Saturday, March 19, 2005

Maggie notes Robin Morgan for Women's History Month

Ticking off a list of names worthy for noting for Women's History Month, I came across many: Margaret Fuller, Mary Shelley, Kate Millet, Margaret Atwood, Lucy Stone, bell hooks, Kathy Boudin, Catharine A. MacKinnon, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Grace Paley, Grace Slick, Michelle Phillips, Nina Simone, Kate Bush, Nora Ephron, Anne Sexton, Louise Bryant, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Tracy Chapman, Mary Daly, Rita Mae Brown, Joan Baez, Alice Walker . . . And for the longest time I was just paralyzed as I was facing this monstorous decision of how to choose one.

Certainly the struggle for equality has been made up of many, many women (and often some men) but hopefully by noting various individuals it brings awareness to the larger struggle and the many who participated in opening various fields and options to women.

So just when I was at the abandon-all-hope-all-ye-who-enter, I was gathering magazines to carry to my local library's magazine exchange and there's Ms. staring at me.

Robin Morgan is a writer who's influence on my own life has been wide ranging. It started when I was a teenager and found a copy of Sisterhood Is Powerful on my mother's bookshelves. Sisterhood Is Powerful is an anthology of writings from the women movement circa 1970 and Morgan served as the editor of the anthology. She also wrote a lengthy introduction for the book that served to capture what had led up to the then current wave of feminism. I found the anthology Sisterhood is Global (also edited by Robin Morgan) while I was in college and immediately snapped it up.

In 2003, Robin Morgan edited another anthology that I quickly added to my collection, Sisterhood Is Forever. I think the three Sisterhood books serve as a powerful overview of the feminist movement and I hope she continues to introduce and edit anthologies.

Robin Morgan currently serves as a consulting editor at Ms. along with Gloria Steinem who's already been highlighted. Both have long helped steer Ms. and as such have shaped my life in ways that I'm probably not even aware of.

I'd recommend this interview with Morgan for those new to her and I'd recommend this article by Morgan entitled "Fighting Words for a Secular America: Ashcroft & Friends VS.George Washington & The Framers." I'd also recommend that you check your libraries and bookstores for copies of Sisterhood is Powerful and Sisterhood is Forever. I'd also recommend that you check out her book The Demon Lover: The Roots of Terrorism.

[Note: This entry arrived Thursday. With three new entries on Women's History Month posting this Saturday, I think we've caught up on the two days we missed.]

Brian and Cedric on the link to Vanity Fair

Brian: I'm all for more voices but I must say I'm a little surprised to see Vanity Fair posted as a link on the side. I don't think I've picked that magazine up since Demi Moore was naked on the cover so I don't pretend to be an expert on it. I'm just wondering why it's linked to?

Good question. There are certainly other magazines out there. Vanity Fair usually features at least one strong article an issue on something non-celebrity. In addition, you get James Wolcott.
But there are times when you get a great deal more in terms of politics and sociology.

No, I'm not putting it on par with The Nation, The Progressive, Clamor or In These Times (to cite only four). But they are increasing their online content. And from personal experience, I can attest that people who didn't care to read (for instance) David Corn's coverage of the outing of Valerie Plame were more than willing to read about the same issue when it was covered in a high gloss magazine. They've done some hardhitting stories that are often overlooked.

That's partly because they are new to online content (for sometime, the online site offered you the opportunity to subscribe and not a great deal more). But it's also because of the magazine's reptutation. If it's not for you, ignore the link. But Vanity Fair can reach an audience that others can't. (And other magazines can reach an audience that Vanity Fair can't.)

You can also factor in that I root for the underdog. (Which is probably obvious.) And while I subscribe to The New Yorker and enjoy the fine reporting of the likes of Seymour Hersh and Jane Mayer (among others), I do wonder why the stories from that magazine get highlighted on radio, for instance, and there's little attention given to the one big story in each month's Vanity Fair. Three members did request the link after we'd started noting what was in Vanity Fair here but I'm sure I would have made it a link even if no one had asked for it.

As for whether or not it will speak to everyone, I'd argue no. There's no way anything can speak to everyone. Maybe it will speak to you (Brian) and maybe it won't. Again, if it doesn't ignore the link. But Cedric found something that spoke to him and e-mailed asking that it be highlighted.

Cedric: I'm really glad Vanity Fair is being linked to, though a little surprised. I think there's a great deal of writing worth noting in that magazine. And I really liked the article on Ian McEwan that they've got online. ["Ian McEwan's War Zone" by Holly Brubach.]

From the article:

McEwan wrote Saturday in the aftermath of 9/11. Long recognized as one of Britain's finest novelists, with a passionate following, a Booker Prize (for Amsterdam, in 1998), several screen adaptations (Enduring Love, The Innocent, others), and an extensive backlist still in print, he has lately ascended in England to the rank of rock star, albeit one who wears his celebrity like an ill-fitting suit. His expression, habitually kind and thoughtful, turns shy and even pained on those occasions when he is confronted with a camera. Now 56, with gray hair and a lean, angular build, he has an inescapably boyish demeanor. In London, he lives in a house on the corner of a leafy, neoclassical square whose low horizon line is broken by the 60s space-age profile of the British Telecom Tower. It is, as it happens, the house where Henry Perowne lives, approached via the same route Perowne drives on his way home. The parlor is identical: "the belittlingly high ceiling and its mouldings, the Bridget Riley prints flanking the Hodgkin, the muted lamps, the cherry wood floor beneath the Persian rugs, the careless piles of serious books, the decades of polish in the thakat table," flanked by a pair of leather couches. The kitchen, downstairs, is the kitchen in which Perowne cooks dinner. Entering McEwan's house, a visitor has the eerie sensation of stepping into the novel, of being Perowne's guest as well as McEwan's.
Like many of his previous novels, Saturday excavates ground that literary fiction has customarily ceded to journalism. The action takes place in a span of 24 hours, on the day of a massive anti-war demonstration in London in the spring of 2003, four weeks prior to the American invasion of Iraq. As Perowne goes about the business of his weekend--playing squash, anticipating his daughter's arrival from Paris, buying shellfish, visiting his elderly mother--he contemplates whether the world has been changed irrevocably.
"The debate that goes on in his mind is the debate that goes on in my mind," McEwan says, "and the answer is both yes and no. At some point, the street seems so reassuringly normal and the night thoughts fade away. And then he opens a book by Fred Halliday, a respected academic, and reads that we're at the beginning of a hundred-year crisis and feels not just the weight of history but the weight of the future: how is this going to go away? Especially if we begin to suspect that we're not really handling it very well. Sometimes when I'm listening to the news, I realize that all six items are actually 9/11-derived, whether it's an explosion in Iraq, the trial of British soldiers for maltreatment of Iraqi civilians, Condoleezza Rice being sworn in, some fresh little spat between the French and the Americans--you can trace them all back. When I was writing this book, the sense of the capital waiting for a bomb was overwhelming. The authorities have constantly told us that an attack is inevitable. I know they're simply covering their rears, but at the same time, I think, we all more or less agree. And I suppose there's some bleak truth in saying that this is ideal territory for a novelist--or, at least, my kind of novelist."
"My kind of novelist"--he says it as if there were plenty of other writers examining the way large-scale historical events intrude on the lives of individuals. In The Innocent, with its love story unfolding against the backdrop of Cold War Berlin, in Atonement, his last novel, in which the Second World War ultimately denies the characters any prospect of redemption, the past is sufficiently remote as to seem inevitable. In Saturday, it's the day before yesterday.
Perowne argues the case for the war in Iraq; his daughter is emphatically opposed. "That was a row going on in my own head," McEwan says. "Most people here were dead against the war, and I have to say that events have more or less proven them right. I could see only one case for intervention, and it was a moral, humanitarian one. The government here never made that case; it was always weapons of mass destruction. And I shared with many people the view that, however successful militarily, it would be very difficult for a Republican administration like the Bush administration to nation-build, because they actually don't have a strong concept of the state. What they have is a privatizing, free-market ideology, and I think out of that it's very difficult to build up a state."
Here is Henry Perowne on the uses of fiction: "The times are strange enough; why make things up?" He doesn't want to be a spectator of imaginary lives, he declares. "And it interests him less to have the world re-invented; he wants it explained." This was true for McEwan, too, at the time. "When I think of my own reading in the two years after 9/11," he says, "I was rather with Perowne--I didn't want that strenuous business of accepting all the premises of someone's invented world; I wanted to be informed about the world. So I read books on Islam, books on recent American history, books on the Middle East, books on terrorism--I just wanted other people's research and their expertise."

[Note: This post was done on Thursday. Brian's e-mail was sent on Monday, Cedric's on Wednesday. After this post was saved to draft, both were advised that a post would be going up on Saturday. And the e-mail address is for anyone who wants to weigh in on anything. Please note that your comments can be quoted if they're meant to be quoted and if you only would like one section of them quoted, please note which section.]

Doyle's question about international publications cited

Doyle: I have a question and I hope you'll address it at the site. This Sunday (like some before), you did a post on news from the world going to various sites. Are you aware that the US can use propoganda overseas? And if you are, how do you make sure the article you are linking to is true? I'm wondering what I'm supposed to trust in an entry like that? (I'm not trying to be another Frank in Orlando.)

It's a good question and a good point. On those posts, we're going around the world quickly and limited to English language sites. These are stories that are being published elsewhere. Could they be part of a propaganda blitz from the United States? That's certainly possible.

But no one should ever come to this site and think because something by anyone (another member, me, a voice that speaks to us) is posted here it's "end of story" time. We don't clutch the pearls, we don't play gatekeeper.

I can be wrong (and often am) (on more than typos), so the point is never "__ said it, so it's true!" The point is, think for yourself and do your own research. We're a resource/review for the left. And we're trying to note voices that speak to us that we don't see on the alphabet soup networks. We're not trying to build groupies (but you're welcome to be a groupie if that's "your bag"), but we are trying to build awareness.

If your at a party and you hear someone saying, "___ is the best broadcaster in television" from one of the networks, maybe you'll be able to say, "Well, actually, I think Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! hold that title."

If at work someone's saying that they have a firm grip on an issue because they've read David Broder and George Will, after you make sure they don't need medical treatment, you can point out that Broder ("dean" or not) is a centerist and reading the two does not represent the full range of opinion. You might toss out something Matthew Rothschild or Ruth Conniff (both of The Progressive) wrote or something you read by Alexander Cockburn (or someone else at CounterPunch), or you might toss out the two Ks from The Nation: Katrina vanden Huevel and Katha Pollitt. That's a very short list of examples.

If someone's discussing the way the media played a story and harping on whatever "wisdom" they heard on Fox "News," you might be able to cite Jude at Iddybud or Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler.

Dahr Jamail, Naomi Klein, Danny Schechter, Leah and the gang at corrente, Tom Hayden, Ms. Musing, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Ron of Why Are We Back In Iraq?, the gang at The Third Estate Sunday Review, Folding Star of A Winding Road and others are all voices speaking their truth and their perspective.

If those voices (any, some, all) speak to you, great. If they don't, you're at least aware of them.
And when you see some "faux" liberal on TV (or hear them on radio), you know you haven't gotten a true left opinion.

Which is not to say that all those linked agree. In terms of our side links, Bill Scher and Bob Somerby recently had a different takes on the Sunday chat & chews. But that's because they're not working from talking points. They're speaking as individual voices.

And it's certainly okay to disagree. And it's okay to note that and to try to figure out the source of disagreement. But there is a wide range of true left voices and you haven't heard or seen them very often (in some cases not at all) on your TV screens in recent years.

When Cokie Roberts can get away with responding to a question about any dissenting voices with "none that mattered," you've got a pretty good idea of how insular "discussions" have become. A member wrote recently about the McLaughlin Group and stated Eleanor Clift was a voice who speaked to her. She wondered why I didn't include them in the chat & chew. First of all, the show doesn't air on Sundays everywhere. Second of all, I haven't been able to find listings for upcoming guests. (The e-mail is if anyone knows where the links for those are.)

I agree with the member that Clift's been a brave voice. And that's she often overlooked. But at a time when many of the "left" chose to sit in front of the TV cameras on these shout fests and purse their lips or smile serenely, Clift got down into the mud and fought back. She made herself heard and on the shout-fests, if you're not doing that, you're not getting any attention.

But I really have no use personally for the chat & chews. That's me. The opinions aren't wide ranging enough. And, like Rebecca, I'm sick of seeing and hearing staff from The New Republic as they and their magazine are presented as "liberal" when they aren't.

And anyone who's followed Bob Somerby's writings at The Daily Howler for very long is fully aware that there are things you can and cannot challenge. On Whitewater or any topic. (James Wolcott's Attack Poodles is a great book and it too has a great deal to say about the chat & chews.)

So they don't speak to me, but if they do you, watch. And hopefully, when you watch you're aware of how limited the topics are and how non-inclusive the shows are in terms of viewpoints, in terms of race, in terms of gender. (In terms of sexuality as well but who knows who's in the closet?)

But when we're highlighting voices it's with the hopes that we can all increase in our knowledge of who's out there from the left. I know that I've learned a great deal from voices that members have drawn attention to.

And, to get back to Doyle's question, if we're spotlighting an article in the Sunday Herald or wherever, you know that's being talked about. Whether or not it's true, that's for you to do the work required. I'm not your parent and as far as I know no infants read this site. Translation, don't look for spoon-feeding here. Everyone should be prepared to do their own work.

If you have criticism of a story we link to, do yourself and everyone a favor by writing in about it and noting that it's for the community and not a private e-mail. The point is not less voices, it's more voices.

[Note: This post was done on Wednesday. Doyle was advised via e-mail that the answer to his question would post on Saturday.]

Lori notes Tori Amos for Women's History Month

Lori: Tori Amos is amazing artist. She's someone whose work Kat captured perfectly in her review of The Beekeeper. Reading NYT's slam of that album and Tori's new book Piece by Piece that she wrote with Ann Powers, it's obvious that "you just don't get it." I feel like it's 1992 all over again which, with a Bush in the White House, may not be all that surprising.

Tori was part of the alternative scene but in all the recent remembering grunge articles, it's funny how so few mention her. They'll go out of their way to mention a group that maybe had one hit album if they were lucky (all male members) but we only get, if we're lucky, one woman tossed into the discussion - Courtney Love.

We're seeing history rewritten before our eyes and often by people too young to actually have witnessed the events. (A point I believe Kat made in her review of the Nirvana boxed set.) And we're witnessing a very brutal and crushing period for our country period.

As the Bully Boy stuffs his package and tries to act macho, the press follows suit and we get attacks on people who won't play butch.

Tori's attacked for being true to her own voice. How that makes sense to anyone is beyond me.
But she's attacked repeatedly in the pages of NYT. And I'm pretty much sick of it.

Her songs speak to me, they don't confuse me. They may make me think (and usually do make me think) but they don't confuse me.

But I'm not looking for writers who communicate on only one level and see things in dualistic terms only. Tori's open-ended and that bothers confused boys and girls who are scared of life in the adult world. They're also bothered by the fact that Tori won't write the songs everyone else does.

As a rape victim myself, I was drawn to "Me and a Gun" originally and she's always had more than enough to say to keep me coming back. But apparently it's now open season on any woman who won't act like a man. Such are the times we're in. And such is the reason that I don't feel I have a government that's representing me.

But Tori and her concerns for the enviornment, friendship, relationships and justice does represent me just fine, thank you very much. And at times like this, when the government disengages from reality and everyone tries to prove whose cock is bigger, I'm quite happy to have Tori Amos's latest CD to help me find some solace in the world from a voice who doesn't first check with the State Department to figure out where we stand today and then quickly fall in line "one foot behind the other" as Tori sings in "Mother."

[Note: This e-mail came in on Wednesday. The entry was typed up then and saved to draft so that it could be posted this weekend. Site e-mail address is]

Brenda notes Lucy Hughes-Hallett for Women's History Month

Brenda: "Lucy Hughes-Hallet has been working as a journalist and critic for thirteen years. She was feature writer at Vogue for three years, winning the Catherine Pakenham Award in 1980, and television critic of the London Evening Standard from 1983 to 1987. Cleopatra is her first book."

That's from the back cover of her book Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions and that's all the personal information I know about her life. What I know about her is she is amazing writer and someone who really opened my eyes when I came across her book in 1991. I read and reread this book. It's amazing.

On page 2 of her introduction, she writes, "A story is a protean thing, changing its nature as well as its shape when viewed from different angles. A single set of facts, arranged and rearranged, can point to a variety of contradictory conclusions. The vicissitudes of Cleopatra's legend, to which so many different morals have been attached, may act as a reminder that even the simplest piece of information can be made to serve a polemical purpose. Every story-teller, whether journalist, historian, poet or entertainer, is also -- willy nilly -- something of a propagandist."

And she demonstrates that in her book as she takes you through the various narratives on Cleopatra. How in one period, she's used by writers to demonstrate strength, in another gluttony, etc. It's an amazing book. By an amazing writer and thinker.

Seeing her demonstrate the ever changing last-word on Cleopatra throughout history really opened my eyes to how much of even "dry reporting" is in fact shaped to serve a purpose.
It's a strong feminist book and I love those. (I also love Tillie Olsen's Silences to name another book I'm forever re-reading.) But this book really opened my eyes to something I'd probably had an inkling about but never verbalized.

At The Common Ills, the point is always (to me anyway) that one voice and one voice alone is not the last-word even when it's a chorus of voices (from the Times or NPR or mainstream media or whatever) chanting the same line. And that's the point of Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions. Books are often highlighted here and I know I've picked up a few as a result (including Bonnie M. Anderson's News Flash which I'm reading right now) and I hope that at least one person reading this will be inspired to pick up Lucy Hughes-Hallett's book because it's amazing.

It's not a boring book and the Elizabeth Taylor starring movie Cleopatra is discussed along with other versions of Cleopatra. What the book does is demonstrate how nothing is really concrete and society's view on something is constantly being revised. I think it's an important message and a powerful book. There are few books that I can say changed my life but this was one.

[Note: Brenda e-mailed this Tuesday. This post was done ahead of time and saved to draft so that a friend could post it while I was attending rallies this weekend. It will go up Saturday and if you're considering attending a rally on Saturday, please do so. Site e-mail is]

Skimpy news section in the Times

No links to the Times today. I'm on a laptop and have just finished reading the print edition. There will be other posts going up today. (Thanks to a friend who'll be posting items I've saved to draft.) And I will be assisting The Third Estate Sunday Review (or intend to) later tonight.

The Times web site has a search engine, you can also check by section. Print headlines sometimes differ from online headlines, so search by author of the piece or utilize the sidebar the Times provides which allows you to visit various sections (e.g. "national," "international," . . .).

It's a skimpy paper today.

Check out Cornelia Dean's "In a New Screen Test for Imax, It's Creationists vs. the Volcano" (this is a front page story). You'll find that our standards as consumers of documentaries have fallen so much that a documentary on volcanoes is having trouble with distribution in some southern states (the phrase "the Bible belt" is used) due to concerns of alienating some audience members. While that might be fine at some theaters, one place refusing to show the film is the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

Billie: Just read the Times online and I can't believe my very own Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is refusing to show the film. I don't know what they're expecting? Pickets?
If so, that could be a good thing to make people more aware of the museum. I believe Keesha did a thing on the Times dopey editorial re: abstinence training and how there was science and there wasn't. Keesha's point becomes increasingly valid. With our science scores currently, I don't know how a museum of "science and history" gets away with justifying not exhibiting this film.

Douglas Jehl reports on what the CIA wants out there. "C.I.A. Says Approved Methods Of Questioning Are All Legal." Ben notes: "Is this a press release? It sure isn't reporting."

From the article:

The Central Intelligence Agency said Friday that all interrogation techniques are approved for use by agency personnel in questioning terrorism suspects were permissable under federal laws prohibiting torture.
"All approved interrogation techniques, both past and present, are lawful and do not constitute torture," the agency said in a statement.

Joel Brinkley's Diplomatic Memo might better be titled "Ass Smooch Memo" according to Kelli.

Kelli: Is he obsessed with her fashion nonsense? "Wears" is used even when not referring to clothes. This is like really bad Sassy reporting.

Zach wants people to note the AARP's full page advertisment on A7 for Social Security.

Zach: This is an eye catching ad. I like the slogan too "IF YOU have a problem with the sink, YOU DON'T tear down the entire house."

I couldn't bring myself to read Elisabeth Bumiller's "Stumping on Social Security, Bush Gets Mother Help." The day's too jam packed for me to waste it on the Elite Fluff Patrol squad leader.

But Bonnie breaks it down for us.

Bonnie: In good news for Americans, Bully Boy just started a ten day vacation. I think America and the whole world feels a little more at ease when Bully Boy is out of Washington. And might I ask when exactly did Barbara Bush start looking so much like Charlton Heston? Honestly, the photo makes it look like Bully has his hand on a dragged-out Heston."

Eric Lipton's "Contract to College With Ties to Ridge Draws Fire" raises an issue of cronyism then quickly dismisses it.

Randall: Only $96,000? That's how much Ridge's buddies will recieve and the Times says "$96,000, a tiny sum for a department that expects to buy $11 billion in goods and services this fiscal year. The Times is out of New York, right? Where they've been grossly underfunded?
$96,000, "tiny" or not, could be applied here. Would it make a huge difference? No, but it would aid a little and since we had two of the three attacks on Sept. 11th, I think it should be and I question Lipton's judgement in word choice.

Lot of Schiavo news but I feel like more than enough was said about that story sometime ago.
Tina, however, did e-mail a comment.

Tina: [Senator] Harry Reid should be ashamed of himself for allowing this bill to go forward. And shame on Congress for the way so many conducted themselves yesterday. Congressman Henry Waxman said it best - "Congress is turning the Schiavo family's personal tragedy into a national political farce." Reminds me of The Times's attempt to turn a bar brawl into an international incident.

Lastly, Steven Greenhouse has a front page story entitled "Wal-Mart to Pay U.S. $11 Million in Lawsuit on Immigrant Workers." From the article:

Federal prosecutors and immigration officials announced yesterday that Wal-Mart Stores had agreed to pay a record $11 million to settle accusations that it used hundreds of illegal immigrants to clean its stores.
Federal investigators said they had decided not to bring criminal charges against Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, because it was cooperating and had pledged strong action to prevent future employment of illegal immigrants at its 3,600 stores in the U.S.

Naturally, Wal-Mart "did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement." And the usual excuse is "contractors" hired the immigrants.

Other than Bumiller, I've read the main section dealing with news. I'd argue you can skip the paper today other than what's highlighted today. Spend your time doing something better . . .
like attending a peace rally, march, teach-in, etc.

The e-mail address for the site is

Friday, March 18, 2005

Community members weigh in on MoveOn

I count 227 e-mails weighing in on "MoveOn Org" and thirty-three of you expressed wanting to go on record. Here are the 33.

Kara: MoveOn appears to want us to just move on from caring about Iraq. If that's the case, then they're making a huge strategical error. That's what got so many of us involved with the organization to begin with. I'm not seeing a lot of bravery in trying to hop onto Sojourners activism at the last minute.

Lynda: I'm not a member of MoveOn but I always thought they were this really passionate organization fighting the good fight. I read the links to [Norman] Solomon and Danny [Schechter] and I visited the site. I honestly found the site staid.

Cedric: When MoveOn decided they wouldn't distribute Danny Schechter's WMD film, I wondered what was going on. I've purchased WMD and watched it. It's a powerful DVD and
if they were committed to speaking out against the war, it just seems like they would have gotten behind this movie.

Rob: They've dropped the ball on the issue of the war. I don't even open the e-mails anymore.
They've stopped being about brave activism and are now just one more group trying to distinguish themselves from a herd of other left and left-leaning organizations.

Karen: I support MoveOn and will always be a member because it was there when it counted. But having said that, I'm deeply disappointed with them currently.

Gina: What bothered me was that they're acting like they're committed to ending the war. I get around five e-mails from MoveOn a week. This one comes in and it's the first I've heard from them of protests and rallies. If this was planned ahead of time, they would have given everyone ample time to plan. This seems more like a quick response to growing criticism.

Brad: I'll give them a month more to see what's what. After that, if they're still going after the same issue every other left group is, I'm done with them. MoveOn was a leader in the past, but it's starting to just follow everyone else now. They need to find some guts. Quick.

Zach: They aren't speaking to me lately. I'm about to unsubscribe if they don't start getting serious.

Eric: They're like a declawed, overgrown tabby.

Joan: I don't think it's beating up on the organziation to weigh in with criticism. I think MoveOn needs a lot more criticism because it's moving away from it's core. I don't know why that is but people need to let them know this is not why we signed up with them, gave them money and showed our support.

Keesha: Another group that had real impact decides it wants to be just another beltway player meaning it has to ignore its members and we're all supposed to be happy just to hand over money. No more.

Charlie: I like MoveOn but I'm tired of their e-mails. It's like listening to NPR during pledge week only pledge week is every e-mail. Send money, send money. Is this a political organization or my deadbeat brother?

Marcia: I find it so disgusting that they've lost all interest in the war and occupation. CodePink's not suddenly decided to go after 'acceptable' issues. They aren't looking around asking themselves what everyone else is advocating. They're making a difference. MoveOn just wants our money and then to go play in D.C. with it. They're e-mail list is an envy for many but what's the point of having that list if the only thing you do is whine about social security? That's all they're doing. NOW has fact sheets on social security, other people are really analyzing it. And MoveOn wants us to be excited over a cutesy commercial? They need to get serious and get real before everyone bails on them and moves on.

Grant: MoveOn, to me, is like the girl I wanted all through high school, then I go to the reunion and find out all the talk of what she'd be fell apart and she's working at a Quickie Mart and more focused on reality TV and Desperate Housewives than anything that's going on in the world.

KeShawn: Last time I checked, people were still dying in Iraq. I don't get why MoveOn decided to move on.

Maria: They picked the wrong time to bail on what's becoming the most important issue to the nation especially since they could be signing up a lot of new members if they were taking the war head on. Kids are getting more and more aware and more and more outraged and they could be speaking to those kids. They're abdicating not just their responsibility but the very thing that made them matter.

Erika: My hunch? They were stepping away from the war. They have been slammed and slapped down in the press for months now. They went for the simple fights that wouldn't cause controversy (social security for instance). [Danny] Schechter and [Norman] Solomon's criticism touched a nerve and hopefully this will lead MoveOn back to the issues that caused people to be excited about them in the first place.

Toni: I still support MoveOn. I hope it pulls itself together because I worry that they are going to start losing members.

Ben: The whole thing feels like a reaction to criticism. I'm not sensing this as being an issue that even matters to them anymore. That's why I stopped reading their e-mails a few weeks ago. It used to be a fun organization and now it's just one more group asking me for money. I hope it can return to its roots because it has done a great deal in the past.

Doug: MoveOn has done a lot of great things and I think they can still do great things but that's going to take members holding them accountable. They're trying to figure out where they stand now and they've been a good friend to the left but you let a good friend know when they're going off course and right now they've gone off course and lost the wheels. If your really they're friend, you tap on them on the shoulder and say, "Hey, buddy." They need some taps on the shoulder right now. And if that doesn't work, they may need an intervention. If they're not being told how people are feeling, they can't work at fixing what is becoming a real and serious problem.

Lyle: They seem to have lost their own voice and now try to speak like everyone else.

Stan: We're outraged. Result? They quickly try to piggy-back on Sojourners. That doesn't deal with the issue of where there stand right now on the war.

Dominick: I'll give them three weeks. No change after that, I'm moving on.

Cameron: How can the organization that revolutionized internet activism have such a boring website? They need to have a contest again. When they were asking you to pick ads, it was interesting. Now it's just the same site day after day. They could write a weekly commentary to liven things up, if not a daily one. It also seems like they don't take a stand these days until everyone else has.

Betty: MoveOn still does a lot of good. But I wish they'd return to speaking out against the war.

Portland: How does MoveOn get away with turning their back on all their members who were and are still against the war?

Jimmy: Seems like they want to be 'respectable' at the expense of their members who want an organization that has real guts and a strong voice.

Elaine: MoveOn seems less brave each day. Distressing since the majority of Americans are now up to speed with where MoveOn was a year ago.

Margot: Someone got a little fat & lazy over the holidays and needs to shed that weight quickly before they shed members.

Liang: If you're committed to ending the war, you do more in the last month then one lousy e-mail about peace rallies.

Alabama: I agree that the web site needs to be improved. I don't go to that link anymore. I used to but I never found anything new. And no, I don't want to watch their social security commercial which is always the top link. I'm pretty much tired of social security. Bully Boy's plan bad. I get it. I've told my friends. We're against it. We've written our elected officials.
Seems like that's been their only issue for sometime now.

???: They've made a huge mistake but I'm willing to give them another chance to show that they are still committed to ending the war.

Lori: I think it's going mainstream and center. I'm not happy.

[Note, this post was written in advance -- late Thursday night/early Friday morning.]

Rachel notes Cher for Women's History Month

Rachel: I want to note Cher because I love her. I love her don't f**k with me attitude. I love her spirit. She's a survivor and she can crack me up or make me cry.

History since that's the month. Cher started out her singing career as a backup vocalists on recordings by Phil Spector. When America finally discovered her, it was as one half of the folk rock duo Sonny & Cher with the mega hit "I Got You Babe." Sonny & Cher notched up more hits (like "The Beat Goes On") but Cher also had a successful recording career as a solo artist in the sixties with hits like "You Better Sit Down Kids," "Bang Bang" and Bob Dylan's "All I Really Want to Do."

Sonny & Cher were history by the close of the sixties. Thanks to a vareity show in the early seventies, a hit one, they would notch up a few more hits as a duo. Cher would hit number one as a solo artist with "Dark Lady," "Half-Breed," and "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves."

Cher's return was startling. And she'd lost the hip huggers and bell bottoms (which I always liked). The bangs were gone too. She was a sleeker Cher in fashion but she was down to earth in manner. Sonny & Cher divorced, the show ended, Cher went solo (they'd get back together after the divorce for an attempt at another variety show -- after Cher had done her own solo variety show) and she just became this really strong figure to a lot of women my age.

She was just Cher. (She even legally changed her name to just Cher.) And if people were upset that she'd taken up with and married Gregg Allman, who had a drug problem, will get over it.
She's got that attitude of "It's my life and if I make a mistake, I make one. Get over it."

Or "Snap out of it!" as she says in Moonstruck.

Cher came back in the eighties, this time as an actress. Oscar nominated for Silkwood [best supporting actress], she'd win for Moonstruck [best actress]. She also made the wonderfully moving film Mask, the hilarious Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (directed by Robert Altman) and many more. I have a soft spot for The Witches of Eastwick because I love Cher, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jack Nicholson.

At the same time, she reignited her recording career with "I Found Someone" and quickly found other hits: "We All Sleep Alone," "Just Like Jesse James," "After All" [duet with Peter Cetera],
"Save Up All Your Tears" and especially "If I Could Turn Back Time."

The last one found her in a video parading around in a state of semi-dress while sailors whooped it up. Only Cher would so brazenly and bravely flash her tattoos, including one on her rear.

"I just won an Oscar, now check out my ass!" Who else but Cher would do that?

She comes off as pretty much fearless. But you only have to remember her tribute to Sonny after he died to realize how real she is. Or the moment she and Sonny reunited for one song on David Letterman's Late Night show on NBC in the eighties.

She came back again in the nineties with "Believe." And she gave an amazing performance in Tea With Mussolini.

But through all the craziness and wildness, she's never not seemed like a real person and a strong woman to boot.

She's been called the Queen of the Tabloids and to be that and still hold your head up high and still be able to laugh and not try to go the prim and proper route, shows someone who truly lives her life her way.

Cher speaks to a lot of women my age because she's always kept it real even when her own life appeared surreal. And anyone who's gone through a messy break up or a divorce can relate to how amazing that is. The temptation is to keep your head bowed and move on quietly but Cher never slinks away.

We've seen her spread her wings and fly and though some might say, "You're talking about Cher!" - believe me, she speaks to women with her strength, her growth and her survival. I don't just note Cher, I salute her!

If she's going a guest spot on Will & Grace (she's done two) or she's being interviewed, my friends and I will be burning up the phone lines. The first question is always, "What did she wear?" The second, "How did she look?" The third, "What did she say?" And all matter equally because she's Cher and she's given us courage to live our lives as we please and helped us realize you can stand up from a fall, dust yourself off and just keep going. Rock on, Cher!

[Note: This post was done in advance to be posted Friday.]

Democracy Now: Rep. Jim McDermott, Recuriters on campus, protests across the country, Matthew Rothschild, Jude (Iddybud) and Leah (corrente)

Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," Marcia) has an amazing show today. Watch, listen or read but don't miss it.

Headlines for March 18, 2005
- Army: No Plan To Reduce Troop Level Until At Least 2006
- 725 Anti-War Protests Planned For War Anniversary
- Ex-Halliburton Manager Arrested on Fraud Charges
- Israeli Nuclear Whistleblower Faces Jail Again
- Senate Rejects Bush's Proposed Cuts to Medicaid
- Study Links Mercury Emissions to Autism
- Ex-Haitian Official Hospitalized After Prison Hunger Strike
- U.S. Revokes Visa For Hindu Leader Connected to Gujarat Killings
- Ashcroft To Teach At Pat Robertson's College

No Child Left Unrecruited: Rep. Jim McDermott Seeks to Protect Students From Military RecruitersWe speak with Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) who is backing a bill that would make it easier for parents to block military recruiters from gaining access to their high school-aged children. The bill seeks to amend a provision of the No Child Left Behind Act that requires school districts to provide the Pentagon the names, addresses and phone numbers of every student in the school. [includes rush transcript]

Campus Resistance: Students Stage Counter-Recruitment Protests Across the CountryStudents around the country have launched a national week of campus resistance to mark the second anniversary of the Iraq invasion and high profile counter-recruitment protests are being staged at university campuses around the country. We speak with a former marine and recruiter's assistant who is now speaking out against the military and two people arrested during a protest against military recruiters on university campus. [includes rush transcript]

Over 725 Protests Planned to Mark Second Anniversary of Iraq InvasionMore than 725 anti-war protests and events are scheduled across the country on March 19th to mark the second anniversary of the invasion Iraq. We hear from organizers around the country who describe what is happening in their communities. [includes rush transcript]

From the last story:

Saturday, March 19th, marks the second anniversary of the Iraq invasion.
More than 725 anti-war protests and events are scheduled across the country to mark the anniversary.
United For Peace and Justice reports this is more than double the number of actions that took place a year ago to mark the first anniversary of the war.
One of the largest rallies is expected to take place in Fayetteville, North Carolina outside the military base Fort Bragg. Main sponsors of that protest include
Veterans For Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Military Families Speak Out. Yesterday we spoke with organizers around the country to get a sense of what is happening in their communities.

Please make time for Matthew Rothschild's "This Just In:"

Pass the mercury, please.
That's what the Bush Administration is saying anyway.
Bush's EPA decided to reverse the agency's requirement that utilities "scrub as much mercury as possible from coal-fired power plants," The New York Times reported.
We wouldn't want those poor little utility companies to stop throwing 48 tons of mercury into the air every year now, would we?
Mercury exposure is highly toxic, especially to the fetus and to the infant's developing nervous system.

"The EPA should be well aware of the threat that mercury poses," said Representative Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin, in a letter to Acting Administrator Stephen Johnson signed by thirteen other House members. "In January 2004, the EPA found that nearly one in six women of childbearing age has mercury levels in her blood above what is considered safe for an unborn child, doubling the previous estimates to approximately 630,000 newborns each year."

Jude at Iddybud is always worth reading. Karen e-mails wanting to draw attention to an item Jude is discussing. It's a bipartisan letter to the FEC from the blogging community. (I'm summarizing because it's a short item. Jude's words are much better, so go read them. But it's brief and I don't want to violate fair use.) Karen wonders who can sign it? I would assume anyone could. If you're a member of this community, consider yourself a blogger. Members weigh in here all the time. From Jude:

Please go this THIS ADDRESS and sign the letter regarding the Upcoming FEC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking governing political activity on the internet.

Brady asks that we note an entry Leah did at corrente.

Brady: She's taking on Nicky K of the NYT and I think most of the community would enjoy reading it. Kristof truly is useless and it's nice to see him called on it.

From Leah's entry:

Action Alert: Why Are Liberals Such Losers? Part XXXCCDXVII
Well, for one thing, liberals are burdened by schmuck-pundits like Nick Kristof who are so often identified as liberals, and aren't happy about it; having the courage of no convictions except the conviction his own career is at the center of the moral universe, Kristof regularly engages in liberal-bashing to insure his status as an independent thinker. Of course, before you can be considered an independent thinker, your work has to be recognizable as the work of someone who is able to think.
Okay, I'm mad as hell and I have little prospect of being able to not have to take it anymore, which doesn't mean I don't believe in trying. So, I'm stating my bias - outraged fury in defense of some form of the truth.
Now then, you tell me what mental process on the part of Mr. Kristof produced these paragraphs, and if it can fairly be described as "thinking?"

Brady: Corrente is a great site with a bunch of really strong voices. I'm picking Leah because she makes me laugh and I also think she's really upfront. I think her entry is great but she discussed it later starting with an apology.

From that post:

My long ANWR post of yesterday was filled with typos and bad links. Please accept my regrets. Nor, ordinarily, would I have let it run to such length, and instead, would have discussed the idiocy of Kristof in a separate post. Although it is far too easy to blame all things on Blogger, yesterday was an especially bad Blogger day which made it impossible to have control of what got put up on the blog.

Brady: I know there were problems here with Blogger so I thought it was worth noting for that alone. But I think it's really cool that Leah's another person who will just say, "You know what? I made a mistake." I see that here and I see it in Naomi Klein's writing but mainly I see people either unable to admit a mistake or wanting to be like NYT and blame it on "printer error." We all make mistakes, big and small, and I think someone's got to be pretty secure with themselves to say, "I made a mistake." It's the ones who are faking it that can never admit to a mistake.
Leah comes off very down to earth. I like her a lot.

On the subject of mistakes.

This morning's first post (there are two, some of you see only one, go to archives for the month)
referred to the song "Change Is Gonna' Come." And noted Sam Cooke, Tina Turner and Al Green.

Russell: How could you not mention Otis's version?

Lloyd: Not to be picky, but the song is called "A Change Is Gonna Come."

Trina: Isn't the song title "A Change Is Gonna Come?"

Correction, there should be no apostrophe after "Gonna" ("Gonna'" should be "Gonna").

Susan: You called the song "Change Is Gonna Come" and I know you're going to get mail on that. Depending upon who's recording it, there is an "A" in front of it. Otis Redding does the song on Otis Blue and it is just "Change Is Gonna Come." This is how it was billed originally. If someone gets the remastered CD, they need to open the booklet that reproduces the original back cover and they'll see listed at number three "Change Gonna Come." The liner notes from the original back cover also refer to it as "Change Gonna Come." On Tina Turner's Live in Europe it's also billed as "Change Is Gonna Come."

Susan is correct about the albums she notes.

Besides the ones quoted above, 15 other members e-mailed on this topic.

Al Green, not mentioned by Susan, has a version of it on the Ali soundtrack. (Which I don't own. I have heard Green perform the song live.) On that album, the song is billed as "A Change Is Gonna Come." Since I listed Green as one of the three (and omitted Otis Redding unintentionally -- honest, Russell), I was obviously wrong.

When this was an issue before with "Brand New Me" versus "A Brand New Me" (Aretha Franklin's version had one title, on Young, Gifted and Black; Dusty Springfield's version had another, on Brand New Me), we went to the Songwriters Hall of Fame for the last word. We'll go there again. They list the song as "Change Is Gonna Come."

So that's the song title except when someone is listed that recorded it under some other title.
In this instance, as when Al Green is listed (wrongly by me) as having recorded "Change Is Gonna Come." Does that clear up? Probably not.

But I'm glad so many cared enough to weigh in. Sam Cooke wrote the song and his recorded version is listed as "Change Is Gonna Come." Therefore in the future (unless we're referring to a specific version -- as I wrongly did by citing Al Green) we'll refer to the song as
"Change Is Gonna Come" (as The Songwriters Hall of Fame does).

And I mean it when I say "I'm glad so many cared enough to weigh in." Music matters. (And they had some great music on Democracy Now! today, by the way.)

The e-mail address is if you want to raise or share anything.

I'll be saving this to draft because I've gone over my alloted time. Point, we will have posts this evening and tonight. They were done ahead of time (and are noted as such). It's get-out-and-be-heard weekend. I hope everyone that's comfortable expressing themselves finds a way to do so peacefully this weekend. The plan is to have a Saturday Times entry early on. However, warning, there may or may not be links for it depending on the schedule of activities for Saturday.

(And if it wasn't clear, saying that anyone recorded "Change Is Gonna' Come" was wrong on my part since it's "Change Is Gonna Come" -- no apostrophe. I was also wrong when I stated Al Green sang "Change Is Gonna' Come" -- due to apostrophe and the fact that his version is credited as "A Change Is Gonna Come." When referring to the song in general in the future, I'll refer to it as "Change Is Gonna Come" -- Songwriters Hall of Fame's listing. When referring to specific artists, I'll refer to it as their recording of it is listed.)

Ken notes Mary Ritter Beard for Women's History Month

Ken: Probably the most important historian to me, of the people living today, would be Howard Zinn. And a lot of times, I'll meet someone who knows of Zinn and they'll say, "Yes, he's a lot like Charles Beard." I heard that so often, I finally picked up some history written by Charles Beard. I like Beard a lot but I think he and Zinn write in their own unique voices.

But as I worked my way through Beard's books, I kept coming across the name Mary Ritter Beard. Yes, she was his wife. She also was a historian in her own right. And I got to think about Kat's review of Tori Amos' The Beekeeper and about how people can be left invisible if they're different from the ones who are noting "achievement."

Rebecca had strong posts on Monday & Tuesday about this. About how people were whining, "There are no female bloggers" when there are too. But if you're looking for the mainstream media to tell you who they are, you won't find them. And then yesterday she was talking about how you had to be true to yourself for something to really mean something. She talked about this community and I just thought about how it was passed on to me by a friend and how I've e-mailed articles from here to friends.

And that's how things mean something. You hear a voice and it speaks to you and that's what I felt like while I was discovering Mary Ritter Beard's writing.

With Charles, she wrote American Citizenship, A Basic History of the United States and The Rise of American Citizenship. (If she's written more with her husband, that's all I've read so far.) Of the books she wrote on her own, the one I found most surprising was Woman as Force in History which came out in the forties but doesn't seem dated.

And in that book, she's making some points like Rebecca made about how women aren't invisible in the world, you can see them, they are doing things. But the people recording history record what is most like them and the people recording history were largely male.
So I want to note Mary Ritter Beard because she is a historian worth reading and yet when people speak of the historian Beard to me they always just mean Charles Beard.

So I want to note Mary Ritter Beard and if someone already knows her, great. But if someone's never heard of her maybe they'll check her out. Even if they don't, they'll realize that there were two historians named Beard and that both are accomplished.

[Note: This is a repost. The problems started off and on -- blogging problems -- with this post.
I finally posted it without links intending to go back and include them after I finished the reproductive rights entry. However, I couldn't get back in. Since this is Ken's post and many may have read it already, I wanted to repost it with links to be sure everyone saw it.]

[Note also that this post was done in advance to be posted at a later time.]

3 Things on BuzzFlash you shouldn't miss

Are you checking BuzzFlash? (Remember GOP Hypocrite of the Week will go up this evening.)

If you're not, here's some of what you're missing.

1) LANGUAGE WARNING for this link -- if workplace guidelines are strict . . .
"Mullet Fantasies of Neighborhood Gays:"
BuzzFlash Note: Last week BuzzFlash had the pleasure to see Margaret Cho's new show, Assassin (see full calendar of shows). We've been selling her DVD of Revolution and expected a good show, but it was great. As the Chicago Tribune review of that night's show said, "[Margaret displayed] a more aggressive political bent than in past shows... [and] scorched the right without toning down her naughty nature."
Margaret sent us an excerpt of the show to share with BuzzFlash Readers and an MP3 from the show about her conversation with Howard Stern. Enjoy, and see the show when it comes to
your town.

2) "Rep. Sanders Sponsors Bill To Prevent Government Censorship of Cable T.V. and Internet Content:"

WASHINGTON - Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced the introduction of legislation to prevent the government from censoring the content on popular cable T.V. shows and Internet websites. Sanders' proposal is in response to recently approved House legislation increasing Federal Communication Commission (FCC) "indecency" fines for broadcast television and radio. The Senate is considering companion legislation and some in the Senate have proposed imposing these same "indecency" regulations on programming provided over cable, satellite, and the Internet. If this proposal were adopted, Americans would be unable to view popular shows like The Sopranos and The Daily Show or would only be able to watch them late at night.
Sanders said, "There is a growing culture of censorship in this country that needs to be ended. First they went after broadcast television and radio and now they want to censor cable, satellite and the Internet. The bottom line is that government commissars should not be the arbiters of what Americans see and hear, especially over cable, satellite and the Internet -- all of which people have to pay for in order to receive."

3) "FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds Files New Lawsuit Challenging the FBI's Retaliation Against Her:"

Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI contract linguist who was terminated in 2002 after becoming a Whistleblower regarding the 9/11 tragedy, today filed the most detailed lawsuit to date outlining her allegations. The Complaint, filed under the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA), reveals for the first time details surrounding Ms. Edmonds' interactions with a former FBI colleague who raised suspicions by her perceived efforts to recruit the Edmonds into at least two specific Turkish organizations. Also disclosed are the names of those within the FBI who went out of their way to undercut Ms. Edmonds' concerns."With Sibel's prior litigation wrapped in secrecy by the government, this case will reveal for the first time the full extent of wrongdoing by the FBI, drawn entirely from its own internal investigation and unclassified sources," said Roy W. Krieger, of the Washington, D.C. law firm of Krieger & Zaid, PLLC, which specializes in national security cases and represents Edmonds. Anticipating the government's response, Krieger added that "the assertion of the state secrets privilege in this case would be manifestly disingenuous because everything Sibel needs to prove in court in order to win is already stated in her Complaint. Nothing is secret."

Hopefully, everything goes well with posting today.

Site e-mail is

We forgot to check in on Luke at wotisitgood4 yesterday (I forgot). We'll do so tonight.

Today's New York Times has news for readers (bad news for the Bully Boy -- maybe Karl will just show him the pictures?)

From this morning's New York Times there's a lot of news.

We'll start with Douglas Jehl's "Questions Left by C.I.A. Chief on Torture Use:"

Porter J. Goss, the director of central intelligence, said Thursday that he could not assure Congress that the Central Intelligence Agency's methods of interrogating terrorism suspects since Sept. 11, 2001, had been permissible under federal laws prohibiting torture.
Under sharp questioning at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr. Goss sought to reassure lawmakers that all interrogations "at this time" were legal and that no methods now in use constituted torture. But he declined, when asked, to make the same broad assertions about practices used over the last few years.
"At this time, there are no 'techniques,' if I could say, that are being employed that are in any way against the law or would meet - would be considered torture or anything like that," Mr. Goss said in response to one question.
When he was asked several minutes later whether he could say the same about techniques employed by the agency since the campaign against Al Qaeda expanded in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks in the United States, he said, "I am not able to tell you that."
[. . .]
Mr. Goss's comments came closer than previous statements from the agency to an admission that at least some of its practices might have crossed the legal limits, and had the effect of raising new questions about the C.I.A.'s conduct in detaining and questioning terror suspects, and in transferring them to foreign governments, in what remains one of the most secretive areas of the government's efforts to combat terrorism.

From yesterday's Democracy Now! Headlines:

Bush Defends Practice of Extraordinary Rendition
Meanwhile President Bush publicly defended the practice of extraordinary rendition for the first time on Wednesday. Extraordinary rendition is the name of a little-discussed practice by which prisoners in U.S. custody are sent for interrogation in foreign countries that practice torture. Until this past month the government had never publicly admitted such a practice existed. But news reports have shown that over 100 individuals have been rendered to foreign countries including Syria, Egypt and Afghanistan. President Bush was asked about rendition at a press conference Wednesday.
Question: Mr. President, can you explain why you've approved of and expanded the practice of what's called rendition, of transferring individuals out of U.S. custody to countries where human rights groups and your own State Department say torture is common for people under custody?
President Bush: The post-9/11 world, the United States must make sure we protect our people and our friends from attack. That was the charge we have been given. And one way to do so is to arrest people and send them back to their country of origin with the promise that they won't be tortured. That's the promise we receive. This country does not believe in torture. We do believe in protecting ourselves. We don't believe in torture.
European Nations Investigate CIA Abductions
The Washington Post is reporting that three European nations -- Italy, Sweden and Germany -- are all conducting investigations into renditions carried out by CIA agents in their countries.
In Italy, the CIA is suspected of seizing Egyptian cleric Abu Omar from the streets of Milan in 2003. He was last seen walking on a sidewalk near a mosque in Milan. He was then grabbed by two men, sprayed in the face with chemicals. He hasn't been seen since. Italian officials suspect he was the target of a CIA-sponsored rendition.

Also check out Jane Mayer's article (The New Yorker) entitled "Outsourcing Torture."

From the article:

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.
Arar is suing the U.S. government for his mistreatment. "They are outsourcing torture because they know it's illegal," he said. "Why, if they have suspicions, don't they question people within the boundary of the law?"

Moving on to Sheryl Gay Stolberg's "In Blow to Bush, Senators Reject Cuts to Medicaid:"

The House and Senate passed competing versions of a $2.57 trillion budget for 2006 on Thursday night. The two chambers provided tens of billions of dollars to extend President Bush's tax cuts over the next five years, but differed sharply over cuts to Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor.
The votes, 218 to 214 in the House and 51 to 49 in the Senate, set the two chambers on a collision course. The House budget included steep cuts in Medicaid and other so-called entitlement programs. But in the Senate, President Bush's plans to reduce the explosive growth in Medicaid ran into a roadblock when lawmakers voted 52 to 48 to strip the budget of Medicaid cuts and instead create a one-year commission to recommend changes in the program.
[. . .]
While the tax cuts brought the Senate budget resolution closer in line with the one passed by the House, the Medicaid issue moved the two further apart.
That vote was a rebuke to both the White House and the Republican leadership, and it threatens to prevent Congress from adopting a final budget this year.

Bully Boy, I rebuke you. (Say it like Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby. Which, come to think of it, may be rather appropriate.)

Somebody tell Tom Zeller Jr. that the Times has on the tinfoil hats in "For Zimbabwe, Peaceful Vote, but Is It Fair?" (by Michael Wines and Sharon LaFraniere). Issues raised over the vote in Zimbabwe? Well it must be conspiracy time! It's all so positively Ukranian! Exactly why is it that the Times is so damn comfortable questioning elections results everywhere but in the United States? I'm sure there are problems with Zimbabwe's votes. I'm sure that if you go through the article and see the evidence Wines and LaFraniere lay out, you'll ask the questions any reasonable person would. But why is it, that with all the problems in Ohio, the Times assigned Tom Zeller Jr. to mock serious questions? Why is it that the Times can look at any election elsewhere and ask the obvious with the exception to this country? (I think we all know the answer why.)

Monica Davey's "Un-Volunteering: Troops Improvise to Find Way Out" is worth reading. It even features a photo of Camilo Mejia. We all know Mejia . . . from Democracy Now! of course.
(There have been many stories mentioning Mejia on Democracy Now! but we'll recommend
"Jailed War Resister Camilo Mejia Speaks Out After Spending Nine Months in Military Prison"
from February 23rd where Amy Goodman interviews Mejia.)

From the article:

The night before his Army unit was to meet to fly to Iraq, Pvt. Brandon Hughey, 19, simply left. He drove all night from Texas to Indiana, and on from there, with help from a Vietnam veteran he had met on the Internet, to disappear in Canada.
In Georgia, Sgt. Kevin Benderman, 40, whose family ties to military service stretch back to the American Revolution, filed for conscientious-objector status and learned that he will face a court-martial in May for failing to report to his unit when it left for a second stint in Iraq.

One by one, a trickle of soldiers and marines - some just back from duty in Iraq, others facing a trip there soon - are seeking ways out.
Soldiers, their advocates and lawyers who specialize in military law say they have watched a few service members try ever more unlikely and desperate routes: taking drugs in the hope that they will be kept home after positive urine tests, for example; or seeking psychological or medical reasons to be declared nondeployable, including last-minute pregnancies. Specialist Marquise J. Roberts is accused of asking a relative in Philadelphia to shoot him in the leg so he would not have to return to war.

Did Brandon Hughey disappear in Canada or at least fall off the American media radar? Maybe to Davey and the paper, but Amy Goodman spoke with him face to face on Democracy Now! -- see that program's story from October 15, 2004's "From Vietnam to Iraq: American War Resisters Seek Refuge in Canada."

AMY GOODMAN: Brandon Huey, why did you go into the military?
BRANDON HUEY: My story basically starts off almost the same way. I enlisted when I was 17 years old with basically the promise of a way to better my life financially. Again, it is a way to get a college education without amassing thousands of dollars of debt.
AMY GOODMAN: Where did you grow up?
BRANDON HUEY: I grew up in San Angelo, Texas. So, also when I signed the contract, I wasn't naive to the fact that I could be deployed to fight in a war, but I did have this image growing up that I would be sort of – a good guy, if you will, and fighting for just causes and fighting to defend my country, and after I got out of basic training, and when I realized that basically the U.S. had attacked a country that was no threat to them, in an act of aggression, it shattered that myth, I guess you could say.
AMY GOODMAN: How old were you when you signed up?
[. . .]
AMY GOODMAN: Brandon, when did you leave?
BRANDON HUEY: I left in March of 2004.
AMY GOODMAN: What was that like, that day?
BRANDON HUEY: That day – I was relatively calm and collected, which a lot of people may not expect. I had thought about the decision for months, and I had talked to my superiors, my Sergeant Major, about why I had misgivings about the war. It came out of it for me, when I got out of basic training. It came out of a personal desire to know what I would be fighting for. If I was going overseas and point my rifle at someone and pull the trigger, I can’t speak for all soldiers, but I wanted to know what it would be for, and for the right reasons. And after looking into the Iraq War, I couldn't find any justifiable basis for doing so, as Jeremy mentioned. No weapons of mass destruction, no ties to al Qaeda, and I didn't want to kill anyone for lies, if you will.
AMY GOODMAN: So, how did you come into Canada?
BRANDON HUEY: I basically drove myself out of the base. Halfway to Canada from Ft. Hood, Texas, to Louisville, Kentucky. A peace activist out of Indianapolis drove me the rest of the way, and before we got up into Canada, he had connections with the Quaker community. I guess in the Toronto area. He had found people in St. Katherine’s that would be willing to take me in.
AMY GOODMAN: That's where you are staying now?
BRANDON HUEY: For the time being. There’s actually – now that I have my work permit granted by the Canadian government. There's actually plans for me to move into Toronto.
[. . .]
AMY GOODMAN: Have you both been in touch with other U.S. Soldiers who are possibly thinking of doing what you have done?
BRANDON HUEY: I have been in touch with some U.S. Soldiers. Some have e-mailed me. Basically asking what they should do – it's hard. When you get that question, you obviously don't want to say, “Come right up,” because the implications of this decision are so huge, not being able to go back and see your family, and having an uncertain future. So, I think that everyone has to do what they feel to be right, and obviously, that – this isn’t a decision that they should exercise if they don't sincerely believe in it.

Note, Davey interviews Huey by phone. (Goodman interviewed him face to face in Canada.) The point isn't that she couldn't find him for this story (she did), the point is that the Times couldn't find this story forever. What changed?

Let's note Democracy Now! two stories on Tuesday: "AWOL in America: Why Over 5,500 U.S. Soldiers Discharged Themselves" (Goodman's interview with Kathy Dobie who wrote on this topic for this month's Harper's) and "Three U.S. Soldiers Refusing to Fight Speak Out Against the Iraq War" (Goodman's interviews with Carl Webb, Kevin Benderman, one anonymous soldier and Kathy Dobie). From the last of the two stories:

AMY GOODMAN: We don't, Kathy Dobie, hear very much about this number. It may have surprised a lot of people listening and watching right now, 5,500, what, near 6,000. The Pentagon doesn't talk about it very much. Why not? And we don't see a lot of people being rounded up, Carl. We don't see the military coming for you, at least at this moment.
KATHY DOBIE: Well, the military doesn't have the manpower to go after deserters. But I also think they do not want other soldiers to know that this number of people leave and that also when they leave that they -- it is often possible after going AWOL, once you drop from the rolls, to get out, to be processed out with an other than an honorable discharge. They are trying the best they can. It's -- recruiting is down, that's why they put in stop-loss orders. They're trying to keep this military intact, and if they let soldiers know that people do leave and they do manage to get out and get on with their lives, I think they’re afraid that there’s going to be droves of soldiers leaving at that point.
AMY GOODMAN: And as you listen to these men speak, your final thoughts.
KATHY DOBIE: Well, my final thoughts are that they need to straighten out the recruiting process, the military does. If the only way you can keep the end strength, the troop strength we need is to lie to kids and their parents, then maybe what you have to say is that we have to have a smaller military. And if you have a smaller military, then you have to look carefully at the countries we invade and where we go to war.
AMY GOODMAN: On that note, Kathy Dobie has the cover story of Harper's magazine called "AWOL in America." Kevin Benderman, I want to thank you for joining us, sergeant who has applied for conscientious objector status. Carl Webb in the studio with us here in New York, planning to speak out at the protest on the anniversary of the invasion and to the anonymous soldier on the phone, thank you very much for joining us, as well.

Anything else change? From Editor & Publisher (this Wednesday), "'WP'/ABC Poll Shows Most Americans Think Iraq War Wasn't Worth It:"

In a surprising finding that comes after the Iraqi election and some decline in U.S. combat deaths, a clear majority of Americans now feel the war in Iraq was not “worth fighting,” according to a new Washington Post/ABC News Poll.Asked if the war was worth it, considering all the costs and benefits to the United States, 53% said no and 45% said yes.

The Times has done a lot of superficial reporting on the war from our soil (some of those stories have carried Moncia Davey's byline -- though that doesn't mean she's responsible for the final product, she may have been rewritten). But with the polls showing a strong shift, the Times can finally find this story.

Look, I'm thrilled that they're reporting on it now. Would have been great if they could have before. (Which was the point of the reference to Davey and finding Brandon Hughey.) I'll pass on Davey's article to friends. I'll say here that it's well written. (I will note that no reporter for the Times has ever contacted to this site to 'clarify' that a praised story needed a cautionary note of "it may have been rewritten.") Good for Davey, good for the editorial staff.

But, as Sam Cooke, Al Green & Tina Turner have sung at various times, been a long time coming ("Change Is Gonna' Come") and is this shift a sign of stronger "homefront" coverage in the paper or merely a reflection of the polling data? I don't know. Today Davey deserves praise so I will give it to her: Well done, important story and you wrote it very well.

[The site e-mail address is and if anyone's confused about Davies' past stories that we've dealt with here, please say so and we'll cite at least one. Possibly more depending upon time constraints and blogging conditions.]

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Bob Somerby on the press attacks on Gore; Rebecca on attending peace rallies, Rolling Stone (Jann Wenner) dedicates the current issue to Hunter

Beyond "must read" Daily Howler today. Bob Somerby's covering a great deal of ground. We'll highlight one section but make a point to read the whole thing if you have time:

So let's ask it: When Rachel Maddow traveled to Scarborough Country, brought there to debate liberal bias, why didn’t she simply state the obvious -- that the mainstream press ran wild against Gore, after trashing Clinton before him? In part, as we've mentioned before, she may not even know that this happened, so determined have her colleagues been to cover up for that mainstream press -- to cover up for men like Matthews, for the sleazy man who was willing to say that Gore "doesn't look like one of us...doesn't seem very American." Let’s face it -- so few "liberal spokesmen" have mentioned these outrages that even a bright young talker like Maddow may not be fully aware that they happened. So let's put the Clinton wars to one side and concentrate on the War Against Gore. Why was this outrage so little discussed, even when it was actually happening? Why have few Americans -- right to this day -- heard about the Washington press corps' long-running War Against Gore?
To answer that, we need to return to the actual time of the conflict. The War began in March 1999; it was being discussed every day, in real time, right here at this site. And yes, major scribes were reading this site; the mainstream press was well aware of the problems with their ongoing conduct. So why weren't your interests defended back then -- by, let's say, The New Republic? Chuck Lane was then the journal's editor -- why didn't Lane commission reports? Scarborough knows what he would have done. Why did Lane seem to do different?
Could it be that Lane put his own interests first -- and sold your interests down the river? (Immediate, obvious answer: We don't know.) After all, it was the Washington Post and the New York Times who were leading the "brutal" wilding of Gore (no, it wasn't the Washington Times, a point we'll discuss in more detail tomorrow).

And the Post and the Times are big mainstream organs, where young journalists go to build their careers and pocket those nice, fancy pay-checks. Indeed, when Lane left TNR in the fall of 1999, where did he land? Where else? At the Post! At the paper where Ceci Connolly had been trashing Gore ever since March of that year! So here’s our question: If TNR had written about Connolly's work, would Lane would have landed that job at the Post?
We'd have to guess the answer is no. No, we don't know why Lane's TNR kept quiet about the War Against Gore. But almost surely, the pattern established in Lane's career move helps explain why so many scribes kept silent while colleagues savaged Gore and eventually put Bush in the White House.
Another example? Dana Milbank wrote about Campaign 2000 for TNR right through December 1999. He also skipped the trashing of Gore. And yes, he also went straight to the Post -- the place where the trashing was occurring.
Or ask yourself about Seth Mnookin. The bright young scribe covered Campaign 2000 for Brill's Content, then a new, high-profile magazine specializing in media matters. In the summer of 2000, Mnookin took on a challenging topic -- allegations of the mainstream press corps' mistreatment of Candidate Gore. Were the Post's Ceci Connolly and the New York Times' Katharine Seelye mistreating Gore, as some were saying (including us, whom Mnookin interviewed)? Not at all, the intrepid scribe reported -- and he even found a well-known mainstream scribe (Jane Mayer) who said the complaints must be coming from sexists! (Yes, dear readers, she actually said it.) And a few months later, Mnookin moved on -- to a job at Newsweek. And uh-oh! Newsweek is a sister publication to the Post, which Mnookin had given a whitewash.

The entry really needs to be read in full. However, Rebecca will be quoting from it as well.
So check her site later tonight, this morning or tomorrow. I just heard from Rebecca and she's having the same problems I was having -- still am having to a lesser degree. After this posts, I
intend to post a note for Woman's History Month but I've told Rebecca I'll try to talk her through some tricks the UK computer gurus have passed on so far and if it goes too long, I'm going to sleep right after.

Also note that if it's Friday and you see no post, it means the problems are ongoing. And you can curse that (as I will be doing) or you can see it as an opportunity to visit the links. And you can go back over tonight's posts because there are a lot of them.

Betty notes that there are two similar posts on Bonnie M. Anderson's book. That means another e-mailed post hit. You may see mulitiple postings of that entry (in various forms, I think there are three different versions of it floating out there) and you may see the "Grab Bag" entry posting again as well because it was e-mailed about twelve times. (The post currently on the site is a direct to site post. No e-mails had arrived by the time I had finished installing the security measures our very kind and very smart UK computer gurus had passed on.)

Oh, site e-mail is

And thank you to Rob & Kara for their help this morning. It was appreciated.

There are various entries on peace rallies, marches, teach-ins and other events in the Indy Media reviews up tonight. If there's one in your area that you're thinking about participating in but you're on the fence thus far, please read Rebecca's post from Wednesday at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude:

coming together with others to show your support for peace. to show people in your area that you believe in peace. focus on that bigger purpose and just go.
i bet you have a great time. if you don't, you can gripe my ass out in an e-mail. you can cuss me out and rip me a new one. is the address. make a note of it. tell yourself, 'oh i'll go, but you better believe i will hold you responsible.' hold me responsible. but i don't think you'll have a bad time.
i think you'll find a lot of really cool people who will make a point to speak to you. and you'll be glad that you stood up for peace but you'll also be really proud of yourself for confronting a fear head on.

Let's also note Amitabh Pal's entry on his every Tuesday blog at The Progressive:

So now the Bush Administration and its flacks are claiming credit for the outbreak of democracy in the Arab world. They say the Iraq invasion is finally justified because it has at least partly been responsible for the stirrings of democratic sentiment everywhere from Lebanon and Palestine to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
One can't blame them. After all, each and every other rationale for the Iraq War has come a cropper, ranging from the supposed WMDs to the fictitious Al Qaeda-Saddam link. Initially, the human rights and democracy argument was almost an afterthought for Bush Administration officials. But as the other justifications proved more and more hollow, Bush and his people increasingly seized on democracy as a defensible reason for ousting Saddam. The recent Iraqi elections only emboldened them, despite the fact that the United States was itself ambivalent about having elections in Iraq and despite the problematic nature of the election. The Sunni boycott and the overrepresented Kurds may yet herald disaster.
Unlike some other liberals and progressives, I'm not completely cynical regarding U.S. claims about spreading democracy around the world. I just think that such efforts are almost always trumped by strategic or economic considerations.
But what exactly is the Bush Administration taking credit for in Palestine? The death of Arafat? Even Arafat won elections democratically, although he misused that mandate to set up an autocratic and corrupt state. The greater willingness for peace shown by Mahmoud Abbas is in spite of the Bush Administration's one-sidedly pro-Israel stance, not because of it. The real question here is how much can he bend without having his own people revolt against him.
[. . . Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon are discussed -- and worthy of reading, but fair use means we can only quote from some of the entry]

In the wake of an Iraqi conquest that has turned sour and in the face of all its other justifications demolished, the Bush Administration -- with help from a compliant media (case in point: Fareed Zakaria's cover essay in the March 14 issue of Newsweek)—is bragging about the recent changes in the Middle East. But its claims about being the harbinger of democracy in the Middle East are as hollow as its other rationalizations for its Iraq fiasco.

Rob noted that Rolling Stone's current issue features strong coverage of Hunter S. Thompson.
I haven't made it through the whole issue yet (it arrived today) but I have read Jann Wenner's
"My Brother in Arms: Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005" and we'll quote a section of it:

These are sad days here at ROLLING STONE. This morning I cried as I struck "National Affairs Desk: Hunter S. Thompson" from the masthead -- after thirty-five years. Hunter's name is now listed with Ralph Gleason's on what Hunter would have called "the honor roll." Hunter was part of the DNA of ROLLING STONE, one of those twisting strands of chemicals around which a new life is formed. He was such a big part of my life, and I loved him deeply.
He was a man of energy, physical presence, utter charm, genius talent and genius humor. It's very hard to have to give him up and to say goodbye.
When I was a young man, twenty-four years old, in the summer of 1970 (the year of the photo on the cover of this issue), I had the great fortune of meeting Hunter. He came to my office, then in San Francisco, to settle the details of writing an article about his campaign for sheriff in Aspen, Colorado. He was thirty-three, stood six-three, shaved bald, dark glasses, smoking, carrying two six-packs of beer; he sat down, slowly unpacked a leather satchel full of "travel necessities" onto my desk -- mainly hardware, like flashlights, a siren, knives, boxes of cigarettes and filters, whiskey, corkscrews, flares -- and didn't leave for three hours. He was hypnotic, and by the end I was suddenly deep into his campaign.
The record indicates that in 1970 we did "The Battle of Aspen"; in 1971, he wrote about the stirrings of Mexican unrest in East Los Angeles, based in part on a fiery lawyer named Oscar Zeta Acosta, who later that year emerged as Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
In 1972, we began nonstop coverage of the Nixon-McGovern presidential campaign. Hunter took over my life then -- and for many years after that when he was reporting (long nocturnal telephone calls and frequent all-night strategy sessions) and especially when he was writing. He was demanding in his need for time, attention, care, handling and editing. He was relentlessly creative, honest and wickedly funny.

For the many members bothered by the add-water-to-a-drug-tale-and-snicker coverage that passed for noting the death of Thompson, I think you'll enjoy Wenner's rememberance.
And Rob says all four of the other articles are strong ones too:

The Final Days at Owl Farm by Douglas Brinkley
The Last Outlaw by Mikal Gilmore
A Pair of Deviant Bookends by Johnny Depp
Memo From the Sports Desk by Raoul Duke

In addition, RS also has available online:

Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005) (the RS obituary)

And they've also made available the following pieces written by Thompson:

Fear and Loathing, Campaign 2004
Fear and Loathing at 25
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Excerpt

We've lost a lot of strong voices lately. Rolling Stone has gone all out to salute one of their own.
(Thompson even graces the cover.) So consider checking out the issue online or in print. (And let's note that although Hunter S. Thompson is a cultural figure, it was still a brave decision on Wenner's part -- and a compassionate one -- to dedicate the issue to Thompson. Few writers, living or dead, make the cover of magazines these days due to the fact that they aren't considered to be good for sales. Wenner knows the cover hierarchy and the sales risk involved.
This issue is for the Rolling Stone family of readers. Wenner deserves credit for that choice.)