit to Niger (on the op-ed pages of the New York Times) and questions started to be raised.

Did an American president lie to the people? Remember the faux gasps and manufactured outrage over Clinton's lie (re: Lewinsky) over a private matter? (I'm referring to his public statement, an argument can be made, that due to the definition of sexual relations, Clinton did not lie under oath. I have no interest in the matter one way or the other and this post isn't about that. My own personal opinion is that most of us have lied in some manner about sex.)

That's an issue because the State of the Union address is an official, Constitutionally mandated, task of the president (Article II. Section III). Presumably, the president is held to oath of office while delivering a State of the Union address.

David Corn (from The Lies of George W. Bush):

Nigergate opened the door for a bigger question: Had Bush oversold the case for war? Time magazine ran a cover piece under a large headline: "Untruth and Consequences." Its article focused on the Niger business, but the magazine also noted that prewar assertions by Bush on other WMD matters -- biological weapons in Iraq, Hussein's use of aluminum tubes for a nuclear weapons program, and Iraq's links to al Qaeda -- had not yet proven true (p. 292).

How would the chattering class, a group that had exhausted so much breath over Clinton's sexual lie, handle the prospect of being lied into war? Things were getting dicey as they clutched their pearls.

The water was starting to boil for the Bully Boy so "two senior administration officials" decided (either on their own or acting on the orders of someone else) to take the heat off by shopping around the non-pertinant detail that Joseph Wilson was married to Valerie Plame (not news) and that she was a CIA operative (gossip passing as news).

John Dean (from Worse than Watergate):

Using those in the news media willing to be complicit, the Bush White House is attacking enemies by planting harmful information. It has made old-fashioned gossip-mongering into high-powered smart bombs, firing explosive information by publicly releasing it and using the reporter's code of confidentiality to protect itself from blowback. This, of course, is akin to what Nixon aide Chuck Colson went to jail for (p. 170).

It was clear from the timing of Novak's first article that the leak was an act of revenge against Wilson for speaking the truth about the Bush administration's bogus claim that Niger provided uranium to Iraq (p. 171).

The ugly truths Novak wants to avoid is that he was used (willingly or not) and that this uber patriot compromised national security in his efforts to court the Court of St. Bully Boy. I don't agree with what Novak did. Valerie Plame wasn't central to whether or not Bush lied. Her undercover status wasn't not relevant. I see no journalistic reason for her to have been outed.

But if Novak wanted to argue "the people have a right to know!" I'd support his stance. I'd disagree that she should have been outed but I'd put that off as a disagreement and support his assertion that the people have a right to know and to a free press.

Novak doesn't make that argument and probably won't. The echo chamber exists to questions the motives of others and, quite frankly, Novak couldn't withstand it if the chamber he's polished the brass in religiously for many years turned on him. If he played his only card (one he should have played), those who've launched attacks on Richard Clarke and assorted others would have to train their sites on Novak and wonder, "Where is his sense of decency! Where is his patriotism!"

So he hides in the shadow and claims he can't speak about the matter on the advice of council. His silence now is in direct contrast to his early eagerness to share. A reticent Novak is laughable at this stage in his career. Who knew the attack dog would turn into a declawed tabby in his final moments on the national stage?

E-mails to this site have noted enjoyment over Judith Miller being put in the hot seat. Again, it is fun to watch her squirm. At this stage, it's fun; however, if Novak continues to let others fight the fight he should be fighting, to let others take the heat for his actions, it won't be fun.
(Yes, Yazz, here comes a "fairness" moment.)

Miller doesn't deserve to be punished for Novak's actions. It's a shame that she (and others) have to stand up for the rights of a free press while Novak's allowed to avoid the issue.

Regarding Iraq, she may have truly believed in her "scoops." I don't know if she did or if she knew they were false. From her current stance, it seems journalism and a free press mean something to her. (By "current stance," I'm not referring to what many of you saw as her attempt to present herself as the Sally Field of the press corps. I didn't see the Charlie Rose interview.) I wish they'd meant as much to her in her Iraq reporting.

But I'm not willing to pin her current problems on "fate" or "karma" when the situation can be so clearly pinned on Robert Novak who refuses to address his own actions and instead is willing to hide behind Miller and Matthew Cooper (among others).

I doubt Novak will find the inner strength to fight his own battles or to take a stand for the profession he professes to be a member of. After all, as he stated, "I worry about myself."
But maybe our modern day Agnes could stop thinking only of himself and remember these words from Moliere: "The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it." Translation, Novak, redeem yourself before the curtain closes on this farce.

For further information please check out the following:

Amy Sullivan's "Little Big Man" (

John Dean's "The Serious Implications Of President Bush's Hiring A Personal Outside Counsel For The Valerie Plame Investigation" (

John Dean's "The Leak of CIA Agent Valerie Plame Wilson's Identity:Why Competing Congressional and Special Counsel Investigations Will Inevitably Cause Problems" (

John Dean's "Why Did Attorney General Ashcroft Remove Himself From The Valerie Plame Wilson Leak Investigation? Signs that a Key Witness May Have Come Forward" (

John Dean's "A Further Look At The Criminal ChargesThat May Arise From the Plame Scandal, In Which a CIA Agent's Cover Was Blown" (

John Dean's "The Bush Administration Adopts a Worse-than-Nixonian Tactic:The Deadly Serious Crime Of Naming CIA Operatives" (

David Corn's "Nigergate Thuggery" (

David Corn's "Leak: Slime, Not Crime?" (

I'd also suggest you visit bookstores or libraries to obtain a copy of John Dean's Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidenty of George W. Bush.

[Note: A link to the Times story has been added thanks to a "___" who pointed that there was none. Also, Shirley e-mailed with three corrections needed and they've been done.]

[Note: 7-5-05 Corrections. Adam "Liptak" thanks to ____ for catching that. Also, Novak did know Valerie Plame was undercover per Wilson and Novak has confirmed speaking to Wilson on the matter.]

Democracy Now and Science And Politics

If this posts twice, I'll delete the earlier one. I'd blogged on Democracy Now!'s Thursday show earlier in the day but it's apparently one of those posts that's either not going to show or will pop up in its own good time.

Headlines for December 30, 2004
- Tsunami Leaves 5 Million Homeless
- Death Toll Expected to Top 100,000
- Bush Announces $35 Million Relief Effort
- Paper: Bush's Handling of Crisis "Inept Beyond Belief"
- Oxfam Warns Donors May Walk Away From Disaster
- U.S. Annually Gives 0.14% of Income to Relief Aid
- Four-Day Death Toll in Iraq Tops 100

As always, Headlines are LWR (listen, watch or read).

The rest of the show is listen or watch only. It's their year in review and it's the most comprehensive review of the year I've seen. (I did catch NPR's wrap up and felt it missed many things. I also felt that the weeklies I read earlier today did a better job than most of the mainstream printed pieces. But I think Democracy Now! does the best job yet.) And it's good that the other post is temporarily lost because when I wrote it, there was no transcript for this segment but now I see that there's a partial one.

Democracy Now!'s 2004 Year-In-Review
We look back at 2004 including the presidential race, the continuing war in Iraq, the U.S.-backed coup in Haiti, the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, the deaths of Ronald Reagan and Yasser Arafat, the catastrophic Indian Ocean tsunami and much more.
Voices include:
Ali Abunimah, Jean Bertrand Aristide, John Ashcroft, George W. Bush,Wesley Clark, Richard Clarke, David Cobb, David Cole, Howard Dean, Ani DiFranco, Steve Earle, Robert Fisk, Michael Franti, Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Hassan, Seymour Hersh, Jeremy Hinzman, Dolores Huerta, Dahr Jamail, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, Lila Lipscomb, Rahul Mahajan, Jimmy Massey, Wangari Maathai, Zell Miller, Yanar Mohammad, Michael Moore, Bill Moyers, Ralph Nader, Barbara Olshansky, Condoleezza Rice, Randall Robinson, Arundhati Roy, Donald Rumsfeld,
Rev. Al Sharpton, Mordechai Vanunu, Maxine Waters.

Okay, this is mainly for Charlie, the only thing I'm seeing that you'll miss out on from only being able to read the transcript is the songs (Ani DiFranco, for instance). But what you'll get as a reader that people who only listened or viewed the segment will miss is links to to the segments these moments came from. Ani DiFranco is a brilliant artist. And if you want to get an idea of the kind of artist she is, you can visit her homepage:

Kara e-mailed me to thank me for linking to the great post from Science And Politics. So did Brent and Rob. Rob and Brent mentioned that after they read the post, they clicked to see something newer.

I hope everyone did that because I SCREWED UP.

Science And Politics is a site that a number of you have been mentioning. Including after we linked in the post on who wasn't on vacation. [See]

I meant to highlight the site ( but in my rush, I just typed "Science And Politics" into a Yahoo search. I didn't notice that it was pulling up a post from the site and not the main page (

I'm glad that the post was an excellent one (and if you haven't read it, click above because it's worth reading). But I had intended to highlight the site itself. I'm sure that most of you are net savy (more so than I am) and know if you reach an archived post, you can click on the main heading and it will take you to the most current post. But if there was any confusion, I apologize for my mistake.

I was just e-mailing someone about the Science And Politics web site when the power went out.
I lost the e-mail and had to start over when the power came back on. I wished I'd jumped to Kara, Rob and Brent's e-mail first.

Again, the post is excellent and makes you think but that was sheer luck because I was attempting to highlight the site (and the fact that it wasn't on vacation). So if anyone did check out that post, saw it was from November and didn't realize (or suspect) that I had made a mistake, please check out the site itself courtesty of the first Science And Politics link above.

I'll also add that Kat e-mailed to say she was working on a new post and it may go up in a few hours. If you missed her latest Kat's Korner, it's at
and you can read her earlier post at

To e-mail this site send to You can e-mail Kat at that address and it will be forwarded or send to to e-mail her directly.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

"Our mothers had spent time in the same mental hospital . . ." Alternative Weekly Round Up (and remembering Ms.' Women of the Year)

Jon was in my 10th grade geometry class. For two semesters we sat catty-corner in Mrs. Hedrick's room doing proofs, comparing the sides of isosceles triangles, and pretending we'd never met. In fact, we'd known one another for years. Our mothers had spent time in the same mental hospital in the early '60s. Soulmates, they'd kept in touch through the years and every so often they'd set off on an escapade together. As kids, Jon and I got dragged along. By the time we hit high school, we'd shared more escapades than either of us cared to remember.
We'd both learned to compartmentalize: There was the weekday world of home and school where normalcy reigned. Our fathers had each remarried and formed new families; during the week we lived in orderly households. Weekends were another matter. On weekends we swapped our fathers' suburban routines for our mothers' bohemian fantasies, stability for spontaneity.
I'm guessing that Jon's mother was also bipolar -- not that we ever discussed our mothers' diagnoses, but they seemed wild in the same way. Laughing at things we didn't find funny, turning ordinary events into high drama, talking non-stop about inappropriate subjects, waylaying total strangers in the supermarket aisles, buttonholing sales clerks and gas station attendants, toll collectors, receptionists, and waiters to talk, talk, talk. At the very least it was embarrassing, being out in public with the two of them. And on occasion it was frightening, not knowing when or how the escapade would end.
Today there are support groups for family members
. . .

That's the opening to Lisa Lieberman's "The Legacy of Madness: The hidden costs and continuing legacies of growing up with a mentally ill parent" from the Hartford Advocate.

In the Seattle Weekly, Rick Anderson's "Six of Their Own" looks at the continued casulaty rate and how the recent bombing in Mosul effected Washington state residents:

"It's very bad," the voice over the phone said to Maj. Timothy Gauthier, who was groggy with sleep early on the morning of Dec. 21. "You need to get in here right now."
"Little did I know how bad it was," Gauthier said Wednesday, Dec. 29, recalling how he felt after learning six members of his Fort Lewis Lancers, part of the Stryker force, had been killed by a determined suicide bomber in Iraq. Apparently wearing an Iraqi army uniform over explosives strapped to his body, the bomber sat chatting and eating with the troops of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, before the mess hall bombing. Killed were 22 people, including 14 U.S. soldiers.
The blast brought to 80 the number of troops with Washington state connections killed in Gulf War II in Iraq and Afghanistan. Forty-two soldiers based at Fort Lewis have died, 11 from Gauthier's division.


Most of the focus in the alternative weeklies this week appears to be on New Year's Eve (hot spots and how to party) and on reviewing 2004. I'm noting what I see as the strongest pieces and I'm sorry if something you enjoyed didn't get picked (no one's sent in any suggestions except Billie and we'll be linking to that one).

Joe Conason has a strong piece in The New York Observer on what we can expect from Bush's next budget proposal:

The President will reveal further details when he sends his 2006 budget message to the Capitol next February, although the intention has been clear since last spring. What we can anticipate is the usual slashing of domestic programs. This conservative pattern dates back to the Reagan era: spend big on the military and tax breaks for the wealthy, then cut back on school lunches, Medicaid, veterans’ health care and clean water.
Soon we’ll be hearing sonorous speeches from Republican leaders—including Mr. Bush himself, no doubt—about all the "wasteful spending" they so fervently oppose.
Such declarations would be more credible if only these politicians could curb their profligate enthusiasm for missile defense—a truly wasteful program that proved again last week how badly this government manages our money and our security.
In case anyone missed the news, the latest test staged by the Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency concluded in an embarrassing failure on Dec. 15. The target rocket launched on schedule from Alaska, but the interceptor rocket never left its pad in the Marshall Islands for their planned rendezvous in space. The cause, according to the Missile Defense Agency, was "an unknown anomaly," which in plain English means that the Pentagon, after spending roughly $100 billion over the past two decades on this system, has no idea why it still doesn’t work.


Doug Ireland pays tribute to Susan Sontag in "Remembering Sontag":

I was quite pained to learn just now of the death of Susan Sontag. I first encountered Susan on the page when I was a teenager, through her groundbreaking essays in the Partisan Review — where she helped introduce Americans to European intellectuals of the first rank, like Roland Barthes, among many. We finally met in the late ’70s, when Dick Sennett asked me to be a fellow at the Institute for the Humanities at New York University — a sort of glorified chat shop for intellectuals which we used to refer to jokingly as "the Humane Society" — where Susan was a regular at the seminars. We became friends, and I passed many agreeable hours in her company in the years before I left for France. On several occasions we shared a joint together — although I felt rather guilty about giving one to her, as she had already had lung problems and bouts of cancer. Most of the obituaries will undoubtedly speak of Susan’s brilliance.

In The Austin Chronicle, "The Hightower Report" [Jim Hightower] discusses and disses the Hummer (that's not a complaint from this web site) and then turns his attention to chips being embedded in people:

Have you been chipped, yet?
You could be soon, for the Food & Drug Administration has now cleared the way for a Florida corporation, Applied Digital Solutions, to market a tiny electronic device called VeriChip that is surgically implanted under the skin of your arm or hand.
Don't worry, says the corporation soothingly, being chipped doesn't hurt you, and it's really for your own good. For example, they say, if you have an accident, your implanted chip could contain vital medical information that could be accessed by an ambulance crew (assuming the crew has bought a hand-held, chip-reading scanner, which Applied Digital also happens to sell).


In The San Antonio Current, Lisa Sorg wonders "What is the role of the Peace Corps in a bellicose world?":

In the Peace Corps' 43-year history, the agency's goals haven't changed: to reduce poverty, engage in cross-cultural exchange, and educate others about America. Although volunteers are required to remain politically neutral while abroad, the Peace Corps itself is subject to domestic and foreign political pressures.
So when Peace Corps volunteers enter an international stage where their mission can conflict with the United States' actions abroad, such as the war in Iraq, do they serve as goodwill ambassadors or as extensions of its foreign policy?
The answer: Both.


Philadelphia Weekly has strong interview (done by Kia Gregory) with Democratic state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, the head of the Black Caucus in Pennsylvania:

Where does change begin?
"Our folks haven't been listening to these young people. These kids don't want to act out. They don't want to be uneducated. They don't want to be on drugs. They don't want to be locked up or truant. But they want something, and it's something positive. If you keep putting a negative in their face, and telling them to make it on their own, that's what they'll do. We have to provide, and find out what they're thinking, what their wants are and needs are, and then meet them at those needs."
About 80 percent of homicides in Philadelphia are committed with handguns. What priority will gun legislation have on PLBC's 2005 agenda?
"Last session I introduced legislation asking the governor to put together a task force to investigate why and how guns are coming into poor minority communities in such large numbers. This isn't about gun purchasing from your local gun dealer. This is about the black market. Black-market guns are being sold to our young people, and we need to find out how they're getting into our communities. And the penalties on the people selling these guns need to be extremely high. The legislation didn't make it out of committee, but it's going to be one of the first things on the list as we enter this next session."


In the Nüz section of the Metro Santa Cruz, one of "the Shrivers" (as Gore Vidal Is God likes to call them) pops up:

All this got Nüz wondering whether misrepresenting a group of nurses at a women's conference earlier this month as being among the special interests who "don't like me in Sacramento because I am always kicking their butts" actually bodes well for Arnie's presidential ambitions.

In the North Bay Bohemian "Sonoma County Juvenile Justice Commission member Hank Mattimore argues that juvenile offenders should not be sent to adult prisons:"

The last time I saw "Paul" (not his real name) was in a dinky cell at Juvenile Hall in Sonoma County. It was hard to believe this 15-year-old baby-faced kid and his buddy had broken into an older woman's home, tied her up and demanded that she tell them where she was hiding her money. When the frightened woman would not respond, one of the boys (it was never clear which one) beat the victim with her own cane. They left the house with a small amount of cash and some credit cards. Fortunately, the woman was able to untie herself, received treatment for her bruises and eventually testified at the pretrial hearing.
Paul and his 17-year-old buddy, a registered gang member, were arrested the next day trying to use the woman's credit cards. Paul was never more than a gang wannabe. Both boys were charged with aggravated assault and robbery. The district attorney, intent on making an example of them, insisted they be tried as adults. On the advice of their public defender, who feared they could receive life imprisonment if the case went to trial, both boys pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 20 years in a maximum-security adult prison.
I looked at the kid sitting across from me in his prison sweats and tried to picture him in 20 years.


In The Orange County Weekly, Jim Washburn weighs in on our obligations and the current administration (in "Call Me Irresponsible Yes, It’s Undeniably True") :

As Wendell Phillips, Thomas Jefferson or Skipper Alan Hale once said, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." They weren’t talking about standing at our borders with a pickaxe, but about keeping a scrupulous watch over ourselves, our intentions and our institutions.
And we simply don’t do that. When more Americans can tell you what Donald Trump did this month than what Donald Rumsfeld did, it’s no wonder the Bush administration gets away with murder.
We are supposed to be a society, and very few of us are doing all we can to act like it. I’m lucky I get to vent here because aside from penning an occasional unpublished letter to the Los Angeles Times, I don’t do all I should. We should all be calling our congresspersons—as well as ABC daily to ask why Scott Peterson gets more coverage than the mercury poisoning our kids.


In the New York Press, Russ Smith trumpets some bad news: the New York Times has hired William Safire's replacement. On the plus side, it's someone of color and the paper desperately needed to move beyond it's "Whiter Shade of Pale" op-eds. On the negative side, it's a male colunist. (Apparently a person of color who also happened to be a woman was just too revolutionary for the Times.) And on the "Oh my God!" side, he's a conservative (according to Smith) Gregory Kane. Well it's nice to know that someone will finally be able to play with little Davy Brooks in the sandbox, Uncle Willie was far too old for that. I'm not linking to the article because Smith's going orgasmic over him and (call me a prude) I firmly believe masturbation is not a public event.

I will, however, link to Matt Tiabbi weighing in on Time's choice of the Bully Boy for their person of the year, bloggers and Andrew Sullivan:

An argument I see sometimes and occasionally even agree with is that bloggers don't have the same factual and ethical standards that the mainstream media supposedly has, which leads to such fiascoes as the bogus Kerry-mistress story sweeping the country, or the name of Kobe's accuser being made public.
But more often than not, the gripe about bloggers isn't that they're unethical. It's that they're small. In the minds of people like Sullivan, not being part of a big structure intrinsically degrades the amateur, makes him a member of a separate and lower class; whereas in fact the solidarity of any journalist should always lie with the blogger before it lies with, say, the president. Journalists are all on the same side, or ought to be, anyway.
Not Time magazine, though. Time lay with the president. Time big-time lay with the president. What was great about Sullivan's "Year of the Insurgents" column last week was how beautifully it threw the rest of the "Person of the Year" issue into contrast. Here's Sullivan bitching about bloggers needing to stay on the margins where they belong; meanwhile, his "respectable" media company is joyously prancing back and forth along 190 glossy pages with George Bush's c--- wedged firmly in its mouth. [Common Ills Note: "c---" is our edit, not The New York Press's.]


The East Bay Express highlights "The Year in Comics" ( and we'll note this one (it's in pdf form) entitled "The Price of War" by Mike Mchanic and David Lasky which Billie sent in because she enjoyed it.

Eugene Weekly is highlighting policits (local and national). Those who've followed Ohio will be interested in the second item:

A lawsuit filed by the Green Party/Libertarian Party with the Ohio Supreme Court charges that a fair vote count would give the state and the presidency to John Kerry rather than George Bush. Deposition notices were sent Dec. 21 to Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell to appear and give testimony regarding the legal challenge of Ohio's elections results in the case Moss V. Bush et al.

I'll also recommend this Oregon paper's main page ( because it includes a "Tusnami Relief" resource list.

Of the year in movies pieces I've read, I'd recommend Susan Gerhard's "Reason to Disbelieve"
from The San Francisco Bay Guardian:

Another cross to bear, The Passion of the Christ, actually offered me the best recovered-memory moment of my filmgoing year. Mel Gibson made Catholicism almost as appealing as the Sister Mary Margaret I tried so hard to avoid in my childhood. She was a corporal punisher and a corpulent presence, and I had a very tangible reminder of SMM right there in the movie theater with me. Midday at the Metreon had never looked like this before: an audience mostly dressed in black and smelling of church mustiness and whiskey. The nun seated behind me was perpetually indulging a vice most regular filmgoers had long abandoned: shouting curses at the screen. Every blow struck to her Lord Jesus Christ seemed to hit her in the gut, which then ricocheted off my seat. The nun's many bathroom/tippling breaks allowed the only relief I got in a film that did, truly, bring me back to three-hour Eastertime masses and make me feel like I was walking through those stations of the cross myself. For all that can be said against it, Gibson's horrorscope Catholicism wasn't a perversion of this religion's message; it was an accurate distillation of it – the way I learned it at least – and a timely reminder of the excellent reasons to run screaming from that church.

Of the year in music pieces, I'd recommend Peter Relic's "Music: It's Not Hot: This Year, Hip-Hop Went Stone Cold" from The Cleveland Free Times:

Hip-hop isn't hot anymore. It's a cooled-down form with its major statements behind it. While it stays busy cannibalizing itself for profit, its revolutionary potential is buried beneath a mounting heap of what Gil Scott-Heron once called “party and bulls---.” [Common Ills note, that's our edit, not the weeklies.] Public Enemy's Chuck D famously said that rap music is the black CNN, but in 2004, hip-hop conclusively devolved into being the jive E! Network. The biggest single of the year, “Yeah!” by Usher, Lil' Jon and Ludacris, was not really hip-hop at all. But cloaked in the basest stylistic trappings of the culture, it proceeded to stink up the charts like a Snickerdoodle dookie in the shallows of a kiddie pool.

There are also two stories on the media worth linking.

Las Vegas City Life features Saab Lofton:

I've been a fan of Geov Parrish's commentaries for years. And after reading the aforementioned paragraph, it occurred to me that 2004 was defined by the mass media's complicity with the Bush administration and the Democratic Leadership Council.
"The most important election in our lifetime," my ass! If Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader was treated with the proper respect by the media from the beginning, one of them might've actually won -- and who knows how much life would've improved for the poor and oppressed as a result. ...
Whatever potential 2004 might've had was ruined because America either fell head over heels for Dubya's Andy Griffith-like charm or for the DLC's claim that nominating a left-wing presidential candidate is tantamount to expecting Halle Berry to choose Urkel as a prom date over Denzel Washington -- even though most Democrats are against the war!

. . .
The good news is that after years of CNN insulting the poor and oppressed by having wimpy moderates like Michael Kinsley represent the left on "Crossfire," Michael Moore officially broke into the mainstream in 2004 with Fahrenheit 9/11 -- which covered the "negative news" Parrish referred to. The bad news is Moore's already facing a backlash for all the great, eye-opening work he's done. Check out what Al From, CEO of the DLC, recently said about the Oscar-winning and critically acclaimed Moore: "We've got to repudiate, you know, the most strident and insulting anti-American voices out there sometimes on our party's left. ... We can't have our party identified by Michael Moore and Hollywood as our cultural values."
So even after reluctantly picking Kerry over Nader, and after touring the country on behalf of the Democratic Party, Moore is still betrayed by the DLC!


In Atlanta's Creative Loafing, Steve Fennessy's "Idiot Wind" examines the soft balls the press has thrown to Bob Dylan (Newsweek and 60 Minutes are cited) to demonstrate that it's not just the big stories that the mainstream media is blowing:

Omissions, as it turns out, that are glossed over by those handpicked by the Dylan camp to conduct interviews with him. In fact, after the Newsweek story ran, [David] Gates sat for an online forum in which readers could ask him questions about his one-on-one with the Bard of Hibbing. One reader wanted to know if Gates had asked Dylan about his motorcycle accident in 1966, or his divorce. "No," Gates responded, "and perhaps I should have."
. . .
When he wasn't asking about Dylan's dining habits, [Ed] Bradley returned to the same question that Dylan has been answering for 40 years -- about his role as "voice of a generation." What's amazing is that for 40 years, Dylan's answer to that question hasn't changed. No, he never saw himself that way. Next question.
It's no wonder Dylan hates the press. What's to like?


From the Ms. archives, we'll note their past choices for Women of the Year as 2004 draws to a close:

2001 Women of the Year (

Marleine Bastien, Jennifer Erikson & Roberta Riley, Magda Escobar, Jane Fonda, Rebecca Gomperts, Naomi Klein, Barbara Lee, Yoko Ono, Sylvia Rhone, Venus & Serena Williams, The Women of Afghanistan, World Trade Center Heroes and Michelle Yeoh.

(Planned Parenthood has an article on Roberta Riley & Jennifer Erikson at

2002 Women of the Year (

Lourdes Portillo, Lisa Leslie, Greenblatt and Shamas, Barbara Blaine, Nia Vardalos, Sisters for Economic Dignity, Patty Bellasalma, Cristina Saralegui, Nancy Pelosi, whistleblowers, Ruth Simmons, Jill June, and Jamie Lee Curtis.

2003 Women of the Year (

Eileen Fisher, Loune Viaud, Salma Hayek, Martha Burk, Sima Samar, Pamela Thomas-Graham, Jessica Neuwirth, Joan Blades, Carla Diane Hayden and Niki Caro.

And we've posted on Ms.' 2004 Women of the Year picks (remember that issue is on sale currently) but this year's honorees are certainly worth be noting again (

Jersey Girls Samantha Power Betty Dukes Saudatu Mahdi Kathy Najimy Maxine Waters Lisa Fernandez

Kat's Korner 2004 Going Down, 2005 Coming Up: Maria McKee, Live in Hamburg

We're on the west coast.
Lost as usual. Maggie's insisting she be called something but no one's sure what because that half bottle of tequila she polished off all by herself is causing her words to slur. Whatever it is, whatever name or anagram, it's 'to honor the native people.' Iwan is rolling his eyes and still looks ticked off that she polished off the tequila. Sumner's going crazy digging around the dash board trying to fish out his tinted glasses before the sun starts it's slow, lazy crawl. Dak-Ho's cursing me for getting us lost and Toni's hissing that if she doesn't get food soon she will go into cardiac arrest.

It's not a pretty moment despite the fact that we're cruising through some of the prettiest stretch of land you could imagine. And we've got it all to ourselves, there's not another car in sight. But we're also coming off an all night partying jag and that well lit gas station, the only one we've seen in an hour, was closed. Dak-Ho is watching the needle like crazy and saying we won't make it to a gas station, so I guess it's good that I'm the one behind the wheel since despite the last 12 months, I still got a little hope left.

"YES!" Sumner squeals having found his dark glasses in time to beat the rising sun and apparently he now has the time to come to the aid of the driver just as four passengers are plotting her - my! - demise. He pops a CD into the player and for the moment the mobile insurgency comes to a halt.

Applause kicks out of the speakers. We're all ticking off possibilities. The Boss? Tori Amos? Sade? Ani DiFranco? Dave Matthews Band? A Prince bootleg? Something vintage? All these guesses and more are bursting out in a matter of seconds - can't be too many more than fifteen. Seconds or guesses.

Then the music comes on and Iwan is saying 'California surf!' but the vocal starts and Maggie swears, cross her heart, it's Grace Slick. There's something so familiar about the dark rumble of a voice but there's no way it's the one and only Slick.

Toni's flicking her lighter trying to see if Sumner has the case and Dak-Ho's doing that fake cough he does whenever he's afraid Toni's about to inflict secondhand smoke. The guitar player is going crazy on the bridge and the guitar's going out of tune.

"Perfection" sighs Maggie and I'm so on that page. In a world of plastic where even real artists feel the need to cheat a little by re-recording moments on a so called live recording this is real, this is reality and I'm flashing back on about a hundred concerts I've gone to in the last two years.

I miss the spoken segment before the second song until the woman mentions they are in Hamburg. I'm trying to identify her by her speaking voice and not really catching what she's saying. Then the voice started singing and it's like molasses pouring slowly out of a jar.

Been over this a hundred times
We’ve talked it till its blackened
It begins again and again there’s nothing we can say
My brain has derailed
My hands been nailed
To fall across my body like a death shroud
Your wound was plain like mine
No ragged edges
Well defined
We grew to war like a bloom reaching toward the light
It felt so brutal so transdermal
So alive
Felt so alive
Felt so alive

She just nailed my last three relationships and the one I may or may not still be in. I'm looking around and everyone's nodding so on this we have at least reached agreement.

We still may run out of gas, Toni's still hungry, Maggie's still drunk, Dak-Ho's still fearful someone will light up and Iwan could probably use a drink. Note for future road trips, don't put Maggie in charge of the booze. But Sumner's got that self-admiring smirk like he's just gotten China and Taiwan to agree to something. Considering the drama and tensions that have now vanished as we roll down the road, maybe Sumner should be proud?

We've got feedback streaming out of the speakers - this is a real concert. 'Holy merde!' Iwan yells out only in English - watching the language guidlines here, you understand - 'It's Maria McKee!' just as McKee's saying something about High Dive.

Soon we're all "Baaaa-ba-ba-ba-baaa"ing along with her on 'High Dive' and all lost in our own reflections of McKee.

Maria McKee. You couldn't grow up on the west coast without hearing that name. She never really crossed over to the rest of the country the way she did there. We grew up hearing about her before we were old enough to see her. She was Janis. She was Dolly. She was Aretha. She could tear your heart apart and put it back together in a single song.

The real deal. She fronted the last great California band for years - Lone Justice. They grabbed an opening slot on a U2 tour and came close to hit-land with their song 'Shelter.'

I am full of grand ideas
I've been perfected now for years
Large is life
With a purpose
Are we finally going to play again
Is it time
Been rehearsing five years
Still a way to go
We better cancel it
We planned waiting for a break
One can't rush into these things
And we believed our mothers hung the moon
We stayed asleep forgetting what we knew

She's singing every word with such meaning that even
before Sumner allows us to look at the CD case, we just know she's written every word. To sing it that way, you pretty much had to live it. Maybe that was her problem? She really lived it.

In the time when she was always supposed to be the next big thing, numerous product came along. For instance, we got the greeting card 'wisdoms' of Mariah who sang every song like it was the hit before. Mariah and the other gals, couldn't we just give them gold already for vocal gymnastics so that we could hear someone who knew singing was about conveying something? Slap their faces on a box of cereal, maybe give them a tampon or shampoo commercial and move them on out of the way so that we could enjoy the real deal?

Feed me, feed me baby.
Need you, need you, need you baby
Only you can make me human
Only you make me a woman
I know why you come baby
I know why you stay baby
I've got something you want baby
Tell me it's okay

The vocal's coming out slurred with desperation clinging to the words. "Have I told you that?" she practically pleads at one point before screaming it.

In 1995, Alanis Morissette burst onto the scene. Though her voice lacked the dark tones and the upper register McKee navigates, it was the closest the top forty ever came to recognizing the sort of work McKee had been doing for years. Flattening out a vocal line for effect & feeling before letting the passion pour out all over again.

Alanis was glorified and quickly crucified because, in this country, we apparently like our women docile and unquestioning. Certainly we recoil from a woman with passion, one who might actually shake things up in the bed and not just lie there waiting to be worshipped. What is it that so threatens us? You'd hope women would embrace this sort of power coming from one of their own. You'd think straight males would especially be thrilled by such a woman who knew what she was doing - but maybe that's the source of their darkest fears 'If she knows about passion maybe she'll guess I'm sub-standard?' Trust me, fellows, after the first time, everyone's comparing. Straight, gay, bi. Male, female.

McKee's blending her voice into some sort of hushed, hoarse whisper that's floating past our ears:

I'm barely touching my lips
The full weight of you on top of me sleeping
And when you wake I'm awake

"Breathe" comes on and we're one loud, joyous scream as we rush to sing along.

I was scared when you came into my room
The walls became the sea, your voice was the moon
Oh when you rocked me in your arms
Like a song, a wave on the tide of you and
I will let you breathe through me
I will let you be with me

The best song on her first solo album. After Lone Justice kept chasing down the break that never came, McKee went solo. Some of the finest albums, some of the finest singing. But America's reaction was a collective yawn-shrug combo.

You've really got to hear this woman's voice to know how much you're missing. And she's going to the upper register now. She's graced us during the album with those notes that seem to soar to the heavens. But now she's working them. She's made us wait for them to be spotlighted in one song because they didn't fit the mood earlier. It can be maddening but it's an artist at work. Serving the song even if it means someone's saying, 'Hey where are those pretty notes she's famous for?' You've got to earn the right to hear them.

And when she holds out the 'I' in 'I will lay with you' you've been blessed. By the time 'Something Similar' comes on, we're all relaxed and grooving. She's fed us the high notes that are her trademark. Her range is still intact. She's worked us and made us pay attention to earn that glorious moment and we're all grinning. Dak-Ho doesn't even look irritated when Toni lights up.

We're collecting dust
Wearing out our socks
With our heads down the toilet
Stations of the cross
It's a simple thing
Nothing you'd remember
At this very minute
Someone, somewhere
Does something similar

And just when she goes into her fade of "We all are collecting dust,' the song kicks back in and we're all chair dancing again. By the time she comes back for the encore, we're all feeling like we were there at Kampnagel in Hamburg, Germany.

I like live CDs but it's rare that I feel like I've been at the show just by listening. Most of the time, there's this wall between you and the performance and you're just waiting for the songs you know. McKee puts you into that club. She doesn't trot out the hits to satisfy you ('Shelter,' 'Ways to BeWicked,' 'Show Me Heaven,' and assorted others are nowhere to be found). She gives you ten songs that she committs herself to. She's performing them, living them. And if that's good enough for you, if a little reality can float across the artificial sea that passes for music made by humans, then she wants you on this trip with her.

Just as she's singing

Life is sweet life is sweet life is sweet
And the days keep rollin’ along

I'm pulling into a gas station. We pump the gas, hit the vending machines and the restrooms. All in silence. We're blown away by McKee. That's what real music can do - its power, its beauty. There aren't many artists around who still believe in art, might interfere with the movie debut or their product tie in if they committed themselves to a recording so better to just dabble at recording. But when you come stumble across a true one, it takes your breath away. In a year of disappointments, McKee comes along to give us all hope for 2005.

Your comments and questions

Don't you know
They're talkin' bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Don't you know
They're talkin' bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper--
"Talkin' Bout a Revolution" words & music by Tracy Chapman

What an amazing bunch of e-mails [that] have come in lately.

I was too wiped out Monday night to do anything on them and then Tuesday was spent going through your e-mails for the Sontag post. So here's a post that's e-mails and replies when they're needed.

We'll start with the "Year in Review" [].

Sally e-mails that she was upset to see Eminem included in the mentions. I think Cedric did a great job of explaining his reasoning. I also think that Cedric was taking the spirit of the site to heart. Ben and Shirley echoed that in their e-mails. Sally also feels that "Destiny's Child are just puppets and you should save that anger for people who deserve it."

Brian: "It was so nice to see Destiny's Child on this list. I can't think of anyone more deserving of a worst of award. Kat's Korner [see] really got me thinking. I'm sick of giving my money to people who don't give back. The idea that my hard earned dollars help someone like Destiny's Child live a more insular life and they can't even take a moment to give back means they either have blocks of ice for hearts or they're Republicans. Or both."

Fight for Peace: "'Solider' is the worst song not just of this year but of the decade."

Cedric: "Those gals need to remember who they are and they've obviously forgotten. I'm looking for an Aretha to come along and put it back to the real. I'm sick of hearing people say 'I'm keepin' it real' while they showcase their cribs and sport their bling, bling. What am I, the peasant in the village supposed to fall down at the hem of the royalty? I don't think so. Destiny's Child, you ain't speaking for me, so shut up already."

Vanessa: "I was bothered that Bill Moyers wasn't noted since he'd just retired. I was wondering if there was a reason you didn't write something on him."

If by "you," you mean me personally, I didn't write a great deal of those. Those were our awards. Me, personally, I probably wouldn't have thought of Moyers even if the awards post hadn't been rushed. Not because he isn't deserving but because it long ago became too painful for me to watch NOW with Bill Moyers knowing he would be leaving. (I did watch his final show.) (So Bill Moyers wasn't a large part of my life for most of 2004.) I went with what had been sent in and what I'd written already on scraps of paper. I'd hoped to spotlight various writers at the New York Times. But when the date changed on when the post would be done,
I didn't have time to write anything new other than transitions and the post on Cokie Roberts. (Everything else that wasn't sent in, unless I'm forgetting something, was written on scraps of paper as I prepared for what I thought would be the January 30th post.)

If you thought of him before hand, you could have e-mailed ( something on him and we would have happily put it in.

Erika: "I was so glad to see that Medea Benjamin got the person of the year and think that Trevor summed up the reasons for the choice beautifully."

Jobi: "I didn't know any of the picks for song of the year. Where was I in 2004?"

"Mosh" did get heavy play right before the election. Patti Smith's "Radio Baghdad" is an album track. Prince's "Cinnamon Girl" was a single and Prince made a video for it.

Kara: " deserved to be named the organization of the year. They're standing up for us and saying, 'No, you're not going to sell us out.' I enjoyed all the winners and the named losers as well but I think was especially deserving."

Gore Vidal Is God: "Yes! Rolling Stone has gotten so much better it's not even the same magazine it was a year ago. I might have felt that the award should have gone to Vanity Fair but then they go and put Arnold & Maria, the Shrivers, on the cover and they blew all the good will they'd built up. I didn't realize the Anne Robison [host of former prime time show The Weakest Link] look alike, Ed Needham, had left. Thank God. If I wanted to read Blender or Maxim, I would read those mags. I subscribe to Rolling Stone and just when I thought the old gal was dying, she sprang back to life."

Keesha: "That The New Republic thinks they can attack liberals right now with their move to push the Democratic Party to the center on the heels of their cheerleading into war shows how truly out of touch that rag is. I realize that most magazines are 'lifestyle' magazines but TNR thinks they can sell us what we should believe in. Not happening. They were useless in 2003 and they were useless in 2004. One mea culpa don't mean much when you're still a Republican trying to pretend you're a Democrat."

DeWayne: "I felt the choice of Slate for worst online magazine was harsh. Yes, it does blunder but you don't have to view an ad to read it the way you have to when you read Salon. And there's some really goodwork done there."

Tobias: "You listed a magazine called Bitch. And you've used 'damn.' Are you relaxing the language policy."

Bitch is the name of the magazine. It seemed to be a back-handed way to draw attention to a magazine but print its title as "B----." I did use "damn" in a post but didn't figure that would
get anyone in trouble. A reader who didn't want to be named also objected to the language
from the Eminem songs. I didn't think "pee pee" or "ass" was going to get anyone in trouble. We do try to maintain a 'work-environment safe' page. With Kat's Korner, I especially regret that because she had a great opening line that there's no way we could post. (She's reworked it and the latest Kat's Korner should post later today.) I loved it and loved reading it. But there's no way that opening line would pass the work safe environment. However, with "---"s sprinkled throughout the opening sentence, it lost it's power.

I have no problem with cursing, swearing or foul language (as anyone who's heard me speak can attest) but we do try to make sure that we're as safe as we can be on this site. Using "---"s or saying "It rhymes with rich" seemed a pretty meager way to recognize a magazine. Had Bitch been considered a pornographic one, we wouldn't have cited it. But it's a solid magazine that speaks to many. I'm sorry if anyone was offended by the word but if someone e-mails it in next year, it will go up again.

Holly: "What the heck was Jane doing on the list? What's next 17?"

I haven't read 17. But Jane was nominated by a reader and it did run a piece this year (widely available on the web, or at least noted) by Carly Simon on the need for reform in drug laws.

George: "Why are you promoting the 'news' magazine show Extra?"

The television show didn't make the list. Extra! is a bi-monthly magazine put out by FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting). To learn more about Extra!, please click here

????: "What is Little Blue World?"

Little Blue World is a fanzine focusing on Tori Amos. We are committed to music at this site and Amos has been one of the stronger voices during bleak musical times. In addition, Little Blue World promotes many worth while causes.

From the web site for Little Blue World ( you can find the topics
in the current issue:

The Path to Healing: How Tori's personal experience of healing after rape inspired the founding of RAINN.
Silent No More: RAINN's efforts bear fruit as sexual assault rates fall and reporting goes up. Things are Pretty Good for a Calendar Girl: LBW interviews five of the artists featured in the 2005 RAINN calendar.
Walking With Scarlet: The best of the bootlegs from Scarlet's tours.
When Old Loves Return: Our reviewer falls in and out of love with the work of Melissa Ferrick.

Krista: "I can't believe that I got David Cobb's name wrong. I want to tell everyone I'm very, very sorry."

Krista wanted that printed. I don't see [that] there's any need for her to apologize. It was a mistake (one I should have caught before I typed up) and those things happen. It's been corrected.
The fact that you took the time to recognize two people who wouldn't have been recognized otherwise (no one else e-mailed regarding them) is more important than the fact that one of their names went up wrong initially.

Brad: "I've tried to check out Intervention Magazine repeatedly. Every time I click on the link, I get an error message."

That's my fault. Thank you for pointing that out. The closed parenthesis is acting as part of the link for some reason. It's been corrected.

Linda: "You didn't close the parenthesis on Ms. Musing or Why Are We Back In Iraq?"

Considering what happened with Intervention Magazine, that might have been a good thing. But they are now closed and thanks for calling that to my attention.

Robyn: "Kit Seelye does make a good blogger. I have no idea what happens when she goes to write a story but I appreciated that she was high lighted. She's not one of my favorites by any means but if someone does something worthy of note, I'm all for recognizing her."

Gina: "Highlighting the 'good' in Kit Seelye may qualify as your biggest Oprah moment thus far."

Yazz: "'As rude & nasty as we want to be?' And then you give an award to Kit? I think someone's trying to hard to be fair."

Staci: "I think Julian Bond is the last inspiring person on the planet. Thank you for highlighting him."

E-mail on Yukos

Jackie: "I looked up Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky and tell Krista she's right. He's yummy!"

E-mails on the alternative weekly round up [see]

Trevor: "I read a funny piece online about a straight man posing as the parent of a gay son and later as a gay man himself. I was surprised you didn't link to that."

That story appeared in at least two alternative weeklies. I did see it. But it also had a photo of a man, from behind, in chaps with nothing else on and his rear clearly exposed. It was an interesting piece but due to the photo and the fact that there were some articles (and the poems) that I thought were worthy of emphasizing, I went with something else.
That doesn't mean I made the right choice. If you can find the link for the piece, I'll be happy
to post it.

Barbara: "I wanted the alternative round up to be longer. It seemed shorter than last time."

Which is a good argument for linking to the story Trevor mentioned. It's also true that there wasn't a great deal of focus on politics in a lot of the weeklies last week. Or the weeklies that I checked. If you read a story and you think it should be linked, do what Billie did (which started this now regular roundup) and e-mail it to the site. I'll be doing one of those posts today and I'll see if I can find some more things. Ms. isn't a weekly but it is alternative and I might include something from it if there isn't a great deal to choose from.

Brandy: "The Joan Baez post [see] is my favorite post thus far. Thank you and thank Liang for requesting it."

Rob: "Joan Baez and Michelle Phillips [see] in one night? Is the site going to become a fanzine?"

The Michelle Phillips post was planned for some time -- that the section of her book (California Dreamin') would be quoted. It's what got Kat interested in doing Kat's Korner, our need to reclaim music. On Saturday, I was very tired and had a huge headache from the columns of Daniel Okrent. People had been e-mailing afraid that we would take a vacation the way some sites were doing. With that "on deck" already, it was easy to pull it and post it. If it helps any,
I think it's the weakest post I've posted. Not because of Phillips' words but because of the meandering preface to them (by me) and because in the resources listed at the bottom, I go
into a long, drawn out thing regarding John Phillips' Papa John.

All I needed to say about that book was, "I didn't enjoy Papa John, but you might." To spare anyone from spending money on a book that I rank as one of the worst book purchases of my life, I tried to explain what I didn't like about the book. (I still remember that day and thinking, do I get a cassette or do I get a book?) Then I felt like I was ragging on the book (yes, Yazz,
the fairness factor surfaced) so I attempted to point out some things that might be of interest. In the end the whole thing was a mish mosh of bad writing on my part.

I think my intro and then my meandering detracted from Phillips' very strong writing. (Michelle Phillips.) I'm not going to redo it. It's out there. It's proof of how bad I can be.
Won't be the last time but hopefully it won't pop up all the time. But, again, let me stress that I think Michelle Phillips' points were valid (and well written). If you missed it or couldn't wade through my intro (I don't blame you), try re-reading it but only focus on the parts that are in bold print. (Those are Phillips' words in bold print.)

E-mails on mistakes the Times refused to correct [see,]

Trina: "You say that the Jackson's record releases weren't that different from other artists mentioned. Could you clarify that?"

Yes. The theory pushed in the article, or one of them, was that Janet Jackson's then forthcoming album was too long in the making and that other younger artists were releasing albums much more quickly in the time since Jackson had released her last album.

Christina Aguilera had her first big hit album with her self-titled release in 1999. She followed that up with Stripped in 2002. (There was a Christmas album in between, but those are stocked only around Christmas and seasonal albums aren't the same as regular albums. I can't imagine Rolling Stone, for instance, trumpeting a season album as a "true" album. And I've read Rolling Stone for many, many years.)

In 1999, Britney Spears had a hit album with . . .Baby One More Time. (Apparently it's okay to sing "Hit me, baby, one more time" as long as you don't remind parents that's the actual line.) She followed that album with Oops . . . I Did It Again in 2000. In the Zone came out in 2003. (Her "greatest" "hits" album came out in November of this year, after the Feb. Times' story.)

Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope came out in 1997. Jackson followed that up with All For
You in 2001. In 2004, she released Damita Jo. Spears's In the Zone came out three years after her previous album. Aguilera's Stripped came out three years later. (And since she's not releasing anything today, her next album will come no sooner than three years after Stripped.)

The theory put forth in the article was that Jackson had waited too long between albums, unlike the newer 'stars' Christina and Britney, and that this was another way she had become out of touch with the market. (And let's note too that this article which focused solely on sales appeared in the "Arts" section. Comparisons between Jackson, who attempts to say something, were made with the likes of Britney Spears, who's yet to develop a thought, original or not. And the writer of the piece wasn't concerned for a minute with discussing the art involved in Jackson's work, only with the sales . . . and sex in the so-called "bad Janet" phase.)

The too-long-for-this-release theory is false since her last two studio albums echo the release of the last two studio albums by Spears and Aguilera: all three waited three years. Hope that clears it up.

E-mails on "Daniel Okrent, Step Down" [see]

Marci: "Do you really think he'll step down?"

I don't know. I would hope that he'd have enough integrity somewhere inside to realize he crossed a line that cannot now be erased and as a result he's of no help to readers. But I have had enough false hopes in 2004 that I won't bet on it.

Rob: "Thank you for writing it. I've been waiting for some time to see him taken to task and to get the double helping on Sunday started my week off with a bang. I had no idea when I asked that you write about his outing of 'George' that you'd attempt to re-read all of his columns. I thought you'd just add something as a paragraph to something else. Hope it wasn't too much work."

Rob, fate will never return the hours of pain I endured in reading through all of Daniel Okrent's past columns. Seriously, the outing took place before this blog started. I didn't see the point in just addressing it in terms of "Oh, this happened in October." I was also trying to nail down some legal questions as best I could because I do wonder if any thought has been given to any potential legal ramifications over this.

I kept thinking of a guy who saved President Gerald Ford from an assisination attempt and how the press reported that the guy was gay. I was wondering what happened with that. I tracked it down in two sources where it was an aside (at best) and they contradicted each other. But the guy felt he was a private citizen and that saving the life of a president didn't mean he gave up his right to being a private citizen. I want to stress again that I'm not a lawyer and I'm not saying that 'George' could win on any of the issues/questions I raised. I was saying that to a lay person, these looked like issues of concern. If they are issues of concern, I'm wouldn't be surprised if the Times attempted to argue that they print Okrent as is. (He mentioned that in one column and I don't feel like inflicting more pain on myself by looking it up. He said something to the effect of 'other than spelling and . . .' some other thing, the paper kept their hands off his columns.) I don't know that the Times could seriously argue that because I would assume that they'd be asked would they, indeed, print anything he wrote as long as it was spelled correctly?

On "Regarding Sontag: Her Words and Your Words" [see]

Clark: "Why do you think the Times avoided mentioning her sexuality since I've read about it quite often and as you pointed out she even discussed it with The New Yorker in 2000?"

Actually, Craig Seligman pointed that out in his book Sontag & Kael -- a book the Times reviewed in their Sunday Book Review when the book came out.

We don't make it a practice to out anyone. We're not a 'breaking news site.' We're more of a review/resource in terms of news. Marcia raised the issue (and it's worth raising) as to why the Times avoided mentioning it in the obit on Sontag. I had seen an obit online at Yahoo that mentioned it. [Marcia had seen the same obit on Yahoo and noted it in her e-mail.] [Oregon tracked that obit down online and we have a link to it -- see].

That was one source. Selig commented on it in his book. That was our second source. The Adovcate obit was our third source. Three printed sources make it public knowledge, in my opinion. (Granted, The Advocate mentioned it as a possibility. Click on "Regarding Sontag . . ." link provided above and scroll down to the notes at the end.)

I don't know why the Times didn't include it. Maybe they felt it was merely 'speculation?' Maybe they didn't feel it was worthy of noting? Maybe they felt they were concentrating on Sontag's work?

If it was the last one, I don't remember reading in the Times' obit that Sontag had done more to increase America's appetite for literature from other countries (beginning with her focus and appreciation for French writers). So I don't know that they were 'focusing' on the work. I also would suggest that since Sontag and the woman in question (I'm not trying to be discreet, I'm trying to avoid a typo that I'll have to come back and correct later, the woman is named in the posts cited above) collaborated on a book, this did reflect on "work."

E-mails on typos

Gelman: "Don't you feel that with all the typos you continually make you should just pack it in? You don't seem too bothered by them since you've stated you're really only interested in corrections if it's someone's name you've mispelled. I read you and think, what is this person, dyslexic!"

I do make a number of typos. As for my lack of concern over them, that probably results from the fact that I am dyslexic. The last time I was truly embarrassed over spelling was when I was a senior in high school and had to go the board to write something for a presentation. The title I was writing included the word "business." At first I wrote "buisness." People laughed and thought I was kidding. After studying it intently, while someone hollered out, "Come on quit kidding around, spell it right," I tried another version but was already frustrated.

Wrong combo again and my embarrassment and frustration only increased to the point that I couldn't have spelled the word correctly if I was spelling it aloud. I probably beat myself over that for a full week. Life, like your patience with my typos, is too short. I'm fine with using a spell check but as I've noted, the spell check that comes with this blog has a tendency to stop midway or else freeze. If it freezes mid-check, I end up losing whatever post I've just worked on. When I read, I read with one eye closed and focus more on recognition. I transpose letters, numbers and words all the time. It's nothing new to me (and nothing I'm now going to get worked up about) so if I seem casual in my response to typos, that's probably why. (And if I go too long with something, even the one-eye-read trick, which was a focusing trick I was introduced to early on, doesn't help keep letters in order.)

I do read over it (usually reading it aloud) but I'm going by recognition and if the letters are all (or mainly) in the word I'm recognizing it more often than not and [not] realizing there's a mistake there. (I probably could also attempt to take the time and care I do when reading something that someone else wrote, either in an e-mail or on the printed page.) I've stated several times that this isn't the site for proper spelling and grammer. (And when I type numbers in a post, I type incredibly slow from the source I'm getting the numbers from because I know I can easily transpose them.) There's a point that's being made when I'm writing (whether it's on the Times or someone's e-mail or whatever) and that's really what I think is more important than working myself into frenzy over something I have questionable control over. I appreciate that you have a need for order. I accept that my posts, like the world around us, are chaotic.

I did attempt to import a working post into WordPerfect. That's great for spell check but when I then tried to copy and paste it back into the blog, I found that I lost all italics, all bold print, all font differences and that a period was followed, with no spaces, by the first letter of the next sentence. Thirty minutes spent redoing hyperlinks and the above convinced me that it wasn't worth it.

If the spelling errors are too much for you, then you probably shouldn't be coming to this site because life's too short for you to visit one that you know ahead of time will cause you frustration. (And that's meant as an Oprah moment, not as sarcasm.)

Krista felt really bad when the correction on David Cobb's name went up. I've told her it is no big deal and it isn't. I've also told her that I should have checked the name before posting it (and I should have). My attitude is that we're sharing here and if we get something wrong [,] in terms of a fact or the spelling of a name, we'll correct it. But otherwise, life is just too short and there's so much more to address and focus on.

Brianna: "I see the same people quoted over and over. I write all the time. Do you just select certain people."

Until this e-mail, you never responded as to if I could quote you and how you'd like to be cited. Rob wanted the Daniel Okrent post for some time. That was a much needed post because this site's policy regarding quoting and how to refer to people came about partly as a result of the outing of 'George.' Some people put in their e-mails "you can quote me" and that takes care of that. Those people (Kara and Ben to name two) are more likely to be quoted because they've given permission.

There may be a million Brianna's in the world. But if you're speaking of some group or event that you care about, you might not want someone that knows you and your interests to recognize you. We don't practice outing of any kind here. (Other than outing bad writing!)
Not sexual outing, not political outing, not musical taste outing, etc. "I" wrote a poem about a bad marriage that was very personal and based on a real experience. When we ran"I"'s
poem, we first got permission to and permission for how to refer to "I." We don't want "I"'s spouse reading it online and then being upset with "I" because of our actions. So the policy is that you've given permission to be quoted and you've come up with your own name to be quoted by. It can be your real name, a nickname, whatever. It doesn't matter as long as no one else is using that on this site and it's not a swear word. That's why we quote people "named" Gore Vidal is God and ?????. Or Alabama and Oregon. Or New Reader.

Brianna: "I think you show favoritism with who you quote from e-mails and would just like to see if you'll admit to that."

I showed favoritism yesterday and that's the only time I can think of when I have. Beverley
e-mailed a very nice e-mail saying she'd read the Sontag post and enjoyed it but had read her section of it and then gone to her saved copy of her e-mail to see who had made the mistake. She then joked about how she guessed she hadn't read her e-mail closely enough before sending. There was an "s" left off one word and there was another word that had "often" at the start with something else attached. I had no idea what that word was and couldn't find it in the dictionary but I'm not the vocab expert and Francisco and others frequently use non-English words in their e-mails. She did not ask for a correction and was so nice (and funny) about the whole thing that I went ahead and did a correction on it. I probably showed her favoritism but other than that, I'm pulling a blank. If someone gives permission to quote but asks that I clean it up,
I do try to put in a missing word in "[]" but only if they've asked. If they mention someone by first or last name only, I do try to put the other name in brackets so that everyone knows who is being spoken of. And I'm trying to provide links lately when someone mentions something. We're reviewing the press, events and music here and I want to be sure that everyone is able to be part of the discussion. That hit home when someone wrote in asking "Who are the Mamas & the Papas?"

They were before my time but my mother played them over and over and, having heard them repeatedly growing up, I must have assumed (wrongly) that most people would know of them.
That was a mistake on my part. So when we did the"Mama was a Heavyweight" post, I tried to include resources in case you were new to the group and interested in learning about them.

Yazz feels I'm "too fair" to the New York Times and he may be right. But as for favoritism, I'm only thinking of doing the one correction.

Brianna: "You never quote hate mail. Don't you get any?"

Hate mail as in "You _____ liberal, you should go ___yourself and die!"? Yes, that does arrive. On a slow day, it accounts for about fifteen e-mails. I don't get too worried or worked up over it. I also don't see the need to quote from it. We get so much e-mail that is worthwhile that there's really not time to quote from the rantings of the right wing. (And they have plenty of sites they can go to heard to be heard from.) We did quote Sue in Waterbury. Twice. But only because she thought she could influence what was covered or, rather, not covered. She can't nor can any other hate mail.

If by "hate mail," you mean e-mail that's critical of this site in a negative way, if it's sent in, we'll quote it. (And I don't see criticism -- negative criticism -- as necessarily being "hate mail.") If the person says they can be quoted. I responded to the person who pointed out the David Cobb error in a lengthy e-mail in which I apologized for my error in not checking the name first and I asked if the person wanted to be quoted (an award had been created for me in 'honor' of the mistake). I never heard back from that person. Had I heard back, I would have quoted his e-mail. (It's now been deleted and the print out trashed. There are too many
e-mails coming in each day to save one on the hope that ___ will respond and say, "Yes, quote it!")

I'm blanking now on who it was (Rob?) that wrote about the coverage on web sites turning everything into an outrage. (The person was quoted, with permission, so you can look through the posts to find it if you're interested.) The person drew a line between this site and others.
I responded that I wasn't sure that a line could be drawn and that we were probably as guilty of that as anyone else. The person wanted that left in if the e-mail was quoted from. So it was
left in.

If it was Rob, he doesn't try to kiss up to the site in his e-mails. He'll say so when he feels time is being wasted focusing on something he doesn't feel is important (in strong language). But I didn't think we deserved the exception and I didn't think we needed to quote an e-mail that could be read as "we're so great!" when in fact we're just as guilty as anyone else. It's not necessary to kiss up or praise to get quoted, no. But we're not going to waste time quoting from hate mail sent in by people ranting about how awful the left is.

Brianna: "I always hope you'll talk about something interesting! And I never get that. Do you have a life or are you just some machine that automatically types these posts? Why don't you talk about your daily life and exciting stuff!"

My most intense sexual experience would have to be . . . That sort of thing?

Sorry, I'm not interested (and can't imagine anyone else would be). I was really excited when I read your e-mail and got to the part about "I always hope you'll talk about something interesting! And I never get that." because I was thinking the next sentence would be some issue or cause or event that you felt was being ignored and I'm quite aware that I miss many topics.

Our finest posts (I feel) are the ones based on the e-mails. The second best ones are the ones that are requested (like "Questions for a Questionable Simon Rosenberg," "When NPR Fails You Who You Gonna' Call, Not the Ombudsman," "Daniel Okrent, Step Down," "Where Are You Now, My Son?" . . . The only one that I came up with all by myself that has the least cringe factor for me is "Should This Marriage Be Saved?"). So I was very eager to read what you felt we hadn't covered but needed to be covered.

And then I read (if I'm reading it correctly) that you wanted personal details about me. As a feminist, I agree that the personal is political. But I think what feminists in the late sixties and early seventies were trying to do was highlight injustices and show that these topics dismissed as "personal" and not belonging to "public life" discussions (or worthy of them) were in fact universal conditions and problems. Somewhere along the way, People and a host of other magazines popped up (as well as numerous self-help programs) and suddenly the personal was just personal with no attempt to put it into context. If you had a problem, it was because of you and had no reflection on anything outside of your own head.

I'm more than willing to share anyone's personal e-mail that they are willing to have quoted but if I reference a personal event [of my own] it's either because I think it puts something in perspective or I'm very tired when I'm writing.

There's a debate that some of the people who come to this site are having elsewhere about various blogs and whether some are diaries or journals or what. On my end, I'm not attempting to write a confessional diary. Nor am I attempting to give a litany of my daily events or social calender. I see our community as a review of the media and of events (from a left perspective) and I'm trying to improve our ability as a resource.

If you're wanting a laundry list of sexual partners or some sort of daily planner, you will not be satisfied with this site.

A number of you write in for personal information about me. I see no point in that. Some of you are convinced of certain things while you read. I feel I can be whomever you want.
[For Susan, I'll throw in a song.]

Tell me who you long for
In your secret dreams
Go on and tell me
Who you wish I was
Instead of me
I'm not necessarily
The girl you think you see
Whoever you want is exactly who
I'm more than willing to be
-- "The Girl You Think You See" words & music by Carly Simon and Jacob Brackman

"You must be from a 'red' state to write about the 'red' states and understand them." (Actually, e-mails prompted that series.) If it helps someone to think that I'm from some area, that's fine. Others have attempted to figure out my gender. Considering the lack of represenation for female bloggers on the web (and in coverage of the web), if I were a woman, would it be prudent to say so? Would our conversation stop for some because "that's a female blog!" If I were a man, knowing the system was rigged so that I would benefit from announcing my gender, would it be selling out to admit it?

(I will say for the five of you that keep writing insisting that "You are Ellen Willis!" that the comparison to a writer as talented as Willis leaves me flattered but I'm sure it would insult her.)

If gender's the most asked question, race is the second most.

Gender and race (and a host of other issues) can impact the way we may view an issue. I am sure that many personal things have impacted on the way I see a great many things. But I'd prefer to leave it open-ended so that the statements don't come back to relying on me personally and can instead deal with the issues that are being raised. I also feel that there's too much focus on the personal and have worried from the Friday I signed up for this blog that the blog's focus be on anyone who bothered to read to it and the issues as opposed to being about myself.

I've said before I have no plans to ever pop up on a radio show and that "the story" of The Common Ills is the story of us: our thoughts and our concerns. I hope that makes sense but I'm tired so who knows how this will read. On the plus side, Kat's posts are very much personal posts and a new one may already be up or will be up shortly.

[Note: There's some problem with the blog today. A post isn't showing up right now -- we've had that before. In addition, words are often falling on top of each other -- exampe: "ontop of eachother." I've corrected that in this post and in Kat's Korner. Kat's Korner is Kat's space and I don't feel comfortable amending a note to her post. I've also added several words to this post where Shirley pointed out there was a little confusion. All but one is in "[]" and the only one that's not is in a parenthetical section where I felt the use of "[]" in it would make it more confusing.]