Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Times policies regarding ethics (no, this isn't intended as a humorous post)

There have been two e-mails that indicate to me I need to clarify a position I wrongly thought was clear. (Won't be the first time.) In addition, Frank in Orlando writes that I am "now going after Cubans and won't be happy until they are unemployed." (FiO gave permission for that partial quote, and only for that partial quote, to be quoted.)

For more than a century, men and women of The Times have jealously guarded the paper's integrity. Whatever else we contribute, our first duty is to make sure the integrity of The Times is not blemished during our stewardship.

The above? From the ethics policy of the Times. Let's walk through it now. We'll start with point 3:

Conflicts of interest, real or apparent, may come up in many areas. They may involve the relationships of staff members with readers, news wources, advocacy groups, advertisers, or competitors; with one another, or with the newspaper or its parent company. And at a time when two-career families are the norm, the civic and professional activities of spouses, family and companions can create conflicts or the appearance of conflicts.

From the tenth point:

Every staff member is expected to read this code carefully and to think about how it might apply to his or her duties. A lack of familiarity with its provisions cannot excuse a violation; to the contrary, it makes it worse. . . .

From point twenty-three:

Even though this topic defies hard and fast rules, it is essential that we preserve a professional detachment, free of any whiff of bias.

I'm assuming that "movies" fall under this list because although it doesn't list them in many points (points 134-142 cover "Culture, Style and Dining") when terms such as "studios" and "movie contracts" pop up in this section, it's obviously applying to something other than "theater."

134. The Times has exceptional influence in such fields as theater, music, art dance, publishing, fashion and the restaurant industry. We are constantly scritinized for the slightest whiff of favortism. Therefore staff members working in those areas have a special duty to guard against conflicts of interest or the appearence of conflict.

Terry scanned a page from John L. Hess's My Times (page 17) and e-mailed it:

The Associated Press, a news cartel founded in an era when publishers displayed strong and conflicting political passions, is credited with fashioning the cloak of objectivity -- the straighjacket, if you will -- worn by our press. It was designed to avoid offending individual members, but it came to be presented as a virture: no opinions, just the news, extruded in strings like sausage that could be cut to fit. Early on, The New York Times, under Adolph Ochs, became the model for this apparently bloodless journalism. Every day the wire services would advise all users how the Times was playing the news on Page One. Especially on those big, complex issues that seem boring to boring minds, the Times became a handy desk reference. And so it remains.
Journalists and the public need to know better.

Lewis e-mailed that the journalist I was referring to was Jay Blotcher, the one the Times fired.
He sent this article from Southern Voices entitled "Conflict of Whose Interest? National Gay Journalist Group Drops Fired Gay Reporter From Panel" by Christopher Seeley.

The Times dismissed Blotcher in January, not over his membership in ACT UP, but “because of his work as a press spokesman and a public relations consultant,” Arthur Sulzberger, chair of the New York Times Co., said at a shareholders meeting April 13, according to meeting transcripts obtained by Blotcher.
Blotcher served as media coordinator for ACT UP from April 1989 to January 1990.
Ann Northrop, one of the original members of NLGJA, said she was “appalled” by NLGJA’s refusal to take a stand against the New York Times decision and for “kicking him off the plenary session.”
“NLGJA should be up in arms about it and instead they’d rather hold expensive fund-raising dinners where they cozy up to establishment media bigwigs rather than challenge the policies and practices of those mainstream media,” Northrop said.
Northrop, a former journalist with CBS News and ABC, now anchors the national cable television show “Gay USA” on DISH network.
NLGJA declined comment on the criticism.

Next up with an e-mail was Irene who sent this from The Nation by Eric Alterman, "The (Not So) Gay Old Times," which we'll quote from:

Steve Reed, an editor for the NYT Regional Newspaper Group, who coordinates the Times Gay and Lesbian Caucus, thinks the editors made a reasonable decision, though he notes a division within the caucus itself. Bruce Lambert, a longtime Times reporter who covered ACT UP, complains of "an apparent blackballing" and notes, "By the premise being imposed on [Blotcher]...a long-ago former activist on breast cancer issues would be barred from being a hockey reporter."
[Bill] Keller complained to me of attempts by Kramer "to turn this into a replay of the Stonewall raid." He cannot but be frustrated by some of the sloppy coverage of the events, particularly that which appeared in Howard Kurtz's online media column for the Washington Post, which left out all the complicating details. (This is particularly ironic, as readers of this column will be aware, since Kurtz, who reports on CNN for the Post while receiving a paycheck from CNN, provides a daily definition of journalistic conflict-of-interest.)
Even if one accepts the paper's argument that its only crime is a kind of post-Blair hyper-fastidiousness about appearances at the expense of fairness to one of its stringers, the story cannot be allowed to die there. First, both Edgerley and Keller declined my repeated invitations to delineate a consistent policy regarding just which kinds of associations are allowed and which aren't. And as the Times has been perfectly comfortable in the past to hire stars like Richard Burt and Leslie Gelb, who shuttled between high-level State Department appointments while covering one another for the paper, we are left with the appearance of favoritism and inconsistency for machers as opposed to stringers. (Let's hope Ahmad Chalabi doesn't show up in Times Square one day, looking to formalize his role as a WMD reporter.)
Second, for all its commendable commitment to diversity, the policy is still not working. The Jayson Blair/Gerald Boyd problem is just one overworked example. A second is that, with the departure of Adam Moss to New York magazine, the Times lacks a single person in a position of significant editorial authority--or on the editorial board for that matter--who is openly gay. As one longtime and loyal Times writer put it to me, "The problem is not homophobia; it's homo-ignorance. Nobody openly gay sits in on any of the big meetings."

Irene also sent Blotcher's reply to Alterman's article which he's posted online at his site:

First, some backstory. When I was dumped from the Times, I wasn't the only one shocked. So was a longtime friend of mine. Because, like me, he was a former ACT UP spokesperson. Like me, he had been flacking merely as an extension of his gay and AIDS activism and had repped several organizations. Like me, he had started as a journalist and ached to return to the field. And, like me, he was now writing for The Times.
When I was ejected in January, I immediately alerted this friend. He begged me not to go public with my story, because he felt it would cost him his longtime freelancer gig. I still contacted the media. But in all interviews, I refused to finger him. (My friend, fearful of guilt through association, subsequently distanced himself from me.)
Here's the coda: At a Thanksgiving dinner last month, I ran into a Times editor, for whom my former friend now writes. This editor was aware of my dismissal and informed me that my former ACT UP comrade was indeed called on the carpet in the wake of my ejection. Apparently, five years of freelancing for the City and Escapes sections means something; the powers-that-be decided my friend should not be shown the door. So much for a uniform NYT editorial policy.

I've found a post at his site that I want to note as well:

The Times does not want a reporter to have any political baggage. However, I was active in ACT UP from 1989-1990 chiefly, and have worked on perhaps four projects since then. My last involvement was writing a press release for them in December, 1999.
Conflict of interest? Never mind that my Times articles focused on reservoirs, farmers, the death of a local mayor and infanticide. AIDS or gay issues never entered the formula. So where's the so-called conflict of interest?

. . .
The New York Times reaction smacks of blacklisting. How else to explain that I am forbidden to write for any section of The Times, be it Arts & Leisure, Escapes, House & Home, etc. How does past AIDS activism tar me as a prejudicial reporter and preclude writing about film or interior design or bed and breakfasts for The Times?

Lucy e-mailed a story on Blotcher also, Ryan Lee's "Conflicts of Interest? San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times Remove Gay Reporters From Stories" from The Washington Blade:

On Jan. 12, Jay Blotcher, a gay freelance writer who contributed to the New York Times, received a call from one of his editors at the Times, Lew Serviss, who Blotcher said began the conversation by saying, “Jay, we have a problem here.”
The problem, Blotcher learned, was that several writers and editors at the Times recognized his name from the days when he served as media coordinator for ACT UP, an AIDS advocacy group, from April 1989 to January 1990. That service might cause readers to question the objectivity of his reports, editors at the newspaper said, according to documents provided by Blotcher.
“If I’m writing a story up here about farmers, or vandalism at a local college, how does my former involvement impinge upon the credibility of these stories?” Blotcher said this week.

That's the incident I referred to in this paragraph:

A reporter was let go by the Times (believe he was a freelancer, but I've forgotten the details, sorry) supposedly because he had been active in the gay rights movement (believe it had to do with AIDS, again, I may not be remembering correctly). He was thought to have a conflict of interest. (If I remember correctly, the Times questioned any comments that he was fired since he wasn't exclusive the paper and also implied that it was a business decision that had nothing to do with any past activities.)

Thanks to Irene, Lucy and Lewis for finding articles and sharing them. And thanks to Terry who tracked down the objectivity passage from Hess' book and shared it with us.

Cuba, like Israel, is a charged topic. One that will result in people looking for conflicts. Whether Ojito has a conflict of interest or not, I don't know. I do know that there's the appearence of a conflict on interest when her history is added in to a fluff piece on Garcia.

Marcia: Come on! We're talking about a guy who has to look for press in cigar magazines, which by the way, I didn't find amusing, that the paper chose to run a photo of him with not one but two cigars. That's off topic, I know, but I'm adamentally anti-smoking, so excuse the tangent. This sort of piece appearing in some podunk paper would be allowed if Garcia was visiting the town because that might be big news for a town that consisted of two gas stations and a car wash. But for the paper that's centered in one of the two entertainment meccas of this country to play up a faded actor who's now doing bit parts as the oily villian is beyond ridiculous. Someone gushing over the phone, "Oh my God, I just interviewed Andy Garcia!" might have been greeted with a gasp in 1990. These days, they'd more likely be asked, "Who?" or, "Is he doing Hollywood Squares now?" Garcia's entitled to his opinions and can express them anywhere he wants and I'll support that right. But I do not support the fact that he's profiled in such a prominent manner at the end of his dying career for a film that can't even find a distributor. To me, this smacks of activism passing itself off as feature writing.

Billy: I don't get it. There was a film festival in Miami. Did anything win awards? The Lost City didn't because he didn't show it. The article's not even about what film was shown. Or about a film festival. Or about anything but Garcia's views on Cuba. I've got nothing against actors or anyone weighing in on some topic. We all learn when we hear as many voices as possible. But this is a story in the arts section and I'm trying to figure out where the arts angle is. I don't see it. And I don't see it as news that a man who never was Antonio Banderas or Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise or any other male star, a man who never had a blockbuster, can whine that politics prevents Hollywood from investing in his attempt to direct and star. Garcia, you rocked in Internal Affairs, but face the music coz Hollywood ain't investing. Joe Pesci won the Oscar for best supporting actor the year you were nominated and Hollywood's probably not going to fund his dream project for him to direct and star in either.

Tyrone: You have to drop back 15 years for Garcia's only Oscar nomination, he's never steered a blockbuster and if we're going to highlight the supporting players from Ocean's 12, start with Don Cheadle who actually has an Oscar nomination this year. Kick it to the curb and let 'em cart it off, 1990 is so over. There's no reason for this story to be in the paper. I'm not remember Halle Berry being treated so fondly by the paper or Denzel [Washington]. And they actually won Oscars.

[Whenever we note movies or music, people weigh in. The e-mails above were the ones who gave permission to be quoted. But we got 117 -- my math is always bad so consider it "a counted estimate" -- on this.]

The two who asked questions made it clear to me that I wasn't clear in my earlier post.

Let me try to clarify with no tangents. (Don't apologize for including tangent, Marcia, my entries are nothing but.)

The Times printed a story and gave it promince as a lead story on the arts page, it included three photographs (rather incredible for the paper). This is huge play for a celebrity profile.
The article focused not on the film he had just shown (Feb. 7th is the date on the article appearing in Saturday the tenth's paper) but on the film that didn't show at the festival.
The author of the piece didn't know Garcia's filmography. (And even a casual fan of The Godfather films might argue it was unforgiveable to confuse II with III.) The thurst of the article is that Garcia (who defines himself as an exile) is being prevented from telling his truth about Cuba because of the positions of people in power in Hollywood.

Paragraphs like the following raise issues as to what this arts feature is about:

In the Cuba of the 1950's, the Garcia family lived an enchanted life. His father, René, was a lawyer who ran a farm outside Havana. Mr. Garcia and his siblings grew up on that farm, and spent weekends and holidays in an oceanfront house in an exclusive neighborhood of Havana. But in 1961, fearful that the Castro government would take their children to be educated in the Soviet Union, a common belief at the time, the family left for Miami with $300 and a box of cigars.
"That first Christmas we didn't have enough to buy presents for the children," said Amelie Garcia, the actor's 83-year-old mother. "But the children never heard us complain about what we had lost, only about our longing to return."

I'm confused as to why this story is about Cuba. There was a film festival, he showed a film. That's not the focus of the story. He hasn't been there since he was five, I'm sure that other topics, in an art story, can be explored.

I have no idea why the writer felt that Garcia was worthy of a long profile at this late date. I have no idea why the focus was on a film that no one saw at the festival. I have no idea why the piece plays like Stella Davis. I do know that there are plenty of mid-level performers who don't get that kind of play in the Times. I do know that when the reporter is someone who also fled the same country, the paper should disclose that fact in the article.

I do know that's he not bankable in a leading role due to his past box office so Hollywood doesn't need to go to the issue of politics to avoid financing his first attempt at directing a non-documentary that he's starring in. (Again, I'm sure politics entered into it since Hollywood avoids political films.)

But at the crux of the story is the fact that he's old by Hollywood terms. He's never carried a hit film. You don't get to keep trying. It's a cautious (some might say cowardly) industry that invests in what it thinks will bring in money based on past performance. And when hope is invested in someone and they don't live up to that potential, consider yourself lucky to be employed if you are employed. (John Travolta was in that situation prior to Pulp Fiction.) The hair's getting thinner, the waistline's getting thicker. Not a good position to be in for a contender that never delivered the box office expected.

But the Times covers this in a way they didn't cover Melanie Griffith or Antonio Banderos's debut on Broadway (in a hit play). Griffith was nominated for a lead Oscar, Banderas has starred in several blockbusters and both were making news in New York due to the success of their plays and the fact that the two are married to one another.

The Times takes us to Miami, where a film festival happened, to tell us not of the film festival or a movie shown there, but of Andy Garcia's film that he didn't show and can't get a distributor for.

When the paper wants to maintain it's objective stance, to the point that they fire a gay writer for his activism in the past even though he's not writing on "gay topics" for the paper, I think you might want to be careful about appearences of conflicts of interest.

The objectivity the paper strives for is their policy, not mine. If they're going to enforce it for some, they need to enforce it all. One of the questions that popped up in the two e-mails was should the writer not be allowed to cover Cuba, should all writers covering D.C. be from another country? That those questions are asked underscore that I wasn't clear and I apologize for that.
Everyone brings a unique perspective and that should be appreciated. But if the Times is going to declare that certain things (such as gay activism) are out of bounds, then they need to ask themselves if running an article by someone who fled the country being discussed without disclosing that the reporter did that creates the appearence of a conflict of interest. By the standards they used to justify the firing of a reporter in 2004, the Times shouldn't allow Ojito to have filed this story.

As a subscriber to The Nation, In These Times, and The Progressive (among other magazines), I'm no stranger to partisan reporting and have no problem with it. I'm not speaking of my personal taste, I'm speaking of the policies of the Times.

By their standards, one would think that on the same day Scott Shane discloses that Richard Clarke works for the paper (in an article about Clarke and Condi Rice), there should have been a disclosure included in Ojito's article. As it read, there should have been concern with statements like "like many other Cubans he refuses to go back until Fidel Castro has stepped down" should have raised a flag. (For one thing, "many other Cubans" live in many other countries. For another, as we've seen with the Bully Boy's attempt at banning travel to Cuba, a number of people in this country do want to return to Cuba for a visit. "Some" might have passed the test.)
When this article about Andy Garcia twice credited him for a film that he did not appear in, one made when he was 18 and released sixteen years prior to the film he did appear in, the reporter comes off as less than interested in Garcia's career. So it's only natural that, as Dallas did in his e-mail this morning, people wonder why exactly this article appeared as it did in print.

Ojito's article wasn't read very closely by her editor since no one caught the error. (Though I'm sure we'll read in the corrections that a "printer error" was the reason for the wrong film being cited.) (I see that so often, I'm beginning to wish the printers would respond in kind: "It has come to our attention that a story on page six was offensive to many readers, we would like to note that this was reporter error and not anything on the part of the printers.") (If a correction runs, and if it's blamed on the printer, could someone explain how the printers could make the same mistake more than once?)

Dallas wondered about the sloppy fact checking/proof reading in the e-mail. I would have printed it as a stand alone but there is the appearence of a conflict of interest.

Margot Highlight Sojourner Truth for Black History Month

Margot: I'm going to choose Sojourner Truth because I think she made incredible contributions and is often overlooked.

She was born into slavery as Isabella Van Wagenen in 1797. She got to know her family because they were sold off. Her own marriage was decided by a slave owner. Even her own children could be sold off as some were. She would later fight in court (and win) to have her son Peter returned after he'd been sold. In 1827, she became a free woman as a result of the New York Anti Slavery Law of 1827.

As a free woman, Truth changed her name, took up preaching and became an abolitionist who wasn't afraid to face down hostile groups, not even college audiences of white men.

She is famous for that and many other things including one of the most speeches "Ain't I a Woman?" which she gave in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention.

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm. I have plowed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man -- when I could get it -- and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen them most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
. . .
Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Public editor Okrent whines that FAIR isn't fair (and continues to embarrass himself and the Times)

What can you say about Daniel Okrent that he can't say at greater length in one of his colums. Yes, I'm recycling that joke. But he remains the favorite topic of his own "column." (As opposed to say, readers' concerns, readers' questions . . .)

If the Times had been smart, they'd have cut Okrent the moment he outed "George." We dealt with that back in December (thanks to Rob for staying on me to address that issue) and it's reprinted at The Third Estate Sunday Review if you missed it ("Daniel Okrent, Step Down").

And just last Sunday, The Third Estate Sunday Review weighed in on the embarrassment that is Okrent with their "Editorial: Danny Okrent -- Ready for his own sitcom or menace to society?" Read the editorial because it's got some strong points. (Disclosure, I gave some assistance with that editorial.)

Add that in with Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler which has long tracked the embarrassment that is Daniel Okrent and now Okrent wants to take on FAIR?

They've posted an e-mail they received from Okrent as well as Dave Lindorff's responses.
This has to do with the Lindorff's excellent article ("The Emperor's New Hump" which appeared in FAIR's magazine Extra!) about how the Times decided to spike the what's-under-Bush's-jacket story.

From a section of Lindorff's on-the-money response:

I found it interesting that Okrent chose to use the words "distortion" and "falsehood" to describe my charges. As he put it: "It is a distortion of the truth to say that [the killed story] 'exposed' anything, and an outright falsehood to say that it indicated Mr. Bush 'probably cheated during the presidential debates.'"
In fact, the article and accompanying photos (which Okrent fails to mention) did very clearly "expose" the president's lie, and given the strong likelihood that the device seen on his back was part of a cueing device, it is hardly a falsehood to say that the article indicated that he "probably" cheated in the debates.
Apparently it is easy for Okrent and the Times to accuse critics of being liars, but not a president running for re-election.

Read it in full because it's rare to see someone so accurately refute the increasingly useless Daniel Okrent.

Note Okrent's reponse as well and especially this statement at the end of his e-mail:

N.B. Any opinions expressed here, unless otherwise attributed, are solely my own.

Well, Okrent, here's an opinion that's solely my own. You're not supposed to be a p.r. flack for the paper.

Exactly why are you contacting FAIR to begin with? Do you feel you were misquoted? If so, you don't mention that. You do go into a superficial history of a story that the Times didn't run and you do cast aspertions on Lindorff's writing.

But exactly why are you, the public editor of the New York Times -- the readers' representative, writing FAIR to complain about an article in an e-mail you want them to post?
How much time do you have on your hands by not addressing the concerns of readers? It must be a lot if you've got time to dash off an e-mail to FAIR about how you think the Times was treated poorly.

If you're doing that everytime a magazine or paper reports on the many problems of the New York Times, no wonder you don't have time to address the issues you were hired to do. I'm surprised that you didn't call Lindorff a "coward" or compare him to Nazis, but then you save that special hate for readers who don't have a forum to defend themselves in.

As the Times moves to select Okrent's replacement (he's gone in a few more months), they owe it to their readers to ensure that the next public editor grasps that his or her space isn't all about his/her vacations, or what his/her friends did -- that the space exists to address the concerns and questions of readers. Whether it's launching a pre-emptive strike on the Tony coverage or
his usual "what I wanted to write about" nonsense, Okrent's shown no concern or respect for the readers. He's become a cheap laugh (as The Third Estate Sunday Review properly noted); however, with this e-mail to FAIR, he becomes a cheap, old laugh. The Times really ought to intervene.

Dallas has problems with the arts section in this morning's New York Times and is there a conflict of interest in Ojito reporting?

Dallas e-mails to note the arts sections in this morning's New York Times which has a few problems.

Dallas: I don't know that anyone proofed the copy before it ran. I'm reading backwards through the arts section and found three errors that should have been caught. I've e-mailed the corrections department and will wait to see if any corrections are printed. In a briefing on Sinead O'Connor they refer to her in the last sentence as "Mr. O'Connor." They also twice make the claim that Andy Garcia was in Godfather II and even that he was Oscar nominated. He was born in 1956, Godfather II came out in 1974. The then 18-year-old Garcia was not in it. He was in Godfather III, and nominated for a best supporting actor, but since at the start of the piece and on the page it continues, they say Godfather II, I don't think this is a typo. I really didn't see the point of the long story, by Mirta Ojito, which is Garcia has made a film about Cuba that is anti-Castro and he can't find a distributor. Know anything about this?

Garcia's problems probably do have to do with subject matter (more on that in a bit) but they also have to do with Garcia himself. I don't know Garcia but I'll never forget the howling that greeted his love story with Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds. Remember those scenes?

Probably not, because they didn't make the final cut. The entire subplot was cut (if I'm remembering correctly, Elaine May had written those scenes) because the acting was judged weak and ineffectual. Garcia was supposed to be the next big thing after Internal Affairs, that was decades ago. Godfather III had it's problems (and Garcia's performance wasn't one of them -- he was one of the best things about the movie) but it didn't result in Garcia becoming a leading man. His guest appearence on Will & Grace was thought to be indicative of how limited his range is and his leading man days were over long ago. (Though Hollywood loves a second act, so he could surprise everyone if he could dig deep -- or be pushed into digging the way Francis Ford Coppola did with him on Godfather III.)

But as the lines have set in and the tendency for middle aged weight gains in the mid-section have become noticeable, Garcia's going to need to dig deep or continue fourth and fifth banana roles in movies.

Ojito claims he's "known for roles in films like like 'Ocean's Eleven' and 'The Godfather Part II'
. . ." Ocean's Eleven is a character role (in which he does the usual mannerisms) and if he's "known" for a film he didn't even appear in that just speaks to the "success" factor of his career. He's a working actor (no easy task -- and a success in and of itself) but the idea that he can carry a film is one studio executives long ago abandoned.

Possibly this Cuba film could be a success if they could play into a "right wingers, we must see this film!" kind of mood (the one Mel Gibson tapped into recently).

I agree that it's puzzling to see such a long write up on an actor who's career is so non-memorable that the reporter raving over him can't even get his filmography correct (Godfather II is considered a success -- critically and commerically; Godfather III -- which Garcia appeared in -- is considered a failure at the box office and a critical disappointment).

A reporter was let go by the Times (believe he was a freelancer, but I've forgotten the details, sorry) supposedly because he had been active in the gay rights movement (believe it had to do with AIDS, again, I may not be remembering correctly). He was thought to have a conflict of interest. (If I remember correctly, the Times questioned any comments that he was fired since he wasn't exclusive the paper and also implied that it was a business decision that had nothing to do with any past activities.)

So what about Ojito?

This is a a long love fest with Garcia where she provides so much sympathetic coverage to his portrayal of Cuba, a country he left "when he was 5. . . . [and] has never returned to the country of his birth. Like many other Cubans he refuses to go back until Fidel Castro has stepped down."

Didn't red flares go up for anyone at the Times over this piece?

Ojito might like to believe she can speak for "many other Cubans" but the simple fact is she invites charges of conflict of interest with this story. Ojito left Cuba in 1980 (she was part of the
Mariel boatlift). That's a possible conflict of interest that's not disclosed in the anti-Cuba, anti-Castro article and the Times needs to worry about that. Scott Shane writing about the "'01 Memos" today rightly notes in his article that Richard Clarke now works for the Times as a security columnist. Where is the note that Ojito fled the country? That she may not be just another disinterested reporters for the Times, but someone who may have a vested interest in how this story plays out?

Why are some reporters removed from certain stories but Ojito is allowed to file stories on Cuba? Dallas is very puzzled by the story.

Dallas: Why is it even the paper? Andy Garcia's not even news but he's the focus of this huge story about a film that's not even due to come out anytime soon. The writer (Ojito) speaks of a film festival in passing. Isn't that the story? And which films did well there? Not the efforts of Garcia to make a film. He's whining that "for almost two decades" he's taken meetings and no one would green light that film and now he can't find anyone to distribute it -- he just knows that it has to do with politics.

If it has to do with politics, it has to do with the fact that, in Hollywood's mind-set, politics do not translate into big box office returns. Garcia's latest film, the one that can't find distribution, according to him suggests that Che Guevara ordered an execution. Such a suggestion will not likely lead to massive favorable interest in the film. "Hollywood" may agree or disagree with the politics personally, but as a general rule, they don't make political films. (When you do see one, usually someone's attempting to curry favor with a "hot" performer or director.)

Garcia's directed a musical documentary (Cachao... Como Su Ritmo No Hay Dos), which was released in 1993. And back in 1993, there was still hope that Garcia would be "hot" and rack up a string of box office successes. Until the Oceans (10 & 11) come along, he hasn't appeared in a hit with the possible exception of When a Man Loves a Woman. That's only a hit if you allow that a drama can only do mid-size business (fifty million domestically) (which Hollywood does factor in and it is why the film was made on a mid-size budget even with Meg Ryan "hot" off Sleepless in Seattle). Even Godfather III (his biggest money maker prior to the Oceans) tapped out at around sixty-six million domestically. (With a much larger budget than When a Man Loves a Woman and with the built-in interest in the Godfather series, sixty-six million in ticket sales wasn't considered a hit.)

This is not a star, this is not a leading man. Jennifer 8, Hero, Confidence, Desperate Measures, none of them came close to making even twenty million at the box office. Films like Things to Do In Denver When You're Dead or Lakeboat didn't even reach the one million mark in ticket sales. The last film (released) that he was the top billed actor in, The Man from Elysian Fields -- 2002 -- didn't even make two million dollars at the box office.

With one more or less concert documentary under his belt, Hollywood's got little interest in a political film (regardless of the politics) directed by a middle aged actor who never steered a film into blockbuster territory. Is Hollywood going crazy to greenlight Sally Kirkland's choices?

No. And she's been Oscar nominated as well (lead category, not supporting).

With his leading man career long ago ended and his box office weak, Hollywood wasn't interested in The Lost City (even with Bill Murray and Dustin Hoffman doing small roles). That they're not interested in this project speaks as much to their desire to make hits (and wanting a track record before they invest in a major motion picture) as it does to the fact that they have historically avoided making political films. (By Hollywood, we're talking about the major studios here.) Is Ojito reporting on anything of interest to readers or is she attempting to drum up support for Garcia and get a film, with a political bent she probably shares (personally, but not openly with the readers of this story), into wide release?

Despite Hollywood and the public's lack of interest in Garcia's film choices, we get three photos with this story and countless inches of text.

No wonder Dallas can't figure out why the article makes today's art section. And the Times needs to worry because people may conclude that it only appears so that Mirta Ojito can work through her own agenda. That would be fine if she were an op-ed writer, but she's supposed to be a reporter and the Times is supposed to avoid appearences of conflict of interest.

The fact that she twice gets the film wrong (Godfather III is not Godfather II) indicates that not only is she focused on something other than films in this story, but her editor has given her a free reign -- possibly because she's won a Pulitizer? (Not individually, as part of a team effort.)

There's no disclosure in this article that Ojito left Cuba in 1980. As an immigrant, she probably has a viewpoint that is worth hearing on Cuba in a public form; as a reporter for the "objective" Times, she would probably be more effective utilizing her perspetive for topics other than the country she once called home -- if the Times wants to avoid charges of conflicts of interest in their coverage.

Strong New York Times main section today: Tasers, Wal-Mart pays fine; Drug regulators trying to quash study?, new strain of HIV, Arthur Miller and mor

Disclosure, for the first time all week, I woke up after more than three hours of sleep and was able to actually eat breakfast. So maybe that's colored my perception of this morning's New York Times?

Maybe so. But I'm seeing a pretty strong main section and a really strong front page.

Erika e-mails regarding Daniel J. Wakin's "Suddenly, 'Oboist Wanted' Signs Are Everywhere"
to note that her nephew has been offered a musical scholarship because of the problem Wakin's reporting on. From the article:

Where have all the oboes gone? More precisely, where have the principal oboists in the nation's leading symphony orchestras gone?
The job -- a critical one in any orchestra -- is open, or about to be, at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the San Diego Symphony.
. . .
Observers . . . say the sudden raft of openings appears on the surface to be a confluence of health problems and retirements.
But there is also a generational change under was, as the recent musical descendants of the father of the American oboe playing, Marcel Tabuteau, who died in 1966, leave the scene.

Scott Shane is on the front page with "' '01 Memo to Rice Warned of Qaeda and Offered Plan."
Ben writes in to note that community members learned of this on Thursday (thanks to BuzzFlash's headline link -- to give credit where it's due) and not in Eric Lichtblau's long non-story. Ben: "Seems Shane's been handed the mop and asked to clean up. Is this becoming a Saturday pattern?"

Maybe so. That might be why today's edition struck me as real news. Shane's article is worth reading:

The 13-page proposal presented to Dr. Rice by her top counterterrorism adviser, Richard A. Clarke, laid out ways to step up the fight against Al Qaeda, focusing on Osama bin Laden's headquarters in Afghnistan.
. . .
Nearly nine months before the Sept. 11 attacks, the papers described the danger posed by the bin Laden network and sought to focus the attention of the new administration on what to do about it. But the texts are unlikely to resolve the debate over whether they should have sparked more urgent action by the administration.

Ben: Clarke's mistake in the strategy paper was not saying in the first sentence, "Al Qaeda is just like the Soviet Union!" If he'd said that, even though it's not true, Condi would have paid attention because that's the only thing she's an "expert" on. She might have shot back, days later, "I have spent five days now pouring over various reports and al Qaeda is nothing like the Soviet Union!" But it would have made her look at the reports. Richard Clarke's mistake was in thinking he had someone genuinely interested in and capable of protecting the national security; he didn't realize he needed to add sprinkles and toppings to get the then national security advisor to do her job.

Marilyn Berger's obiturary on Arthur Miller ("Arthur Miller, Moral Voice of American Stage, Dies at 89 ") makes the front page (as it should). And remember that it and other pieces from the Times (on and by Miller) are available currently free of charge. (This might last seven days, it might last two. So check it out soon if you have the time.)

There's a strong photo on the front page that Marcus e-mailed regarding. It's credited to James Hill (of the Times) and entitled "Russian Protests Questions Putin's Course." Marcus found it to be "a very powerful photo and probably the strongest capturing the reality of an event since they were covering the tsunami."

Marcus: It illustrates an article, Stephen Lee Myers's article ["Mounting Discontent in Russia Spills Into Streets"] which is strong but it is not on A6 as the front page photo caption says it will be, it's on A8. So please pass that on in case anyone else finds the photo powerful and attempts to track down the article that goes with it.

A rare strain of H.I.V. that is highly resistant to virtually all anti-retroviral drugs and appears to lead to the rapid onset of AIDS was detected in a New York City man last week, city health officials announced on Friday.
It was the first time a strain of H.I.V. had been found that both showed resistance to multiple drugs and led to AIDS so quickly, the officials said. While the extent of the disease's spread is unknown, officials called a news conference to say that the situation is alarming.

The above is the opening two paragraphs of Marc Santora and Lawrence K. Altman's " Rare and Aggressive H.I.V. Reported in New York ."

Billie: We are toying with the idea of bringing back the death squads, we have gone beyond accepting torture to embracing it and now we learn there is a new strain of AIDS. I'd say things could not get any worse but no doubt the new strain will bring an increase in homophobia and some of the more ignorant 'policy suggestions' from the eighties back. No doubt, the Bully Boy's official response will be one of waste more money on just-say-no to sex. Unofficially, his surrogates will attempt to demonize those with a disease. At times like this, we need a real leader and not having one our country suffers.

Inside the paper, Gardner Harris continues to explore the FDA issue (see yesterday morning's entry for a link to the story Harris and Benedict Carey filed on Friday) with "Drug Regulators Are Trying to Quash Study, Senator Says:"

The tension and intrique surrounding a crucial federal drug advisory committee meeting next week, already high, reached a boil on Friday when Senator Charles E. Grassley charged that top federal drug regulators intend to suppress an important study.
The panel has been convened to discuss whether Celebrex and Bextra, heavily selling arthritis pills from Pfizer, hurt the hearts and are worth their potential risks. But top officials of the Food and Drug Administration have forbidden Dr. David Graham, a drug-safety officer at the agency, to discuss before the panel a large study of that very question, said Dr. Gurkirpal Singh of Stanford University's School of Medicine, Dr. Graham's coauthor.
"We have significant new information that will alter the thinking about these drugs," Dr. Singh said. "I don't understand why they won't let us present this information."
Mr. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, wrote a letter Friday to the agency's acting commissioner, Dr. Lester Crawford, demanding to know by Monday the reason for the agency's decision.
Dr. Graham expressed frustration that Food and Drug Administration officials had instructed him not to discuss the new study in a presentation he is scheduled to give to the committee on Thursday.

Benedict Carey also continues to cover the issue with "Therapists Question Canada's Action on Hyperactivity Drug" in today's paper.

"Wal-Mart Agrees to Pay Fine in Child Labor Cases" by Steven Greenhouse is a story of note:

Wal-Mart Stores, the nation's largest retailer, has agreed to pay $133,540 to settle federal charges that it violated child labor laws in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Arkansas.
Labor Department officials said most of the 24 violations covered by the settlement involved workers under age 18 operating dangerous machinery, including cardboard balers and chain saws. In the agreement, Wal-Mart denied any wrongdoing.

And I'd also recommend Monica Davey and Alex Berenson's "Chicago Rethinks Its Use of Stun Guns:"

Until this tumultous week, few residents of this city even realized that the police had added an alternative weapon to their arsenal, the Taser stun gun.
But by Friday, after the death of a man who struggled with police in the hallway of a high-rise apartment building and the shooting earlier in the week of a boy, 14, after a confrontation inside the group home were he lives, Chicago found itself swept into the center of a national debate over the use of the weapons.
. . .
In Chicago, the week began with the 14-year-old boy, who lives in a group home because he is a ward of the state, being shot with a Taser and collapsing in what medical authorities said was cardiac arrest. By Friday, the boy was conscious and no longer on a ventilator, but he remained in a hosptial.
. . .
Then on Thursday, the police fired a Taser at a man they said had been screaming and threatening them in the 26th-floor hallway of an apartment building.
When the police approached the man, Ronald Hasse, whom paramedics were trying to help, Mr. Hasse began threatening to "kill them with his blood" and began swingint he handcuffs that the police were trying to put on him, Mr. Bayless said. After he was shot with a Taser from seven feet away, Mr. Hasse, 54, of Cedar Lake, Ind., collapsed and died.

Those are the stories that caught the attention of some members and myself. If we missed something you enjoyed (or didn't enjoy) or if you want to weigh in on another topic, the e-mail address is and I'm not sure that I put that in once yesterday, so my apologies there. There are groaners in this morning's paper, to be sure, (and no mention of Lynne Stewart though I'm hoping something will appear in the Sunday paper) but I'd rate today very high overall. (See disclosure at the top. My good mood may have effected my evaulation.)

Friday, February 11, 2005

Brenda Highlights Coretta Scott King for Black History Month

Brenda: Of all the people still with us, the one who inspires me the most is the one I want to highlight for Black History Month. Coretta Scott King has been a continued inspiration to me.
When I first learned of her, I was ten years old and the year was 1985. We were studying MLK and we were told about his wife Coretta Scott King. She was married to him and handled the loss with grace. And then we moved on to another person.
In the years since, I've learned more of Coretta Scott King and actually got to meet her once. Grace may seem like a minor thing to credit someone with and certainly Mrs. King has remained active but meeting her what stood out was her grace. There was a warmth and peace around her and she seemed to glow.
That probably has to do with the strength she gets from her family but it also has to do with the fact that she's continued to fight for human equality and this has been her legacy, to build on all that her late husband fought for.
She has continued the fight for economic justice and she has enlarged the scope of many people with her advocacy for the homeless, for women, for gays and lesbians and for children.
Coretta Scott King participated in the civil rights movement of the sixties and for that alone she deserves to be noted. But more importantly, she has continued to carry the goals of peace, equality and fairness with her every step of the way.
Dr. King was taken from a world that needed him much too soon. We've been very lucky to have Coretta Scott King carrying on his work, always with compassion, always with kindness and hope, and always with grace.
When I was ten years old, I thought grace was just an adjective. Coretta Scott King has demonstrated that grace is very much an aspect of activism and a needed component in our lives.
The King Center is a valuable resource I hope people will visit.

ARTHUR MILLER (1915-2005)

You can do what you can do, and the rest is up to the zeitgeist. I'll probably be forgotten completely; 99.99 percent of all artwork is forgotten. There have been so many writers who dominated a period and then slipped off. History is like some gigantic beast -- it simply wriggles its back and throws off whatever is on it.

That's what Arthur Miller told Deborah Solomon when she interviewed him for the New York Times -- "Goodbye (Again) Norma Jean," September 19, 2004. (Hopefully, history will prove Miller wrong on his assessment.)

Please note, the Times has made many of their articles on Arthur Miller available online so use the resource while it's free. (I've kept the Sunday Magazine with Solomon's interview and I'll note they even feature both photos from the print edition online -- the photograph in color is full page in the print edition of the Sunday Magazine.) This free archive also includes pieces written by Miller and reviews of his plays. So again, please check it out while it's available for free.

You'll also find their obituary there.

Hopefully, you'll hear much of Miller over the next few days. As a playwright, he was instrumental to the American theater. Death of a Salesman remains a classic and The Crucible remains a personal favorite of many.

Jim of The Third Estate Sunday Review e-mailed to say that he, Ava, Jess, Ty and Dona ended up cancelling their plans to go to a party and instead gathering with the copies of The Crucible
for a reading.

Historically, it's interesting that a victim of the McCarthyism blacklist passes away when we have our New McCarthyism in full bloom with conviction of Lynne Stewart. [Note: More true than I knew. Stewart was convicted on Thursday, Miller passed away on Thursday. When I wrote this, I was under the mistaken impression that Miller passed away on Friday. 2-15-04]

We'll close with an excerpt from The Crucible's final scene. For anyone who's unfamilar with the play, the backdrop is the Salem witch hunt. As a fear strikes Salem, lies are created and people bear false witness on their neighbors. John Proctor stands accused and will be spared only if he confesses to something he did not do. (Think of the torture going on at Guantanamo Bay -- the play is never dated -- sadly.) Elizabeth Proctor is his wife. John signs a confession but refuses to name names (a rejection of the naming of names during McCarthyism). He is encouraged to name Rebecca Nurse (whom others have slandered). After signing the confession which will allow John Proctor to escape the knoose, he refuses to hand it over to be posted on the church door.

PROCTOR, with a cry of his whole soul: Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name.

DANFORTH, pointing at the confession in Proctor's hand: Is that document a lie? If it is a lie I will not accept it! What say you? I will not deal in lies, Mister! Proctor is motionless. You will give me your honest confession in my hand, or I cannot keep you from the rope. Proctor does not reply. Which way do you go, Mister?

His breasts heaving, his eyes staring. Proctor tears the paper and crumples it, and he is weeping in fury, but erect.

DANFORTH: Marshall!

PARRIS, hysterically, as though the tearing paper were his life: Proctor! Proctor!

HALE: Man, you will hang! You cannot!

PROCTOR, his eyes full of tears: I can. And there's your first marvel, that I can. You have made your magic now, for now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such dogs. Elizabeth, in a burst of terror, rushes to him and weeps against his hand. Give them no tear! Tears pleasure them! Show honor now, show a stoney heart and sink with them with it! He has lifted her, and kisses her now with great passion.

REBECCA: Let you fear nothing! Another judgement waits us all!

Elaine Cassel on Lynne Stewart via CounterPunch and AlterNet

"The Lynne Stewart Case: When Representing an Accused Terrorist Can Mean the Lawyer Risks Jail, Too" by Elaine Cassel is at CounterPunch and from October 12, 2002. I know there are so many outrages under the Bully Boy's regime, but this is an important issue. I'm working through the e-mails and Billie sent this article in:

As every lawyer knows, client confidentiality is the very foundation of the attorney-client relationship. Attorney Lynne Stewart certainly believed that to be true, but her principles and zealous representation have landed her a four-count criminal indictment for aiding and abetting terrorism.
Without warning, Stewart was taken out of her home and arrested. Attorney General Ashcroft then staged a press conference within hours of her arrest. The same night, he appeared on David Letterman's show, to assure viewers (and potential jurors, it seems) that the "terrorist" lawyer was guilty as charged.
The basis for the prosecution? Communications Stewart made with and about her client, a convicted terrorist for whom she was court-appointed counsel for his trial and whom she continued to represent in post-conviction matters.

[Note: Click here to continue reading.]

Also by Elaine Cassel is this article (via AlterNet) entitled: "The Other War: A Three Year Assault on Civil Liberties" from October 19, 2002 which will provide perspective and explain how this isn't an isolated event:

The Detroit Cell convictions -- the first jury convictions of people charged with supporting "terorrism" have been overturned, the FBI evidence having been deemed a fraud. Attorney Lynne Stewart has begun the defense of her case, the govt having rested last week by reading letters from her client, Sheik Abdel Rahmen, convicted in the 1993 WTC bombings. She should spend the rest of her life in prison, the government argues, because she represented a terrorist, appointed by the federal court to do so. They call her his "associate," not his lawyer. A frightening link that should, and does, give all brave attorneys pause.

What is the government saying Stewart did? They say that in answering press questions about her client and, perhaps, impeding John Ashcroft's efforts to record conversations between her and her client, a blind man in a prison in Minnesota, she was "providing personnel" -- her client and herself -- for terrorism attacks. Ashcroft directed prison officials to tape record all communications with her client.

[Note: Click here to continue reading. Tori sent the above link in.]

Jennifer Van Bergen: "Lynne Stewart's Conviction Hurts Us All" (from CounterPunch)

Jennifer Van Bergen has a very strong (and important) piece in today's CounterPunch. It's entitled "Lynne Stewart's Conviction Hurts Us All" and because this issue matters to a number of you who e-mailed today (it matters to me as well), we're going to highlight this strong article (this is an excerpt, click on link to read in full):

In a shocking jury verdict today, a tireless watchdog for liberty was convicted of violating special administrative prison rules and of providing material support to terrorists.
Only a few weeks ago, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Barkow told the jury in his closing statement that Lynne Stewart "thought she could blow off the rules that apply to everyone else because she's a lawyer, and she's above the law. She said, 'I think my client is more important than the law. My cause is more important that the risk to lives of innocent people.' "
This is a complete distortion of the woman I have come to know. The woman who, when her husband became angry at a heckler during her speech at a small rally, told him the man was only exercising his rights to free speech--he had a right to disagree with her.
The woman who is as courteous to the man next to her at the podium, who is declaring that the ACLU--which, remember, stands for the American CIVIL LIBERTIES Union -- is a communist organization, as to those who thank her for coming.
A woman who put herself endlessly and courageously on the front lines to defend the rights of those who were under-represented, unrepresented, disenfranchised, or disregarded: those whose voices are suppressed or silenced.
Lynne Stewart never ever thought she could blow off the rules that apply to everyone else. She never thought she was above the law. She never supported or endorsed terrorism. Nor did she ever intend to provide material support to terrorists.

[Note: To help you out, here's the link again that you need to click to continue reading.]

Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude on the Lynne Stewart case

Rebecca has another strong post at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. Below is an excerpt. I think she lays it out pretty clear with her usual strong convictions and style.

lynne stewart is wrongfully convicted and the new york times wants to talk about carli fiorina

friday, february 11, 2005 and the editorial board of the new york times elects to focus on the most important woman in the news.

if you think carleton fiorina's getting fired from hewlett-packard is more important than what's happening to lynne stewart and apparently the new york times does think so.

was there a point of the fiorina editorial? i doubt if and when gail collins gets forced out of the new york times she'd want an editorial on her 'fatal operating error.'

but that's where the paper of non-record is today. wasting space on fiorina. i'm sure fiorina's a wonderful person and i'm sure she will or will not bounce back and i am sure that none of it matters to me 1 way or another except to think, 'gee since she's not up on charges a la tyco, do you think maybe you could quit reporting this like the scandal to end all scandals?'

meanwhile lynne stewart was convicted yesterday. of what? who knows with the current justice department. she was defending a client that won't win any applause from most americans. the justice department puts in place a policy that isn't exactly a law since, last time i checked, the justice department wasn't in the business of writing and passing legislation.

so they target lynne stewart (they includes the clinton administration though at least janet reno had enough sense not to bring stewart up on charges - that dishonor would go to john ashcroft) and tap her in what may or may not have been legal.

and the lawyers who should be defending her (because she is them) are in the news stories in the new york times today making idoitic comments about how they were for her until they heard the audiotapes.

don't we expect a little more from lawyers? don't we expect that they will be the 1st to say, 'now those tapes may or may not be appropriate evidence?'

Democracy Now!: Lynne Stewart speaks, Rafil Dhafir;BuzzFlash's GOP Hypocrite of the Week; Ari Berman goes international, A Winding Road adds a DINO

Democracy Now! is "always worth watching" (as Marcia says) but I hope we'll make time to watch, listen or read the transcript to the segment with Lynne Stewart. This is an important story and we will continue to highlight it.

Headlines for February 11, 2005
- Rice Warns North Korea Over Nukes
- Iranian President: Invaders Will Face "Scorching Hell"
- Abbas Sacks Security Commanders
- Rice Was Warned of al-Qaeda pre-9/11
- Germany Dismisses Lawsuit Against Rumsfeld
- Senate Approves Changes to Class Action Lawsuits
- House Passes Controversial Immigration Bill
- White House Under Fire Over Right-Wing Blogger

Convicted Attorney Lynne Stewart: "You Can't Lock Up the Lawyers"
Lynne Stewart and her attorney, Michael Tigar, join Democracy Now! in our firehouse studio for their first extended national broadcast interview following Thursday's jury decision to convict Stewart on all five counts of conspiring to aid terrorists and lying to the government. The verdict reverberated around the country, especially with lawyers who fear the government's aim is to discourage them from representing unpopular clients. We also speak with one of the witnesses at her trial, former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark. [includes rush transcriptl]

Iraqi-American Doctor Convicted of Violating Iraq Sanctions
Iraqi-American doctor Rafil Dhafir, was convicted on 59 charges including violating economic sanctions against Iraq, Medicare fraud and tax evasion. He is thought to be the only U.S citizen to be convicted of breaking the Iraq sanctions. We speak with his attorney and his friend of 20 years. [includes rush transcript]

Let's also note BuzzFlash:

Don't miss the GOP Hypocrite of the Week:Howard Kurtz The Washington Post Should Fire Him for Journalistic Malfeasance.

Laura Flanders speaks to many in our community, so note Laura Flanders to Host Anais Mitchell and Michael Chorney of "Hymns for the Exiled".

And this is a very important issue so please note: Don’t Believe the Hype: Privatized Water Is Not in Consumers’ Best Interest 2/12.

Let's note as well Ari Berman The Daily Outrage which focuses on the international today. (The Daily Outrage is one of The Nation's online features.)

Ned e-mails in asking that we highlight A Winding Road's post from today which focuses on another "Dino for the Hall of Shame:"

But I'm reserving our DINO Hall of Shame for those who break with the progressive values that the Democratic party should represent in ways that, in my view, are particularly reprehensible. Things that are beyond even the very real reasons for outrage that DINOs give us every day. It is A Winding Road's goal to do what can be done to defeat the Hall of Shamers in their next primary campaigns and replace them with true Democrats, and for that they need to have stepped over a line that is pretty extreme. I of course urge all of you to come up with your own Hall of Shame. You'll find plenty of reasons to induct members and if it makes you decide to work to elect true progressives in their place, then that's a victory for all of us!
You may have heard that Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who was one of the shameful six that earned a place in our Hall of Shame for his vote on the Gonzales confirmation, has come out in favor of private accounts for Social Security. Today, he was joined by our newest Hall of Shame member, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware.

And Brad says Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) is hysterical and to the point with her evaluation of Condi Rice's trip to France yesterday with "la puanteur de condi - the stink of condi:"

the french press is calling her the 'princess warrior' and 'madame hawk.' it's all so lol funny. before her eyes, all her attempts at charm fall flatter than a big barbara bush soufle - that is what we're calling that hair style these days, right? poor big babs, to look at her, the world gained a bully boy president and she lost a personal hairdresser!
don't you fret, big babs, georgie will be back to doing your comb outs in a little while. and shouldn't he? didn't kitty kelley tell us about how you used to go up to his boys school, kick off your flip flops and hop out there in the middle of the game in your mumu to join that cheerleading son of yours in a round of keep-that-spirit-up-i-said-keep-that-spirit-up?
back to condi, elaine sciolino tells us how the only 1s condi could relate to in france were a group of 7 to 9 year olds. i told you the gal was stunted, remember?
but i think sciolino's a little off on that. i'm willing to bet that a group of 6 year olds was also included. coz our own personal evita is all about the 'sixes and sevens and nines.' don't cry for her najaf!

Digging past this morning's largely useless front page may reveal actual news in the New York Times

There's a suprising number of news articles in this morning's New York Times. To move quickly, we can dispense with the front page by noting Sarah Lyall's "Charles Calls End to the Affiar: He'll Happily Wed His Camilla" isn't front page news and unless the paper's also planning on charting the honeymoon -- which, who knows these days with the Times?

Jason Giambi's isn't front page news, not even with his Hollywood startlet dramatic pose. Barry Meier and Stephanie Saul appear to have a news topic with "Marketing of Vioxx: How Merck Played Game of Catch-Up" but most readers won't want to wade through the seven paragraphs before the article finally starts getting to the point. "Senate Approves Measures to Curb Big Class Actions" is covered by Stephen Labaton but, like Lillian last night, I'd steer you to A Winding Road's "Senate to Corporate America: Happy (early) Valentines Day!"

We have no time for wading through Elite Fluff Patrol member David E. Sanger's (with James Brooke) "North Korean Say They Hold Nuclear Arms" -- so read at your own risk. (NPR's covered this issue at length and far better than the first four paragraphs of this story.)

Which leaves us with Julia Preston's " Lawyer Is Guilty of Aiding Terror" and Lydi Polgreen's "Darfur's Babies of Rape Are on Trial From Birth." Both are news articles.

Preston's story is worth focusing on because she's sketching the basics of the case and the courtroom events. Read Preston along with William Glaberson's "A Legal Thorn in the Right's Side" and his "Lawyers Take Uneasy Look at the Future ."

Pay close to the latter and note the rush to safe ground by many (though not all) lawyers quoted. As one fair weather civil libertarian (maybe he's not a civil libertarian?) notes, he was for Lynne Stewart originally then he heard (or more likely, heard of) the audio tapes. In his rush up the steep hill of respectability and cowardice, he can't weigh in on the legality of the audio taping (which began in the nineties).

This is a very important case and perhaps the moment when we see how clearly "terrorism" becomes the new McCarthyism. Watch closely to see who rushes to stand up for the rights of a defense, the right to counsel, etc. and who rushes to say, "Oh well, in these times we live in now . . ." This is a moment we need to pay attention to which is why I'm citing all three articles.
Read about the case and feel free to weigh in (e-mail address is (with any position) if you'd like.

Stewart was painted as terrorist through inference and inuendo. There are some basic principles here and I hope we'll familiarize ourselves with this case.

Eric Lichtblau's back with a smaller article on the 9-11 committee's reports: "Critics Want Full Report of 9/11 Panel." Critics include former committee members. Readers want it too. Not a report that government released to the National Security Archive that was badly explored yesterday in Lichtblau's front page non-scoop.

Gardiner Harris and Benedict Carey's "Senator Says F.D.A. Asked Canada Not to Suspend Drug"
is an important news topic:

A day after Canadian officials suspended the use of a hyperactivity drug amid reports of deaths associated with its use, Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa contended that United States health officials had asked the Canadian regulators not to do so.
Senator Grassley, a Republican, said on Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration had made the request of Canadian health officials because the F.D.A. could not handle another "drug safety crisis." Mr. Grassley said he was basing his contentions on reports from whistle-blowers within the agency.

David Johnston's "Senator Wants F.B.I. Memo on Detainees" is brief but worth noting. Two opening paragraphs:

A Democratic senator on the committee that considered the nomination of Michael Chertoff to be homeland security secretary has asked the Justice Department for an internal F.B.I. document written in May 2004 about interrogation practices at Guatánamo Bay, Cuba.
The request temporarily held up a full Senate vote on Mr. Chertoff's nomination this week when the senator, Carl Levin of Michigan, would not agree to vote on Monday as Republicans wanted, Congressional aides said. Mr. Levin and other Democrats have agreed to a vote, which is scheduled for Tuesday, two weeks after Mr. Chertoff's confirmation hearing. He is expected to win confirmation easily.

Scott Shane's got news that should be on the front page with "C.I.A. Interrogator's Defense to Cite Bush at Brutality Trial:"

A contract interrogator for the Central Intelligence Agency, charged with beating an Afghan prisoner who died the next day, is basing his defense in part on statements by President Bush and other officials that called for tough action to prevent terrorist attacks and protect American lives.
Documents unsealed this week in federal court in Raleigh, N.C., show that the interrogator, David A. Passaro, 38, may cite top officials' written legal justifications for harsh interrogation techniques and a Congressional resolution passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon calling on the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force" to thwart further terrorism.
. . .
In court papers filed in December, Mr. McNamara, a federal public defender, objected to the use of the USA Patriot Act of 2001 in prosecuting his client. Among its provisions was an expansion of the government's power to prosecute crimes committed at United States facilities overseas.
"To subject Mr. Passaro to prosecution for actions taken in battle and in furtherance of this wartime mission under a criminal statute not intended for battlefield application violates the United State Constitution, contravenes Congressional intent, and turns the Patriot Act on its head," Mr. McNamara wrote.

"Democrats Want Investigation of Reporter Using Fake Name" by Katharine Q. Seelye is another brief article that should be longer and given more play -- especially since the Times is playing catch up on this story. From Seelye's article:

Two Democrats in Congress are pressing for investigations into how a Washington reporter who used a pseudonym managed to gain access to the White House and had access to classified documents that named Valerie Plame as a C.I.A. operative.
The Democrats, Representatives John Conyers Jr. of Michigan and Louise M. Slaughter from Rochester, wrote yesterday to Patrick Fitzgerald, the independent prosecutor appointed in the Plame case, seeking an investigation into how the reporter, James D. Guckert, who used the name Jeff Gannon, had access to classified documents that revealed the identity of Ms. Plame.

With Dean the last man standing (as Rebecca noted this week on Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) in the DNC chair race, the Times weighs in with "A New Dean for a New Job. But the Old One Lingers." From the article by Anne E. Kornblut:

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts praised Dr. Dean for having "an energy and an affection" but rejected suggestions that the Democratic Party needs to be become more liberal - as some in Mr. Dean's camp have urged - to win.
"This great party of ours doesn't need a makeover," said Mr. Kerry, who was defeated by President Bush in the November election. "This party of ours doesn't need a massive shift."

. . .
On Thursday, Dr. Dean spent about 20 minutes with Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid, the House and Senate Democratic leaders. The meeting was characterized by one Democratic Senate aide afterward as an improvement over the last few weeks of open discord, civil but also subdued.
"The challenge for him is really merging the new and the traditional parts of the party," said Donnie Fowler, a 37-year-old consultant from South Carolina who ran against Dr Dean for the party chairmanship, and who attended the party Thursday night.
Bob Kerrey, the former Democratic senator from Nebraska who is now president of New School University in New York, put a finer point on Mr. Kerry's comments about Dr. Dean.
"He has to give people confidence there isn't a 'Democratic wing' of the Democratic party," Mr. Kerrey said, a reference to a trademark campaign phrase that Dr. Dean used to distinguish himself from moderates during the primaries. "The biggest challenge for Howard is going to be overcoming his own words and his own previous statements."

Bob Kerrey. We'll just a period after his name and leave it at that for now.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg's " Democrats Getting Lessons in Speaking Their Values" weighs in on the framing craze:

Beyond the search for a unifying theme or a clear message - the absence of which many Democrats believe cost them the November election - Democrats have another goal: to turn the values debate away from what Representative David R. Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin, calls "below the waist" morality issues like abortion and same-sex marriage and toward the programs and policies that Democrats support.
. . .
The effort is playing out against the backdrop of a much deeper struggle, one that goes beyond language to the more fundamental question of what the Democratic Party should stand for. As Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor, prepares to take the helm of the Democratic National Committee after a formal vote on Saturday, Democrats have been engaged in a bruising internal battle over whether to shift toward less absolute positions on issues like abortion, as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York Democrat, appeared to do in a recent speech urging tolerance of abortion opponents' beliefs.

There is news in this morning's Times, you just have to dig past the fluff. Speaking of which, why does the Bully Boy insist upon repeating spin on his privatization plans? Because he knows reporters like Elite Fluff Patrol member David E. Sanger will print it just because the words fumble out of the Bully Boy's mouth. ("Fumble" is not a typo.) We see that again in Sanger's
"Bush Takes Social Security to 2 'Town Halls'."

[Note: Jason Giambi's name has been corrected in this post. Thank Ben for catching that. "Jason," not "James."]

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The New Yorker's Jane Mayer on torture

Barney in Little Rock brought up the issue of torture so we'll highlight The New Yorker. In the print edition (which I'm still waiting on) there's an article by Jane Mayer (the article is also available online). Online only, there's an interview with Jane Mayer about what she discovered while researching her article.

From "Q & A: Torture by Proxy:"

Amy Davidson: You begin your piece with something President Bush said recently -- that "torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture."
Jane Mayer
: President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales all made similar statements last month, asserting that not only does the United States condemn torture, it also does not send U.S.-held suspects to other countries for torture. In reality, the record appears to be quite different. Beginning around 1995, the Central Intelligence Agency inaugurated a form of extradition sometimes referred to as "extraordinary rendition," in which captured foreign terrorism suspects have been transported by the U.S. to third countries for interrogation and prosecution. The former C.I.A. director George Tenet estimated that between the time the program started and 2001 there were some seventy renditions. Most experts suggest that since the Bush Administration launched the global war on terrorism after the attacks of September 11, 2001, that number has grown dramatically. Present and former officials involved in these renditions, including several whom I quote on the record in this week's New Yorker, suggest that, from the start, it was suspected that many of the rendered persons were tortured abroad. Certainly, in three cases where the suspects have emerged publicly to speak about their treatment -- the cases of Maher Arar, Muhammed Zery, and Mamdouh Habib -- they have alleged that they were tortured after the United States rendered them to other countries.

What are America's obligations under international law with regard to rendition? Is there a legal difference between torturing someone ourselves and handing him over to someone who will torture him?
The United Nations Convention Against Torture and U.S. law both have a blanket prohibition against torturing anyone either within the territorial boundaries of the U.S. or abroad. These laws also prohibit the U.S. government from extraditing non-nationals to third countries where there are "substantial grounds for believing" that they would be tortured. The imprecision of this clause, however, appears to have allowed for a fair amount of latitude, according to lawyers whom I interviewed for this piece. For instance, Martin Lederman, a former lawyer with the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel -- who did not deal with the cases while he was in office but has studied them since -- suggested that what looks at first like a complete prohibition actually is not. The legal standard allows U.S. officials to argue that they didn't know with any certainty that a suspect would be tortured, and so can't be held liable. U.S. officials have in fact often sought what is known as "assurances" from countries to which they have rendered suspects that the suspects would not be tortured. Even if these assurances are just a wink and a nod, they may provide legal cover. Finally, some lawyers believe that the U.S. may be finding protection by never formally taking legal custody of suspects it renders abroad -- even if, for instance, the U.S. government transports such suspects. Such details are difficult to find out about, however, because the program is secret.

You write about the case of Mamdouh Habib. What is significant about his story?
Habib's case, if his allegations are true, illustrates a disturbing change in the rendition program. Habib was suspected of training Al Qaeda operatives involved in 9/11. He was, like earlier suspects, a radical Muslim. But, unlike most of the pre-9/11 suspects, there appears to have been no warrant for his arrest when the U.S. government took custody of him in Pakistan, a few months after the World Trade Center attacks. Again, because the program is secret, it is difficult to know this with certainty. But, according to Habib's attorney, Joe Margulies, Pakistan turned Habib over to Egypt's custody at the urging of the United States, without any formal charges or arrest warrant against Habib. Once in Egypt, Margulies said, Habib made no appearances that he knew of in court, nor was there any record Margulies knew of showing that the U.S. had sought assurances that Habib would not be tortured.

From Jane Mayer's article "Outsourcing Torture:"

On January 27th, President Bush, in an interview with the Times, assured the world that "torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture." Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer who was born in Syria, was surprised to learn of Bush's statement. Two and a half years ago, American officials, suspecting Arar of being a terrorist, apprehended him in New York and sent him back to Syria, where he endured months of brutal interrogation, including torture. When Arar described his experience in a phone interview recently, he invoked an Arabic expression. The pain was so unbearable, he said, that "you forget the milk that you have been fed from the breast of your mother."
Arar, a thirty-four-year-old graduate of McGill University whose family emigrated to Canada when he was a teen-ager, was arrested on September 26, 2002, at John F. Kennedy Airport. He was changing planes; he had been on vacation with his family in Tunisia, and was returning to Canada. Arar was detained because his name had been placed on the United States Watch List of terrorist suspects. He was held for the next thirteen days, as American officials questioned him about possible links to another suspected terrorist. Arar said that he barely knew the suspect, although he had worked with the man's brother. Arar, who was not formally charged, was placed in handcuffs and leg irons by plainclothes officials and transferred to an executive jet. The plane flew to Washington, continued to Portland, Maine, stopped in Rome, Italy, then landed in Amman, Jordan.
During the flight, Arar said, he heard the pilots and crew identify themselves in radio communications as members of "the Special Removal Unit." The Americans, he learned, planned to take him next to Syria. Having been told by his parents about the barbaric practices of the police in Syria, Arar begged crew members not to send him there, arguing that he would surely be tortured. His captors did not respond to his request; instead, they invited him to watch a spy thriller that was aired on board.
Ten hours after landing in Jordan, Arar said, he was driven to Syria, where interrogators, after a day of threats, "just began beating on me." They whipped his hands repeatedly with two-inch-thick electrical cables, and kept him in a windowless underground cell that he likened to a grave. "Not even animals could withstand it," he said. Although he initially tried to assert his innocence, he eventually confessed to anything his tormentors wanted him to say. "You just give up," he said. "You become like an animal."
A year later, in October, 2003, Arar was released without charges, after the Canadian government took up his cause. Imad Moustapha, the Syrian Ambassador in Washington, announced that his country had found no links between Arar and terrorism. Arar, it turned out, had been sent to Syria on orders from the U.S. government, under a secretive program known as "extraordinary rendition." This program had been devised as a means of extraditing terrorism suspects from one foreign state to another for interrogation and prosecution. Critics contend that the unstated purpose of such renditions is to subject the suspects to aggressive methods of persuasion that are illegal in America -- including torture.

In addition, online at The New Yorker, you can read the "Administration memo and correspondence." These are in pdf form.

I want to note Democracy Now!'s interview EXCLUSIVE: British Human Rights Lawyer Gareth Peirce Says Torture "Is the Recipe for the Destruction" of International Human Rights and two stories they have done on Maher Arar: U.S. Claims Maher Arar "Extraordinary Rendition" Lawsuit Jeopardizes National Security and Amnesty Calls for Release of Syrian Canadian Jailed in Damascus for Over 2 Years. Please note, this is by no means the extent of Democracy Now!'s coverage on this issue. Search the archives at Democracy Now! for additional stories.

On Jane Mayer, we've highlighted her work in The New Yorker before and no doubt will again.
She's not an Elite Fluff Patrol member, she's a real reporter interested in providing a story that matters.

For commentary on the Times article Mayer refers to at the start of her New Yorker article, I'd suggest "What the Fluff Patrol (Sanger, Stevenson & Bumiller) left out of Thursdays with Bully Boy" and The Third Estate Sunday Review's Gay Parents: "I am part of a family. My family is very real and existed long before Bush got to the White House" which deals with another problem with the Elite Fluff Patrol's reporting.

[Note: This post has been corrected: I failed to provide a link to Jane Mayer's "Outsourcing Torture" from The New Yorker. Thanks to Erika for catching that.]

Community Members Weigh In on Various Topics

Annie: I wanted to address the issue of social security. I really do think this covered at length elsewhere. There was a post recently about how a bank executive was compared by a prosecutor to benefitting drug trafficing and yet he got off with a fine while a woman who was forced into being a mule is locked away. Those are the kind of issues and stories I enjoy seeing highlighted and those aren't all over the net at every site. Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) made a great point in her interview with The Third Estate Sunday Review about how we're really concerned with social justice at The Common Ills and I think she got it nailed right. I understand and agree with not posting or commenting on any NYT article until they identify who is reporting from the confines of the Green Zone based on self-reports from the military and who is going outside and filing first-hand reports which was a real good point Lizz [Winstead] and Rachel [Maddow] made on Unfiltered. But I hope we'll continue to address the occupation.

Barney in Little Rock: I'm glad that the net's come alive on the social security issue but to be frank here for a moment I do think there are other important topics. The net deserves credit because the bloggers banded together to refute Bush and that's great. But I do have other concerns. I don't want talking points and I'm fine with the level of links provided here on this issue. I'm concerned with the war in Iraq and think that 3rd Estate Sunday Review touched on my feelings when they spoke to young adults about suicide and 2 of them talked about how heavy the war weighed on them and made them question humanity. I'm concerned with issues like AIDS in the 3rd world and what's going on with Iran which we seem like we're gearing up for war with any second. I'm concerned with the violations of human rights and basic democratic concepts and the level of acceptance that we seem to be greeting each torture revelation.

Tori: I know this may seem late but I just want to rebutt the State of the Union address which I listened to on The Majority Report. (I couldn't have gotten through that without Janeane Garofalo's common sense and humor.) Here's the true State of the Union. We're stuck with four more years of the Bully Boy; we've got bravery in the Senate from Barbara Boxer and a few others are starting to speak up but not nearly enough; we've stamped torture as a-okay by confirming Alberto Gonzales and Condi [Rice]; we're destroying Iraq and we have no plans to leave soon or to let them have any real say in their country; the death squads are coming back and that's because Poppy [George H. W.] Bush pardoned people right before he left office; our nation is battered by the continued assaults from the administration on the environement, reproductive rights and the poor. State of the Union? We've grown accustomed to hatred and abuse as normal and part of the American character. We better get vocal.

Betty: If someone's as unhappy as Frank in Orlando is about something, anything, why don't they do their own blog. I'm going to announce this and please post it because I am one of those people who has to talk about it ahead of time or I won't do it. I read Thomas Friedman's crazy-based column today and I'm going to start my own blog. I'll try to do it this weekend. I'll be commenting solely on Friedman and since he's only doing two columns a week I should be able to handle two entries a week. As soon as I get it up and running this weekend, I'll let everyone know.

Lillian: Can we highlight A Winding Road's post today: "Senate to Corporate America: Happy (early) Valentines Day!" I am so angry about that vote. And I'm so glad that community members are doing their own blogs because we do need as many voices as possible. I like reading Rebecca because she's so darn naughty! And Sunday afternoons means cups of coffee and cigarettes as I settle in for a nice long read with The Third Estate Sunday Review. I enjoy A Winding Road's Book Chats on Saturday but I especially look forward to hearing the Senate commentary and I think today's post may be the strongest yet. I would highlight this paragraph:
What this basically comes down to is the Senate handing Corporate America yet another advantage over the average citizen of this country. They've now limited even further our ability to take on these already overwhelmingly powerful companies. The Republicans love to play up the specter of frivolous lawsuits just as much as they've loved to play up the myth of the Welfare queen driving around in a Cadillac, but the truth of the matter is that what they've done today will make it even harder for us to hold these companies accountable for the very real damages they're often responsible for.
And the DINO Hall of Shame was long needed so read the post!

Carl: I'm choosing words carefully here but I want to weigh in that I'm really tired of the attitudes of two members. One feels she can e-mail you or Rebecca and make up lies to try to trap you into revealing something. The other wants to gripe that a topic that's been covered and mentioned isn't mentioned and covered enough. This isn't a one issue community. One member has monopolized the community's time with her incessant questioning and the other takes up too much time with lengthy questions when, if he's got that kind of time, even though he doesn't want to be quoted, only summarized, he could write something on his big issue and it could be posted. This is do-it-yourself media. For anyone waiting, Kara and I are still trying to put something together on the Palestinian elections. It's not as easy as it looks. Hope everyone will be kind when Kara get done. And for the record, my great-grandparents came over from Ireland. That shouldn't matter but the person who's wasted our time with way too many questions seems to think disclosure means noting everytime you take a dump so I'll toss that out there.

Ben: I want to weigh in on Barbara Boxer because I expected that others would and e-mailed the site asking about that. No one weighed in so there was no post. I think it's great that we all praised her for standing up on the Ohio voting issue but I think we need to work hard to not take her for granted. She strikes me as a strong woman who will do what she thinks is right regardless of whether she feels she has support for speaking out or not. But before we take it for granted and stop noting her bravery we need to remember that others are influenced by her actions and if we're not commenting and praising her, there's no motivation for others to take a stand and a lot of Senate Dems lack her bravery and need the push or competition to do what they should be doing. So let me end with this: Barbara Boxer is the only person serving in the Senate that I would gladly vote for president if the election was held tomorrow. Thank you, Senator Boxer!

Cedric: If you got a problem with something you read here you need to say so. "I don't think that was fair" to some NYT reporter doesn't cut if. If you disagree with some commentary here, you need to explain why. I'm getting real tired of hearing one person complain that the commentary was too rough on someone. Reporters need to be held accountable and, news flash, there's a lot of humor in the commentaries. Stop being a hater with tsk-tsk. You got a problem, you need to state what it is in something more than "How dare you write that about Elisabeth Bumiller!" This member finds comments like that from another member as wasting space that could go to a serious discussion. The person who keeps griping should realize I'd have more respect for him if he was doing more than thumbs up or thumbs down. I might disagree with that member, and I think I would, but I wouldn't feel my time was wasted if he would share something beyond, "That was mean!"

Frank in Orlando was informed of this. This is the entire response he wanted quoted: "I weighed in on Hillary Clinton and was made to look like a fool. I did get an e-mail asking me are you sure you want to be quoted because you may want to read the post again. I feel I should have been told in that e-mail that I had missed that the entry I was commenting on said 'if the Times is right.' I don't think I should be responsible for reading every word. But when that entry went up, I felt humiliated. So I'm not in the mood to share my words at this time."

[Note: A number of e-mails are directed at Frank in Orlando and he'd already e-mailed that he felt humilitated by being quoted in the Hillary Clinton post. He didn't want to be quoted then but I did think that as a member he should be allowed to comment within this post if he wanted.
I am very sorry that he felt humiliated.]

Brad: I want to thank everyone who's sharing the voices that speak to them. I find that so interesting and enjoy hearing about other voices and checking them out.

Dallas: In the opinion post yesterday, there was a reference to an editorial after WWII that I'm not aware of. But John L. Hess, in his book My Times, notes this on page 36:
When Jeanette Rankin, the first woman to be elected to Congress voted against going to war in 1917, a Times editorial called it "final proof of feminine incapacity for straight thinking." When the troops came home from the first world war and race violence broke out, the Times mourned for the prewar days when most blacks "admitted the superiority of the white race and troubles between the two races were unheard of."
There may be an editorial from WWII (I wasn't born then, let alone reading the paper) but I think this might be the editorial that was referred to. And I think, regardless of which war it was, this backs up the points made by the three reporters.

Shirley: I've photocopied and scanned in the title page and a page of text as an attachment to this e-mail. They are from Myra Friedman's Janis Joplin biography Buried Alive. From the book, page173:
After all, expressing reservations about Woodstock at that time would have been akin to complaining of gout in a nursery -- stuffy and irrelevant. One had to look out for one's self-esteem. Either that, or have a lot of guts. Thus did Barry Farrell at Life dissent from the magazine's splendor-in-the-grass "Woodstock" supplement and indicate clearly that the festival had made him nervous about the future. A Time essay treaded water. As for The New York Times, it went absolutely schizy. In the front, its news papges were cloud-borne. In the middle, its ridiculous "Nightmare in the Catskills" editorial was ridden with the spirit of Lawrence Welk; somebody had to be possessed to dream up "maddened youths." Nonetheless, the following day, the Times came up with a retraction, a sort of apology to what would soon become known as Consciousness III. The final evidence of cultural power was in; Spiro Agnew never had it so good.
This goes to the heart of what was being stated yesterday. The paper is a coward and they proved that before and will again. The most they can ever hope to do is offer the "either/or" paradigm.

Brendon: I want to pass on how pleased I am with the Black History Month highlights. Everyone's sharing some quality stuff. I'm sure it is work for everyone but it is enjoyed and educational as well. I'm looking forward to March as well for Women's History Month. This has been one of my favorite things, hearing about people I should already know about but don't always and hearing people sharing their views and voices. It's hard to believe tonight's only the ninth because so many incredible people have been highlighted. I've enjoyed "snapshots" or "cuttings" and I've enjoyed the op-eds. I think this is one of the best segments The Common Ills has done. There was a complaint from someone that they didn't think the time should be spent on this. Then the same person wants to gripe that members' voices aren't spotlighted. My guess is that there have probably been no more than four entries by C.I. and the other five have been members. If someone is skipping this series, I don't think it's fair to complain that he doesn't hear enough from community members. Even if the guy doesn't like history, I think he should appreciate that members are weighing in with their choices in their words.

[Brendon e-mailed yesterday before someone e-mails that a correction is needed to his date.]